military two-step down the nape of my neck


Greetings from Little Rock, Arkansas! Spiritual home of a President I never stopped loving, and proud address of the Peabody Hotel, where apparently every morning a group of ducklings parade across the lobby and into the restaurant. I hope to get up in time to see this blessed event.

Like pimpin’, road trippin’ ain’t easy. Especially when you’ve got a little girl waiting for you three days away and your late-30s lumbar muscles aren’t what they were back in the days of endless American skyscapes. Then Tessa had to go and send me this picture:


…after which, my heart about broke in two, and I was all, “Dude. It’s hard enough to find a decent salad in rural Georgia, why you gots to do that to me?”

Speaking of rural Georgia, I have two places to recommend in Jasper. The first is a new joint called Bridge Monkey, tucked away in a deeply inoffensive, well-landscaped strip mall just off the highway. They are, in a phrase, the encapsulization of my teenage id and grownup wants: an espresso joint with wifi, cute 11th-graders playing Magic the Gathering, and twenty hi-def gaming monitors with vibrating chairs.

Geeky, to be sure, but you get the feeling you could stay there forever and be swept into its warm technological embrace. And games like Dungeons and Dragons are not being played just by Super Spaz DorkWads any more – there is a new cadre of slightly-cool kids whose tastes verge on the Goth yet shop at Hollister. Brandenburg symphonies are piped onto the sound system, and the toffee nut syrup flows like brown ambrosia. All this in, basically, the middle of nowhere.

The second place, again, again! is my buddy Salem’s Jasper Family Steakhouse. I have had $54 steaks at some of the finest places in Manhattan, and I have had Salem’s Sharptop Sirloin for $12.99. I am here to tell you that Salem’s steak is better. WAY better.

The buffet at JFS is better than anything I ever had as a kid, and thus, when there, I eat like one. I know I’ve prattled on about this particular buffet before, but when so many of your friends are artists, it’s impossible not to put Salem in the same category.

I-40 in Tennessee is littered with billboards promoting as-yet-unsigned country singers and their albums. I didn’t know this was a good technique, but seven hundred billboards can’t be wrong. Because I’m a hoity-toity blue-state commie northerner, not to mention a pill-popping leftist stooge, I fucking hate country music, but I appreciate the moxie of these people. Even as I find it unbelievably depressing.

In fact, I consider myself a Southerner, and certainly I was in the South from early puberty through my 30th birthday, but every time I return I feel more and more removed from it. Perhaps I became overly aware of how much I loathe the politics of every single person I see at every single gas station, but my contempt for certain aspects of southern culture is becoming problematic.

I was inside a chain restaurant bathroom last night when a 40-year-old adult dragged his son by the arm into one of the toilet stalls and absolutely tore into him.

When I say something, what do you do? YOU DO IT, YOU HEAR ME?

I froze in front of the mirror in horror.

When your mother says something, YOU DO IT. If you MOUTH OFF ONE MORE TIME I’m going to TAKE IT OUT OF YOU!

And with that, a big SLAP!


I knew the dad was winding up for another slap, so my choices were twofold: bust open the latrine and beat the ever-living shit out of the father, ram his head into the toilet, kick him in the ribs and break his kneecaps in front of his terrified son – or just get out of there.

And while I was frozen, hearing this awful commotion a few feet away, two different men peed, washed their hands and left without raising an eyebrow. Their complacence ran over to me, and I just hung my head. You will hear this story, and in your version, you will bust open the door, perhaps. If you were there, however… I don’t know. I left, got in the car, sheepishly told Salem and his family, and then thought about it all night.

I suppose it’s all too easy to lay this shame at the door of “the rural South” – kids get hit by their parents in every zip code. You just feel, however, that if it had happened in the Upper East Side, I would have been armed with enough moral indignation to at least tell an authority or two. Someone else in the next stall would have done something. Or perhaps it was just my personal weakness in the face of brutality, a momentary ambivalence that would have struck anywhere.

