An open letter to the Grade One class of 2015

Hello kiddies. I’m your Uncle Ben and I’m here to help explain what’s happening to you.

First of all, welcome to hell. You think the last five years of living with your parents was rough? That’s nothing compared to what lies ahead. The abuse, ridicule and pressure to achieve standards that are way beyond your means.

You probably don’t believe me, right? I bet you think you’re going to spend the next twelve years drawing turtles, finding Wally and learning how to tell the time. Well, you’re not. By the time you realise you’ve been duped, you’ll be drawing Euclid’s parallel postulate, finding your way to the headmaster’s office and learning how to get Tracy to show you her broeks. And it will be too late to cut and run.

That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Comrade Blade Nzimande becomes president in 2024 and, days before your 16th birthday, he changes the medium of instruction to Russian and reduces the number of subjects to two – wine farming and intelligence gathering.

My advice is that you get out now, while you still can. I don’t care that you’re five-and-a-half. In some countries, at your age, you’d be locked inside a cage for twelve hours a day assembling iPads. Or, if you’re really lucky, your king would delay the start of the school year so that you and your friends could finish weeding his fields. Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to live in Swaziland.

Come Monday, you need to put your hand up and tell the teacher you want to go pee-pee. Grab other kids’ lunch on your way out. You’re going to need to keep your strength up. It’s a tough world out there, especially when you stand a metre off the ground, talk gibberish and fall down a lot. You won’t be alone. I know plenty of grown-ups who do the same.

Run away and join the circus. The one I went to the other night didn’t have a single small person. When I went to the circus as a kid, you could barely walk ten paces without tripping over a midget. Okay, so you’re a kid, not a midget. Don’t quibble.

If not the circus, then form a union. You might not know it, but you do have rights. Not many, admittedly, but you have some. It’s right there in the Constitution. You don’t know what that is? What the hell kind of educa … oh, right. Well, it’s this big book that is kept locked away and only brought out when people have their feelings hurt.

Section 28 – not that you know what a section is or even how to count to 28 – says you have the right to a name and a nationality. Your parents will have given you a rubbish name. They always do. Change it. Open your word tin and empty the words on the floor. Pick seven letters. That’s your new name. Welcome to reality, Zbejfhy.

You also have the right not to be used directly in armed conflict. This means nobody may fire you from an artillery gun or use you to bludgeon the enemy. You probably find this disappointing but, let me tell you, it’s not as much fun as it sounds. However, this does not stop you from forming your own militia. A million children who think nudity is normal and whose negotiating tactics include screaming and thrashing around on the floor would be a formidable force indeed. I, for one, would give you whatever you want. With the right demands, finger-painted crudely on the side of a dog, you guys could be the new Islamic State.

You are also entitled to parental care. If you don’t like your parents – and let’s be honest, who really does? – go and find new ones. Walk around the neighbourhood knocking on doors. If you’re white, someone will eventually take you in. If you’re black, well, human trafficking is one way of seeing the world for free.

If you decide to ignore my advice and stay in school, don’t blame me for the consequences when the system spits you out in 2027.

You think jobs are scarce now? Of course you don’t. You think Smarties are scarce. That’s all you care about. Instant gratification. Keep it up and you’ll be a journalist one day. Obviously they won’t be called journalists by the time you matriculate. They’ll be known as Noble Messengers Of The Only Truth.

I’m probably wasting my time. You’re a kid. You’re going to do whatever you want to do. Some grown-ups never lose that mindset and they end up divorced, jailed or very wealthy. I’m on two out of three and hoping for a home run.

Good luck, kiddo. One day all of this will be yours.

What’s left of it, anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “An open letter to the Grade One class of 2015

  1. They’re getting betterer & betterer. Wish I’d had this advice before being plonked down at that school desk … Many thanx Ben.

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