Archive for the ‘Notes from a Non-parent’ Category


Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

I was a kid myself when someone first tried to sell me on “It was a different time then.” And whether or not it was a different time then, the phrase doesn’t fly. It’s an idiotic excuse. Even worse, it’s a negligent standard.

It says the past isn’t worthy of interpretation, only rationalization, and that makes it this year’s winner.  

Whether they’re questioning adult talk at the dinner table, inquiring about stories in the news, or simply seeking insight, “It was a different time then” shuts down the conversation. It chases young people away at exactly that point known as a “teachable moment.” (more…)

“It’s Just Words, Folks…”

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

notes-from-a-non-parent-11I called my mom a “bitch” once. She spun and dropped as if to shoulder my head against the stove.

“Don’t ever call a woman that,” she warned, her finger in my face. “It means you hate women. Only idiots use that word.”

I panicked and thought Wait, I don’t hate women!

Her signature door-slammer, “idiot,” was always effective too. As in, “If you stick a needle in your arm – you’re an idiot.”

And my mom’s lesson had legs: I soon learned it also applied to the other words boys around me were using to describe women and their parts. 

There’s No Excuse for Baby Tattoos

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Notes-from-a-Non-parent-10_Where-Excuses-Go-to-DieC’mon, why baby tattoos? You wouldn’t have a picture of your tongue tattooed on your arm, would you?  

Well, aren’t we talking about something only a couple months shy of looking like someone’s tongue?

This non-parent certainly is.

The faces of most newborns don’t have nearly enough character to justify placement under your Mötorhead tattoo. Can I get a witness? Fresh babies are unshaped, rapidly evolving, and for all intents and purposes, under cooked. You wouldn’t want to look at it in a bowl, would you? Well to this non-parent, even highly stylized baby tattoos are not an improvement.

Besides, when a child is born and breathing for the first time, he or she doesn’t want to be there. He or she could care less about Creeper Ink on Piedmont Ave., or your penchant for over-sentimentalizing and mis-prioritizing your own emotional upheaval. (more…)

What I Saw in a Selfie

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

A friend’s daughter’s selfie stirs contempt for social distortion.

Notes from a Non-parent 9_Where Excuses Go to DieSomewhere around age 11, most kids stop thinking of themselves as children. In fact, with some, there might even be a first taste of contempt: an inaugural disdain for one’s own image in light of the year’s more celebrated models. That was my experience, and I’m guessing it might also be that way for Ray (short for Rayna), the 12 year-old daughter of my friend Ruby. One of Ray’s selfies, in which she’s wearing thick eyeliner and lipstick, took me by surprise this morning.

Now, I’m a non-parent by choice, so these remarks are made knowing that my own being caught off guard can’t compare to the urgency felt by Ruby and other moms. But the photo made me sad, nonetheless: sad for the marketing designed to strategically divide and conquer women that’s already being aimed at this kid, this baby held by me in a picture above my desk.

What I saw in this selfie took me by surprise, ‘cause I wasn’t prepared to equate Ray’s face with my anger for how dumb adults can be. (more…)

A False Image of Solid Parenting

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Taking responsibility for your children doesn’t work in silhouette

Notes from a Non-parent 8After 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick threw herself off an abandoned concrete silo tower last month, her friends and schoolmates came forward in droves to tell police she’d essentially been bullied to death. Guadalupe Shaw, 14, and another girl (aged 12) were charged with felony aggravated stalking after Shaw posted a new message stating in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t care less that her cruelty had resulted in the girl’s death. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd reacted to that arrogance swiftly. He has since been adamant in his intent to jail the two minors, and he’s not staying silent on the responsibility their parents should bear, either (“I’m aggravated that [they] aren’t doing what parents should…Responsible parents take disciplinary action”).

I won’t get into the particulars of the backstory since, for instance, the intimidating coercion by Shaw of one of Rebecca’s friends to join in the bullying is all over the Internet. But I will note that an examination of Rebecca’s computer revealed search queries for “What is overweight for a 13-year-old girl?” “How to get blades out of razors,” and “How many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die?” That’s a kicker that feels like it just hit your chest.


Notes from a Non-Parent 5: The Parent-fetish Trap

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Q: Are we, who admit to being too selfish for childrearing, freer to enjoy the company of others’ children?

A: Damn right we are, especially with so much predatory marketing keeping parents’ envious eyes on each other. As moms and dads everywhere condemn the current wave of weirdo parenting while trading assurances that their own kids are free of transmissible dysfunction, it’s only gotten that much more entertaining.

I don’t really care about last week’s Time magazine cover of a confused oaf takin’ a pull off his ma’s tap. I don’t care about extended breast feeding’s quasi-cat lady proponents or this beyond tragicomic “pre-mastication” trend. Yet it’s all fodder for the current national yakkety-yak and it’s overtaken my parent-friends’ usual election year/Facebook/reading list talking points. I listen in, but all I seem to hear is how superior they feel for not going to extremes themselves (while their kids kick shit over and scream “shut up!” when someone interrupts their iPhone game).

My wife and I laugh about how parenting can be as extreme as energy pills made from dehydrated placenta. We see the decision to spawn as extreme to begin with, and no cultural child-worship (or pressure from my wife’s mom) is gonna convince us otherwise. (more…)

Notes from a Non-Parent 4 – Thanksgiving Edition

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Skip the Excuses: If You Waste Food You’re an Asshole

Q: How many Americans can legitimately claim they’ve never been told not to waste food?   A: You don’t know any.

