Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


If you live any where in a 15-mile radius of where I live you have no doubt heard of the book, Tales from Swankville. It’s a fictionalized account of raising kids in the exact same city where I happen to live. Thanks to some over zealous critics of this book, the publicity surrounding the book has driven it to must-read status for every mother in Swankville.

The fact I just finished it makes me extremely behind the times. About a month ago, there wasn’t a mother in town who wasn’t reading the book, talking about the book, stressing that they were in the book. But for a lot of reasons, including Thanksgiving, the end of the soccer season and our annual Nutcracker chaos, I just finished it tonight…very unswanky of me, according to the book. Of course, I simply must comment.

A disclaimer: I know who the writer is. I don’t know her by name, but when I saw her picture in the paper I realized her daughters used to dance at the same studio mine does before she moved on to another studio. I remember her being a very committed dance mom, much more committed than I. She was always there, where for my sanity, I drop and run. Perhaps I have some bias based on seeing her around.

My overall read on the book: Are you kidding me? That’s it? Am I missing something? The book is a series of blog posts about competitive parenting and other random thoughts on people who live in this town. Is there competitive parenting in this city? Yep. Is it as bad as the writer describes? Nope. I have two kids in competitive activities. I’ve seen some sh*t, but I don’t believe it’s any worse here than anywhere else. “Here” being an upper class suburb that offers kids an amazing array of activities all of which can become extremely competitive at any given time and parents who are competitive enough to have found a way to earn enough money to buy a home in Swankville. People who live here are fundamentally competitive or they wouldn't live here. It's just a fact.

The thing is everything, every comment, every look seems to phase this woman. Comments other moms make don’t reduce me to tears. I find most overt competitiveness amusing, some annoying, some really crazy. I find some it really sad for the kids. Yet, I feel no desire to move out of state because of it. Do I come home and tell tales of dance mom’s misbehaving? Yep. Do I see parents who keep their kids in an activity that clearly makes the kid miserable? Yep. Do I see kids who compete in 2-3 activities at a time? Yep. While I really hope, I’m not one of those misbehaving moms, and believe me, if either of my kids complains about an activity, I beg them to quit. (They refuse, darn it.) I really can’t say much about overlapping activities as the Magster is pretty busy every October when soccer and basketball overlap. It would be insincere of me to claim to keep my kids to one activity at a time. But I try to keep those over laps to a minimum and if my kids need a mental health day off, they take it.

Is competitive parenting an important issue? It is, but this book is long on pointing it out and very short on offering solutions. At the end of the day, should you read this book? It’s not very well written. It doesn’t really hang together and the writer spends an awful lot of time patting herself on the back. If you’re dying to know what the scuttle is about, don’t spend the $9 on the paperback. It isn’t worth it. It’s barely worth the kindle cost. Call me, I’ll loan you my copy.


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