The soccer dad, dressed in cream-colored fleece and green pants, eerily blending in with the soccer nets and the field as he stands there like a fixture all Saturday and half of Sunday; The friend emailing with gaze fixed at the computer outputting an update to her friends: “We have hockey three times a week, dance class, violin, and karate…”, with hardly a mention of herself at all (except to tell you that she's upped her dosage of Prozac); The mom, who suddenly short-circuits when after dropping her son off at school he asks her to drive back with a different sandwich for his lunch and yells, "This is what I’ve become?! My kid’s employee?!...

Meet the Automamoms and the Daddroids.

The six-year-olds staring into their i -Phones with masked, not mischievous faces; the kid coming home from a full day of planned activities with two hours left before bedtime who asks, "What are we going to do when we get home?"; the fifteen-year-old cheating on his test because if he doesn’t get the highest score in the class he feels he’s worthless…

Meet the Botkids.

Welcome to Robotic Parenting. Had enough?

With our quest to be perfect parents, we have reduced ourselves to mere machines. We have renounced our own goals, dreams, and needs, for the sole function of raising the perfect child. With the quest to raise the perfect child, we have reduced our children to robots. We have programmed our children simply to perform, while neglecting the development of their inner selves: their imagination, compassion, self-awareness, motivation, creativity…

We are the Automamoms and the Daddroids. It’s nice to meet you. Don’t ask us about ourselves because we really can’t answer – we have lost our identities. Ask us our names and we will pause only long enough to tell you, “I’m Jane’s mom…” and, “I’m Justin’s dad…”

Meet our Robokids. Please note that they won’t care about meeting you unless you talk about them. Ask them their names and anything else that concerns them, and they will tell you. Then they will be silent. Perhaps waiting for instruction.

In our impossible quest to be perfect parents, we have lost our selves as people. And we are destroying all that makes us – and our children – human.

The good news is parenting is a behavior and behavior can be changed.

This is your wakeup call. Hello? Are you in there? Life is calling…

The Ten Steps for going from humanoid parent back to human being

  • 1. Put yourself first (at least sometimes).
  • 2. Keep the family together.
  • 3. Don't be your child's friend.
  • 4. Get disorganized.
  • 5. Bore your kids.
  • 6. Put your children to work.
  • 7. Miss the soccer game.
  • 8. Pare down.
  • 9. Tell your children they did not do a good job.
  • 10. Get back in the real world.

Quiz: Are you a Robotic Parent?

Instructions: choose (1) or (2). Add up the points at the quiz's end.

1. For you, a "driving range" is defined as:

(1) green grass, blue skies, and your yellow golf balls
(2) the miles between hockey rinks (soccer fields, etc.) your child plays on during traveling team games

2. How well does your child know spiderman (barbie, etc.)?

(1) pretty well, by reading or watching a dvd they were in
(2) very well, as spiderman (barbie, etc.) has come to see him personally, at his birthday party

3. You artfully arrange a double sleepover (away) for your two kids on a Saturday night so you can:

(1) seduce your husband
(2) finish up studying how to help your kids with their homework

4. After a game of tennis with your daughter, you:

(1) give her a bottle of water, to rehydrate
(2) give her your remote control, thank her, and leave the room

5. You are cleaning the dinner dishes yourself because:

(1) your kids are in full body casts from a freak accident and can't help
(2) your kids are busy texting their friends

Scoring: If you scored 5 points, you are still a human person. If you scored 7-9, you are in the danger zone. If you scored 9 or 10, you have crossed over and become a robotic parent. Time for the 10 steps...

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Birthday Party ( today's uber-manufactured celebration)

So the birthday party was going to be at a gymnastics place, because just-turning-4-year-olds need access to the parallel bars at this age, to keep in shape for their final year of preschool. (?) The party was  (gasp!) in the suburbs.  As anyone who has lived in the city knows, going out of it (and into it for that matter) should require a passport. The city and the suburbs  - they're like two different countries.  South America was next on my list (any country within it), as I had yet to check off this continent on the travel section of my life-goal list (traveling to every continent), but Newton was still do-able in the interim.  No problem.  A quick drive (at least for those of us city slickers who have actually - and perhaps foolishly - retained  their cars, at the rate of $300 and up per month in parking costs alone) out of the city for an afternoon outing/celebration.  

