The Week is one of my favorite magazines. It’s a hip version of Reader’s Digest. Every article is constructed, paragraph by paragraph, from multiple sources. George Will next to Paul Krugman. They try to give you what everyone is saying about everything, real fast, and it’s still very readable.
A couple of weeks ago, before my Mother’s Day rant, The Week ran one of their usual everyone but the kitchen sink articles, titled “Motherhood: When good moms flip out.”
Some Scarsdale mom had a meltdown and made her 10 and 12 year old bratty daughters get out of the car. The 12 year old, properly chastened, chased down the car and mom relented. the 10 year old, less docile, did not. The cops took her in, and evemtually arrested her stupid bitch mother when she came to pick her up. The consensus opinion in The Week was that the mom was woefully abused. Being a mom is so so hard. Most women writing the stupid apologias for this horrible mom admitted they felt tempted to do this kind of thing a lot. Which goes to show.
Most moms suck. If being a mom was a real job, most moms would have been fired long ago.
A week later, in The Week, they had an excerpt from “Free Range Kids.” At the back of each issue, they do a 2-page excerpt from an interesting new book or essay. The New York mom who wrote the book let her 9 year old ride the subway home. She gave him money, prepped him, lived in the city with him, rode the subway for years with him. And, of course, he successfully did it. Every morming show booked her, ambushed her, pilloried her for being a horrible mom. Actually, she’s not only a great mom, but a pretty good dad too.
She’s fought back, pointing out that statistically it’s not more dangerous than it was 30 years ago to let kids out of your sight, and so on.
I don’t know what you call this: The pussification of our children, the matrification of our culture. Why I hate everybody. But this is why you have so many 20-somethings living at home acting like 12 year olds, and 16 year olds who act like 8 year olds.
When I was a kid, on Saturday, I’d get on my bike and ride. 10 years old, and I’d try hard to get 50 miles away from home before noon. There were no cell phones or embedded GPS chips. My whole point was to make sure my parents didn’t know where I was. I grew up in Northern Virginia, as I like to say, “within the blast radius of the Pentagon.” I rode my bike across Shirley Highway, through the mixing bowl, to get to stores I liked. I pedaled up Rock Creek Parkway and then hopped off onto trails to take me into Maryland.
We lived on Duke Street, near Cameron Station, a military base. I used to catch perch in their pond with a fingerline. Duke was a busy, multi-lane artery. I rode my bike at 35 mph down the hill from the Landmark shopping center, exhilarated that I was passing cars.
I’ve heard it said that the job of a mom is to make a kid feel safe and loved, and the job of a dad is to pry the kid of out of mom’s clutches and help the kid grow up. So, maybe I’m a little hard on moms whose job is supposed to be to over-protect. Maybe I should be harder on dads who have abdicated to the women.
Anyhow, I wish Free Range Mom had been my dad.