Suburban Snapshots

The Best We Know How

Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm writing this not to tell you how to parent.
I won't ask you to let your kids free-range
or suggest you co-sleep.
I don't care whether you nurse
or use formula
or barley water
or goat milk.
It's okay if you stay home with your kids
if you send them to daycare sixty hours a week
if they were unplanned
or if you struggled with infertility for years.
It doesn't matter whether you had them at 15
or if you are 47.
Maybe they don't have a dad
maybe they have two.
You may have had a few drinks when you were pregnant
or sushi.
Maybe you're in the shape of your life
or maybe your post-baby body is soft, dimpled and scarred.
I don't need you to toughen up your kids
to stop protecting them
to let them play with toy guns
or to dress your girls as princesses
and astronauts.
It's not my job to tell you that the name you've chosen is weird
or when to baptize.
I don't need you to put down your phone
throw away your television
or vaccinate.
I don't dictate how you grieve for the one you lost.
It's up to you how you manage the six you have.
You don't have to buy organic groceries
or join the PTA.
You might not love them all equally.
You've screwed up.
So have I.

We all do it right, and we all do it wrong, and I really believe that we all do it the best we know how.

This is Not Thunderdome,
This is the Drop-off Circle

Monday, November 04, 2013

Hey, fellow school parents. I'm about to venture deep into Get off My Lawn territory here, but what I have to ask you is important so I'm cool with that. Anyway, I look super sexy shaking my cane at people.

Listen, I know you have a pile of morning obligations, so do I. You have a nice car that keeps your family safe inside, and maybe you haven't had your coffee or chai or that hideous kombucha crap you're all pretending to enjoy lately, but I need you to focus here for a second. Because while your children ride securely in their car seats, surrounded by your Volvo's 600 Swedish-designed airbags, and after they're delivered safely to their classrooms, my kindergartner is still making her way to school down quiet neighborhood streets with no sidewalks while I follow behind — not too close though, because she's a big kid now — harping, "Over to the side. The side. Get back to the side. Do you see that car? No horsing around in the street. Speed up a little," and so on. It's more exhausting than that run-on sentence I just dropped.

Have you met any kindergartners? Do you remember how yours used to be? They walk like they're trying to fail a sobriety test, bobbing and weaving, slowing down then breaking into a gallop, looking at rocks, collecting acorns, and sometimes they skip because life is awesome when you're five. I've walked two girls back and forth to school this week and now I know what Lindsay Lohan's handlers must feel like. Anna keeps asking to ride bikes instead of walking and frankly, I'd rather feed her whole grapes on a trampoline.

What I'm saying is, kids are more oblivious to you than you seem to be of them, so you and I need to be the responsible parties here.

I'm asking that you consider the safety of kids aside from your own when careening furiously down my street in the morning and afternoon. Because while watching a woman get pulled over for running a stop sign literally twenty feet from the police officer parked there to ensure the safe passage of everyone else's kids was indeed satisfying and hilarious (and on the second day of kindergarten, no less) there are many other, less potentially tragic things I laugh at in the course of my day. Just last week my dog fell asleep on the back of the couch, rolled over and crashed to the floor. Seriously, that shit was comedy gold.

I try always to give the benefit of the doubt before I write someone off as an inconsiderate asshole; Maybe she's in labor, Maybe he won a chili eating contest last night, Maybe that was Batman. But mostly I know you're just zoned out, ready to go, probably spent the morning repeating yourself because why wouldn't it take forty requests before your kids finally all had their damn lunches ready? I get it. Backpacks are hard.

Let me drop the mic on this situation right now: my daughter is more important than whatever is waiting on your work email, or however long the line at Starbucks will be in five more minutes, or the traffic you're going to have to sit in anyway. So are my neighbors' kids, and the parents who walk with them to and from school every single day. It's hard to see all their beautiful faces when you're blowing by full of morning ambition, so slow down and let's all get out of the blur.