Mom-pests, they are everywhere. Especially at the library.
To reinforce my every word of the inaugural We Don't Need No Education post, yesterday's Storytime gave me exemplary moms to skewer and roast.
So Tot and I are in the library, post Storytime—a particularly learning-oriented affair today, with greetings in 50 languages— and then 2 separate moms come along to tweak my vibe.
She is someone I know only vaguely, and is perfectly nice and all, but has that special aura of the education-driven parent. This means that when reading to her tot, it becomes clear that reading is a very important activity, and must not be interrupted. Vocab words are stressed ("What terrific words here! Can you tell me what the word for this would be?") and enunciated carefully. Gratuitous counting takes place (i.e., the constant focus on the number of bunnies in the bush or tomatoes on the vine or whatever). And overall, a certain Julie-like tone is taken during reading. It is a hushed and delighted and above all, reverential tone. It is that tone that tells the tot she is in the presence of literature and that we must learn to bow before its altar before we can even tie our own shoes.
Mostly I just found it bugging that she seemed so hell-bent on making her kid read and didn't want to shoot the breeze with me.
Now, lest you think I don't dig books or have no aspiration for my own child as a future reader: I majored in French and English literature. I went to a good school. I went to grad school. I have read a book or two. I have even published some...ish... (okay, they were Sweet Valley High novels... and I was just a ghostwriter BUT THEY ARE PRETTY FREAKING GOOD). The point is, I like me some literature. I like me some high culture. I write short stories and they get published in magazines so classy that nobody reads them. People, the Crabmommy reads the New Yorker. I have even read Proust. In French. (Okay, maybe just a smidge of Swann's Way but I guarantee that's more than anyone in Crabtown has read of it. Except you, EB)
So please understand: Crabmommy is a friend of books. I love our library. Even if they do sometimes make the children sing "Old MacDonald lives in Yellowstone."
What I don't like is the mommy-focus on reading as this sacred act. And I always find it ironic that the people who seem most vested in the teaching of literature, art, and music to their tots don't seem to give a rat's bum about these things as grownups. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that Julie gives a toss about literature, art, or music? Is she donating some of those BE shekels to the NEA, or endowing sculpture scholarships? I think not. (And even if she is, I still don't buy it from her.) I think she is the sort of person who, if she saw a poet walking down her street, would call ChildWatch. Okay, I am getting carried away. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seems to me a gap between what these moms push onto their kids and what the moms themselves are like as adults. Are they listening to opera on their ipods? Are they reading Vaclav Havel's memoir? Do they weep with joy when they finally clap eyes on that Brice Marden? Please.
They are fakes. They are the sort of people who chortle and squeal loudly during comedic lines of Shakespeare. As if they are just knocked out by how funny it is. I am not talking about a slight chuckle when Kate the wench is getting ticked off in "The Taming of the Shrew." I am talking about those false I-am-so -erudite-watch-
me-scream- with-laughter-at-Shakespeare types.
So, ahem. Sorry. Back to Mom#1. The reverential voice. As my mom would call it, a "sepulchral" voice. As in very precious and serious.
Comes in with 2 kids, an older boy and a baby girl. Baby girl makes a lot of noise and I say, "What a lovely loud baby!" To which Mom replies, "Yes, she's already starting to experiment with sounds," or somesuch. Hmm. Already. But I try to ignore and hope for the best.
It's when the mom starts forcing the older kid, who just wants to run around the playroom, to focus on some Spanish and you all know what I think of that. Picture this: preschooler is running around playroom and diving into this wooden boat thing.
Mom: "Do you see the boat door, L? That's called a "porta" in Spanish. Can you count the portas?" Then the ghastly pronunciation begins: "OOH-NO, DOSE, TRAYS!" Then Mom turns to me: "He's dying to learn Spanish. We go to Mexico a lot." Then, Mama starts ASL-ing to the 6 month-old. "Do you want milk?" she asks, signing furiously that teat-of-cow sign we in American Momland have come to know only too well.
It took all my willpower to stop my Crabclaw from reaching out and pinching. And as always, I held my tongue, but my inner crab voice spoke loud and clear and it spoke to me in English: stop with the learning!
My final judgment:
I know I'm generalizing and being harsh, and maybe these 2 poor moms don't deserve it, who knows, but there's a chunk of moms out there who do: Moms who preach learning at all costs, you are insecure. You are striving to make your kids cultured and literary because you yourselves are not. You don't read great books or listen to Mozart. Forget Mozart. You don't listen to much of anything. Or read much of anything. You wouldn't know art if it fell out of the sky and onto your heads. And you like it that way even if, deep down, you suspect it's actually quite lame and pathetic not to engage the world beyond your own.
If you were a bit smarter and more interesting, you would know that it's okay not to worship Mozart.Or admire Monet. But you should probably, like, get excited about something, you know? Other than yourself and your kid's every cognitive milestone, that is.
You LFMs (Learning-Focused Moms), you're not listening, but here's some Crab-advice anyway: if you stop spending so much time on the project of developing little Madeline, you might actually have time to do something else.
Like read a book.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Mom-pests, they are everywhere. Especially at the library.