Archive | October, 2010

Peterized parenting

28 Oct

Kim looks forward to a day when she can see how I Peterize parenting. This is pretty much what that looks like, courtesy of some random kid I saw in the park the other day:

Hide your children, I’m coming to get them.


Hospital awesome

28 Oct

Let me begin by saying that this is the most banal story in the world, so if you are doctor or don’t care much about how hospitals operate, then move on along, pardner. Move right on along*.

Baby mama calls me in the late morning, to let me know that she has a pain in her calf. She had a blood clot once before, and at 30+ weeks pregnancy, this was enough to generate concern. A couple of calls later, and she is at the hospital, getting a sonogram of her leg (negative result, which meant that if ever there was a clot – unlikely, since she’s taking medicine for that – it wasn’t moving upwards).

And then hospital routine kicks in. Maybe just a quick bit of fetal monitoring, just to make sure that all is on the up and up. And once you’re in the hospital, no food or drink, since at any moment you could get whisked away to surgery, and aggressive, life-saving anesthesia is best administered on an empty stomach. So no lunch, no drinks. Which means baby mama is thirsty and hungry.

At which point, Braxton-Hicks contractions set in. Naturally. Braxton-Hicks contractions are, well, like a fart that doesn’t turn into a shit. I mean, sometimes it does. You never can tell, really. Once when I was a boy, my older brother tried to show us how awesome his farting skills were, dropped his pants, spread his cheeks, and pushed. And a tiny bit of poop came out. But I digress. Mostly, they are ‘practice contractions’ that are irregular, sporadic, and can be brought on by dehydration.

Which leads to a cervical exam, which leads to more monitoring, which leads us (us? Did you say us? Yep. Around 7pm I got a call from baby mama that she’s getting monitored, maybe she’ll be there for a couple hours more, why don’t I join her. And I did. Because, baller that I am, that is how I roll. How. I. Roll.) to be still sitting in the hospital labor/delivery triage at 10:30pm. At which point, I find myself asking the on-call resident what actually would happen if instead of waiting for an attending to be scrounged up to give us the all-clear signal, we just pulled the IV and, you know, went home.


Faced with this insidious piece of institutional power-grab, we waited another 45 minutes to get out all proper like. And then we had dinner, down at Route 66 on 9th Avenue. Which was nice. I had a veggie burger and some onion rings. Baby mama had a chicken quesadilla, which was a little too chicken-y and not quite enough queso-y.

Home at 1am. Everyone’s fine. Oh, and I saved the long fetal monitoring scrolling paper, because one day I’ll show it to our baby and let him/her know how craaaaazzy medicine was in the days before teleporters and hovercrafts.

* If you’re a doctor reading this, particularly a doctor friend who specializes in terminal patient care, and your response is to shrug, roll your eyes, and say something to the effect of ‘fucking upper-middle class white people, that’s what happens when you have decent insurance,’ resist the urge to do this. This kind of medical practice is surprising, even if you’ve heard it a million times. I mean, can this really be the best way to set things up? Can it?

Full circle

26 Oct

Last night my wife trolled my own site, to find pictures of our baby-friendly coffee table. Why? Because Crate & Barrel solicited feedback on the thing, and she wanted to ask them how to un-stickify it.

If she can find a way to make that discussion with her mom work for her too, she’ll find it.

More food bookmarking

25 Oct

A few more things I’m itching to make, but I haven’t had the right moment quite yet. Also, these people write so well, you just want to climb into their lives:

  • borrachos – yep, humble beans. They look so so so good.
  • Hot raisin bread – I have aspirations to make hot breakfasts for the little one (and for the big ones), and this looks like a great addition to the morning repertoire.
  • Cauliflower and parmesan cake – I’ve never made a Smitten Kitchen recipe that didn’t cook up to awesome.
  • Espresso bean dark chocolate bark – not really going to make this for fun despite the fact that baby mama would swoon, but there’s a project I want to think about in the future, and this would be a part of it.
  • Fried vegetables – Less a recipe and more a how-to, I’d eat shoe leather if it were dipped in fritter batter and fried.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs – I think my mother made this as a kid, but as I recall it was meat sauce not meatballs. This seems like something that should be in my cooking portfolio.

So that’s it for now. Some sweet, some savory, all deliciousness.

VC fathering

24 Oct

That not venture capital. My wife’s best childhood friend and their family came to visit this weekend, two startlingly darling kids, two startlingly delightful parents. I know it sucks to say super-nice things about other people’s kids and parenting, since inevitably with something as anxiety-fraught as parenting, if you are too nice, people think you don’t have a realistic view of their lives and kids, and the pressure just ratchets up. And there were a few minor meltdowns, true. But on the other hand, when 5-yr-old daughter scrubbed out the sandwich board sign outside the brunch place this morning, mom gently but firmly made her go to the hostess and tell her, then apologize. Without drama or tears or big deals. Totally well-played all around.

After they left, having given us some vital baby stuff and conveyed both confidence (want!) and information (maybe getting overloaded, but wife loves!), we realized that we’re decidedly lucky to have people like these in our lives. I mean, we know this in our heads, but it’s still a trip to have it demonstrated.

But enough nice. You want to hear the amusing, don’t you? Don’t you?!

