I am the mother of twin boys that will be four in August. If you follow the blog you know that I had trouble conceiving, was on bedrest for over four months while pregnant, and then had a very difficult recovery. All in all, actually physically bringing those boys into this world was tough. Now, I know that that might have been the easy part.
My goal in parenting was, I thought, quite simple. No douche bag kids. I wanted to let my kids fall down, suffer, feel hurt and anguish and pain and from that maybe learn about empathy and sympathy and toughness and generosity. I didn’t want them to become too enamored of religion or anything else that could be a crutch that would prevent them from having to learn the rules of the road as they went along life. It turns out that these things are not so simple. It is hard to let your kids feel pain. It is far easier to coddle and try to cushion their every misstep. It is hard to see them struggle and let them work something out on their own. Not only is it hard, but it is so very time consuming. It is easier for me to put on shirt and shorts than to allow them to put it on backwards 10 times. But that is how they learn, isn’t it?
And, this parenting thing has opened my eyes to how I practice law as well. While I felt sympathy for my clients before, I now empathize with their parents. How hard must it be to visit your son in a jail cell. How much must it hurt to sit in the back of a courtroom while your son is on trial for a crime you know he did not commit – or one that you know he did because he is full of bad choice-making. You know when your mother said “this is harder for me than it is for you” and you looked at her like “you are such a damned liar”? Remember that? Well, you know now that she was right, right? It is harder on this end when you are the decider.
This post is inspired, surprisingly, but a post by Ken at Popehat called “We forge our chains out of fear for our children.” It is not about not raising douche-bag kids, although it sort of is. In the post, Ken writes about a great website (and a book too) called Free-Range Kids. I first heard of free range kids through a friend, a sister in the world of infertility. We try to bone up on the best way to raise our kids, like most parents, but we do it because, you know, when you spend ten trillion dollars to have your kids you want to make super duper sure you don’t fuck them up because well, we can’t afford therapy since IVF is costly enough. Anyway, Ken tells us about a post at Free Range Kids that discusses how a police officer told a parent in Western MARYLAND (the state where I practice law) that it was illegal for kids under ten to play outside unsupervised without an adult present unless it was in their own yard.
I ask you this question, dear reader – how have you allowed this to happen? How have you, facebook friend number 314, yes, I went to elementary school with you and we were allowed to leave school in SIXTH GRADE and walk to the pizza joint (as long as we had a note from our parents) how have you allowed the government to tell you your kids can’t cross the street without you there. HOW? When will you learn? You are going to bear the burden of responsibility when my kids turn into sissypants who cry at every failing and need a security detail to leave the house. I blame you for turning my kids into douche-bags because it seems that my hard work in getting them onto this earth and then the hard work in letting them grow is for naught because ultimately you all have decided that it’s better for my kids to get a trophy just for existing and to sit inside watching Barney until they are 6 to be chased by a dose of i-Carly when they are tweens than to be, I don’t know, playing outside, climbing trees, interacting with other human children.
Here’s another question I ask of you – tell me what you do in your day that isn’t regulated by the government? Take a crap? Really? Who gets to decide on what kind of plumbing is in your house, do you pay your local government for the water in your john and the toilet tissue you use to wipe probably has some warning on it or other. Could you hunt or fish or build a house on Walden Pond unencumbered by some bureaucrat waiting for you to pay for your hunting license, fishing license, building permit. You want to add on a deck? Wait for the inspector to come to make sure the post holes are deep enough. You want your kids to play hide and seek in the cul-de-sac, you’d better make sure you are out there with them so that the law doesn’t come by and issue you a citation.
By the way, there is no actual law that says your kids can’t play outside, but I’m betting most of you thought there was. And if there was, what would you do about it? I’ll bet not a single one of us would do anything, we would accept it for just a fact of living in this free country and maybe we would remember how it was when we were kids but also convince ourselves that it just isn’t like that anymore. Except, it is. The fact that we have such incredible access to information doesn’t change the fact that there aren’t more child molesters in this country (although there are more people we think are child molesters since we put people on this asinine sex offender registries.) The world we live in today isn’t any more harmful than the world we lived in in the 80’s when I was jamming out to Thriller and had to be in when the street lights when on.
The noose is getting tighter, and I’m ashamed of the fact that we all walk up to it willingly. As Ken says, we have forged our own chains. Pity for our children.