Thursday, September 20, 2012

Horsey Set

When I went to pick June up from daycare, one of her friends? colleagues? fellow attendees? told me, "Daddy bought bananas and I petted the horsey."  Baltimore still has a few street peddlers who sell fruits and vegetables from horse-drawn carts.  Here they are called "Arabbers," which is pronounced with a hard A like A-rab-ers.  All the Arabbers I see are Black, but I assume the name is a holdover from a time when there were a lot of Syrian peddlers in the city.  Arabbers are definitely an interesting and unusual feature of Baltimore, although much of their produce usually looks rotten, and many people say their horses are poorly treated.  Some dogooder public health types did have the idea to work with Arabbers to try and address the food desert issue in the city.  But, the Arabbers were a little to independent to be amenable to that sort of control. 

I'm not going anywhere with this information, I just wanted to make sure that I remember this after we move.  And today I saw the Arabbers coming down the street and heard them singing their calls, which I still can't understand at all.

One week until we are all back together, and this is what we're up to.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Roy and Silo Broke Up

That's what I learned this weekend.  If you read a lot of children's book, or follow trends in book challenges (bans), or are a gay parent, you probably know that Roy and Silo are the two penguin dads of Tango in the picture book And Tango Makes Three.

Apparently, Silo abandoned Roy and took up with a lady penguin, who he has since left.  Roy joined a group of single male penguins.  When Tango reached maturity she also found a lady penguin to keep her company-one of a different penguin species.  So, should the author of Tango updated the book's notes to reflect these facts?  Can we tell kids a story about non-monogamous, bisexual, cross-speciesist penguins? And do they want that story?

At the conference where I learned about Roy and Silo, there was a strong anti-anthropomorphism sentiment. The problem wasn't so much characters that are human in animal skins-like Frances the badger, but those characters and books that blur the lines between human behavior and motivation and animal thought and motivation.  Watership Down got some strong condemnation, because apparently the author presented rabbit colonies as naturally patriarchal, while knowing full well that rabbits are actually matriarchal.  The problem being that those  patriarchal rabbits were made to seem natural and biologically determined.  The takeaway: simplifying nature to fit our own political and cultural projects is dishonest and does a disservice to child readers.

As gay parents navigating popular culture it's easy to get sucked into the normalcy trap.  If the choice is between complete silence about families like ours, or gay druggy satanist penguin families, we'll take the monogamous gay penguin book and love it.  We are normal people raising children in a culture that sometimes sees us as abnormal, unnatural, perverted, etc.  So shouldn't books about and for families like ours make us seem as natural/normal as possible?  The dangers of normalcy are many.  There is the social realism problem.  For examples, you should definitely click over and look at the Sweet Juniper blog, where the author has a series of posts tagged "terrifying Nixon Era children's literature."  I think the book I Wish Daddy Didn't Drink So Much is my favorite in the series.  It's not that I think alcoholism is necessarily an inappropriate topic for a kid's book, but rather that hyper-realistic problem book genre offends my aesthetic sensibilities.  Don't the children of alcoholics deserve lovely, lively, vibrant books?  Must the kids from "problem" family always have the dull books?  It seems like we should be able to have beautiful, cozy, charming, fantastical books about all kinds of families and all kinds of lives-even the lives of bisexual, non-monogamous penguins. 

I'm also uncomfortable embracing the status of a "privileged" minority.  Should all the gay family books be about middle-class, educated, white, married families like ours-because that makes us more palatable to the world?  I don't want "our books" to be limited to those that are a close approximation to idealized straight families, but I suppose LB doesn't really need to read Mommy Drinks a Bottle of Wine and Cries, While Mama Checks Out Hotties at the Club (not a true story, because our book would be titled Mommy and Mama Watch Grimm Together and Fall Asleep), or My Adoption Day! On Which Mommy Had to Pay a Large Amount of Money to Adopt My Ass Because the System Fucking Sucks.  But neither does she need to be confined to the gay version of Dick and Jane (and she could also do without that pathetic ending to the Harry Potter series).  A friend of mine is one mom in a two-mom family that is also racially mixed, and includes adoptive and foster children some of whom have disabilities.  She cannot find books that reflect their experience as a family, and likely if she did that book would focus only on their differentness.

