The New Daddy Wars?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Say what you will about The New Republic (and here in Washington, you probably do have something to say about it), but it's generally a pretty thoughtful magazine. Not always right, but thoughtful. TNR has covered parenting issues with some depth in the past, and Jonathan Cohn put up a blog post on the magazine's site earlier this year aptly noting that discussing Mommy Wars without daddy voices isn't likely to move the discussion very far. So I was actually excited to see that they gave the cover treatment to the "Mommy Wars" this week.

But despite the intellectual heft of the piece, by James Wolcott, it's not particularly interesting or novel; really, do we need another piece taking hundreds of words to point out that Caitlin Flanagan is a hypocritical pseudo-housewife? But what is interesting to me was Wolcott's intro, and though the article is behind a subscription wall, you can read enough of the first paragraph to marvel along with me:

Watching the Mommy Wars makes me mighty glad I'm not a Daddy. To be sure, there's a lyrical part of me that longs to savor the joys of fatherhood; to jam a stroller into the trunk of a taxi in the pounding rain, to trade nanny horror stories with the other fellas in the support group, to lie awake at night worried sick over tuition fees and dental bills, and, most of all, to deck myself out in the official uniform of the Middle-Aged Dad: baseball cap, team jacket, hip-pouch cellphone holster, and thick-soled white sneakers suitable for a lunar landing. I often spot such dedicated MADs wheeling their sticky offspring along the sidewalks of upper Manhattan, bracing themselves as they bend over to pick up the juice cup that Jeremy has dropped for the five-thousandth time. Yes, that could be me stooping and retrieving. Married and childless, I'm missing out on so much.

I was a bit stunned. While I don't have a team jacket or a cellphone holster, I have been known to push a stroller wearing a cap, a hockey jersey and Vans. I must be one of those poor MADs. But -- and this may come as a shock to Wolcott -- I'm pretty happy driving my stroller dressed in machine-washable fabric.

Wolcott's lead could be the most visible salvo in the Daddy Wars, a battle between the old guard men (and employers) who think that childcare should somehow not be the purview of fathers and us younger guys who see active parenthood as a wonderful and integral part of fathering a kid. I have no idea where the vitriol came from. Is Wolcott jealous of us? Does he worry that we're somehow squandering the years of our life when we should be hanging out in wine bars, wearing tweed and discussing French politics? His message was clear: Fatherhood is for suckers.

I look forward to watching this particular meme develop. Is there really a meaningful population of men out there who roll their eyes at today's involved father? Or is Wolcott as wrong about dads as he is about moms?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  September 28, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts , Dads
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Clever mean types with pens,Everywhere appearing as both cats and dogs.

James Wolcott's acid prose (and pose) toward family may sell more issues of the mag.

I admit to a sliver of curious pleasure about seeing a dad in one-dimensional stereotype, since moms have been such fodder for years.

But my larger reaction is relief that he is not my brother, colleague, or neighbor. He can sip all the lattes he wants, unfettered by children. I doubt he will be a Dunkin Donuts near me any time soon.


From Wikipedia: MEME
the term "meme" (IPA: [miːm], not "mem"), coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a unit of cultural information that can be transmitted from one mind to another. Dawkins said, Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. A meme propagates itself as a unit of cultural evolution analogous in many ways to the gene (the unit of genetic information).

Posted by: College Parkian | September 28, 2006 7:24 AM

I thought Leslie was going to stop the man-bashing, but instead posts a story that highlights a "daddy-war" so that the man-bashing can continue?

I am not condoning Wolcott's views, but question the posting of them after the past 2 days.

BTW: I am married to a MAD and his response to Wolcott - so what? Do most men sit around and worry/ponder what single men think of them as dads?

Posted by: cmac | September 28, 2006 7:51 AM

I think the Wikipedia reference is misguided. I prefer the dictionary. There, under the definition of narcissist, is a picture of Mr. Wolcott. It's not a flattering one.

BTW, "trade nanny horror stories with the other fellas?" Who does this?

Posted by: Dad with Kids from A-Z | September 28, 2006 7:52 AM

Wolcott is clearly sarcastic, rather than vitriolic. I have a bachelor brother, maybe a confirmed bachelor (on verge of turning 43). I don't think it's the prospect of kids which is daunting to him, as he has begun to talk vaguely about wanting kids, and he's been an eccentric, if oft unavailable uncle to my own four boys. But it's the wife "meme" which is the sticking point. After living alone for this long, and developing very particular habits and tastes, not clear a wife fits into the picture that well. In addition, said brother lucked out and sold his internet company for $$$$$$$, allowing him to buy and fly airplanes, etc., so he has had the inevitable issue of who's a golddigger and who truly likes his mind and his soul.

I found Wolcott's piece infinitely more intellectually stimulating than a lot of these whining articles out there.

Posted by: suzanne goode | September 28, 2006 7:55 AM

Speaking as a 46 year old husband who is trying to become a dad, the description Brian gave of a MAD (maybe minus the ballcap and jacket; not me) is EXACTLY what I see myself being, and I WANT that with all my being! Like cmac's husband said, so what if someone else thinks "that's not for me". It is what I WANT to do, and what someone else thinks makes zero difference to me.

Let them make their own decisions; I intend to be the fully involved and active dad that others have described. Daughter or son, I intend to raise them the same way; with humor, love, caring and helping them develop an interest and joy in everything around them as they grow and learn.

Posted by: John | September 28, 2006 8:17 AM

As someone who has no and plans on having no children, I had a completely different reaction to the piece - I actually chuckled and agreed, because this is one of the reasons that I don't want to have kids!

Good luck to John on becoming that and I will smile and love when I see you (as a child of divorce I LOVE seeing families out and about), but will be happy with my family of two (me and the hubby!)

And Brian, Vans *are* cool - I think the article was referring to those all white huge sole numbers, not super cool skater shoes!

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 8:20 AM

great post, rd. i too found the intro to be the most intriguing part of the article -- maybe wolcott will explore this more fully in another piece. don't like what he's saying -- last thing we need is a Daddy War on top of the Mommy Wars -- but it's fascinating.

i disagree however with the line "Jonathan Cohn put up a blog post on the magazine's site earlier this year aptly noting that discussing Mommy Wars without daddy voices isn't likely to move the discussion very far." women don't need men in order to move a discussion forward -- this is an extremely retro view. sure, the discussion might go in different directions with men involved, but women are perfectly capable of engaging in robust, provocative debate without men around.

Posted by: Leslie | September 28, 2006 8:33 AM

To Betty: Let me be clear ... I am all for an interesting discussion about whether to have kids at all, involving personal development and economics and the history of the family unit, etc. But Wolcotts instead chooses to paint a clownish picture of poor sods burdened with kids and then -- having admitted little interest in children -- basically lambastes Leslie book as boring. (It's not until talking about Linda Hirschman, who also has a dim view of parenthood, that Wolcott lights up.) I think I could have enjoyed -- and vehemently disagreed with -- a TNR piece on the peril of parenthood. Instead, we got warmed over Flanagan-bashing.

Here's my confession: I don't like ballet. Don't really understand it. While this is a perfectly fine and acceptible aversion, it would make me a lousy dance critic. Does the same go for writing about parenting? Even if you don't have kids, don't you have to be at least a little interested?

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 8:34 AM

To Leslie: I hate to sound retro, but a work-life discussion (and that's what the Mommy Wars are, when you take the snarkiness out) that includes only women will have far, far less impact than one that includes men. I think that the discussion can be robust when only a segment of the population is involved, but when it comes to the hard work of shifting societal expectations, we need everyone on board: men, and women, blue collar and white collar, rural and urban, etc.

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 8:39 AM

I am not a man, but I can't imagine that a ton of men out there roll their eyes at dads with strollers. I for one love to see men out with their kids. On Saturdays, my husband and I will read the paper at Starbucks and I love seeing the Dads giving Mom a break by hanging out with the kids.

I personally didn't see the paragraph as an attack on Dads or parenting. If it is, maybe it is that I just don't care.

Posted by: Thought | September 28, 2006 8:41 AM

rebeldad, I'm confused about your inference that Wolcott was mocking involved dads in comparison to the stereotypical old guard fathers who took a much less active role in their family lives. It seems to me that, in the piece quoted at least as I wasn't able to read the full article, Wolcott is actually endorsing a childfree life.

Some may see that as a fine point, but I see it as a big distinction. He's not saying men should get to have their cake and eat it too, i.e., get the benefits of a family with none of the hassles. He's saying (yes, in a sarcastic tone) that he vastly prefers a life without children.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that the default assumption in the posting was that two kinds of fathers were being contrasted when, in fact, the contrast seemed to have been between fatherhood and a childfree life.

Posted by: TC | September 28, 2006 8:45 AM

Sounds more like a treatise on the narcism of the childless, if you ask me. All in all, it's a good thing that such self-centered elitist wannabees don't have children. Some genes just shouldn't be passed to the next generation.

As to the generational gap between the hands-off and the hands-on dads, there may have been a little tension during the initial shift when it was seen as being feminist inflicted but that's faded away.

As more father's take a more active part in the children's lives, they're finding out our precious and meaningful that time can be (of course, there were always some dads who did that, there's just more of us now).

When my wife went back to work after maternity leave, I changed by job schedule to a flexible afternoon schedule and shifted my Saturday off to a Monday. This put me into the role of primary care giver for the majority of the time for the next 18 months.

Those were the greatest 18 months of my entire life! It laid the groundwork for a relationship with my daughter that has only gotten stronger every day since.

Posted by: Rufus | September 28, 2006 8:45 AM

rebeldad, your post to Betty makes it clear that part of your reaction to Wolcott was based upon having read the entire piece. My earlier post was in response to what I thought was your analysis of just the portion quoted; I see now that it might have been off-base. Mea culpa!

Posted by: TC | September 28, 2006 8:47 AM

Dad with Kids from A-Z : "BTW, 'trade nanny horror stories with the other fellas?' Who does this?"

LOL! Yeah, here's one of beautiful moments when the author reveals that he has no knowledge at all about the topic (kinda like when a gun control advocate starts wailing about a hunting rifle, calling it an "assault weapon").

If he'd had take 10 minutes to actually interview a couple of hands-on dads, he would have found that all of our stories are about how it's so cool when they learn something new or you find a game you can play between the two of you that the kid thinks is great fun.

Posted by: Rufus | September 28, 2006 8:48 AM

I am not sure I see the description of MAD's as being particularly vitriolic at all. The author just seems to be stating that shuttling "sticky" kids around is not something he finds appealing. So what? As a father myself, I enjoy pushing my often sticky son around in a stroller quite a bit, but there are also times when I wouldn't mind sipping a latte or sitting in a wine bar without having to worry about picking up any sippy cups, too!

Posted by: Mark | September 28, 2006 8:52 AM

What I read this as is the worry that people lose themselves and what makes them unique after they have kids. They become a ridiculous abbreviation or acronym (MAD or SAHM or WOHM) instead of individuals.

I think it's what a lot of people fear, and it's interesting for me to see that men are dealing with it too. It's a sign that men are interested in becoming more involved in child rearing.

I don't think it's particularly offensive--many women offer the same kinds of reasons for not wanting kids. It's just this author's opinion.

Posted by: Meesh | September 28, 2006 8:54 AM

Process and civility comment ALERT.

Betty -- your affirmation of how your family will be AND affectionate acceptance of what John intends is a model for how we could interact on this blog.

Note to John: Dockers and Rockports can be cool. Happy daddies project coolness despite diaper bags, clunky strollers, minivans, and the like.

Men with babies! Marilyn Monroe noted the special sexiness of a lapful of babies.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 28, 2006 8:54 AM

MAD = 2d time around trying to "get" fatherhood right (you know, after destroying first marriage through (fill in the blank ..infidelity, emotional remoteness, combination of both) or divorced first wife because (again ..fill in blanks .. no kids, no attraction, "trading up"). I think it's pretty funny becasue MAD is actually more a reflection on the devaluation of women (i.e., once their looks go or become too much mother, less wife, they get ditched) than any attempt by men to get parenthood right.

Posted by: MAD | September 28, 2006 8:55 AM

To Brian, I think we just interpreted the piece differently, perhaps because of our respective "child status" - you see him essentially making fun of Dads, while I see it as him outlining what I have no desire to do (as a woman, I guess I am looking beyond the Mom/Dad thing and look at the parent).

I think your comment about him writing about parenting is very interesting, especially if he is the person addressing the so-called Daddy Wars in this "Mommy Wars" issue of the magazine, but I also think that any conversation about parenting should also include those people who have chosen not to parent. I lurk here, childless, because as a woman, I am concerned with giving women choices to decide when/if/how to have children, so maybe I do care about children, in general, just not mine.

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 8:56 AM

To TC: Your point is well-taken, even if you read the whole piece. We are talking about two distinct kids of men (distant fathers and the childless or childfree or whatever). I group 'em together, however, because of the shared lack of interest in the childrearing process. Still, I agree that it is a distinction worth making.

To College Parkian: I'd love to see the Marilyn Monroe quote, if you've got it.

To Betty: Good point about discussions involving *all* types, but -- my jibes about tweed to the contrary -- mocking what you don't understand is probably not the best way to open a thoughtful dialogue.

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 9:01 AM

That as much as the blogers Achenblog are making fun of us over there, they are the clickest blogers I have ever read! It's like they speak their own language or something and they are the only ones in an inside joke.

At least over here people can understand the conversation, even if it sometimes gets nasty.

Posted by: I have to say | September 28, 2006 9:05 AM

Betty, That was precisely what I was trying to get at, but you said it so much better!

Posted by: TC | September 28, 2006 9:06 AM

Rufus points out exactly why I am a little afraid of being a parent. As a childless person, I love it when I have friends/family who have children. It is wonderful to be an aunt to so many little ones. None of my childless friends say anything bad about our parent friends or slap down their decision. But, on this board many, but not all, parents slam down other's choices. It is not a click I want to belong to.

FWIW, I am not elitist or self centered. I just think things through and to me the decision to have a child should be the one decision I think through the most. If it was easy for you to come to the decision, awesome. But, it is not that way for everyone.

Posted by: Thought | September 28, 2006 9:06 AM

To Thought - I could have written that myself. I get tired of being labeled as "selfish" or "elitist" because I chose not to have children. But, I am very involved in the lives of my nieces and nephews! Couldn't that be part of "balance" - helping others with their kids? Because I don't have kids, I usually have more time and energy to contribute.

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 9:12 AM

rebeldad, Thanks for the response, and I see your point. However, there is a pretty huge distinction between uninterested/uninvolved parents and the childfree. The first group has created human beings they are failing to nurture; the second has simply chosen a different kind of life.

Posted by: TC | September 28, 2006 9:13 AM

Brian, I'm not sure that this piece is a salvo in the Daddy Wars so much as it is another example of some not-quite-mature pseudo-intellectual who delights in pointing at another and squealing, "look at me, I'm better than them."

While I think that women often feel as if they are singled out for family-related scrutiny by those males who have an influential voice in society (employers, journalists, etc), it is also true that men have cast ugly aspersions towards each other routinely since the beginning of time.

This same guy who says, "look at those suckers" when he sees us wipe our baby's chin probably feels a pang of jealousy when he sees us join the coaching staff on our son's varsity football team or proudly applaud our daughter's first-place prize in the science fair.

To me this is an extension of the simple fool who drives past his neighbor mowing the lawn while he's on his way to his third round of golf this week. ("Glad I'm not tied down like that sucker!") I hope I'll die fulfilled, satisfied with my life choices. Something tells me that this guy has an emptiness inside that he fills with critiques of others. Well, have at it buddy. I hope that's a comfort to you when you reflect on your own life....

-Pp.

(PS - Stinks to have these guys as bosses. I had one and had to quit.)

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 28, 2006 9:15 AM

To TC - Thanks - I was just about to say the same thing. Absent parents and childless people are very different.

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 9:22 AM

Missicat has a great point. I think that those of us without children can most certainly help balancing the lives of those with children. Very well said. Since I am in my 30's, and really past the crazy party days, I would gladly stay in and babysit, for free, on a Saturday night so my friends with children can go out. I'll just bring my husband and a movie. No biggie. Also, I have been planning momthly "girls afternoons", which are suitable for those with and without kids. So everyone can see each other and those with kids don't need to plan anything. (And, everyone helps with the kids). Win, win.

TC, I agree that there is a HUGE distinciton between those men who don't take care of their kids and those who don't have them. At least the latter was able to be mature and honest with themselves before bringing a child they don't want to care for into this world. Very sad.

Posted by: Thought | September 28, 2006 9:23 AM

To TC: Excellent, excellent distinction. I won't soon make that error again.

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 9:23 AM

I think there is nothing more cool than being a dad, the kids think dad is a larger than life superhero. If this author doesn't want kids, then any potential kids of his are better off not being born. As others have said, he's making fun of something he doesn't understand. I think he's pitiful, and doesn't deserve any attention.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 28, 2006 9:24 AM

In order to appreciate the content on the Achenblog, you'll have to have a much higher IQ than the average person on this blog, or you won't be able to get it.

Also, you might think they are clicky, but they seem to me a tight knit group of people that welcome others, and for heaven's sake, they aren't hostile to their handicapped members.

Posted by: I have to say something too | September 28, 2006 9:27 AM

Oh, I get it, you have to be a pompus you know what and point out that you think everyone over here has a low IQ. I didn't say it was bad, I said it was clicky and that their code words were hard to get.

I didn't make fun of father of 4 either, so now you should really feel like an ass.

Posted by: to I have to say something too | September 28, 2006 9:29 AM

Just piggybacking on Thought and Missicat: People choose not to have kids for many reasons, not just because they want to avoid being "tied down." I read once how having children will provide you the greatest joy and the greatest pain in your life. I don't know if I could stand the pain part: watching a child go through the various traumas and disappointments we all encounter growing up, being hurt, god-forbid being seriously ill or injured. I also have health issues that make me fearful of having children.

Posted by: lovekids,nokids | September 28, 2006 9:30 AM

"Also, you might think they are clicky, but they seem to me a tight knit group of people that welcome others, and for heaven's sake, they aren't hostile to their handicapped members."

That's handiCAPABLE members. And he's not blind, he's partially sighted. And he's not sexist, he's merely expressing his unique viewpoint on female sexuality. Thank you.

Posted by: PC cop | September 28, 2006 9:35 AM

I agree there is a difference between the uninvolved and the childless. However, the involved and the childless who tend to look down on parenting (which is definitley not all people without children) can have a strong impact on the ability of parents to achieve balance. They are the bosses we complain about who schedule meetings at 5:00pm, don't like telecommuting,etc.
Story - I used to work with a man who was very involved in little league. One afternoon I heard two other men, fathers no less, talking about this man. He was leaving early to go coach a game. (It should be noted that he had worked the previous weekend, something he did regularly) They were surprised that he was going to do this. I am paraphrasing, but one said "thats not a good excuse" and the other agreed. Personally I thought he was being a good father and as he and his staff were meeting all their deadlines I didn't see an issue.
As long as men are subject to be derided for being involved dads, as Rebel Dad's blog suggests this article is doing, it will be hard for them to achieve balance and if the dads can't achieve balance it is that much harder for the moms.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | September 28, 2006 9:35 AM

I, too, am tired of the 'elitist' or 'selfish' stereotyping that gets tacked onto people who don't have (or want) kids. I don't have kids and I do not want to have kids. So, why does someone have to attack that? If people want to have kids, great; if they don't, is it really any skin off anyone's back?

