Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Daddy

I bet I could use my many years of Interneting to find out his real name, but I guess for now This Daddy will do... Actually I did just find out his name. I'm getting good at this game.

This Daddy's Blog is one of those rare corners of the Internet that is all too overlooked, because genuine posts and opinions are making way for niche-seekers and gimmicks. While the rest of us search for Twitter followers, Google+ circlers, and that new Facebook Top Story spot, This Daddy uses his blog to connect, to think in public, and to discuss his challenges and his triumphs. Remember the Internet was about communication before it was a trigger for booms and busts.

As usual, I hope to get a hundred new people to visit the blog, but I'll be happy if it's just one, so hopefully you'll be that one. Go to This Daddy's Blog, subscribe, follow on Twitter, and comment every once in a while. I'll appreciate it, This Daddy will appreciate it, and the Internet will appreciate it.

This Daddy

A Blogger and a Father

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Existential Crisis of a 3-Year-Old Boy

There's this funny little story. When I was a kid, I had a fight with my older sister. We were latchkey kids, alone in the house, and expected to solve our problems ourselves, which we did most of the time. But not that day. What my sister did was so mean, apparently, that for the first time I decided to call my mom at work.

My mom didn't have a direct line, and the number I had was of the receptionist.

"Can I speak to Mommy?"

"Who is your mommy?"


"But what's your mother's name?"


"There are many Mommies here. Does she have another name?"

"No! Just Mommy!"

... It went on like that for a while... At some point the poor guy even tried to imitate a woman's voice, asking, "Do you know my name?" But I was crying, because my sister was mean, and the evil receptionist at my mom's work would not let me speak to my mommy...

I don't remember exactly what age I was when that happened, but I can't imagine I was THAT much older than my 3-year-old son. So I thought this could be a fun story to tell him. He had other plans.

--Here's a funny story. You know, when I was about your age, probably a bit older, I lived in a house with my sister and my parents, Grandma and Grandpa, and--
--Where was I?
--What do you mean?
--Why didn't you live with me?
--I was a kid. You weren't born when I was a kid.
--It's... Hmm... Anyway, I had a fight with my sister, and--
--Why didn’t you have a fight with me?
--Because you weren't born yet. I was 3-years-old, maybe a bit older, and--
--How old was I?
--You weren't born when I was 3. You weren't around then.
--Where was I? Was I in Mom's belly?
--When I was three, your mom was one. You were not in her belly then... So... I was alone in the house with my sister, and we had this big fight, so--
--Was Madeline there?
--Madeline, as in your baby sister Madeline? No, she wasn't there. She's a baby.
--How old was she when you were three?
--She wasn't--
--How old was I?
--I told you... Now I'm 38, so I was 3 more than 30 years ago. It was a long time before you were born. But it's a funny story! Let me tell you the story. No more questions. So... I had a fight with my sister, and I decided to call--
--How old will you be when I'm 38?
--Seventy-three... Finish your food. It's nap-time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pink: The Futile Struggles of Progressive Parents

So, did we fail?

Maybe it's all those pink hand-me-downs we get for our girl. How can you say no to free clothes, after all?

Or maybe it started when we got tired of correcting people because of the short hair. We corrected them, they apologized... Who needs that? Why not put a little something in her hair? A little pink ribbon never hurt no one.

Maybe we simply can't help treating the girl differently because we were brought up at a time when females were regarded as weaker than males, physically and emotionally, and getting over that takes a generation or two.

We all fight it at first. We think we'll raise them differently. We think we're pioneers. And we fight it to the point of hypocrisy: making sure our girls never see a Barbie doll but thinking it's cute that our boys play with them.

But no matter how much we vow to be progressive and to raise our kids differently, the day comes when we realize that--for the most part--we've been fighting a losing battle. Sure, we still stand by our initial vow to let our kids be all they want to be with no relation to their sex, but on the other hand, that vow is now nearly meaningless, because our boys will only wear superhero underwear and our girls' favorite toys are combs.

Who knows... Maybe it's our fault. Maybe all it takes is a little pink button on the onesie, and subconsciously we end up treating her more gently than we did her older brother. We don't throw her in the air as high. We wait a little longer before we let her climb up and down the stairs. We run faster to see what's wrong when she cries.

Or maybe contemporary society is not that much better than the one we grew up in, and our kids never had a chance to grow unbound by gender stereotypes.

And maybe we don't matter at all. Never did. Maybe our kids' personalities--their blue and pink and everything in between--will be shaped less by our best intentions than by the intentions of the popular kids in their schools, the real decision-makers when it comes to future social norms.

And if that's the case, then maybe we should just let go. Let her play with her Barbie. Let him watch his X-Men. As long as we encourage them to switch toys every once in a while. And as long as we don't think we've failed them and society when they're unwilling to do that.



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