I smell a rat. Okay, not a rat and I don't actually smell anything. It's more like I have a vision. One in which thousands of eyes are transfixed on televisions, ears hooked up to headphones awaiting the latest dirt to be dished up from this week's celebrity mistake.

Friday's lucky pick, Alec Baldwin, gets to replay his parental faux paux in front of millions of jaded people. Despite his abject apologies, he has found that his loss of control has resulted in temporary suspension of his visitation rights with his daughter.

While leaving a hurtful voice message for your child is immature behavior, I am more interested in why so many of us find the Baldwins' personal pain to be of such interest. It is highly improbable that there is one among us who has not engaged in similarly hurtful behavior. As a mother who is currently caring for her sons alone, my first reaction to the Baldwin incident, was "thank God no one is interested in snooping into my life." Full of relief that no one caught me yelling at my teenager or crying with despair as my ten-year-old threw yet another temper tantrum, I actually took a moment to think about the child involved in this fiasco.

As adults, when a person close to us is criticized, we may not agree with the criticism, and we may even be angered at the messenger. However, we are generally able to separate our own ego from the person being judged. Children, on the other hand, closely identify with those people important in their lives. Parents, especially, occupy hallowed ground within a child's sense of self. Growing up, I remember an incident when a close neighbor mentioned that she felt my father came from poor stock. She went on to say that my father had always been kind to her and that my mother was one of the finest people she knew. I don't know what prompted this woman, who my sister and I considered to be a surrogate grandmother, to share this insight with us. I do remember the shame that I felt as she made the comment. After all, what did that say about me? This man was my father after all. So I ask myself, what is Ireland Baldwin feeling about herself right about now? Does she feel the undeserved shame that I felt so strongly at the suggestion that my father was less than up to snuff? Does she look at herself only to find unworthiness in her reflection?

As all the pundits weigh in on Baldwin's "bad" behavior, be it tsking for the shame of it or showing support by pointing out their own mistakes, I will remember the child who asked for none of this, caught up in our obsessive need for celebrity gossip. In the case of parental foibles, we don't need to look toward Hollywood and Alec Baldwin; a stop in front of the bathroom mirror should suffice.                

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