Are there any First World problems more annoying than an inability to bet on toddler fights online?
I don’t think so.
Sure, people always trot out the multi-flush, low flow toilets as a biggie, but that’s still less aggravating than being unable to slap down fifty simoleons on 100:1 longshot Honey Boo Boo in a no-holds barred playpen fight.
And let’s face it, even if she loses, we win.
“Toddler fighting?” the more naive among you are asking.
Yes, toddler fighting.
Toddler fighting, as defined by Wikipedia*, is a blood sport in which toddlers are made to fight.
Well, I say ‘made’, but as anyone who has owned or raised a toddler can tell you, the creatures are inherently vicious and naturally inclined to do battle with one another as well as anyone else foolish enough to move within their cutely diminutive but oft deadly reach.
The sport goes back to the beginnings of recorded history, and probably even further back than that. But for the purposes of this article, I am ignoring the rich and varied oral histories that can be found within every culture on this planet.
Ming Dynasty records detail horrific tournaments pitting tyke against tyke. Staged inside a roped ring of ivory, Ming vases, at the time considered reasonably inexpensive, were a favored weapon.
Also commonly used? Dirty silk diapers.
The records detailing cleanup after these matches are nearly as horrific.
Egyptian hieroglyphics depict epic combat between what is either two toddlers wearing lavish headdresses, or an individual suffering from dwarfism and a creature with the body of a very small lion and the head of an inexplicably ginormous eagle.
Documents that survived the fires of Rome describe a lavish festival of golden diapers, silken blankies, and brass knuckles.
Nero championed the festival during his reign, making it a holiday across the Empire. Under his patronage, the annual event culminated in a spectacular death match in the Colosseum.
In some cases, the Revolutionary courts in France settled legal disputes between families by having their young children fight, the winner in the ring also being the winner in the courthouse.
Even as recently as the 1920s and 30s, toddler fighting bit and clawed its way into cultural references. The famous Diaper Noir novel Tooth and Nail, Baby, featuring the main character known only as the Contiguous Forty-Eight States Op, is the first (and possibly only) modern novel to describe the gory, brutal conditions of battle.
The warehouse stank of stale beer and cheap cigarettes. A string of naked bulbs hung over the ring, casting dim, indistinct shadows as they swayed, angry and restless, like the crowd of spectators hungering for their feast.
A pacifier, tattered and torn, lay in the center of the ring. And then my attention was drawn to the corners, as a flurry of movement introduced the fighters.
Le Tantrum, the heavy favorite, coming in at 32 pounds and all of it muscle, already had her teeth out in a furious rictus of white. Even from where I sat, I could see the fingernails, clipped into sharp points.
In the other corner, the challenger, a local favorite. The crowd was chanting his name, which matched his preferred fighting style. Over and over, like a phonograph with a scratch:
“Brasse Papillon! Brasse Papillon! Brasse Papillon!”
It was heady. It was seductive. It made me reach for my hip flask as I fought back the bile.
Indeed, these were barbaric times.
I am sure, if the Diminutive Combat, as toddler fighting is sometimes called, were legal, it would be strictly regulated.
But it is not legal.
Fortunately, the organizers of these fights are not inhumane. Voluntarily, with no legal requirement to do so, the parent-coaches bravely opted for heavy self-regulation.
As a result, maiming and deaths amongst spectators has dropped precipitously since those rules and regulations went into effect.
But this has not diminished the fallout that surrounds the sport; it has not stemmed the flow of hype and misinformation, the misguided fear that all toddlers are dangerous, cruel animals.
I mean, they are, but with the right upbringing (love, affection, regular feeding and watering, and the occasional hug), they can be held in check.
But no, that isn’t enough to stop some from jerking their knees in reaction.
Many communities ban toddlers entirely, forcing families to choose between euthanizing their babies or shipping them overseas to boarding schools until the age of five.
Ridiculous. No matter how frothing-at-the-mouth rabid a toddler is, he or she cannot climb over a six-foot chain link fence topped with razor wire. There is no need to exile them until their cognitive reasoning develops to the point they can control their impulses.
Even the revelation that some big name, mainstream athletes have placed bets, hosted matches, and even raised toddlers has done nothing to remove the stigma associated with having a small child in your home.
Don’t believe me? Find a toddler, and try taking him or her with you to a restaurant.
Watch the waitress for an almost imperceptible sagging of the shoulders when she sees the child.
See if you get any dirty glares from the other patrons.
Still not enough? Then take that toddler to a midnight movie premiere. I recommend The Hobbit, Part I when it comes out.
While a more nuanced view of toddlers within local government would increase the value my chain link fence company stocks, all of this brings me back to my First World problem.
Since toddler fighting isn’t legal, I can’t openly bet on the fights.
Since the breeding programs that feed this sport have been driven underground, I cannot research the pedigree of the combatants and therefore make more educated bets.
Even online betting on matches in countries where toddler fighting is legal are blocked at the local, state, and federal level.
And when you boil it down, that’s the problem.
Not the toddlers.
Not the matches.
Not the financial loss.
It’s the intrusive government rules and regulations preventing a cultural phenomenon from thriving.
Shame on you, local, state, and federal governments. And religious and child welfare organizations that goad them on.
Shame on you.
* When the entry hasn’t been removed by Big Tantrum interests to cloak the very existence of this controversial sport, that is. If you can’t find the entry, I encourage you to re-create it from the information here. I cannot, as my IP address is permanently blocked by the kowtowers and capitulators at the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Marlowe and the Spacewoman: