Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hemingway on Parenting

Yesterday I sent my wife this article on the folly of overprotective parenting and the disappearance of adult life into parenthood. A favorite paragraph:

"Can we, for a moment, flash back to the benign neglect of the 1970s and '80s? I can remember my parents having parties, wild children running around until dark, catching fireflies. If these children helped themselves to three slices of cake, or ingested the secondhand smoke from cigarettes, or carried cocktails to adults who were ever so slightly slurring their words, they were not noticed; they were loved, just not monitored. And, as I remember it, those summer nights of not being focused on were liberating. In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves."

Then, before bed, I was reading A Moveable Feast, and saw this:

"It was wrong to take a baby to a cafe in the winter, though; even a baby that never cried and watched everything that happened and was never bored. There were no babysitters then and Bumby would stay in his tall cage bed with his big, loving cat named F. Puss. There were people who said that it was dangerous to leave a cat with a baby... F. Puss lay beside Bumby in the tall cage bed and watched the door with his big yellow eyes, and would let no one come near him when we were out and Marie, the femme de menage, had to be away. There was no need for baby-sitters. F. Puss was the baby-sitter."

I know, I know: never take a life lesson from Hemingway. But a cat for a babysitter? We've got nothing to worry about.

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