While ladies were fussing over registry (and while I was being delightful about that, in the ‘fuck you, you backseat driver!’ sense), I was talking with dad about how they’ve dealt with sleeping issues. I was relating this story, some friends of friends had a bunch of kids, and they said that for the first one, they were all kinds of quiet around bedtime. Then the second, when bedtime got a bit louder, and by the third (and I think, fourth!) they would go ahead and vacuum under the bed while the kids were trying to sleep. And what they found was that the louder they were, the better the kids slept. She was telling me this story with the youngest kid slumped over her arm, while an afternoon party went on around him. And so:

Dad: Yeah, I think I regret a little bit how we did it. We use a sound machine, which totally works. But that means that we’re now locked into bringing that sound machine wherever we go. The thing is, there are lots of times when what’s easier in the short term kind of makes it harder in the long term.

Me: You think it would have been better long-term if you suffered through without the sound machine?

Dad: Oh yeah. I mean, it’s like Vietnam. You do all these little things that make sense at the time, but then you look up and you’ve kind of stuck yourself in a totally fucked up, escalated situation.

Me: Huh.

(Long pause)

Me: Wait, are your kids the Viet Cong in this metaphor?

Dad: (laughing) Fuck. You’re totally going to blog this, aren’t you.

Yep. Thanks for coming, Bostonians. We had a ball.

Fatherhood, the routine production of gender

22 Oct

Super-friend sent me along this blog post from the NYT about one of the tribulations of stay-at-home fathers. Guy has his daughters, and they go to storytime at the public library. Where, of course, they are repeatedly singled out (great to have a daddy!), including doing an extra verse of some Mommy song, so that they could do a Daddy version of it. Eventually, his daughter backed out of the library, and he scooted on out of there as quickly as possible.

My first reaction was to think about the ways I might have done things differently. I would like to think that I would have said something, politely but firmly, like “please don’t single me out, it makes me uncomfortable.” That would be the gracious, teachy, adult thing to do. More likely, especially after the verse about bouncing baby on Mommy’s knee, and now Daddy’s knee!, I would have then said, “OK, now a verse for just the Black people! Now the Asian women! Now one for you there, with the disability!” I’m a little worried that my gently caustic nature is going to turn me into a full-blown asshole in some situations. The sad truth is, there’s a decent chance I’d sit there and quietly just take it, like the dude in the article did.

When I realized impending fatherhood happening to me, I looked up the sociological literature on fathering (yep, I am a nerd), which is interesting but also depressing. For the most part, middle-class white men don’t change fatherhood, nor do they actually do anything approaching 50% of the work. If I’m anything like the men in the literature (which I may or may not be – it is tough to predict individual behavior from group characteristics), I’m more than likely to retain much of my male privilege. It’s families who are more working class who actually are changing fatherhood on the ground, mostly because economic necessity prevents a (mythical 1950’s) traditional family structure from emerging.

But for those fathers who actually do a substantial portion of housework and parenting, the evidence suggests that 1) domestic divisions of labor are going to be considered “normal” to those who are attempting something similar, and “amazing” to those who are not; 2) fathers get tons of credit for parenting work that mothers do routinely; and 3) men who successfully re-oriented their identities to full-time parenting more often compared themselves to other mothers, not to other men. Since men who do full-on parenting see it as natural, and compare themselves to other full-on parents (mostly mothers), getting singled out by well-meaning women seems, for the most part, not to go over so well. Hence the sad and angry NYT man.

Some more detail, from Scott Coltrane’s excellent analysis, Household Labor and the Routine Production of Gender:

Mothers and fathers reported that women friends, most of whom were in more traditional marriages or were single, idealized their shared parenting arrangements. About two-thirds of sample mothers reported that their women friends told them that they were extremely fortunate, and labeled their husbands “wonderful,” “fantastic,” “incredible,” or otherwise out of the ordinary. Some mothers said that women friends were “jealous,” “envious,” or “amazed,” and that they “admired” and “supported” their efforts at sharing domestic chores.

Both mothers and fathers said that the father received more credit for his family involvement than the mother did, because it was expected that she would perform child care and housework. Since parenting is assumed to be “only natural” for women, fathers were frequently praised for performing a task that would go unnoticed if a mother had performed it…

[F]athers appreciated praise, but actively discounted compliments received from those in dissimilar situations. The fathers’ everyday parenting experiences led them to view parenthood as drudgery as well as fulfillment. They described their sense of parental responsibility as taken-for-granted and did not consider it to be out of the ordinary or something worthy of special praise. Fathers sometimes reported being puzzled by compliments from their wives’ acquaintances and judged them to be inappropriate…Thus fathers discounted and normalized extreme reactions to their divisions of labor and interpreted them in a way that supported the “natural” character of what they were doing.

One mother commented on a pattern that was typically mentioned by both parents: domestic divisions of labor were “normal” to those who were attempting something similar, and “amazing” to those who were not: “All the local friends here think it’s amazing. They call him “Mr. Mom” and tell me how lucky I am. I’m waiting for someone to tell him how lucky he is. I have several friends at work who have very similar arrangements and they just feel that it’s normal.”

Most interesting is his finding that the practice of child care itself transforms men. They become more ‘maternal’ thinking, not so much in the sense that maternal thinking (mothering) is what childcare is really about, but more that they stop being ‘helpers’ or having an ancillary role and take on a more central one.

I mean, we still live in a world, so you’re going to get the BS from the delighted, well-meaning but also drive-by crazy librarian, but there is some hope for transformation as well.


22 Oct

Thought this Mompetitors video was pretty funny. Dovetails with my fears about my current neighborhood, naturally.

In fact, I like it so much I’m giving the awesome DS my new, official, 2010 sign of all things good:

I could watch this display of thumbs-upmanship all day.