18 June 2008

Helicopters away

This post by I, Asshole (one of my favorite bloggers and an all-around badass) talks about how she got slammed by the mothering community for her decision to let her kid gasp walk home from school.

As another famous parent once said, Good God, y'all.

I have seen and wondered at that utter waste of humanity: the school pick-up line.

The mothers, fathers and guardians waiting and waiting, burning gas and the hours of their lives until their wunderkind emerges from school to be scooped up into the waiting minivan.

And they have to! Why? Because there is so much traffic around the school that it isn't safe. I have done news stories about this. The logic made me want to smack myself with my notepad.

I have tried to figure out what made children become so Important and I think I have an idea.

When most women finally had a choice about working outside the home or stay-at-home momming it, those who made each choice had a strong investment in it.

Work-outsiders had to prove they could Do It All, that their kids weren't suffering because they chose the way they did.

And conversely, when SAHMing became a choice instead of an imperative, SAHMs felt like they had something to prove - look, I'm not dropping out of the workforce I'm raising superior beings!

Thus, the much-vaunted and overblown Mommy Wars. Not a war as much as insecurity on parade.

Thus every childhood moment becomes a proof of super parenting. Every birthday party is a competition, so we go from cake and a few games to Jolly Jumps and entertainment and gift bags and excursions every single year.

Every soccer game must be attended and followed by snack time and god forbid if someone forgets the water bottles, because those little dudes MUST remain hydrated, even if all they are doing is standing around the backfield picking their underwear out of their butt.

What do I know? I'm just saying that, from the outside, this manufactured, organized, supervised childhood looks mighty strange to me.

20 comments:

meno said...

God knows it isn't how i was raised. We were thrown outside and told not to come back until dinner.

Did bad stuff happen? Sometimes, mostly not.

But i have had it with the judgmental parents.

Anonymous said...

I used to think our generation (as in yours and mine, the later Baby Boomers...) were the wimpiest generation of Americans ever, especially compared with the generation that survived the Depression and WWII. But this generation of kids who aren't allowed to walk home alone, or play outside unsupervised, or raise holy hell on skateboards and bikes all over the neighborhood, well, I shudder to think.......

angel apologist.

Julie said...

Insecurity on parade is the perfect term for it, indeed.

blogster@blogsire.com said...

I have always said that we, the world over, are breeding a bunch of wimps. If it gets too hot we send them home. If they don't do too well in school, God forgive if we fail them because that may affect their self esteem. it was even reported a while back that they were considering removing the goals in an under 5 soccer match because it caused too much pressure.

Maybe if they let more kids walk to ad from school we would have a little less of an obesity problem

Karen Sugarpants said...

Well I'm with I, Asshole because my kid walks to and from the bus stop alone. Next year he will be taking his 4 year old brother with him. ALONE. Oh the horror.

Count Mockula said...

I'm with you, wholeheartedly. What happened to birthday parties being cake and grandparents? Since when does everyone who plays get a trophy? My mom was (I thought) the most overprotective mom on earth, but even I rode a couple miles to school on my bike.

Maggie said...

Let me start by saying my son walks to and from school and my twins will be doing the same. I agree that there is too much mollycoddling over trophies and grades and competition. But, I have to disagree about raising wimps simply because they are being picked up and dropped off from school. I think that this may be necessary depending on where you live. If we were still living in Las Vegas, there is no way I'd let my son walk. The world is different now and we have to take that into account. And kids are important to that degree because a parent's first job is to raise their kids safely to become independent adults. So if it means they have to safeguard them in some aspects of life, then so be it. So, I get your point and I agree to some extent. In the end, however, no one has the right to judge another parent - so the people that chastised I, Asshole had no basis for saying anything against her. Maybe they got so upset because they are not so confident in their own reasons for doing what they do.

Susan Carrier said...

And may I add that I think that all of our darling "advantaged" children who are going to end up being the "disadvantaged" ones in life.

paper napkin said...

It's absolutely true, and if you're a "slacker mom" like me, you're at the bottom of the totem pole: not working, not raising superior beings.

TraceyTreasure said...