I don't have kids because, quite honestly, none of it appeals to me, and it never has. Not everyone is made to be a parent -- including those who DID have kids and shouldn't have.

Parents/non-parents will never get along while we call each other names over personal decisions.

Posted by: ilc | September 28, 2006 9:35 AM

"Some may see that as a fine point, but I see it as a big distinction. He's not saying men should get to have their cake and eat it too, i.e., get the benefits of a family with none of the hassles. He's saying (yes, in a sarcastic tone) that he vastly prefers a life without children."

Exactly. Isn't an "I don't like looking after kids so I won't have kids" attitude much less selfish than an "I don't like looking after kids so I'll ignore my kids and leave all the childcare work to my wife" attitude?

Posted by: Maria | September 28, 2006 9:37 AM

I'm not sure we should be backslapping the MAD's who are trying to get a "do over" with a second family when they have left a path of destruction with the first family. There was a comment that a childless man might feel superior because he is not tied down. I think that comment was ironic considering the noxious odor of superiority that tends to ooze from women with children who lord over the fact that they have kids over women who do not ...

Posted by: MAD Part Deux | September 28, 2006 9:39 AM

Rockports! Thank you, whoever you are, that mentioned that name. I bought a pair when I was pregnant with my first kid. Sent from heaven, I swear. Now my kid wears etnies (they look strange--I would rather wear vans--but really, vans are SLIP-ONS!). Did anyone read the article about kids and their t-shirts yesterday? They all said "I don't care what anyone thinks about me!" I almost snorted coffee out my nose when I read that. If there is one truism about teens, is that they are for the most part pack animals and they do care. Tremendously. Strangely, most teens do not think about other teens longer than a nano-second because they are all thinking about themselves! As for the topic today, it seemed rather tongue-in-cheek to me. Does anyone really care that some people are choosing not to have kids? This is a good thing. It's hard work having kids, even if they do bring you joy. Besides, if we all had kids then the schools would be REALLY overcrowded. Thanks to you childless homeowners whose tax money is propping up our schools. I hope my child will be the doctor who saves your life in 20 years! Leslie, I for one am begging for you to come up with topics that are actually helpful and not just fodder for venomous discussions. Let's tackle some things that keep us off balance. How about books that made a difference to us? Any 'a-HA' moments we had? What is the one thing that we do that is most effective in making sure our week goes smoothly? What are our own personal mantras for keeping our cool when the kid is in meltdown, traffic is stopped, the sitter is calling wondering when we are coming home, etc? Who do we see as our balanced idols? What does a balanced life essentially LOOK like? (fyi, it's not mine, so don't look over here cause I watch way too much television).

I feel compelled for some unknown reason to tell anyone who is suffering the joy of having small children that soon you will sleep through the night, have alone time, and go to work feeling fine. It's temporary."The days last forever and the years fly by." (some lady in the grocery store). I guess I would have really liked it if someone had told me that while I was in the thick of it.

Posted by: parttimer | September 28, 2006 9:43 AM

"I think that comment was ironic considering the noxious odor of superiority that tends to ooze from women with children who lord over the fact that they have kids over women who do not ..."

Not just women either. A while ago I heard of girls with children who praise themselves for not "taking the easy way out" and think they're better than girls who don't have children.

Posted by: Maria | September 28, 2006 9:45 AM

Guys, let's just not go here - it's foolish. Make the wisest decisions you can about your life, then live it. If another man

Posted by: Older Dad | September 28, 2006 9:47 AM

I just don't get the "feeling superior" issue..I don't feel I am superior for not having kids, nor do I think parents are superior to me...we have just chosen different paths for our lives. There are sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I had children of my own, but I guess I am lucky because I still have kids in my life. It's much easier having children with the support of a large family!

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 9:48 AM

Come on, Brian. I haven't read the entire article but the exceprt you quoted doesn't come close to vitroilic. It's funny. I'm currently childless (although I'd like to be a parent). And the reaon this is funny to me is because it pokes fun at the life-changing and cool-factor-diminshing aspects of parenthood. Let's face it. Parenting isn't cool. It's about earnestness and caring and self-sacrifice. And that's OK. In fact, it's as things should be.

One thing I've noticed about my friends who've had kids is that they undergo a personality shift (away from openness and toward rigidity) once the little ones arrive. It's endearing when a new mom or dad, faced with enormity of parenting, can maintain a sense of humor about how he or she is changing in the midst of what must be a bewildering experience

Don't worry though, just because you're uncool doesn't mean you're unloveable or unsmart or uncute. You're probably still all three.

Posted by: Friend | September 28, 2006 9:50 AM

Re: Parenting isn't cool....

I just don't buy that. You can say that parenting *sometimes* isn't cool. 3am this morning comes to mind. Lost pacifiers are an emergency to be handled via screeching. Definitely not cool.

On the other hand, my 15 month old baby boy approached a girl of similar age yesterday and pointed at her, smiled, and said "Girl!".

Chip off the old block. Very cool.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 28, 2006 9:50 AM

Guys, let's just not go here - it's foolish. Make the wisest decisions you can about your life, then live it. The fact that other men make different decisions about there lives is no reason for you to start second guessing your own.

Posted by: Older Dad | September 28, 2006 9:52 AM

You have to have a higher IQ to understand the Achenblog? Troll alert, folks. They are talking about traffic over there. And population. Nothing profound like to breastfeed or not to breastfeed!

Posted by: partimer | September 28, 2006 9:53 AM

Wolcott is just recycling the age-old "Bohemian is better than bourgeois" jibe that arises ina thousand forms. City vs. suburb, cuisine vs. comfort food, art vs. pop. He's not really writing about kids or dads at all; he's just showing off his own desire to feel superior to someone else.

Posted by: Tom T. | September 28, 2006 9:56 AM

To parttimer - off topic, but not all vans are slip-ons!!! The ones I have (which are the greatest sneakers that I have ever bought!) are normal, tie sneakers. I'm not even sure if they still sell the slip-ons anymore! :)

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 9:56 AM

Wolcott's article reveals a great deal about him.

He has very low self esteem, and believes that he'd be the worst role model and father in the history of the world. He doesn't feel like he has anything to offer a child, and fears that his offspring might turn out like himself- a first class jerk.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 28, 2006 10:00 AM

What's wrong with Wolcott's expressing his views on men with children. My husband and I have no problem with people with no children making fun of us for being a "breeder" (oh there's that word again). I will happily listen to commentary from people with no kids any day. Because at one point, I agreed with them. Having kids isn't for everyone. People have the right to voice their opinion, lord knows all the parents on this blog do.

I would however present Wolcott with the New York Magazine's article on 30-something parents as an alternative to the helicopter MADs with horrible fashion sense.

(http://nymag.com/news/features/16529/index.html)

Hip men have kids too! My husband wouldn't be caught dead wearing sports shoes or apparel unless exercising or a cell phone holster.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 28, 2006 10:00 AM

This is interesting? Some people don't want to have kids. Shocking. If they were actively preventing other people from having children that would be one thing, but this doesn't effect anyone but themselves in the end.

Posted by: off balance | September 28, 2006 10:00 AM

For those of you out there that take issue with childless people as being uncaring, insensitive, narcissistic, etc.... just be happy they aren't procreating and either giving life to a mirror image of themself or worse, neglecting the child.

The only difference between comedy and drama is perspective-- same goes towards views of parenthood. Parents and non-parents are seeing the same things a lot of the time, but in a much different light.

Also, to whoever might suggest that it's a one-sided narcissistic view on behalf of the non-parents, people who have children can be ungodly self-absorbed themselves, its just human nature. Nothing... NOTHING has more value than me at this moment because I.HAVE.A.CHILD.

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 10:01 AM

The terms "James Wolcott" and "intellectual heft" do not belong in the same sentence (unless separated by "lack of"). He's made his choice and good for him.

Posted by: Senor Cranky | September 28, 2006 10:02 AM

"Is there really a meaningful population of men out there who roll their eyes at today's involved father?"

In response to your question, Brian, I think that, yes, there is. My husband sees it at work frequently. I can't tell you how many times he's had to deal with higher-ups (with and without children) in his company who simply assume that he will make himself available to them 24/7, even though he has a working wife and 2 children. When he dares to explain that no, he can't go to Germany tomorrow because his wife is in the middle of a trial/business trip/etc... the reaction is usually stunned disbelief. And his attempt to help keep my life more balanced subtly hurts his career.

Are all bosses and all people like this? Of course not. But they do exist, male and female, childless or not. I guess I don't see it necessarily in terms of a Mommy War or a Daddy War, but a war over whether the current generation of parents can choose to have different priorities.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | September 28, 2006 10:04 AM

Off topic too, I never wore vans and when I tried to pick out a pair of Nikes for my nephew during school shopping he said he wanted vans. I must be uncool.

On topic, I find it strange that men who don't want children would analyze men who do so much? My husband doesn't say, gee I wonder why so and so didn't have a kid? I just don't get it and Brian, just like women, men have to stand up and say that flexibility and family are important to them as well in the work place. I mean if we start standing together, how can the people who put up road blocks keep us down?

Proud Papa, it's great to hear those words that the little ones say. I used to get a kick out of my little girl when she would say purple.

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 10:05 AM

Getting sucked in. Sometimes you hear people make remarks about your choices, whether you have had kids or not. They will judge your hair, shoes, car and pet. These are not people who are allowed to make you feel bad. These are people who annoy you because they don't use their turn signal and suck up more than their fair share of air! They just haven't traveled long enough on the road of life to 'get it.' Your sweet revenge? Living the life you want on your terms, regardless if it involves kids. And the fact that somewhere down the line, if this person is hitting Maslow's peak, they will feel bad about saying snarky, thoughtless and judgemental things about how whole groups of people live their lives. Thank you to all of you who don't live like me. This society needs you. And if you all lived like me, it would be much harder to find the stuff I like on sale. One more thing--it is uncool to even think about being cool. Cool people just ARE. Remember hush puppies?

Posted by: parttimer to Maria | September 28, 2006 10:05 AM

Five - that made me laugh outloud!

Reminds me of my sister, who insisted no children be invited to her wedding (there really weren't any in the family at the time, so it was not a huge deal), but now gets so annoyed when she is invited to weddings without HER two kids! As a good younger sister, I always make sure to remind her of her wedding guest list! :)

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 10:06 AM

We need to start calling this blog "On Vitriol". I swear, it's becoming the most overused word here.

It just struck me that I don't think I'd seen it used here before, but as of a few days ago, it seems like it pops up about every other post.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Just an obersation | September 28, 2006 10:10 AM

Off topic: Wore vans in the 80s. Wore vans while pregnant. Slip-on vans and pregnancy work very well together. No bending over to tie your shoes and they accommodate swelling feet. Vans rock.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 28, 2006 10:11 AM

To Friend: I was way uncool before I had kids. Most anyone who knew me in college will vouch for that.

But look, if Wolcott wants to say that men (or women) become vapid, fashion-impaired and child-obsessed once they have kids, bully for him. But once you say that, it really diminishes your ability to prattle on for 3,000 words about the state of modern parenthood (using words like "gnostic" and "declamatory") and be taken seriously on the subject.

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 10:11 AM

Daddy Wars? The Underwear Strikes Back? Return of the Dadi? Oh God, A New Hope?

Go no further that the foibles of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger to see America's nostalgic take on what happens to the rebachelor once ejected from nuclear familial bliss. Anybody else out there celebrate Felix Unger Day?

The unparent I guess is just sick of the venting of moms and dads that are jealous of the choices the unencumbered enjoy. But I do fail to see how this snarky article can be added to the bullet point list of reasons not to be a parent.

I was bemused by the tone of the article, another instance of a writer venting his/her own insecurity on life choices but putting somebody else's choices down.

Oh - If you only put water in sippy cups - they never get sticky. All that corn syrup fortified "juice" is sugar garbage food and deserves blame for the obesity epidemic. Jerk. But I mean that in the nicest way.

The chosen childless are welcome to help with balance, as long as there is some track record and they have a clue what they are doing. We always LOVE having our kids manners criticized at Thanksgiving by the partimers yet temporary experts: SNARK.

Posted by: Fo3 | September 28, 2006 10:14 AM

Leslie said 'women don't need men in order to move a discussion forward -- this is an extremely retro view. sure, the discussion might go in different directions with men involved, but women are perfectly capable of engaging in robust, provocative debate without men around.'

Eureka! Leslie is nasty and snarky, simple minded and not willing to consider and respect other people's points of view. This blog exists merely to perpetuate the mommy wars so people buy her stupid book. I've had enough. Brian Reid needs his own blog, he is an intelligent and thoughtful writer.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 28, 2006 10:15 AM

Really??? I can't believe it. That just sounds--sacreligious. Tie on vans? What next? Slip on doc maartens? I feel strangely...like shopping. My etnie wearing kid is now wearing the same size shoe I am (and it ain't small! I had to go through 2 pregnancies to get feet this big!) so maybe I will wear them to work some time. Slip on docs. Maybe there is a business opportunity here...

Posted by: parttimer to betty | September 28, 2006 10:16 AM

Perhaps what the author is really expressing is in some way his disgust for the media saturation on parenting issues.

America really has become EXTREMELY child-centric, and I think we've all seen examples of people treating parenting as something of a sacred calling, and occasionally using the fact that they have children to (a.) push their way to the front of the line (can you say screaming baby in a post office?) (b.) take what might be perceived of as more than their fair share of resources (c.) boss other people around (policing the music others listen to in public or even the language they use because "there are children around" comes to mind. Actually, I heard someone use the phrase "hummer mom" recently for one of these ladies who uses the fact that she has kids to literally roll over everyone else -- and I knew exactly what the author meant.

Heck, our local YMCA has 'Mommy and Baby' parking spaces next to the handicapped spaces, and you can only use them if you have a toddler. And I can see how on a cold, rainy day someone else might think it's not fair.

Perhaps what the author is describing is not so much the opening salvo in the daddy wars, as a societal backlash against the 24 hour a day "all sticky kids all the time" American parenting atmosphere.

And yes, I do expect to get bashed for these sentiments -- but I also believe them.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | September 28, 2006 10:16 AM

"The usual" Proud Papa did not write the 10am post.

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 28, 2006 10:17 AM

To alex. mom: Nothing wrong with Wolcott expressing his views. I still don't understand why those view were worth the space and prominence that TNR gave him. His piece, in a nutshell, went like this: "I don't understand the attaction of kids. Don't plan to have any. Think parenthood is for suckers. Now here's my extensive analysis of three books on parenthood."

To all: I wear the lace-up skateboard-style vans with the thick soles. I am probably too old to wear such footwear. And I don't particularly care.

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 10:19 AM

I'm going shopping for some vans. and some rockports. and maybe some cigarettes and HFCS drinks. Living life on the edge might make me cooler!

You totally need kids at weddings. It's the ten year olds who take pity on the wall flowers and get them out on the dance floor. So now that your sister has traveled the road a little longer, how does she feel about her pronouncement? What does she say when you remind her about it? Little sisters rock. I am one. But big sisters do too, cause I have one.

Posted by: parttimer to Betty again | September 28, 2006 10:26 AM

Brian -
Why does Walcott's preamble (funny or offensive depending on your P.O.V.) diminish his ability to prattle on for 3,000 words about the state of modern parenthood?

Posted by: Friend | September 28, 2006 10:26 AM

but..but...isn't it the RIGHT Of the childfree to criticize they way people parent? *snicker*

(just a joke...don't flame me!)

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 10:27 AM

"That as much as the blogers Achenblog are making fun of us over there, they are the clickest blogers I have ever read! It's like they speak their own language or something and they are the only ones in an inside joke."

Not sure what a "clickest bloger" is. Do you guys have your own special language on this blog?

If you spend a little time, have a little patience, and open your mind to learning something, it's very easy to get into the patter of Achenblog. But it takes more than a cursory look to "get it." If you're in a hurry to dismiss it, you won't get anything from it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 10:32 AM

To Armchair Mom: If Wolcott had said what you posted -- something I disagree with but find fascinating and not indefensible -- I'd be the first in line to buy my copy. But he didn't. Instead, he gave us some snarky digs at Leslie's book, a thoroughly unoriginal critique of Flanagan, and heaps of praise (though not much depth) on Linda Hirshman.

To experienced mom: I do have my own blog: www.rebeldad.com, though I fear that if you start reading it, you'll find I'm not as intelligent and thoughtful as a I am here. I save my best stuff for you guys. :)

Posted by: Brian Reid | September 28, 2006 10:32 AM

"you have to be a pompus you know what"

A "pompus you know what"? Huh? At least over there, they have a glossary of the shorthand they use so that anyone can feel included.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 10:33 AM

Brian - Now I COMPLETELY understand where you are coming from!! The small blurb loses something without the whole article. It is quite curious that he is writing on parenting and that they selected him to do such an article. Bizarre.

I agree with Armchair Mom - there are many people that are way too child-centric. I hate to walk from a far away space in the parking lot, wait in line, be polite, etc. when I was little, and I turned out okay!

So, yes, you all might see me when I won't let Johnny skip the line because he is a kid and my nieces and nephews know that when they are in my car, we listen to Aunt X's music (I make sure that the songs with the F-bomb don't get played) and not *their* music (b/c singing and dancing to "If I had a million dollars" with a 5 and 6 year old in the back seat is much more fun than singing about some wheels on a bus.

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 10:33 AM

"What I read this as is the worry that people lose themselves and what makes them unique after they have kids. They become a ridiculous abbreviation or acronym (MAD or SAHM or WOHM) instead of individuals."

Meesh, once again, I think you're right on. I remember being so afraid of losing part of myself when I first had a baby, of ceasing to exist as "Laura" and being subsumed into "mommy." And a lot of that was the soccer mom stereotype -- I freaked out about replacing my 2-door car with a 4-door (minivan was out of the question!!), and in the end just could NOT bring myself to buy a Subaru wagon, simply because it epitomized the whole "soccer mom" meme.

I think a lot of those worries are due to inexperience -- once you get there, you realize that you're still you, and the trappings just don't matter so much (tho I still won't buy a minivan!).

I think the tone of the article, though, also shows a good degree of immaturity -- it reminds me of junior high, where the only way to feel good about yourself was to try to put down everyone else, and being a smarta$$ was a highly treasured skill. Most people grow out of that phase, and realize that even if a particular role or persona doesn't work for them, it works just fine for others -- i.e., not better or worse, just different. I haven't read the article, but from Brian's description, it sounds like this guy didn't.

I will say, though, that I'm happy we're having this conversation about dads. There has been such huge focus on the soccer mom meme for so many years that it's just really tiring; it's nice to have some similar conversations about and with dads (in other words, nice to know my husband and other dads were/are going through the same thing I was!).

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 10:37 AM

clickest

clique
cliquey or cliquy (dictionary.com)
cliqueyest? cliquiest?

Posted by: experienced mom | September 28, 2006 10:38 AM

To Thought and Missicat: No, not every person who chooses not to have a child is "selfish" or "elitist"! Many make the choice for very intelligent and laudable reasons.

It was NOT easy for me to come to the decision to have children, but I eventually came to a point in my life when I was ready.

