Friday, March 22, 2013

Thing 1 and Thing 1

That’s not a typo in the title.  That’s on purpose.

The other day, I saw a family walking towards a popular theme park and the two children were both wearing “Thing 1” shirts.  Both of them.  Not “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”  They were both wearing shirts that said “Thing 1.”  Now, this is complete speculation on my part, but I have a feeling I know why.

I’m willing to wager that neither of them wanted to be “Thing 2.”  Being “Thing 2” implies that you’re second, or not as good.  The silver medal winner.  Or, of all the losers, you’re the first one.  Of course there’s also the stigma of being “Number 2” and having it mean the poop thing.  No kid wants to be the poop thing.  But then by that rationale, they are now both the pee thing, so I’m pretty sure we can rule out “Number 2” poop reference as a reason.

That means, then, that they both wanted to be “Number 1.”  But there can’t be two number 1s.  Because then it begs the question, which one is the real number 1?  I’m betting if both of you have to be number one, then neither of you are.

I’ll even go so far as to speculate that maybe there was a conversation about the older child getting the “Thing 1” shirt and the younger child getting the “Thing 2” shirt.  It’s just chronological order.  And that’s fun, right?  But then someone threw a fit.  There are a couple of people who could have thrown said fit, and none of them would have been the oldest child.

It’s most likely that the youngest child threw a fit about being “Thing 2.”  And he probably did it for the reasons above, the poop thing being the least likely, but still a consideration.  I’d bet his brother pointed that one out.  So in an effort to prevent a public meltdown and save his precious self-esteem, the parents caved and allowed the youngest brother to get a “Thing 1” shirt also.

I’ll bet the older brother had a problem with his younger brother getting a “Thing 1” shirt, but didn’t say anything.  He just swallowed his frustration, as he had come to do in so many similar situations over the years since his brother was born.  It would fester in his guts with a quiet bitterness that he would take out on his baby brother in subtle ways in the years to come, completely undermining his younger brother’s confidence that his parents were so eager to protect.  So in letting the younger brother get a “Thing 1” shirt also, they’ve effectively ruined both kids.

It also could be the parents who threw the fit.  Maybe it wasn’t an actual fit, per se, but they could very well have just insisted that both kids have a “Thing 1” shirt so neither of them would feel “second best.”  Again, that will only damage the kid on a psychological level so deep, you’ll never see it manifest until years later and in ways that you would never associate with this particular shirt purchase.

Another thing that really gets me about this is the fact that there was even a debate about the shirt at all.  It’s fun if you have two kids and one is “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”  Then they get to be the characters from The Cat in the Hat.  Not like there’s any real distinction between the two Things, but still, it gives them more of a sense of identity.  Making them both “Thing 1” completely strips them of their individuality.

Then there’s the fact that the Things in the Dr. Seuss book are troublemakers.  Sure, it’s fun to pretend that your bundles of joy are little troublemakers.  The fact that you even put them in the shirts suggests that they are probably good kids.  Real troublemakers wouldn’t wear cutesy shirts like these.  They’d have skulls on them and logos for death metal bands or pro-wrestlers without a sense of irony.  So now, parents, you are basically saying that not only do your kids have no individuality, they are troublemakers and you can’t decide which one is the “number one” troublemaker.  Put those together and you will likely get real troublemakers down the road.

So, good job parents.  In your attempt to be “fair” and “save their self esteem,” you have done neither.  Your kids are not going to learn that they don’t always get to be “number one.”  They’re not going to have a sense of individuality.  They’re going to grow up thinking that if they complain enough, they’ll get their way.  The world doesn’t work like that.  Although sadly, it’s starting to.  And I blame parents like these.

Of course, the store could have just been out of “Thing 2” shirts.  But I can’t imagine there being a big run on those.  Still, I could be wrong.