Entry 854: There’s a Kid Under There Somewhere

In a new poll by The New York Times and Morning Consult, 75 percent of parents reported that they had made appointments for their children, like for doctor visits or haircuts.

You probably think those are low percentages. After all, my granddaughter Sydney, who is 10 months old, can hardly be expected to make her own appointments, although, judging from this photo, some sort of hair styling procedure may be in order.

Here’s the thing about that poll I mentioned: it surveyed parents of slightly older kids. Children aged 18-28.

Years, not months. In other words, grown people needed mommy or daddy to book their dental checkups.

In addition to making appointments for adult children, it has been reported that parents have arranged play dates for their kids . . . who are in college. They have argued with professors about grades. And at least one freshman left school because all the food in the cafeteria had sauce, and her parents had seen to it that she had never previously been exposed to sauce. I am not making this up.

All of this, evidently, is a symptom of the latest demented trend in parenting. It’s called “snowplowing” or “bulldozing.”

This is not the same thing as helicopter parenting, wherein mom and dad are always nearby making a lot of noise. Helicopter parenting is about making sure your children aren’t kidnapped, or given poisoned Halloween candy, or allowed to go anywhere alone, especially to Jessica’s house because Jessica’s mother is a bit slutty for your tastes.

But with snowplow parenting, you’re not merely a hovering observer in your kid’s life, you are an active participant, clearing the path of any obstacles that may stand in the way of success or cause your child any sort of frustration. You are not Superman deflecting bullets; you are the Hulk, and you are angry at anyone who may deprive your child of anything. You know, like admission to USC.

Yes, snowplow parenting has been in the news lately because of the college admissions scandal in which celebrities and rich people were accused of using various underhanded techniques to get their kids into good schools. Lori Loughlin of Full House and Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives were among those arrested, although Huffman’s husband, William H. Macy was not, even though he stars in the ironically named TV show Shameless.

I think one reason this trend is called “snowplow” parenting is because the children in these cases were apparently dumber than snowflakes. They supposedly had no clue their parents had done anything unethical or illegal to, for instance, get them on a rowing team even though the kid thought an “oar” was something that went along with an “either.”

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider this: one of the parents charged with paying someone to take the ACT for her son wanted the kid to think he actually took the test. So she told him he was allowed to take the test at home, with her as the proctor. I’m still not making this up.

According to a New York Times article on the subject:

“(Snowplowing) starts early, when parents get on wait lists for elite preschools before their babies are born and try to make sure their toddlers are never compelled to do anything that may frustrate them. It gets more intense when school starts: running a forgotten assignment to school or calling a coach to request that their child make the team. Later, it’s writing them an excuse if they procrastinate on schoolwork (or) paying a college counselor thousands of dollars to perfect their applications.”

The result is a child who does not have the minimal adult skills to be in college. Or in the real world. Someone whose mom has to schedule their haircut appointments or ask their boss for a raise or, presumably, write their Tinder profile.

It’s not only rich parents who do this, by the way, although they have the resources that allow them to take it to extremes. Even a poor person can yell at a Little League coach for not playing their kid enough even while that same parent makes the kid wear a batting helmet in the field in case a fly ball hits them in the head while they’re absently blowing the fuzz off a dandelion. Because there’s no rule that says a parent can’t be a snowplower and a helicopterer at the same time.

A snowplowing parent is like a stage mother of life. It’s the sort of mindset that allows a parent to think of their child’s achievements as their own. They turn their kids into unwitting pawns in a lifelong competition, a game in which they are not allowed to make an error or get tackled or be rejected . . . for anything.

If it’s true that you learn from your failures, these kids don’t know anything. Which explains why they believe they aced the SATs even though they’re idiots.

I’m pretty sure my daughter and son-in-law are not the type of parents who would do this sort of thing. On the other hand, if anyone ever gives Sydney trouble, they’d better watch out for . . .

(Grumps angry!)

See you soon.

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