Monday, June 2, 2008


As my "wait to get sleepy because god knows it takes forever" bed distraction, I've been reading Barbera Kingsolver's "High Tide in Tucson." It's an amalgam of observations that range from manic-depressive hermit crabs, to Stephen King playing rhythm guitar to the embarrassment of having to wear hand-me-downs in high school. I'm actually really liking it, more so than her fiction.

I'm also liking it because I've had to face the unfortunate fact that I'm not very good with plots so it's reassuring that there is a genre of "creative non-fiction" out there, even if people rarely read it. Kind of like this blog, in fact.

Anyway. One of her essays is about how it should take a community to raise a child, and we in America now like to act like children are simply the problems of parents and teachers, and shouldn't be allowed to inconvenience everyone else. The example she cites is when a woman in a window seat wouldn't give up her seat so Kingsolver's daughter would be able to sit next to her. She reasoned that with nurturing as fragmented as this, is it any wonder our kids grow up to be such nightmares these days?

Ok, a couple of words on that. First of all, while it is nice to wax poetic about communities (and yes, I agree that it certainly helped me that I had a very kid-friendly neighborhood growing up) this waxation ignores one very important fact. Communities lighten the load on a parent, they do not relieve the parent of all responsibility. Your child's actions ultimately come down to you. (Unless you live in Louisiana and can judicially emancipate your child in order to avoid vicarious liability.)

Moreover, communities are voluntary - you don't get to draft an unwilling air traveler into your community because of some warm and rewarding experience you had while writing your novel living in the Canary Islands. As a lover of window seats myself, I don't understand why I'd have to give mine up just because you had no foresight in making your reservations. The only way I'd give up my seat was if your child was behind me kicking the back of my chair. Then I would happily exchange and kick the back of his. That's for trying to force me into your community.

Third, American communities have a lot of sexual offenders.

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