Bite the wax, tadpole

Theunis Bates, managing editor of The Week, has an 18-month-old toddler who behaves like, well, an 18-month-old toddler. The problem with that is that the Bates family lives in “the world capital of obsessive parenting”:

My neighborhood’s online message board is filled with moms and dads worrying over the latest studies on toxic chemicals in plastic sippy cups and the urgent need to enroll their newborns in music classes that will stimulate their brains into genius. Of course, every parent wants to give his or her sprout the best start in life, but there is no scientifically correct child-rearing method. Science is constantly evolving — not so long ago, it was thought that pacifiers turned kids into sexual deviants; now Binkys are thought to be effective pain relievers — and findings can often be reversed. So until the experts figure out how to raise the perfect kid, relax, and let her eat crayons.

Where is this “world capital?” Brooklyn, New York.

(Seen in issue 684, 5 September 2014. Not yet on line at this writing.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    3 September 2014 · 10:13 am

    I am beginning to wonder if some of this obsessive micro-control is a displacement behavior. Ebola outbreak is “worse than we previously thought”, ISIS is threatening to take over the entire Middle East (and next, the world), there might be World War III or at least Crimea II rumbling to life in the Balkans…..and we can’t do jack squat about any of those.

    But, by God, we can complain to manufacturers about trace quantities of some chemical that’s not totally 100% been proven safe. And we can obsess over whether our child SEEING a television set in a walk through a furniture store has permanently damaged their brain.

    For those of us who are childless, it can take the form of things like dietary correctness….or whatever.

    Since we can’t control the big things that might well kill us, we focus on the tiny things that probably won’t but which we can imagine might.

  2. Bill »

    3 September 2014 · 12:04 pm

    I agree, fillyjonk. I’ve also seen people abuse their leaders as a way of blowing off steam. One time, after a fellow spent 15 minutes ragging on a particular president, I brought up a few facts that contradicted the reason for his ire. He brushed them off (the only thing he could do, because even these days some facts can’t help but be facts), and I realized that he really didn’t care about the president. He cared more about whatever was stirring up his blood at the moment.

  3. jsallison »

    3 September 2014 · 10:42 pm

    Don’t forget bugs and dirt. That immune system isn’t going to exercise itself. I turned out fine

  4. jsallison »

    3 September 2014 · 10:43 pm


  5. CGHill »

    3 September 2014 · 10:50 pm

    In 1960, I slid under second base and into an actual rural cesspool; I was deathly ill for months, but apparently I had no known allergies until recently, when I discovered a sensitivity to one particular antibiotic. Was the dunk a factor? I’ll probably never know for sure.

  6. McGehee »

    4 September 2014 · 6:50 am

    I slid under second base and into an actual rural cesspool

    And here I thought all the cesspools were urban. Like the one I moved out of in 1994…

  7. fillyjonk »

    4 September 2014 · 9:48 am

    More likely the antibiotic sensitivity came from years of breathing Oklahoma’s seasonally-moldy air.

    my mold allergies have got far worse since living here, and there is a whole class of antibiotics I have been fairly sternly warned never to let anyone prescribe me again.

    I played in mud as a kid. I came home so covered with it some days my mom would hose me off, clothes and all, in the backyard before allowing me in the house, and yet, I have terrible allergies. I am not sure I give the whole “exposure to filth prevents allergies” hypothesis a great deal of credence for myself.

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