About me: I'm a 40-something mother to a pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our tween Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler Cam, and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). I'm a freelance graphic designer and writer.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Chuck, you have to get the damn V! Do you hear me?
You know the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first lands in Oz and she hears giggling coming from the the bushes? Then one by one the Munchkins come out and greet her? And soon she is surrounded by Munchkins? And they're everywhere and staring at her and all up in her shit?
That's what the neighborhood in Mulletville Lite is suddenly like: There are parents and children everywhere.
It happened after I stole the neighbor's umbrella. She invited us to a Memorial Day picnic hosted by the neighborhood, which we went to. I don't think holy fuck can even begin to describe the sheer number of children at the picnic. They were running and shrieking and crying about skinned knees. Babies hung from breasts. Women gave birth by the grills. Fathers flung hotdogs into the mouths of five, six, seven hungry beastlings.
It was worse than my Lord of the Flies experience at IKEA.
It made me want to take a Valium.
I wasn't just freaked out by the abundant fertility of the neighborhood (does anyone do anything other than boink and boink and boink?). It's the parents that made me twitchy. These people have taken parenthood to an extreme I have not yet before witnessed—and they're peeking out their windows and watching my house!
"I saw your plastic," one woman told me.
"Plastic kids' toys. We knew you had kids. Four years and six months, right?"
"It was a little too cool for just a t-shirt on the kids, don't you think?"
Ok, I added that last line, but she may just as well have said it. Lord knows people were passing commentary on the parenting foibles of other neighbors at the picnic.
Missy and Steve? They let their kids go outside barefoot in the winter. Dale and Whitney? He bosses the kids around so the wife got him a dog to train. Alex and Julie? Such hermits! Their sheltered life will surely affect their daughter Brianna.
I can't claim this over zealous parenting is a localized phenomenon. Claire Dederer describes something similar in Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses, and she lives in Washington. Surely Connecticut has pockets similar to Washington. I guess I just needed a heads-up that I'd be living in a place where parenthood trumps all. Where family is your bread, butter, mistress and nightcap.
It's kind of hitting me as I write this: If we stay here, I'm almost 100% certain we will be swallowed whole by this homogeneous blob of people who are consumed by their children. We'll no longer be Chuck and Mrs. Mullet. We'll be "Those parents who let their children out of the house with peanut butter on their faces."
Even worse, I see another one or two kids in our future. Everyone knows that one of the first things people do when trying to fit into a new environment is mimic those around them.
Boink and mimic. Mimic and boink.
I'm probably pregnant already.
And the neighbors probably already know.
I'm frightened, Auntie Em! I'm frightened!