Afterwards, I used to chastise myself for not having children sooner as it was working out so well, but I had to remind myself of the fact that it would not have worked out so well if I had made the step without being ready to assume all of the responsibilities that came with it.

If you say you aren't ready, I believe you.

Posted by: Rufus | September 28, 2006 10:38 AM

Not sure what a "clickest bloger" is. Do you guys have your own special language on this blog?

I think you know what I am saying, you are just being dissmisive. They seem to have their own click!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 10:38 AM

"In order to appreciate the content on the Achenblog, you'll have to have a much higher IQ than the average person on this blog, or you won't be able to get it.

Also, you might think they are clicky, but they seem to me a tight knit group of people that welcome others, and for heaven's sake, they aren't hostile to their handicapped members."

Ok, I usually don't weigh in on these sorts of things, but just can't resist this time. If you're going to brag about the high IQ on the Achenblog, you might want to learn to spell "cliquey."

Posted by: Anonymous for now | September 28, 2006 10:39 AM

Betty: I don't particularly like kids at weddings - before I had them and now that I have 2 - particuraly if it is formal wedding. I admit I like getting out with my husband at an "adult only" event and not have to chase rugrats around.

Having said that, my kids were in a family wedding 3 years ago and were excellent. However there were 2 sets of grandparents, countless aunts and uncles and cousins to help out with them. They are in a friends wedding in 3 weeks and it will not be the same - they won't know as many people and I think they will be a bit bored, so I am having them picked up by grandma after the reception starts swinging. I would not have been the least bit irritated if either the family or friend wedding asked for "no children."

It is nice to get the kids dressed up and they get tons of accolades, but they are still kids and like to slide across the dance floor (which I find irritating) and generally need something every 10 minutes. Again, being out with my husband all gussied up is pretty nice.

Posted by: cmac | September 28, 2006 10:40 AM

To parttimer - she just kind of rolls her eyes at me, but I make my point. I don't think that she'll admit that she's changed. She's a great mom and (BIL is a great dad) - have really achieved, in my opinion, of a good balance.

Okay, I HAVE to get back to work!

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 10:42 AM

to armchair mom: I agree with the whole child-centric thing. My sister and I both gripe about how our houses are too child centric. We could step back a foot or three here and possibly not lose any ground. But even if I am without my kids, which is usual these days, I don't particularly care to listen to people spewing obscenities, blaring music with lyrics that make Paris Hilton blush, or inhale smoke w/o a filter when I quit! Those activities are offensive to people who don't have kids, or don't have them with them, as well. At a recent sporting event this little gem was overheard: "she gave me an awesome xxx000 on Saturday night." Why do I need to hear that? Would you like to hear a play by play of my private life? I am going to go with "NO".

Those hummer moms would be hummer something else if they didn't have kids. I think that is more of a personality trait. And the family parking spots are suggestions, not law. I wish there had been some when I was toting two small kids. I am kind of glad they are there to help someone else out. Of course, I did feel like parking in one recently. I didn't, but was tempted. And it wasn't even raining!

Posted by: parttimer | September 28, 2006 10:43 AM

you have to be a pompus you know what"

Posted by: ass | September 28, 2006 10:45 AM

Children are way more fun than adults. I can't think of anything more boring than sitting around with adults trying to impress each other with their intelligence and wit.

Parenthood may be grueling, but life with kids is boring.

Posted by: bkp | September 28, 2006 10:46 AM

Hummer Moms?

God Bless 'em.

Where is Fo4 anyway? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Posted by: Fo3 | September 28, 2006 10:51 AM

Parttimer,

I agree with you that people who don't' have kids would be annoyed with smoke and a play by play of last nights shenanigans, I know I don't care to hear it.

I am also not bothered by the mommy parking spaces. I always park far away and walk to the store. What bothers people about these spaces? Is it that they are close or is it that they feel discriminated against? I'm just wondering.

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 10:52 AM

Parenthood may be grueling, but life withOUT kids is boring.

Posted by: bkp | September 28, 2006 10:53 AM

To Laura--further evidence of my lack of cool. I CRAVED a minivan. I now lust after certain models. My current one only carries 7. If I had an 8 seater, we could fit more friends! While my kids don't play soccer and I missed the whole 'soccer mom' thing (was in Europe for several years), I get a perverse thrill out of my van. My husband has a sedan. It is a nice change of pace, but he freaks if there is even ONE wrapper on the floor. My best friend has an suv that seats five. We always have to take my car when we go anywhere together with the kids (not that I mind--I like driving; is it the control freak in me?). She also swore no minivan, but after ten years of this, she is beginning to soften. Look at the minivan, with the automatic sliding doors, fold-under seats, multitude of cupholders! It calls your name. You try to resist. You know it is a great tool and makes your job easier and more convenient (trust me on this--those automatic side doors are AWESOME!). Follow the light, Laura.

Man, I am really, really, REALLY leaving now.

Posted by: parttimer | September 28, 2006 10:53 AM

Just a few thoughts today:
1. Whoever posted the slate article yesterday on NNTs - that was a FANTASTIC article.
2. This article is "funny" in the same way the Fortune article on "Don't Marry a Working Woman" was "funny." I guess I have no sense of humor.
3. I have to side with Rebeldad on the retro argument. If women exclude or even sideline men in the mommy-wars/daddy-wars/work-life balance wars, we'll end up "trying to have it all." If you really want to be able to work, have a kid, etc. without going insane, then expect your husband not to "help out" or "give you a break," but carry his own weight. And explain to him why he should carry his own weight.

Posted by: The original just a thought | September 28, 2006 10:55 AM

re: kids at weddings--next spring at our wedding, ALL kids are invited, and i don't care if they cry or talk or giggle during the ceremony. they're all my family or the kiddies of my close friends, so to me they add to the happiness. my soon-to-be niece, 10 years old, is going to be my one bridesmaid, and her excitement and joy at being part of this day is infectious. my honorary 6-year-old niece is on the ceiling about being flowergirl and seeing her "aunt" get married. and my 3-year-old godson asked if he could be my "ring baron" before we were even engaged. child-free wedding? no way!

Posted by: lovekids,nokids | September 28, 2006 11:02 AM

The only thing I find annoying about the no kids at the wedding is if they pick and choose the kids, but you don't find this out until you get there. One of my cousins got married and she said no kids, when we got there, there were lots of kids. I think it causes hurt feelings becuase my sister was, like I thought it was no kids?

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 11:03 AM

Sometimes I get really irked by people who make a nasty comment, is a smarty tone of voice, cackle as if the last phrase was a punch line and then say something like this, "Jeeze, don't be so uptight! I was only joking."

As if. Fake nice people=really dangerous. At least the forthright dont sugar coat their opinions.

Posted by: Fo3 | September 28, 2006 11:03 AM

Scarry - sometimes that is not the fault of the couple....there are lots of folks who think the "no kids" does not apply to them!
My older niece was my bridesmaid and she made our pictures just priceless! My younger niece (5 years old) grabbed people out to dance on the dancefloor...she was hysterical! Kids can really make a wedding...

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 11:07 AM

I can't wait for MAD's to be replaced by SAD's (senior adult dads) ...you know the Tony Randall and Donald Trump types who ply us with children well into their 60s and 70s ...

Posted by: MAD to SAD | September 28, 2006 11:08 AM

I still don't understand why those view were worth the space and prominence that TNR gave him. >>>

Why give space and prominence to parenting articles or Mommy Wars? TNR has a wide audience and probably like to represent all voices and lifestyles.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 28, 2006 11:09 AM

I agree with armchair mom.

I really wish there were some child-free spaces. It seems that no matter where you go, someone brings their kids. When I was younger, I remember my parents going out and telling my sisters and I that we couldn't accompany them to dinner because it was a "grown-up" restaurant (and no, they weren't going to hooters or a strip club). I really don't have anything against children, but I do think they have their places, and as a whole, the country is forgetting that.

Posted by: Reston | September 28, 2006 11:12 AM

I totally agree that kids make weddings fun, that wedding was the only one that said no kids. I think my sister felt singled out, but you make a good point about people thinking it doesn't apply to them.

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 11:12 AM

Parttimer -- "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light." Noooooo, not a minivan! Anything but that!!! :-)

Not that I ever had any coolness or hipness to worry about losing, either. . . .

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 11:12 AM

I feel sorry for the children of parents who put their careers ahead of their families. I also feel sorry for those parents because they are missing out on some crucial time with their children.

Several years ago, while I was working one of my whacky schedules that allowed me to maximize my time with my daughter, I got offered a managerial promotion that would have required a strict 8-5 work schedule. When I turned it down, the CIO immediately offered me more money and I had to explain to him that there wasn't enough money in the world to make me miss the Father-Daughter breakfast at my daughter's preschool. He looked at me incredulously for a minute then smiled and shook my hand, saying "I wish I would have done that 15 years ago."

Posted by: Rufus | September 28, 2006 11:14 AM

Betty, Friend, and other childless posters- I cannot believe that people call you elitist and selfish for not having children. That is just bizarre to me. I totally respect my friends who chose not to have children, and they are wonderfully supportive and helpful to us now that we have a child. I guess some people will always find a reason to judge.

Rebeldad, just wanted to say that I totally agree that a conversation about work-life balance that doesn't include men will not go very far, I think saying we don't need men is very shortsighted. No matter how you describe the goals for women - more flexibility in their jobs, more time to pursue their careers, more choices - getting there involves changes for both men and women. I think we won't see a more equal balance until both men and women feel committed to the idea and emboldened to pursue it.

Parttimer, thanks for your comments to parents of small children, I really, really needed to hear that tody!

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 11:16 AM

1) Who cares what he thinks??? I mean really, if he doesn't want kids for what ever reason, then don't have them.
2) Parents aren't cool! I can't think of anything more cool then having someone think you literally rise and set the sun just for them.
3) Kids aren't meaningful. whatever. To me, my kid is the best thing that could ever happen to me. She has taught me so much about the power and capacity to love beyond anything I could imagine.
4) Let those who don't want to parent alone. I think parenting is best done by those who initially start off wanting to.
5) Involved fathers is a bad thing. Get real. Would Wolcott rather have a bunch of men populate the planet and sit the kids alone in a corner to rot. He sounds like a jerk.
6) Achenblog readers need to be of a higher then average intelligence. "Clouds are hard." Get real. Sounds like a bunch of people thinking they are so deep, philosophical, and abstract. In reality, they sound like a bunch of teenagers who forgot to take their ADD medication. Now, I imagine most of them are really rather normal people but a few bad apples give them a bad rap. In fact, I read yesterdays Achenblog and Achen himself said do not go on to other blogs and tout how great we are. It only makes us look vein.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 28, 2006 11:24 AM

On parenthood and coolness - I knew I was completely uncool when we took our son to one of my husband's band's gigs - it was an outdoor festival, perfect chance to get out. My son was just starting solids and I brought some cheerios. I'm sitting there chatting with the band guys, who I used to hang out and drink and laugh with all night before our son came along, when my son spits up some cheerios and without thinking, I reached out and caught it in my hand so it wouldn't get all over both of our clothes. The looks on their faces - oh, how much more uncool can you get? I was grossed out and chagrined at the same time. I feel like I'm just starting to be able to get out of the mommy box a bit now, hoping to reinvent my style as time goes on, but in the early days, parenting is definitely not cool.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 11:27 AM

Clique. Clique. Clique.

Posted by: Spelling Police | September 28, 2006 11:28 AM

Before I had children, my 9 year old nephew asked me for vans for Christmas. I emailed my brother and said, "My God he is asking me for a car!" So having kids doesn't necessarily make you a dweeb. Some of us were dweebs before we had kids.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 28, 2006 11:29 AM

Clique. Clique. Clique.

Posted by: annoying, annoying, annoying | September 28, 2006 11:30 AM

Kids belong at weddings only if the people getting married want them there. I got married a few weeks ago and did not have kids at the wedding, I'm still having people tell me how much fun our wedding was. If you need someone to get the wallflowers out why not just make cooler friends, not subject everyone to sticky, germy, slobbery kids.

Posted by: just married | September 28, 2006 11:31 AM

Kids at weddings are a blast. They have the best time on the dance floor and energize the whole crowd. I even enjoy babies at weddings just as I don't mind them crying in the pews at church.

Mr. Wolcott has obviously never spoken with people like my husband. He loves being with his kids, and also enjoys all the sticky strolls etc...

I also don't think single people are "selfish". Some people are not meant to be parents and at least they are sensible enough to acknowledge that, unlike many parents who really ought to have opted out of the role.

Posted by: babiesatweddings! | September 28, 2006 11:31 AM

I think it's fine when people choose not to have kids - and WONDERFUL if they are the type of people who love kids and want other people's children in their lives - the childless posters today have seemed to be of that sort, and I envy your friends and family! I think what is frustrating is those individuals who feel that not only are they free to choose not to have children, they also shouldn't have to be "burdened" by seeing, hearing, or dealing with other people's children, paying taxes for schools, etc. As someone else mentioned, this is a personality issue, but one that is more obvious in the childless. I disagree that America is too child-centric and have heard from friends and others who've traveled a lot that most countries are MORE family-centered than the U.S. I think it has come up in this blog before.

Posted by: TakomaMom | September 28, 2006 11:33 AM

@TakomaMom

Child-centric and family-centric are not really the same thing. Other countries certainly place far more importance on the role of the family than the U.S. Not in all cases, but there is definately a stronger emphasis on family in certain foreign countries.

Even if it's not truly 100% focused on children, society is becoming increasingly soft due to people that cry "think of the children!" when they voice their concerns. They may be using children as a shield, or they may genuinely be thinking of children when they try and impose relentless broadcasting, content, and thought control in certain instances. And if you don't agree with that, then you hate babies and eat puppies.

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 11:37 AM

Betty - I am right there with you on the 'cool' music. Some of my music isn't 100% kid friendly (Amy Ray and Kelly Buchanan get a little too fond of the 'F-bomb' once in a while) but Indigo Girls and Jill Sobule and Paul Simon and James Taylor are fun (and you should hear my 13 year old singing along with Bohemian Rhapsody and I Want To Break Free - priceless!). I've also started listening to some of hers - I never, EVER thought I'd be listening to the Black Eyed Peas on my iPod, but I'm starting to love a few songs.

As for the minivan - well, I came to the marriage with a Camry. My partner has a minivan. She will get a new one when we can afford to replace hers. I will get a new Camry when it's time to replace mine. I agree that the minivan is helpful when you're transporting a bunch of kids, or for long trips, but I love my little car (and yes, it's little compared to the house on wheels that my partner drives) and it will seat five, or three plus a carseat, and the trunk will accomodate two weeks worth of groceries and a 55 pound bag of dog food and a three ball bowling bag at the same time. So there. :-)

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | September 28, 2006 11:39 AM

I'm not "bothered" byt paying taxes for schools--after all, the kids attending them may be my doctor one day.

And I'm not "bothered" when I see kids at the park, or the zoo.

I am "bothered" when I see kids at a nice, white table cloth restaurant, screaming for chicken fingers, or complaining of boredom at the theather.

I don't understand why a parent would bring a child (particularly a child who is not ready) to these places. The kid won't have fun. The parent won't have fun, because they'll be wrangling the kid. And the other patrons won't have fun because they'll be subject to the scene these families inevitable create.

Kids are great. That doesn't mean they belong everywhere.

Posted by: Reston | September 28, 2006 11:45 AM

The only thing I find annoying about the no kids at the wedding is if they pick and choose the kids, but you don't find this out until you get there. One of my cousins got married and she said no kids, when we got there, there were lots of kids. I think it causes hurt feelings becuase my sister was, like I thought it was no kids?

Scarry, it could be that some people just ignored the no kid rule and brought their kid anyway. People can be very rude about weddings. We had a few guests, who brought other people. Not a date or their child. Literally extra people. One couple brought their Aunt who was in town visiting. No it is one thing to call a head and ask but another to just show up. Also a bunch of people arrived unannounced to the rehersal dinner. We wanted just family and out of town guests and bridal party. But some people just starting showing up.

I had children at the wedding and was thrilled. I had 8 children in the actual wedding party. But I do think it is solely up to the bride and the groom to decide who they want in attendance. People tend to forget it is their day. Weddings have turned into this obnoxious obligation to everyone involved. My SIL choose not to have children in the wedding. She has two younger half siblings. Her father called up and demanded they be a part of the wedding party. Meanwhile he was not paying a dime for the wedding. I think that stinks. If the bride and groom want a totally adult wedding and they are paying for it, it is no one else's business.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 28, 2006 11:47 AM

Proud Papa,

You said, "He has very low self esteem, and believes that he'd be the worst role model and father in the history of the world. He doesn't feel like he has anything to offer a child, and fears that his offspring might turn out like himself- a first class jerk."

How do the qualities you described make him a first-class jerk? Having low self-esteem, feeling you're a potentially poor role model, fearing you don't have anything to offer -- aren't these characteristics indicative of possible mental or emotional problems (illnesses) or possibly a damaging childhood self-concept?

And isn't his disinclination to have children, in view of these aspect of his personality, a mature and well-reasoned decision?

How can you look at someone's emotional weaknesses and call him a jerk?

Posted by: brooks | September 28, 2006 11:53 AM


I pay no attention to Wolcott's comments. He's entitled to his opinion, I just ignore him. No daddy wars here.

Parenting is the MOST fulfilling thing in my life. No regrets at all.

Love my bees.

Posted by: WorkerBee | September 28, 2006 11:54 AM

I've traveled the world, visited 40-some countries, eaten in some great restaurants, done lots of scubadiving, skiing, hiking, camping. I've had dozens of women, drank fine champagnes, seen Mount Everest. I've been to most of the world's great museums, been to many concerts, vacationed in beach houses and mountaintop cabins.

And the truth is, nothing compares with the joy I get from seeing my 6-year old son play tee-ball.

Posted by: Frank | September 28, 2006 11:54 AM

'And the family parking spots are suggestions, not law'

I would never, ever park in a handicapped space. But, I feel no obligation to avoid family parking spaces. These are a relatively new occurrence. When I was pregnant and had babies and toddlers, I parked wherever any other able-bodied driver would park. It's amazing how many women want special privileges along with their equality.

How about reserved parking for senior citizens? They do not all qualify for handicapped parking, but I would much rather they have preferred parking than pregnant women and mothers with children in tow.

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 11:55 AM

"You totally need kids at weddings. It's the ten year olds who take pity on the wall flowers and get them out on the dance floor."

That depends on the kid. A polite ten year old is one kind of guest, an infant is another. My parents once made the mistake of bringing me to a wedding when I was an infant. I didn't dance with any wallflowers. I started screaming in the middle of the ceremony and my mom took me out of the room (and missed the rest of the ceremony) so that the bride and groom could hear each other's vows.

"Kids belong at weddings only if the people getting married want them there."

That applies for anyone, kid or adult.

"Child-centric and family-centric are not really the same thing. Other countries certainly place far more importance on the role of the family than the U.S."

True, there are many ways to be family-centric. The way some cultures have "honor killings" is very family-centric, but seems more patriarch-centric than child-centric.

