Take that, fake princess! And good for you, Dork Tower!
Posts Tagged ‘mini-rant’
Interesting article in the New York Times this week: about helicopter parents. “There is substantial evidence that students going off to college have changed over the years. For one thing, studies show that they are emotionally closer to their parents and their parents to them. One thing that means is that they depend on each other more for happiness. It puts a burden on children for parents to use their children as vehicles for their own happiness — although today’s young people seem complicit in this arrangement, perhaps because they’ve known no other way — even if it creates anxiety in the children. That’s one reason parents like to be involved in their children’s college experiences, and colleges have had to devise novel ways of getting parents off campus when they transport their kids to school.” et cetera.
Certainly kids being emotionally close to their parents is not something that most of us who went to college in the 60’s and 70’s had when we were growing up. It was pretty much hit 18 and you were out the door, more or less. If we needed support, home was the last place we would have looked. Some of us who had to go home found out that there was more support and caring than we thought. Others — well, they were right. Their parents couldn’t be there for them because they’d spent the last thirty or forty years cut off from their emotions. This was the era of fathers who left before the kids were awake and came home after they were asleep, and mothers who never saw their kids play a Little League game or sing in the back row of the no-tryouts chorus.
One of the things we who went through that seem to have decided based on that experience (no matter what our politics were at the time) is that we weren’t going to make that same mistake with our kids. Our kids would have active involved parents who cared and who didn’t leave their kids to sink or swim. Our kids would not be afraid to show their emotions. They wouldn’t bottle themselves up all their lives and then suddenly crack when they hit middle age.
For the most part we’ve succeeded. Kids today are amazing, full of energy and ideas. They’re strong — strong enough to know when they need help and ask for it, strong enough to help each other, strong enough to go to bat for each other and what they believe in. That freshman you’re complaining about today is probably going to be in the administration office as a senior advocating for his little sister who’s now a freshman.
I’m sure we’ve made other mistakes. I’m sure there’s going to be a down side to this emotional connection. Yes, kids probably are less independent than we were in 1972. They tend not to go off to hitchhike across the country with nothing but a spare t-shirt and some money saved from babysitting the way we did — but even then, for every person trying to build an authentic personality for the ground up, there were a dozen who were just delaying real adulthood by drifting, and they were doing it on Mommy’s credit card and the car Daddy gave them.
The issues are nothing new. Technology changes the way both the connection and the independence are worked out, but the underlying issues happen every time a kid reaches adulthood and has to decide what that means to them, in the context of their family.
Maybe parents want to check up on their kid and control their kid. Or maybe they just like staying in touch with the people who mean something to them. Maybe they just like to know that everybody’s okay. Because you know what? When people care about each other, and depend on each other for happiness, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re using the other one as a “vehicle” for happiness. Most of the time it just means that people who love each other make each other happy.
My kids might disagree with me about this. Maybe they think I am clinging and manipulative and all those other things. I’m just glad they still call, and come home to visit, and pause to text me about the new coat they bought or ask what temperature to roast chicken breasts at.
When I get to the coffee shop early enough on Friday mornings, I’m there at the same time as a group of Christian businessmen who gather around the fireplace for an hour of mutual support, discussion, and Bible study. They’re all decent hard-working men who want to live in positive, Christian ways. I don’t think they’re part of a formal organization like Promise Keepers. They’ve been meeting here as long as I’ve been coming here. I don’t try to listen in, but they’re in the middle of the room and not trying to be quiet.
Today one of the men, who recently took a new job and now is going through some corporate upheaval, was talking about the disruption it has caused his family life. The new management has pulled him to high-profile responsibilities, sending him out on short notice to other sites around the country. He mentioned how hard it was to call his daughter and tell her he wasn’t going to be home for dinner because he had to go straight to the airport.
He also mentioned how upset his wife had been over his absences.
One of the other guys said, more or less, “The Lord wouldn’t want you to do anything different. It’s your duty to provide for your family the best you possibly can, and when He opens a path like this for you, you need to take it. You need to make your wife understand that this is what you’re supposed to be doing, so you can have college funds for your kids and a better house for her.”
There was more in the same vein. It was plain from the guy’s comments that his wife had said she wanted less house and money and more of him.
Then another guy said, “Our wives don’t really want us around anyway. She’s just saying that so you’ll know you’re wanted.”
Oh really? Geeeeeeeez.
There was more. Quite a lot more. And they were all about, “Here are the rules. Here is how you shoehorn your life into it.” And they’re the same old rules our fathers and grandfathers were killing themselves by in the fifties. Success is the only thing that matters. If your wife works it makes you look bad. If your kid wants to be an artist, steer him to advertising instead of damnation as a bohemian (yes, really). It’s your job as a father to rule the family. (Yes, really.)
Nothing about the grace of God to change your life. Nothing about God’s love to strengthen the family. Nothing about how to be a loving father or a supportive husband. Nothing about listening, understanding, sharing. Nothing about looking to your heart, or making yourself a better person. Nothing about not storing up treasure on earth when what matters is the treasure in heaven.
These are not right wing nuts. These are ordinary guys. I know a couple of them from other places. They aren’t off on the fringe of anything.
Decent, middle of the road guys.
I thought we had come farther than this.
I’m amazed by the pettiness and hysteria some people have been able to work up over the most simple events, like the trip to the Olympics to lobby for the U.S. I’m even more amazed by the way the media has been reporting on these nincompoops, as if they had something worth saying, instead of on the issues themselves.
I’m old enough to remember when Polanski skipped the country. How disgusted I was that if you were rich and famous, you could get away with something like this. That the nobody he raped was going to have to live with this for the rest of her life while he was off living the high life in Europe. That he kept winning awards and honors as if nothing had happened. Yeah, the man’s a genius, but geez. What part of “he raped a 13-year-old girl” don’t they understand?
One of the joys of living in New England is that mailboxes die unnatural deaths.
Such things happened occasionally in Montana. They’d fall victim to a drunken spree of target practice, or break under the force of an out-of-control pickup skidding toward the next bridge abutment. Here, though, the life expectancy of the average mailbox and post is probably about two winters if you live on a street or road that is plowed regularly. Even if the snowplow doesn’t score a direct hit — frequent — it receives the full force of waves of snow moving at 30 mph or more. That’s a lot of force.
After three winters in a row of broken posts and/or broken boxes, I decided to go with a more flexible solution and planted the mailbox and post in a half-barrel* full of bricks and gravel. It has worked quite well for several winters; the waves of snow push the whole unit back instead of snapping the post. Of course it’s wound up in the shrubbery five feet back from the road several times, but hey, every solution has its tradeoffs, and scooting it back into place is free.
But being whacked around by snow and buried in salty ice banks takes its toll, and mine was reaching the end of its lifespan, bound in place with fraying duct tape because the screws had rusted through. It was still hanging in there, though.
The crew installing new Verizon FiOS cables in our neighborhood had to remove the sidewalk and cut a three-foot wide channel through the end of our driveway. That meant moving the mailbox. Fine, no problem, they scooted it back into the edge of the shrubs. Same place the snowplow shoves it. No problem. It’s designed to move like that.
Yesterday they finished laying the channel and running the cable. They filled in the ditch. They poured in fresh sand and packed it down nicely. They made sure to replace all the mailbox holes in the sidewalk.
They took my mailbox OUT of the barrel and put it into the posthole that hasn’t been used for at least five years.
It looked like they had to use a shovel or prybar or something to dig the post out of the barrel. It wouldn’t have come easily.
I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t think I want to know.
*imitation whiskey barrel of molded plastic. the carpenter ants ate the wooden one.