Sometimes, all we can do is keep our side of the street clean. I look again at the picture Tessa sent me above and think, how could I ever hit this creature? I promise you, Lucy, nothing you EVER do could be bad enough. I know you’re angelic and a baby and incapable of right and wrong at this point, but there are two things I swore never to do as long as I live:

1) call anyone “ugly”

and 2) hit a child. Ever. EVER.

I’ll think of more, but that’s a good start.

45 thoughts on “military two-step down the nape of my neck

  1. Beth

    You knew somebody (if not several somebodies) would take issue with your characterization of child abuse as an aspect of southern culture. That’s ignorant, Ian, and grossly unfair, and I expect better of you.

  2. kent

    Let me be the first to remind you that they are Brandenburg Concertos.
    And lay off southerners with respect to politics. People are a lot more than you imagine them from the outside. For every racist Bubba eyeing the Skol section, there’s a Bubba growing weed for his granny’s glaucoma out behind the shed, and headnods to Common with the black guys down the block.
    Rednecks aren’t monolithic, and there’s a redneck resistance to authority that is as highly developed as yours, only they’re willing to kick some ass if anyone treads on them.

  3. kent

    And since you can’t edit comments after you post, forgive me the failure of parallel construction in the second paragraph.

  4. caroline

    Ian, there’s a technique I learned back in the days when I was doing rape crisis counseling. It sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t but does provide a semi-neutral way to at least break the energy of a violent encounter you’re witnessing. Or one that is escalating into violence. We were taught it in the context of if you’re on the street watching domestic violence, ah, that would usually be a man about to beat the shit out of his girlfriend/wife. You can call out, do you need help? to the victim. In this case, maybe a “Are ya’ll all right in there?” might have worked, might not have. And Beth? I’m a southerner, too, and you’re dead wrong on this. Not saying kids won’t push you but it’s WRONG.

  5. Chris M

    Yep. I think it is different here in NYC and other blue places when it comes to publicly “disciplining” children. NYers might intervene under certain circumstances. See below for why they don’t. But it’s more about class and education than region and I don’t think Ian is saying differently. I grew up in working class midwest and nothing about what happened in that bathroom conflicts with the usual treatment of misbehaving children when I was a child. It does shock me when I consider the theoretical possibility of treating my own child that way. Never is correct.
    I do see parents behaving in a seriously verbally abusive manner to their children here in NYC. I assume such people get physical in private. The subway is a good place to see parents interact with their children for prolonged periods of time. Can I now state an unpleasant truth that is never discussed or written about? In NYC the public abusers are almost invariably African-American women (with southern origins, not Carribean). It is fairly common to hear black women addressing their children abusively, like bad pets. Every word directed at the kid is an angry order. But no white blue-stater — including me — would dare say a word to a black woman about how she is treating her children like total shit. Or how we all have to walk the streets with that poor kid when he grows up.
    That said, of course these women a small number of all mothers and I notice them because of their bad behavior. Now I feel like I am going to be fired from my job or something.

  6. CL

    One time, I saw a kid almost run in front of a car, and his father tore into him. Then a passer-by tore into the father. But really, the passerby shoulda shut up, because even if the father was abusive, the intent was to stop that kid from ever running in front of a car again…sometimes you have to leave parenting up to the parent, to a point.
    It’s wonderful that as many times as you’ve crossed the country, you always find new observations and attractions. Ducklings? Billboards promoting unsigned country singers? That’s why I love Americana. I wish I could convince everyone I meet, who feels a need to go to Thailand and eat snake, that there’s fun just down the pike.

  7. Beth

    Caroline, what are you talking about? Of course child abuse is WRONG, if that’s what you’re saying. What I’m objecting to is Ian’s classification of it as “certain aspects of southern culture.” Maybe I’m getting stuck on the semantics, but that makes it sound like child abuse is a southern phenomenon when in fact there are sick motherfuckers all over the world.

