Parenting is complicated by adults behaving badly
back in school, and like
most parents, I’m
delighted to know that my
daughters have returned
to their familiar routine,
and to a place that is
dedicated to enriching
Still, I’m no dummy. I also
know that when the
dismissal bell rings, the
kids besides calculating the length of the hypotenuse or parsing a participle.
Paramount among these is helping our children learn to be decent and civil—
guiding them to goodness—and, for me, this is the most rewarding of all parenting
Which is why, for the past seven days, I’ve felt like putting my foot through my Sony
Trinitron—because every time I turn the damn thing on, some idiot is undermining
my lesson plan with yet another exhibition of bad manners.
For example, in my house, expressing oneself is the sport of champions; and
though my daughters bicker a lot—and loudly—they know the rules: speak
respectfully, listen to one another, and try to work out your differences.
Too bad for them that when we turned on the TV last Wednesday to watch
President Obama’s address to Congress, they saw South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson
heckle the Chief Executive, calling him a liar. Talk about your lousy role models.
I also tell my girls that competition is a healthy thing; and whether they’re playing
softball in the schoolyard or a board game in their bedroom, the real thrill of victory
is in learning sportsmanship, respect and teamwork.
Too bad for them that they flipped on the news last weekend to witness Serena
Williams’ toddler-like outburst at the U.S. Open—which included finger-pointing,
profanity, a smashed racket and a vivid description to the line judge of where she
wanted to shove her tennis ball. Williams might have lost the match, but by that
evening she was a YouTube champ.
And, more than anything, I constantly advise my girls to be sensitive to the feelings
of others, and to know when to step out of the spotlight and let someone else enjoy
a little attention.
Too bad for them that they watched the MTV Video Music Awards on Monday (a
special treat on a school night), only to reel in shock when America’s most reliable
moron, Kanye West, interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for her video
award, swiping the mike from her hand and announcing to the audience—and 11
million viewers—that he liked Beyonce’s video better.
If this is the kind of example America’s “grown-ups” are setting for the nation’s
youth, maybe there’s a reason our kids tune us out and talk to each other on
Although all three offenders made their apologies (West, three times) and paid their
penance (Williams was fined $10,500—that extra five hundred for “racket abuse”),
you have to wonder if they’ve really leaned their lesson.
Wilson returned to South Carolina to high-fives from like-minded constituents, not
to mention a spike in campaign donations that have exceeded one million dollars.
Williams went on to pick up a paycheck for $350,000 (that $10,500 fine looks pretty
pathetic now, doesn’t it?) and will now head off to her next tournament and, no
doubt, new and improved tantrums.
And West convincingly boo-hooed as a guest on Leno, which will probably earn him
ample sympathy from his fans—or at least enough that they'll continue downloading
him from iTunes.
And what about our kids? They’ll probably discuss all of this with each other at
school—that is, until their teacher tells them to shut up and pay attention.