“Dear General Rossum,
I’m the troop leader for the local Forrest Scouts, and we’re coming up on our annual camping trip. It’s my first time leading it, and I was wondering if you had any tips for a first timer like myself. Thanks.
Leading in Lincoln”
Camping is a great way to teach children the basic predatory nature that underlines everything. In the woods, everything wants to kill you, and if you forget that, something eventually will. Bambi might have been cute, but it was also delicious.
After showing your children how the world wants nothing more than to chew them into greasy stains, show them how humans learned to bite back. Namely, weaponry. Spears, knives, clubs, and hatchets are all necessities in a scout’s rucksack. However, no trip into the woods would be complete without a bevy of firearms. Now of course I can’t recommend you give a bunch of young boys rifles and shotguns. Those wait till middle school. Pistols should suffice for squirrels, birds, and other scouts who try to pilfer their trail mix. And don’t worry about them getting hurt. These trips are meant to be learning experiences, and it’s important to learn bullets hurt. You wouldn’t believe how many recruits I got who had to be taught that.
Finally, this is the best time to teach your troop exactly who’s in charge. You’ll be the only one with the food and knowledge of how to get back home, and if they’re lucky you’ll share with them. Any of your boys gives you guff, you banish him from the campground, let him find his own way back. If he turns up again, you can bet it will be with a lot more respect for the chain of command. Play this weekend right, and you can have a well oiled troop ready to take down any cookie-selling foe you face.
“Dear General Rossum,
My wife and I are at a crossroads on how to raise our two-year-old daughter. She thinks we ought to tell her stories about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, while I can only think about how much my trust in my parents was hurt by finding out they’d lied to me. What do you recommend?
Conflicted in Columbus”
The wife and I had the exact same conversation when we had our first daughter. Children need to think the world is a better place than the dark, festering murderdome you and I know it really is. They need to think there are rewards for growing up. I remember the first time little Harriet put a tooth under her pillow. She was so excited she almost couldn’t fall asleep. The only reason she did was she was so tuckered out from pulling it out of the playground bully’s mouth with a pair of pliers. Later on she realized that she got more money for teeth she took out with her bare hands than teeth she got with tools, and that’s when she really started to become a young woman.
She was so surprised when she found out hers would fall out naturally. At first she thought she was going to lose money for them. Then she started trying to sell them to kids at school to put under their own pillows. How can I doubt a little white lie that turned my daughter into a fine entrepreneur? Tell your little girl about the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, whatever you think will help make her see the world the right way.
“Dear General Rossum” is a fictional weekly advice column written by Peter Williams.
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