Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Love Lisa Carver

for articulating this for me in her article The Ironic Thing: Why I Hate Parenting Memoirs like Alternadad :
As a generation (X), what we know for sure is how to be sarcastic and irreverent. Parenthood is bigger than that. It inspires thankfulness, humility, rage, unfixable guilt over what we may be doing to our children, unfixable sorrow over what we now understand for sure was done to us when we were their age, wonder and a quiet sense of sacredness. These emotions are so foreign to us, it took me twelve years (that's how old my eldest is) to even realize that's what was happening. Figuring out how to translate these new feelings and outlooks into literature, and still keep it amusing and intriguing and true, will probably take me another twelve. In the meantime, how pathetic to try to use the tools of yesterday (irony, dirty words, random reference to sex and gross things) to try to tell the story of this new kind of relationship and life we find ourselves in.

Neal obviously thinks he's so wild because he talks about shit-storms. But every parent of every child in the world, as well as dog-owners and workers in various segments of the service industry, have experienced shit flung at inconvenient moments, eaten, or worse. Babble blogger Steve Almond suffers the Alternadad malaise: "Look at me, I used to write about sex, yet I have a kid!" Dude, you're forty. Of course you have a kid. It's not ironic to have children. Yes, yes, I am a near-forty punk-rock sex writer writing about my kids, too. But my editor makes me (and Steve)! This is a parenting magazine! No one made Neal write that book.

I know a woman who gave her son the middle name "Chainsaw" because she was a major Tobe Hooper fan -- she loved it because it was "edgy." What the fuck? A baby isn't "edgy." I suspect that this kind of hipster parent unconsciously tries so hard to make their kids "cool" because when the kid is ready to rebel, the only rebellion will be to be super "square" and then the parent will have the smug satisfaction of always being the "coolest" one, like when Cronos swallowed his sons.


Blogger Kate said...

I love this. Right on. And... Chainsaw??

I remember reading about Penn Jillette and his wife's decision to name their daughter Moxie Crimefighter, their rationale being that nobody ever needs to know your middle name, so you might as well have fun with it. First of all... no. Just no. Second, that explains the middle name, but did you notice you also called her "Moxie"? And that will still be her name when she's 40?

Of course, my own father always wanted to name a boy Hawk. Fortunately, he only had one son, and my mom vetoed it.

12:46 PM  
Blogger -MG said...

Your post really resonated.

Although we didn't quite hash out nuances of irony and coolness, I did talk to someone just two night ago about the problems with saddling your child with names they just can't live up to. Gen Xer expectations of their children can sometimes just be so INTENSE.

Example) Last Friday, I was at a soccer game at a very prestigious school in Phoenix, AZ. The sweetest most sensitive boy, Briggs, was on the field - but god, this mother and her husband are former all state athlete and Olympian respectively. She just kept yelling at this boy. Other mothers whispered how she is commonly seen screaming "Only losers sit on the bench."

I hope lord, that if I ever name my child something insane or become a horror show at school that some good, close friend will give me the smack down.

PS F and I knew someone who named their little baby girl Juanstein

12:02 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...


Yeah, the thing about "having fun with the kid's middle name" -- shouldn't the KID be allowed to have the fun with their middle name? Like, my middle name is Anne, okay? and growing up I hated all my names, and at 7 was obsessed with Greek mythology, and so went through a period where I thought I could have fun with my middle name by signing all my papers "ANDROMEDA" cause, it was kind of like "Anne," but not lame in the way I thought Anne was at the age of 7. "Moxie Crimefighter" sounds like a Westminster dog name!

And as we both know, MG, parental shit fucks you up wayyyyy long after you expect it to just by the whole nature of being a -- a parented being. Why compound it be being a complete and insane asshole?

9:43 PM  

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