“Somebody Tranq That Child!”
Within a few short years, it seemed like everybody in the world was carrying a blowgun.
Two decades ago, a blowgun was an unwieldy rod you hung on your wall for recreation and emergencies. Modern blowguns are Swiss-army-flavored. A baseline model retails for $299 and acts as a telescope, microscope, megaphone, pencil, camera, snorkel, food thermometer, pregnancy test, and flute. For this reason, many call it “the magic wand”.
In pursuit of profit, blowgun manufacturers battled in an arms-race-to-the-bottom. Blowguns shrunk. Portability itself became a supreme convenience, because a quick tranquilizer can make any waiting room less painful.
Blowdarts became a godsend for parents, whose kids make misery for the many. Most children are incapable of (1) self-directed silence and (2) resisting addiction. Every guardian now faces the same Faustian bargain: darting their kids to buy quiet time.
Of course it’s embarassing to tranq your own child in public, but it’s more mortifying to contain a misbehaving kid in a sterile waiting room. Social pressure is palpable. Everybody in an airplane or restaurant silently screams in unison, “Somebody tranq that child!”
And so blowdart addiction grows. Instant tranquility is hard to hide in one’s purse/pocket. Especially when blowdart startups compete for ultimate potency. Especially when they hand out those darts for free. Especially when they run out of waiting rooms and start pursuing family rooms and classrooms.
To placate the public, they peddle educational darts. It’s a valiant attempt at compromise. “At least the kids are learning something.”
We can do better than this, folks. This hairball is not a parenting problem, nor the fault of corporate greed. Whenever people perpetuate harm, assume subtle/systemic causes. Nobody really wants a whole generation hooked on blowdarts.
Willpower is waste. Instead, design an idyllic environment for yourself. Here are some naturally-occurring examples:
- Combine multiple families in one household. Move in with your friends! Load everybody into a massive house and efficiently share babysitting responsibilities. It’s difficult to remain perpetually tranq’d in a bustling megafamily.
- Stop darting yourself. Set a good example. Consider using parental self-controls.
- Adopt multigenerational living. Older relatives are sometimes wellsprings of wisdom and experience. Instead of shipping Great Aunt Martha to a nursing home, ask her to be your au pair. Extra hands obviate the need for blowguns.
- Cut your commute. Sacrifice space to relocate around work, or sacrifice pay to work closer to home. Commutes drain emotional resources. Exhausted parents wield blowguns.
- Establish a party house. Set an example: if you want your family to socialize, then make people a priority. Master a few easy recipes. Resist the urge to douse every surface in Windex. Become a paragon of comfort and lazy hospitality.
- Invest in neighborhood safety. Make your neighborhood walkable. Plant signs, block traffic, establish gardens, pour sidewalks, etc. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Inspire your neighbors to make a neighborhood. Redesign your life around free-range children. If you can’t bear separation anxiety, gift your little buddy a cellular Apple Watch in Big Brother mode.
- Connect with your neighbors. Host recurring neighborhood gatherings so that everybody feels more comfortable with your free-range kids. It’s much harder for kids to roam when they’re unknown.
- Make outside comfortable. Nobody wants to go outside when outside sucks. Invest in outdoor furniture and games (especially for your frontyard). Avoid purchasing a giant junky playground that will fester bidirectional resentment. Consider potting some flowers, erecting a catapult, or making a sprinkler obstacle course.
It starts with you. That blowgun in your pocket can always fast-forward you and your kids a few hours into the future. But that time-travel incurs a cost. Tranq time rots focus – it’s empty calories for the mind. Don’t play near black holes.
Put every ounce of creativity and listening skills into yourself and others. Fearlessly follow your curiosity. Arm yourself with enough patience to wade through others’ discomfort. Forgive yourself and others for making mistakes. Experiment liberally.
Living takes a lifetime to learn. Luckily, life is heritable. Be exemplary.