Damned if you do…

24 August 2008 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in people, philosophy | 2 Comments »

Ah, the sweet joys of false choices and forced options…

One Child-Child pastime is the sharing of impossible alternatives symbolic of the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t situation of the little child. Anxiety may be relieved by this pastime, not because the problem is solved, but because it is handed to someone else — “Here, you struggle with this for a while!” The following questions were overheard in an exchange between two five-year-olds: Would you rather eat a hill full of ants or drink a pail of boiling medicine? Would you rather be chased by a wild bull or wear your shoes on the wrong feet all day? Would you rather sit on a hot stove or go through the washing machine fifty times? Would you rather be stung by a thousand wasps or sleep in the pigpen? Answer one or the other! You have to answer one or the other. Grownup versions may be more sophisticated, as, Are you a Democrat or a Republican?

— Thomas Harris, I’m OK — You’re OK

  1. 2 Responses to “Damned if you do…”

  2. By Darian on 24 August 2008

    Maybe I just didn’t have the greatest childhood, but I don’t get the nostalgia people have for it. Kids rarely get to do cool things – like make their own decisions for example. And we get so conditioned into asking permission and acceding to authority that when we do get older we get self-conscious and embarrassed about living by our own values. The state of being a child seems a hard habit to kick, perhaps because irresponsibility feels comfortable when you are made to be used to it.

  3. By Sunni on 29 August 2008

    Ha! That is brilliant! (I have two young kids, and I regularly get such questions from the older one.)

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