Staking a Claim

Rod Dreher, in discussing director Judd Apatow’s subversive comedy 40 Year Old Virgin, examines one of the powerful changes that parenthood precipitates–the loss of irony. First, Dreher quotes Apatow:

“My way of dealing with the world has always been to make fun of it and observe it but not take part in it,” Apatow told me when we first met in the fall of 2005. “That’s how I became a writer. But when you have kids, suddenly you have to be part of things. It leads almost to a breakdown because your whole defense mechanism is now really destructive.”

And Dreher concurs:

There’s something about becoming a father or mother for the first time that annihilates ironic detachment. In fact, if you do remain ironically detached — cool, in other words — as a parent, something is wrong with you. I think about how snotty and cruel (but funny) my own writing used to be before I had kids, and I just shake my head. It’s fatally easy to make fun of everything when you don’t have a stake in it.

And I do, too. It’s not that you are suddenly out to change the world (though perhaps you should), but you do care a little more about things that you may have laughed at or brushed off in the past. The little things begin to matter.