  8. dean from Bub's and Troll's

    Before I married my NJ wife, I held every ugly stereotype and image of Northerners that a red, white & blue NC boy should hold. But, thankfully, my wife burst all of that. I have now been blessed to see both cultures.
    It is true that there are 2 different cultures (if not more) in this country. Nonetheless, one undying truth is that there are just as many jackasses in the North as there are in the South. For every jackass in the South thinking NYC is filled with muggers and rapists (true?), there is an educated Catholic priest in NJ telling me I ought to go check out the new local mall because “Do they have malls in North Carolina?”.
    My main point (yes, I am trying to make a point) is that I have been blessed enough to see the inside of both cultures and, as such, have learned that those among us who have not been able to do so are usually better off if they just keep their mouth shut.

  9. Kevin from Philadelphia

    Ian, I think that had I been in that bathroom, and heard a slap as you described, the other 2 men or came in, peed, and left would have had to restrain me from doing to that man exactly as you described. ALthough, at 6’5″, 230 lbs, usually a dirty look from me is enough to stop most people in their tracks.

  10. jje

    First, love the pearls and Sex Pistols t-shirt combination. Little Lucy is quite stylish! And those eyes!
    Second, gotta agree with Beth – I really think you’re being terribly unfair. The South has hardly cornered the market on ignorant, abusive behavior. I can’t help but want to retaliate that it was “northern culture” that spawned the term “Genovese syndrome,” and I know that’s equally unfair. It’s easy for people to say “woulda, coulda, shoulda” after the fact, but poor Kitty proved that assuming the moral high ground isn’t always so cut and dried.
    FWIW, count me as another who will opt not to spank my child because I think it’s wrong on several levels (not to mention unbearable to even think about hurting my precious boy in any way). But I will add that my Yankee father, not my Southern mother, spanked me as a child when I misbehaved. I think I turned out to be a decent and productive member of society and I don’t have any lingering resentment towards him. Doesn’t mean I understand it or defend it. I just choose to handle discipline differently than he did.

  11. Tim

    Dang, Chris M – that was brave! I’m not going to agree or disagree, just acknowledge that it took guts to post that here.
    I don’t see much of this on the Boston subway. But then, at the times I’m on the trains (M-F commute, Saturday nights occasionally) there are very very few parent-child pairs.
    Can I float a dangerous postulate/question? Does this sort of treatment of children map with lower incomes? It might not. But if it does, it might explain a) Chris’s point above and b) Ian’s thought that this is more prevalent in the South. I don’t know if this is true, just positing an idea.

  12. Alyson Peery

    You think someone in New York would have told an authority? You think New Yorkers are more responsible for their communities in that way? Ask Kitty Genovese. I think everyone everywhere is just as likely to want to stay the hell out of whatever bad shit is going down. It takes a special person to stop something like that, not just a Yankee.

  13. Tim

    Interesting. So, as an ignoramus, I looked up this Kitty Genovese of whom I’d never heard, and found the wikipedia entry: I have to say, from what’s written there, it’s not exactly damning evidence against the neighbors. I’m sure the phenomenon exists, I’m just not convinced that the namesake crime is an example of it.

  14. J.Boogie

    wait, the left-wing bloated stooge Ian who spends the rest of the year ranting on here about the right to kill unborn children with beating hearts is now upset because he heard a child being slapped ?

  15. mcf

    Rich is right… make way for the ducklings in memphis…
    and i am also outraged [this is my first post] about this sense that this “abusive” behavior is more prevalent in low-income families, or in southerners?!
    i was born in manhattan, grew up in the south [my mom was a “child of the confederacy,” my dad, a yank], and i am now raising my daughter back in nyc, mostly because my husband was raised in nyc… personally, id rather go back to NC.
    this kind of behavior exists, id be willing to bet, in every area and on every income level. the wealthy abusers probably just don’t take the 6 train.
    and for those who are so much “better” to presume it happens only where people are “different” from them: i say, get over yourselves.

