Twenty-year-old Melanie Soliz and fiancé Blake Hightower have a young child, one they adore. Or so it would appear. On her Facebook profile, Melanie writes: “We have a 2-1/2 year old son…and he’s our world.” But apparently Melanie and her fiancé like their world to be on the toasty side. If not flat-out baked. At least that’s what one might conclude given their recent legal trouble. Local police arrested the two after receiving a video of the couple giving their toddler a “pot pipe.”
They’re being held at the West Valley Detention Center in Ranch Cucamonga because the facility is equipped with a medical center. Which is important. Because the young mother accused of providing her toddler with weed is… pregnant.
I learned of the couple via an ABC News story and I can’t get them out of my mind. If they did, indeed, get their child high, they should no longer be allowed to raise that child. At least not without undergoing some serious counseling.
But, as Gawker writer Max Read points out: “for all we know, Soliz and Hightower didn’t get their two-year-old stoned…They may just be putting this ‘pot pipe’ on or around their child’s mouth, to likely hilarious effect.” His last few sarcastic words are insightful ones, indeed. They allude to something I call the “Billboard Effect,” whereby parents consider their infants and toddlers nothing more than extensions of themselves — little decision-less beings who serve as billboards on which parents can write whatever it is they want the outside world to know about themselves. Their little billboards are most often used in a humorous manner — e.g. the “hilarious effect” holding a “pot pipe” to the mouth of a two-year-old would evoke.
That shirt your 14-moth-old boy wears that reads “Boob Man”? Really? Because he strikes me as more of a book guy. Oh wait. No he doesn’t. He actually strikes me as a person who has an idiot for a wardrobe coordinator.
But the billboard is not always about being funny. Sometimes it’s just about being lost. “Toddlers & Tiaras“? Don’t even get me started. Those parents are so mixed up and have forever intermingled their sense of self with that of their child’s.
Please don’t get me wrong. Forcing your child to wear tacky clothing adorned with crass logos or exposing him or her to the “pageant culture” (if that’s not an oxymoron — emphasis on MORON…) is nowhere near as appalling as forcing marijuana upon your child, but in my opinion, it’s of the same vein. In their desire to be who they are, many parents never allow their child to become who he or she is. Parents are stewards. And while we are certainly required to instill part of who we are in our children as we raise them, we are also required to escort them through our limitless world until they’re 18, at which point they, themselves, will decide whom they are to ultimately become.
Unless parents accidentally pigeonhole them and they decide at age 5 to start slinging dime bags to support their weed habit.
I hope for the child’s sake (as well as the unborn child’s sake!) that this couple is guilty only of sophomoric hijinks, as that is the lesser of two evils in this case. But regardless of what they’ve done, my greatest hope is that the toddler is able to become who he is meant to be with the help of enlightened and healthy parents (or guardians) — ones who see him as so much more than an opportunity to crassly express who they are.
A video about the story appears below.