Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm going out on a limb here, but I brought a blood orange margarita with me, so it's okay

I've been trying to think in an organized fashion about Melissa's appearance on the Today Show. Alice hit the nail on the head when she said that she was left puzzled and weary; I couldn't even work up the kind of sputtering rage I usually enjoy so much, because the segment was so depressingly bizarre and sort of understated. There was little to no dialogue, that's for sure; and it wasn't Melissa's fault. They hardly even let her be a strawman. It was a kangaroo court! And other mixed metaphors.

Anyway, I'm having troubled with organized thoughts because here are some of the other things I have to think about this week:

--I agreed to have 5-7 Webelos scouts come here for four hours on Wednesday afternoon, and I said that I would give them lunch and help them earn their entire "Artist" pin.
--S. has to do a book report, in costume, on St. Elizabeth of Hungary on Thursday.
--R. and S. want to take fencing, which involves two of my least favorite things: 1) calling a total stranger to establish a new business relationship and 2) spending 8 bajillion dollars.

But what I came up with in the car on the way to A.C. Moore to buy art supplies for the scouts was this:

I think we have gone so far in not being judgmental of others that we have destroyed the credibility of every regular old invidual out there. To wit: when something bad happens, when someone gets caught parenting badly--objectively badly, spectacularly badly--we say (some of us) "poor thing, he must be sick, it's not her fault, walk a mile in his shoes..." And it may all be true. But it left the door open for the people who don't believe in moderation, who don't believe anyone has self-control, or judgment, or standards. Because if it's not our fault, it's also not our responsibility. And it must be someone's responsibility. People who want to legislate, regulate and litigate every aspect of our private lives. Who think it's safest to make everything cut and dry.

And Alice is right--mothers come in for the lion's share of this. We're not trusted to make the decision about how one drink affects us--our mothering, our driving, our pregnancy--so we get no drinks. I'll go farther and say that mothers at home get the lion's share of the lion's share, because we strike the self-appointed experts as the dumbest parents out there. But I think they're coming for all of us, eventually. Not just parents but private citizens. First those who smoke, those who spank, those who drink. Then those who eat trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Then those who let their first graders stay up to watch 24. Then those who skip bedtime story so they can hurry downstairs to catch 24...

Edited to say: I'm so afraid of getting flamed here. I forget to mention that I think there is a very real place for charity in how we talk about other people's parenting; but I also think there is a place for our own confidence that we can do better when that parenting is demonstrably bad for the child.

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