  16. emma

    I have seen the ducks in the Peabody (pronounced Peabuddy) in Memphis, but it appears after a quick internet search that they also make an appearance in the Little Rock Peabody. I think the Memphis Mallards are probably the original ones.
    I think CL makes a good point. I know that I have raised my voice many octaves(but not my hand) in parking lots and on the street when my kids were about to get out of my arm’s reach.
    And, of course, I agree with mcf that this behavior is unfortunately nationwide and classwide. As sad as it makes me to say, walk into any juvenile court in any state and I feel certain you find parents mentally and physically abusing their children in every county in every state. (The wealthier folks just figure out how to beat (no pun intended) the system better.)

  17. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Ian, I love when you post topics like this . . .and I love the interesting comments that you receive. I especially say “OH SNAP” to Chris M and J. Boogie.
    Allow me to add my own comments:
    Some folks may see the photo of Lucy in a Sex Pistols shirt and find it to be very inappropriate or offensive. I mean, a 10 month old bearing a shirt of a band, whose members were drug addicts and committed suicide? Of course, there is more to the Sex Pistols that THAN, but wasn’t the music of the Sex Pistols a bit violent? Perhaps you consider the shirt to be “urban hip” or “edgy ironic.” I think its a bit bizarre.
    So, when Lucy is older and sees this photo, she is supposed to put aside any knowledge of drugs/suicide/violence/self-destruction that is associated with the Sex Pistols and then make the cognitive jump to conclude that her parents dressed her this way to be ironic or cool or whatever? Why not dress her in a shirt that displays a Marijuana leaf? Does she have any Grateful Dead clothes yet? You know, you can find lots of age-appropriate clothes at Gymboree or the Gap or LLBean.
    I admire your goal of never hitting Lucy. I do not think that I have ever hit Helen. Frankly, I cannot remember, because I personally think that verbal abuse is far more destructive than a spank or a slap. I struggle with the fact that I am quick to anger, and I have a quick tongue. I try very hard every day to make sure that what I say to her or how I punish her is commensurate with the occurrence. IMO, verbal and physical abuse occurs universally across state and socio-economic lines.
    And, finally, I do not think that spanking a child is a bad thing (within reason). These days, parents are overly reactive to such things, and I think that we are creating an overly permissive environment in which our children are increasingly self-centered.
    P.S.: please don’t be offended by my comments. You know that I adore you. The incongruity (in my mind) of your statements and your choice of infant clothes was too much for me. . .

  18. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    I just checked Wikipedia to see if I got my facts straight. I was wrong. . . there was no suicide. Sid Vicious was arrested for murdering his girlfriend Nancy and then he later died of a heroin overdose. Do you think any slapping was involved in Sid and Nancy’s relationship?
    My bad. I suppose putting the shirt on Lucy is OK. After all, it is a lovely pink shade, and it looks lovely with pearls. HA!

  19. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    OK. Now I feel like a big bitch. Sorry. Sometimes I can’t help myself, especially when my Lexapro is available only via mail order and I forgot to order it in time and I am now in the middle of my first non-medicated week in 5.5 years. Good God Almighty I am not well. Thanks for allowing me to comment on your blog! You are a good sport.
    Oh, and please tell Michelle that I read her blog, and I can’t comment on her’s (she’s no fool! Who wants unsolicited grief from faceless commentors???), but let her know that Dan is CUTE with a capital C and that they are an adorable couple! I am wishing wonderful things her way via the blog world! Um, you have taken time to read about Dan, haven’t you??

  20. LFMD

    Hi Michelle! Perhaps I can comment, but I am not savvy enough to figure it out. Plus, I don’t want to intrude and be a lurker. I was just happy to see that you are happy!
    Anyway, the right word for Dan is HANDSOME, not merely cute. You guys are adorable together, not to mention you both have unusually beautiful sets of teeth! Your orthodontists would be proud!
    Take care and keep beaming that happy glow. . .

