If a child grows up in the forest, with parents that do nothing by the book (pick your book, they don't own it), and the falling tree doesn't whack the kid in the head, and he turns out just fine, does it really matter? Does anyone care? Would it matter if the tree did nail him into the ground a tad, and that he cried (after awakening from his concussion), but no one heard, but then he dusted himself off and whistled a happy tune on his way past Baba Yaga's hut?
Josh Sacco said "Screewwwwwwwwwwwwwww them!" the other night. Does THAT matter? Would it matter if Josh's parents frequently carted him off to baseball parks and talk shows, not to playgrounds and friends' houses, or that he spends several hours a day glued to YouTube, sifting through memorable movie speeches (and hopefully not too much porn)?
The twins on the airplane sat perched at the top of the summit of their allotted seats, drooling on the tray table of the nice man (not me- I'm not that nice :D) behind them. Does THAT matter? How about if drool met army-ration-grade beef teriyaki below, resulting in a whole new, tasty concoction with a certain je ne sais quoi?
After beating/noogying his younger brother for 10 minutes, the big brother gets up, leaving the younger in a crumpled heap (is there any other kind of heap?). Brothers just being brothers, does THAT matter? Would it matter if the older brother had, for years, kept his thumb strategically placed on the younger brother, keeping him down JUST enough to piss him off, not enough to attract the parent Hammer of Justice, and that the younger brother was slow-cooking a big pot of revulsion for his b-other?
How about the teens in South Hadley? When did "kids just being kids" morph into something else? Was it before or after Phoebe hung herself?
Today a wonderful mother came to see me. With her orbited her 15 month-old Tazmanian Devil, mostly amusing himself by careening off various obstacles in my exam room. She looked very tired: after a bit of chatting, she admitted that she put her child in his crib asleep (rather than putting him in awake and letting him go to sleep on his own), and that he frequently awoke at 2 AM, whereupon one of the comatose parents would kidnap him off to their bed. There, no one slept well; strangely, the parents now find themselves afloat every night in a sea of 15 month-old spiky elbows and battering ram knees. Iceberg, right ahead, indeed.
Whether the family is ready to take my advice of teaching him to sleep is irrelevant. My advice might not work for them right now, and I get that...though, at some point, I didn't get it. Thankfully, some patient families lent me crayons and some Color-By-Numbers, and, after a while, Bobo, your blog narrator-chimp, learned.
However, my time with colorful scrawlings has not yet revealed the answer to this question to me: when is "it," whatever it might be, a problem? Sadly, I must have flunked something in a prior life, since I arrived with neither a crystal ball nor a Cosmic Eraser, but I have been unable to determine, with 100% accuracy, which kid will be ok with which circumstances. That is, which kid with what kind of resiliency in which circumstances. Er, which kid with what kind of resiliency with which kind of parents in which circumstances...with what family circumstances...in what developmental stage...in which schooling situation...with which health issues...in what economy...in what world setting...
Man in Black: You've made your decision then?
Vizzini: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Man in Black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Or at least a dizzying clump of interdependent variables. Solve for Y? I'll give it a shot.
The lovely mother from today will likely sleep at some point. If they choose to "Ferberize" the baby, they'll have short-term misery but long-term good sleep...but they'll likely be fine, long-term, either way. However, if they need to upgrade to a King-sized bed in 10 years because their 11 year-old still sleeps with them, I might want to revisit the sleep thing with them.
I think Josh Sacco could say "Screw him" (my kids wouldn't be allowed) if his parents were careful...I guess...but I think without a normal childhood he could grow up to be very different. Different might be ok if he's a resilient child, but if he's not, he's Macaulay Culkin at 5.
I think sibling rivalry is fine, unless one of the siblings is in danger of being seriously hurt...meaning broken psyche as well as broken bones.
As for South Hadley, bullying sucks in any capacity and kids need to be protected. Despite the fact that some kids emerge from the shadows of mistreatment mostly spotless, some crack beyond repair - for life, or worse.
As for the twins, if you believe in a Supreme Being (we'll call it God - that's what I believe, FWIW), permit a "God Bless" from me to parents of multiples, or parents of multiple kids. Smile at the chaos and ignore the tumult, because managing kids in public places makes fools of us all, from time to time. But...
I draw the line at Beef Drooly-aki.
15 hours ago