Doing it wrong.

Attachment parenting was getting a lot of attention when I was mother to a young child. This is the school of thought that includes carrying the kid at all times in a complicated sling, extended breast-feeding and the family bed.

It wasn’t my thing, but it did get me thinking, on walks and bench-sits on the playground, about the idea of attachment. A child grows inside you, is born, and you hold it close for a few weeks, then put it down (but still hold it a lot). Then they start walking, you hold their hands, etc., until one day you realize you’re a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT and your child would appreciate it if you’d just get lost for the next five years or so, and then eventually they come back to you as adults.

It’s the adolescence that most challenges you, because it’s then that you most clearly realize that in the act of creating a new human life, you’ve done just that — create a new life, separate from your own. You and your partner each threw 23 pairs of chromosomes on the table and let them fight it out, and something entirely different emerged. Your child may look like your mini-me, but they have their own mind, and what’s more, they’re growing up in a different era from you, so even if they’re good kids who respect their parents and never put a foot wrong, they’re reflections of their own time and generational peers, at least to some degree.

And this is a good thing. The world needs to change, and it needs young people to change it. You may not like every change, but you’re not on the committee, no one’s going to ask your permission. Sorry about that.

Now someone, please tell this to the Moms for Liberty.

They’ve been getting a bit of PR lately, for their surprisingly successful attempts to gain spots on school boards. Our own was overtaken by a conservative majority last fall, and while they’ve mainly been concerned with budget matters, a number of them stressed “parental rights” in their campaigns, and the M4L has a chapter here. (Although not sure how active/influential they are. They seem to do better in the farther-out hinterlands.)

It’s a little frustrating for a person who knows how education works, or is supposed to work. Teaching is hard, hard work, and one thing you can grant your child’s teachers is the grace to let them do the work they were trained to do. They cannot consult with every parent on every book on the English reading list or in the library, or whether the Civil War should be taught this way or that way. You have to trust educators to educate. It’s part of the letting-go process for parents: Your kid will not learn exactly what you did, because they are not you. If you have a problem with that, prepare to homeschool.

Here’s another thing that struck me as the mother of an infant: You give birth to this tiny, perfect individual. Their skin is nearly transparent, their digestive system little more than a tube. And if you’re lucky, you breastfeed exclusively for however many months, and it’s all fine. Breast milk is the perfect food for junior. The diapers may be copious, but weirdly, they don’t smell bad.

Then you introduce solids, and hoo-boy, hold on to your hat for that diaper, because it’s going to burn your eyebrows off. It seemed like a metaphor. I told Alan at the time, “Now begins the world’s corruption of our perfect child.” Soon she’d be watching more television than I was comfortable with, eating foods with too much sugar, all that. I made many, many mistakes raising her, like everyone does. But she turned out all right. Almost everyone does, if their parents aren’t abusive and they don’t roll bad genetic dice.

You never stop worrying. You never stop thinking, what could I have done differently? But if you’re lucky, you should be able to start letting go at some point. You have to. If you’re religious, you say they belong to God, and it’s out of your hands. If you’re more like me, you might tell yourself you can’t control teenagers, not really. Weren’t you a teenager once? Didn’t you do all kinds of stupid shit? I had a curfew, and in later life I was very happy my parents set that boundary, because the kids who didn’t — hoo boy, you can’t believe what they got up to. Some of my friends had something called the GOOTH Club. GOOTH stood for Get Out Of The House, which they’d do once their parents fell asleep, sometimes by climbing out windows, after which someone would take a car from the garage and they’d spend all night — all night! — driving around. Once they drove to Cincinnati and back. Then they’d go to school the next day. They were not good students.

I’m rambling. But I was thinking about all this after reading this New York Times piece (gift link) on the new battleground of the, get ready, school play. Of course the recent production in Fort Wayne was mentioned, but also:

For decades student productions have faced scrutiny over whether they are age-appropriate, and more recently left-leaning students and parents have pushed back against many shows over how they portray women and people of color. The latest wave of objections is coming largely from right-leaning parents and school officials.

You don’t say.

Drama teachers around the country say they are facing growing scrutiny of their show selections, and that titles that were acceptable just a few years ago can no longer be staged in some districts. The Educational Theater Association released a survey of teachers last month that found that 67 percent say censorship concerns are influencing their selections for the upcoming school year.

In emails and phone calls over the last several weeks, teachers and parents cited a litany of examples. From the right there have been objections to homosexuality in the musical “The Prom” and the play “Almost, Maine” and other oft-staged shows; from the left there have been concerns about depictions of race in “South Pacific” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and gender in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Grease.” And at individual schools there have been any number of unexpected complaints, about the presence of bullying in “Mean Girls” and the absence of white characters in “Fences,” about the words “damn” (in “Oklahoma”) and “bastards” (in “Newsies”) and “God” (in “The Little Mermaid”).

