When I started this blog I was thinking I would bestow my wisdom as a successful 21st Century Mom on all of you neophyte parents. After all, I knew! I had been there! I won! which is to say that my kids turned out very well. I was so full of myself and my innate understanding of contemporary issues and the pitfalls of 21st Century Teen angst that I wanted to take you gently by the hand and lead you to my font of light and wisdom.
Alas, I find that although I’m very much in step with what is happening, the times they are a changin’. For one thing, I had to raise my kids without benefit of a Boppy or a Bubmo seat and the baby sling thing, although ancient, is new to Western parenting (I had a snugli that required a 2 week intensive to figure out how to use and I damned near broke my kid’s arms getting them in and out. They don’t even make ’em like THAT any more – no link!) On the other hand our strollers did not cost $750, did not have latte holders and did not make it easy for us to park our kids in a plastic bucket and just carry them around (a practice I abhor). We were not tyrannized by the ‘Attachment Parenting’ brigade (I’m a natural born attchment parent but I support others in choosing whatever works for them) although the forceful La Leche Commandos could be a problem (note – I did NOT use the “N” word because the internets have taught me better), if you let them (I did nurse all 3 of my children but that was just my choice). Babies slept on their tummies because we were afraid they would choke to death in their own spit up if we put them on their backs. Little did we know we were setting them up for SIDS. 21stCentury parents have to be ever more vigilant to nocturnal death. Good thing they have those video baby monitors – we only had audio. We had far fewer vaccinations to deal with and there was nothing like the very questionable chickenpox vaccination on the market – they just got chickenpox and that was that. Certain medical/psychological issues that were known but uncommon in the late 20th Century are on the rise now. ADHD, ADD, Autism, fatal peanut allergies, just to name a few. I believe current statistics indicate that you can’t just dismiss some of these trends as being the result of new diagnostic practices although some seem to be possibly due to irresponsibly fervent labeling and over treatment.
As if all of that isn’t enough we have the Internet. Kids are serious Internet users and there is a whole new set of issues that goes with that. In the SF Chron there is a little back page piece called Public eavesdropping that had this entry the other day:
“Do you know your whole name?”
“That’s your first name. What’s your last name?”
Conversation between toddler Ethan Swope and his proud eavesdropping dad, David.
Ah – those 21st Century Kids! They don’t know where the internet stops and their lives begin.
That same day the Zits comic looked like this:
And so it is – college bound kids are under tremendous pressure to perform. You would never know that from all of the bad press about how poorly the schools are preparing them and all of the “No Child Left Behind” BS. Where are those naysayers when parents are gifting their beach houses to the pre-school of their choice just so they can get on the waiting list? In any case, by the time they get to High School they know how to get help with their papers by going to Spark Notes, or even finding a suitable paper that has already been submitted for use. Teachers are forced to figure out how to keep up on the other side because if you stick with traditional learning methodologies in a technologically advanced world you just end of playing ‘who is the foxiest internet user’.
Social interactions between kids have been changed dramatically by the interent, most notably My Space and Instant messaging. There is a whole new, low risk way to test the waters of your casual acquaintances. There is a whole new way to find out that you have not been invited to parties given by people you thought were your friends. There are admissions of adoration the likes of which might have sent us to the nut house when we were high school. There are photos of our kids in various forms of undress and debauchery. There is sharing and camaraderie. There is a really easy way to nurture long distance relationships with camp buddies. Good and Bad and In Between the Internet is having a profound impact on kids lives.
So what do I really write about? Paris Hilton and my cooter. I think it might be time to get back to my original intentions.