When I was a kid, being told I wouldn’t be excused from the table ‘til my plate was clean was a “cold rule.” Though sometimes lacking context, cold rules were made clear through enforcement, repetition, and amplification: “Don’t touch the stove,” for example, is an easy one. “Don’t insult the skeletal West African baby I want you to envision by leaving food on your plate” was a little harder to get behind. Yet some variation on the admonishment, “Do you know how many children are starving in this world?” was overheard in the home of every playmate and acquaintance I knew. We all sat there squirming until we resentfully swallowed enough disgusting and now-cold whatever-it-was to set us free. (more…)

Notes from a Non-Parent 3

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Mom Offers Inferior Excuse for Parental Neglect

Source Story: CBS News Crimesider

Nicole Leszczynski left a supermarket without paying for a sandwich she’d eaten because she says she was suffering a “Mommy-brained moment.” In the process, she needlessly exposed her 2-year-old to removal by state Child Welfare Services. So is she absent-minded, full of it, or both? And why are so many “customer service” employees bored and petty little Napoleons?

Allegedly, this incident sparked a “nationwide outrage,” but then 60 of those happen every week. Plus it happened in Honolulu, Hawaii. If it got past you, too, here’s the deal: (more…)

Notes From a Non-Parent

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Notes from a Non-Parent™

Teaching Respect By Example: Avoid Bigoted Outbursts While Driving with Children or you might end up with an Alexandra Wallace

Original Story: Slate

With its repulsive insensitivity for Japan’s tragedy and its ignorant, racist views, Sheen goddess lookalike and privileged UCLA princess Alexandra Wallace’s YouTube mimicry of Asian students has resulted in condemnation, editorial skewering and death threats. Considering the young poly-sci student is now saying she doesn’t even know why she did it, parents take note…A Daily Bruin opinion piece sums up Wallace’s immediate future:

When this ordeal is over, Wallace is almost certainly more likely to remember the death threats and personal attacks than feel any real empathy for – or have any real understanding of – people with different social identities. The violent and abusive reactions will simply make her scared, defensive, and even more unwilling to engage in dialogue with the people she offended.

This isn’t just Alexandra’s future, it’s ours too if we can’t teach our children acceptance rather than mere tolerance. Tolerance is a droopy word, too routinely thrown around. Tolerance has become the consolation prize of a politically correct “multiculturalism.” Acceptance, on the other hand, forces us to leave our comfort zones, and that builds character.  It’s what we should strive for. But since lecturing isn’t my strong suit – I prefer skinning a carcass ‘til its guts pour out on your shoes – let me give a personal example of where an otherwise good parent can go a little off the rails here.

When I was growing up, my friends and I parroted opinions and remarks we picked up from our folks in the car. That particular crucible was where Asians turned into “boat people” (mainly Vietnamese refugees back then) and homeless people were “bums” or “bag ladies.” There were others, but you get the point. And I doubt much has changed; certainly driving isn’t less hectic these days. Most people behind the wheel lose it occasionally, even usually mellow people: situations over which we have little control don’t typically bring out the best in us. My own dad was no powerlifting steroid abuser, but I sure am thankful You Tube and cell phone cameras didn’t exist during family vacations. Or trips to the store. Or to and from school, grandma’s house, baseball practice, or church. (At least you wouldn’t have heard racist crap from my Mexican-American household, though I do recall something about, “the last thing that woman drove was a goddamned ox.”)

I’m not sayin’ we should all drink chamomile tea and listen to soothing whale sounds when we drive; I’m not even advocating limiting comments when kids are in the car. I am suggesting parents think before spouting off, perhaps freely carping about the idiocy of running a stop sign instead of focusing on the ethnicity of the offending driver. And if they do let their own, er, true feelings out in the heat of the moment, later opportunities should be sought to talk about that with Susie Big Ears in the back. Not doing so sends a message – and it ain’t one of acceptance.

Given that what many parents either impose on or allow their kids to have eventually becomes an undesirable adult trait, such as entitlement or being overly managed to the point of a you-name-it anxiety disorder, not using these moments to teach children to effectively manage their stress is a bad idea, as Alexandra Wallace demonstrates. (Now please humor me while I repeat this with a special patois for my fellow aging punk rock friends who are parents: This shit evolves! Don’t let ‘em sidestep punishments because you’re afraid to be seen as the bad guy! Don’t be a chickenshit and slack off when it comes to consequences! Follow through on penalties and praise or you’ll just generate another asshole like the one you work with who doesn’t think rules apply to him or her.)

Maybe Alexandra grew up hearing “University of Caucasians Lost among Asians,” which I first heard back in high school (during the later ‘90s the amusingly opposing, “Ugly Caucasians, Lovely Asians” became popular, though I still love “Under Construction Like Always”). She was certainly blindsided by the negative publicity her “manners” lesson garnered, which suggests that the belief racial slurs are okay as long as they’re “all in good fun” was also learned at home. Or in the car. Railing against gabby Asians in the library isn’t all that different from angrily reacting to being cut off in traffic; the cause-response mechanism is the same. And just look where it can lead:

P.S. And kids? DUH! Aren’t you supposed to be the tech-savvy generation? Don’t you know there’s always a camera waiting to put your dumbest acts on the Internet? Guess what, Madison and Dexter…tattooing your foreheads with “Tsunami’s Rock” will get you farther in life. ‘Cause sometimes, fame just shows you’re a lame.