Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Camps and Freakonomics

I drop up to New Hampshire today to deposit Child No.1 at summer camp. She had such a good time last year that this time around she will be away for 4 weeks. As with all pre-teens she was able to put on a good performance over the last week minimising our expectations of missing her.

Anyhow on our long drive, I selected some podcasts to listen to. Last year we had much success with This American Life's Summer Camp episode which actually was first aired before she was born. This year, I had saved up some of the old Freakonomics radio podcasts. Of course, the first we listened to was about the economics of parenting. Then this story came on:
We would go to the park and our child, this is our then-eldest child was probably around four, would invariably not want to leave. So, we would have this big song and dance about, we have to go now, you can’t keep on playing, she’d run off, you know it would be costly, let me put it that way. So what we did one day we were sitting there and she was doing it yet. Again and we said, you know, we keep threatening that we’ll just leave, why don’t we get in the car and just leave? And so we said, you know, you come or we’re going to go and we’re going to get in the car and drive off, and that is actually what we did in front of a full park, other parents as well, we had a screaming child running after us going, you know, no, don’t leave me, exactly to get that message across. Now, to be short, you know, while that might not have been obvious to the other parents standing there, I tell you, it was a tough thing for us to do, there was another family at the park that was going to at least watch out that she didn’t do something silly as a result of this like run on to the road or something like that. So, we weren’t totally crazy, but then again, we did drive off leaving our child thinking she’d been left behind.
She asked "which child was that?" "It was you." Suffice it to say, no lasting trauma there but also a prime on why she shouldn't miss us too much; not that she needs many more reasons.

Anyhow, she came out of it thinking that she would probably prefer Bryan Caplan as a parent (mostly for this):
People call them electronic babysitters as if it’s a bad thing. But babysitters are good, and nothing wrong with being electronic. So, I mean the idea that there’s some awful harm done when you’re children watch TV or play video games, there’s no evidence of that. 
This leads me to believe that Bryan Caplan, who wants to make more kids, should actually want to liberate more kids. That way he can export his cool parenting style without increasing population. Or maybe he should just open up a Summer Camp. It seems to me that that is where the people who like parenting end up. All to the good.