But then David Brooks had to go and cover it in his NYT Column today, Mosh Pit Meets Sandbox (Times Select subscribers can check it out in full online). Apparently it’s a slow week for Republican talking points about our glorious successes in Iraq.
Mr. Brooks goes on to express that hipster parents are bad. Pastel clothing is good. “Inevitable” hummus snacks are bad. Ironic tees with statements like my mom’s blog is better than your mom’s blog make our children “ludicrous.” And evidently Mr. and Mrs. Woods should do penance for naming their son Elijah, as it’s one of the names the columnist deems “abusively pretentious.”
“I’m not against this indie/alternative lifestyle,” he writes, pseudo-apologetically before going on to rip into it. Apparently he is okay with “this indie/alternative lifestyle” provided he can dictate exactly what it entails.
Come out with your hands up and step away from the tahini.
So yes, I’ve tried to avoid the subject up until now. But there’s something about seeing a 50-something Republican pundit in a pink tie telling me the do’s and dont’s of appropriate infantwear and child-naming that compels me to respond.
Is it possible, for goodness sake, that generations evolve? That they do things differently than the parents before them? They use their children to mirror their own values and ideals? Just a stab in the dark here, but is it possible that parents today, more cynical, more media-savvy, more independent than those who came before them, are simply behaving as parents they way they behave as people? And, call me crazy but, the fact that someone like Mr. Brooks is uncomfortable with it all, isn’t that one of the defining characteristics of a counterculture in the first place?
David Brooks’ generation of parents played their children the Beatles music they liked. And now that we play our children the music that we enjoy, we’re being challenged to grow up and stop behaving like children ourselves.
The funny thing is, I’m not a hipster parent by any stretch. I may be cool by Tallahassee standards–giving the Midwest a break here–but as Nate will assure you, I’m hopelessly establishment. Anyone who’s ever seen me dance in the last fifteen years will agree. I think I’m more like most parents, making parenting choices piecemeal from various and often contradictory places. We have been both co-sleepers and heavy TV watchers. We are devoted to organic milk but not above transfat-laden french fries. We play Belle & Sebastian and we play Elmo Sings the ABC’s. We own the Black Boot Booties (shown at top, courtesy of the awesome Mahar Dry Goods) because they’re hilarious. Not because we’re trying to stay “one step ahead of the Cool Police.”
So I’d hate to think that when I hit the streets of Brooklyn (who knew we were making such a hipster move when we got there; and here I was thinking we had simply gotten priced out of Manhattan) with my new baby in her Doc Maarten booties, that it will lead David Brooks and his ilk to leap to make value judgments about me. Especially when those value judgments are that I’m self-absorbed, emotionally stunted, and unfit to breed. Or, as it was expressed in the column: “Parents who refuse to face that their days of chaotic, unscheduled moshing are over.”
Oh, how I mourn my days of unscheduled moshing, truly I do. Why, an impromptu mosh would really hit the spot right now. You got me there, David.
It’s actually funny when you think about all the criticism leveled at some of the Babble columnists and bloggers I love over the past couple of weeks. Your kid wears a Ramones tee? Hipster parents! Selfish parents! Consumerist parents! Kid sits in a Bugaboo? Spoiled kid! Kid with no values! Kid with no future! Because as we all know, no one who was raised with any kind of worldly possessions whatsoever ever grew up to contribute anything of value to the world. Face it, if you’re not living in squalor, or at least pushing your kid in a Goodwill-rejected stroller salvaged from a Newark street corner on a Sunday morning, you might as well give back your ACLU card, you fraud.
And yet, last I heard, knowing all the lyrics to Blitzkrieg Bop hasn’t been scientifically correlated to the level of commitment you have to your children’s health and well-being.
The way I see it, it’s all just one more non-issue in the media–one more working mom versus SAHM, one more cocktail playdate, one more breast versus bottle–to force us to question our parenting skills.
Don’t do it.
You’re all better than that.