Friday, May 2, 2008

A Cultural Knack

Amy Alkon relays a story (via Hehstapundit) a child taken away from his parents because his father accidentally bought him a alcohol-laced lemonade beverage at a baseball game. (For those of you who think it unlikely, a quick survey revealed lots of local adults who had no idea that Mike's Lemonade was Mike's Hard Lemonade.)

The story is typical of government bureaucracy gone wrong yadda-yadda-yadda, but the more relevant part to what Troop and I were discussing in the Miley Cyrus thread comes at the end. Alkon sensibly notes that the best handling for alcohol is not to forbid, but to introduce in a controlled setting. It takes the mystery out of it.

Indeed, a sweet (? I presume, I don't drink at all, heh), mildly alcoholic beverage at a sporting event is probably the most wholesome way short of the Eucharist to say, "Hey, this is booze. It's okay in moderation." Interestingly enough, according to the report, the boy reported mild nausea and showed up with no alcohol in his blood. (12 oz of a 5% alcoholic beverage over several hours? No big surprise! In a cup with ice, it would be even less.)

But we have a cultural knack for hyperventilating at the most banal things, which then turns us around into ridiculously sheltering children on the one hand and denying that they're becoming adults, while on the other constantly exposing them to adult things. That's how we have sex discussed graphically on daytime TV (and in magazines, on billboards, in music, etc.) on the one hand, and have the FCC wanting to fine ABC for showing Sharon Lawrence's (magnificent) ass on TV at 10:00PM five years ago.

As Synova pointed out in that thread:

Trust me, my desire to DE-sexualize young girls is about as strong as it can be. I just realize that it's impossible. D*mn biology all to heck and gone. It refuses to listen to me when I explain, yet again, that a 10 year old should not be getting boobs. And it wasn't a "Hey, she's 15" T-shirt I seriously considered but a "DUDE, I'M TWELVE!" version.
I realized, once I had kids, that adult things didn't register much with them--and when they did, they registered in a completely innocent, superficial way--but that I still resisted exposing them to those things. And the truth I realized was that we shelter kids because we, as adults, don't want to have to explain things to them. Not really to protect them, but to save ourselves the embarrassment.

I think that's okay, just important to recognize.

It's also important--vital--to recognize when it's time to stop.

We often talk about parental responsibility to kids, but our other responsibility as adults is to the government, which is a lot like a kid--well, a lot like Billy Mumy in the Twilight Zone.


  1. When I was a kid my uncle's would always give me a drink of coca cola with a little wine in it. We called it a calleshort. But the real story is every weekday my dad would walk me to my grandmothers house at around 7 in the morning to wait an hour before catholic school lined up in the schoolyard around the corner. So she would give me breakfast. But she was from the other side so it wasn't ceral or pancakes. It was a crust of Italian bread dipped in olive oil and an espresso. And on the really cold mornings a shot of aninsette. She told me "Jamesy you no a tella the teacher you hadda the aninestte. Tell her I gave you a peppermint." Now that gives you an idea of how I think it should be. If you enjoy aninestte and espresso in the first grade, drinking Boones farm apple wine when you are a freshman in high school is no big deal.

  2. It's these damn Protestant waspy do-gooders that want to stop people from enjoying themselves that is the problem. It's getting harder and harder to just live normally. But they can pass law after law about this stuff if they want, it's only important if you intend to follow it.

  3. Someday I should tell the story about how my gram (my mother's mother) used to serve "mint" shakes in the evening when she had all of us grandchildren (the offspring of all of her three kids) all at once, in summer.

    Bit, great post--especially (though not limited to) the paragraph fourth from the bottom, for the obvious reasons, and perhaps at least one that's not so obvious.

  4. Thanks, reader!

    I'll try and guess what the other paragraph was that you liked...


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