In response to Ella Taylor’s “Attack of the Alterna-Parents” [Feb. 16–22], I take issue with two things that Ms. Taylor writes in her piece reviewing Alternadad, the new book by my husband, Neal Pollack. First, she suggests that Neal suffers from some form of sexism because he dares to criticize a certain type of mom he encounters at the local playground and because he honestly relays my own struggles with assuming the mommy-identity. Neal was simply describing his own experience with certain moms at the park. This was not a blanket damnation of all moms who decide to stay home with their child. This was a snapshot of a certain type of mom from a particular socioeconomic background, and with certain aesthetic tastes, who happened not to be very friendly at the playground.
Neal makes fun of many parenting types, and I might add that throughout most of the book Neal criticizes himself and his own quirks above all. As for his description of my own struggle to adapt to the role of mommy, that was simply honest. I did struggle. Women of my generation were told we could do anything and everything we want, but that is not a reality unless you have unlimited funds. Why should I “throw a poopy diaper at his head” for telling the truth? And does this make Neal somehow anti-feminist? No! He’s a supportive dad and husband who’s always done everything he can to ensure that I get the chance to pursue all my work — mommy and artistic.
The second thing I want to address is the snide closing line: “No wonder the poor kid turned into a biter and got himself booted out of preschool.” A good preschool knows that for a 2-year-old to go through a biting stage is totally normal and will help parents to navigate that stage in a way that keeps everyone safe and helps the child to grow past it. Our school failed miserably, and so did we. Once we got him into a better, more caring environment, at a school who “never gives up on a child,” Elijah thrived and ceased to bite other children. Part of Neal’s point in mentioning this — and in writing the original Salon story that generated all the controversy — was to point out that expulsion rates are highest in preschool and daycare, more than any other grade level. That’s simply crazy. Schools often have long waiting lists, and it’s simply easier for them to boot out the child who needs a little extra help socializing than it is to work through the problem with the child and his/her parents. That’s the reality for many American families, of course that’s assuming they can even afford preschool.
“Waaaahhh!!” whines NIMBY type Andrew Rakos, the general manager of West Hollywood’s pricey Fountain Day School [“Smoked Out,” Feb. 16–22]. “A parent shouldn’t have to have a discussion with a 4- or 5-year-old about marijuana dispensaries . . . It’s not a subject you bring up.” He’s absolutely correct. Parents should NEVER discuss marijuana with their young ones, unless it’s to teach them that marijuana is BAAAD! EVIL!! Never reveal the reality, parents! Because, God forbid, someday your little darlings might actually TRY the stuff, and then they’re on that slippery “gateway drug” slope . . . Rakos might consider moving to, say, Utah. There should be a safe place to protect Rakos and his kid from those awful “Marijuana Is Good for You” bumper stickers and high-fiving patients who frequent the sleazy parking lots of medical marijuana dispensaries. After all, when you pay close to a grand per month for the “best education possible,” you really deserve some sanctuary from such urban blight, no? I wonder how Rakos shuttles his 8-year-old son around town without inflicting major trauma. I mean, there are hundreds of pharmacies selling dangerous, addictive prescription medicines such as OxyContin. And don’t even mention those horrid liquor stores; we all know the dangers of alcohol. It’s heartening, at least, to hear that while Rakos “is not opposed” to marijuana legalization, he’s actively working with the Good Guys at the DEA. Thanks, Mr. Rakos. It’s the least you can do to keep marijuana away from those who need it most.
In the article “Love, Love, Love” [Feb. 9–15], Judith Lewis writes about a song by Shakira and Alejandro Sanz, titled “La Tortura.” She calls Sanz a “Mexican crooner.” In fact, he is Spanish: born Dec. 18, 1968, in Madrid.