Yes, Frank Bruni of the NYT, Parenting Is Confusing
By parentwin on April 05, 2013
Featured Member Post
These days, I don't usually even pay attention to the "baffled hymns" of those who don't have children. They're all basically trying to tell parents what they're doing wrong (not the childless, the "hymns" in question), they're all condescending as hell, and they're all totally off-base. But this. This is the New York Times. I mean, really? Really?
So, I'd just like to take a moment to address Mr. Frank Bruni's post in the New York Times Opinion Column, "A Childless Bystander's Baffled Hymn."
Let's just start with the first sentence. "Modern parenting confuses me."
Here, let me fix that for you. "Modern parenting confuses me everyone."
There it is. Parenting confuses everyone. From the childless who have to deal with kids running and screaming in their coffee shops, to the moms like me who never really thought about what children actually mean in real life, to the mothers who have painstakingly prepared for every step of the journey. It's a confusing business. And it throws a lot of curve balls.
Before I go further in chronological order, I'd like to just say that the whole op-ed became invalid for me when Bruni used the word "flaccid" above the fold in a parenting piece. Hahahaha. Now, I know. Not everyone is a 12-year-old boy. But a lot of us are. And while probably 50 percent of people are mature enough not to immediately picture penises when the word flaccid is used, the other half us us...aren't.
And if that was the point (which it could have been, nothing quite gets the message "impotent" across as flaccid peen), then still, what the hell? Can we not imagine genitalia while reading about parenting? Thanks for that small favor, from all the adults-who-are-still-really-tweens out there.
Okay, back to business. Let me address a few of the complaints: mainly the million last chances and the attempted diplomatic choice system.
We know these don't work. They are for you. They are for you, the childless person just trying to return that crappy novel to the library, or trying to buy just two items at the grocery store for your glorious childless dinner later on (trust me, it is glorious; if you can, try to appreciate for us while we fish eggshells out of the meatloaf and accidentally wipe raw ground beef on our jeans).
You see, we know we're bumping into you with our overflowing carts and whining brood. We know our decibel level is ten times over the library limit as we try to check out that Tarzan DVD. And we're sorry. The last chance system (while also implemented at home as a way to teach children that they have the power to better their behavior before they get in too deep) in public is for your benefit. Because we have to be there. Many many times, I leave the grocery store because my twins are just too much. Too much whining, too much fighting, too much irrationality, too much everything. But we need to eat, so I'll time us out, outside, then we have to go back in. I don't have the option of leaving all the food there and dragging them home. We need to eat. This is our only chance. It's like an action movie, really.
And even if that's not the case, sometimes, dragging them out and taking them home (which I do if we're at the pharmacy or a park or something) is even worse. Have you ever seen two four-year-old kids weighing 40-pounds each being carried out of a place in a double football hold while they scream "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, mama! Please! Please! Last chance! Please, mama! Owwww! You're hurting me! Waaaaah!" Bet you haven't.
And, honestly, my kids are good. They're amazing actresses. I'm surprised no one has called the people on me when I do this. I look like the biggest asshole on the block. It's like, "go home to your childless spouse and talk about this over lunch" bad. Seriously.
So, yes, I'd rather give four last chances than look like a sadistic lunatic if it is at all avoidable.
As for choice? That's implemented to stop tantrums. Whether or not it works is up in the air, but its purpose is to keep us quiet and out of your way. Would you rather a mom and kids in the corner discussing diplomatically the qualities of sugar cookies vs. chocolate chip cookies, or up in your face at the counter as the children scream their faces off that they don't want that cookie, they hate that fucking cookie, what is wrong with everyone, GAWD?!
You'd think this was because the kids are spoiled brats, but that's not the case either. You say it yourself: "They’re also not adults, so why this whole school of thought that they should be treated as if they are, long before they can perform such basic tasks of civilization as driving, say, or decanting?"
They're not adults. Therefore, they do mystifying, illogical things all the time. Their priorities are...skewed at best.