Wrong.  45 minutes later, with a gas tank in the red, where my blood pressure inevitably had crept as well, by this point, after the third wrong turn...we'd just pulled into the parking lot.  Thirty minutes late.  To a ninety minute party.  My not-yet-completely mushy brain told me that this was 1/3 of the party missed. Preface:  Sometimes math is not so good for us, as with anything, when used to excess (in this case due to duress). A missed 1/3 of this party:  That's 1/3 of the entertainment missed that we'd invested in, coming out of the city, along with probably 1/2 of the energy we'd hoped to get out for the day, from our preschooler, which amounted now 1 more trip to the playground  just to get her to sleep by 8:30 (or, numerically, 30 minutes in excess of scheduled bedtime. Not counting the jet-lag factor from our travel...)

The fun-filled party... to which we were obligated to attend with our kids as is still the style of today's birthday parties...turned out to be like watching your pet hamster in his hamster habitat, or like watching puppies playing in a pet store window...with the kids rolling around behind a huge glass wall, while the parents observed in seats, on the other side (we were not allowed in, why, I don't even know - was it that we were too big and might cause bodily injury such that another parent would end up suing the facility? quite possibly...or, maybe it was because the place was already jam packed with kids having manufactured birthday parties that parents today are unable, for some reason, to provide.  And why were we there anyway?!

This is today's grand event, known as The Birthday Party....

(To be continued....I'm still too agitated...)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What country is the most robotic when it comes to parenting?

Which parents - from which country - are the most robotic? What do you think?
How are we different than parents in Germany? The Netherlands? Russia?
How are we the same?
Let us know, please!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Can Multitasking Lead to MRSA?

I had to take my son to the emergency room the other night.  (He's fine).  I am well versed in going to the ER with kids, having three of them, with a combination of a broken thumb (from soccer, oddly enough, in which you don't even use your hands), a broken leg (or two), a squirrel attack (my daughter is now immune from rabies for life; and, has developed an uncanny understanding of squirrel communication), a scratched eye (again, from soccer, don't even ask)...

Here's the usual drill:  make the decision to go to the ER.  Cancel everything at home if husband is not home; if he is, yell out a laundry list of things he has to do for the remaining children for the next few hours (with an optional quick list for reference), and then gather everything you can carry that you've been trying to do for the past month and now finally will have time for, as you sit in the ER for two minimum, to maybe eight hours max. This includes but is not limited to:  unopened mail, unpaid bills, unanswered or uncrafted emails, the newspaper, your to do list, your appointment book or iPhone calendar, your writing that you're doing in wordperfect, your novel that you're seriously trying to finish reading (or even to start reading).....and oh yeah, grabbing the child who is the conduit to this suddenly (emergently) found down time.

So I get through the drill and am about to leave the house with my son, and my daughter says, "Wait, I'm coming with you." "What?" I ask her. I'm in automatic mode and think I've misheard her.  "Wait, I'm coming with you..." did she say "Wait, I need a tissue?" Or, "I'm drumming if you....." (no drums in the house - is she in a band now?)...

"I'm coming with you." she says.

"Sweetie, you have homework you have to do. Plus it's a germ factory in the ER. "

"That's why i'm going, to do my homework."

"You want to do your homework in an ER?" I ask her.

"Yes, 'cause there's no distractions there." she replies.

"Seriously, you'd rather come and spend time in an emergency room and do your homework there, than be home and comfortable?"

"Yes", she responds.

Just as I'm limited on down time, she's limited in her ability (or at least in her faith in her ability) to not get distracted while trying to accomplish one task.  This is a learned phenomenon from "these kids today" who have us to model their multitasking for them.

Well into our second hour, as we sat in a hall area of the ER's maze of rooms and bays,  I turned to my daughter and remarked, "It's actually incredibly funny that you'd rather spend time in an ER than in your own home." Funny, yet insightful.

Note to self, lessen my multitasking.  Model paying attention to one thing at a time.  Model just being present.  Your kids may just follow suit, and will in turn be able to focus better, and maybe even decrease their risk of contracting the highly contagious hospital predator, MRSA.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Am I Giving In?

O.k. now my kids are at the age at which they should be doing sports every day after school.  We older parents (the ones like me who are old enough to conveniently mix up the 1968 for the 1986 date of birth) grew up with sports right at school, after school, every day.  Starting in middle school, you had JV or varsity sports.  Like Kick the Can, Murder in the Dark, and the neighbor's trampoline, these sports, extracurricular activities, energy eliminators, and physical outlets were free (short of the occasional and inevitable emergency room visits from the trampoline), simple, available, and simply available.  And they were much needed.

