This is a bit of a rant. In advance, sorry my first real post back is so elbowey and all over the place.
First, I read about These Assholes, who turned a community Easter Egg hunt into some kind of Hunger Games for the Helicopter Parents set.
My favorite pull quote:
As parent Lenny Watkins, who participated in the hunt two years ago, told the AP, “You better believe I’m going to help my kid get one of those eggs. I promised my kid an Easter egg hunt and I’d want to give him an even edge.”
Didja see how I managed to work in a timely Hunger Games, kill-or-be-killed reference there?
For some reason, hearing that this happened in Colorado Springs didn’t surprise me. It IS the home of Focus on the Family and all its Jeebusy evangelitards. And nothing says “What Would Jesus Do?” like knocking down a 5-year-old to get at some shitty plastic Wal-mart egg for your own kindergartner.
And then there’s Jennifer Coburn, who apprently cares more about her daughter’s first breakup (if that’s what you want to call the end to a relationship that existed as a bunch of texting) than her daughter does. This chick is so caught up in how she believes her daughter should react to being dumped, that she completely loses sight of how she actually does it. Which, by the way, is with a shoulder shrug and an “oh, well.”
“Oh, well,” is a pretty healthy way to deal with your first breakup, by the way. Somehow, miraculously, JC managed to raise a kid who has some maturity and smarts. I just hope that Katie gets out of that house and far, far away from her needy suckhole of a mother as soon as she can, before she finds herself the caretaker of her mother’s every emotion.
True Story: A woman I work with was on the bus to work one day, and she overheard a young girl, about 20 or so, chatting with her mother in the seat next to her. The girl was wearing a miniskirt so short that it barely covered her bottom, and she was on her way to her first day as an intern at the company where we work. Her mother was with her because she was afraid for her to ride the bus into the city alone. My co-worker offered to escort her from the bus terminal to the office. So here’s a kid whose mom is so helicopter that she feels like she can’t navigate the public transportation system alone, yet lets her go to her first day at a job at a Fortune 500 corporation dressed in like a hoochie-mama.
My sister was/is a very attentive parent. At the time her kids were tiny, she made the decision to retire, with a nice golden parachute, from the Giant Telephony Corporation where she was a programmer, so she could dedicate herself to raising her kids. My brother-in-law is an airline pilot, so they have a very nice life in an upscale suburb of Chicago with just the one income. They had quite strict rules about bike helmets and curfews and homework and what the kids ate. There was no cable TV in their house, and those poor, deprived children had no Playstations or Nintendos. When they were allowed to have cell phones (in high school), they were the pay-as-you-go kind. No unlimited plans for those kids, no sirree. So when they used up their minutes or texts, they had to buy them on their own. Their online activity was closely monitored, and the kids shared a computer that sat in the dining room. Sis shuttled them to band practice, and soccer games, and all those other activities that kids do. She was a band mom who volunteered hundreds of hours of her time to go on band trips and supervise events at the high school. “No” meant “no” in their house.
At no time have I ever heard my sister or brother-in-law refer to their children as “my best friend.” They have actual friends, who are adults. And their kids have actual friends, who are kids.
She and her husband raised two level-headed, great kids, who are both in college. Niece just started at Michigan State and is majoring in plant biology (I’ve told her if she gets a job with Monsanto I’m disowning her), and Nephew goes to U of I and majors in Engineering. He’s done an internship with GE in Michigan and this summer he’ll be in Huntsville interning with Boeing (hey, my nephew really IS a rocket scientist). Last week, Nephew (who is 20) went to Ireland and Germany ON HIS OWN for Spring Break, and managed to get a cab to my apartment in Brooklyn ON HIS OWN.
Not for nothin’, folks, I was riding the trolley into downtown Pittsburgh — sans adult supervision — from the time I was 13 years old. My best friend and I knew our way around the Golden Triangle as well as we knew how to navigate our local shopping mall. We rode our bikes all over our area of Allegheny County, sometimes into the next town! We would disappear for hours on end on long summer days when our parents knew nothing about where we were or what we were doing. Our explanations were usually tossed over our shoulders as we rode (helmetless!) down the street: “We’re going to Simmons Park!” or “We’re going to South Park Pool!” The only “rule” was that we had to be home by the time the streetlights came on or dinnertime, whichever came first. Somehow, none of us got killed or molested. Sometimes we even met boys from other school districts while we were exploring our town. oooooooh, scary!
My mother started working outside the home when my little brother was in grade school and I was in middle school. The middle school I attended was a block away from our house, so I was a “walker.” Mom was a lunch lady, and was usually home right after school let out. But sometimes she would have to do some errand or other, like go to the grocery store or stop at the dry clearer. My brother and I would get home and let ourselves into the house. We knew not to burn anything down, but to find our own snacks, do our homework, and plop in front of the TV to watch “Speed Racer” and “Ultraman;” in other words, not do stupid and dangerous things while Mom wasn’t home.
On occasion, being an occasionally airheady teen, I would forget my house key. So I would sit my ass down on the front steps and read a book (I always had a book with me) and wait until Mom got there. No one called Child Protective Services on us. On one memorable occasion, I was locked out and had to pee, so I did what any resourceful 13-year-old would do — I went to the back of the house, stood on a bench from the picnic table, and broke into a bedroom window. I had to PEE, all right?
Mom would make us wait in the car when she stopped at the milk store, the grocery store, the drug store. Misbehave at the shopping mall? The threat was always, “Do you want to go sit in the car?” No one called Child Protective Services on us.
Lenore Skenazy is one of my heroes. You may remember that she caught a raft of shit a few years back for letting her 9-year-old son Izzy ride the New York City subways by himself. She’s been called the World’s Worst Mom, but I see her as someone who is raising a kid to be safe and smart and most of all, independent, which in my book, makes her one of the World’s Best.
Look, I understand that no parent wants to see their child hurt, or denied things, and everyone wants their kid to be happy and successful, but honestly, I am up to here with parents running interference for their kids for every single thing they attempt. It’s like they’re trying to fix the defects they think they have in their own lives by making their kids’ lives PERFECT.
Stop it. You’re raising cretins who think the world owes them something, but who can’t do a damn thing for themselves. Let them play, go out alone, fall down, hurt themselves, fail. Because life ain’t perfect, it ain’t always pretty, and odds are they’re going to get more “nos” from life than “yeses,” and if you don’t give them the tools to handle it when they are young, they’re in for a tough time of it when they’re adults.