Check out this story from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, where the board rejected “The Addams Family,” literally the most-performed high school musical in the country, over its “dark themes,” which the school-board president described thusly: “The fundamental thematic theme, for me that I could see, was moving towards darkness, embracing death, embracing despair, embracing the pain.” Jesus Harold Christ, you idiot, IT’S A JOKE. Imagine growing up in that house. I bet their kids are charter members of the GOOTH Club.

I know some parents who might more closely align with my beliefs have raised hell over things like racial slurs in Mark Twain and the plays mentioned above, but man, I am done with that shit. (I never was one of them, anyway.) Read Huckleberry Finn. Yes, the text has the N-word. Talk about it. Discuss why Twain used it, why it’s OK to use it between black friends, but not if it comes from others. Talk about the era in which Twain wrote. Ask why it’s OK that art is disturbing. Move on. Find another book that makes another group uncomfortable. Dive in, get dirty, learn something. You can’t keep children cosseted forever, and it’s a sin, it’s wrong, to even try.

Oh, well. It’s still Independence Day, and it’s nice to have a midsummer holiday in which we are expected to do little other than enjoy the day, eat some hot dogs, light some sparklers. We went sailing. It was very nice.

Speaking of Jesus Harold Christ:

This guy. I mean.

Also, as Abraham Lincoln once said: Don’t trust everything you read on the internet. The story of a lefty provocateur who wasn’t even real.

Enjoy the fireworks! Happy Fourth!

Posted at 6:56 pm in Current events |

26 responses to “Doing it wrong.”

  1. Deborah said on July 4, 2023 at 7:58 pm

    What a spot on post Nancy, couldn’t agree more.

    I majored in education in college and was a teacher for a few years, I learned a lot about child development and lots of methods about how best to teach but it turned out I didn’t have the best personality to be a good teacher, it takes a certain amount of charisma which I lacked, and I’m shy, even with kids.

    As a former teacher I stayed away from getting mixed up with my daughter’s teachers, I didn’t agree with them all, but I kept my mouth shut and did what I could at home after work when I thought extra attention was warranted. Mostly I had a laissez faire attitude (especially about math, because I am math impaired myself) and figured it would get straightened out eventually.

    Reading was the thing I pushed the most, I enjoy reading and wanted LB to have that enjoyment too, and boy does she ever. If you like to read you can learn almost anything you want, to some degree.

    That link about the Twitter provocateur was unsettling, how weird that people do that for whatever reason.

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  2. Joe Kobiela said on July 4, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    I have they are pretty neat, huge thunderstorms are amazing also as long as your a ways away, like 20-30 miles.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. Julie Robinson said on July 4, 2023 at 10:35 pm

    So, our hang is finally over, some ten hours and 40 people later. Exhausting for an introvert like me and I had to go take a nap in the middle of it all. Our daughter the extrovert was in heaven, especially since there are three new young families at church and she has gotten them connected with each other. They splashed in the pool and played board games and talked and talked…wait, I think I finally understand what a hang is!

    I was on the school board for our church’s school for seven years and we trusted in the educators we’d hired without inference. I was there volunteering a couple of times a week. I wonder how many school board members are doing that, or are they just swooping in with their fiats. It seems clear that they aren’t even reading the books they’re banning.

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  4. Mark P said on July 5, 2023 at 12:50 am

    Let the morons ban books. Do they think their kids can’t find even better examples of the things they fear? I remember when I was about a junior in high school, Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) was passed around on the bus during a trip for a soccer game. I don’t think the original owner, whoever that was, checked it out of the school library.

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  5. Dexter Friend said on July 5, 2023 at 2:42 am

    I like how Amy Madigan’s character “Annie Kinsella” handled the wacko school board member in “Field of Dreams”. If you don’t like movies, just look at this article:

    I remember when nance posted a photo of Kate at UM with those described as “she found her tribe…”
    I was bored and nervous in high school and as I attempted a baseball career was sort of on my own like the rest of the players, trying to do well enough to get signed to a professional contract. Half the team did get signed to minor pro league contracts; my point is there was no close knit tribe type thing. In my 2 year army conscription term I did find my tribe twice, in Monterey and then in Vietnam. It’s nice to have a support group, but I never had that close-knit group of friends since the army, not like that was then. Not when I tried church, not in alcohol recovery, not at any career stop, which was a couple office jobs, a warehouse, and a few factories. Some people just find being loners is best, until Bono belts out

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  6. Jim said on July 5, 2023 at 5:29 am

    Moms for (Liberty) Terrorism .

