Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Late Blooming Idiots Make The New York Times

I'd like to be smug and say late blooming parents make better parents. But in a recent New York Times article entitled "Parent Shock: Children Are Not Decor," some late blooming parents prove positively idiotic.

I'm not going to name names -- I don't have to, the parents in question are named in the article -- but I am going to take issue with their particular brand of parental idiocy.

See, a lot of us got married later and had kids later, and in between the two events, we made some money and bought some nice furniture. Some of us know bloody well it's going to get trashed when we have kids, and -- news flash -- some of us could care less. You don't have to be a parent to figure out why. I think back to a remark by a childless colleague of mine who dotes on her cat, and can't understand why people complain when a cat scratches the sofa leg. She said, "I'd rather have cats than furniture."

But apparently not the bozo parents mentioned in this New York Times piece. Take the couple who went ahead with putting up silk Shantung draperies in their son's bedroom, which he wound up smearing with yogurt. What did they expect? They also kept their molded wood chairs that are so sleek, he slides off them.

I hope they enjoy the trip to the emergency room they're eventually going to make.

Then there's the couple who whine about the loss of their Park Avenue apartment's formal dining room, now a play room for their twins. Who in blazes uses a formal dining room in this day and age, anyway? Nancy Reagan?

Another complains about how they ordered a cherry dining table from France -- and their daughter promptly used a pen to carve her name into it. I love France -- cue the hate mail from Republicans -- but come on, do we not have perfectly nice tables here? That don't require trans-Atlantic delivery charges? And won't cost so much you'll throw a fit when a kid does what a kid is bound to do to it?

Don't even get me started on the numbskull mom who refused to babyproof her furniture because things like safety corners on coffee tables are "just gross," and has never installed railings on the open side of their "floating walnut staircase"" because "we couldn't bear it. It was too ugly." Yeah, okay, she says she trained her kids to hold the handrail and no one has fallen off. Lady, you got lucky. If my son visited your house, it'd end in a lawsuit. And it's not because he's not trained to use stairs. Normal stairs. With a frickin' railing.

Look, I love nice things too. Hell, even when I had a rental apartment, I got upset when a friend's girls came for Passover and ground flourless chocolate cake into the carpet. But when their mom told me, after I got upset, that "Kids are messy," I had to admit her point. And dinner was more fun with them than it would've been otherwise.

I have some nice stuff I've trained my kids not to abuse -- the coffee table with the glass insert, for example. But I don't fill my condo with safety hazards. I've got white bars on the windows of two rooms -- the kids' bedroom and the family room -- that have very low sills. Do the windows look beautiful? No. But my kids are not going to fall out of them, either. That's a trade-off with which I can live. And here's a newsflash to the parent who hates the babyproofing stuff: when the kids are old enough to know better, you put it away. Have you so little patience you can't stand a cushion around your coffee table for a few short years? Who is the real child in your house?

As for spending big bucks on collector's item furniture, there's no need to when you can get perfectly good imitations of high end designer stuff. We live in a world where there's actually nice stuff at Ikea ... where you can upgrade to lovely items from Crate and Barrel, go up the price chain further to Design Within Reach or Room and Board. You can have really tasteful, even beautiful decor, and if your kids stain it or break it, you can replace it for less than the shipping charges for that table from France.

You can live nicely without your family room looking like Barney just moved in. Our family room is decorated with vintage movie posters. Our kids haven't complained. (And by the way, the posters are framed behind plexiglass, so we don't worry about errant crayons.)

So here's a tip for the late blooming parents who are making the rest of us look bad in The New York Times: ultrasuede comes in some really pretty patterns and shades these days. And when the kids spill juice all over it ... it comes right up. If you won't give in to the ultrasuede because you just have to have a white silk couch ... well, when that spill happens (and it will) ... DEAL WITH IT!

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