Friday, May 4, 2012

Confession #2: Is That My "People" Magazine?

A few days before Mother's Day last year, my firstborn came rushing over to me and told me he' d just come up with a great idea for a gift.  I was curious what a 7-year old envisioned as the perfect present for me, and since he's not one to keep a secret anyway, he was happy to divulge.  Can you guess what he said?  A People magazine. 

"Why would you give me that?" I nervously asked. 
"Because I saw you reading it the other day."
This is when it dawned on me that there are several pairs of little eyes watching my life, and they keenly observe the embarrassing habits I would rather others not see.  The fact is, I like to fancy myself as an intellectual, the sort of woman who might discuss the current economic crisis and Dostoevsky in the same breath... but this is far removed from the truth.  In reality, I can rattle off the names of Brad and Angelina's children faster than I can remember how to spell "Bernanke".  (I actually had to Google him just to write this entry.  And what does Chairman of the Fed do anyway?  Don't ask me.)
Now, it's true the only television I've watched in years is "Downton Abbey" and a handful of British miniseries, limited strictly to those adapted from Dickens, Austen or Hardy.  However, after my son's revelation, I realized I can't take pride in being a television snob because my reading tastes, on the other hand, are appallingly lowbrow.  Let's face it, they are downright uncultured, philistine, plebeian.  (Okay, I threw in a few big words here just to compensate.)
Someone my age should be reading The New Yorker or The Wall Street Journal.  No, not me... I read People.  There, I said it.
Sadly, it's true.  From time to time (granted, mostly in waiting rooms), I read People magazine.  In fact, I will choose a Hollywood gossip magazine over Time or Newsweek any day of the week.

For so many years, I read nothing but law textbooks, legal journals, and judicial opinions.  When I left the legal profession, I suddenly found that I actually had time to read for pleasure.  Of course, I didn't delve immediately into Wuthering Heights to satisfy my leisure time.  No, I skipped right over serious novels and dove headfirst into gossipy magazines.

So what does the enjoyment I derive out of discovering which celebrity is secretly dating another celebrity, or what someone wore to the Golden Globes, say about me?  Such is useless information that certainly can't enrich my life or the lives of my children.  And if I endeavor to raise boys who will become men of substance--the well-read, creative, interesting kind with whom I'd enjoy grownup conversations someday--well, knowing their mom reads trashy Hollywood magazines has to be counterproductive to that cause.  

At seven, my son probably couldn't understand how embarrassed and convicted I felt at that moment.  I don't know if he fully comprehended the clumsy explanation from me that followed.  I remember telling him that reading People is a poor use of my time, and that I should fill my mind with more meaningful information.  Someday, I hope he'll know that although I am more shallow and worldly than I'd like to admit, I strive to be a better example and worthy of his scrutiny. 

You realize that as a parent, you can't pretend to be someone you're not.  As much as I like to think of myself as a cerebral type, my boys know better.

For the record, I didn't receive an issue of People for Mother's Day. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a sketch from my favorite 7-year old artist, with plenty of hearts and scribbles rendered in bright blue marker... and that was infinitely better. 

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