  21. xuxE

    well first of all, fuck the south (says the bay area political refugee). and it’s a great kids shirt, reminds me of the ramones “rock n roll preschool” i saw somewhere. (says the hello kitty bass player). i can find lots of dead head and “legalize it!” kid shirts if anyone needs them.
    but anyway, i gotta love the heroic “when i’m a parent, i’ll…” song you started, ian.
    it should be some kind of raffi song, like “if i had a hammer”
    “oh when i’m a parent i’ll”
    …feed my kid only organic vegetables
    …provide wholesome educational tv programming
    …resolve every conflict with gandhi-esque composure
    …and read 10 books at bedtime every night!”
    let’s have this conversation again in about 10 years, after your kid has hidden in a department store while you have security lock it down and you’re yellin into the cashier’s loudspeaker mic for the shoppers to form a search party, while clutching his tiny vest and hat you found on the floor in aisle 3, after he’s tied his brother up/shut brother in dark room/bit brother who is bleeding from the gash, or turned the gas stove burner on high…ah the list goes on.
    abuse is abuse, and obviously there’s a distincton there, but i tend to think the slapping the kid upside the head thing is more a simple result of parent losing it than it is a planned discipline strategy*. if you go ill every time a kid doesn’t finish eating his/her green beans, that is a sincere problem, but i mean, shit happens, it’s not like you suddenly turn into mary poppins just because you give birth.
    *except in the south and midwest where people are idiots and that actually is their parenting strategy, right alongside bible readings.

  22. Ian

    I’m loathe to really get into this, but this blog is simply an immediate synthesis of things as I see them, basically in real time. I make no bones about being wrong about the “bigger picture” and promise to do so often. This thing is the first draft of my inchoate thoughts.
    I felt as though I dealt with the “only southerners beat their kids” canard in the entry itself, and if you don’t see that, either you’re not reading carefully or I have to be WAY more explicit. If I had a point, it was more about the public nonchalance with aggressive punishment.
    Along with Chris M, I have seen the mothers on the NY subway as well. He’s not entirely wrong about this. And it is regarded with horror by most of the other patrons – but yes, nobody EVER intervenes. So maybe I don’t have a point after all.
    The Kitty Genovese incident has to do with the Theory of Social Impact, which I’ll address later, but it is a different beast altogether.

  23. LFMD

    xuxE: have you spent any significant amount of time in the South? Is the Bay Area really ALL THAT? I have lived in NJ, NC, VA, and CA, and I am convinced that people are all the same, everywhere! Living in one area of the country does not make anyone a better person in mind or body than anywhere else. One area of the country thinking that it is more enlightened than another area is truly nonsense.
    And, Ian, I checked out xuxE’s Placenta schwag, and I dare you to put a onesie on Lucy bearing the Placenta guitar logo (legs spread and all). Dare you, I say!
    xuxE: I think that your schwag is very clever, by the way. I just wonder where Ian draws the line with childwear. And, I wonder. . . if Lucy donned a Placenta logo shirt and traveled across country, what kind of reactions do you think she would get, state by state? In which part of the country do you think folks would be likely to call Child Services? Would a Placenta shirt be acceptable in Manhattan and the Bay Area? Would it really not draw attention or frowns from other adults?

  24. caveman

    My dad used to put out his cigars on my arm and scream at me for being a lazy, no good sonofabitch. Every christmas he would throw a carton of cigarettes at me and yell “smoke up Johnny.”
    Oh, and LFMD…wow

  25. Beth

    Ian, I read your entry several times before I commented, and after reading it a few more times, I still don’t think you’re putting things on a level playing field. You weren’t simply commenting on public nonchalance in the face of aggressive behavior, because you included a lot of qualifiers. For example, you followed up “kids get hit by their parents in every zip code” with the supposition that things would have happened differently on the Upper East Side. Maybe you *would* have behaved differently here, because New York is your home and being on home turf gives indignation some backbone. But an awful lot of bad things go unremarked on here, too, many of them because people are scared of what might happen if the focus swings to them. Let’s face it: saying something to that man in the bathroom wasn’t going to change his behavior toward the kid. The only thing it might have achieved is getting him really pissed off at you.

