April 7, 2008

Calvin Trillin On Theories Of Child-Rearing

My stack of unread New Yorkers and I agreed to start seeing other people a long time ago. So while I remember the buzz about Calvin Trillin's 2006 remembrances of his wife Alice, I didn't read the piece. And now it's disappeared from the magazine's website. Fortunately, the NY Times' BoBo in Chief David Brooks quoted this bit about raising kids:

When it came to trying to decide which theories of child-rearing were highly beneficial and which were absolutely ruinous to the future of your child — a subject of considerable discussion among some parents we knew — we agreed on a simple notion: your children are either the center of your life or they’re not, and the rest is commentary.

update: so after reading Trillin's piece--the link is in the comments--I think the answer to Tim's comment is "center of life=beneficial."

Four months later, speaking at Alice's memorial service, Sarah said she thought that Alice had toughed it out until she was sure her girls had married the sort of husbands she considered good for the long haul. "I know my mom's main goal in life was to protect my sister, my father, and me," Sarah said. "She wanted to protect us from worry, from sadness, from loneliness--things her parents had not been able to protect her from." She ended by saying, "Mom, I know you're listening somewhere, waiting patiently to hear me say these words: You were the coolest girl I ever knew."
ABSTRACT: Calvin Trillin, Personal History, "Alice, Off the Page," The New Yorker, March 27, 2006 [newyorker.com via nyt]


So is making your children the center of your life ruinous, or the reverse?

[d'oh, nice catch. anyone know the Trillin kids? -ed.]

my wife knows one of the trillin kids. she's a successful child advocacy lawyer in san francisco. she has a kid of her own (one when we knew her out there, maybe more now?). really nice person. I met her dad once too.

I've always held trillin up as an example of how writing about your kids isn't fundamentally cruel and won't somehow damage them in the long run. calvin trillin is the godfather of all typing daddies.

[I was thisclose to naming my blog "Family Man." Just read the piece and added the update of his daughter's comments (the other daughter, the social worker, I believe). -ed.]

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