Posted by: Maria | September 28, 2006 11:57 AM

parttimer, it was a long time ago, but thanks for saying that this time won't last forever. i'm in the thick of it (he's almost 6 months, and i've only left him with his dad twice (i'm exclusively breastfeeding so that's why)) and i love it, but it's also a bit of an identity crisis. and last night he woke up like five times. wtheck?
"suffering the joy" you are so right.

Posted by: to parttimer at 9:43 a.m. | September 28, 2006 11:58 AM

"I can't believe it. That just sounds--sacreligious. Tie on vans? What next?"

Vans have been around for a long time. I had some 25 years ago. Back then, they were all tie-ons.

Posted by: brooks | September 28, 2006 12:01 PM

'On Saturdays, my husband and I will read the paper at Starbucks and I love seeing the Dads giving Mom a break by hanging out with the kids.'

This struck me as being odd. I love seeing Dads hanging out with the kids, too, because the father/child relationship is something special, NOT because it gives the Mom a break. Another Mom-centric comment.

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 12:05 PM

Ya know what's funny about all this parenting angst?

People used to just have kids. That's right, just have 'em. Not a big deal. Not a media event.

But now, with Baby Boomers' kids having kids, it's become an art, a science, a subject for study and debate.

Geez. Just have the kids, raise 'em, and be silent, already.

Posted by: brooks | September 28, 2006 12:08 PM

My wife and I have already had this conversation, as to what I would do in helping raising our (not so future, hopefully) offspring. Both my father and hers were the distant types that did little in raising us, letting our moms do it for the most part. Her father especially did little; at least mine had me working on the farm as soon as I was old enough to know the difference between weeds and vegetables.

I told her that whether we had a son or daughter, I'd teach them how to build a table and cook dinner (I do both), plant a garden and where to look for worms, how to bake cookies and the joys of playing in the mud.

I think that satisfied her.

Posted by: John | September 28, 2006 12:09 PM

My church has new and expectant mommy spots. I always viewed it as encouraging large families (we're Catholic) or just suggestions. I don't think they were required. I think it is viewed more like giving up your seat to an elderly person. I see signs on the Metro asking people to give up their seat for an elderly person. It is not mandatory just a suggestion. I give up my seat to people who I think needs it. Whether it is a pregnant lady, a mother in tow with child and needs some help, elderly, or just people who look like they are tired at the end of the day. Men often offer to give up their seats to a lady. I think it is just common courtesy.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 28, 2006 12:12 PM

"Men often offer to give up their seats to a lady"

Only if they're chauvinist pigs. A fair minded man would treat a lady as an equal and keep the seat for himself, instead of pretending she needed it more than him.

*ducks for cover*

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 12:21 PM

" A fair minded man would treat a lady as an equal and keep the seat for himself, instead of pretending she needed it more than him."

I would make an exception to this for pregnant women; otherwise I agree I'm as capable of standing as anyone else.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 12:25 PM

"Men often offer to give up their seats to a lady"

Only if they're chauvinist pigs. A fair minded man would treat a lady as an equal and keep the seat for himself, instead of pretending she needed it more than him.

*ducks for cover*

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 12:21 PM
>>>

I often volunteer my seat to men or women who are much older than me, in a respect for elders type gesture.

What I do hate is when men OR women don't hold the door open for others! How rude to just let it slam in someone's face regardless of sex.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 28, 2006 12:27 PM

Yes people just used to have children, but now we have safe effective birth control so it is a choice.

Posted by: To Brooks | September 28, 2006 12:28 PM

I am not saying men should offer up their seat to a lady. I just said they often do that. I agree with Alex mom, I think it is rude to let the door slam on someone's face. Most of the time I see people holding the door. I also see men in my job wait till the women leaves the elevator. I guess it is one of those ladies first rules. It is the only place I have seen that done in a consistent manner. Even if the lady is towards the back of the elevator. They move out of the way, so she can actually exit first.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 28, 2006 12:29 PM

@NewName2

I'm just kidding around, a little humor with the whole "equals with perks" debate. I do the same thing and give my seat up if someone looks like they need it. In fact, most of the time I just stand and forget about taking a seat.

@alex.mom

Agreed, the door thing is bothersome. On a side note, ever witness women in line at a fast food restaurant waiting for a cashier, only to see some guy cut in front of her like she werent there? Not that it makes it right regardless of sex, but I see that happen to women on a more regular basis.

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 12:38 PM

"Yes people just used to have children, but now we have safe effective birth control so it is a choice."

I think what brooks was saying was that parents never used to need parent-centric fashion guides, parent-centric hipness guides, "cool" looking diaper bags, etc. They just had kids and didn't care what other people thought of their mom-pants and dad-loafers. There's nothing wrong with keeping up appearances while parenting, but sometimes it gets taken just a bit too far (for example, can a dad *really* only maintain his coolness while carrying around a diaper bag if it looks like it was designed by the Marines?).

I want to thank Brian for acknowledging the difference between childfree people and uninvolved parents. You'd be surprised how many people *don't* acknowledge that difference.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 12:41 PM

"Yes people just used to have children, but now we have safe effective birth control so it is a choice."

You misunderstood my point, which was that, for people who want to have kids, just do it and don't make a huge deal of it. (For those who don't, yes, of course, use birth control!)

Posted by: brooks | September 28, 2006 12:44 PM

I don't think it is chauvinist to give up your seat for a woman on the metro. When I was not pregnant, I would decline, but boy riding all the way to shady grove from DC 7 months pregnant was tiring and if someone offered, I smiled and said thanks. I do it for pregnant women, small children, the elderly and the disabled.

Some people were just brought up to do those things, I don't find it offensive and newname I thought it was a rule to give up your seat for the disabled and elderly?

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 12:46 PM

When you give up your seat to elderly, pregnant, or mom with small kids out of courtesy, they are right in front of you. You don't stand because one might happen to come along.

Disabled people need preferred parking - the others don't need it, but it is a courtesy. I have only seen signs for expectant and new mothers - not the elderly. Expectant and new mothers without disabilities are perfectly capable of walking from any spot, so I will not pass by one of those empty spaces on the chance that someone pregnant or with small children will come along.

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 12:48 PM

Why can't you just walk from a spot farther out like everyone else?

Posted by: uumm | September 28, 2006 12:49 PM

Wasn't there a huge discussion recently on this blog that "ladies" was inappropriate, offensive, and came from a class system?

Posted by: to NewName2 | September 28, 2006 12:52 PM

Wolcott makes me sad because he doesn't get it. Doing all of the stuff he describes in the clip that Brian provided is the secondary parenting stuff. By my husband's reckoning, the joys of fatherhood are more along the lines of: holding your newborn(s) for the first time, watching your son ride his new bike for the first time, hearing your daughter say "Daddy" as her first word, etc. I didn't read the whole article, but he seems to take more interest in the social affectations of the modern dad than actual fathering.

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 12:53 PM

I actually would also rather see preferred spaces for the elderly - I have no problem getting in and out of the store with a child (well, sometimes I do, but it's not a matter of distance). Though the only places I've seen those spots are at Babies R' Us, where they're clearly pandering to their primary audience. But I may just not be paying attention.

And I totally agree on the door thing. I hate that. And I don't think it's chauvinist or offensive for a man to offer a seat to a lady, I just don't think it's important either, unless she's obviously preggers.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 12:53 PM

Re: family parking spots. I love them and use them. I like that they're closer because I don't have to haul my "germy, sticky, slobbery" offspring farther across dangerous parking spots.

Why is it so hard to be nice to people who could use a little extra help, regardless of why?!

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 12:56 PM

Because I feel entitled to close parking as much as anyone else :). I am a middle-aged woman and really don't see that younger women need close parking more than I do. And when the pregnant woman or mom with child spaces are full, I do park farther, just like everyone else.

What if a male professional athlete was out with his infant child? She he be allowed to park in the space reserved for moms with small children? Why not?

I'm not trying to cause a problem here. Just saying how I feel. You do what you want and I'll do what I want.

Posted by: to uumm | September 28, 2006 12:58 PM

"She he be" - this should be - 'Should he be" - hit submit before preview.

Posted by: to uumm | September 28, 2006 12:59 PM

We've seen that women can and do tear each other to shreds trying to justify their own stay-at-home or go-to-work choices.

But I would hope that men would have better things to do than get caught up in such pointless nonsense.

Daddy wars indeed - pfah. The very idea smacks of a manufactured controversy.

(And what does any of this have to do with balance, anyway?)

Posted by: Skepticality | September 28, 2006 1:00 PM

Not *mom* spots, *family* spots. And yes, a professional male athlete with an infant counts as a family.

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 1:00 PM

I didn't know we couldn't use the term lady. I will use women from now on. I think there are reserved seats for the disabled or elderly. But the signs I saw were up above asking people in general to give up their other seats. There are all kinds of signs above that ask people to do things on the metro. Things that should be quite obvious. Like please do not crowd around the doors. Please offer your seat to an elderly person etc... They sound like requests not orders. Just out of curiosity "me", have you ever been pregnant? Because a pregnant women in her last trimester could use a seat or a closer parking space. I don't see why it is so offensive to let them park closer. Like I said even in the church or Babies R Us or wherever those new mommy spots are, I think they are suggestions. The non mommy's do not get ticketed for parking in those spots. I think that is the same with the metro seats. You are not ticketed for sitting in the first row if your not elderly or disabled. People can sit there. They do all the time. It is just suggested to give those seats up if someone should get on who is elderly or disabled. BTW, not all elderly people qualify by law to get a handicapped sticker. You still have to show you are some how disabled in order to qualify. And those stickers need to be renewed every few years in certain states.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 28, 2006 1:02 PM

Grocery stores also have "pregnant women" parking spots. I never park there because I like to walk but it is kind of strange. A parking spot for the elderly would make more sense.

I rode the Metro during my pregnancies and was offered a seat about three times and I was on the Metro the morning of the day my first child was born. Some people just ignore the elderly and hugely pregnant on the Metro. However, I was perfectly fine standing there. Some people are not raised to be courteous.

Posted by: working mom of two | September 28, 2006 1:02 PM

Five, I didn't see the holding doors thing (or the elevator) until I moved to Arkansas - in Florida, it was everyone for themself. Also, the cutting in line thing was really bad in Florida - and, unfortunately, it was too often men in blue collar jobs (either uniform shirts or in obviously distressed 'work clothes') that did it. Maybe those simple manners things just aren't taught in school anymore (I know they weren't when I was in school) and if you don't get them at home, you don't get them until you've got to in business. Ugh.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | September 28, 2006 1:02 PM

OK niner. The spots at the grocery store where I shop actually say Moms - not family.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:03 PM

"OK niner. The spots at the grocery store where I shop actually say Moms - not family."

Then they should be changed to "family." :) Gotta go--work beckons.

And ditto on the Metro experience of being really pregnant while riding. While pregnant myself, I gave up a seat one day to a more pregnant passenger. Every one else was just oblivious to her. I think that's the mindset of riding Metro in the morning--everyone just zones out. Think of how quiet it is, even as everyone is packed in.

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 1:08 PM


Brooks - That 10am comment was definitely not me, 'the usual' Proud Papa. So I won't speak for that author or his/her feelings...

Posted by: Proud Papa | September 28, 2006 1:11 PM

'When I was pregnant and had babies and toddlers, I parked wherever any other able-bodied driver would park.'

Yes, I have been pregnant which I already stated. I was pregnant twice.

I do believe in courtesy, and I am courteous in general, but I will not bypass one of the family spaces because I don't believe that they should be reserved. I have offered assistance directly to pregnant women and those with small kids, but as far as the parking - no. My doctor always said that exercise, especially walking, was good while I was pregnant. And when I was in the latter stages, I did the best I could or didn't go and sent my husband.

As far as the metro, I don't live or work in DC, so I don't know what the rules are nor what the signs say.

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 1:13 PM

"As far as the metro, I don't live or work in DC, so I don't know what the rules are nor what the signs say."

No food, no radios (w/o haedphones), no weapons-- those are the actual rules. You really want a show? Try living in Tokyo and taking the subway there. I don't know how old/disabled/pregnant people do it during busy times, it's instant death.

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 1:16 PM

"Not *mom* spots, *family* spots. And yes, a professional male athlete with an infant counts as a family."

Gotta ask what lesson you're teaching your kid when you grab the up-front parking spaces. Seems to me that they're going to get one or more of the following ideas:

1. We deserve better spaces / more privileges than anyone else.

2.Having children gives mommy and daddy special privileges.

3. It's ok to take an up-front space even though an old person or a handicapped person needs it because we got there first.

4. It's always better to get as close to the building as possible.

5. We are more important than other people.

And to the mom who said she likes to park up front because it allows her to haul her kids over fewer "dangerous parking spots," find another rationalization. That one is silly.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:16 PM

Re: No food, no radios (w/o headphones), no weapons".....

Seems to me that if more people were eating or listening to their radios there would be less need for weapons....;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:19 PM

me again - 'BTW, not all elderly people qualify by law to get a handicapped sticker. You still have to show you are some how disabled in order to qualify. And those stickers need to be renewed every few years in certain states.'

This is exactly why I don't believe in the family parking spots. If the elderly don't get reserved spots, then neither should anyone else (Not talking about the disabled obviously, because they already get their spots, although there should be more of those than there are.)

My other pet peeve is people who park in the fire lane at the grocery store because they are only getting one or two things. Just smacks of "I am entitled". I almost dented a car there with a fully loaded grocery cart because it was completely blocking the ramp cut out from the curb.

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 1:27 PM

I just read in a recent blog that Lieu was outted. Do tell............

Posted by: Want to know | September 28, 2006 1:29 PM

I have no problems with close-in spots for the elderly, pregnant women, moms with small kids, or others who need it. There were times in my life when close-in parking like that would have been a lifesaver (going to the ob/gyn's office in month 4 of 5-month, all-day "morning" sickness; when I threw out my back in my 7th month; etc.). Seriously, have you tried hauling a baby bucket from the far end of the parking lot? Those things are just ergonomically evil.

Are these spots "necessary"? Of course not -- I never found one when I needed it, and it didn't kill me, as much as it sometimes felt that it might. Are they a nice courtesy for people for whom a trek from the far end of the parking lot is more than just a breezy little walk in the park? Absolutely. Personally, I figure I'm damn lucky not to need that kind of help any more, so I've got absolutely no problem leaving them for someone who might (I still have small kids, but baby boy has graduated to being able to sit up in the carts by himself, so he's much easier to tote now).

But then again, I forget, it's supposed to be all about me-me-me. God forbid a store try to do something considerate for some of its customers, if it means I might have to walk another hundred feet. Reminds me of all the oh-so-considerate folks on metro who refused to give up their seat when I had my leg in a cast.

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 1:30 PM

Or maybe the lesson is that we give people who need a little more help, some help. A new parent struggling with a 15 lb infant car seat can use a little extra help. Also those spaces are geared to pregnant women and parents of infants and very small children. Namely, infants. Infants do not think very much beyond, food, diaper, and being held. An older sibling a long for the ride, might actually learn something nice from that. Let's give others a helping hand.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:30 PM

If you choose to have a child and you choose to bring it to the store instead of getting a babysitter, then live with the consequences and take your chances on parking like the rest of the people. And I say that as someone with a stroller in my trunk right now.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | September 28, 2006 1:32 PM

When my kids were babies, we didn't carry car seats into the store. We either carried the baby or pushed a stroller. An umbrella stroller is not fancy or expensive (or cool I guess), but works very well. Push the baby in, and use a hand basket in the store, or fold up the stroller and put in under the cart and the child in the cart. I also went many times at 10:00 at night after the kids were in bed and parking was much better :).

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 1:37 PM

I just read in a recent blog that Lieu was outted. Do tell...

She was recongnized by one of her friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:44 PM

"And to the mom who said she likes to park up front because it allows her to haul her kids over fewer "dangerous parking spots," find another rationalization. That one is silly."

Oh for crying out loud Anonymous Poster at 1:16PM. You've clearly never tried to haul an infant and a squirmy toddler WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THAT CARS ARE DANGEROUS into a store before. It's not a silly reason. It's a damn good one and, in my opinion, the best rationalization for Family parking spots.

Oh & just FYI to the posters who mentioned spots for the elderly being a good idea - my local WalMart has spots specifically designated for the elderly. They are right after the handicapped spots, and take up about 10 rows. So they do exist in some places.

Now how did we get this far off topic again...?

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | September 28, 2006 1:46 PM

Should the elderly really be driving? (And if they are given parking spaces, they should be very wide as to not ding other cars.)

Posted by: just a question | September 28, 2006 1:46 PM

Click. Click. Click.

(Sound of a dead battery)

Posted by: Working Dad | September 28, 2006 1:49 PM

Well, if you are so offended by the mommy parking and want it to be there for the elderly, don't park there! Leave for the old people, and wait you say, how do I know they will come? THere are lots of old people in this country.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:49 PM

Now how did we get this far off topic again...?

maybe because the original topic was stupid?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:50 PM

The elderly should NOT be driving without having to take road tests again after age 75. Now THAT is a debate worth having.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 1:54 PM

Mom of 2, you actually believe people should get a babysitter to go to the supermarket? As a male, I'm surprised to hear that said by a Mom. I guess I thought you'd want society more friendly to moms and not less.

Posted by: Random Guy | September 28, 2006 1:58 PM

And if they are given parking spaces, they should be very wide as to not ding other cars.)

Some young people can't park either. I was at the metro parking garage the other day. And a women, who was probably only in her 40s, left half her car out in the lane. She also parked at an angle. I gave her a look like, "are you serious?" She just bent her head down and kept walking. Clearly she knew she did a horrible job at parking her car. I thinking, don't be surprised when some one comes crashing into your back end.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 28, 2006 1:59 PM

"The elderly should NOT be driving without having to take road tests again after age 75. Now THAT is a debate worth having."

Nah. Slippery slope. Who else should have to re-take? Teenagers every year? People with DUIs? 3 Tickets? Poor uncorrected eyesight? Short people? People whose ancestors are notoriously short? People with the last name 'Short'?

Posted by: ACLU in the house | September 28, 2006 2:01 PM

I have two children, and when we travel on the metro, I instruct them to get up and offer their seat to any elderly or pregnant passenger. I also make it a practice to give up my seat to anyone who is overburdened with luggage or shopping bags. This is just common courtesy.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 28, 2006 2:12 PM

riding on the metro, which may involve balance issues, is not the same as walking a further distance on the parking lot.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:19 PM

Adding Daddy Wars to the sticky-slobbery Mommy Wars is like "Iraqicizing" the Mommy Wars---leave self- and career-respecting men out of it. The mommies can handle the baby and child stuff, and several previously professional women in my office are in fact now doing so full time. (So much for feminism in practice.)

Posted by: J Molay | September 28, 2006 2:20 PM

Hey, thanks Five, for expressing what I usually can't - "Also, to whoever might suggest that it's a one-sided narcissistic view on behalf of the non-parents, people who have children can be ungodly self-absorbed themselves, its just human nature. Nothing... NOTHING has more value than me at this moment because I.HAVE.A.CHILD."

I have had to put up with a self righteous sister in law for 25 years. As a single, straight woman without kids, her attitude against me is that I am the most horrible, selfish, incompetent person worthy of comtempt who ever lived, and everything I do is subject to her criticism of "You couldn't do that if you had kids". BLECCHH!!!! I guess it doesn't matter that I was waiting for the husband before having kids, and that he's never materialized. If I had children without a father, then I'd be OK, even if I was on welfare, but because I don't I'm evil.
What could be more selfish that thinking that everyone has to be just*like*me!!
Thanks, Five - you just made my day!

