The Tyranny of OPC (other people's children)
Michael Bunker - email@example.com
I suppose that most people who know me know that I really don't like going to “town”. I like it less and less every day. I suppose that no one warned me (though I should have suspected it, logically) when I embarked on this Agrarian/Separatist road, that every new thing learned and believed is a slippery slope. The more I learn about the world (and we learn most about the world when we learn more about God and His perfect ways) the more I hate it and I am deeply offended by my contacts with it. Every new thing I learn strikes down 15 lies the world taught me to believe all my life. Every new truth unveiled by God's grace, strikes down another barrier or bulwark in my mind and heart – bulwarks meticulously and carefully crafted by a world that hates God and is at war with him. When God taught us about modesty in dress, and showed us the old paths, where is the good way, and that we should walk therein, that we might find rest for our souls (Jer. 6:16), he also gave it to us to hate the thing we once loved. I must admit, as a young carnal man I enjoyed going to town and looking at the pretty girls. I even gave thanks to God for them. I would see a pretty girl, immodestly dressed and arrogant, and I would say “Excellent job on that one God. Good work!” Lord have mercy on me. Today I am physically sickened by the way people dress in public, and by the way they carry on with no respect for anyone else around them... Oh, and by the way, you should know that these are professing “christian” people. You can tell by the Jesus fish emblem on the car, or the t-shirts that say “4Given” or “He Chose the Nails”. The sarcastic and ironic part of me makes silent (and sometimes not so silent) comments. My mind changes the sayings to “4$ale” or “He chose the nails, to free me to dress like a full-on prostitute”. Now, add to my discomfort the fact that I already tend to be a bit obsessive-compulsive, and I admit this fully. I don't think it is a problem, but I wash my hands 40+ times a day, and cannot stand to see people touch things in a store that they are not going to buy. If you want to see me scream out on the inside then go with me to a store. I watch parents with their snot-nosed children standing in the checkout line. The children touch EVERYTHING. They pick up every bar of candy, hang listlessly from the counter, drag their filthy hands across everything within reach. This when they don't have their hands stuck in their mouths, or up their noses. Then, the next guy in line, I suppose who is oblivious to the world health crisis developing right in front of him, calmly waits for his change leaning with both hands on the counter that Jaden and Brittney just spewed all over. Ok, I am not overboard with this thing. I realize that I have a system in my body that fights against such beasties, and that that system grows stronger when it is tested and tried. I can live in the woods, eat food that has dirt on it, and work with my hands. I also do not totally avoid the store because of my “problem”; I'm not a cripple. But I do cringe inside when I see this happen every time I go into a store.
I think I went off on a tangent there, but the point is that the more I am taught of God, the more I cannot stand to be around worldlings and their ways. There is no end to the examples I could give, but I desire to focus more in this article with my growing dislike for being around OPC (other people's children) – mainly I am speaking about the children of worldlings. To help illustrate, I am going to create a not-so-fictional scenario, and I will include in the scene several different elements, that though they rarely occur at the same time, happen often enough to be considered “normal” by me. In the not-so-fictional scenario, my wife and I have gone to a large restaurant for lunch. Now, once upon a time this was a very great treat. We used to look forward to time away from the children and away from home. I used to think about “running to town” as a great escape from the reality of my everyday challenges. Nobody in town was going to attack me as a heretic or a harsh, mean, bully. Nobody in town is writing me hate mail, or staying up late nights to find new ways to slander me. So, going to town was a temporary escape from being “Michael Bunker – the Calvinist, Agrarian, Separatist”. But the more I've come to know about God and His plan for His people, and the more I've come to love the farm and the work, and the daily adventure, the more my mind has been changed about “running to town”. Generally, when folks first get out, they go to town a lot. Their minds are still colonized and they still have those carnal affections for air-conditioning and restaurant food. I understand that completely. We're all that way when we first get back to the land. We convince ourselves we are always going for a good reason, but in reality probably 90% of our trips into town are a waste of time and money, and are the dying impulses of the old industrial/colonized mind. Wow, another digression... bear with me.
Ok, so in the scenario, my wife and I have gone to town and we are in a large restaurant. Let me help paint the picture. Rita takes our order at the front counter. Rita is somewhere between 25-40, wears a t-shirt and a baseball cap. She can't wait to get off work. She's not really glad to see us, but she says she is. At the table next to us are two women who are on their lunch break from the hospital. They are wearing purple “scrubs”, which tells me that they are probably nurses, but they actually could be anything from a real doctor, to an orderly that removes bottles of pee from the rooms. One of the women is already married with children. I could tell you much, much, much more about her and her children because the entire time we have been in the restaurant this woman (we'll call her Taysha) has been talking on her cell phone to someone in her home. And she talks really, really loudly. She doesn't care one whit whether it bothers anyone else. She is on the damn phone and everyone else can go to hell. Taysha wants Bryce to quit hitting his sister and go put aunt Heather on the phone. Heather needs to know that Taysha will be late getting home because she has to run and pick up Devon after work. The other woman at the table is not married yet. I know this because when Taysha finally got off the phone, they talked about how “awesome” (AWESOME!) it was that she finally had hooked up with Britton. She never used to feel “that way” about him, but they had really grown closer and now she was really thinking Britton is the one. He doesn't tell her what to do, and he really wants it to be a 50-50 relationship.
Our food arrives.
