The Canadian Club

{November 26, 2009}  

Well, Russ, I’m more or less done with the stuff I needed to get done this week.  All that remains is for me to pack and ship over the next couple of days, then get myself down to the tropics for what will undoubtedly be a strange, strange few days.  Oh, and I have to get something resembling grown-up clothes to wear for my event.  I’m enlisting the help of a far more fashion- and retail-savvy friend this weekend, thank goodness, because I just don’t think I can dress myself anymore.  My ideas about what to wear have been distorted over the last few months by my experiences teaching 21-year-old girls, who — have you noticed this? — don’t wear pants much nowadays.  And like every disturbing, American-Apparel-was-on-to-it-three-years-ago trend, it doesn’t look that bad to me anymore, you know?  All of which means that it won’t be long until I’m wearing this.

Hey, so apologies to my Facebook friends for the self-plagiarism here, but did you see that article from Salon that I posted, along with the response in Jezebel?  The original article discussed our culutre’s weird animosity towards mothers — in particular, educated, white, urban mothers who dare to take their kids out in public places and disturb people around them with kid noise — and sensibly suggested that there is an anti-feminist impulse underlying this animosity.  The Jezebel response — specifically, a sizable percentage of the comments — took some issue with this notion.  Quick, go read those articles.  Then come back.

This little tidbit from Jezebel made me homicidal.

It’s the combination of smugness and obliviousness, Berkeley ethics funded by serious money, of campaigning for liberal politicians while complaining about nanny problems.

Hey, you know what?  I campaign for liberal politicians.  I’ve also had nanny problems.  Seriously, I am so tired of this shit.  Why are otherwise left-leaning types so horrid and myopic when it comes to questions of feminism and motherhood?  It’s a good thing for cities, for public schools and for the environment that relatively affluent families are no longer fleeing urban areas in the same numbers.  It’s a good thing for women to avail themselves of whatever options they can to keep their careers alive during the very difficult early child-rearing years (if that’s what they want to do), as long as they treat child-care workers like professionals.  It’s a good thing for all of us to share our public spaces in a way that helps us learn to accommodate one another.  So why are liberal urbanites so resentful of kids?  Are they really that infantile?  One Jezebel commenter mentioned proudly that she hadn’t been taken to a restaurant until she was five, because her parents didn’t want to subject the other patrons to her antics.  Five fracking years until you’re allowed to take your child to a restaurant?  Are you kidding me?  I don’t take my child to five-course meals in white-tablecloth establishments, but jeez, are we really not supposed to go anywhere but Chuck E. Cheese? For all the screeching about strollers in bars, you’d think that the bars (OK, non-smoking gastropubs, really) we sometimes take our child to DIDN’T HAVE HIGH CHAIRS AVAILABLE.

So frack all y’all.  I’m going out for a pint with my 3-year-old.


Anna says:

I am totally fascinated by all of this, but it’s actually so far from my current reality that I cannot tell what I think. Sometimes it seems that everyone here has kids, is almost venomously pro-life, never walks anywhere and couldn’t muster even a simulacrum of hip if it was the only way to save their 4 kids’ lives. Also, they are giving up even the formality of jeans in favor of elastic-waist sweat pants, which leads to my most important question: What are the 21-year-olds wearing if not pants?

Oh wait: Someone I knew moved out of Portland in a huff, back to the “authentic” Midwest, because she hated the supposedly-smug way people worried about the environment and recycled all the time but still drove cars. It reminds me of the liberals-can’t-have-nannies idiocy.

Okay, I have now tried twice and failed to write an insightful paragraph about the spread of upscale baby products, so I’m going to go change a diaper instead.

Anna says:

Now I’m back, so you can unbate your breath. It really is so very, very wrong how this entire question of public space and whether it, or certain parts of it, are to be shared with children has been twisted into a mommy issue–as if the only actors in a situation involving child, parentS (present and not), bystanders and establishments (both their employees and their facilities, since as Dave points out, a place that provides highchairs is a place that can make you leave your stroller at the door) are the ones with the uteri. The children in particular seem to be reduced to a single, unvarying type, either characterless blobs whose good or bad behavior is strictly a result of good or bad parenting, or uncontrollable monsters who must be penned up at all times.

Dave says:

Anna, 21-year-olds wear tights with tops that are somewhere in between long T-shirts and short dresses. Having been a fan of the shapeless-short-dress-plus-leggings look in my own heyday, I’m pretty OK with the look. (Does that make me pathetic? Probably.) I must say, I envy you your position as the Hottest Thing Around, due to your hyper-fashionable jeans-wearing. Those 21-year-olds make me feel like a Hobbit.

You are so right about the funny way that the childless sometimes assess child behavior. The active kid OBVIOUSLY has parents — OK, right, mothers — who refuse to set limits, and blobs are the ideal for which we should all strive. I love how one Jezebel poster suggested that people do this sort of thing in Europe (specifically France, I think) but it’s OK because the French kids are all perfectly quiet when they go out. (I’m sure this perception has everything to do with superior parenting and nothing to do with how few kids there are in Western Europe these days, period.)

Oh, and at the risk of beating a dead horse? Bars are ideal for kids. Not smoke-and-drunk-filled bars, obviously — no place that serves actual food in Philly allows smoking, anyway — but any place with a jukebox and lots of ambient noise is a godsend for parents.

Finally, I love the idea that ideological consistency is so important that you’d have to escape to the Midwest to get it. People are so weird.

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