Say what you will about Michael Jackson: the King of Pop was giving his kids better than he got.
So they had to wear masks in public? So they are of indeterminate origin? They got the chance at a childhood their papa never had.
Psychiatrists have long posited Jackson was stuck in childhood, what with his self-created Neverland penchant for surrounding himself with children (whether or not the allegations of molestation were true). Even the timber of his voice in later years was more childlike than those of most grown men.
If he was a child molester, no doubt, we can’t excuse him. But we may be able to explain some of his weirdness: his father was known to be overbearing and a believer of spare the rod, spoil the child. Jackson was out in the limelight performing with the Jackson 5 when most kids are learning to tie their shoes and
In an essay by Jackson republished this week after his death, the King of Pop related how rough he had it growing up in the center of the world: “When I look back on my childhood, it is not an idyllic landscape of memories. My relationship with my father was strained, and my childhood was an emotionally difficult time for me. I began performing when I was five years old, and my father – a tough man – pushed my brothers and me hard, from the earliest age, to be the best performers we could be.”
When he grew up – physically at least – and had his kids, Jackson did one thing right. Since the infamous dangling baby incident with youngest son Prince Michael “Blanket” Jackson II, the kids have been kept largely out of the spotlight. Maybe because they were in Bahrain, but still, he’s allowed them as normal a childhood as you can get when your dad is the butt of late night jokes and his voice is on the iPod of every seventies and eighties child in America.
The sight of the elder two kids, those borne Jackson by ex-wife Debbie Rowe, was rare enough that it made mega headlines a few weeks ago as Prince Michael I, twelve, and Paris Michael, eleven, were unmasked in public. Other news is equally boring – Paris had a circus party for her birthday (sounds refreshingly normal – although the stilt walkers were a bit over the top).
In other words? The kids have largely avoided the public scrutiny their father has been subjected to from the get-go, from an age even younger than his youngest child is now. Those days are partially over – if nothing else, the custody battle brewing will put giant targets on their backs for weeks and even months to come.
But let’s hope whoever they land with realizes that there was one thing Michael Jackson knew his kids needed – to be protected, something his own parents failed to do.