Meanwhile, a woman and her mother come in with their two daughters (Paris and Nicole). Mom looks and is dressed just like Rita, only she doesn't wear a baseball cap because she is not at work. She gets new flip-flops every week or so. She is probably 32 and has been married for 6 years. I know this because she has been packing on some pounds and her oldest girl (Paris) is probably just about 6 years old. Mom has long blond hair that is not really blond at all because the roots are brown, but the hair is teased and I'm sure she left the house after messing with it for a good long time. She was something back in high school, she tells herself. Paris and Nicole walk into the restaurant yelling at the top of their lungs. Apparently, Paris wants an ice cream and Nicole wants a cherry coke. This is what I gathered. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mom. Mom. Mommy! Mommy! Can I have an ice cream? Mommy? Mom! (Mom and Grandma are talking and, it seems, cannot hear Paris and Nicole who are yelling. Mom! Mommy! Coke! Ice Cream! Can I? Please! Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy! Mom finally responds... SHHH, and returns to her conversation with her mother. I could barely hear the “Shhhh” over Paris and Nicole who are now yelling at each other. Nicole loses the ability to stand up and slumps dramatically to the ground. Her flip-flops fall off. Mom and Grandma step over her and approach the counter to place their order. Mom leans all the way over to Paris and asks her what she wants. Paris pulls from her grasp and screams “Ice Cream!” and runs halfway across the restaurant. Nicole finds the ability to stand and starts in with Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom. (Mom is busy retrieving Paris and asking her again what she wants, other than ice cream). Mom. Mom. Mommy. Paris doesn't want anything but Ice Cream, and Grandma says “It's ok, I'll buy her Ice Cream”, which causes Paris to do a victory trot through the restaurant. Grandma has really short hair. She got the memo. When she turned 50 she went straight to the hair salon and had her hair buzzed short in the back and teased in the front. She had it dyed so you can't see the gray. She is probably 54 but could easily pass for 53, what with the hair dyed and all. All 4 of the females under discussion are wearing shorts (well, Paris has on a mini-skirt – I mean, she is 6) and flip-flops, except Nicole who kicked hers off... remember? Mom. Mommy. Mom. Coke. Mommy. “Nicole, would you like a Coke, Orange, or Sprite?” Paris is across the room climbing on a table and pointing at something. Her mom half-heartedly says “Paris, get down”, but then goes back to trying to figure out what Nicole wants to drink... even though Nicole walked into the restaurant screaming “Cherry Coke!” at the top of her lungs only 7 minutes ago.
On the other side of us is PTM (poorly trained mom). The name PTM also sounds like “Patty Melt”, so I will call her “Patty”. Patty is the best of the bunch. She is trying, although she is very likely doing more damage than all the other moms here. She restrains and scolds her children, and even spanks them. I know this because after the 18th time she corrected one of her sons, she dragged him (yelling NO MOM! I DON'T WANT A SPANKING! PLEASE! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO) to the bathroom. It seems that Patty once might have read part of a book on properly raising and training children, or maybe she read To Train Up A Child (which is a great book on the subject) but has selectively neglected to apply almost all of the lessons in the book. Patty is perennially embarrassed by her children, and so she reacts more out of shame and latent pride, then out of a sincere desire to see her children trained up properly. Patty's prayer for her children is “Please God, don't let them embarrass me”. Like Paris and Nicole's mom, Patty can only selectively hear her own children. If she is talking, or thinking, or chewing gum, she is capable of completely ignoring what the little beasts are doing. When it occurs to her that they are misbehaving, she overreacts by screaming at them to show herself and those around her that she most certainly DOES NOT approve of what they were doing while she was unconscious. She threatens her children incessantly, but only randomly follows through on the threats. Her children do not believe her, because usually when she swears she is going to spank them or correct them, she is lying. Then they are surprised when the 18th threat leads to a spanking, so they react by screaming their pleas for clemency at the top of their voices while she drags them off for punishment. She scolds her son for spraying ketchup on the wall, and swears if he does it again he will get a spanking, and makes him say “Yes ma'am” to prove that he heard her. He stops with the ketchup, for about 45 seconds, then begins again – but by this time she is on to something else and forgets her threat. Son number two wants some candy. The conversation goes like this:
Patty: I told you if you finished your food I would buy you some candy. You did not finish your food, so no candy.
Son #2: But I want candy.
Patty: I told you no!, so NO!
Son #2: But Mom, I want some candy!
Patty: You should have finished your food – but you didn't, so no candy.
Son #2: Can I have a cookie?
At this point Patty sees Son #1 spreading ketchup on the wall, and tells him to stop. Didn't he hear her the first time? “Yes ma'am” he says, and stops. For about 45 more seconds.
She can't seem to figure out why the books she read don't work. Her children have NO IDEA what to expect from her at any given time, and are truly, truly shocked when she finally follows through on her threatenings. The result? Children that do not listen to their mother or anyone else. They get spanked randomly and without any logic or reason, except that they finally pushed mom farther than she was willing to go... this time. Patty is emotional, and makes excuses for herself and her children, even to strangers like us who are sitting there trying to eat a hamburger over the din and screaming of youngsters. Patty says, “They are tired and didn't get a nap”, or “too much sugar today, obviously” and gives a kind of embarrassed giggle, shaking her head and hoping we agree that that is the problem. There is nothing wrong with Patty's children. The problem is Patty.
By this time I have managed to choke down a hamburger and my blood pressure is likely around a gazillion or so. So much for a relaxing afternoon in town. No one asked me for my help, so I'll go on home to our own children. It is the only time I appreciate them like I should.
Your servant in Christ Jesus,