March 22, 2005

"Him? Oh, That's Just My Grad Student"

Everyone in LA needs an entourage. If you don't have a film crew following you around, hire some bodyguards and constantly pick up the tab for some sycophantic friends. If that doesn't work, there's always starving anthropology students.

Researchers at UCLA have been following 32 Los Angeles-area families (2 incomes, 2+ kids) for four years, closely observing their frenetic-sounding lives. Apparently, having kids involves a lot of driving (of course, so does living in LA):

"[A comment by a mom at her son's hockey practice, which is before her daughter's fencing practice points to] a second trend emerging from the UCLA data how few people have any unstructured time.
In just one of the 32 families did the father a freelance film animator make a habit of taking an evening stroll with his son and daughter. Hand-in-hand, they dodged vacant lots and broken glass in Culver City while chasing bugs and making up stories.
Kim and Gary Zeiss are keeping their children busy by design. They believe it's a key to being a successful adult in a culture that rewards multi-taskers.
"You know the old saying," says Gary, a 47-year-old attorney. "If you want something done, give it to a busy person. They're learning how to be that."
Interestingly, both of these parents now have very negative recollections of long afternoons of playing, wandering, and watching TV during their own childhoods.

The new American family: go, go, go [AP in Deseret News, via DT reader(?) my mom]

7 Comments

How sad negative recollections of doing nothing. I actually have some hope when I read things like this b/c everyone I know that are parents of young children think this sort of scheduling is ridiculous so hopefully we're swinging back the other way. I don't want to feel guilty later in life for giving my daughter free time and not believing her when she tells me the teacher was just being mean in giving her a D on a paper and I should go in and yell at them.

If my kid was a child prodigy, I might push him on a busy schedule. Might. The families described in that article are just sad, sad, sad. When the kids grow up, I wonder if they will visit Mom and Dad much. Or whether they will visit each other after Mom and Dad die. Are they family members or acquaintances?

Lacking proper punctuation, the first sentence of the first paragraph is merely a fragment, a complex subject with no object or verb. I wish people would write as if they cared.

I wish people would read like they care when someone is attempting to mimic the colloquial imperative stylistic tendencies of television and service magazine journalism for humorous effect.

If I ever spoke to her, I'd have to tell my mom that all those hours she spent driving me to advice columnist lessons were wasted.

I'm looking forward to being a first-time dad this September and have been keeping up with DT as much as possible. Of course there are the competing emotions of unadulturated terror and awestruck wonder at the process. Part of the terror comes from the fear of being one of *those* parents who structure every waking (and non-waking?) moment for their little precious, even though I myself grew up wandering the fields and woods of our farm...oh, and watching loads of TV of course. Our local weekly freemag had this gem of an article last week regarding the current trend in hypermanic parenting.

Get rid of the tv and you'll have time for lots of fun, non stuctured activities with your kids.

"Returning home at the end of the day is one of the most delicate and vulnerable moments in life," Ochs said. "Everywhere in the world, in all societies, there is some kind of greeting."

Perhaps Ochs should do a little more research--I just watched 60 minutes the other day and they were talking about a nomadic sea-faring group in Thailand (who survived the tsunami). In this society they have no greetings--no words for hello and goodbye. In addition, they have no word for 'when'.

I bet they don't have over-scheduled children either.

Heather

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