Put a boo in it

bruni mama pacifier
© Ben Wiseman at The New York Times

My version of put a sock in it (G fondly, nostalgically, calls his pacifier a boo).

Actually, Frank Bruni’s version via the artist Ben Wiseman. Bruni wrote a great column recently considering the baffling affair of modern parenting. He writes:

Just a few decades ago, parenting wasn’t even a proper verb or gerund. Now it’s a compound one. There’s of course helicopter parenting, which hovers, and “free range” parenting, which doesn’t, but only by principled choice…But from my vantage point, watching the kids of my three siblings and of my many peers grow up, I’m struck less by the genius or folly of diverse child-rearing techniques than by the way most of the children matured into who they seemed, from the get-go, destined to be.

Instead of filling children with delusional praise—“I wonder why everybody has to be a winner”—he suggests it might be better to gird them up for the inevitable injustices life will throw their way. Bruni puts a healthy (funny) spin on fear, too:

Why all the choices— “What would you like to wear?” —and all the negotiating and the painstakingly calibrated diplomacy? They’re toddlers, not Pakistan. I understand that you want them to adore you. But having them fear you is surely the saner strategy, not just for you and for them but for the rest of us and the future of the republic.

Remembering I don’t hold all the cards is, as Bruni writes, a mercy. And knowing that we’re in league with the host of parents feeding their finicky children chicken fingers four times a week is humbling and weirdly liberating.

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