“We expect so little of kids today,” says Lenore Skenazy of the reality show Bubble Wrap Kids. Lenore works to ease the fears of parents who can’t bear to let their children out of their sight for a moment. In some cases 20-year-olds aren’t trusted to babysit their younger siblings for even a few hours; 16-year-olds aren’t allowed to turn on the kitchen stove; and 10-year-olds are forbidden to bike ride outside of their own back yards.
The Princess version of Till Debt Do Us Part is a reality show where a 25-year-old can work five hours a week, earn $4800 annually, yet spend more than $3000 per month because her doting mother pays all the extras – rent, car insurance, gas, utilities and more.
As if those examples of stunted development aren’t enough, along comes My House, Your Money. In this reality show, which I haven’t sampled, grown-up children buy a house expecting their parents to fork over the cash.
You begin to wonder if the next generation is going to grow up and look after themselves.
There is no sign of that happening, judging by the newest reality show which only reinforces the notion today’s young adults are anything but.
I’ve watched the first two episodes of Mamas Boys in the Bronx, about Italian men in their 30’s who still live with their mothers. The men explain this is a cultural thing, that it’s normal for Italian children, both boys and girls, to live with their parents until they marry. Only one would expect a child to marry before age 38.
Their mothers cook, clean and launder for them, tie their ties and pick up their drycleaning. Yet when one mother at breakfast asks her gym-owner son to fetch her a few special groceries to cook for lunch, he hasn’t the time; he’d be late opening his gym. Nonetheless when she grocery shops later she finds him having coffee with a friend.
These are intelligent, capable mothers who urge their sons to find a decent girl and get married. One mother also cares for two younger sons while having a full time job.
Their sons, on the other hand, though employed and helping to pay household expenses, are satisfied to have stalled at age eight. They still tell Mom where they’re going, with whom, and when they expect to be home. If they were to marry tomorrow their wives would be taking on a Mama’s Boy incapable of feeding himself, running a load of laundry, or picking up his dirty socks.
The first episode ended with the working mother freezing a week’s worth of home-cooked meals for her son before she and two other mothers fly to Miami for a vacation away from their needy, carousing offspring.
Despite Mom’s orders not to invite women in or host parties, before her plane has left Kennedy Airport the son does both. By the time his visitors leave, the food is gone and the house is a shambles. The kitchen counter is crowded with dirty dishes and half eaten pasta for Mom to tidy.
By mid-week, out of food and clean clothes, the sons follow their mothers to Miami. One, who proclaims he is wearing no briefs because he is out of clean underwear, totes his dirty laundry along for Mom to wash. The Moms are annoyed to see their sons, and don’t mince words saying so.
Still, the Moms are soon cooking for their helpless offspring. I’d bet Mom caught up on her son’s laundry, too.
Bored by the dating constraints of their mothers’ presence, the ‘boys’ wing off to South Beach where scantily clad young women are plentiful. The ‘boys’ chat up lissome lasses never mentioning they still live with Mom. Just as their last evening is about to get lively, the Moms arrive unannounced in retaliation for having their vacation ruined. The young women disappear.
The episode’s ending satisfied me.