Here's a picture Husband took the other night of Isabel and me:
We were watching Gossip Girl and he stood blocking the set, experimenting with the new camera during a crucial scene. Sweet -- he loves us! -- but irksome. Some scheming girl was texting some other scheming girl and there was about to be a debauched party where everyone wore absurd, slutty dresses and got drunk and betrayed their best friends (or something like that) and we really wanted to see what happened. It's an awful show, which is not to say it's unwatchable. I think we watched the whole first season in three nights.
Anyway, the other day Isabel ran in to get a Gossip Girl disc from the video store and one of the young clerks said, "Your parents let you watch this?" She said, "Yeah, I watch it with my mom." Isabel reports that the clerk shot her a "weird" look and said, "you have a cool mom."
I pondered this. I think that what he really meant by "cool" was "permissive." Permissive in the way of those "hey dudes, come chill at our house, I've got a full bowl and I'll join you" Marin County moms who buy matching Abercrombie bikinis for themselves and their daughters.* Then they sit around together painting their toenails purple and giggling knowingly through Gossip Girl.
It is true, though, that aside from verboten Judd Apatow movies, I'm lax about my kids' exposure to pop culture. I could run myself down for having lower standards than almost anyone I know, but I run myself down altogether too much. I respect strict standards but I also respect my standards. Why else would they be my standards? I remember being twelve. I knew the difference between Dallas and reality. I had no trouble understanding that I was never going to have hair like Charlene Tilton or a body like Victoria Principal, and that to sleep with, then shoot, your brother-in-law was profoundly unwise. Did crap 1970s TV change me in any fundamental way? Wouldn't I be richer, more successful, and better groomed if it had? Is crap contemporary TV all that different?
For the last home-cooked Vietnamese dinner for some time to come, I served panfried rice noodles with beef and vegetables. Delicious and popular. And healthy. Look at all those cancer-fighting colors:
On the side, some deep-fried tofu simmered with scallion which had, to quote Andrea Nguyen, "a chewy, almost meaty quality:"
I loved it. "Terrible," Husband said. Kids did not touch. I've given up on the tofu fight. Again, something wrong with the perspective in the photo. Need to read the manual.
Today, my children leave for a month in New England to visit their paternal grandparents. This would ordinarily be a fallow time for Tipsy Baker, but I have a special cooking plan in store for the next week. Details to follow.
*I've never actually met one of these women. I think she's a suburban myth.