being a mom

Fictional ‘Letter From A Toddler’ Is An Insane Passive Aggressive Nightmare

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Go read this post entitled ‘Letter From A Toddler: ‘Dear Santa: Ho Ho, NO!” on the Huffington Post. Ok, now come back and try to explain to me what the hell it is we’ve both just read. As our esteemed Maria Guido put it, “I just died of boredom and annoyance.”

I think I think that writer Cate Pane is trying to execute a tongue-in-cheek piece satirizing modern parents’ obsession with technology? Because she’s basically recommending that parents buy classic toys like the Fisher Price popper and a Radio Flyer tricycle as Christmas presents instead of fancy strollers and “some baby super smart-kid music toy.” But I’m so distracted by the weird toddlerspeak that I can barely get through it to understand what it is she’s trying to impart via her “two fingers old” narrator and his pushy grandma.

There’s a lot of talk of “real” books and “classic” toys in Pane’s post. Here, here’s a quote:

The last thing mommy and daddy want me to get is some plastic “tech” book. It sings and has pages. My mommy says it’s just like being read or sung to but I don’t want a robot’s mommy reading or singing to me in a funny voice. I want mommy or daddy or grandma to read to me. It’s better because they talk to me about the pages and I get to sit on their lap!

There’s nothing more annoying than baby talk except for baby talk that’s trying to masquerade as something smart. This post is basically an adult taking on the persona of a child taking on the ideas of a fictional grandmother. If that isn’t enough of a mindfuck, the argument Pane’s making seems even weirder filtered through a child and then filtered through a…grandmother? I mean, why isn’t this pretend grandmother just buying the kid all this shit if that’s what she wants him to have? That’s what grandmothers are for! Buying shit!

Honestly, the post comes off as kind of selfish; Pane is suggesting all the things SHE thinks it’s appropriate for children to have in the exact same way as the pretend parents that she’s satirizing. She’s basically saying “Parent like me, through the goods I would buy my children! The goods you want to buy your children are wrong wrong wrong!” Sanctimommy to the max.

I will admit that I am slightly sympathetic to part of what I think Pane is saying, which is that kids need good old-fashioned toys and personal interaction, not the new hot product that’s supposed to make them smarter and better. But I think she’d have made her point considerably better if she didn’t use this annoying and infantile rhetorical strategy to do so. She has her own blog, The Clear Parent, where she espouses “connecting developmental research to practical parenting in a modern world,” so she’s clearly a smart lady who probably has lots of great, useful thoughts on parenting. This post, however, is not one of them.

Photo: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images