Strange Brouhaha

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I Both Do And Do Not Feel Bad

...for this would-be omnimedia mothering-channel executive.

I found this link in a snarky Salon TableTalk forum, and people were falling all over themselves to heap scorn on Isabel Kallman, her marriage, her life, her performance as a mom, and her new cable channel. I'm torn. She *does* come off as pretty insufferable--but the article is obviously hostile right from the start and gets more so by the end. The things they pick on to show that her son is spoiled--letting him take off his shoes in the car even though they're close to their destination, giving him a cookie, letting him put his hand in the frosting of his birthday cake--don't look like *that* big a deal to me. Of course, I am not an "alpha" type. But it seemed to me like the writer was trying to have it both ways--ridiculing Kallman's brittle perfectionism, then accusing her of...being imperfect (she let him take his SHOES off!! THREE BLOCKS from the party!!).

On the other hand, Kallman was deeply stupid not to realize that this was exactly what would happen to her. Anyone who opens up about their parenting process gets judged for it--period. Everyone's an expert when it comes to other people's kids. That's the way it is. Also her obsession with maintaining "control" and "my terms" comes off as naive, narcissistic, and sad all at once. Plus she's way out of touch. The "Martha Stewart of Parenting"? No way. Martha Stewart actually *does* the crap she peddles on TV. When she does a show about catering a wedding, and shows how you can separate the layers of the wedding cake using drinking straws, you're getting the fruits of her actual experience as a caterer. Kallman is setting herself up as the Vanguard Alpha Mom, yet she hired a literal army of people to help her take care of her young son (night nurse, nanny, babysitter, there were others). So what the hell does *she* know about it? Seriously. I mean, I'm all for presenting research and stuff, but if she hasn't baked the cake--if she hasn't gotten up time after time, night after night; if she hasn't looked at the clock and said "My God, it's only 2 PM;" if she hasn't looked at the clock and said "My GOD, it's only 2:04 PM;" if she hasn't wiped 90% of the poops herself; if she hasn't gotten deeply in tune with her child's rhythms (or lack of same--some kids never become predictable)...then I don't want to hear what she has to say. And if she was such a smart executive, she should have known that.

The scariest part of the article, actually, was how easily the writer made Kallman look stupid. And I mean stupid--empty-headed. (The writer describes Kallman interviewing a psychologist who's saying really basic things about parent-child bonding, and Kallman is going "This is key, very key!") Was it justified, or was the writer deliberately picking weaker bites? But then, "weaker bites" should not be coming from a top-ranked executive, particularly not a marketing executive. You'd think that a marketing executive would be marginally media-savvy, so there is grounds to believe that Kallman might have been doing the best she could, which is scary. The writer hated her, but Kallman gave the writer plenty of rope. You talk about raising "best of breed" children, you get what you deserve.

The part where the 2-year-old was rejected from an "important" preschool, and Kallman cried, was the saddest.


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