This is the story of how I lost the will, energy and desire to publicly express my Parenting Opinions.
It starts with Green Lantern. This past Sunday, as I sprawled out on the couch trying to recoop from a long work week spent away from home, I once again found myself playing the role of the moderator/referee for yet another round of What Are We Going To Watch On TV (Kids’ Edition). Lucas had watched an episode of Young Justice, Zoe had watched an episode of My Little Pony, and I was attempting to stave off a shouting match by suggesting that we find a show that they both enjoy. (Solomon in sweatpants, I am.) I scanned the guide. “Not much on,” I observed. “Green Lantern…” “GREEN LANTERN!” they both yelled. “Huh,” I said aloud. To Zoe: “You like Green Lantern?” “Yes! I love Green Lantern!” “Huh,” I said again. And so they watched Green Lantern. Together. Both enjoying it equally.
I had it in my head to write a post about Green Lantern, and how I was (but perhaps should not have been) surprised that my five-year-old daughter would dig a show about a superhero in space. A male superhero. In space. Before I jumped into writing that post, which would have been in part about the “traditional gender roles” that even the most forward-thinking of us still have a hard time shaking, I took a look at Facebook to see what was going on, as I do before I start writing, because hey, shiny objects! I saw that Andy Hinds had posted a link to a Jezebel article that was a rebuttal of sorts to a piece he’d written for The Atlantic.
Both articles were about The Princess Industrial Complex. I have a daughter, she loves her some Disney Princesses, and I didn’t feel strongly about it one way or another. But reading the comments in the Jezebel post, and then in Andy’s article, and finally on Andy’s Facebook post got me to thinking that dammit, I need to have an opinion on Princesses. I write about being a parent. I have a daughter. I am obliged to say…something. Liz from Mom 101 has an opinion about Princesses! Jim Griffioen has an opinion about Princesses! I’m opinionated! By God, I need to chime in!
So I thought about what I was going to say – and realized that I had no desire whatsoever to tell anyone what I thought. This might have been because I didn’t and still don’t feel strongly about the Disney-fication of Young Female Minds. Jumping in to the conversation just to read myself think seemed disingenuous, the equivalent of calling in to a talk radio show just to say I’d done it. But that rarely stopped me from adding my two cents to a comment stream before. No, I didn’t want to wade into the discussion because everyone was right. Even if they completely disagreed with me, Andy, and each other.
The other day: talking with the boy about the differences in European and Pacific rugby. “Fiji, New Zealand, they like to run. They don’t get bogged down in rucks and mauls, don’t rely on their big guys to pound the ball upfield. Quick ball, move it out to the centers and wings and rely on their speed. England, Scotland, Wales – they’re usually the opposite. Their forwards drive the ball, and they’ll typically use the backs when they’re closer to the tryline.” “Which way is better?” “I don’t know. I do know that I wouldn’t want to play any of those those teams. Because they’re all good. Well, except maybe Scotland.”
Princess-free, gluten-free, TV-free, Xbox-free. Or not. Generally speaking, smart, good parents – and Liz, Jim and Andy certainly qualify – raise smart, good kids. Their playbooks will vary. As will opinions on those playbooks – if we didn’t feel the need to tell the world how we feel about how others raise their kids, the parenting blog-o-sphere would be a much smaller place. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if it would be better.) Writing about how you choose to raise your kids is one of the ballsiest things one can do; it opens you up to the slings and arrows of people who presume to know your kids better than you do. And it’s fuel for those who think that such writing springs from insecurity. Me, I like to think that every parenting story is a love story, regardless of what it’s about. So rather than tell you what I think about your parenting choices, I’ll just read, nod, enjoy, appreciate, and assume you know what’s best for your kids, since you’re the expert on them.
As for my daughter, we need to have a talk about Green Lantern. A guy who relies on a lazy bullshit deus ex machina ring that gives the wearer ultimate power but is useless against anything that’s colored yellow? No.