6/19/09

Wise Women Friday: Erma Bombeck

Words of wisdom from the American humorist Erma Bombeck:

Being a child at home alone in the summer
is a high-risk occupation.
If you call your mother at work
thirteen times an hour, she can hurt you.

I love you Erma Bombeck, but, alas, times have changed. Are you rolling over in your grave?

1. A child home alone in the summer? Are there still children home alone in the summer? I know the mother of an eleven year old who won't let her daughter walk half a mile in a safe, suburban neighborhood in the company of three other eleven year olds, let alone leave her at home alone when she goes to work. I've recommended she implant a GPS system in her child's neck.

2. A child at home in the summer? Are there still children at home in the summer, squandering their time, numbing their minds, atrophying their muscles, learning to make choices for themselves? Learning what boredom feels like? Learning -- gasp -- independence? Learning what -- horrors -- they actually care about? Sorry. That's unfair, isn't it? I'm pretty sure there is a day-camp committed to teaching those important life lessons. It's called Camp YouAreSoNotGoingToHarvard.

I don't want to read anymore articles about confused parents who can't understand why their thirty-year-old Ivy League offspring won't move out of the house. When were those children ever taught to do anything out-of-the-house or inside-the-house by themselves?





18 comments:

pasadenaadjacent said...

Not being a mother myself, I will refrain from spouting an opinion. But...I sooooo did not get into Harvard and frankly, I'm bitter over it.

Vanda said...

I was a free range child. It explains everything.

By the way, I didn't get into Harward either. What's up with that?

Jean Spitzer said...

Free range children might not get into Harvard, but they know how to take care of themselves, and their mothers don't resent them for taking over their entire lives--and vice versa. And, actually, most everyone doesn't get into Harvard, and some who do, say no thanks.

I'm loving these wise women, some of my favorites. Have you done Jean Kerr? She used to sleep til noon and write in her car when she needed to hide out from the kids.

Shell Sherree said...

I love that Vanda: 'free range child'!

No kids here either {Harvard is simply not an option for the furry ones}. But I concur ~ life is vastly different for children nowadays. Sigh.

Margaret said...

PA: Don't be bitter. According to the New Yorker, these days have the students at Harvard are using Ritilin off label.

Vanda: I'm with Jean and Shell: I love that term free range child. I'm adding it to the list of phrases I might steal. And what is up with Harvard? They clearly can't identity quality.

Jean: Thanks. I'm going to look into Jean Kerr. Thanks for the suggestions.

Shell: And college that won't accept my dog of superior intelligence is clearly a college I want no association with.

altadenahiker said...

I definitely wasn't free range, unless I escaped from time to time. I had tennis lessons, tournaments, teams, drama, gymnastics, blah, blah, but my only goal was to get out on my own as soon as possible.

So this other side puzzles me. It's not necessarily bad, I guess. GBShaw lived with and was supported by his mother until way into his 40's. And he turned out ok.

Desiree said...

I'll drink to non-neurotic parenting--
and Erma Bombeck

Petrea said...

I didn't get into Harvard either. Could be because I didn't apply, but I don't know.

Free range child. Yes I was. I rode my horse across the fields and the miles outside of town. I'd take a sack lunch and be gone all day. No cell phone, either. Of course I lived in a rural area, not a big, bad city, so maybe that's why my folks didn't worry.

I didn't turn out okay, but that had nothing to do with my free range-ness. I do know how to take care of myself.

Cafe Observer said...

That's right - that's why I chose not 2 go 2 Harvard: they didn't admit a canine of superior intelligence & wizdom.

pasadenaadjacent said...

My Ritilin was by prescription.

Margaret said...

AH: You are the exception that proves the rule. Some highly scheduled children grow up to be brilliant and fabulous.

Dez: Let me raise my glass with you.

Petrea: You didn't turn out ok? Hmmm. How mysterious.

PA: As it should be.

Barbra said...

I try to have a balance in the summer. I believe in unscheduled time (which is why I am not a fan of homework), but I also believe that summer is a great opportunity to have experiences and try out activities that we can't find time for during school. Art class, a theater production, a basketball league, science camp... we try to have an equal number of scheduled weeks/unscheduled weeks.

Oh and I was a busy kid ... didn't apply to Harvard but did go to Stanford ... I was involved in a lot of activities, but I actually was always wishing there was time to do more! My busy schedule was completely of my own choosing.

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Consci said...

I live far away from you (East Europe), where - in some ways - the world seems to be different, I still completely agree with the author. Most of the parents I meet feels she needs to organize every minute of their children's life, not leaving them a minute to play or muse. This means all kinds of extra activities during school time and yes: all-so-useful camps in the summer.These kids have no time to play (some of them probably never learned how to), although scientist say it is a key element (together with a warm athmosphere of home) to "turn out okay" later in their lives.
My kids always want to be at home and they are never bored. I even let them play instead of homework sometimes. They can learn a lot through their play. You can judge for yourself: http://bodri-the-pooh.blogspot.com/

jean_journal said...

nice blog! hope mine can be this good soon

Cradle Me Momma said...

As a mother who let's her older children experience the aloneness and boredom of being home durning the day thank you for your candid opinion. Too many kids are too scheduled and the parents wonder why they are frazzled and the gas tank is on empty.

J&D said...



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Star said...

Since I have been away from the States for quite a few years, and remembered the praxis of setting out happily on one's own as soon as one finished college, and got a job (!), the news that college/grad school grads are still at home way into their thirties really took me by surprise (but makes sense, with today's economy). I need these reality checks, now and then, otherwise I remember everything through my rose-colored glasses. Thanks.