There are good moms, bad moms, and then moms who force their 4-year-olds
to chug beer on the playground in front of a crowd and have
10-month-old daughters who are not breastfed but still manage
to test positive for cocaine. The third kind deserves her own
This is a true story and happened in Connecticut this week. The mom,Juliette Dunn, said her son loves beer and she
joked on the playground that he is already an alcoholic. Meanwhile she has "no
idea" why her 10-month-old tested positive for cocaine, especially since she
This story is so wrong and despicable in so
many ways, but perhaps most idiotic of all was that this woman felt the need to
do all this in public. Did she really think no one would report her? Playground
mommies report people for Twinkies. I am pretty sure the only reason any mom
goes to the playground is to watch other moms and feel superior. And in this
case, those mommies got it right.
There are times the whole "it takes a village" concept goes too far, like
when one parent "helpfully" suggests to another that their snack is too sugary
or when they look your child up and down and shake their head slowly, as though
horrified by what they have seen.
Those are the times we want to say, "Shut up and mind your business!" But
then there are also times when such conscientiousness saves us. Living in a
city, sometimes it's easy to just ignore everything around you.
If I see two people fighting, I stay out of it. I tend to think everyone
needs to stay out of everyone else's way, and if someone seems insane, I
especially want to stay away. But one mom at the park flagged down a police
officer. As the police approached the woman, they saw an empty 40-ounce bottle
of Steel Reserve beer on the ground beside the boy and she had used it to fill
the boy's baby bottle (and yes, 4 years old is too old to use a bottle, but that
is beside the point).
According to police, the boy told a social worker he likes "Natural Ice beer,
Budweiser beer, but didn't like the taste of Dog-Bite beer." In this case, the
good samaritan who intervened was clearly in the right and probably saved these
poor children from pretty dismal futures.
But it's hard to know when to intervene. This was such a clear case of right
and wrong, but honestly, I am not sure I would have reported it. I am not sure I
would trust what I was seeing. After all, how insane does one have to be to give
beer to a preschooler in a public park? It seems almost impossible.
In England and Scotland (that was the extent of the research, not the whole list of countries) it is legal for 5yos to drink 'in the privacy of their own homes' (which is extended to include picnic sites, but no longer the Metro subway system. It is legal for 16yos to purchase beer, wine and cider in stores to drink in the privacy of their homes, and to drink in pubs and restaurants --wine, beer or cider-- along with a meal. It is legal for everyone over 19 to buy anything they want, and drink it anywhere at all (except the Metro.)
Until clean water supplies were the norm in Europe, the only people who didn't drink 'small beer' and wine every day died at a very young age. Water was for cooking...and boiling to make tea or coffee --which were also routinely drunk by people at every age.