March 14, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) Goes Pro

Hey, Moms and Dads! Kids driving you up the wall? Don't know what to do about it? Well here's the latest fad in "parenting" fresh from the NYTimes: Parent Coaches.

The lead exhibit in this article is one Lisa D'Annolfo Levey of Woburn, Massachusetts, mother of two boisterous young boys. Here's a sample of how she deals with their hyperactive foam-swordplay:

"Forrest, how about you come up and hug Skylar instead of whacking him in the head?" Ms. Levey implored. "This is stressing me out, guys. You can sword, but I'm feeling compromised here."

Can anybody tell me what's wrong with this approach? Can anybody even tell me what the hell she's saying? Anybody? Bueller?......Bueller?....

A bit further down, Ms. Levey displays some shockingly delusional ignorance of how green the grass really is on the other side of the fence:

"There's a piece of grieving for me that I don't have girls," she told her coach. "For me, I'd be reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and drinking tea, and that's not what they are going to do."

You think that's how it works with daughters, Ms. Levey? As the father of three of 'em, I've got one word for you: AAAAAAAAA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

According to the article, there seem to be legions of parents out there who apparently can't or won't trust common sense unless it is doled out to them by someone they're paying for it. And of course, where there is a demand, supply will always materialize. This parent coaching thing seems to be quite a racket. Let me just say here and now that I will offer my own services to any parent needing some advice - 30 bucks per question per child in the ol' tipjar and a quick email to the TastyBits Mail Sack (TM) and I'll gladly talk you down. Want an example? Here's another of Ms. Levey's "issues":

"My older son is, I would say, off-the-charts physical," Ms. Levey said, "and I needed to find a way to say I really don't enjoy playing football all that much, I don't want to read Captain Underpants, I really don't want to look through your Lego catalog."

Madam, the word you're looking for here is, "No".

That'll be 30 bucks, please.

Yips! to Jimmie at the Sundries Shack.

UPDATE: In answer to my own question in the comments, I present your one-stop shopping spot for all things Captain Underpants. Still a mystery to me, but apparently quite popular. Speaking of kiddies and comic crime-fighting, you may be interested to know that I've got my Mojo Jojo voice down cold.

Posted by Robert at March 14, 2005 02:35 PM

Forrest and Skylar. Heh.

If I had names like those (and was, as a consequence, getting beaten up in school every day by bullies), I'd be hyperactive, too.

My wife is a fan of the several permutations of "nanny" shows on TV. The shows all revolve around a simple premise -- saying "no" to your kids and meaning it. Substitute action for threats. It's really that simple.

Doesn't have to involve smacking the kid, either. Putting him in time out and letting him know the rules seems to work on the shows pretty well.

Common sense.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 14, 2005 02:49 PM

Heh, indeed. Extra credit for spotting the name issue.

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 14, 2005 03:06 PM

Sorry. The one word "no" does not fix off-the-charts physicality. Instead, lots of time running and biking outside tends to temper that. Who needs aerobics instructors when you have hyper pre-teens to run around with? Get out there and play some football (or soccer, or baseball). Captain Underpants is hilarious, and all of my kids, boys and girl, love Legos.

As to gender differences, they do exist. You don't know since you only have girls. But they have a funny way of defying stereotypes. My daughter is the only one of my kids who is really into dinosaurs and reptiles -- normally seen as "boy" interests. But she makes her whole little extended family of plastic crocodiles and alligators play in her dollhouse -- a wonderful mashup of "boy" and "girl" stereotype play.

Welcome back!

Posted by: JohnL at March 14, 2005 04:06 PM

No, no. The "no" doesn't mean "don't do these things," it means, "I'm not going to do them with you." What she was bitching about was the inability to convey this message.

When we got home from our mammoth drive yesterday afternoon, the Llama-ettes were bouncing off the ceiling, demanding to play various games. I said, "Shoo. Go downstairs and play. I don't want to see you or hear you until dinner time. I will call you when it's ready. Goodbye."

And while there certainly are inborn differences between boys and girls, this woman is deluding herself with the idea that little girls are automatically calm and placid, as compared to her boys. The thought of trying to sit down to tea and Laura Ingells Wilder and expecting the Llama-ettes to sit still for more that 30 seconds struck me as hysterical.

Who is this Captain Underpants of whom you speak?

Posted by: Robert the LB at March 14, 2005 04:17 PM

I don't want to know!

Posted by: The Colossus at March 14, 2005 04:42 PM

Ahh... I missed that use of the word "no", one that we use ourselves. My daughter is rambunctious sometimes, but generally not as destructive as the boys. In my experience, while girls aren't all tea parties and Laura Ingalls Wilder, they are closer to that particular scenario than boys (based on my observations of our large extended circle of friends' kids in school, church, and neighborhood).

Captain Underpants is the main character in a crudely-drawn series aimed at the 8-to-11-year-old-male demographic. Lots of booger jokes, fart jokes, toilet paper jokes, and other pre-teen scatalogical humor. Check out the reader reviews here.

Posted by: JohnL at March 14, 2005 05:11 PM

That was what was so great about growing up in the country. If you were restless, you went outside and played. Chase the dog, have friends over and play army, take a hike in the woods (great to come across a deer stand: instant tree fort). That woman needs to be hit upside the head with a clue bat.

Posted by: RobertJ at March 14, 2005 08:37 PM

Captain Underpants is a big hit with the 5-to-7 yo male demographic in my house.

Posted by: dave s at March 15, 2005 06:06 AM

I have two boys - they're now 14 and (almost) 17 - and I am very familiar with Captain Underpants, thankyouverymuch. Loopywafflejuice is actually one of my son's e-mail addresses.

As for the "Parent Coaches" thing? Yet another example in an ever-growing list of them of people who have more money than sense.


Posted by: Margi at March 15, 2005 02:35 PM
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