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: No judgments with No Excuse Mom

If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.

Mama Madison: Introducing kids to your CSA box

At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).

Mama Madison: Changing tables, changing times

My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.

From museum to school with MMoCA

"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.

Mama Madison: Coping with toddlers in a Wisconsin winter

I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.

Mama Madison: Melissa Wardy pushes positive messages

I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.

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.