As a parent, I have zero tolerance for my kind—particularly anyone who has ever chimed in with overly personal inquiries during the Q&A portion of a school open house, coached a youth sport with the zeal of Bob Knight, or posted hourly Facebook updates on the advances of a bug’s blitzkrieg through the household digestive tract. These people are the worst; so, too, is the mother I recently spied at a high school band concert, where she practically cat-called during a drumline encore—an unbridled display of enthusiasm customarily followed by undergarments flung onto a stage.
I sense most types like this suffer from the same deficiency: a life of their own. Yet, some parents don’t have to look too far for a donor: Their kids are a perfect match. Anecdotal evidence suggests we’re in the midst of a parent/life shortage. As a result, I fear we’re fostering a generation of Buster Bluths.
Hilariously played by Tony Hale, Buster was the youngest of Lucille (Jessica Walters) and George (Jeffrey Tambor) Bluth’s adult children on the late, great Arrested Development. Buster’s unhealthy relationship with his mother was an ongoing gag. The pair wore matching outfits at an annual mother-son dance called “Motherboy,” and Lucille once accused Buster of “being too much of a big shot to comb Mother’s hair.” George couldn’t pin down the source of the obsessive bond: “Maybe it was the 11 months he spent in the womb. The doctor said there were claw marks on the walls of her uterus.”
Regarding the chicken-egg question of clinginess, I’ll ruffle some feathers: Overprotective parents are to blame. That’s why I was thrilled to work with writer Casey Kenley on her essay in this month’s issue, “Confessions of a Free-Range Parent”—a great case against “helicopter parenting” that will no doubt anger some. The story’s detractors will be easy to spot. You’ll likely find them posting indignant messages on social media, right next to their Facebook updates on that flu bug.