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  7. robert said on July 5, 2023 at 9:17 am

    Well said, Nancy.

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  8. LAMary said on July 5, 2023 at 9:58 am

    Moms for Liberty and one of their heroes, D. Rump, are in favor of ELECTING PRINCIPALS. Can you imagine that shitshow?

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  9. JodiP said on July 5, 2023 at 10:35 am

    Not only are books being banned, but many classics are being re-written to reflect our changing values around rasism and gender. “I am one who really appreciates this evolution in values and how our language is changing to refect greater respect for our communities. However, this is so stupid–I agree with Nancy–discuss what is being written. Unlike Twain, many classic authors weren’t trying to make a point–they were racist, sexist and anti-semetic. But that is just grounds for exploring this.

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  10. Jenine said on July 5, 2023 at 10:37 am

    “You and your partner each threw 23 pairs of chromosomes on the table and let them fight it out, and something entirely different emerged.” I really like that. I realized belatedly that moving to the midwest to have our second child meant that our kids were growing up as *Kansans*.

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  11. LAMary said on July 5, 2023 at 11:29 am

    The annual amateur fireworks, brushfire and pet terrorizing celebrations are over. We have a high level poor air quality alert from the six hour world war 3 simulation we had last night. There were two large booms that literally shook my windows. My dog was hiding in a closet. The cats were under the bed. Last night was definitely the longest, loudest illegal firework attack I’ve heard in my forty years of living in LA.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on July 5, 2023 at 11:37 am

    My thinking is the assault on education by the right-wing is driven by its consuming fear the younger generation doesn’t embrace American conservatism. Yeah, there are younger assholes like Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro out there, but the vast majority of younger people are not buying into the culture wars, they believe women should have control over their bodies, hey’re not going to church, they’ve seen enough economic turmoil to ponder whether unfettered capitalism is the best way to live, they’re not wedded to a job as their identity.

    Those who join Moms for Liberty think they have a chance to reverse these trends if only Jane and Jimmy aren’t exposed via books, films and lectures. And there are numerous politicians –most notably the throbbing hemorrhoid that is Ron DeathSantis– who see political gold in catering the the morons, despite his own elite education at Harvard and Yale.

    I continue to believe the new generations can save this country, but a well-financed right-wing effort that makes it harder to vote and a radically out of touch U.S. federal court system willdo everything in its considerable power to thwart them.

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  13. Scout said on July 5, 2023 at 5:07 pm

    I only refer to the dystopian-ly named Moms for Liberty as Klanned Karenhood. I wish I had thought of it.

    This entire post was one of your best ever, Nancy.

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  14. David C said on July 5, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    Today I’ve heard them called Minivan Taliban and Assholes with Casseroles and a few others I can’t remember. I’m sure the have more Koch money than the wingnuts think lefties have Soros money so they’re not going anywhere but I think their days of flying under the radar are over and they can’t help themselves letting their fascism flag fly.

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  15. Jason T. said on July 5, 2023 at 7:01 pm

    Regarding the school musical story, we’re in the midst of a new McCarthyism.

    Remember about 15 or 20 years ago, when various nitwit commentators (ISTR Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan, but there were others) began writing columns that said “Joe McCarthy was right” and trying to rehabilitate his reputation?

    That wasn’t an accident. They believed it and they were setting us up for what’s happening now: People assumed guilty until proven innocent, right-wing lynch mobs, censorship, book banning.

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  16. Deborah said on July 5, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    LAMary, our neighbor in the house behind us lit a firecracker so loud and powerful that it set off our window alarms. It scared the bejesus out of me. I had to jump out of bed and shut it off. I think it scared the neighbors too because it didn’t last much longer.

    My husband drove back from the cabin this evening and told me he heard something upsetting as he was driving through the radio desert where it’s hard to find a station that’s not garbled. A Christian station popped up and a preacher was relating that what we refer to as mentally ill people who commit mass shootings are really possessed by satan and that’s the real problem, not guns, not mental illness but satanic possession. So there.

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  17. FDChief said on July 6, 2023 at 1:11 am

    I think I must have been in my late forties, just socializing with my parents over an evening, when some conversational thing reminded me of something stupid I’d done. Don’t remember if it was a kid thing, or a college thing, or an Army thing, but it was dumb and dangerous, and after telling it (as a funny story) I turned to my mother and laughed “Gotta be a relief not to have to worry about me like that anymore, eh?”

    Oh, the look.

