Parenting Actually Is a Boring Subject (but It's Worth Writing About Anyway)

I am perfectly content with the New Inquiry's assertion that writing about children is boring. Children, in turn, would certainly think that the New Inquiry's digital salon of ideas and commentary is equally dull. My own kids, who are lovestruck enough to think me very tall and somewhat handsome, think that my day job, which involves a lot of drinking coffee and hunching over keyboards, is one of the worst, most tedious things they've ever seen. I think it was almost in anticipation of this that I started, years ago, doing more video when on assignments overseas; I just wanted to grab my kids' attention once in a while with my work.

Where I think the New Inquiry and DadWagon might agree is that writing about one's children, unless one is a developmental neuropsychologist or some other adept scientist who can explain the fascinating wrinkles in children's mental lives, is folly. I'm not sure that I agree with my colleague Matt that we at DadWagon have always made our own child-rearing stories interesting. I never really saw writing about my kids as an undertaking meant wholly for readers. It was always more of an exorcism of my own doubts, fears, and rages. If you are even halfway paying attention, your children will colonize your brain, fill it with untold quantities of fear and love and anxiety and regret, and for writers, there's only one way to deal with that. You write it.

So there we are, together with the childless idea-mavens at the New Inquiry: writing reflexively, because that's what we do. All of us now have, thanks to the infinite papyrus of the Internet, somewhere to put our musings. The founders of the New Inquiry (whom I support in every way, not least because I am also a founder of another fledgling online journal) are younger than I and therefore their hearts swell with the love of their own thoughts and treatises and of their friends' and colleagues' thoughts and treatises. My heart belongs, instead, to two completely banal and beautiful little creatures, and though the urge to write about them dims as they grow older, I still feel compelled, from time to time, to make another pot of coffee, hunch over the keyboard, and write about my children. The choice to read it or not, dear Inquirists, is yours.

–Nathan Thornburgh

Presented by

Matt Gross, Theodore Ross, & Nathan Thornburgh

Matt Gross, Theodore Ross, and Nathan Thornburgh write for the website DadWagon. Theodore Ross is the author of Am I a Jew?

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