Saving the world is a big project.
Doing it when you’ve got kids is waaaay tougher.
Abby Margolis Newman is trying.
The 1979 Staples graduate has teamed up with a mother of 5 to write “Saving the World One Teen at a Time.” A weekly column — available by newsletter or through the Mommy Tracked website — it helps harried women navigate “the tween-teen years in an increasingly thorny, competitive and tech-dominated world.”
Abby has 3 kids: “two teenage sons, and one prematurely teenage 11-year-old son.” She has written for the New York Times, Parenting, Working Mother and Scholastic, among many others.
She nails some hot-button issues. Last month — several weeks before President Obama’s call for kinder words — she wrote a column on “Fretting Out Loud: On the Disintegration of Civility.”
Is it just me, or does it feel as if, over the past several years, civility and polite discourse in our society have utterly deteriorated? And what are our kids learning from the horrible examples being set in the realms of politics, sports, and bullying (cyber and otherwise)?
Abby said that when her kids were little, she posted rules for being polite and respectful, including saying “please” and “thank you,” shaking hands and making eye contact — simple stuff, yet now as rare as a unanimous vote in Congress.
After describing a litany of boorish behavior by politicians, athletes and sports fans, and celebrities, Abby asked:
What is all of this teaching our kids? And how pathetic and impotent does my “Top Ten Rules for Being Polite and Respectful” seem in the face of the reality of today’s mean, uncivil, impolite and disrespectful world?
She had no answers. But she hoped to open an important — and civil — dialogue.
A couple of months earlier, Abby tackled a topic few “mommy blogs” address.
Imagine this scenario: your child comes to you, years from now, and tells you he is gay. (I know, many of you are parents of very young children – just bear with me.)
Then a few years later, he falls in love and tells you he wants to marry his boyfriend. You love your son, and you’ve grown to love his boyfriend, too. Yet the state you live in says no, he cannot marry the person he loves.
How would you feel about this? To paraphrase the Facebook Queen Sarah Palin, would your “Mama Grizzly” come out roaring in protest?
Of course, Abby talks about less weighty issues too. A Beatles fan — as are her 3 boys — she wanted to take her family to the Cirque du Soleil tribute.
The good news: the “Love” show had gotten excellent reviews. The bad news: the show is exclusively playing in Las Vegas.
She overcame her aversion to gambling, neon, cigarettes, alcohol, heat and long lines to see the performance. It was, she wrote, “fabulous…. a stunningly creative, magical, unique, colorful burst of music and acrobatics – all set to Beatles songs.”
But it was over before 9 p.m. The Newmans went to get ice cream — and encountered the Strip.
Abby was not impressed.
(We) grimly made our way down the street toward the famous Fake Paris, complete with Fake Eiffel Tower. The ground was literally covered with postcards of topless, huge-chested women. The sandwich-board men were ubiquitous.
The neon signs were bright and blinking. The crowds were relentless. The heat was oppressive. The cigarette smoke was stifling. The loud, drunken jerks were, well, loud and drunk. The general tackiness was unbearable. With every step, I rued our decision to venture outside.
But kids are kids. They must have loved the Vegas decadence, right?
Well, Abby’s oldest son called it a “skeeze-fried hellhole.”
Her 15-year-old was even harsher: “If there is one place that is literally God-forsaken, it’s Las Vegas.”
Abby Margolis may not be saving the world one teen at a time. But she sure has raised them to have opinions.
And to express them clearly, cleverly, and convincingly.