Mama Madison: Watching celebrity culture

Stress relief, with covert parenting messages

Every parent has his or her "something"; that secret, little vice that gives them a welcome diversion from everyday life. Fortunately, my break from reality is legal, involves "reality TV," and is surreptitiously smuggled home in a grocery bag. I am hopeless gossip magazine addict. To me Star and US Weekly are a whole lot more than just OK!; I think they're pretty darn fabulous. While some might say this hobby is the epitome of lowbrow, I prefer to think of it as putting an "Enquiring" mind to work. Just last month the University of Chicago hosted an academic conference on Jersey Shore; I guess I'm not the only one who's heard of a Homer beyond Simpson that finds celebrity culture engaging.

But even if you're one of those high-minded types who never reads this stuff, you are probably familiar with last week's big cover stories. Jessica Simpson isn't just getting a bit zaftig (again)--she's due sometime early 2012. And Kim Kardashian, 72 days after a spectacularly televised 10 million dollar wedding, is filing for divorce. And the biggest shocker of the week (especially if you are an 11-year-old girl)? A 20-year-old woman has filed a suit claiming that her infant son is the product of a 30-second bathroom tryst with teen idol Justin Bieber. It brings a whole new meaning to that "Baby" song of his, no?

For gossip junkies like me last week was like Christmas in July (or at least November). But it did give me a "stop and think" as a parent.

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be pop stars. Because I think watching your child's most private moments played out across the end-aisle displays at Copps would be absolutely heartbreaking.

I'm sure Mrs. Simpson got a thrill the first time she heard her daughter sing at church and probably encouraged her to develop her vocal skills. But one divorce, several failed romances and countless pairs of publicly strutted Daisy Dukes later, I wonder if her mom wishes she'd stayed true to her gospel roots. I can't imagine it is fun to see your daughter referred to as "sexual napalm" in the media.

Mrs. Kardashian (or should I say Jenner?) seems to revel in her daughter's fame and excess. She is huge part of urging us to Keep up with the Kardashians, yet says, "It's a tough time for Kim and everybody involved," (referring to Kim's failed marriage). Maybe if she hadn't encouraged her daughter to exploit her private life for the camera, things may have turned out differently.

And all this hoopla must be very painful for Mrs. Bieber. She was a teenage, single mom herself and raised her super star son in low income housing in Ontario. Sure the pop star's so-called baby mama may very well be proven a liar via DNA. But it's still got to be rough on Justin's mom knowing this woman's baby may be subject to the same financial struggles she and her son weathered early in his life.

I'm by no means saying that parents shouldn't let their kids follow their dreams. But I am saying that following them onto the stage of a local theater production might be a better option than onto the front page of Perez Hilton.

With excellent programs like Playtime Productions, now celebrating it's 25th year of quality theater for children, by children, your kid can get all the benefits that come from being on stage without all the pain of being a stage mom. Or if your kid wants to sing, let 'em join Madison Youth Choirs. It is possible to learn all about the beauty of choral music without turning your child into the next Rebecca Black. Think of all the You Tube ridicule that girl got--I don't know how her parents slept at night.

I am sure I will continue to be sickly fascinated by the trials and tribulations of the airbrushed faces I see across those glossy covers and Internet sites. But I will try to be a little more sensitive to the fact that these people are somebody's babies.

And I will be really glad they are not mine. Parenthood is hard enough without the paparazzi.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.

Operation Fresh Start's Youth Conservation Corps helps kids, and kids help parks

Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.

Mama Madison: Summer stress solved by yoga

The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.

Mama Madison: The greatest fans of road repair

Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.

Mama Madison: The alarm sounds

As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.

Mama Madison: My summer book list

For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.

Make Music Madison gives young artists a chance to perform

The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.

Mama Madison: Watching talent grow

Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.

Mama Madison: Writing time at Olbrich

If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.

Mama Madison: When UW-Madison's semester is over, the kids want out too

There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.

Mama Madison: Another amazing talent show

My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.


Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!