03 July 2007

Children and Seniors

Scrivener has had two fabulous posts about attitudes toward children in American society (in response to some amazingly contentious comments in a post spinning off a mention of a women's only (no men, no children) beach in Italy at I Blame the Patriarchy. Scrivener is way more eloquent than I'm going to be on the subject (in part because he has the stamina to read through the comments at the original discussion--I got so irritated by so many people's willingness to dismiss children so readily and then my eyes glazed over. Bad reader, me.) Children are people, and they learn how to be adults from the way adults treat them. I'm big into limits, and I do think about how disruptive Curious Girl might be in any given setting, and how disruptive other adults might be to CG and other children in any given setting. There are restaurants I won't take CG to because they're not sufficiently kid-friendly in ambiance and material. As much as I probably seem like a wacko progressive parent to people who are, well, not so progressive, I do spend a lot of time helping CG learn social conventions (both when to challenge them and how to observe them, learn them, and use them). But I also listen to CG, and I encourage her to talk and explore. I know there's a lot of class-influence in my parenting (like my belief that children need to be talked to, and listened to. I talk to CG all the time, quite intentionally working on vocabulary acquisition. I love words. Heck, I'm consciously working on my own vocabular acquisition.)

Politica points out that toddlers look like they're human, but they're not. They are little aliens in human bodies. And it's true, toddlers are full of energy that we adults can only admire. Young children are on their way to becoming adults, and if we don't respect them, they're not going to learn to respect others very well.


Ever since Politica's father fell and broke his hip a few years ago, he's been in a rehab hospital, a hospital, and more recently an assisted living facility. Politica has been managing his finances since the fall, so all his bills come here. I have been utterly appalled at the correspondence from Pleaders Pligest, that monthly magazine offering condensed versions of pieces published elsewhere. My father-in-law isn't reading it anymore, so we decided to just let the subscription (and the gift subscription he had been sending to Politica's sister) lapse. This of course generated a ton of renewal notices, but today he got this notice:


To Mr. Politica:

Since your account is long overdue, I have been forced to consider suspending your future gift subscription privileges. Our Gift Subscription manager wants to cancel your right to all Pleader's Pligest benefits, but I've asked him to wait becuase I want to avoid this discussion.

However, if this bill for your Holiday Gift subscriptions is not paid now, you could be denied future Pleader's Pligest gift subscription privileges. Surely you realize the importance of sending your payment today.

Billing Manager

Isn't this awful? It's a renewal notice phrased as a threat. I've been reading more news stories about people preying on the elderly, and it's been very eyeopening to get so much of my father-in-law's mail. Partly because of his age (lots of Medicare-related solicitations) and partly because of his Pleader's Pligest subscriptions, he gets things like this at least once a week. I can see how some recipients would be confused. Pleader's Pligest should be ashamed of itself.

And I thought of this reading Scrivener's posts about children: much of that logic also applies to seniors. We don't treat our young or our old very well in America.


PPB said...

amen to all of that.

landismom said...

Wow, that is pretty appalling. I've been doing some work with seniors lately, and there is a tremendous amount of predatory behavior going on. It's truly depressing.

susan said...

And then there's all the faux-government agency mail that appears to come from a government committee on Medicare, urging some kind of action. I usually don't open them, but the envelopes are very misleading. Politica and I are hoping to pay enough attention now so that when we're 80, we'll be more savvy. But her dad was a pretty savvy guy in his younger days, and he succumbed to the Pleaders' Pligest stuff. I guess we'll have to train CG to be vigilant for us!

Ianqui said...

You should report Pleader's Pligest to the Better Business Bureau (or something like it), and then write them a letter telling them how offended you are. It might feel very satisfying.

Magpie said...

There is a smug contingent in the middle that just dismisses all old and young people - like they were never kids and won't ever be old. It's truly sad.

niobe said...

Hmmm...I haven't read either Scrivener's posts or the post that prompted them, but, just from my own narrow and limited point of view, I haven't seen much hostility at all to people with children.

Sure, there are a few people who seem to hate kids or feel that they somehow have a right to prevent parents from bringing their kids to public places, but, in my experience, far more people are very understanding of and sympathetic to whatever disruptions children cause, in a way that they would never be about other types of disruptions or inconveniences.

Arwen said...

niobe, I have felt a lot of hostility my direction since becoming a mom. The NYTimes is full of it. *g*. Most times, it's "not the children", but "their behaviour", which is of course ENTIRELY the fault of the parent and usually the mom. It's "cluck, cluck I would never treat my child like that and/or my child would never behave like that".

But, I do live in a very very dense urban environment, and I am on public transit and in public places every day, so I am definitely exposed to this more often than people whose children tantrum in their cars rather than on a bus.

Actually, I followed your link, Susan, and got rather involved at IBTP. Het up. Many, many comments, I wrote. Sometimes I forget I'm not Joan of Arc for Moms, and sometimes I forget that less is more, and when I've got babysitting and SHOULD be putting the final edit on my novel, sometimes I procrastinate.

Scrivener said...

Thanks for the links and the kind words. I don't always have the patience, stamina, or willingness to create aggravation for myself to read those sorts of threads. Probably if I weren't already short of sleep and grumpy, and wanting to avoid grading, I never would've managed it this time. And I completely agree with you on extending that discussion to the elderly, too, though I suspect very few of the commenters at IBTP would feel so comfortable going on about how much the hate the elderly as a class of people.

And now I have one more reason to hate Pleader's Pligest.

And Arwen, I left you a comment on my post, but thought your comments were absolutely fantastic over there.

Chris said...

It always surprises me when people think my kids are geniuses just because they use adult-sized words and say "please" and "thank you". The reason they do these things is because we teach them what words mean and how to be polite. It's not rocket science. Glad to see there's someone else who agrees with this :o)

And thank you for stopping by and adding your well wishes. It means a lot. Thank you.

Jody said...

Complain to Pleader's Pligest right now, and report them to the AARP and any consumer advocacy group you can find. This is a complete disgrace.

That we treat our children and elderly very poorly is neither accidental nor coincidental. Which is why the hostility toward children among readers of a blog dedicated to the blaming of the patriarchy strikes me as so inappropriate, not to mention startling.