Friday, January 26, 2007

Alternadad - A load of sh*t?

CBC.CA has a scathing look at the new urban parent concept, taking a stab a Neil Pollack, Elisha Cooper and

Pollack’s new book, Alternadad, chronicles the first four years of Elijah’s life, which began in Austin, Tex., before the family moved to its current home in Los Angeles. Pollack writes about the boy’s nail-biting delivery, which ended with the doctor admonishing Pollack, “It was the most harrowing birth I’ve ever presided over. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Other highlights: a verbal scrap Pollack had with his parents over circumcision; Elijah’s first gymnastics class; and the day the little biter was turfed from day care. But Alternadad is less a compendium of vignettes than a manifesto for a specific type of parenting.

I find myself agreeing with the author quite a bit. Most articles on make me chuckle, but they never really do more than scratch the surface. We are a self-obsessed generation, and in the face of a very selfless duty, many struggle to find some balance.

People used to raise kids with a sort of quiet stoicism; the fact that humans have been reproducing for millions of years was enough to humble any new breeder. But in this era of unfettered narcissism, child rearing has become a spectacle. The tabloids stalk famous females in search of a “bump” to monopolize the news cycle; Tom Cruise buys his pregnant wife a $200,000 US ultrasound machine for home use; and Oprah exalts celebrity mothers as though having a child is as novel and courageous as space travel. And non-celebs? They bloviate in blogs.
The author has little patience for the the endless drivel about passing on cool tastes in music as well. Making sure that your kid's playlist has been vetted by does seem stupid - and I don't think that it has anything to do with your kid at all. Kids like to listen to what their parents listen to. Our guy loves Raffi, sure. But he loves Ella, Tony Bennet, OutKast, Kanye, James, U2 and Mozart. So what. That is the music that is always on in our house so he's used to it. I find Ramones onesies vaguely disturbing ("Beat on the Brat" anyone?)

Look. I hate the idea that most of who I was is gone, and that most of who I am is defined by a how much my kid slept last night. Tough shit. Parenting is not cool. It's hard. My kid pushes my buttons, pushes my limits and pushes me to recognize that I love him in a way I never imagined before I became a parent. How lame is that.

Pollack and his ilk have undertaken a dubious task: to make parenting
seem cool. Alas, there’s nothing cool about arriving at a party in a
shirt flecked with milky drool. Parenting advice is a lot more useful
when it shrugs off the hipster yoke and embraces child rearing as the
messy, demanding yet enriching job that it is.


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