This Is Going to Hurt Me a Lot More Than It's Going to Hurt You

(Fowl Language Comics/Brian Gordon)

The wise philosopher Bill Cosby once said, "Parents are not interested in justice. They want quiet." This was funny before I had children. Then it became funny and painful.

One of the characters in "Harrison Bergeron," a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, is handicapped with a device that shatters his attention every 20 seconds:

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel's cheeks, but she'd forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George's head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

Being a parent is like being George.


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