I have a feeling the review of Neal Pollack's new book was dead-on ["Alternative to What?" January 19], but the description of the negative response to his 2005 Salon article about his son's expulsion from preschool for biting was less so. You wrote that the vitriolic (and it was) response was because he sent his son to day care and was "insufficiently sorrowful about it," which doesn't tell the whole story. The problem for many readers like myself who sent e-mails with negative responses to the article was not the child in day care. I am an at-home mom with a toddler I send out of the house multiple days a week, and I am downright gleeful about it--it's good for him and me. I am also immensely sympathetic to parents whose kids are anything less than cherubic and the shit we take when we dare to complain a little or have lives.
But my empathy quickly faded in the face of Mr. Pollack's apparent belief that his son's behavior and the resulting impact were everyone's responsibility but his to endure. An example of his inability to step out of his self-absorption and be a parent was displayed when he told his son "You can only bite girls if they ask you to" because he thought it was "funny." Mr. Pollack's pride in his hilarity at the expense of engaging in the unequivocal guidance and discipline necessary to help his son, unhip as this aspect of parenting may be, was demonstrative of the generally selfish tone of his article. His need to paint himself as wry and irreverent in a moment when he should have been more preoccupied with teaching his son than being funny came off instead as the worst kind of loser--someone who can't actively or earnestly parent his kid for fear of seeming uncool. This is what I and many other readers of his Salon article reacted to negatively. In essence we smelled on Mr. Pollack exactly what you did in your review: "the least cool thing of all is being obsessed with being cool."