It's hard to say which is better. Walking is good for you but it's not good for small children to walk in certain neighborhoods. I homeschool our kids so I'm just going to add that I second Blogster's last comment.
Maybe if they let more kids walk to and from school we would have a little less of an obesity problem.
But maybe some kids are obese because they eat too much? I have no idea what is good for everyone else's kids but I'm hoping the parents do!
Nobody had a right to slam I, Asshole. Judgemental meanies!

Mir said...

I completely agree that the helicoptering and fear-mongering often creates situations wherein Junior is being protected from some phantom menace, needlessly.

But (you knew there was a but, right?), going against the grain with regard to this sort of thing can be very, very hard. I think SJ rocks for doing what she did, but depending on where you go to school and how powerful/influential the Parent Mafia is, that can be a really difficult choice to make -- because of the repercussions both for the parent and for the child. Just sayin'.

g said...

It's funny, where we live, in a rural part of Los Angeles county, the road through our community is two-lane, but traffic moves so fast you really can't let kids walk to school. But we DO let them walk - our homes are all surrounded by parkland, so many of our pre-drivers-license-age kids walk to one anothers' houses on trails through the park - sometimes its a mile or more.

They also learn by junior high, to take the city buses, which will take them anywhere except home - there is no bus line through our community. parents have to make car-pool arrangements to pick up groups of community kids at the Third Street Promenade. It means we keep connected in the community - I really enjoyed it.

It all changed when they learn how to drive, though!

MsLittlePea said...

OOh! Preach it Suebob. Say any of this out loud to those Mombots and they'll go livid. I totally agree with you but I'm still not a 'real woman' to these kinds of people because I haven't pushed a baby of my own out yet so my opinion is always disregarded. I know someone who admits to doing her kid's science project, her reasoning is,"well you can tell that the other kids' parents are doing it for them and I don't want my the other kids to think my son is a slacker."

Um. Yeah.

Suzanne said...

I love me some SJ, too, so it makes me mad that people are criticizing her. Grrr...

one smarmy mama said...

When I was in 1st thru 3rd grade, we lived right on Thousand Oaks Blvd. I walked a mile, alone, to school. Down TO Blvd. When we moved up north, we lived off a highway, and I walked three miles down the dirt path along the highway to school.

So that's where I'm coming from when I say this......

Whenever I contemplate letting my daughter walk alone to school (which is about a mile away from my house) I think of Xiana Fairchild.
http://www.crimeweek.com/oldarticles/xiana.html

Dropped off at the bus stop and taken and killed. I know it's not common, but if I were that mom, I'd be blaming myself for life "I could have taken her to school...."

I am generally not someone who is swayed by things that probably won't happen. I generally have faith in averages and statistics and whatnot.

But I'll never let my small kids out of my sight alone. Maybe other people think it's ridiculous how much I value their lives, but it's one thing I'll deal with. It's a stupid little thing, it's five minutes out of our day to pick them up or drop them off, it's nothing. I can do it so that I always have the piece of mind. So that I don't wonder who's watching them walk to school, so I don't wonder who knows their patterns, so I don't spend the rest of my life blaming myself for letting her walk to school alone that ONE TIME.

It's not how I was raised. Not at all. But then again, my parents didn't give two shits about me so......I'm ok with how I do it.

Neil said...

Don't they hire crossing guards anymore? I'm glad you wrote this post. Because, as a man, I would be booted out of the blogosphere if I did.

Sister Wolf said...

Does it help any moms out there to say that as a mother of a 32 yr old and a 15 yr old, whatever you do will be wrong? It could be kind of liberating, in a way.

Staci Schoff said...

I think I've said here before that while I agree with your philosophy, the PRESSURE on me is great! I don't want to be the worst mother at my kids' school, you know? Even as I know I'm feeding the vicious cycle. But I am a minimalist, so probably DO look like the worst mother...

But this reminds me of a funny thing I read, can't remember who to credit. But a guy wrote in an op-ed something like, "you know before there were carseats... when children weren't too good to die in a crash right along with the rest of us." ;-)

VDog said...

You're a smart lady.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You are absolutely right.

I'm a SAHM (kids now 23, 18, 15 & 13). I've been working on a post about this--it's getting so ridiculous.

People of my generation are raising a bunch of kids who will not be able to do a damn thing for themselves or anyone else.

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