by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

A2-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 because of 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.

So fast to grow up

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 a 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!”

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.

Little adults

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. Preteens 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, cowrote the script when she was 13, according to the notes. Cowrote 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.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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