Getting Pulled Over; A Teachable Moment

Last week, while driving in Ketchum, Idaho, I was pulled over for speeding (driving 36 mph in a 25-mph zone.) The traffic stop proceeded along expected lines: the police car switched on its flashing red and blue lights as it sidled up behind me, I pulled over to the side of the road, the policemanContinue reading “Getting Pulled Over; A Teachable Moment”

Parenting As Philosophizing

My daughter turned five a little over two weeks ago. Like most ‘new’ parents, my wife and I duly made expressions of surprise at how fast these five years had rolled away: long days, short years, and all the while, a rapidly transforming human being and person to marvel at. My daughter has changed physicallyContinue reading “Parenting As Philosophizing”

On Encountering Resistance And Lovin’ It

This morning my four-year old daughter marched into our living room, and clutching a ‘storybook’–a collection of tales based on Disney’s Frozen—said, “Papa, this is my favorite storybook. I like it a lot. I know you don’t like it, because I know you don’t like princesses.” Having made this announcement, she walked over to the couch,Continue reading “On Encountering Resistance And Lovin’ It”

On Apologizing To Your Child

On Thursday morning, I inexplicably, irrationally, and ultimately, cruelly, lost my temper at my four-year old daughter; I wanted her to do X; she did not; I thought my request was reasonable; she didn’t think it was; and then, when on my demanding reasons for her decision and denial of my request, she could notContinue reading “On Apologizing To Your Child”

Some Parental Wisdom, Easily Dispensed

I’ve been a parent now for some 1281 days. In that time, I’ve learned a few things and been disabused of many misconceptions. Here is a potted summary: Parents are important, but they aren’t the only game in town. Your child is being exposed to a great deal else: other children (the dread ‘peer group’);Continue reading “Some Parental Wisdom, Easily Dispensed”

The Most Useful Algebra Lesson Of All

I first encountered algebra in the sixth grade. Numbers disappeared–or at least, were consigned to secondary importance–and letters, mysterious ones like x, y, z, took center stage.  A mathematical expression called the ‘equation’–an incomprehensible sentence underwritten by an esoteric grammar–emerged on my intellectual horizon. (Strictly speaking, my teachers were rigorous enough to call these things ‘linearContinue reading “The Most Useful Algebra Lesson Of All”

Parental Rage And Giving Babies The Bird

Rebecca Schuman–who often pisses off many on the Internet thanks to her writing on modern academia–recently made herself the target of a great deal of vitriol thanks to a post on Slate that featured her giving her sleeping baby the bird. The usual avalanche of abuse, characteristic of Internet furores, spilled forth: threats to reportContinue reading “Parental Rage And Giving Babies The Bird”

Bertrand Russell On Toddlers, The ‘Little Devils’

In ‘The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed’ (Unpopular Essays, 1960; Routledge Classics 2009, pp. 60-61), Bertrand Russell writes, Children, after being limbs of Satan in traditional theology and mystically illuminated angels in the minds of education reformers, have reverted to being little devils–not theological demons inspired by the Evil One, but scientific Freudian abominations inspiredContinue reading “Bertrand Russell On Toddlers, The ‘Little Devils’”

Babies, Personalities, and Power Dynamics

One of the central, and most familiar, ironies of the parent-baby relationship is that despite the seeming imbalance of visible physical power, its actual contours are quite clearly regulated and determined by the child. Indeed, the very ‘weakness’ of the child, its utter and total vulnerability and dependence on the parent  grants it this power.Continue reading “Babies, Personalities, and Power Dynamics”