    So that’s the thing; we go casually about offering up these hostages to fortune, and only then realize that our lives are linked to theirs until one or the other of us has gone.

    Hopefully it’s me. I’m not sure I can take losing another one…

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  18. Heather said on July 6, 2023 at 11:39 am

    Deborah, I saw a TikTok by the Washington Post writer Jamelle Bouie, who related how he overhead a conversation between two conservative women on a plane talking about their belief that Obama is the literal Antichrist. But ever since I learned that Antonin Scalia thought Satan was a literal entity, nothing surprises me anymore. It’s just scary how many of our guardrails against those beliefs being integrated into the law and public polict are eroding.

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  19. Icarus said on July 6, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    last night one of our Air Conditioning units stopped working. The air was coming out but it wasn’t cold. After a bit of troubleshooting, I determined it was the same problem as last year. In fact, it has been 11 months since a repairman charged me $240 to fix it.

    $70 for a capacitor (they average $20)
    $50 for freon (this was just a precaution)
    $120 for labor, about half an hour of work IIRC.

    I wanted to avoid that this time so I will replace the capacitor myself. Amazon had one and I could have had it here tomorrow between 4 am and 8 am but I needed to find one more item for $1.10. I could have selected literally anything, even two capacitors ($23.90 ea), and returned it. But I wanted to find something we could use. It indicated that I had until 5 pm to place the order so I put it down to go deal with feeding my kids lunch.

    at 2:30 I picked this up again and now no option for tomorrow is available. the earliest will be sometime Saturday and it might bleed over into Sunday. I don’t know if it is because Amazon just baits and switches the rapid delivery or because we live in such a shithole state that they only deliver here when it is convenient for them.

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  20. Sherri said on July 6, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    I installed Threads on my iPad and played with it. First impression, annoyed.

    Like Instagram, there is no native iPad app, just the iPhone app, so it looks like crap on the iPad. I’ve never understood why they choose to make Instagram look so terrible on the iPad, and are repeating this with Threads.

    Second, the feed shows me lots of crap from people I don’t follow. I have to wade through stuff from people I don’t follow to see the stuff I actually want to read, from the people I’m interested in hearing from. I don’t see any way of tweaking the feed. In Instagram, the feed has “suggested posts”, but at least you can snooze them for 30 days. You have to do it again in 30 days, but at least you can get the random shit out of your feed.

    I’ve given up on a chronological feed from anything but a third party app. I don’t know why giving me a chronological feed of posts from people I want to read is so anathema to social media companies.

    I had to use my Instagram identity to login, and it wanted to follow my Instagram follows. I use Instagram for a different purpose than I used Twitter (and then I use Facebook), and follow different, only somewhat overlapping sets of people. I don’t really want my Instagram identity and follow list mixed with my Threads identity and follow list; I want to curate them separately, for different purposes.

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  21. Jeff Gill said on July 6, 2023 at 5:49 pm

    Sherri, the feed thing on Threads is fixable; I did earlier today, and it’s worked as I’d wanted it to:

    Regarding “I don’t know why giving me a chronological feed of posts from people I want to read is so anathema” — this is why Kroger & Walmart have taken to moving stuff around & rearranging their floor plan, simply so I don’t develop habits and make quick runs to get what I want and leave. Here in Indy, I’m pretty much stuck working with big box stores off 96th St., and it’s striking to me how much steering & redirecting goes on in major retail. It’s not just about endcaps and putting the milk at the back of the store and impulse buys at the check-out . . . which you don’t have hands free to grab anymore since you’re checking yourself out!

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  22. alex said on July 6, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    Icarus, I feel ya. We left for Canada on Wednesday morning and on the way out noticed that our garage was flooded by a busted condensation pump on the A/C. I think our last furnace got ruined by the same damned thing—water getting inside places it should never be and corroding the shit out of things.

    So we’ve been enjoying rich food and George Bernard Shaw plays and we’re finally getting some relief from the oppressive heat. No smoke here. (And they really seem to frown on vaping too.)

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  23. Sherri said on July 6, 2023 at 6:37 pm

    Jeff, that Mashable article is just about notifications, not about the feed. Those are very similar to the Instagram notification defaults.

    There currently is no way to limit your feed to only people you follow, but Meta says it might be a future feature.

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  24. Jeff Gill said on July 6, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    Well, I did those steps, and my feed is now just people I follow.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on July 6, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    Welp, I don’t think I have the energy to follow another social media site and I’ve never been on Twitter at all, I’ll probably skip this new one.

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  26. FDChief said on July 7, 2023 at 12:04 am

    For some weird reason the Thread thing won’t work on anything but a phone. That’s a dealbreaker.

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