The latest device invented by childhood-fearing adults is the “no-hit piñata,”a new invention designed to make the ancient traditional child’s game less violent. Instead of hitting the colorful paper container with sticks to get at the candy and toys inside, the children pull strings, and the piñata opens non-violently.
This is just another sally from the growing number of whimsy-challenged and anti-violence-addled parents and psychologists, who won’t rest until no child ever again picks up a stick to use as an imaginary gun, plays soldier, watches the Roadrunner push Wile E. Coyote off a cliff, or participates in a dodge ball game. When these self-righteous and destructive people aren’t making childhood grim and boring, they concentrate on making children victims rather than proactive masters of their own fates-in-training. They are the same people who condemn bullied kids who suddenly solve their problem by popping their bullies a good one right in the chops. They are the people who want children to collect money for UNICEF instead of candy on Halloween. They don’t like competition, either. Winners mean there are losers, and losers might feel bad.
All the people who conspire to make childhood as dreary and risk-free as possible are well-meaning, but they are evaluating a child’s world with adult sensibilities, which inevitably leads to the death of childhood, and more. I know these people are misguided and wrong, and are making life less rich, creative and interesting, but I can’t put my finger on what their ethical breach is. Incompetence? Failure to respect childhood? Interference with human autonomy? Perhaps it is simply being irresponsible, setting out to suppress human nature and warp our culture using shallow logic, a flawed sense of fairness and hysterical caution. (Blogger Jeanne Sager suggests that suppressing a child’s violent instincts may lead to psychopathic kids.) All I know is that when I read the musings of the Childhood Killers, I see conduct that will make life worse by leaching precious happiness and fun out of it. That’s got to be unethical.
Here is a terrifying sample, the anti-piñata warning of Yahoo blogger Vanessa Barltlemus:
“A blindfolded child is led up to some poor helpless papier-mâché animal hanging off a tree by a string. They have a stick or a bat in their hand, and they proceed to whack the animal with all their might. Other children are cheering on the fight. When the piñata is broken open, candy spills out. Everyone rushes to grab as much candy as they can. It’s every kid for themself. Doesn’t sound like such a good party game when it’s put like that, huh?
“Piñatas are not a good idea for your child’s party. Children should never hit anything with a stick. Even worse, kids can get piñatas in their favorite character too. Doesn’t anyone slightly cringe at the thought of their child whacking Dora the Explorer or Elmo around with a baseball bat? What is that doing for a child’s character? Getting a flower or car piñata is only slightly less worse…[…]… Then they get candy; they are rewarded for violent behavior!
“As for the candy that spills out afterwards, each child is quickly grabbing as much as they can. Whatever happened to sharing? Not to mention that all that candy isn’t that great for your child’s health. And what about the shy kids, or the kids who aren’t pushy? They end up with much less than everyone else. Is that how they’re rewarded for their better behavior?”
Ms. Bartlemus’s theories would also ban football, soccer, hockey and basketball, as well as Easter egg hunts and bridesmaids fighting for the bridal bouquet. By all means, let’s teach children that everything is just given to them, and equally divided regardless of skill or effort. The shy kids aren’t being punished for “better behavior,” they are losing out because they aren’t playing the game. People like Bartlemus, if they get the upper hand, will kill more than childhood and fun. They’ll kill initiative, ambition, determination and personal responsibility too. All with the best of intentions, of course.
And it all begins with the no-hit piñata.