Monday, July 28, 2008


Things That Are Wrong

A few weeks ago I was in a local pub, sipping a cool one and dealing with some spicy wings, with not a care in the world ( a temporary condition, to be sure, but I'll take 'em when I can get 'em). Within moments, however, my harmony turned to consternation. A fellow and two women, all in their early thirtys, came in with him carrying a baby. They took a table and acquired a highchair, reached into a diaper bag... and took out a portable DVD player. Set it infront of the child. Turned on "Dora the Explorer." And promptly ignored the video-mesmerized child for the duration of the meal.

They could be engaging the child, teaching her positive interactions and public social skills. It's called modeling; but instead, the subject of this benign neglect is learning how to turn her focus away from the real world, and focus on flickering lights and colours. To be acted upon rather than being a participant. Her parents are helping American Media turn her into a good little consumer.

I consider this more than sad; it's tragic.


Parental neglect, if not abuse, can, of course, begin prior to birth as well.

I just returned from a week at the shore, and enjoyed many long strolls on the beach. During one vigorous walk, I passed a young woman, probably in her mid-20's, with two toddlers in tow, and the curve of her belly indicated that a third was on the way. They paused in their hike so that mom could pull a pack of cigarettes (Newport) from where they were tucked between bikini and hip, and lit one up before proceeding on.

They do grow them stupid these days, don't they? Now, recently, I saw a movie of my own mother at a Christmas party in 1952. She had a Manhattan in one hand and a smouldering Kent in the other. Since I was born in February 1953, you will understand that I was being subject to her vices at that party as well. But, that was 55 years ago, and perhaps ignorance is an excuse.

No longer. Yet, I know at least three women at work who, over the last ten years, chain-smoked during one to three pregnancies.

A blog is certainly a place to be opinionated and presumptuous, so let me suggest, bluntly, that if a parent cannot refrain from their vices for nine months, they are not tremendous candidates for parenthood. They cannot pretend to have never gotten the medical memos, the advice from their OB/GYNs. Frankly, they don't care enough to practice some restraint.

Strike one, kid; and you haven't even been born yet. Lots of luck.

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