Thu, May 14 2009 07:18 PM Posted By: Maryann Castronovo
Oh Madlyn, Madlyn, Madlyn! What were you thinking? I’m sure you’ve all heard about it. The New York mom-lawyer charged last week with a misdemeanor after leaving her daughters on the side of the road when their bickering got too heated in the car. My Mom sure heard about it and boy was she was freaked out! She used to do it all the time.
“I could have ended up in jail!” she said. “You’re a bonafide criminal, Mom!” I replied. When we were growing up, Mom had no problem telling us; “Walk home.” If we were genuinely unbearable, she would give us a warning, and then she would follow through and dump us. She didn’t even circle around!
Without even batting an eye she would calmly pull over, wait until we got out, and then speed off like her pants were on fire. I remember sitting on the curb, thinking “I can’t walk! My legs will fall off!” Even though it was about a half-a-mile, all downhill, it was the most brutal punishment ever!
That was a long, long time ago. Ok, not that long. But 25 years does make a difference. We were in a small town in San Diego with maybe two cars that passed by per day. It wasn’t reckless endangerment to a minor to make a kid walk. It was better than mom pummeling us from the driver’s seat and crashing the station wagon in the process.
But booting girls, 10 and 12 years old, 3 miles from home in a city right outside of Manhattan in the 21st century is a whole different story.
I feel truly sorry for Madlyn Primoff. She made a very bad choice. At the time, she probably thought the idea of making them walk was a great lesson. I bet she was too frazzled from working full-time and commuting into the city to take a deep breath and assess the situation calmly. After a day of juggling parenthood, work and commuting, I doubt I would have, either.
I don’t think she purposefully risked the life and welfare of her children. I don’t think she deserved to stay a night in jail. And I certainly don’t think she had to be given permission to see and live with her girls again. The White Plains justice department was pretty extreme there. I’m surprised they didn’t brand “BM” (bad mom) on her chest and parade her around town. I think the regret, humiliation, and publicity surrounding the incident was harsh punishment enough.
As my Mom and I discussed Madlyn, we reminisced about how she used to leave us in the car when she went grocery shopping, never picked us up from school, and let us play in the street. Child Services would have been hot on her tail!
Most of my childhood, I used to roller-skate 2 miles down to the beach on one skate (we only had one pair, so my sister and I each took one) and stay there all afternoon unsupervised, except for Jimmy the lifeguard, who really had to watch for people drowning, not us. We didn’t have packed lunches, sun block, or money. In today’s world that’s reason for incarceration right there! Mom would have been locked up most of my childhood.
We didn’t worry about child abductors or molesters back then. We rode our bikes around town, played until the streetlights came on, and walked back and forth to our friends’ houses, unescorted. Back then, all the kids did it. It wasn’t unusual or considered negligent. It was simpler.
Parenting is a lot different now. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more dangerous out there. And that makes things a lot harder for parents.
We can’t kick our kids out of the car to stop the squabbling. We have to have more patience, and find simpler solutions to explosive situations. A good idea would be to pull over to the side of the road for a cooling off period. We have to teach bigger sisters and brothers how being the “big” sister or brother is a great responsibility that will influence and comfort their younger siblings for life. And if we happen upon a lost or disobedient child, before taking them for ice-cream, try to find the parents first.
Madlyn Primoff’s not a bad mom. She made a bad choice. She just needs to learn some better solutions for a not so simple world. Any suggestions?
© 2009 Culver City News