  26. lee

    Ok, I’ve gotta defend how southerners even appear to represent certain political views. I live in Durham and last week I attended a Baptist church where they were having a membership class to learn about their church. It was American Baptist, not Southern Baptist. But anyway, this old man who was deaf from WWII and who’d been a farmer his whole life, speaks up very loudly and deliberately and says “What I want to know is, does this church welcome the Coloreds and the Gays?” no lie. And just as I was about to vomit, he says “Cuz I aint going to no church that don’t.”
    And before, I woulda probably been afraid of him at a gas station, too.

  27. Ian

    Laurie from Duke – Yes. Make “the upper east side” into “Staten Island” and “The South” into “Chapel Hill” and you’re correct.
    Whatever, I take it all back. The South is a bastion of forward thinking, cares deeply about gay rights, and there is no toleration of hitting kids in public. I’m beginning to tire of my opinions on this blog.

  28. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Ian, we appreciate being able to read the first draft of your inchoate thoughts. And, you are not wrong about the bigger picture. . . this is YOUR blog and YOUR synthesis of thoughts. The only difference is that you allow us to comment whereas most people would tell us to STFU. I understood what you were saying. . . unfortunately we all take a piece of your entry and run the hell away with it.
    Look at me. . . I attacked your baby’s wardrobe (Sorry! Lucy is my internet Cutie Cutiekins and I need to STFU), talked about Handsome Dan, and ended up ranting about Placenta scwag (which is definitely NONE of my business. . . sorry xuxE. And, before you ask, YES, I am a Crazy Bitch).
    Please don’t close your comments. You don’t need us, but we need you!

  29. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Hee hee! xuxE! Yes, what the hell kind of memoir is this? I am starting to doubt whether there really is a Jasper Steak house. And Lee’s WWII old man encounter definitely did not happen. . not in this world!
    xuxE, I would be honored to wear your Placenta shirt. If you would let me buy one, I would wear it to my suburban MD grocery store, gas station, even the gym. Maybe not to my Catholic church or my Insurance Job, but you get the idea.

  30. Annie

    Lee, your story brought tears to my eyes. Yes. That is exactly it. Driving around interviewing all sorts of weirdos all over NC, I have learned that you really can’t assume anything about someone who happens to be wearing a Dale Earnhardt hat and chawing on a big mouthful of Levi Garrett. Except that he (or she) probably likes Dale Earnhardt and chewin’ tobacky.

  31. Annie

    Not to say, Ian, that I haven’t heard such hat-wearers express some pretty unsavory opinions. Believe me, I’m not happy that my views are represented in the US Senate by Elizabeth Dole and Richard fuckn Burr. There are broad-stroke truths to the red/blue divide–but never down to a person.
    Same thing goes for the other end–I’ve seen/heard apparently cool, funky, alternative Carrboroites spout some fascist views that took my breath away.
    We all know this and as an argument it’s pointless. But as a moment’s impression it is evocative (as we all see by everyone’s comments today).

  32. Beth (last comment for the day, I promise)

    I dunno . . . I don’t see Ian’s blog as only his public journal. Like it or not (and I’m guessing he likes it or he wouldn’t do it anymore), he’s become the head of an online community, tackling all manner of topics that generate tempests in teakettles, or more. We all think he’s swell, or we wouldn’t come here, but we tell him when we disagree with something he says, or something someone else says, and he lets us–even J. Boogie–because we all benefit from the dialogue. It’s a place that makes me think every day. That’s one of the things, in addition to Ian’s vunderbar writing and interesting approaches and sweet, sweet Lucy pictures, that makes this blog so special. Right?

  33. Chris M

    There is a little verbal spanking going on right here today by these southerners. Personally I prefer a healthy discussion about those consenting adults who *like* to get spanked.

