by EHP on Tuesday, November 29, 2011
After stumbling across That Should Be a Word, in the most recent New York Times magazine, a modern mother might feel a mixture of amusement, curiosity and chagrin. The column offers three neologisms: (1) brattle (to discuss one’s children at length), (2) spamily (Facebook or Twitter updates about kids) and (3) spawntourage (a group of approaching strollers). All these terms are admittedly funny. Who hasn’t had to pinch herself to stay awake through a fellow parent's enumeration of nap schedules and dietary preferences? Who hasn’t scrolled right by the Facebook photos of a college acquaintance’s children? Who hasn't felt pushed aside by multiple strollers spanning a narrow sidewalk?
The modern mother snickers, but she might also frown at the tinge of hostility towards children and families. Are there really people out there who roll their eyes at the sight of several strollers passing? Who are these anti-children people? Do they sit around in cafes smoking, writing screenplays, and snarling at passing infants? Do they wear berets? Trucker hats? Do they have bushy hipster beards? Do they all live in Manhattan? (Because, last we heard Brooklyn had been taken over by young families, come to think of it, Manhattan too.)
Whatever the authors of these neologisms are like, wherever they live, anti-child sentiments are not frequently visible in the suburban enclaves inhabited by this modern mother. Perhaps that's a good thing. Or possibly not.
Being cocooned in a child-centric culture just might leave many parents vulnerable to the impression that their darlings are universally adored and admired. Could it give modern parents the idea that it’s appropriate to bring children to any and all events? Does it leave some parents unaware of the possibility that the view of a toddler smearing his dinner across table linens might detract from another diner’s fine dining experience? Or worse.
Perhaps it is just such cluelessness that has incited any child-hostile sentiments lurking in the child-free majority. So, thank you, New York Times, for that little bit of humor and that small reality check to parents out there. Or at least the ones who have the time to read the Sunday magazine.