Parents and teachers alike are so extra creamy rich nice at preschool. Even I’m nice, spreading it on thick, being helpful and perky to others, which is saying a lot since I specialize in churlish negativity and passive-aggressive sarcasm. But get me close to my twins’ preschool and I’m just like the rest of them: smiling like an angel, exchanging effusive niceties, opening the school gates for others, greeting other parents I don’t know, picking up stray toys, smiling benevolently at their children.
It’s disgusting, all this niceness everywhere. I swear there are muscular fathers who are so nice they're cut off from their testosterone. But wearing the nice mask is pleasing at the same time. But all the while I'm fretting: “None of us are this nice off the school grounds. We’re wearing our parent hats, that’s all. Find us away from this preschool and you’ll see the real us, a bit tired, crabby, pissed off at something or other, impatient for addressing the needs of others.”
But what if everyone was in super nice mode all the time? Would we like it? Would it grate on our nerves? Would our saccharine kindness suppress something dangerous in ourselves that would make us more violent?
While we’re all nice to each other at pre-school, I enjoy it, but I worry holding in all our real emotions may not be healthy for the long-term.
Take the father (bald, 20 pounds overweight, sporting an oversized Citizen Eco-Drive Pro Diver) in these photos. He's smiling as he escorts his children at a pastoral park in Ojai. He's smiling at the tree with the rainbow yarn sleeve. But his thoughts are dark. He's thinking, "This damn yarn is harboring bacteria and my daughters are embracing it, licking it. It's disgusting. Whoever came up with this idea should be punished with a bamboo cane marinated in brine." God, it's hard to be nice.