  34. Rebecca

    WOW. Lots of interesting comments here. Raising kids is an endless, thankless, exhausting job, and I try not to judge too much.
    Terrible twos? No problem. Three to five is actually worse because you expect them to be over the tantrum stage, and they’re just perfecting their methods. Six to eight seems to be the beginning of the defiant, smart ass remark stage, and it looks like it can be all down hill from here! (This is as far as I’ve gotten.)
    That child might be physically or emotionally abused on a daily basis by a bully Father. But maybe the kid is a total shit, and who knows what that man has to put up with from that kid on a daily basis. Unfortunately, too many times it becomes an endless cycle between parent and child and everybody loses. Not all kids grow up in loving households and that sucks for them.
    I wonder what I would have done in the bathroom story, but probably the same as Ian. But I don’t think that people looking the other way at abuse is a Southern trait.
    Regarding Lucy’s shirt – that is so LA. I’m sure nobody there even blinks an eye at it. Those kinds of shirts are fine until she can read… Frankly, until I read the comments, I didn’t notice what it said.
    Lee – love that story!
    LFMD – I hope you get your meds soon!
    Drive safely Ian.

  35. Rebecca

    Beth – well said and I totally agree. As a stay-at-home Mommy, this blog and comments section is sometimes the most mental stimulation I get all day! (Sad, but true.)

  36. LFMD

    Rebecca. . .you and me both! Going without meds is not for sissies. I remember Ian’s description of it a while back. Crash and burn, baby. Crash and burn.
    My Lexapro order probably won’t be here for another week. Hopefully by the end of that week, Ian will not have installed a block preventing me from commenting.
    Hey, have you heard the one about Bush selling 6 ports to the UAE?

  37. cm

    That the South is a more violent than any other American region is a matter of statistical record, and there’s an entire literature dedicated to trying to explain it.

  38. CP

    good grief.
    having grown up on manhattan’s upper west side and going to high school in the bronx with smart kids of all races/classes from park avenue to central park west to harlem to the village to hell’s kitchen to the south bronx to riverdale and yonkers (wow, that’s a mouthful), I can tell you that child abuse does happen (a lot) in NYC, the specific forms it takes (including both mind-fucking and hitting, even from white folks) vary based not only on culture and economic status but whatever particular patholgy your parents had in a form considered socially acceptable by their peer group/particular subculture. (my mom didn’t believe in hitting but fisted pills — drugs, not meds — and white wine and was a manhattan middle-class white intellectual with an attitude problem.) the one constant I found was the richer and/or old-money the family, the more DL this was.
    side note, when I was in college, my dad (who’s not from the south) took me on a 10-day trip to the south, as he said I had a biased northeastern viewpoint of it. great trip.
    lucy’s shirt is cool.

  39. wvlheel

    Wow – this has made me think a little about my own parenting style. I’ve got an 8 year-old with attitude. I also have a 6 year old who is sweeter than pure cane sugar and a 3 year old that I haven’t figured out (yet).
    I’ve lost it, absolutely lost it, with my oldest on a couple of occasions. Not to the point of abuse (I’d never) but to the point of being ashamed of my own immaturity. He’s a good kid, but LOVES conflict for some reason, and I’ve been pushed over the last two years. I adore my son, probably too much, and we watch UNC games together and go to hockey games, and I’m his Scout Leader, but occasionally….
    I can’t comprehend slapping a child – never – but I have spanked. Maybe that’s not correct, its probably not, but I was raised “Southern” and was spanked and even whipped (with a belt) – but I guaran-damn-tee you that I deserved it. I was a particularly difficult teenager and my parents deserve some credit.
    I’m sure that I am bringing some of my parents’ style into my own parenting adventure – and I think the world of them. I guess it remains to be seen if this is a good thing – my oldest will probably have a blog of his own in a few years.
    Ian, thanks for allowing me to ramble.


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