It’s easy to forget how scary it is to be a kid. We here, we of Fort Saint Davids, we really like hopscotch and bicycles and ice cream cones. (Note to Portland: get better gelato.) We like running fast, mouths open, into the wind. We like childhood’s promise of freedom.
So we sometimes forget how easy it is to rend the whole fabric of a life that’s been woven just that thinly. It’s an uncanny thing, kidhood.
And the kids’ uncanniness does strike us funny late in life. The kids themselves start to seem creepy because undiscovered, barely socialized, violent and brutish and unformed in impulse, proto-fascist (because alone, because human) but still, thankfully, largely powerless.
But remember: they’re not creepy because we shudder at the possibility of innocence perverted. It’s the innocence itself that’s creepy–that they, like the dark, like phantoms, like WMDs, are unfindable and unknowable in their essence.
It’s not for nothing we’re druggin’ the little things.
So here’s to Shel Silverstein, who understood. And while many of us thought of him as a comforting bit of nonce and whimsy, the friendly uncle-sort with harmlessly Judeo-Christian undertones, understand that there’s more to it. He understood.
So, a little piece of totalitarian and child-pharmaceutical whimsy, to chew on. We love you, Shel.
by Shel Silverstein
If we had hinges on our heads
There wouldn’t be no sin,
‘Cause we could take the bad stuff out
And leave the good stuff in.