I know great things are expected of me on these pages, but I just got off a flight where not one, not two, but ELEVEN KIDS were shrieking at the top of their lungs, one of whom was yelling “AGGIE!!! AGGIE!!! AGGIE!!!” as loud as she could while kicking the back of my seat. Apparently “AGGIE!!!!” meant “I’d like some eggs, please” but her mother was in no hurry to get her any, as she had two other kids to contend with.
I turned around and asked her to please tell her wonderful little child not to beat the shit out of my chair – and the mother was very nice about it – but the whiplash continued about fifteen seconds later and lasted 4 1/2 hours. I would have turned around again, but by this time, my Xanax has kicked in, leaving me in that liminal state where I could feel annoyance, yet lacked the strength to do anything about it.
The rumor among the adults without kids was this: Passover had just ended, and all the Hasids were now free to move about the country with their endless array of children. It occurred to me that’s where my LDS forbears got the idea, as Mormons will do pretty much anything if the Jews did it first. The Hasids also share another thing with my cousins: everyone is content to let their babies float around any social event, as it allows the parents a few minutes to do something other than, well, tend the baby.
At my family reunions, cousins are always carrying around babies that don’t belong to them, especially the 10-15 year-olds, who consider it second nature. Likewise, Tessa held one of the babies on the plane for a few minutes, and Lucy made the little girl giggle incessantly. I mean, we’re all in a tube 34,000 feet in the air, how much trouble can they get into?
This contrasts sharply with the hyper-protectivism of most modern parenting, when your baby is looked after every millisecond, and followed around like the lead singer to a hot band. Obviously, there’s a happy medium in there somewhere – while it does “take a village” to keep you from going batshit, we are certainly not going to make the same mistakes our parents did, i.e., taking a valium and letting us play with the soldering iron.
Which leads to a good CODE WORD question: those parents out there, how much do you monitor your kids? And for those without kids, how monitored did you feel as a child?
Sean and me, in lavishly-constructed swimming pool, Iowa 1971