Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

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…)

Patricia Krentcil: Please Just Go to Hell.

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Patricia Krentcil is not only a laughably easy target for this blog, she’s as disoriented as a Kansas pig with farm fever. So we’re not gonna slam her too much, but we are gonna ask: are these really our values? Is Krentcil’s nutso body image and clearly low self-esteem just about being batshit crazy, or is it more and more typical of Americans constantly subject to predatory marketing? And just how ugly do we think we are if this is seen as an improvement? 

Police say Pat Krentcil was arrested and charged with child endangerment after she allegedly snuck her daughter into the tanning booth she uses to make herself look like a carnival freak circa 1928. (more…)

8-year-old Designated Driver = Epic Win

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

What? It’s not like you have to pay ’em, right?

Source: KATC Lafayette News

If I had an eight-year-old son to use as a designated driver, whether for making it home before the wife does or for a balls-out run across state lines, I’d at least give the kid a fake mustache, a funny hat, or even an eyepatch to wear. If the police are gonna find me passed out drunk in the front seat with my child at the wheel, I’d sure rather get a wake-up jab from a cop trying not to laugh than by a trooper so angry he tazes me in the ear. I mean, I’d even try writing something like, “Proud Son of a Probation Dad” on the kid’s forehead. Anything’s better than letting a mug shot like this one do all the talking. (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.