...a potent blend of Miss Manners and Batman

Friday, August 31, 2007


Scoop is an acronym I came up with during my school-teaching years. It stands for one of the most pernicious types of whiners you'll ever come across. If you see a kid whingeing about not getting the carousel horse she wanted or the exact lollipop she had in mind, there is a good chance you've encountered a scoop: Single Child Of Older Parents.

This category of child is prone to whimpering. It's not her fault. Children need limits, but when people finally marry at 40, they might have great careers, lots of money, and wonderful intentions, but their parenting skills are still no better than those of most 30-year-olds, which isn't saying much. And then things go down from there.

Older parents tend only to have one child. This means that there is no little playmate to rob Sydney of all the attention she grows to expect. Then there is the nanny effect. When older people have that first-and-only child, they're less likely to give up their jobs. Many of them take off a few months and go right back to work, leaving Sydney to be raised primarily by nannies (and day care workers). As a result, the parents have only limited time to spend with Sydney and want to make sure it's all happy, so they release the reins and hope for the best.

I narrowly avoided being a scoop: My mother didn't have me till she was 37 and my father would have content to stop there. I was raised in large part by babysitters and rarely saw my father except late at night and on weekends. Since my nannies didn't always wield the power that a parent might have, I got used to getting my way. I was a bossy 3-year-old -- how many toddlers get asked not to come back to their preschool? This changed somewhat when my brother was born, but altho I was no longer officially a scoop, I still behaved like one from time to time until I corrected myself somewhere around my 12th birthday.

Like firemen who have experienced nasty flames or policemen who have been in a shootout, I still have some war stories and a few scars from my scoop days. I use them to inform my parenting now, and they permeate my teaching style.

And they have had one other positive effect: They contributed to the creation of Voice of Society Man.

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About Me

My pesky alter ego who will set you right if you break one of the unwritten rules of getting along