Thursday, February 4, 2010

Random Thoughts

1. I am not a parent. With my sister living nearby, and the amount of time I have spent with R & J (The Noble Savages), I have come just about as close as anyone can to parenthood without actually birthing a child.

I don't have intentions to become a parent, but I am very sympathetic to childfull people.

Once, after seeing Monsters, Inc., my sister remarked that the folks over at Pixar must have some real anxieties about kids. If you notice, movies like Monsters, Inc., Toy Story (1 & 2), The Incredibles, Up, and Finding Nemo all have similar themes about a child's capacity to bring great joy and extraordinary anxiety into the lives of its parents. Kids in Pixar films are not lovable, animatronic whimsy-bots. These kids are destructive, selfish, thoughtless, slimy, moody, willful and loud (The 21st Century Seven Dwarves). In my experience, this is a pretty accurate representation.

And why wouldn't the Pixar folks have anxieties about children? EVERYBODY does. Whether we are a parent or child-free, the youngest members of our society fill us with terror. We are charged with their care. We have to do our best not to fuck them up. We have head off any early inclinations towards jerkdom, annoying kid-dom, or bullying. We have to imbue them with honor, a fantastic sense of humor, six languages, and a magnetic, yet casual cool that will bring them throngs of admirers. All without reaching across the table, taking them by the neck and shrieking "If you say 'Paul Bunyon' in that sing-songy little voice ONE MORE TIME, I WILL DISAPPEAR YOU."

I say 'we', here because it's not just the job of the parents to look after the kids. We are all responsible.

There is a cultural backlash against "Mommies" at the moment. People get up in arms because of the perceived "sense of entitlement" that appears to come standard with a Baby SUV. I've seen this entitlement in action, and it's distasteful - but a sense of entitlement is distasteful no matter who's wearing it.

Regardless of your status as Unchilded or Childed, there is something to be said for good manners. This doesn't mean we have to rush out and volunteer to babysit, or that we can't have mixed feelings about kids in general. But have some sympathy, chrissake. If a child screams at dinner, don't stare at the parents like they've somehow stolen your joy, or if someone is struggling to get a stroller through the door, hold it open. It's not gonna kill you.

Kids can inspire tremendous amounts of joy. Tired, sweaty, snotty, hard wrought joy. Can everybody just cut everybody a frickin' break?

2. The other day, J. took me down to the basement to show me a spider web. The night before, he and his dad had discovered it. From what I could gather, there was a dead bug wrapped in spider silk and Dad had some explaining to do about the violent beauty of nature. This made an impression with J.

"You want to see the Spid-oh?", asked J., still not a master of the hard "R".


"The spid-oh kowed anoz-oh spid-oh."

"Oh. It killed another spider?"

"Yeah. You want to see it?"


He took me by the hand. (I don't care if the kid is taking you to see a Fairy Ring or a pile of dog-doo, when a child takes your hand, part of you turns to sappy mush.)

We went downstairs and, after a little poking around, we came upon a cobweb. I doubt it was the same spider web from the previous night, but it still served as illustration.

He pointed a nervous finger at the clump of dust bunnies. "That's the spid-oh."

"Oh. I see."

We crouched in silence. J. leaned over to me and, in a tremulous whisper, said:

"Stay not close to it."

I looked at him. He then toddled upstairs to dump milk on his plastic dinosaur.

3. Favorite word this week:

hay·mak·er (hmkr)

A powerful blow with the fist.

4. Least favorite word:



Mr. Snrub said...

Honestly, I'm not seeing this backlash against 'mommies' at the moment. Just my perception.

If you ever feel like slumming and read my blog, you'd see that I'm on a personal crusade against "Parrogance" (parental arrogance) in that there seems to be an automatic status climb once a woman has a kid.

Example: Car crash kills single woman versus car crash killing 'mother of four'. Somehow the mother's death is "more tragic". I cry bullshit. BIG bullshit. Both are equally tragic, yet, they are clearly not regarded as such in the media or, I feel, in the general public's view.

So, I agree with you, Jen, in that there is no reason to really stare at the parents if the kid is screaming, but, there IS a reason if those same parents are laughing it off as if they're sitting in their own home. Not cool. Pick the kid up and remove it from the scene, folks. We're in public - the rules change.

So...there you are. Hope you enjoyed my rambling notes.

-j-j- said...

You are now linked to my Blarg!

Trust me. I have been a starer. The other night, Notnits and I were using the local coin laundry. It was about 9:30 or 10pm and there was a shrieking baby a couple of tables down.

The kid was exhausted, practically falling asleep. But so angry and uncomfortable that he couldn't take it. The parents were doing what they could, but nothing changed.

I watched the clock, and this went on for about 45 minutes (shrieking baby time feels longer than non-shrieking I was making sure that I wasn't overestimating the length) which, for a kid, is a long time to be that hysterical.

I was pissed at the parents for not helping the child out. He was tired, it was late. I'm sure there were extenuating circumstances...but I was mad at them. It was none of my business, but I couldn't help it.

(I also felt bad because, as I know first hand, when a child is screaming and everyone is looking at you like you are Joan Crawford, and Jesus, I FEEL like Joan Crawford, it really sucks when you're trying to keep the kid calmed down.)

So, yeah. When parents don't appear to pay attention to what is going on with their kids, it's angering.

At the same time - a few weeks ago, Ben Winters posted a link to an Op-Ed piece written by a mother who was weighed down with kids and groceries on the train. As if in some sort of weird "Stand Together" defense, NO ONE on the train offered her a seat. She was dismayed by this, particularly because it seemed sort of hateful.

The comments online regarding this Op-Ed were excruciating to read - bloodthirsty, cruel, and never-ending. "WE aren't the parents of your kids, Lady. You want a seat, get a car! YOU decided to have kids! Take responsibility! You're contributing to overpopulation and the downfall of the planet by having these kids anyway you selfish breeder!" I'm not kidding. I mean they were THAT vicious.

I know some parent entitlement exists. I've seen it. But entitlement exists at every angle and then transforms into the active denial of help (or just being nice) to anyone who might be in need of it. It certainly doesn't automatically solve anything, but at the very least, if politeness or an extension of help is offered it puts everyone in a better position.

Mr. Snrub said...


These comment-y types need to get a grip. Wow. I believe it, though.

"I'm not helping that elderly woman cross the street! She DECIDED to get old! It's not MY fault she didn't kill herself at 75-years-old! She's contributing to the bankruptcy of social security!"

and scene....

-j-j- said...

You joke, my friend, but I bet there's some quivering mass of rage out there who has just typed that on some comments section on a news website.

It is equally hilarious/disturbing/insane when some poor sot tries to bring the conversation down to a reasonable level, and the hysterical commenters hoist their cyber-pitchforks and tell him/her what a Nazi they are for even SUGGESTING moderation.

(And, Snrub, always a pleasure.)

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