The other day, Philip asked me (you already knew it would be Philip, right?) how I could push his buttons so easily. I told him he had to stop watching so much Dr. Phil. He only watches him because he thinks he looks like a human walrus, but still, the terminology wears off.
"Seriously, Mom, how?"
"I can push those buttons because as your Mom, I pretty much installed them."
I do believe that. I also think there is a really serious line between what parents can do to their kids and what they can't. This bothers me a real lot:
I listened to a radio interview with the balloon boy's dad. I tried to be open to the possibility that storm chasing dads are as competent and loving as employed dads who, say, mow the lawn instead of charting the courses of cyclones with their kids in tow. When the comment came about the boy saying he had to hide in garage attic rafters "for the show" the dad took out his harmonica and began tooting it. That's when I knew. I found out later that the whole family had appeared not once, but twice on Wife Swap. That's when I was certain.
I think it's great that the boy's innocence, the compelling element that the family tried to play off of, pretty much trumped in the end and revealed the gritty truth. I also can't imagine growing up in a family that has such visibly crazy parents - at least here we keep our craziness out of the national news.
But I also wonder how they get their kids to cooperate with that kind of thing. I remember trying to take pictures of my kids at their birthday parties and they would slide under the table to avoid it. When I would ask them to please, please not tell the teacher that I had actually gone to the bakery and bought the other dozen cupcakes to mix with the homemade ones, the teacher would greet me at the party and ask which ones had I made since the homemade ones were always so much better. They could never really be controlled to that level. In fact, control is the biggest issue in our house.
Emma has a teacher who makes them walk to lunch in a really straight line. (All I could think of when she described this was the children's book, Madeline, and that chant about walking "in two staight lines"). The other day, while the teacher was heading up the line, Emma began a silent version of the Michael Jackson "Thriller" dance and most of the class followed her moves. (I blame her father for those genes) They did this all the way to the cafeteria. She told me she's "kind of famous" in her school now.
I can't imagine asking her to crawl up into attic rafters even for five minutes let alone hours.
Kids that age are pretty innocent. Emma and Philip used to do things like this:
That family damaged that little boy, and I really hope someone other than me notices and steps in to check on the welfare and stability of those parents. It's too bad they can't find more positive ways to bring attention to themselves.