The world is on fire. Fresh news is breaking every four seconds (approximately) in the ongoing Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation saga.
No prior nominee has had three women come forward with allegations of sexual assault—only to have them effectively dismissed by the president and Senate majority leader. Nor has any previous Senate majority leader characterized allegations of sexual assault against a nominee for the highest court in the land as a political obstacle to “plow right through.”
In an effort to exonerate himself, Kavanaugh today released a 1982 wall calendar in an attempt to suggest that he was not at the party in question—as if underage drinking parties regularly or ever made it onto wall calendars. Incidentally, “Beach Week” appears in all caps across the week of June 6, written in pen and the bold font of intense teen eagerness. On Wednesday, a woman alleged that she had witnessed Kavanaugh “engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls,” according to court documents. She said she’d seen him at a number of parties, including one held during Beach Week.
When a nation is at the point of perusing a 17-year-old’s handwritten annotations on a calendar that’s been out of date for nearly four decades, and scrutinizing details like how every Wednesday in July he was to “lift”—and wondering privately if that’s enough for a high-school athlete in today’s competitive environs—some pundits have us asking: How far will we dig into the nominee’s past?
After all, if you dig hard enough, doesn’t everyone have something in their past that would inflame the sentiments of the American populace?
To that end, a few notes on how parents should be protecting their little bundles of potential from one day losing a Supreme Court seat in a scandal.
- Smile and speak lovingly to infants. Ages 0 to 3 are absolutely key to a person’s ability to trust and relate to other humans, and to understand the distinction between humans and objects.
- Try to expose a child to multiple languages at a young age. The brain is most able to learn and retain at this developmental stage, and knowing multiple languages will serve your little Supreme Court nominee well in an increasingly multicultural country where everyone must, despite our differences, be seen and treated at all times as a human being.
- Encourage children to play a musical instrument. While it is not likely to be directly relevant to the nomination hearings, being able to play an instrument means being able to improvise, to appreciate subtle inflections in tone, and to have a productive, nonviolent way to relax and relate to other young people.
- Encourage participation in team sports. These teach not just physical health and discipline, but an ability to function in high-pressure situations and to communicate with and rely on others. They also teach that engagement with others on the field has rules and boundaries that must be respected.
- Be reasonable about alcohol. Alcohol does real damage to the developing brain. The less exposure, the better. But given the alcohol-inundated culture, expectations of zero consumption are statistically unrealistic. The more practical goal is to make sure it’s done as safely as possible—meaning that no one is driving or even biking, and no one is using the alcohol to debilitate a victim in preparation for premeditated rape, gang or otherwise.
- Talk to your teen about “Beach Week.” The key here is plenty of sunscreen, regular hydration, and no assault—which brings me to my final parenting tip.
- Teach your kid not to assault other people. This is the big one. Sexual assault is especially in the news at the moment, and avoiding it requires comprehensive sex ed aimed at developing a healthy sense of what sex is and is not, so that there can be no confusion. Ignoring sex—and spending $90 million on abstinence-only programs, as the U.S. federal government currently does—encourages everything from “bad sex” to textbook violent assault. The broader goal, of course, is no assault of any kind, sexual or otherwise. No coercion or psychological manipulation either. Which means teaching your lil’ nominee to respect other people and the autonomy they have over their own bodies.