Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pussification of a Generation

Seriously. This is the only title I can come up with. WHAT is going on here? I don't want to be all, "We walked to school in ten feet of snow, uphill and back, with no shoes in five degree weather..." but the truth of the matter is that even if we complained, we still did it. We all walked to school, in snow, and you waited, with baited breath, till like six o'clock in the morning for that call from the PTA or whoever. But it had to be SIGNIFICANT snow. I know it had to be at least two inches and it didn't happen all that often. It was a "treat". Same with delayed openings. I feel like every other week there is a delayed opening. This past week, Tuesday, there was one for some public schools in Bergen county. I had a doctor's appointment in Oradell. I left my house in Glen Rock at 8:35 for my 9:15 appointment. Guess what? I got there at 9:05a- the EXACT same time I would've gotten there sans snow and rain. Meanwhile, the kids in Ridgewood and Glen Rock had another delayed opening. I know there were other towns too- just don't know off the top of my head.

I'm baffled. And annoyed. It's bad enough no one is allowed to walk to school anymore. I don't think you're even allowed to drop kids off at elementary school without physically walking the kids inside. How are kids supposed to learn any street smarts or coping skills if they're not allowed to do anything? Or made to go to school in a little bit of snow and rain? Last I checked, no one melted from snow and rain. I've heard all kinds of excuses as to why this is happening with school and I don't buy any of them. We barely used car seats when I was a kid. I'm a child of the 70's- I haven't looked it up but I'm not even sure all cars had to have seatbelts. Now- we have "run-flat" tires that allow you to get a flat and still drive 80 miles at 55 mph. If we were ever able to drive well in the snow, it's NOW. Tiny women driving Escalades and ginormous Infinities. I drive a MINI COOPER and I can get around.

We have car seats till we're 5ft tall and 120 lbs. I know 30+ yr old women who are barely 5ft, 120 lbs who by today's standards could probably use a carseat. So I cannot fathom how a little bit of wet snow shuts down the schools all over the land. We live in NEW JERSEY. We are supposed to get snow. And while it may be an odd, more extreme weather year than it has been, I feel like it was MUCH colder in the past, for longer, and we just dealt with it. Here's your hat, gloves, scarf and lunch. Have a nice day. Your walk home will be brisk so walk fast! See ya later! That's how it went down.

In 1987 or 1988, I was 12 or 13 and Ann and I were down at the brook smoking stolen cigarettes of my moms. Now, we'd still be in a booster seat. I'm not knocking safety- trust me. I get that we have better technology, we know more, and we should be keeping our kids safe. I just feel like they're being robbed of the chance to know what it is to fuck up and figure a way out of it or how to fix it. I was a relatively "good" kid in comparison to some I knew or were friends with. But I still messed up. A lot. I got in trouble and I had to cope. I had to find ways to make it better, make amends, or just live with the consequences. Some were big and some were small consequences, but I knew what consequences were. I fear the kids who turn into adults who do not.

I have a child. A small-ish one. But I plan on actually having expectations of him that involve him doing stuff for himself, and doing stuff that he may not like, including possibly getting wet on the way to school. He'll live. Granted, yes, I know I was pretty much raised by wolves, but in the end, I'm kind of thankful for it because I know how to cope with the twists and turns life throws at me. I'm not neurotic and I don't spend a lot of time worrying. Not because I'm better than anyone else, but because I am aware there is stuff I can't control and I also know how to deal with adversity. I'm SCARED for the adults of tomorrow because I don't think they are being allowed to fall, to make mistakes, to make mistakes and LEARN from them. This isn't a case of "well, your kid is four years old. Just wait till he's _____________". No. I know myself. I by no means want him to "suffer" but I want him to be self-sufficient. I don't want him to be in his late 20's with no direction, living in my basement. Or in his 30's not being able to make a decision without mommy.

I've been hearing lately about parents doing their kids school projects. This is the kind of stuff that makes me crazy. It started with the snow, then devolved into this project thing. E had a project recently. He sat and had to glue 50 little pieces of cut-outs to a poster board. We had HIM do it. Imagine that? He's four. And he was able to do it. Did I help? Sure. I cut out all the pictures. I told him to pick some. But, he's like his mommy- he needed ALL the cut-outs. So that meant he had 50 pieces to paste. Oh well. He did it. All of them. Were they all centered and perfect? No way. I asked him to write his name in the middle and the year. Was it beautifully written? Nope. Was it legible? Yup. And he felt very accomplished- a feeling I can't imagine many kids are getting to feel. Do you think the teachers don't know whose parents did their project and the ones actually done by the kids? No one is really "helping" their kid by doing that. Yes, it was one beautiful project or ten. But in the long run, who is going to do their work in college or their real job? Are they even going to get a real job? Because why bother? Working is a pain. You might get wet on the way there....

Do I have to say I love my child somewhere in here? Because I'm sure there are some that would think I must not if I'm willing to let him fail on his own or walk three blocks in the snow when I have a perfectly good car to take him in. Or better, maybe we can just stay in bed for the day instead of school, because, "he'll only be young once...". YES! That is exactly my point. He's only going to be young once. This is the only chance I have to hopefully turn him into more than just a functioning member of society. I have expectations that he'll be productive, ambitious, driven, and goal oriented. The only way I know how to do that is to make sure I'm not a 24/7 safety net. He'll always be built up vs torn down and he'll know that I will help him find his own way if he goes off his path, but that I'm not going to do it for him and I'm not going to contribute to what I consider to be the extreme pussification of his generation.

And actually, it might be a few generations with this problem. Maybe it's a #firstworldproblem kind of thing? I don't know. I've seen parents complaining that school called them "too early" about cancelling school in the snow. It "woke the whole house!". Really? The next sentence was- "If you need to find childcare at 4:30a then that's a problem". Well. I almost don't know (publicly) what to say to that. Is it assumed that we all just stay home and do nothing all day? For people who commute to NYC, it's feasible that they may have to leave their house by 6:30-7a. So yeah, they may need to start thinking about childcare at 4:30a because they don't have the luxury of just not going to work. I think I actually said out loud, "Are you f'ing kidding me??" when I read that. It was one morning. So you got an early call. Figure out how to get a nap in if you were woken up too early. I stayed home with E for almost three years. I knew how to grab a nap if I needed one. I'd feel like a giant douche complaining that I got woken up too early from a school cancellation phone call. Turn off the damn ringer if you don't want to be woken up. This isn't brain surgery or what I'd consider a real problem. If they don't call early enough, it's a problem, if they call too early it's a problem, if they don't call school, it's a problem. Then when there is school till August, they'll complain about that too. So I know where this lack of coping is coming from....

And THAT, folks, is my rant of the day.

Edit: I will edit that Hilarie, the director at GRJC Nursery School is a total rockstar when it comes to keeping our kids in school. Delayed opening? What delayed opening. If public school has delayed opening or early close for weather issue, she still makes sure those kids are in school for whatever amount of time they're supposed to be in there. So kudos to Hilarie for being a "weather warrior" and making sure our pre-schoolers know that it's ok to leave the house on time and be in school in the snow. I appreciate it greatly. They're 2, 3 & 4, a "full day" is 9-2:45 which most kids do, and her emails say- "Make sure to send your kids in with approprate snow gear as we go outside daily, even if it's for five minutes". Take that!


  1. I support this rant. I always tell people who call their kids babies "They are adults in training (A.I.T.'s) and you only get one shot and it usually ends around 5 years old."

  2. I finally got to finish this and it's AWESOME! I laughed out loud again through the car seat part!!