Bluff The Listener
Our panelists tell us three stories of parents trying to motivate their adult children, only one of which is true.
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Paula Poundstone, Adam Felber and Kyrie O'Connor. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl.
SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!.
MARIUS EUGENIO: Hi, this is Marius from Arlington, Texas.
SAGAL: Hey, Marius. How are things?
EUGENIO: Good, how are you?
SAGAL: I'm fine. It's a good time to be named Marius, what with "Les Mis" out there, right?
EUGENIO: Yes, I've heard that a lot lately.
SAGAL: Can you actually do the numbers? When somebody says oh, you're like Marius from "Les Mis," can you break out into, like, "One More Day" or whatever it is?
EUGENIO: I wish I could. Unfortunately, I'm not as familiar as others.
SAGAL: Oh, I see. Well that's disappointing.
SAGAL: Marius, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Marius' topic?
KASELL: Failure to launch.
SAGAL: For parents, there's nothing like having your kid home all the time, unless your kid is 35.
SAGAL: This week, our panelists are going to read you three stories of parents going to extreme lengths to get their overgrown kids out of the house and on their own. Guess the true story; you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?
EUGENIO: Yes, I am.
SAGAL: First, let's hear from Kyrie O'Connor.
KYRIE O'CONNOR: When 27-year-old Lindsey White decided to move back in with her mother to her childhood white colonial in Cheshire, Connecticut, her mother, Peggy, resolved to be patient, but she was less than thrilled.
"When I was 27, I had a job, a mortgage and a 2-year-old on my hip. What is the matter with these kids," she told her local newspaper recently, after everything went horribly wrong. You see, six months into the new living arrangement, Peggy White decided to fight back. She decided in Lindsey wanted to live like a little girl, she'd be treated like a little girl.
First, Peggy brought all Lindsey's stuffed animals down from the attic and arranged them in her room. A day or two later, the dinner menu suddenly changed: fish sticks, Mac and cheese, chicken nuggets. Next, Nick Junior was on heavy rotation on the TV.
O'CONNOR: Then came the light-up sneakers, the trip to the petting zoo, the nightly Harry Potter readings. Still, Lindsey seemed clueless, so Peggy pulled out her last card. On a trip to the mall, with Lindsey dressed in striped leggings and a top with a cute, purple butterfly...
O'CONNOR: ...she suddenly slipped a toddler harness over Lindsey's head.
O'CONNOR: Lindsey was a bit horrified, but not so much as the other shoppers. Twitter blew up with photos of Lindsey with the hash tag "adult baby."
O'CONNOR: A local TV station picked it up, tracked down the Whites and the story went viral. Lindsey, is looking for an apartment now, was especially philosophical. "Until the harness thing, I didn't get what was going on," she said. "Up to then it was like the greatest month of my life."
SAGAL: If you want to live with your parents, you're going to live like a kid. That happened in Connecticut. You're next story of adult onset childhood comes from Adam Felber.
ADAM FELBER: Like a lot of western parents, China's Li Feng had a recalcitrant 23-year-old son, who sat at home playing online computer games instead of trying to hold down a job. But instead of attempting touchy-feely solutions, like career counseling or therapy, Mr. Feng chose a strategy that might seem out of step with our modern western parenting.
He hired a team of assassins and turned them loose on young Xiao Feng. Suddenly, whenever Xiao Feng signed on to his favorite game, World of Warcraft, a stronger character would instantly appear and eliminate Xiao Feng's character.
FELBER: If he could never play the games without being instantly murdered by virtual hit men, Mr. Feng reasoned, Xiao Feng would lose interest and find a job. Mr. Feng was wrong, at least about the job part.
Quote, "I can play or not play, it doesn't bother me," the son said. Quote, "I'm not looking for any job. I want to take some time to find one that suits me," which made the older Feng realize what he now considers the one flaw in hiring virtual assassins for your children: the virtual part.
SAGAL: A parent hires virtual assassins to go after his adult son in online video games. Your last story of a grownup finally growing up comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Wayne Ogden of Bloomington, Indiana advised his college student son Zachary to minor in philosophy and major in something more practical. But Zachary didn't want to let anything keep him from his dream, and got his degree in philosophy.
If his dream included living in his parent's basement for two years, texting a lot, forgetting how to do his own laundry and sleeping until noon, after staggering home from the local bar each night, he was wildly successful.
POUNDSTONE: Wayne Ogden had many man-to-man talks with his son about making one's own opportunity, working one's way up or at least getting dressed and not leaving half-eaten Cup Noodles cups all over the house. When none of it seemed to take, he broke into a neighbor's house, stole some jewelry, electronics and cash and planted evidence that would incriminate his son Zachary.
POUNDSTONE: "I wasn't trying to send him to jail," Wayne Ogden explained to a courtroom full at his trial for breaking and entering and fraud, "I just wanted to see him put on a suit."
POUNDSTONE: "I know he did it out of love," says Zachary. "I hope he's proud of me now. I visit him every week. I think the structure is helping me."
SAGAL: All right, here are your choices. One of these was a real method some parent tried to use to get their kid going in life. Was it from Kyrie O'Connor, a woman who insists on treating her child as if she were a child still, despite her age of being 27?
Was it from Adam Felber, a guy who got so fed up with his son playing video games all day that he hired people to get online and stop the kid from doing it by shooting his character as soon as he appeared? Or from Paula Poundstone, was it a guy who framed his son for robbery just so his son would have the maturing experience of being a criminal defendant?
EUGENIO: What I've learned from World of Warcraft is anything can happen, so I think I'm going to go with Adam's story.
SAGAL: You're going to choose Adam's story of the father who got fed up with son playing violent video games all day. Well, to bring you the real story, we spoke to somebody who knew something about it.
JIM LIN: He went online and solicited a number of virtual hitmen to do his dirty work.
SAGAL: That was Jim Lin. He's the creator of the Busy Dad Blog, talking about the Chinese father who did just that to get his son off the computer screen. Congratulations, Marius, you got it right, well done.
EUGENIO: Thank you.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Adam Felber. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Well done.
SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing, Marius.
EUGENIO: Thank you, Peter.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.