Posted by: Glad | September 28, 2006 2:24 PM

"riding on the metro, which may involve balance issues, is not the same as walking a further distance on the parking lot."

Only if you actually have balance issues.

Personally, when I was in the middle of morning sickness, riding on the metro was infinitely worse than walking across the parking lot, for obvious reasons. But a few months later when the weight of the baby helped throw my back out, walking any kind of distance was much more painful (as was sitting in airplane seats, but that's for another rant). You can't always just assume that what seems easier or harder to you is that way for everyone.

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 2:30 PM

I'm confused, what topic are we on at this point? Seriously, can some kind soul out there summerize for me where the discussion has gone?

Posted by: 215 | September 28, 2006 2:32 PM

Maybe it's just me, but I completely igonore the "mom to be" spots and just park in them anyway. What are "they" going to do, arrest me for parking in a designated spot even though I'm not with child. Who gives a fig? Let mommy take 10 extra steps with Sienna and Cassidy in the Stroller/SUV. Screw 'em!

Posted by: It's My Car and I'll Park Where I Want To | September 28, 2006 2:33 PM

To: 215
Basically the discussion has dissolved into attacks between self-absorbed child-centered parents vs. self-absorbed people without children. All caught up now?

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 28, 2006 2:35 PM

PS .. in addition to taking those choice spots, can I also please ask recent moms to put their boobs back in the holster and nurse Junior in private. Thanks!

Posted by: Still Parking Where I Want To Park | September 28, 2006 2:35 PM

" people who have children can be ungodly self-absorbed themselves, its just human nature. Nothing... NOTHING has more value than me at this moment because I.HAVE.A.CHILD."

Don't you think that those people will be ungodly self-absorbed no matter what? We've all seen people think they are the most important person on the planet for different reasons (my favorite is the "I'm traveling *on business*" person at the airport - as if that is unique or makes them more important than everyone else!). Seems to me if that person didn't have kids they'd find some other reason to be more important.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 2:36 PM

Let mommy take 10 extra steps with Sienna and Cassidy in the Stroller/SUV. Screw 'em!
>>>

Have at 'em. I don't see pregnant women or people with kids ever parking in them anyway! Oh and not all parents have an SUV. I am a cyclist and loathe SUVs. I pray that gas goes up to $10 a gallon too!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 28, 2006 2:37 PM

PS .. in addition to taking those choice spots, can I also please ask recent moms to put their boobs back in the holster and nurse Junior in private. Thanks!

Just as long as my neighbor puts away his man-boobs when he is mowing the lawn :)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:37 PM

Undiscussed so far is the secret distrust many of us parents have towards those who choose not to have children. This distrust has many roots. You can see it a bit here when folks are referring to singles as self absorbed or selfish. We also feel a little bit that maybe these are people we should be protecting our kids from. Maybe we come from a different time when people often really didn't choose that lifestyle, but rater it was forced upon them, and they decided to make it a choice. I secretly confess that I judge job candiadtes as less qualified who have no families. I think this is a fair judgement. I only get one hour to know these folks. People who have kids make huge sacrifices to raise them and can automatically multitask because it is a requirement. Also, if you can make a marrige survive toddlerhood you probably can successfully navigate work relationships.

Posted by: CheeseMan | September 28, 2006 2:38 PM

Re kids at weddings - we said no kids. But my husband caved in the first time someone asked him, and kept caving in. So my friends with kids showed up without their kids and saw a bunch of kids there . . . .

Posted by: To scarry | September 28, 2006 2:40 PM

To ACLU - I appreciate your thought, but all laws are "slippery slopes." Cold blooded homicide is not ok - self-defense sometimes is...We allow people to drive at 16, vote at 18, drink at 21 - why not all at the same age?

If you want to re-test teenagers more often, that's ok with me. But the reason why we should retest the elderly is because we KNOW that physical and reaction time capacity often decreases with age. People convicted of DUI's have a proven decrease in decisional capacity that wouldn't be picked up in a simple driving test (btw - if you want to revoke the licenses of these people after 2 offenses, that's ok with me, too), but driving and reaction time capacity CAN be measured in road tests. I think this is why we should retest the elderly.

As for short people - if their height impairs their driving, then they shouldn't have been granted a license in the first place, but their height doesn't increase or decrease dramatically over time, so....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:40 PM

Lawyer mama --

"squirmy toddler WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THAT CARS ARE DANGEROUS"

You can't teach your toddler this?

I mean, think what you're suggesting, if every parent with a squirming toddler were eligible to park up front. And why has this never been an issue -- or a rationalization -- until now?

Oops -- maybe because there didn't used to be so many mommies in huge SUVs talking on phones while navigating the parking lots?

(And don't say they're not there. I see 'em every day.)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:47 PM

I am short and they require me to have an added chair pillow. But like one of the posters said, I won't get shorter over time. Unless you count shrinking do to old age. I think everyone does that. Personally, I wish my 89 year old grandmother would stop driving. But I can't convince her to hand over the keys.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 28, 2006 2:47 PM

I secretly confess that I judge job candiadtes as less qualified who have no families.>>>

Wow! What a shocking confession? How do you know that the candidate or his/her partner cannot have children? I had a child late in life because a)first husband hated children and b)graduate school. I would have been stunned to know that someone thought I would be less qualified at my job due to the fact I was married to someone who refused to ever have children with me and that I made a choice to get an advance degree. (We divorced for other reasons, BTW.)

I don't have enough information to judge someone strictly on the fact they don't have children. You don't know why people have made the choice nor is it really any of your business. Pretty presumptious, don't you think?

Interesting post though!

Posted by: alex. mom | September 28, 2006 2:49 PM

Seriously all you childless people out there. Go easy on parents for their fashion choices. What you wear or don't wear is a fairly shallow interpretation of what is cool. It is not that I would not LOVE to spend $300+ on a casual weekend outfit for myself, but somehow paying for pre-school and saving for college seems more important at the moment.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 28, 2006 2:50 PM

"Who else should have to re-take?"

People in demonstrably high-risk insurance categories.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:51 PM

All us childless people, dcdesigner? I never said anything! And I also wish I had $300 outfits...:-)

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 2:52 PM

"You can't teach your toddler this?

I mean, think what you're suggesting, if every parent with a squirming toddler were eligible to park up front. And why has this never been an issue -- or a rationalization -- until now?"

Actually, toddlers are just beginning to be developmentally capable of understanding that concept, so no, most toddlers don't get it. And it has always been an issue - kids get hit by cars in parking lots as well as on streets. And that's why some stores are doing something nice to help a parent who has a toddler pulling at her arm and that might just slip out of her grasp at just the wrong moment.

Posted by: nutmeg | September 28, 2006 2:55 PM

Hear, hear, Still Parking! On both mommy spots and holstering boobs!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:55 PM

Ours is a child-centric culture? No way!
Look at the high rates of infant mortality in the U.S., way out of whack compared to other industrialized nations.
Look at the way new mothers are rushed back to the workplace shortly after giving birth (6 weeks is barely enough time to stop bleeding).
Look at how many children in this nation go without health insurance.
Look at the high rates of poverty for children.
Look at the way certain public school systems, especially those that serve low-income families, are starved.
Look at the way child-protection agencies are always underfunded and overworked -- and look at the high rates of child abuse that seem to be tolerated by people.
Look at the cutbacks in financial aid for teenagers hoping to go to college. (And the corresponding pressure for high-school kids to go into the military so that they have some way to pay for college.)
Look at how difficult it is in this country to get some basic environmental protections (example: little kids living in lead-infested areas, with few people caring), and how nearly impossible it is to get society to take global warming -- a big problem for our children and their children -- seriously.
I could go on and on.
By any objective measure, ours is not a society that values its children that much. Parents are pretty much fighting against society's tide rather than riding it, in my opinion.
(Sorry to be such a downer here, everyone.)
When people talk about how U.S. society is so child-oriented or family-oriented, it's my opinion that they're really talking about U.S. consumer culture. But don't confuse the massive pressures to convince consumers to buy things with society as a whole.
By the way, Brian, I think you rock and I loved today's column.

Posted by: anon mom | September 28, 2006 2:55 PM

Yeah, as others have said before that happens with the wedding plans. I don't care one way or the other about kids coming or not coming. It just made my sister feel like they didn't want "her kid" there. And while I know that it's their day, I still have to make arrangements for my kid, buy a gift, get new clothes, etc, so my main point was that it's okay to say:" You know scarry we love little blank blank, but there is no room for her at the wedding." Weddings are expensive and I totally understand not being able to bring the kids everytime.

As oppossed to no kids and then showing up and their being plenty there. You know what I mean? And I know that stuff happens like what you just described.

Posted by: to to scarry | September 28, 2006 2:55 PM

anon mom - interesting points...sounds like a topic for a column!

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 2:58 PM

Sorry Missicat, I was not trying to single anyone out. I only sending out a blanket appeal to go easy on us spit-up/snot stained, wash-n-wear parents out here. The result of an on-going arguement with my single and child-free sister who feels that it is perfectly OK to cut on my husband's and my fashion (or lack there of).

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 28, 2006 2:59 PM

ACLU --

Please go after Cheeseman. He's evaluating job candidates on the basis of whether they have families.

Ever occur to you, Cheeseman, that however good mommy X is at multitasking, non-mommy X may be better because she has fewer distractions and can really focus on the range of tasks and issues demanding her attention?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:00 PM

Since they blog is already so far off topic ...

You pray that gas goes up to $10/gallon?

I work 70 miles away from where I live. I am a single mother. I have to live in the city I live so my daughter can have consistency in her life with the same school and so we can switch off with him getting her one week and me getting her the next.
The van pools all leave at times before my daughters bus come, so I can't car pool - and believe me, after paying over $400/month on gas, car pooling is high on my list of things to do, but I can't help that no one else has the same schedule I do.
I work for a govt contractor where telecommuting is not allowed in the contract.
I've tried to get jobs in the city I live, but I just haven't found one yet.

So if gas were to go up to $10/gallon - I could not afford to commute - which means I would lose my job. Which means I wouldn't be able to provide for my daughter, which means her dad would get full custody, because I wouldn't have the money for a lawyer and her father would take advantage of that.

Thats how I try to balance. My commute, my job, having to take vacation time when one of my kids has a doc appt or gets sick, not making it home until 6 PM after picking the kids up from the sitter/aftercare, trying to get a nutritious meal on the table, trying to enrich her life by getting daughter to gymnastics twice a week. Trying to do it without help and feeling like I'm going crazy and burning the candle at both ends.

Posted by: LGB to "alex. mom" | September 28, 2006 3:00 PM

Shopping center make $ from customers who shop more frequently and who buy more. Hence, the friendly attitide and "special treatment" towards expecting mothers and generally families. Just a way for stores to differentiate themselves from their competitors and hook those customers in. It's not law, just a marketing strategy ...and a smart one at that.

Just like those not so child-friendly hip restaurants that want to draw in those customers with the spare incomes.

Posted by: lily | September 28, 2006 3:01 PM

"PS .. in addition to taking those choice spots, can I also please ask recent moms to put their boobs back in the holster and nurse Junior in private. Thanks!"

And my neighbor stops jogging with his large man-boobs flapping about! :)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:01 PM

"Don't you think that those people will be ungodly self-absorbed no matter what?"

Very valid point, very valid. Jerk's will be jerk's no matter what, it's just the way people are. But that's why I put "it's just human nature" in there... because it's not a one-sided matter, people with or without kids both do it. At that point in the discussion there were more than a few people focusing on the narcissistic nature of childless adults, I was voicing the fact that it can work both ways.

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 3:04 PM

"I secretly confess that I judge job candiadtes as less qualified who have no families. I think this is a fair judgement."

And I think it's a stupid and rash judgement. I'm wearing zip-up shoes -- you wanna give me your psychoanalysis on what that means in terms of my work ethic? It's just as arbitrary of a variable -- if not more telling of how I work.

Posted by: ilc | September 28, 2006 3:04 PM

I agree with anon mom about how our society lavishes praise and encouragement about having children, but it is only lip service. Look at commercials on TV; every other one shows a family with kids in it being happy and carefree. But, where the need exists for assistance both from government and employers, there is very little accomodation except grudgingly and in isolated instances.

To the person who felt that parents often look at those who are childless differently, you are right. My neighborhood has several families with small children, and while the parents are polite and friendly enough to my wife and I when they first move in and meet us, once they find out we do not have children they kind of draw back as if we have some kind of disease. I guess it is because they feel that their current world (dealing with children) and ours (not dealing with children) are so different there is no point in trying to find common ground.

Posted by: John | September 28, 2006 3:04 PM

"Undiscussed so far is the secret distrust many of us parents have towards those who choose not to have children. This distrust has many roots. You can see it a bit here when folks are referring to singles as self absorbed or selfish. We also feel a little bit that maybe these are people we should be protecting our kids from."

So not only do us people without kids not have the honor of working for you (thank god), we are also child molesters to boot? You are too kind!

Posted by: huh? | September 28, 2006 3:05 PM

"PS .. in addition to taking those choice spots, can I also please ask recent moms to put their boobs back in the holster and nurse Junior in private. Thanks!"

Sure, if you don't mind a little milk in your face for asking in such a rude manner.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:05 PM

anon mom --

Good points, but these aren't simply child-centric issues. The U.S. govt doesn't discriminate against children, it discriminates against the poor. These issues are all problems that exist for people living near or below the poverty level. The problem isn't that we don't care about kids; it's that we don't care about poor people.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:05 PM

$10 a gallon for gas would increase the price of goods and services for everyone. Oil and gas are used to generate power plants, they are used in manufacturing, and all manners of shipping. Many companies who are involved in transportation and shipping already have placed energy surcharges on their services. Not to mention how it would hurt business growth and reinvestment. You may want to think about the larger picture before you post a message like that.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:11 PM

@megan

Let me go ahead and add something to my last post. You brought up a very good example of people being self absorbed in that it is a means to show self-importance when really, it's nothing all that "special". Having a child is wonderful, and to those who do a competent job in raising your kids, I salute you. But having a child is not exactly unique-- there are a few billion of us on the planet, and there have been many many more that have lived in the past and that will be born in the future.

Just as you should not claim your needs are more important because you're on a business trip, or for some other trivial reason, you shuld not claim that you and all that you do is more important because you have a child. Many people have children-- it's necessary for our species to continue. Kevin Federline already has four... FOUR.

As responsible members of society, it is in everyones best interest to help each other, which includes helping those with children... but do not give yourself an air of importance simply for having (or not having) children, and don't use them as an excuse in the absence of actually thinking you're special because of it.

*this isn't directed at you specifically megan

Posted by: Five | September 28, 2006 3:12 PM

CheeseMan - While I find it courageous for you to admit that you look at people without families as less qualified, it is also illegal, just as if you did the other way, so I would keep that to an anonymous blog only!

As for the zip-up shoes, child or no child, that is just wrong on so many levels! :) As disussed earlier, you can get some great Vans either slip-ons or with laces! (and if you are a saavy shopper like me - always at DSW or a like discount shoe store!)

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 3:15 PM

I have never seen a militant-type breastfeeding mother pulling out her boob for all and sundry to see. Why are you looking at breastfeeding mothers so closely?

Fat men with man-boobs who jog and mow the lawn for all to see are really repellent. There is no way to miss a sight like that when it trots right past you.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:16 PM

"And why has this never been an issue -- or a rationalization -- until now?"
One thing to add -- safety has ALWAYS been an issue. Tragically, small children are struck and killed in parking lots every year, even in home driveways. This happened in my neighborhood last year. An 18-month-old ran to greet her mother and was run over. (Sorry to be such a downer again.)
This is why some car manufacturers are now selling devices that sound alarms when something is behind the car.
Also, it's worth pointing out that yes, the advent of SUVs and the popularity of big pickup trucks also creates some dangers, because it is more difficult to spot pedestrians -- any pedestrians -- from the driver's seats of those high-riding vehicles. It's not just cellphone-talking mothers who are at fault here.
The problem is compounded when you're in a snowy and icy climate, as I am.
By the way, you know those "Baby On Board" signs that annoy so many childfree people? There's also a safety justification for them. They exist to let rescue workers know that, in case there's a crash, that a baby or child is in the car. In some car crashes, when vehicles are crumpled and/or burning and/or sinking in water and the parents are unconsious, there's a risk that rescuers will leave the kids behind. This does happen, sadly, and I even know of a couple of cases. (I learned this from some firefighter/EMT friends who told me how important it is to make it clear that children are in the car.)

Posted by: anon mom | September 28, 2006 3:18 PM

"Tragically, small children are struck and killed in parking lots every year"

Then maybe they shouldn't be there?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:20 PM

Five, I'm right there with ya. Having children is great, it is not unique. Though I do greatly appreciate it when someone shows me some small kindness when they see me struggling with my child, I think of it as akin to showing kindness to someone struggling with too many packages or some other problem - something that all of us should do but few actually do.

Alex mom, we also drive small cars and I hate it when people assume that all parents choose big cars. We have a Toyota Echo and a Scion XB. In the XB we can fit myself, my husband, my son, an upright bass, an amp and cabinet, and overnight bags for all of us. Or 5 people total, which puts it out for larger families, but man do I love that car. Gets 40mpg most of the time too.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 3:25 PM

bitter childless people, STFU!!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:25 PM

"Tragically, small children are struck and killed in parking lots every year"

Then maybe they shouldn't be there?

Yes, I never thought about it before but maybe sending junior out to play in the middle of the street is not such a good idea. I mean come on, really. Have you never experienced how quickly a small child can wiggle free from even the most tight of death grips which the parent has on them?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:25 PM

How about the fat men with pants on so low you can see their crack when they bend over. That's lovely too!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:26 PM

SAHM v. WOHM (not so much today's post but most of the others)

people with children v people without children (applicable whether you're male or female, so not really a "Daddy Wars")

people who use public transportation v people who drive

people who breast-feed versus people who don't

ENOUGH ALREADY! Just look at the front page of the paper to get a sense of the terrible things we should be worrying about and get on with your lives!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:29 PM

I agree, if a man is sporting a "B" cup or more, no matter how hot or humid it might be, keep your shirt on. But please, you don't need to STARE at a woman nursing in public to notice it is happening. Keep Junior and your lactating mammaries at home or bring a bottle.

As for making parking spots "family friendly" as a marketing ploy, perhaps a rubber room in most restaurants where little kids can scream their heads off while their docile, disinterested parents who think the rest of us should SUFFER through a meal because they are unable (unwilling?) to muzzle their offspring might also be a good idea.

No one forced you to have kids, if you can't deal with having them behave in an appropriate manner in public, don't make the rest of us have to deal with your parental shortcomings.

Posted by: Holstered Hooters | September 28, 2006 3:30 PM

Exsctly. They shouldn't be in parking lots. That's one of the ideas behind putting parking spaces for parents with small children right at the front, so the kids won't be crossing entire parking lots, which can be a little like demolition derbies, at least where I live.
It's especially an issue in the dark, in the snow and in other inclement weather.
Yes, mothers should hold onto their kids, and I always try to, but some toddlers -- like mine -- have an uncanny ability to wriggle free and a natural desire to test limits. Those instructions given to parents about always firmly grasping onto your child are easier said than done, especially when you're taking care of more than one child at a time.
Nobody wants any dead or injured kids. We should strive, as a society, to take steps to avoid such tragedies. Agreed?

