Declan and Childhood Innocence


At the risk of outing myself even further as a heartless Communist media Jew, when I was growing up and deep into adulthood I did not believe in the concept of childhood innocence. To me, children were not pure, precious little angels or exemplars of dewy, apple-cheeked innocence. 

That did not describe the children that I knew, or rather that I might have known if I were not so deathly afraid of everything, but human contact and human interaction most of all. No, the kids that I knew were cruel and scary, pint-sized bullies who did not have to abide by the same laws and codes of conduct that everyone else did. 

Even into adulthood, I saw the concept of childhood innocence as little more than an elaborate marketing scam, a way to sucker and manipulate adults into taking their screaming group of hellions to Disney Land and Disney World and buying them enough Christmas and birthday presents to keep the economy functioning. 

Alternately, what I saw as the Myth of Childhood Innocence was an elaborate ruse designed to sucker new parents into accepting the never-ending stream of burdens, responsibilities and obligations that come with bringing a new life into this sick and sad and strange and beautiful world and then cleaning their feces, changing their clothes, feeding them, trying to get them to sleep, buying them clothes and food and diapers and everything else that goes along with being a parent. If children, and the institution of parenthood, were merely depicted as being okay, then this might seem like a bit of a gyp, if not the universe’s longest con. You forego sleep and money and comfort and sanity and your looks and your personal life and business opportunities and what’s left of your ever-vanishing youth, and what do you get in return? The vague promise that parenthood is so wonderful that somehow all of these sacrifices will be worth it? 

No, in order for this crazy compromise to make sense and not seem deeply masochistic, children need to be not just pretty neat but goddamned angels from heaven. 

And you know what? Sometimes they are. Sometimes they really are. Sometimes all that hogwash and conditioning about how being a parent changes everything in the best (if most exhaustinng) kind of way turns out to be true. 

When I look at Declan literally bouncing up and down with joy about almost everything I see childhood innocence. I see purity. I see something special and sacred and inextricably linked to childhood that I want to protect and sustain and savor as long as humanly possible. These feelings have nothing to do with Disney or the Coca-Cola company or the fact that I’ve been told that children and parenthood are magical for as long as I can remember, but only stopped rolling my eyes at that idea when that became my day-to-day reality of being Declan Haven Dilla Rabin’s dad. 

Before I became a dad, I saw the concept of childhood innocence through the prism of the hopelessly sad and scared little boy I used to be. Now that I am a father, I am happy to say that I see it through the prism of the magical, irrepressibly happy I somehow helped create and now have the almost unimaginable pleasure and honor of helping raise. 

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