Sunday, April 24, 2005

Gurdon's Theory of Child-Raising

So in her usual cheery careening fashion, Gurdon here draws a straight line between prenatal testing (why bother? no matter what sort of baby it is, we're still going to love it, aren't we?) and having your child wear a helmet while she rides her bicycle (why bother? the pioneers never would have conquered the great plains if they'd worried about things like bicycle helmets, would they?).

I finish this column with my typical frustration. Because, you know what? It's just wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

(A) Study some history, Meg. Those pioneers -- well, the ones who succeeded -- took every precaution they could think of before they set out to "settle the great plains." Yes, as a matter of fact, they took along the equivalent of bicycle helmets, Meg: they took guns, they took extra water barrels, they took all the food they could pack, they consulted maps and more maps, they did research, they scouted around to find the best wagon train they could join up with, they worried about what season would be the best to start in and which route would be the best to take, they fretted and fretted and fretted and fretted. If helmets would have helped they would have had them, you dolt.

(B) And even so, thousands of them died along the way. The trails were lined with the graves of their children, Meg. Do you think that's cute? Imagine one of those parents reading your charming little column about your kids being forced, forced by the "nanny government" to wear a helmet (egads! what tyranny!) while she sleds. Think that parent is going to be nodding along and agreeing and saying, "Tsk tsk, what has our country come to?" No, I'm thinking not, Meg. Really not.

(C) Had a bike wreck myself once, Meg. Not wearing a helmet. Sixteen years ago. Hit my head. Momentary amnesia, which was entertaining, and six stitches in my eyebrow, figured I was lucky it wasn't worse. Except it was worse, because that bike wreck is probably the source of the migraine headaches I get to this day. Now really. How much trouble is it to put helmets on your kids? Also:

(D) Here's why you might want to put helmets on your kids: their BRAINS are in their skulls. Remember that whole fuss down in Florida a few weeks ago. Brain is sort of important, Meg.

(E) There might be a reason, Meg, while when YOU are at playground you hear "endless gull-like cries of fretful parents and nannies: “Don’t climb so high! Watch out with that stick! No running! No pushing! Don’t get on the slide until everyone’s off it!” I don't hear this when I'm at the park. But then I don't let my kid roam the world like a free-range chicken, doing whatever her heart desires, no matter what it does to the other kids in the park -- the way, oh, certain other mothers in the world seem to think they have the right to do with their kids. What I'm saying here is, if little Patridge has a stick and he's about to poke it in another kid's eye, well, maybe you should intervene, and not leave it to the other parents. Hmm? I know maybe in your fantasy out on the great plains, as well as in England and France and Canada, they probably just put up with a few lost eyes, crying, Lovely! Congratulations! Hurrah! Another one!but here? In 21st Century America? I kind of like my kid with both?

And parents like you? Who think laissez-faire parenting is the best parenting of all? Kind of piss me off.

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