Thursday, April 30, 2009

All’s Fair

Who knew that men’s legwear was such an organized movement? Not I, for one. The pro-men’s legwear contingent will be happy to hear that we gave a pair of tights to another boy in the class. (We asked permission first because we weren’t sure how traditional this kid’s parents might be.)

The whole discussion about gender “appropriate” clothing made me think about what goes on in our family; what messages might we be sending HB re: gender roles. And since I love lists, I made one.

Below are the main household/family duties and activities I could think of. I’ve highlighted the more traditionally female ones in pink (since we’re being traditional, you know) and the male ones in blue. I put an item in one person’s column if that person does it 70-100% of the time.


Work longer hours

Make more money
Power tools
Buying presents
Home repair/remodeling
Buying clothes for kid
Baking (with kid)

Work shorter hours
Make (slightly) less money
Assemble toys and furniture
Schlep kid to & from school
Stay home when kid is sick/has day off
Trips to playground etc.
Kid birthday parties
Clean cat box
We’re pretty even on bathtime, story reading, taking out trash, doctor’s visits, and getting the kid dressed and fed in the morning.

These divisions were never really spelled out, we just kind of fell into them, but we are both committed to being—or at least feeling—equitable. And either of us will do the things in the other person’s column if specifically asked to do so.

This list looks pretty reasonable to me—and I think we’re setting a gender-equal message to HB. I’m curious—what goes on in your family? Is it a struggle? Do you have to negotiate?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finally: Jogging Strollers

Here are the questions I think you need to answer before dropping any serious change down on a jogging stroller:
  • Do you really need one? If you aren’t planning on logging serious hours on it, it may not be worth it. You can get usually get away with using one of those hybrid-type strollers. A lot of people also have a jogging stroller gathering dust in their basement—maybe you can borrow?

  • Will it ever be folded up? How small? This turned out to be the clincher for us; the only stroller that folded FLAT was the Dreamer Design, and since we have to haul our stroller up very narrow basement stairs every single time it’s used, that was our only option. I’m not sure if any other brand folds like that yet—we got ours five years ago. If you’re NEVER going to fold it, you will be able to spend less, since that’s the most expensive part of a stroller mechanism.

  • How far do you run? The farther you go, the more a slightly out-of-true stroller will bother you, and you might want a really good one. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter that much.

  • Where do you run? If it’s not over boulders or cobblestones, don’t worry about any fancy or extra shocks. They add weight and cost, and babies/kids usually enjoy the ride more if they’re jounced around a bit anyway.
Just about every jogging stroller comes with the same basic setup, but there are a couple of extra things that I couldn’t do without:
  • A truly adjustable sunshade—with the fixed ones, you inevitably end up needing some kind of complicated blanket-draping setup.

  • Enough room for clothes/snacks/drinks—unless you have the mellowest kid on the planet, you’ll need that stuff.
And finally, a piece of advice with older kids: Unless it’s an emergency, don’t ever get them out of the stroller until the end of the run, no matter how bad they get. Once they know it’s an option, it’s all over.

The floor is open for recommendations.

Monday, April 20, 2009

“My Son Wears Tights”—Good for Him! & “Too Old to Run?”—Absolutely Not!

A surprising (to me) number of people land on my website from the above queries, so I thought I’d make it easier by putting the answers to them right up there in the title. To expand:

Re: tights on boys. It makes me a little sad that anyone would feel the need to question this. Yes, my son wears colorful tights. This usually delights people, perhaps as seeing a court jester might. He is occasionally mocked for them by other kids. This concerns him not a bit, which makes me think that I do not need to worry much about him either being bullied or bowing to peer pressure. (Whether he will be pushing others to do the designer drugs of the 2020s remains to be seen. Some of the boys in his class have asked him if he could bring them some tights, too.) Wearing tights does not appear to be a sign of wishing to be a girl for my son, but if it were, I know that there would be nothing I could do about it except try to smooth his path to adulthood. I recently witnessed an 18 month old boy who was reaching for a doll be chastised by his mother because “that’s for girls! You’re a boy!” I guess I’m sheltered in my liberal world, but I didn’t realize this kind of thing still went on. Don’t people know that you can’t influence this stuff? That you’re only inducing shame?

Re: too old to run? If this guy can do it, you can too. (I surreptitiously snapped him when I was out running with my phone.) (No, I don’t ordinarily run with my phone. I was on call.) Most of the queries I see are from 50-somethings. All of my advice applies to everyone of any age, and anyway, 50-something is very young. Go to it, elderly maggots. (But maybe don’t do any triathlons.)

(Sorry, felt the need to rant. Strollers soon.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Making Friends

Just got back from Mexico, which was lovely, though the trip was a tad short because CERTAIN PEOPLE need to have their Saturdays free so as to take part in bike races. I shouldn’t complain, though, because I am probably the worst packer on earth and it took me almost the entire day Saturday to do it. Seriously, I’m outrageously bad at packing. I once left home on a long car trip and remembered everything except my birth control pills (ha! remember those?) and my wallet. I do now have a system: I have everything I could ever possibly want to pack on a list that I customize for each trip, and I am not allowed to tick off an item until it is actually resting inside the suitcase. Since I have to check off every solitary thing (e.g., “toiletries bag” doesn’t cut it: toothbrush, q-tips, brush—everything has its own little check box), the process is rather time-consuming. Also I tend to go off on hours-long tangents—no quart-size ziplocks for the plane? Target trip!

HB is becoming more and more tolerable on these trips. The main tantrum-inducing problem was that I neglected to pack tights (I didn’t forget—I just foolishly assumed that shorts alone would suffice in 85 degree weather), so when the one pair that he’d worn on the plane finally had to be washed before they wandered down to the beach under their own power he had NO TIGHTS TO WEAR TO DINNER, my god, you incompetent idiot. At least I remembered the nail polish so that I could give him touchups as needed.

At one point during our stay when HB wanted me to play in the pool with him but I preferred to drink another Dirty Monkey, I said, “Why don’t you make some friends?” (I’m not ordinarily prone to asking such asinine questions but reference Dirty Monkeys #1 and #2.) Next day, he spent three solid hours playing with a seriously drunk-plus-something-else-that looked-awfully-fun young woman from Manitoba who was sporting multiple homemade tattoos including a prominent “RIP” for her last boyfriend, severally equally homemade piercings, and a much older gentleman who was probably not her father. It was really very nice of her to lavish such attention on him, though we had to keep a rather close eye on them on account of the drowning risk (mainly hers). Afterwards HB said, “See, Mom, I did make a friend!” and spent the next day pretending to smoke cigarettes and demanding that I point out every “No Smoking” sign so that he could smile and insolently continue puffing away.

This wasn’t the post I started out to write—I meant to discuss jogging strollers—but now I’m out of time, so if you have any advice re that subject, get it ready for next time.