Friday, June 19, 2009


It was difficult being a mother in 1933. The children could catch tuberculosis or smallpox from the neighbourhood guttersnipes, it took seventeen hours to launder a pair of socks, and Oprah wasn't around to tell you what to do in every aspect of your life.

Fortunately the newspaper was prepared to take up the slack, hence the 1933 merits and demerits of motherhood quiz:

These don't make much sense to a generation raised on mobile phones, microwavable snacks and mid-afternoon "Sex & the City" marathons on cable. And my annotations probably don't help one bit either. But here goes.

1. Sends "Only" child to nursery school.

I don't why junior is considered an "Only" child in "inverted" "commas". Perhaps that's just what she tells her husband.

8. Speaks good English in the home with minimum of slang.

Mother: I'm not hep to all the jazz that you cats are jiving, so I'm twenty three skiddoo, daddy-o.

Child: ...the hell?

11. Lets child go to movie, concert or theater up to once a week.

This week he's seeing 'Equus'!

20. Gives child its own room.

"Congratulations, kid. You get the laundry."

1. Gives child thorough and scientific sex instruction when child asks.

"Now the seventh of our PowerPoint presentations is a little something I like to call 'Newtonian Physics & the Mechanics of Third Base'..."

3. Encourages taffy pulls, family singing and group games at home.

Then they raise a barn and take the buggy out for a spin.

13. Lets toddler talk over telephone.

This. Is. Not. A. Merit.

15. Objects to child's going to camp or house parties.

I'm not sure how happy I'd be about my child going to camp parties either. There's plenty of time for that at university.

3. Speaks foreign langauge in the home, embarrassing Americanized child.

Best call the authorities on her. She may be a communist.

9. Threatens child with insanity, etc, for self-sex practices.

"What did I tell you about touching yourself? Right, that's it! You've just earned yourself three months of schizophrenia, young man! I don't care if Billy's mother only made him catatonic for two weeks; my house, my rules!"

13. A bridge fiend or matinee addict.

I think a bridge fiend may be like a bridge troll, in that she hides under bridges then demands money from passers by. Of course in these more enlightened times we'd call her a "homeless person".

Being a matinee addict might be worse, if I had the faintest idea what it meant. If it means that she only takes heroin in the early hours of the afternoon, then I suppose that's not so bad. If it means she's been huffing Busby Berkeley, then it's a bit more of an issue.


Blogger hazelblackberry said...

2. Develops in child fear of the dark, ghost, lightning, etc.

And then laughs evilly, before rushing off to make a cocktail, no doubt. Sounds like the kind of mothering style I would have adopted.

Good grief, word veri is ovatoti.

2:24 PM  
Blogger TimT said...

Probably bridge fiend as in she's addicted to playing cards, and a matinee addict, as in she's addicted to watching matinee movies (an equivalent cliche to the 'soap opera' addict nowadays, perhaps?).

Re: letting your toddler talk over the phone: whenever a phone rang in our house when I was a kid, I and my three brothers would race to it to see who would get it first, snatch it up, and SHOUT the phone number into the receiver: "HELLO! TWO OH ONE FOUR ONE SIX!" Perhaps it was not particularly meritorious of us, but it was sure fun. Not fun for the exchange ladies, of course (we were in a country area that still used a telephone exchange) but, for us, hell fun.

3:15 PM  

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