In the last couple of weeks our little town has become, well, a tempest in a teapot. In the words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain, no, there is too much. Let me sum up.”
– Two ladies wrote a funny, fictional little book about over the top parenting. (One lady was from Pleasanton and one was from Castro Valley.)
– Somebody in Pleasanton decided the book was about him or her and their neighbors and pitched a very public, hissy fit.
– The Pleasanton Patch wrote an article on it.
– The proverbial youknowwhat hit the proverbial youknowwhat.
– People behaved very badly.
This is where I come into the picture. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty. Local businesses were being threatened with boycotts. One of the authors was being attacked on multiple levels. The comment thread of the Pleasanton Patch on that first article was poisonous, I mean, really not good. It hijacked my previous writing plan altogether because I was so shocked and disturbed by what these “nice”, suburban ladies were writing (okay, that was sexist, some guys were making asses of themselves, too). So, I blogged about them, “Lisa”, “Elizabeth”, eyes on you, cuties, eyes on you.
I could never have imagined the response I would receive to this post. Somewhere, somehow, this story really struck a painful nerve.
I know what did it for me. I had just completed a piece (it’s on this blog,“For Jamey”) on teen suicide, specifically as it relates to bullying. Then I see adults, so-called GROWN-UPS, modeling the very behaviors we’re trying so hard to get our middle and high schoolers to avoid.
Since my piece “When Parents Run Amuck” first posted I have received more emails, texts, phone calls and comments on this column than anything I had previously posted. I’ve allowed the comments whether I agreed with them or not so long as the writer did not get too personally vicious or descend into a profanity-laced rant (which some did). Many people tried to tell me what a wonderful person Siah Fried is. Others tried to convince me that she was a pariah, a harpy.
Here’s the thing, folks, I don’t care.
I could not care less whether Ms. Fried is a saint or a sinner. Love her or hate her, it doesn’t matter. It’s like when I walk in on my kids and my adorable eight-year-old is hitting her older brother or sister (somehow it’s usually the eight-year-old). She will turn to me and say, “But Mommy, he/she was being mean! He/she was making fun of me and making me cry.” Do I doubt for one instant that she believes her sibling was being a schmuck? Of course not. Did they deserve to get clobbered? Maybe, maybe not. Is it okay for my youngest to do said clobbering? No way, Jose.
Whether the older sibling was being mean or, as they say, they were trying to help is immaterial. It’s still not okay to hit or be mean back. That is what all parents teach their children. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Take the high road. Do unto others. Yadda, yadda, yadda. We as a society, as a community, are bound together and coexist in relative harmony because of certain niceties. These standards of decent behavior keep us in check. They allow us to go through our days for the most part without hurting one another, either physically or emotionally, and without being injured ourselves. Certainly we all have bad days where we fall off the wagon as it were, times we are not proud of later. Sometimes we’re the ones that are hurt and we righteously vow WE would never behave in such a manner.
Frankly, I don’t think these ladies did anything wrong when they wrote Tales From Swankville. People (those creating the above mentioned tempest in a teapot) seem to think somehow they can explain away their own horrid behavior. I don’t care what your personal opinion of the author is. As I teach my kids, it is never okay to clobber someone. You don’t like them? Fine, walk away. You don’t go after their livelihood. You don’t attack their children. You don’t bully local small businesses. You don’t spread this vitriolic hatred throughout the community. These behaviors are not okay. They never are among decent, caring adults.
I don’t care how justified you think you are. You aren’t.
That’s the last I’m saying on this topic. No more personal anecdotal emails please. The world moves on and my blog is too. Goodnight, Swankville, and good luck.