kottke.org posts about joanacocella

OverparentingNov 14 2008

Joan Acocella discussed the current state of overparenting, aka spoiling, helicopter parenting, hothouse parenting, or death-grip parenting.

Marano thinks that the infant-stimulation craze was a scandal. She accepts the idea of brain plasticity, but she believes that the sculpting goes on for many years past infancy and that its primary arena should be self-stimulation, as the child ventures out into the world. While Mother was driving the kid nuts with the eight-hundredth iteration of "This Little Piggy," she should have been letting him play on his own. Marano assembles her own arsenal of neurological research, guaranteed to scare the pants off any hovering parent. As children explore their environment by themselves-making decisions, taking chances, coping with any attendant anxiety or frustration-their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated, Marano says. "Dendrites sprout. Synapses form." If, on the other hand, children are protected from such trial-and-error learning, their nervous systems "literally shrink."

New York paradoxMay 15 2008

Joan Acocella on the paradox of New Yorkers' seeming rudeness and helpfulness in public spaces.

[New Yorkers] make less separation between private and public life. That is, they act on the street as they do in private. In the United States today, public behavior is ruled by a kind of compulsory cheer that people probably picked up from television and advertising and that coats their transactions in a smooth, shiny glaze, making them seem empty-headed. New Yorkers have not yet gotten the knack of this. That may be because so many of them grew up outside the United States, and also because they live so much of their lives in public, eating their lunches in parks, riding to work in subways. It's hard to keep up the smiley face for that many hours a day.

And here's how New Yorkers deal with celebrities:

Another curious form of cooperation one sees in New York is the unspoken ban on staring at celebrities. When you get into an elevator in an office building and find that you are riding with Paul McCartney -- this happened to me -- you are not supposed to look at him. You can peek for a second, but then you must avert your eyes. The idea is that Paul McCartney has to be given his space like anyone else.

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