Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Let's just forget TODAY and move on to tomorrow ... tonight we're taking the kid to the pub

Last month Meredith Vieira asked blogger Melissa Summers, on live television, to explain the difference between a mom and a babysitter when it came to drinking on the job.

She wanted to know why the double standard: If you wouldn't let a babysitter drink while they were watching your children why would you?

... AND the gloves came off.

All over the blogosphere mothers are wielding pitchforks and demanding blood. Many of them asking why the media is so insistent on holding mothers at arms length and dropping them in a pit together to see who survives?

The comment came out of a puff piece about moms who gather together at play dates and simultaneously pop the cork on a bottle of wine. Somehow it turned into a debate, lead by Vieira and flanked by "expert" Dr. Janet Taylor, about whether mothers should drink at all in the presence of their children (unless of course there's a man around, or in the event of a neighborhood/backyard barbecue ... you know, where men might be socializing, too).

The reasoning? Just in case these silly women all get schnockered, a kid falls on his head and requires a trip to the emergency room. Lordy, who would be able to drive? (I suppose no one ever considered an ambulance for that relatively rare scenario, but I digress.)

I've been watching the backlash with some degree of humor.

There are people applauding who admit to being raised by alcoholics, and who have themselves shunned the bottle. And there are mothers who are simply indignant about being compared to a babysitter.

It's was a boneheaded question to ask for sure, even if she can't admit it. (Viera has defended herself by saying she thought -- and still thinks -- it was a fair question.)

But what seems even more humorous to me is that today the show revisited the piece because they got such a HUGE response, presumably from "both sides."

Vieira had toned down her admonishment of the moms slightly, but the rhetoric is still there: Drinking is bad on a playdate; it means MOM COULD BE OUT OF CONTROL and SELF MEDICATING.

What it's also saying is there's only one way to drink: dangerously.

The idea that you could have a playdate for yourself as well as your kids, include an adult beverage and let it go at that is an alien concept, and yet is it?

Do I really think the people at TODAY believe this dreck their spinning onto the airwaves? Not in the least. I don't expect fair or balanced, because fair and balanced would require something other than "SHE says" and, in this case, "She responds." Some semblance of truth should be part of the equasion, too.

I suppose we'll all just have to bide our time and wait for the companion piece about dads having a beer at a ballgame with junior in tow. ... Let see what kind of ratings they get then ... Oh, wait. They're not going to do that story are they?

I for one am changing the channel. I refuse to listen to any more useless infotainment masquerading as journalism.


BlogWhore said...

Bottoms up....

just fruit juice for you tonight.

Nancy said...

"Infotainment." What a perfect term for that drivel!

On the one hand I regret that I didn't catch part 2 of this, but on the other hand, I already lost 15 minutes of my life on this subject the first time -- not to mention all of the time I put into writing a ranty post in response. ;-)

(p.s., I'm not usually an angry blogger, I think you just caught 2 of my hot button issues this week...)

Gail said...

Oh puh-LEEZE.

Must be a slow "news" day. The dangerous part is that for people who watch this who never previously thought of it as an issue, are suddenly going to be all alkie-conscious. For no reason.

Andrea said...

I get so sick of the media establishment and government (who are sometimes one in the same) pushing their morality on the public.

Why is it TODAY'S business at all whether moms have a glass of wine at a playdate? It's the business of the moms. A single drink is not going to hurt anyone. What about the mom having a glass of wine with her dinner? The dad a beer on the couch in front of the TV? IT'S NOT A SIN, MEREDITH!

Not to mention my feeling that American societal norms are pretty prudish in many areas, and anything to do with parenting seems fair game for judgment.

I'm not even paying attention to Meredith Viera anymore. She's consumed too many minutes that I'm not going to ever get back.

And I love infotainment.

Trish said...

I'm sooo glad I missed that show. I spewed red wine on my screen just now as I fed my kids their dinner just reading!

Be Still said...

Love this: "holding mothers at arms length and dropping them in a pit together to see who survives".

I was just trying to explain to a guy just how much I loathe women that engage in competitive mothering. He didn't get it. Women are pretty good at hiding their talons from the opposite sex.

You well written post explains this way better than I did.

BTW, hope you are feeling great lady. I've missed you!

toyfoto said...

I've missed you too, and I've been incessantly checking for new offerings. It's like I'm possessed.

Firestarter5 said...

The fact that the TODAY Show allows someone like Ann Coulter to pollute their airwaves is reason enough not to watch.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the segment either time and haven't read a lot about it on blogs either, but it has been my experience that any time a group of women get together with their kids and also drink alcohol, the women DO over-indulge. I used to live in a neighborhood where holding a glass of wine at noon by the pool with your little ones swimming nearby was typical. These women started drinking early and drank through the afternoon. At the end of the day they were never in any shape to drive their kids back to their homes...and yet they did. My children were older and because they were older I did not want them to get the idea that drinking so casually was something I wanted to emulate and so I never drank and told them they were never to get into the cars of those women who drank. I will say this again, these women had YOUNG children. I was in the minority NOT DRINKING. These people would hold parites where alchohol would flow and their children were banished to the basement for the entire evening. Sometimes, I would go up to the pool around midnight if I knew something was going on and I would be shocked to see little children asleep on chaise lounges, covered up with towels while mom and dad partied and drank off to the side. It's irresponsible and it send the wrong message to your children and it's extremely dangerous.

toyfoto said...

Anonymous I hope you check back because I don't disagree with you about what you are describing as being dangerous and not appropriate for anyone who is caring for children of any age. Those women you witnessed are problem drinkers. I am working on a column for Exiled in Toyland that is a little more nuanced with resepect to irresponsible drinking and behavior, especially when it "sneaks" up on you.

I realize that alcohol has an incredibly adverse affect on some families, and that statistically at least one in 10 people who drinks does so to excess and without the ability to stop.

I also realize that for these people, ONE is too many. Statisically, the probability is that SOME of these women are coming to your playdate -- that would have been a good point to bring up. I think questions such as that would have made this a viable story, however these points were not brought up during the segment.

Here, I refer to women like myself, and I know many like me. Women who seldom drink, and when they do one glass is their limit. (Personally one glass of wine is too many for my stomach, so I usually have a small guiness.) I probably wouldn't be interested in drinking alcohol during the day any more than I'd have caffeinated coffee during the evening, so I don't know where I would necessarily fit into a playdate. But I'm unwilling to say women who meet in the afternoon and have a single glass of wine (which was my understanding of the playdate) wouldn't be an issue for me.

I go to the local pub with my family, have a single beer and a meal. To some this is controversial. We meet friends and have a social evening that includes children, and we have alcoholic beverages. I feel it's modeling responsible behavior. No one gets drunk, and usually we're all home before 8 p.m.

So I thank you for adding your perspective. It's an important one and one that SHOULD have been brought up specifically in the television segment. Sadly, it wasn't.