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"Kid Nation" Made A Mother Out Of Me

Have you seen the new TV show, “Kid
Nation”? The reality show takes forty children aged 8 to 15
and drops them in the middle of a ghost town in Nevada, with
instructions that they’re to form themselves into a working
society. They do all the cooking, cleaning, governing,
store-running, and so on. Adults are strictly taboo and the
children are left to figure things out (like how to boil water on a
wood-burning stove) by themselves.

I’ve only seen the first episode, but it’s enough for
me. I spent the whole time vacillating between trying to imagine a
set of circumstances wherein I’d allow Madeleine to go sleep
in the desert unsupervised for a month at 8 years old, and worrying
about the kids that I’m watching. They show the children
pulling wooden wagons down two miles of dirt road to their new
home, and I’m wondering if someone made them put on
sunscreen. I watch three boys blow off steam chasing a jackrabbit
through the desert brush and I worry aloud that the producers
didn’t clear the brush of rattlesnakes ahead of time. I
notice that, in a town with only ONE outhouse for forty kids, there
seems to be a conspicuous lack of places (and motivation) to brush
your teeth.

Which is when it hit me – I’m
officially A Mother. Not that I wasn’t a mommy before –
I realized a long time ago that Maddie and Cora’s Mommy will
always be at the forefront of who I am. But somehow in the past few
years this mommyness has seeped into every fiber of my being, and
I’m now one of those people who look at any situation as a
Mommy first, a cool chick (distant) second.

Walk onto a new playground, and what’s the first thing you
do? Look at all the fun colors and equipment there are to play
with? Or scan the area for potential death-traps and/or child
molesters? When you go grocery shopping, do you admire the fresh
produce aisle? Or are you constantly alert for 1) fallen grapes
that someone can slip on, or 2) unwashed, potentially
salmonella-laced spinach dangling within hand’s grasp of a
toddler in a shopping cart?

Let’s face it, I’m about six months away from telling
Maddie to always wear clean underwear in case she gets in an

So I’m not sure I’m going to be tuning in to “Kid
Nation” again – I don’t know if my heart can take
it. And I’m not trying to slam all the parents who agreed to
this thing; I’m sure they all researched the safety
precautions in place. The cynic in me thinks the parents all
realize this will look great on future college applications, even
while I grudgingly acknowledge there’s a lot for a child to
learn in a situation like this. But I can’t imagine
it’s not too much for most kids; when they showed a little
boy sobbing, saying, “I want to go home! I’m not ready
for this! I’m only eight years old! I miss my mommy!” I
practically tried to crawl through the tube to hold that poor
little lambie. And in the first episode alone you quickly realize
the magnitude of the situation as a bunch of 9-year-olds try to
figure out (unsuccessfully) how to make macaroni and cheese. With
them in charge, it’s a safe bet there won’t be a lot of
leafy greens on the menu.

On second thought, I guess I will be tuning in every week. You can
never have too many mothers worrying over you, even if it’s
via television. Just please, don’t show them running with


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