In which I embrace snobbery

I’ve admitted in the past that I’m a snob, and that only becomes more true the longer I’m a parent.

It wasn’t always so. Years ago, I had a girlfriend who, it turned out, bitterly resented what she described as my ability to walk into a room full of people and make an immediate social connection without regard to whether the place was teeming with bikers or opera buffs. I thought it was just because I enjoyed finding common ground with people who didn’t immediately repulse me; she thought it was reason to increase the frequency of her meetings with her shrink from one to two sessions per week.

Yeah. That relationship didn’t last.

But that was before I had a kid. The fact is, raising a little social sponge who is capable of aping the speech and behavior of everybody he meets makes me much more sensitive about what he soaks up. I may still enjoy tossing down a drink with pretty much anybody who has an interesting story to tell, but I’ve also become invested in somewhat tailoring my son’s environment in hopes of reinforcing behavior and values of which I approve, while discouraging those I disdain.

And, who knew? It turns out I disdain a lot!

This doesn’t mean I’m raising the kid in a Skinner box, even if caging the little beast is sometimes a nearly overwhelming temptation. But it does mean that I steer Tony away from people with bad manners, who clearly don’t value responsibility, education, work, hygiene, carrying their own weight … I encourage his interactions with kids who come from homes where reading, culture and a broad and tolerant view of the world are emphasized.

And when you’re a parent, your social world tends to be heavily influenced by that of your kid, and vice versa. You may not bond with all of the parents of your little beast’s herd-mates, but they do have a tendency to work their way into your life. And when you tailor your children’s interactions based on compatibility of culture and values, your own world starts getting more homogeneous. So that, one day, you look around your living room at at the people attending a pot luck, and you realize that, even though they don’t all look like you, they are like you in important ways.

Honestly … while I never thought I would become so selective and frankly snobbish in life, none of this bothers me half as much as I thought it would back when I was knocking down shots with those bikers.

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