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The Angel and the Author

CHAPTER XVII
[Parents and their Teachers.]
My heart has been much torn of late, reading of the wrongs of Children. It has lately been
discovered that Children are being hampered and harassed in their career by certain brutal
and ignorant persons called, for want of a better name, parents. The parent is a selfish
wretch who, out of pure devilment, and without consulting the Child itself upon the
subject, lures innocent Children into the world, apparently for the purpose merely of
annoying them. The parent does not understand the Child when he has got it; he does not
understand anything, not much. The only person who understands the Child is the young
gentleman fresh from College and the elderly maiden lady, who, between them, produce
most of the literature that explains to us the Child.
The parent does not even know how to dress the Child. The parent will persist in dressing
the Child in a long and trailing garment that prevents the Child from kicking. The young
gentleman fresh from College grows almost poetical in his contempt. It appears that the
one thing essential for the health of a young child is that it should have perfect freedom to
kick. Later on the parent dresses the Child in short clothes, and leaves bits of its leg bare.
The elderly maiden Understander of Children, quoting medical opinion, denounces us as
criminals for leaving any portion of that precious leg uncovered. It appears that the
partially uncovered leg of childhood is responsible for most of the disease that flesh is
heir to.
Then we put it into boots. We "crush its delicately fashioned feet into hideous leather
instruments of torture." That is the sort of phrase that is hurled at us! The picture conjured
up is that of some fiend in human shape, calling itself a father, seizing some helpless
cherub by the hair, and, while drowning its pathetic wails for mercy beneath roars of
demon laughter, proceeding to bind about its tender bones some ancient curiosity dug
from the dungeons of the Inquisition.
If the young gentleman fresh from College or the maiden lady Understander could be, if
only for a month or two, a father! If only he or she could guess how gladly the father of
limited income would reply,
"My dear, you are wrong in saying that the children must have boots. That is an exploded
theory. The children must not have boots. I refuse to be a party to crushing their
delicately fashioned feet into hideous leather instruments of torture. The young
gentleman fresh from College and the elderly maiden Understander have decided that the
children must not have boots. Do not let me hear again that out- of-date word--boots."
If there were only one young gentleman fresh from College, one maiden lady
Understander teaching us our duty, life would be simpler. But there are so many young
gentlemen from College, so many maiden lady Understanders, on the job--if I may be
permitted a vulgarism; and as yet they are not all agreed. It is distracting for the parent
 
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