In a documentary video about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Brady is shown kissing his 11-year-old son on the lips. Because we are so desperate to blame, shame, and humiliate parents—America's real national pastime—suddenly this is an issue.
Except it's not. It's a parent kissing his kid. Some cultures rub noses. Others only shake hands. In certain countries, strangers kiss strangers on both cheeks and you just gotta go with that. And in some homes, people have an easy relationship with their kids and kiss them even when they're boys, even when they're 11, even when it's requested as a "thank you," as was Tom's.
And that's that.
Letting no potential controversy go to waste, New York's CBS TV station did a whole piece on this topic, asking people on the street to weigh in. Some were offended by the kiss. "I'm a little uncomfortable with that," one man told CBS.
But, as my Giants-loving son pointed out, "Why ask anyone in New York what they think of Tom Brady? Who doesn't hate Tom Brady here?"
What's really perverse isn't a kiss between father and son—it's people not minding their own business. Why go out on the street, cameras rolling, and ask people to stick their noses where they don't belong?
CBS dutifully found two parenting experts—as if the kiss required field study, like a crime scene—to offer contrasting opinions: one said chill out, and the other read the kiss as affection extracted at the hands of a master manipulator, which will set the child on a life of trading sexual favors for gifts and privileges. Goodbye, Tom, hello Vince Lombardi rest stop bathroom at 3 a.m.
This attitude is driving parents crazy with fear. They are afraid they are doing something wrong at every turn. They believe that one false move—a high five when their kid really didn't do such a great job, a distracted moment on the playground when they could have been applauding their kid's 137th cartwheel—is doomed to ruin their kid (and possibly their relationship with that kid) forever.
A kiss is just a kiss. Get over it.
(But you can still hate Tom Brady.)