Today, we have to seek out sports for our kids, even in middle school.  To get an every day sport, you have to sign your kids up for multiple sports teams.  This runs against my instincts thus far, of one sport per season.  One team per season.  But does it really run against my will to not overschedule the kids?
Does it really run contrary to my desire to not objectify my kinds as performers, when it comes to handing them over to club sports?

 "My boys" is one way a local club sports woman spoke of the soccer players on the club team that she directed.  She already had boys of her own.  But when you take possession of a young boy's summer, at least Memorial and Labor Day holidays as tournament weekends, and spend hours driving them cross county in your car for away games every weekend (a surrogate to their parents who are driving their other siblings to other counties for their games), you may as well consider them foster kids.  The state isn't paying you; the parents are.  I am considering giving "my boys" - really my boy and my girl - to the lifestyle choice of Club Sports, with long practices, far away matches, and high price tags for hard-core parents who want their kids in that "desirable league".

But my kids need daily exercise.

What's the answer?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's happened. I am back in school.  Seriously.  I'd said never again but now i'm in junior high I'm reading Shakespeare or, rather, reading it to my son who's reading the mail lying on the table next to us "Mom, they misspelled your name on the whatever National Grid is envelope..."

Next, I study my Latin words, undoubtably mispronouncing them which is nothing compared to my son's yelling out what amounts to guesses when it comes to their English translations...

Every evening.  I'm exhausted and my son's report progress report from the school reflects the opposite of the effort I've put in to cause this exhaustion.

Duh.  Because it is my effort.  Not my son's.

Should we still be in school?  How much should we carry our kids?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.  Huh? What is this, you ask?  Take a look below:

Bill Text
112th Congress (2011-2012)


Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012 (Reported in House - RH)


    (a) In General- Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`Sec. 250. Discrimination against the unborn on the basis of race or sex

    `(a) In General- Whoever knowingly--

      `(1) performs an abortion knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent of that child;

      `(2) uses force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection abortion;

      `(3) solicits or accepts funds for the performance of a sex-selection abortion or a race-selection abortion; or

      `(4) transports a woman into the United States or across a State line for the purpose of obtaining a sex-selection abortion or race-selection abortion;
or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

People tried to ban this bill because it punishes a person for performing an abortion on a fetus if it (the fetus) is not the right gender. Some people consider performing an abortion because the baby is not the right gender as  discrimination based upon gender and some people consider it "gendercide".  Others hold the view that abortion for any reason is up to the mother as it's her body and nobody should judge the mother's right to choose.

The House of Representatives did not vote to accept this bill so the bill is rejected and gender-based abortions are still legal.

What do you think?  Is aborting a fetus because it's not the preferred gender a woman's own business?  Is it ok?  Is it our government's business to protect the unborn?  Is it part of our robotic parenting, as we  continue to design and mold our children, into the perfect child, even before they are born? Please comment!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Great job breathing!

It was the monthly “Recognition Assembly” at school, where all students are celebrated. I watched Ms. McDermott instruct her fifth grade students to stand up to be recognized and honored for their accomplishments. “Randy, for handing in his homework on time,” Ms. McDermott began, announcing their accomplishments, “Jessica for sharing her ideas.” “Sara for completing her class work on time.” “Kevin for being respectful.”

As I sat there I wondered, where was, “Nick for talking clearly”? Where was, “Kristen for coming to school with shoes on ”? What was wrong with this picture? What next? Jason, for not killing anyone. Michelle, for being able to walk and talk at the same time. Samantha for breathing without prompts?…

We’re setting unrealistic, unfair expectations for our children, yet at the same time we’re giving awards to our children for just doing what they’re supposed to do.

Why are we setting the bar so low? What’s next? A parade for the student who says “Bless you” when someone sneezes? A plaque for the student who stays in school for the entire school day? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children that doing what is expected is the norm? The bare minimum? Great, yes, commendable yes, but not award status!

Shouldn’t we encourage our children to strive to be the best they can be, and not just meet norms?

And why do our children have to be amazing? Outstanding. Perfect! Why can’t we value our kids just for just being themselves? For being good people. Why is this not enough?

How can I help my child develop a realistic sense of herself and a healthy sense of self-esteem?

Robotic Parenting Step #9: Tell your children they did not do a good job.