All right, Amy Carter. No more nice little girl.
For those of us who believed that plea that the First Child be allowed the privacy to pursue a normal, unhappy childhood like everyone else, it came as a shock to find whom Mamma and Papa Carter had put on their first state dinner guest list last Monday night.
And she was not told just to pass the hors d'oeuvres, answer questions about how school is and go quietly when soup's on, either. The President's 9-year-old daughter occupied the seat of honor. Traditionally, the highest ranking guest at the White House sits next to the hostess and has her cut his meat.
Of course, we want the child to take advantage of whatever opportunities for learning present themselves in the home environment. During the Mexican state visit, for instance> she could have learned a lot of geography, because each of the two Presidents mentioned at least 88 times during the course of the day's speeches that the United States and Mexico are neighbors, and have been for a long time.
The complaint is that she didn't. Amy sat at the head table, highest among a gathering of two Presidents and assorted other dignataries - or at least, she would have been highest if they had been able to find more telephone books - and read a thriller, "The Mystery of the Screaming Clock." At the table. During dinner. In front of everyone.
If you want to know who's screaming, it's not just the clock. It's a bunch of us ordinary citizen-parents (nothing will make you ordinary faster than having children) who have tried to establish as law of the land that nobody who attempts to read a book at the family dinner table will have to see 10.
Of course, the Carters have taken a lot of flak from the anti-sweater folks and the anti-garment-bag-carrying folks, and have had to maintain the right to sneeze when they feel like it without taking a poll on the subject. But this time it's serious.
Question: If the book was better than the table conversation, which is certainly possible on state occasions, why can't everyone bring one?
Health note: Reading by candlelight is bad for the eyes. Look what happened to President Lincoln.
Cultural dilemna: Suppose, instead of reading a book, she had wanted to watch television? The Palliser series was on, and we want her exposed to politics, don't we?