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Jewish World Review Dec. 29, 2003 / 4 Teves, 5764

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom
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Consumer Reports

Anyone remember a concept called 'childhood'? | A 2-year-old was running on the playground last month, as 2-year-olds do.

He banged into a railing, as 2-year-olds do.

And he got a cut on his head, as 2-year-olds do.

His mother sued the city, as parents do. The accident, she claimed, hurt "his modeling and acting career."

No, I am not making this up. In a letter to city officials, the mother claimed the railing was painted the wrong color. It was too green, she said, making it blend in with the landscaping. It should have been painted a brighter color, she insisted.

And, of course, she claimed damages. She wanted money for medical bills, for pain and suffering, and for lost wages due to her child's "inability to audition or take modeling or commercial jobs while his head heals."

I'm not sure it's the kid's head that needs healing.

What I am sure of is this: I feel older every year. I read a story like that - which, according to the Associated Press, took place in Stamford, Conn. (remind me never to go there without camouflage), and what I mainly take away from it is not that parents will sue over anything these days, but that the 2-year-old has a career! A career that a playground could interrupt!

When you're 2, isn't the playground your career? I mean, really, how many baby food commercials are out there? How many roles call for a kid in a high chair? What can a kid say at 2 - besides "No!" and "Gimme!" and "I don't wanna!"

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I do not remember being 2 years old. But I have been told, to much laughter over the years, that at that age, all I did was sit on the curb and watch the cars go by. I never spoke a word. My mother took me to the doctor to see if there was something wrong with me. (Of course, that's what mothers did back in those days. Today, she would sue the city for lack of stimulus.)

Anyhow, the doctor said don't worry, I would start talking eventually, which I did. My mother did not seek damages for my silence. She did not look at everyday life as depriving me of a paycheck.

But back then, we had this strange concept. It was called "childhood." It was not to be raced through. It was not in the way of a career.

Today, childhood is something you endure until you get to the big money. Britney Spears couldn't wait to shake her teen image. Freddy Adu, 14, will get carpooled to his new job as a multimillion-dollar soccer player. LeBron James paddled through high school as if floating across a river, until he reached his golden shore: No. 1 draft pick in the NBA - and a $100 million shoe deal - at age 18.

Nobody is too young anymore. I saw a TV news piece about an actress named Hilary Duff. She was blond and beautiful and dressed, as young actresses dress these days, in tight, sexy, revealing clothing. She was promoting a new album and lamenting how tired she was of being typecast.

She is 16.

Her album is called "Metamorphosis."

Nobody wants to wait anymore. Little leaguers travel cross-country for tournaments - as if they were already pros. Pre-teens go to computer camp to get a jump on the competition. Babies in the womb are signed up for private schools.

Recently, a disturbing movie called "Thirteen" depicted girls of that age doing drugs and having sex. One of the actresses, Nikki Reed, co-wrote the script when she was 13, according to the notes. Co-wrote the script?

So I guess a 2-year-old can act. And model. And he certainly can't wait for a cut to heal. Think of the lost opportunities!

Am I surprised his mother sued the city? Not at all. But I expect the case will be tried late in the day.

The attorney has to ride his bike from school.

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Comment on JWR contributor Mitch Albom's column by clicking here. You may purchase his latest book, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven", by clickingHERE. (Sales help fund JWR.)


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11/24/03: Celebs' misdeeds will make great tales for the grandkids
11/10/03: The butler did it! (But do we care?)
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10/13/03: The Kobe case: There are no winners
10/07/03: Tough choices in the not-so-amazing race
11/05/02: Everything is a billboard, even the cops
10/29/02: Nowhere to hide ... even at 40,000 feet
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