Speaking as a father, I have come to the sad realization that all children have the innate social decorum, personal hygiene skills, and civility of your everyday, bus-depot variety hobo.
How did I come to this conclusion? I cannot pinpoint it exactly, but my children have left a variety of clues as to their true hobo nature. Perhaps it was finding a collection of used Kleenexes discarded throughout our living room. Maybe it was the dirty socks or underwear strewn about our hallway. It could have been the umpteenth time I entered the bathroom and encountered a fresh “deuce” residing in an unflushed toilet.
Whatever it was, I now view our nice suburban home as a veritable tent city. Once I began to take notice of my surroundings, I found the signs of hobo “culture” were everywhere. For instance, around the dinner table each night, I am more apt to hear burping and flatulence than polite conversation.
Furthermore, like hobos, my children relish in their unhealthy diet and lifestyle. My daughter would happily eat a bag of gummy worms smothered in maple syrup for breakfast and wash it down with a root beer float.
Like hobos, my children have horrible hygiene. If left to their own devices, their teeth would go unbrushed and their hair uncombed henceforth. Forget showers too. I have honestly witnessed lengthy debates between my wife and daughter over whether a morning shower is necessary after one has an “accident” the night before.
Like hobos, my children sleep in a tangled rat’s nest of blanks, pillows, assorted personal belongings, dirty clothes and half-eaten food. In addition, like hobos, this “bedding” has the unmistakable odor of stale “pee pee.”
Like hobos, in settling even the smallest dispute, my children generally escalate it to a crazy screaming match in a public place.
Like hobos, the decision-making of children overly favors instant gratification and has an astonishing degree of short-term bias for someone that will live for another 90+ years.
Like hobos, my children constantly beg for money and rarely disclose how the money will ultimately be spent. Knowing their unhealthy lifestyle and bias for short-term gratification, I know my donations will not be going towards their retirement fund. However, there are rare instances that I do feel generous and hand over a dollar to a panhandling child or hobo. I’ve noticed, almost without fail, that within mere minutes of handing over the dollar that I’ll be approached by the exact same child or hobo, unabashedly requesting spare change once more. I then am put in the uncomfortable position of having to exclaim amongst a throng of bystanders, “What! Don’t your remember?, We just had this conversation 10 minutes ago! I gave you a dollar for “bus fare” or the candy machine, remember? Where did that money go?!”
I never really expect a response, as hobos often don’t provide the truth or a direct answer, anyway. Also, hobos complain a lot, make excuses, and are disrespectful. Hobos routinely fail to say “please” and “thank you” or generally show gratitude, even when you are bestowing generosity upon them. Does this sound like any children you know?
As I’ve outlined above, hobos have few redeeming qualities. My job as a parent, fundamentally, is to prevent my children from fulfilling their inborn hobo destiny. Now that I have begun to anticipate their lowlife tendencies, I have developed a counterstrategy.
I call my method “Hobo Chores.” The system is both simplistic and ingenious. Whenever I observe a hobo-esque act of anti-social behavior, I immediately and loudly assign a “hobo chore” to the offending child in witness of the entire family and other onlookers.
Now, there’s nothing inherently different from a “hobo chore” versus the type of routine chores our kids perform each day… except for the stigma of being associated with hobos. In other words, hobo branding has been the key to the program’s success. It should also be noted, that this is the first time in history that “hobo branding” has ever been successful in association with anything.
Look, it’s not easy being a parent. For those of you struggling with childrearing, feel free employ my methods. And someday, when your children are fully grown, and they are not aggressively panhandling in a touristy part of town or defecating on a sidewalk somewhere, you’ll know who to thank.
Also published on Medium.