When my son was in first grade, he announced that he wanted to invite some classmates over to play and that he needed to raid my stationary stash for invitations. Because this kid is constantly raiding my things for stuff to write on, I half-grumbled, “M’kay, whatever,” as I continued folding the laundry, a feat I was rather proud of myself for undertaking since usually the clean clothes sit in a pile in the laundry basket or in the corner of the couch until they’re either picked over or too wrinkled to be considered wearable any longer.
Upon selecting his invitations, he sat at the table, looking to me for assistance.
“Whatcha doing there, bud?” I asked as I wrestled with the fitted sheet before giving up and balling it into a heap.
“I want to invite Bobby over to play at 9 a.m. on the day after school gets out,” he declared. “Can you help me write it out?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What? You know, when I was a kid we just gave our friends our phone numbers, would randomly call each other to see if we wanted to play, and would ask our moms if it was OK or not. Why don’t you do that? Just give him my phone number, you get his, and we’ll set up a time that way,” I suggested.
“No, Mommy,” he lectured. “That’s not the way it’s done. It has to be in a note, and it has to have a specific time.”
Part of me was certain he was exaggerating, being a kid who likes to do things just so, but after running into Bobby’s mom a few days later, who asked if she could also bring her daughter who was in my other son’s preschool class, I realized that this truly is a thing. You have to schedule a date in advance, and it becomes an entire family affair.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?
I can’t be the only person who finds turning what should be a simple, spur-of-the-moment gathering of playground friends into an event ridiculous.
What is happening with parents these days? Seriously. We have entered this parenting era where everything — and I mean everything — is this big, blown up ta-doodey, and I’m here to say, everybody needs to chill the fuck out.
Play dates? No. Stop it. Just have your kid call mine, and I’ll feed ’em peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, send ’em outside to play for a few hours, and call you when yours is ready to come home.
Bento boxes? The fuck is this? Really. I want to know who has that much time on their hands to create these nightmares and how? How is this the best use of your time? I’m seriously asking because I can’t seem to find time to clean the kitchen regularly, let alone carve a Disney character out of carrot sticks on the daily.
First birthday parties at private rental venues? We barely made our wedding reception happen at one of these places, and people are hiring caterers for their one-year-olds? Has everybody lost their damn minds?
Gender reveal parties? WE GET IT. You’re pregnant. That’s great. And we’re super happy for you. We really are. But we don’t all have unlimited Saturdays to give up to attend sixty-four parties for your kid who’s not even here yet.
Helicopter parenting? Why? Being an advocate for one’s kid is one thing. Following them around and either swooping in to fix every problem for them or attempting to plan out every second of their lives is quite another. What do people think is going to happen when their kids are grown up? That they’ll be able to walk into their kids’ employers’ offices and demand they cater to wittle Betsy’s every whim and desire?
Never mind. Don’t answer that. Parents are already doing this crap, legitimately calling college professors to complain and interfering in their kids’ first job interviews. YES. IT’S A THING PEOPLE ARE DOING NOW.
We are raising a generation of spoiled, dependent, entitled brats with few, if any, self-advocacy skills. We really are. And it needs to stop.
We are taking the everybody-gets-a-trophy generation to a whole new level. It wasn’t good for us, and it sure as hell isn’t good for our kids. We need to cool it on the coddling and get our lives in order. Neither we nor our kids are that important. Really. We’re not. What’s more, nobody is impressed with our fancy showoffiness, nor do they give a shit. So let’s stop already.
All in favor of returning to the parenting philosophies of yore, raise your hands. All opposed? Just keep it to yourselves. The rest of us — including the whole of society — don’t have time for this shit.