If you haven’t quite decided what your favorite parenting trends of 2009 are quite yet, please keep an open mind. Surfnetparents.com would like to suggest this one, “Nature Vacations”:
Note the caption: Apparently, the crazy fad that’s leading American families to conduct public orgies on dude ranch holidays while wearing “innocent” white clothing never dies.
I’m confused. Why is this vacationing family behaving like drunken, bisexual sailors? Why are they all dry-humping each other? Furthermore, what happens when some easily shocked horse from a neighboring ranch trots up to that fence in the background and starts neighing in horror? Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. Let’s see what a “nature vacation” actually involves:
Hitting up hot springs, seeing geysers, hiking to the top of high peaks…be trendy with the kids this year…[and enjoy] the satisfaction that comes from a day spent in fresh air, and invigorating exercise.
Hot? Geysers? Peaks? Satisfaction? This doesn’t sound entirely innocent. Still, let’s not judge. Let’s allow this hedonistic family to have their reckless, imbalanced, psychologically damaging fun. They will, of course, discover that there’s always a price to pay the morning after, as this video reveals:
Forman-Brunellis a woman who has clearly spent days watching and re-watching When a Stranger Calls, the 1979 horror movie that she says represents a certain culmination of an urban myth known as “The Babysitter and the Maniac”:
[In this legend], the children are upstairs usually asleep, and the babysitter gets a phone call asking her if she’s checked the children. She gets that phone call three times. After the third time she calls up the police to trace the call. He calls back and they call her to tell her that the man is in the house and that she has to get out of the house immediately. What usually happens is that she runs upstairs and finds the kids have already been murdered.
…That story gets circulated very widely, from coast to coast during the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Kids actually contribute to the spread of it at summer camps and they share it as a true story. And finally by the end of the 1970s it gets made into a movie, “When a Stranger Calls” [starring Carol Kane as the babysitter]…
Sgt. Sacker: Jill, this is sergeant Sacker. Listen to me. We’ve traced the call… it’s coming from inside the house. Now a squad car’s coming over there right now, just get out of that house!
From inside the house! This made quite an impression on me. Partly because my brother, sister, and I did not have a bug-eyed babysitter who might conceivably drift off and let a killer infiltrate our Pleasantview split-level. The stalwart Judy, a future doctor, was a formidable teen who popped popcorn in a iron skillet and rarely, if ever, chatted with seductive strangers on our wall-mounted phone. Many years later, after ensuring that we did not get murdered, she married a man named Wyman. And still dropped by every Christmas with a box of Black Magic chocolates.
Or, more precisely, a “toddler bulimic.” In this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, esteemed restaurant critic Frank Bruni confesses, extensively and juicily that, from an early age, he was an insanely motivated eater.
BRUNI: As troubled blob.
And a violently needy one. By Bruni’s account, adapted from his forthcoming memoir Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, if denied a third hamburger or a 144th cookie, he would work himself into a tormented tantrum and throw up —more or less on his mother.
…I’ve always wondered, in retrospect and not entirely in jest, if what she had witnessed was the beginning of a cunning strategy, an intuitive design for gluttonous living. Maybe I was making room for more burger. Look, Ma, empty stomach!
Though traditional bulimics are a tad more furtive about their purging, Bruni clearly realized that his piece would generate more buzz (and web-traffic) with the headline “I Was a Baby Bulimic” instead of “I Was a Kid With Bizarre Eating Issues.”
Calculation aside, the story (and companion audio-slide show) is fascinating. According to to Mediabistro, Bruni is quitting his Times’ post to promote his book so if you were hoping to see him projectile vomit at The Four Seasons while gorging himself critically on grilled octopus with minted eggplant, sorry, you’re out of luck.
Delightfully stressful scenario: Some 9-year-old who’s already drowning in possessions invites your kid to his or her birthday. You need an appropriate gift, but what? My friend Julie thought she had it nailed: A Swiss Army Knife! Classic, cunning, status-y, and besides, didn’t Angelina Jolie buy Maddox one?
Big mistake: The birthday child’s mother reacted poorly. Namely by glaring, sputtering, and insisting her offspring return the scandalously dangerous gift. See if you can guess which of the following models provoked such a reaction: 1. MY FIRST VICTORINOX by Victorinox Swiss Army, $23. The classic entry level knife, created for kids. As one Amazon.com reviewer raved: “After [my grandson] used the blade to open boxes the presents came in this Christmas, he went outside and used the saw on some small trees and bushes in the yard. Unfortunately most were ornamental. We are still happy with the purchase though. It is sturdy and with modicum of care will last him, I think, into adulthood.”
2. CYBERTOOL 34 by Victorinox 125th Anniversary Collection, $120. A more advanced model, it features a bottle opener, a wire stripper, a “sewing eye,” and, somewhat inappropriately, a corkscrew.
3. GIANT KNIFE by Wenger, $1400. While this compact two-pounder does suggest that the Swiss are crazy obsessive freaks who are too busy carving, jabbing, and unscrewing things to, say, read a book—and, thus, poor role models for a 9-year-old—it does features both a laser pointer and a flashlight.
Just when you thought Jon Gosselin, of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” fame, couldn’t get any more loathsome, People magazine reported that he’d signed a new deal to design kids’ clothing for the Ed Hardy label with help from his new girlfriend. This seemed unfathomable and was later refuted by the rigorous journalists at Entertainment Tonight:
A rep for the clothing designer denies previous reports that the two were designing a new line together, telling ET, “There is no children’s clothing line in the works with Jon and Christian [Audiger, who designs for Ed Hardy]. It is untrue.”
With this respite, the world made sense again. I mean, seriously, have you clocked the way Jon dresses? Is there anyone less qualified to conceive youthful, innocent style except perhaps Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) or Hulk Hogan (“Brain-Addled Wrestler”)? Has Jon absorbed some important life-lesson by leaving his spouse for Hailey Glassman, 22, the daughter of his wife’s plastic surgeon that might inform his sense of color and proportion? Do louts know how to sketch?
But damn: Turns out the People story might be true. And, if its original reporting stands, it gets worse. Much worse: The poor Gosselin sextuplets will be drafted to wear Jon’s fashions in ads. And his girlfriend is to uncreatively collaborate:
Glassman will also have a hand in creating the kid-friendly fashions. “She’ll have a lot of input with Christian,” Gosselin told PEOPLE of Hailey’s involvement.
Old Hailey can’teven choose sunglasses that flatter her strangely pointy face (though, in her defense, apparently she hasn’t let her plastic-surgeon dad give her an artificially squared-off face.)
Incidentally, People’sreport on this development is hilariously even-handed, as if its reporter felt the need to hedge her bets in case women still find Jon adorable. Is that even possible?