Posted by: anon mom | September 28, 2006 3:31 PM

How about the fat men with pants on so low you can see their crack when they bend over. That's lovely too!

Whoops we did it again! We're back to man-bashing!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:31 PM

Tragically, small children are struck and killed in parking lots every year"

Then maybe they shouldn't be there?

Yes, people with children shouldn't shop. Let's shut down the economy. Also, people who are rude shouldn't shop either, oops there goes the other half of the economy.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:35 PM

Cheeseman, I hope you were joking. If you have a whole hour to speak with someone and can't assess their qualifications in that time, you are admitting that you are a seriously horrible interviewer.

Posted by: sickofcheese | September 28, 2006 3:35 PM

I like the bald guys who let their hair grow long on the sides and then swoop it up over their bald spot to hide it. Good move.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:36 PM

I actually prefer the women who wear halter tops while their back fat and/or bulging stomachs leak out from underneath. VERY attractive.

Posted by: Fashion Police | September 28, 2006 3:37 PM

I'll stop parking in the "mommy to be" spots when someone explains why on earth you need to drive a tank ..excuse me .. SUV to the mall. Are you coming by way of the Catoctin Mountains? In fact, I will stop parking in the "family friendly" spots the next time a SAHM mom (busily multitasking between drinking her cafe latte, talking on her cell phone and wheeling Brianna around) tells me one, just one time, she actually used the 4 wheel drive on her gas guzzling, paying for both sides of the war on terror, SUV.

Posted by: Parking Spot Redux | September 28, 2006 3:38 PM

"Tragically, small children are struck and killed in parking lots every year"

Then maybe they shouldn't be there?"

You're right! That's why I have Scotty beam them directly from the car seat to the store entrance! It's much safer, since I can't find or afford a babysitter every time I have to leave the house.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 3:40 PM

I do find it amusing when people do us the favor of dressing in a highly inappropriate matter based on excess weight so that we can mock them. Keep those roly poly bellies and sagging man (or woman) boobs safely ensconsed in a baggy t shirt/sweatshirt and no one will get hurt ...

Posted by: Fashion Police | September 28, 2006 3:41 PM

So now you guys are turning to bashing overweight people for amusement?

Have a little compassion. Oh, you may want to look that word up; many of you don't seem to have heard it before.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:42 PM

"The U.S. govt doesn't discriminate against children, it discriminates against the poor."
You're absolutely right about discrimination against the poor, but I think there's also discrimination against the young, politicians' blather about "family values" and how "children are our greatest resource" notwithstanding.
And then, when you consider that a very large percentage of the poor are children, it's sort of a double whammy against them.
Take one example -- the way we allocate our health-care resources. There's a really heavy tilt toward the older age groups. One explanation, of course, is that kids don't vote.
I think it's instructive to look at the way other societies, especially in less-wealthy nations, view children. In Italy and Israel (not poor countries but not as wealthy as we are), kids are viewed as much, much more important than they are in our society.

Posted by: anon mom | September 28, 2006 3:43 PM

We're not just bashing overweight people. We are bashing overweight people with no fashion sense. And bald guys are fair game.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:44 PM

"We're not just bashing overweight people. We are bashing overweight people with no fashion sense. And bald guys are fair game."

Exactly. If you're fat, have the sense to know it and wear appropriate clothing. And for you balding fellows, admit defeat, shave your head and be done with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:44 PM

We're not just bashing overweight people. We are bashing overweight people with no fashion sense. And bald guys are fair game.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:44 PM

I've never seen a "Mommy-to-be" parking space? Where are these? I wanna go and take a pic!

Posted by: 215 | September 28, 2006 3:45 PM

Note to all bald guys. Do not try to hide the bald spot by the swoop-over. It looks ridiculous. Just keep your hair nice and trimmed. Most women like bald men just fine. It seems to me that men have more trouble with it than women.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:45 PM

Lots of bald guys are quite attractive...Ed Harris, Michael Jordan, Patrick Stewart to name a few...

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 3:46 PM


I do find it amusing when people do us the favor of dressing in a highly inappropriate matter based on excess weight so that we can mock them. Keep those roly poly bellies and sagging man (or woman) boobs safely ensconsed in a baggy t shirt/sweatshirt and no one will get hurt ..

PS .. I am a bald guy and take my fair share of ribbing about it (and don't take offense).

Posted by: Bald and Beautiful | September 28, 2006 3:48 PM

Apologies for the multiple spelling and grammar errors in prior post ... was rear ended in an accident a few weeks ago and feel like my brain has been swiss cheese ever since.

Posted by: LGB | September 28, 2006 3:50 PM

I meant to add, in case there are any soon-to-be moms or new moms who have fought there way through all this sludge, that a sling can be a great alternative to the car-seat bucket. It's way better ergonomically and keeps the baby close and snuggly. If the baby's asleep in the carseat, it's a toss-up as to whether it's worth it to take him out - mine never really stayed asleep in the bucket so I usually did. Anyway, mayawrap is the brand I used and I loved it and would highly recommend it as another option.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 3:51 PM

Bald men unite! Be proud of who you are! For those completely bald, don't think of it as a "lack of hair"... be positive, think of it as naturally selected to be removed from the hastle of bad hair days and over-priced hair cuts. For those in the partial camp, it's natural air conditioning at its finest and a sign of wisdom. After all, wisdom supposedly comes with age and baldness is commonly linked with age. Therefore, logic distates that those with less hair have more swiftly reached enlightenment.

Posted by: 215 | September 28, 2006 3:52 PM

I've never seen a "Mommy-to-be" parking space? Where are these? I wanna go and take a pic!

Congressional Plaza in Rockville has them. But then again, they also have Buy Buy Baby and some other children's stores. And Starbucks, of course.

Posted by: Rockville | September 28, 2006 3:53 PM

Also take a page from Queer Eye, "Visible nose hair is never an acceptable fashion acessory." This means women as much as men.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 3:55 PM

When I was younger, my mother told me that it was state law that children under the age of ten had to hold hands with an adult in parking lots. Kept me from runnning around.

Also, most of those family spots are clost to the entrance of the store--where MOST parking lot traffic is (i.e. cars entering and exciting, going to the curb to unload their carts) It seems like they'd be safer if they were in the back of the lot, where no one else parks.

Posted by: Reston | September 28, 2006 3:57 PM

Did I miss the announcment that any sign of intelligence was prohibited from postings today? Why all the personal attacks? How are these balance issue or subjects for policy improvements? All I have gleaned today is that apparently people without kids hate people with kids, people with kids are think there is something faulty about people without kids and people who care about their own personal appearance are angered by people who dress for comfort. Oh yea, and nobody likes boobs in public (unless they are Anna Nicole Smith's or Pamela Anderson's and there are no babies in sight)

Posted by: ??? | September 28, 2006 3:58 PM

Did I miss the announcment that any sign of intelligence was prohibited from postings today? Why all the personal attacks? How are these balance issue or subjects for policy improvements? All I have gleaned today is that apparently people without kids hate people with kids, people with kids are think there is something faulty about people without kids and people who care about their own personal appearance are angered by people who dress for comfort. Oh yea, and nobody likes boobs in public (unless they are Anna Nicole Smith's or Pamela Anderson's and there are no babies in sight)

Posted by: ??? | September 28, 2006 3:58 PM

You know, I tend to dress conservatively and have occasionally shuddered at what some people see fit to wear, but I also kind of admire those who wear crazy stuff apparently without worry about how others will see them. It's like thumbing your nose at the tyranny of the beautiful and skinny - go get 'em, tigers!

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 3:59 PM

"No one forced you to have kids, if you can't deal with having them behave in an appropriate manner in public, don't make the rest of us have to deal with your parental shortcomings."

You know what they say- rage is always about entitlement and feeling insecure inside. May explain why childless people get angry at parents and vice-versa. Not everything in this world is about y-o-u. Too bad that we are so busy playing victim that we can't see that our actions and words can make things better off for everyone.

But if you want your contribution to be "rubber rooms", hey all the best to you! Enjoy your dinner.

Posted by: lily | September 28, 2006 4:00 PM

all this talking about parking spaces is really a mute point. Parents should ensure their kids are strapped into carts, holding their hands, if it means holding tight or caring them that's what you should do. People driving cars should go slow, not cut through parking spaces and be careful. I know someone who hit and killed a child, it wasn't their fault, but it doesn't make it any better for anyone.

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 4:01 PM

Reston you have it all wrong ..if we forced the chosen ones to park in the back of the lot they would actually have to choose between their Venti Coffee or *gasp* paying attention to their children. A cruel fate to be sure!

Posted by: Parking in the Rear | September 28, 2006 4:02 PM

""Tragically, small children are struck and killed in parking lots every year"

Then maybe they shouldn't be there?"
--------
Are you serious? I can accept that formal (especially evening) weddings aren't the best place for kids, nice restaurants, bars... but now we aren't allowed to take them to a store? While I try to avoid taking kids grocery shopping (it is kind of a pain), this is just not always possible. We talk about the cost of raising children, should we add baby sitting for every time we have to run an errand?

As for family/expectant mother parking, it's a nice courtesy. Even when you're healthy, many of us pregnant women are having a little trouble walking by the time we hit month 9 what with Junior feeling likes he's all but ready to fall out. Give us a break. No one is demanding this courtesy. It's a nicety. And considering there aren't really that many of these spaces around that I've seen, I'm surprised that people have so many issues with it. Would it make you feel better if they were spaces for expectant mothers/parents with infants/elderly/fill in the blank? I wonder how big the sign would have to be?

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 28, 2006 4:03 PM

"When I was younger, my mother told me that it was state law that children under the age of ten had to hold hands with an adult in parking lots. Kept me from runnning around.

Also, most of those family spots are clost to the entrance of the store--where MOST parking lot traffic is (i.e. cars entering and exciting, going to the curb to unload their carts) It seems like they'd be safer if they were in the back of the lot, where no one else parks."

well, that line might work with a six year old but probably not so much with a two year old who has no idea what the law means and why on earth he should obey it.
And if a mother and child are going into the store they have to walk through the front part of the parking lot anyway, no matter where they park, so if they are at the back they have to cross the entire lot plus the front, if they are at the front they pass just the front.

Posted by: nutmeg | September 28, 2006 4:03 PM

I think it's a MOOT point, not a MUTE point. I think parents who allow their kids to misbehave in public are actually quite selfish. Indeed, I avoid going out with one of my brothers be/c he and his wife seem indifferent to how poorly their kids act in public. I'm embarrased for THEM, not me.

Posted by: Just my 2 cents ... | September 28, 2006 4:06 PM

I think it's a MOOT point, not a MUTE point. I think parents who allow their kids to misbehave in public are actually quite selfish. Indeed, I avoid going out with one of my brothers be/c he and his wife seem indifferent to how poorly their kids act in public. I'm embarrassed for THEM, not me.

Posted by: Just my 2 cents ... | September 28, 2006 4:06 PM

oops sorry for the typo, I was multi tasking.

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 4:07 PM

you know what i find interesting is that we constantly complain that leslie doesn't address issues the "real" people out there who are just barely making a living have to deal with yet when somebody posts a comment that is sooooo out of line with the real world they don't get slammed the way leslie does.

why are children in a parking lot where there is a possibility that they might get killed?
gee, maybe this is a single parent whose choice is babysitter or food? which would you choose?
also explain to me please how i explain to a 2 1/2 year old that cars can't see them & can kill them. use language and concepts that are developmentally appropriate for my 2 1/2 year old.

Posted by: quark | September 28, 2006 4:09 PM

Just a thought but if you are unable to support a child, maybe you should not have had him/her in the first place.

Posted by: Just a Thought .. | September 28, 2006 4:09 PM

But if the kid slipped out of the mother's grasp in a spot near the front of the lot, she wouldn't have as much time to react as if they were in the back.

Also, a two year old my not understand the law, but they can certainly understand that if they let go of mommy's hand there will be CONSEQUENCES. They don't need to know what they are, they just have to know they won't like them. Kids can be controlled. It's a compleat cop-out to say they can't. They're kids, not monkies.

Posted by: Reston | September 28, 2006 4:10 PM

So how did you prevent your toddler or preschooler from running away from you or slipping out of your grasp?

Posted by: To Reston | September 28, 2006 4:11 PM

So far two of you have written snarky retorts to my post which essentialy reinforces my use of that criteria for evaluating candidates. Family status is but one way to evaluate. Obviously if I am lucky enough to find someone who is a star I will hire them no matter what their family status or what kind of shoes they wear. There is also an overarching sociatal issue here: given two equal candiadtes one with family one without which choice provides the greatest benefit to society? My post was intented to foster a discussion about how we seem to be on two sides of a divide which I see as counter prodcutive. We as a society value children because they will be guiding this world in the very near future. So the circumstances in which they all grow up in have very real consequences for all of us childless or not. There is also a value to society for some of us to not have children - some may now argue that I am one of them - but either way life marches boldly forward. Let's not loose focus on the fact that our peace and prosperity depend on these kids and all pull together to make them all the can and should be.

Posted by: Cheesman | September 28, 2006 4:12 PM

"Did I miss the announcment that any sign of intelligence was prohibited from postings today?"

I thought that today's been calmer and smarter than average, actually.

It's not just overweight people who can look gross in ill-fitting clothes. Ever see a size 8 try to fit a size 6 pair of low-riders? The horror! The horror! The key to looking good is to wear the right size. Please, for the love of gouda, just wear the right size.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:15 PM

Reston - for the 2d time .. you are assuming these folks actually try to manage their children and/or ensure they are properly behaved. That is the fault in your argument. If you ask them to control their kids, how on earth are they going to talk on their cell phones?

Posted by: Parking in the Rear | September 28, 2006 4:15 PM

Cheeseman - are you kidding? So if I applied for a job with you, I would not be hired because I don't add a benefit to society??? That is just ridiculous...does the fact that I volunteer at a children's charity not count? That I am helping my niece through college? That I babysit for my siblings and friends so they can have a night out? That line of reasoning is as despicable as those who WON'T hire parents because they think parents won't give 100% to their job. Yes, I know I am just a "selfish, elitist" childfree person, but I believe I can and do make a contribution to society.

Posted by: Missicat | September 28, 2006 4:15 PM

good point quark and to the person who said people who can't afford kids shouldn't have them. Many people have children who can afford to take care them only to find that life pulls the rug out from under them. They lose their job, someone in the family dies, etc etc. It's not like most people who are poor say let's have 10 kids so they can starve to death or live off tax payers.

Reston,

I understand your point of view. However, there are times that you can't explain to a two year old about consequences. That's why, I always get a cart and put my kid in it or I carry her, not because I am worried about her breakin away, but I am worried about someone hitting her because they are not paying attention. Someone actually went through a parking space while I was walking to my car and almost hit a mother and her kid.

Posted by: scarry | September 28, 2006 4:19 PM

Reston, yes, two year olds can learn that there are consequences but it takes a lot of time and repitition. The parking lot thing is a one of the battles we are fighting right now. My son wants to walk, and I've told him over and over he has to hold my hand to walk in the parking lot. As soon as he starts to try to pull away I grab him and pick him up and he cries and I say you either hold my hand or I carry you and we repeat and repeat and repeat. He's getting much better, and usually only tries to get away if he sees something very exciting and wants to go to it (two year olds do not have a lot of impulse control). But as much as I am vigilant, it is still possible that he will one day be able to break my grasp.

I think it would be nice if some of you more bitter posters would make an effort to understand that while there are some truly horrible parents, even the children of very diligent parents will occasionally do something like pull away or cry or whatever. Just as someone asked Brian to see the difference between a dad who ignores his kid and a person who chooses not to have a kid. When a child breaks free of the parent, it doesn't necessarily mean that the parent wasn't trying their damnedest to hold onto that child, it means that they failed, which we all do once in a while.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 4:20 PM

Cheeseman - Discriminate Away!!! Personally, I evaluate female applicants based solely on their looks, so if you want to use the family metric instead, be my guest!

Posted by: HR | September 28, 2006 4:21 PM

"also explain to me please how i explain to a 2 1/2 year old that cars can't see them & can kill them. use language and concepts that are developmentally appropriate for my 2 1/2 year old."

How about this? Tell the kid, "Sweetie, if you let go of my hand, I will catch you and spank you right here in this parking lot."

Very likely, you won't even have to spank your child. The threat alone is often enough.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:21 PM

Sidebar: Megan, thanks for the sling recommendation. Do you know what the weight limit is on those? My "little" guy is already 25 lbs, and I'm desperately looking for something to help when he wants to be held and I want to, say, make dinner (or take a quick grocery run without the &*^$*&$ stroller or the cart with the one wheel that doesn't turn).

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 4:21 PM

To bring up the question that Brian Reid proposes: "Is there really a meaningful population of men out there who roll their eyes at today's involved father? Or is Wolcott as wrong about dads as he is about moms?"

As these post demonstrate, I think there is a really a meaningful population of men AND women that rolls their eyes. Now that more women and men are balancing work and home, family issues are increasingly occupying the workplace and public space, which troubles those without children or SAHP families. By keeping the work and home separate, they are hoping that their rights aren't being violated.

Posted by: lily | September 28, 2006 4:22 PM

I'm torn about the family parking spaces. It makes sense at Babies R Us, because they're sucking up to their best customers. I presume grocery stores do it for the same reason. I will use them sometimes-- if they bug you, complain to the management.

FWIW, I have high risk pregnancies and sometimes a better parking space is a real help, but if it were a big issue, I should get my ob to give me some kind of temporary handicapped parking tag.

Around here, senior citizens get discounts at the grocery store every thursday. Personally, I'd take the money over the close parking space.

Brian,

I think it's completely appropriate that a childless journalist write about parenting. I knew everything about parenting before we had kids. Now, somehow, I'm less of an expert, LOL!

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | September 28, 2006 4:22 PM

How would I keep a child from slipping from my grasp?

I'd tell them to walk with me and hold my hand. Then I'd tell them that if they didn't walk with me and hold my hand, they would be punished. Then, if they didn't walk with me I would follow through an actually punish them. No negotiations. If they did walk with me and hold my hand, I'd reward them.

Clear insstructions
Clear consequences
enforcement

Posted by: Reston | September 28, 2006 4:22 PM

Reston you said "Then, if they didn't walk with me I would follow through an actually punish them" So if they are being punished for not walking with you THEY DIDN'T WALK WITH YOU. So stop passing judgement on parents who are concerned that this might happen and sorry to inform you accidents don't always wait till the second time you do something wrong.

Posted by: To Reston | September 28, 2006 4:24 PM

Reston, do you have kids? You seem to think you know a lot, I'm curious if it's from experience or just the assumption that you know a lot.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:26 PM

I think the mommy friendly parking spots are a nice courtesy. I have seen women managing an infant and a toddler, or two young children or more, and it is hard, even when the kids are well behaved. You childfree people out there may not know what it is like to have a 2 year old in tow. They are at that independent stage, where they want to do everything themselves. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't. They are learning. A parking lot can be a dangerous place for young children. To insist that they must listen or face the consequences in the context of a dangerous parking lot is just stupid. We do what we can to raise our children well. And we try to provide a safety net in case something goes wrong. I see the mommy friendly parking spaces as a courtesy and a little safety net for those moms who are struggling to get to the store with their children. If it offends some people, that's just too bad. I really can't worry about them anyway, because if they are offended by that, then they are just too petty to think about.

Posted by: Rockville | September 28, 2006 4:27 PM

I just have to ask, Reston. Has this actually worked with your children or is this just a theory for you? Not really trying to be snarky.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:30 PM

Thank you Megan and scarry for saying what I wish I had more eloquence to say and help people visualize.

Posted by: LGB | September 28, 2006 4:32 PM

while you're going over these instructions and punishing them, don't forget to look out for cars. Kids can be distracting, drivers aren't always paying attention. That's why they're are called "accidents." Don't be so hard on mothers.

Posted by: to reston | September 28, 2006 4:32 PM

Megan--I didn't mean to sound bitter, so sorry if you took it that way. What you're doing sounds exactly like what you should be doing. You understand that your kid can learn to behave and aren't just giving up with the excuse of, "he's just a kid."


4:26--no, I don't have kids, but when the issue is as simple as teching one not to disobey or run away from a parent, it isn't that hard. I trained my dog to do it. I don't see why parents can't teach their kids to do it. Challenging, yes--but also doable and worthwhile.


Posted by: Reston | September 28, 2006 4:34 PM

Laura,

Another sling recommendation-- this time around I have a Selendang (the Indonesian equivalent of a rebozo), which is essentially a big piece if fabric, knotted. I've used a sling with toddlers that are more than 30 lbs, so your guy would still fit in one. It's great for nursing discretely in public too.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | September 28, 2006 4:35 PM

I'd tell them to walk with me and hold my hand. Then I'd tell them that if they didn't walk with me and hold my hand, they would be punished. Then, if they didn't walk with me I would follow through an actually punish them. No negotiations. If they did walk with me and hold my hand, I'd reward them.

Yeah, good luck with that. And what if the child runs away and gets hit by a car before you even get to punish them. Have you ever dealt with small children?

Posted by: Rockville | September 28, 2006 4:35 PM

I'm going to lobby my friendly neighborhood Starbucks for a "Lazy Suburbanite" space so that everyone who is just too darn tired, or really doesn't feel like parking all the way in the middle/back of the lot can drive their obscenely large vehicle (which cushions their obscenely large backsides) right to the front and get the least amount of exercise possible. It's the American Way!

Posted by: Parking in the Front | September 28, 2006 4:35 PM

I'm going to lobby my friendly neighborhood Starbucks for a "Lazy Suburbanite" space so that everyone who is just too darn tired, or really doesn't feel like parking all the way in the middle/back of the lot can drive their obscenely large vehicle (which cushions their obscenely large backsides) right to the front and get the least amount of exercise possible. It's the American Way!

Posted by: Parking in the Front | September 28, 2006 4:35 PM

I'd tell them to walk with me and hold my hand. Then I'd tell them that if they didn't walk with me and hold my hand, they would be punished. Then, if they didn't walk with me I would follow through an actually punish them. No negotiations. If they did walk with me and hold my hand, I'd reward them.

Yeah, good luck with that. And what if the child runs away and gets hit by a car before you even get to punish them. Have you ever dealt with small children?

Posted by: Rockville | September 28, 2006 4:35 PM

Megan: I agree, even the most even-tempered child goes through stages when they test the limits. Raising a son with mild autism who has impulse control issues, I can fully empathize with parents of toddlers. Pair my older son up with my 3 year old and crossing a parking lot can be a daunting task.

As for judging other people's parenting styles. I actually have checked into a couple of blogs for parents raising children with different learning disabilities including autism spectrum disorders. Due to the extremely judgemental society in which we live, some books (and even parents) suggest that their child carry around an ID card which explains that they have autism and that sometimes loud unexpected noises startle them or that they sometimes make inappropriate noises. I think that is going a bit far. Can't we just cut people some slack? and not just assume that they are bad or inattentive parents because their children sometimes act inappropriately?

Can't we be cautious when driving through a parking lot regardless?

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 28, 2006 4:36 PM

Sidebar to Laura:

I don't remember for certain the weight limit on the mayawrap, I think it's either 30 or 35 pounds. I started finding it uncomfortable when my son got over 25 pounds because it puts most of the weight on one shoulder. There are couple other options though that you might look at that spread the weight over both shoulders. The best I've seen is the Ergo carrier - it's sort of back-pack style but the baby is right on your back, there's no frame. I tried one and loved it, and everyone I know who has one raves about it - they're good up to like 45 pounds, but they are pricey (close to $100). The Moby Wrap is a knit fabric wrap that goes over both shoulders - I liked the one I had but it's harder to learn than the Ergo, it's around $45. Also Mei Tei style carriers go over both shoulders - there's a lot of different brands, look for one with wide shoulder straps. The good ones tend to be around $60-$80. Good luck!

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 4:37 PM

And another thank you to Laura ...

Posted by: LGB | September 28, 2006 4:40 PM

I think Reston and Arlington are giving most parents far too much credit. It's much easier to just "bribe" the child with treats than actually be the heavy. Of course, you end up raising spoiled children, but that's a small price to pay for not having to actually be a parent.

Posted by: Re: Reston/Arlington | September 28, 2006 4:41 PM

"I'd tell them to walk with me and hold my hand. Then I'd tell them that if they didn't walk with me and hold my hand, they would be punished. Then, if they didn't walk with me I would follow through an actually punish them. No negotiations. If they did walk with me and hold my hand, I'd reward them."

Yeah, I used to think it was that easy, too -- LOL right now. Fact: 2-year-olds have zero impulse control or higher reasoning skills. Not "not very much." Not "developing." None. You can be as consistent as you want, you can beat the crap out of them whenever they act up in the parking lot, they can learn to behave 95% of the time -- but the next time they see that bright shiny thing, they're still going to go for it. Their brains just don't make those connections until they're 4 or 5. So what you need to do is physically prevent them from putting themselves in danger -- leave 'em home if you can, grab on with a deathgrip, strap 'em in a cart or stroller, whatever. But prevention isn't perfect -- babysitter doesn't show, hands slip, kids learn how to unbuckle, mom is distracted for a minute by another kid, someone in a big car doesn't see a little kid, etc. Reason no. 73 why I have no problem with family parking spots to help minimize those risks.

Posted by: Laura | September 28, 2006 4:43 PM

I think Reston's point is actually really complemented by Megan's. Megan knows that it takes toddlers awhile to learn things, and she's sticking by it. I think often parents try Restons "instruction, consequences, follow-through" technique (which is, I think we can all admit, Parenting 101), but get frustrated when it doesn't immediately work. Life isn't "Supernanny." It may take weeks, or months, but eventually that child will learn that you hold hands in a parking lot or you will get carried; that screaming in a restaurant means you don't get to eat there; that tantrums in Target means no treat at the cash register. Conversely, catching the kids in good behavior and rewarding that time and time and time again means that the incidents of that behavior will increase.

Posted by: Arlington | September 28, 2006 4:44 PM

Reston's point is fine in theory. Repitition, consistency, and consequences are imporatant. But a busy parking lot is no place to take chances. Minimizing the risk is key in these situations, and the family friendly parking spots are good for that.

Posted by: Rockville | September 28, 2006 4:44 PM

Reston and Arlingon and LGB, thanks for your words, I appreciate them. I do stick by that and I do hope it works. But like Rockville and others have pointed out, there's still a lot room for something to go wrong in the course of those repetitions, which is why I think so many of are reacting so strongly to the perceived criticisms.
Sometimes things go wrong and your kid gets away or has a tantrum no matter how hard you try to do it right, so I guess all I'm asking is to remember that next time you see it happen and not assume that the parent is a horrible slacker.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 4:46 PM

"But a busy parking lot is no place to take chances."

So you're saying Megan's wrong for trying (and apparently succeeding)?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:47 PM

Based on that excerpt, it doesn't sound like Wolcott is saying that fathers who are involved with their children are suckers. Rather, he's saying that he doesn't see the point in having children AT ALL. I largely agree with him. My primary reaction to hearing about the Mommy Wars (or Daddy Wars) is elation that I'm not a Mommy and never will be.

If Wolcott is taking sides at all, it's in a totally different "War" -- the Parent vs. Child-free War.

Posted by: Jen M. | September 28, 2006 4:47 PM

"who have a realistic perspective on their place in the world"

Which is apparently just behind yours, eh anotherview?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:48 PM

"A two year old my not understand the law, but they can certainly understand that if they let go of mommy's hand there will be CONSEQUENCES. They don't need to know what they are, they just have to know they won't like them. Kids can be controlled. It's a compleat cop-out to say they can't."

Well said, Reston.

Kids don't have to be involved in all the decisions affecting them. They don't need to understand that cars are dangerous as long as they've got the message that "Mommy doesn't want you to do that, and if you do, this is what will happen." Parents are not obligated to make their kids part of the solution.

In fact, there's a whole lot of that going on all over our society nowadays, and it does impact on other people. I've had parents in a grocery store blocking my way to a produce counter while they explain to Junior, in excruciating detail, what makes a good eggplant and then give Junior the opportunity to select the eggplant he wants. Then, they go on to the broccoli...

For crying out loud, folks, your toddlers don't need shopping lessons in produce selection. They need lessons in not kicking the backs of seats in front of them; they need lessons in not hanging over the back of the booth in a restaurant. They need lessons in respecting other people's property. They need lessons in not talking during movies, concerts, etc.

And, finally, they need to learn respect for everyone's right to share in the space around us, but that lesson needs to come from the example parents set. Too many parents -- wittingly or unwittingly -- teach their kids that being first and being right are guiding principles in life. That it is, in fact, all about ME. And, yeah, maybe the baby boom generation made today's parents the way they are, but that doesn't mean they need to perpetuate the selfishness taught them by their own parents.

Wake up, mommy and daddy. You have a bigger responsibility to humanity than just making kids. You have a responsibility to make thoughtful, kind, productive kids who have a realistic perspective on their place in the world.

Posted by: anotherview | September 28, 2006 4:48 PM

"I think it would be nice if some of you more bitter posters would make an effort to understand that while there are some truly horrible parents, even the children of very diligent parents will occasionally do something like pull away or cry or whatever."

So, anyone who doesn't agree with the premise that your kid(s) are the most important thing on earth must be bitter?

Bitter over what?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:49 PM

Many people before they have children, think it is as easy as supernanny - they don't realize that the last time you brought the kid to the retaurant they behaved so the fact that he is in a bad mood and acts up today doesn't mean you are coddling him. And yes you punished your two yearold last week when he tried to run away, but he tried again today because he wanted to see the firetruck.

I once read a book that was titled "I Was a Better Mother Before I had Children" I think of this book title every time I read or hear from someone like Reston who seems to think it is so easy.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | September 28, 2006 4:51 PM

Laura,

I suggest going to a site called The Baby Wearer (www.thebabywearer.com) and looking around for carriers. The front page is too busy, but once you figure it out, there is lots of information about carriers. I personally use a wrap (a Storchenwiege - because I only was going to buy one, and wanted one that would last through my son's toddlerhood), and my husband uses a Mei Tei (a BabyHawk, although he's thinking of getting another one too).

I can't use any one-shouldered carriers (like pouches or ring slings) because I have a bad back, so was pleased to find something like a wrap, Mei Tei, or the Ergo, that beats the heck out of a Bjorn for comfort.

*now back to the regularly scheduled snarkiness*

Posted by: Mary2again | September 28, 2006 4:51 PM

"So, anyone who doesn't agree with the premise that your kid(s) are the most important thing on earth must be bitter?

Bitter over what?"

No, I think it's clear that there are some people making mean-spirited posts to the effect that all mothers are lazy, latte-drinking suburbanites who have no interest in controlling their kids and no sense of respect for others. They are the bitter posters to whom I refered. There are lots of people who disagree with me on a regular basis who I quite like.

And Reston, I forgot to clarify that I didn't actually count you among the bitter, I just combined the two responses and should have been more clear.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 4:53 PM

well, anotherview doesn't really need a response because he/she does a very good job making his/her own case.
I am always completely appalled when mothers talking about eggplants are able to completely ruin my grocery-shopping experience, as standing in front of the eggplants with a toddler somehow blocks my access to the entire produce aisle.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 4:55 PM

Another view - WELL said!!! I would only add that many mothers seem to think it is their job to get feedback from their toddler as to whether a particular garment will make mommy look fat and/or if daddy will like it.

Posted by: Kudos "Another View" | September 28, 2006 4:55 PM

When my child was four years old and not yet speaking in full sentences, a speech and language specialist asked me if I was taking enough time to talk with my child when we took care of errands, you know, "talk to them about the produce the color, shape, etc"... It seems that I cannot win either way, Go figure!

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 28, 2006 4:57 PM

Laura, following up on Mary2Again, you might also ask around and see if there is a "natural parenting" store in your area that carries slings - a good store that has some variety is great because you can try them on and get some advice and instruction first. I found one here after joining a parenting group through yahoo groups, and in fact, found that there was a yahoo group dedicated to babywearers in my area (who knew?).

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 5:05 PM

Just noticed this got posted out of order and wanted to make sure you saw it:

And Reston, I forgot to clarify that I didn't actually count you among the bitter, I just combined the two responses and should have been more clear.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 04:53 PM

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 5:12 PM

ummm, how did we start fighting about parking spaces?!?!

And today's blog was not about how people with kids hate those who do not, as someone said recently...read from the beginning, people have been talking about their perspections or what others have said, no one here has done that.

Posted by: Betty | September 28, 2006 5:12 PM

do you overreact like this often?

maybe you're a good match for your wife's menstrual cycle, as well?

Posted by: cc | September 28, 2006 5:17 PM

"-- last thing we need is a Daddy War on top of the Mommy Wars -- "

yes, but it might be fun...it must be fun since so many people seem to be so eager to fight over this.

it's all in your heads, people

Posted by: cc | September 28, 2006 5:20 PM

I just have to put this out there.

Didn't we all survive without our parents having "special parking" when we were younger? We're all still here aren't we? I'm in my early 30's, and I understand that the world is a different place now. But I was taught discipline. I was taught not to do things like run in front of cars and hold my mother's hand when she asked me too. We also didn't have cell phones at age 9 or have our parents fight with the coach if we didn't make the team, but that's a whole different discussion....

Posted by: Did you ever think... | September 28, 2006 5:47 PM

"If you're fat, have the sense to know it and wear appropriate clothing. And for you balding fellows, admit defeat, shave your head and be done with it."

And if you're an *sshole, keep your idiotic opinions to yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 5:53 PM

"Didn't we all survive without our parents having "special parking" when we were younger? We're all still here aren't we?"

Yes, we are still here, the kids who were killed by cars are, well, dead. So what's your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 5:53 PM

"Many parents" suspect that childless adults are molesters? No, that's just your particular group of dunderheads. Try to hang with a smarter crowd. I hear that some of those Achenbloggers are pretty bright.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 5:57 PM

Didn't we all survive without our parents having "special parking" when we were younger? We're all still here aren't we?

Yes, and our family of five took road trips in a van with two seat belts and no car seats. Just because my brothers and I survived doesn't mean I'm NOT going to put my kids in car seats. And no, "special parking" isn't as serious an issue as car seat safety, but just because it didn't exist before doesn't mean it can't be a good idea now. Handicapped parking wasn't around before. Should we do away with it, too? Somehow all of those handicapped people must have managed without it before.

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 5:57 PM

Thank goodness fat-person bashing never goes out of style.

And bald people, hoo, what a riot. They don't have any hair -- isn't that just the funniest thing EVER?!

Morons, your bus is leaving, I suggest you jump under it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 5:58 PM

This is sooooo late in today's "discussion" that probably no one will even read it. I certainly didn't read most of the other comments. That's OK. I want to say this, in response to almost every single topic so far of "On Balance". I have not contributed my slightly older, theoretically wiser opinion on this blog lately, so here goes...

Enough navel-gazing people! Parenting has gotten totally out of hand. Prosperity has made it possible for us to spend way too much time and money on our kids.

I blame us boomers, who are the first generation that had access to real birth control. When we decided to have kids, we really WANTED them. So we made them A BIG PRODUCTION. (I know, I know - some of you had kids by accident. but that's off-topic.) And it got worse with each passing year. We had to SUCCEED at this parenting thing as we had in college, careers, sports, etc.

But it is not all good for the kids (yes, you CAN spoil your kid with too much attention!)and certainly is wearing out the parents. Chill. Be a family, not a competive sport team.

Posted by: granny | September 28, 2006 6:03 PM

Another view:
It's interesting that you think parents are selfish, but your list of things toddlers "need to know" is exclusively stuff that could directly impact you.

If someone is blocking access to the eggplants, politely say "excuse me", and then take one and move on with your day.

Like it or not, children are part of society, and have a right to act like kids (not wild animals, of course) in public places. Sometimes babies will cry, sometimes toddlers will have tantrums. We were all children once-- it's not unreasonable to expect adults will show patience with the current batch.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | September 28, 2006 6:14 PM

"no, I don't have kids, but when the issue is as simple as teching one not to disobey or run away from a parent, it isn't that hard. I trained my dog to do it. I don't see why parents can't teach their kids to do it. Challenging, yes--but also doable and worthwhile."

Reston, I could just say that you're an idiot -- because to anyone who actually has kids, that's how you come across -- but the truth is that you're simply ignorant. Please save your comments, and then promise to read them some number of years from now after you've had kids. i GUARANTEE you will laugh hysterically at your own words. You will shake your head and mutter, "how naive I was".

Disregarding your ludicrous advice... You do have a point that too many parents do not teach their children to behave properly. But MOST parents really are trying their best, and want their kids to be model citizens. It just isn't that easy. Kids are not dogs, they have minds of their own (way bigger than a dog's, that is), they have their own needs and personalities. I am a dad who is considered pretty strict with his kid, and said kid is rather well behaved, if I do say so myself -- but it sure isn't easy. And he does make mistakes, often the same ones over and over. All I can do is try to correct him the best I can. Oh, and I've had plenty of dogs too, so I can tell you for sure that they are 100 times easier to get to behave!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 6:15 PM

Okay - I finally skimmed through today's comments and find that "Armchair Mom" and I appear to be on the same page. Nice to hear a voice of reason from someone still in the trenches.

Posted by: granny | September 28, 2006 6:22 PM

I am probably too late but I have to say that I don't get the negative view of the child-free...

so I guess all I'm asking is to remember that next time you see it happen and not assume that the parent is a horrible slacker.

------------------------------------------

Missicat, thought, (me) and others without children who spend lots of time with extended family etc. get this. I am usually just grateful that as an aunt I can resort to bribery in such situations without worrying about long term damage. (Not to mention kids are often easier on interlopers)

But with some frequency mothers, figuring I am a neutral party, like to explain why their parenting on issue x is or will be superior...

Posted by: ????? | September 28, 2006 6:28 PM

The 6:15 response about dogs made me laugh. My best friend has no children but two large dogs that she cares for very much and has spent considerable effort training. Sometimes when I'm talking about a trouble I'm having with my son, she'll very cautiously tell me about a dog training technique that she would use in a similar situation - it was so great because she was so afraid of offending me, but I actually found it really interesting. It hasn't really come up since my son started gaining language skills, as that was the connection - how do you communicate with a being that doesn't have a language ability. Anyway, based on our joint experiences I would say training dogs and teaching children are vastly different, but her pointers always gave me something to think about.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 6:33 PM

"But with some frequency mothers, figuring I am a neutral party, like to explain why their parenting on issue x is or will be superior... "

Oh man, I love that, it's so classic. My best mommy-friend and I always joke about how our children's good qualities are the result of our superior parenting and their bad behavior is just inborn personality that we can't do anything about, I guess its only funny to us because we know so many people who really think that's true!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 6:43 PM


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Posted by: qgyfzoyq | September 28, 2006 6:57 PM

I got to thinking a little more about the question of whether our society discriminates against poor people, discriminates against children or discriminates against both.
This is in the discussion about my basic premise is that if we were really a child-centric society -- which we are absolutely NOT, in my view -- we wouldn't have such miserable statistics on child health, child welfare, crimes against children, child poverty and, in certain areas, public education, and we wouldn't have such short-term attitudes about environmental protection.
After mulling it over for a while, I've come to the conclusion that the generally shabby way we treat low-income citizens (and the environment, when you think about it) is in itself shabby treatment of children. Since children account for something like half, or maybe more, of the Americans in poverty, making things hard for the impoverished is, in effect, making things hard for children.
Now if ours were really the child-centric culture that some people allege, then we would be well aware that a large percentage of poor people are children and we would be much more sympathetic to needs of upcoming gnerations. We wouldn't have politicians expressing the GWB attitude that "poor people are poor because they're lazy" (I know, he's a fine one to talk about laziness), as if preschoolers should be out pounding the pavement in search of jobs.
This isn't quite as off the topic of the "Daddy Wars" as it might seem. To me, the unfortunate thing about the all "Mommy Wars" and now maybe "Daddy Wars" hoopla is that the wars seem to be all about adults arguing with each other over often-trivial stuff (like who's drinking a latte, who should be out in public, who's wearing unfashionable clothes and even who can and cannot work overtime), rather than about children, who cannot fight or provide for themselves. (Sigh.) Maybe I'm just a frustrated, aging liberal.

Posted by: anon mom | September 28, 2006 7:07 PM

Had to work but now I'm back.

Re: squirmy toddlers. This is a concern, but even in the family spots, you still need to navigate the busiest traffic in front of the entrance. I had one child who would calmly hold my hand and follow all instructions. I had a second child who was adventurous and would try to pull away. That child stayed in the car until I was ready to put her in the stroller or carry her in the store. I did not allow her in the parking lot holding my hand until I was comfortable that she would not pull away. It took about a year until she was tired of being carried or in a stroller and decided to walk calmly with me.

As far as marketing for the grocery stores - I have two teenagers and I will guarantee that we spend more on groceries in my family than families with babies who are 'exclusively' or mostly breast fed.

Posted by: me | September 28, 2006 7:08 PM

How would I keep a child from slipping from my grasp?

I'd tell them to walk with me and hold my hand. Then I'd tell them that if they didn't walk with me and hold my hand, they would be punished. Then, if they didn't walk with me I would follow through an actually punish them. No negotiations. If they did walk with me and hold my hand, I'd reward them.

Clear insstructions
Clear consequences
enforcement

Again, you don't have kids. This is why I don't let people take my kid anywhere.


Reston: Now johnny if you don't hold my hand you will be in trouble

Johnny: What's trouble?

Reston: You know what trouble is, your are two.

Johnny: okay

Reston: Oh no, Johnny you broke away from my hand, you are in trouble.

Driver: Oh my God lady, I just ran over your kid. Someone call 911

I'm sorry but you do sound naive.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 7:15 PM

I've never seen family or mom-to-be parking spots. Must be an East Coast thing.

I've managed to get three children through the toddler stage and a fourth pretty much through it (he's almost four) without ridiculous "perks" like this. I've always wondered about the animosity towards children and parents and breastfeeders that is described on this blog - I've never experienced it. Maybe it's because of silly things like preferred parking.

However, I was reminded me of what a friend once told me - that she always returned her cart after she unloaded groceries, but stopped after she had kids. So I guess it's rude parents whose carts have dinged up the side of my car.

If you absolutely have to take your kids to the grocery store, rather than demand considerations like special parking and not returning carts:

*Hold your child's hand or carry him or her. If they're a runner, put them on a leash. If the car seat is too heavy, use a sling or baby carrier.

*Are there not shopping cart return areas in parking lots in the D.C. metro area? Get the kids out of the car, beat feet to the closest cart return, get a cart, and put 'em in it. You don't have to cross the entire parking lot.

*Unload your groceries, return your cart, take your children out and carry/walk them back to your car. Voila.

And I'm not even sure what good the close-up parking does for parents who are worried about their child being hit by a car in the parking lot. I'm trying to think of a grocery store that doesn't have a "road" right in front of the store itself - so that even if you park in the closest spot to the store, you're still going to have to cross traffic - often the busiest traffic in the parking lot.

Posted by: momof4 | September 28, 2006 7:48 PM

Hi parttimer. Your September 28, 2006 10:05 AM post was cool. :)

"Cool people just ARE. Remember hush puppies?"

Yeah. I wore a pair today. ;)

"People used to just have kids. That's right, just have 'em. Not a big deal. Not a media event.

"But now, with Baby Boomers' kids having kids, it's become an art, a science, a subject for study and debate."

Seems more like "But now, with a higher percentage of the people who have kids actually wanting to have kids and having kids on purpose, it's become..." Back when people used to just have kids, more people thought parenthood was just something that happened to you whether you liked it or not, instead of thinking about whether or not they wanted to be parents. No wonder some of them didn't bother caring whether they were raising their kids well...

"Only if they're chauvinist pigs. A fair minded man would treat a lady as an equal and keep the seat for himself, instead of pretending she needed it more than him."

What about a fair minded gentleman who treats a lady as an equal and gives up his seat for her because he gave up his seat for another gentleman last time? ;)

"$10 a gallon for gas would increase the price of goods and services for everyone. Oil and gas are used to generate power plants, they are used in manufacturing, and all manners of shipping."

...and they're used to fuel the buses and subways which a lot of people who don't drive cars ride instead!

Posted by: Maria | September 28, 2006 8:07 PM

I like the family parking spots but there is something else I do that helps. I like to park beside or at least very close to the cart return. That way, I don't have to carry the 21 mo old any real distance (which gets old when you're about to give birth) and stick the 4 year old in the main part of the cart. When done shopping, go back out, unload, put kids in car, and return cart. Of course, the 4 year old usually walks back out because there's no room for her and all the groceries but she can (usually) be trusted to hold your hand. But the kids can be in the car while you return the cart since it's only a few feet away.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 28, 2006 8:30 PM

"Undiscussed so far is the secret distrust many of us parents have towards those who choose not to have children. This distrust has many roots. You can see it a bit here when folks are referring to singles as self absorbed or selfish."

Gotta say, as a divorced dog-mom with a well-paying job, I can't tell you how many times married moms have said to me, "Can I have your life for 2 weeks?" There's a certain amount of envy out there too. . . it's all my money, it's all my time. :-)

However, it also lets me train (and fundraise $3500) for 3 day walks for breast cancer research, tutor 1st graders, partially care for and support an elderly relative and volunteer for the arts.

Not trying to be snarky, but everyone's life looks easier until you try it. Cheeseman, you have no idea what responsibilities people have or have taken on.

Posted by: Fract'l | September 28, 2006 8:38 PM

...and they're probably safer locked in the car than going along with you to return the cart, anyway.

T-minus how many days til #3, Rockville Mom? :)

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 8:40 PM

On the driver's license retesting. Why not have _everyone_ retest every 5 years if that's what it takes to be non-discriminatory?

My aunt was a fine driver until she hit 89. Had a few accidents and too many near misses. I finally sent a letter to PENNDOT asking them to check her out, signed my sister's name. They gave her 30 days to come in and be retested, told her it was a "lottery" situation that got her the letter, she bought it, never drove again.

Posted by: Fract'l | September 28, 2006 8:43 PM

Not a bad idea, Fract'l. My grandfather was a menace to society the last five years of his life. He wasn't supposed to drive, and my uncle took the keys away from him. He had an extra set stashed somewhere, though. My mom called him one night, and in the course of the conversation, she asked what he'd had for dinner. He mentioned a restaurant that could only be reached by car, realized his mistake, and got that set of keys taken away, too. His wife, who was the same age when she died, sat on a cushion so that she could see between the dashboard and the steering wheel, but never got a ticket or was in an accident in her life.

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 8:50 PM

"So I guess it's rude parents whose carts have dinged up the side of my car"

Right, and ONLY them because they're the ONLY ones who ever do it.

"I'm trying to think of a grocery store that doesn't have a "road" right in front of the store itself - so that even if you park in the closest spot to the store, you're still going to have to cross traffic - often the busiest traffic in the parking lot."

Busy, but with much better visibility. I'm much more nervous walking behind parked cars with my kids than crossing an open area.

And who's "demanding" anything? If there's a family spot, I use it and am thankful that the retailer I'm visiting provided me with a nice perk. If not, I do what Rockville Mom does and head to a cart return.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 8:56 PM

s far as marketing for the grocery stores - I have two teenagers and I will guarantee that we spend more on groceries in my family than families with babies who are 'exclusively' or mostly breast fed.

How do you know this? What about diapers, baby products, bottle liners etc. I didn't know it was a contest, take the damn parking spot near the front already.

Posted by: ? | September 28, 2006 9:03 PM

Thanks, niner!

The final incident was when she crushed in the whole passenger side of her car, neither door would open. When asked, she said she "hit a rock."

We found paint flakes down the whole length of the stone wall that paralleled her driveway (with about 3 feet of grass in between the two).

Posted by: Fract'l | September 28, 2006 9:31 PM

Been browsing these comments lately and chuckling at some of the advice, such as:

"Get the kids out of the car, beat feet to the closest cart return, get a cart, and put 'em in it. You don't have to cross the entire parking lot."
Easy for you in the Lower 48 to say. Shopping carts don't roll very easily across parking lots in Alaska conditions. (Ever tried to push a shopping cart across snowdrifts, gravel, mud and ice?)
As for the comments bashing parents who drive SUVs and other AWD vehicles. . .Again, easy for you in the Lower 48 to say! We Alaskans love and need our Subarus and other AWD vehicles, even if most of them have cracked windshields and quite a few are sporting duct tape.
And when it comes to bashing mothers for drinking lattes. . .Please don't! We Alaskans need the pick-me-up, especially we Alaskan parents. But not Starbucks, please. Bleech. We have our own home-grown roasters.

Posted by: alaskan | September 28, 2006 9:45 PM

'4:26--no, I don't have kids, but when the issue is as simple as teching one not to disobey or run away from a parent, it isn't that hard. I trained my dog to do it. I don't see why parents can't teach their kids to do it. Challenging, yes--but also doable and worthwhile.'

I AM SCREAMING WITH LAUGHTER, SCREAMING!!!

Posted by: experienced mom | September 28, 2006 9:50 PM

Fract'l-

Must've been one heck of a rock! :) After my grandfather passed away, my mom and her siblings were fixing up the house to sell. It was on a cul de sac, with an island of shrubs in the center, across from their garage. My uncle saw something sticking out of the shrubs, and went to pull it out. It was the entire side piece of trim from my grandpa's Camry. He noticed then, too, that all of the shrubs on my grandpa's side of the island were broken or dead.

experienced mom-

Screaming right there with you. My husband and I foolishly thought that having raised and trained two dogs together, we were ready to tackle parenthood. I love it when non-parents give parenting advice, especially when they conclude that "it's not that hard."

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 10:00 PM

Whoops, Fract'l--due to a scrolling error, I missed the description of the paint-flecked wall. :)

Posted by: niner | September 28, 2006 10:04 PM

Niner,
Sad but true! :-) I can imagine those bushes. I bet they ran in front of him every single day.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 10:17 PM

Alaskan --

Yes, you are the ones who NEED the SUVs. Not the mega-mommies using the Expeditions to run down to the latte shop.

Drive 'em in good health!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 11:23 PM

"even if you park in the closest spot to the store, you're still going to have to cross traffic - often the busiest traffic in the parking lot."

Aw, geez, that's right. Maybe those special mommy spaces need to be right along the curb so that the special mommies don't have to take their toddlers across the street at all.

In fact, maybe a drive-through option at the supermarket . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 11:27 PM

"even if you park in the closest spot to the store, you're still going to have to cross traffic - often the busiest traffic in the parking lot."

WOW, the people in this country have gotten soft...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2006 7:11 AM

Niner,

EDD in 2 weeks but I don't think it will be quite that long...

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 29, 2006 8:15 AM

Niner,

I'm with you on the parenting advice. WHile I don't mind getting it from people without children, I don't like it that they think it is easy. It would be like me telling a single parent that we balance things the same way.

alaskan

You are too funny.

Posted by: scarry | September 29, 2006 8:28 AM

Don't you think some of the parenting advice from other parents is also unhelpful?

I am in the childless camp - but I notice that some of my friends/family have mellow kids & some have rambunctious kids - and some parents take too much credit for their own luck on this front.

Most childless people know that there data is hearsay... some parents think that there single data point is proof.

Isn't it better to break the world into polite & impolite not parent & nonparent?

Posted by: scarry | September 29, 2006 10:52 AM

I couldn't agree more with the 10:52 Scarry post (though I think that it was actually not from Scarry, maybe meant to be "to Scarry"?)

Anyway, so much of advice from other parents is based on the assumption that their experience defines all parenting - kids are different, what works for one won't for another. It just depends. And yes, parents are just like any other group of people - some are polite and thoughtful and some are awful and everything in between.

It is funny that all this started about those spaces - I really don't have any opinion about the parking spaces; I don't even see them most of the time and would just as soon get a little walk in.

Posted by: Megan | September 29, 2006 11:17 AM

it wasn't just about parking - it was about the level of child-centric parenting and hummer-moms and the attitudes that, to many people, the fact they have children entitles them to certain things. The parking spaces were just an example of this.

Re-read armchair mom's 10:16 post.

Posted by: to megan | September 29, 2006 11:24 AM

No, I agree with you and Megan that parenting advice from other parents isn't always the best either. I was just commenting on how some childless people think it is easy to just say don't do that, do this, not just people on the board either.

Posted by: scarry on scarry | September 29, 2006 11:45 AM

no, I don't think I will, my responses were exactly on that issue and my point is just that's its funny that's how it all got started.

Posted by: Megan | September 29, 2006 12:05 PM

" was about the level of child-centric parenting and hummer-moms and the attitudes that, to many people, the fact they have children entitles them to certain things."

funny, I thought it was about the selfish gits in this world who get their knickers in a knot at the mere thought of being nice to someone just for the sake of being nice.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2006 12:40 PM

You make your choices. You deal with your choices. And if you don't like your choices, you do what you can to change them. There have always been "Mommy Wars." It's just that publishers are preying on hyper-self-aware Baby Boomer moms and now dads to buy into their escalation of said conflict.
As a SAHM friend of mine said, "we're all busy...it's just a different kind of busy."
And we're too busy to let this "issue" consume our time or affect our friendships with women/men who happened to have made different choices.
Read more about this on my blog at:

thekitchenthink.viewfromthebay.com

Posted by: MJ in SF | September 29, 2006 2:01 PM

"Maybe those special mommy spaces need to be right along the curb so that the special mommies don't have to take their toddlers across the street at all."

This comment and this attitude sadden me.
We shouldn't give special accomodations to parents because parents are so "special" or superior beings to be put on a pedestal. We should give them special accomodations, including family friendly workplaces and yes, family friendly parking where warranted, because we want to make this a better world for kids. It's not about giving favors to "special mommies" or being nice to them or even liking them. It's about making it a little easier for parents to carry out their responsibility of caring for the dependent children who absolutely need their parents.
Anyway, that's the way people would think if this were a society that cared about children.
In such a society, adults -- parents and childfree alike -- would willingly, not grudgingly, sacrifice a few conveniences and a little money for the benefit of the next generation(s). Maybe even a lot of conveniences and a lot of money.
But while lip service about valuing children abounds, behavoir tells a different story. Children are seen as objects, even nuisance objects (see the original TNR story that launched this blog essay). It's a short-term and short-timer mentality that's very unfortunate.

Posted by: anon mom | September 29, 2006 3:34 PM

'4:26--no, I don't have kids, but when the issue is as simple as teching one not to disobey or run away from a parent, it isn't that hard. I trained my dog to do it. I don't see why parents can't teach their kids to do it. Challenging, yes--but also doable and worthwhile.'

Sorry, toddlers aren't like dogs so your comparison isn't very accurate. Now if you said you trained your cat to walk into Target with you they stay by your side, I would consider that an apt comparison.

Posted by: Cat and toddler lover | September 29, 2006 3:54 PM

Sorry, toddlers aren't like dogs so your comparison isn't very accurate. Now if you said you trained your cat to walk into Target with you they stay by your side, I would consider that an apt comparison.

I can train my cat to do that! In fact, on a leash, he'd do that now! He sits, lies down, plays dead, rolls over, shakes, speaks and begs. Do you think the correct cat snack would help you train your toddler? :-)

Posted by: Bruce's mom | September 30, 2006 10:26 AM

Not to perpetuate the parking spot argument....but

On Friday afternoon, I was driving (slowly) in front of a grocery store and came "this close" to hitting a little girl, about 4 years old, who started to walk out in front of my van. She was with a woman (her mother, presumably) and an older girl - the mom had hands free but wasn't holding the little girl's hand.

On Saturday morning, I was driving (slowly) in the parking lot at the soccer fields and came "this close" to hitting a little boy, about 6 years old, who was walking and gawking at something over his shoulder and almost walked head-on into my van. He was with several older children who were walking in front of him.

Moral of this story? The chances of your child being hit by a car are exponentially increased when you let them walk around parking lots without holding their hands. They're not increased nearly as much by parking a long distance from your destination.

And I agree with "to Megan" about child-centric parenting and how the parking spots are just another example of this.

It is completely different than wanting family-friendly practices in the workplace. You can remedy the parking issue by shopping at times where the traffic in the parking lot is light, shopping without your children, using a stroller or a sling or a backpack or a cart to carry your children in the parking lot, or simply holding on to your child tightly.

You can't remedy not being able to go to junior's t-ball game because you have no flex time or not being able to breastfeed because you don't have a time or place to pump or not having health insurance for your children because it's not offered or is too expensive without the help of your employer.


Posted by: momof4 | October 1, 2006 1:47 PM

It's more important than ever for a man to be a part of the their child's life and upbringing. If you stand back and let the rest of the world take the lead in promoting ideas and beliefs into your child, then you will be left with an offspring that you have no idea who they are or how to relate to them.

Every aspect of the educational system and entertainment business is overrun with left-wing, liberal, pinko commie, pro-abortion, pro gay-marriage, anti military, hypocritical harpies that are trying their damn best at driving their agenda into your kids head. And who is their counter? Loud-mouthed right-wingers who are just as bad, but not as plentiful. If you don't interject yourself into your kids life from the beginning you never will and then someone else is going to intellectually take them away from you.

Posted by: James Black | October 2, 2006 2:27 PM

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