One of the learned scholars at the conference where I learned about Roy and Silo made the point that the most important thing about children's literature is that it should be multiple and varied.  Kids should encounter a rich world of words and pictures.  We should be creative enough to offer our children a world of children's books that includes their usual and their unusual-and can find the beauty and excitement in any reality.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Put Your Baby to Work Day

Badger day 8/28 (over 1/4 of the way!)

We went on walks, went to the park, played in the sink, and cleaned the pack n' play.  LB is eating much better now that I am giving her less milk.  She's been going to sleep fairly easily, but she has terrible tantrums when she starts to get tired.

It's hard to believe that we thought she was so big in this picture.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Here Comes...

Badger countdown 5/28

Wednesday is my longest, most stressful day at work.  Thankfully aftercare worked out fine, with only the usual dramatics from LB.  Once I got home, LB and Skyped with B. and then LB went to bed.  Poor baby was so tired, she almost fell asleep on the bathroom floor and then on the changing pad.  She insisted on taking a Frances book and Harry the Dirty Dog to bed.

I was cleaning up when I realized that I needed to hustle it up because it's Wednesday on TLC.  Yeah, I watch.  Christian mega-families, tarted up little girls, white folks whose class shall not be named, if TLC puts it on, I will watch.  If you are a longtime T&T watch like I am, you've noticed the class commentary of the show.  Lots of shots of railroad tracks, modest home, and working class ephemera cut with shots of thousand dollar beauty dresses and extensive salon visits.  Add in the Duggars and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and you have a pretty clear class commentary.  For TLC, class is a series of good or bad choices.  Spent all your money on Cheetos, RedBull, and pageant dresses?  Well don't come crying to us when you need a new kidney!  I'd like to see a little info box pop up next to everyone who appears on a TLC show that explain whether they have insurance, how much they pay for it, and the total cost of their healthcare.  That would be useful information about what it means to be American at this moment.  But for now, I'm still watching (and eating microwaved hot dogs and spinach) and if that makes me part of the problem, I can live with that.

Tonight I'm not watching the DNC (although that was a great speech from Michelle last night), but if you want to go a little more highbrow, you should listen to this speech by Jim Foster in 1972.  It's the first gay rights speech given at a DNC

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Missing You

Badger countdown 4/28

The air here is like warm pudding, and my office was like a meat locker.  Who really cares, except that I feel like the air is too thick to breathe.  LB had a great day at daycare and was happy showing off at PT, but then she didn't get her dinner until after 6:30 and totally freaked out (like on the plane to Oregon), she couldn't get herself together and wouldn't eat until I finally pulled out the Saltines.  She was very upset when PT left, and has been very interested in saying "bye bye," and asking where people are.  I guess that is a baby's way of trying to figure out where Mommy is and when she is coming back.  Once she ate some crackers and blueberries, she felt better and we were able to move on to bath and multiple rounds of Harry the Dirty Dog.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"I am yours / You are mine"

Thanks to the  American labor movement, we had another day off today.  We started early again, and by 7:30 I was wondering what we were going to do all day.  We did the usual, walking dogs, time at the park, and exciting dog walk in the pouring rain.  Two people offered me umbrellas and one person offered a blanket, and of those offers only one had a "come closer lady because I really want to call DFYS on your damp ass" vibe.  We also spent some time looking at picture of Mommy and talking about Mommy.

Note that LB is putting a toy shark in the shape sorter

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"I like to see the sun rise/ See the love in my woman's eyes"

Badger countdown 2/28

We began at 5:45 a.m..  An early morning, but not a bad morning. 

I could try to pass this off as Montessori, but really it was just desperation.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

"With so much suffering today/Why do them any other way?"

Pigtails (please ignore the poor composition of this photo)
So says Frances the Badger regarding hard-boiled eggs.

We had such a Baltimore moment last night.  I heard a helicopter, and then someone in the helicopter speaking though the public address system, so like any red-blooded American, I stuck my head out the door to see if the Revolution had indeed begun.  I'm sure "Bomb Baltimore Back to the Stone Age" could only gain voters at the RNC, but I digress.  The helicopter was police and the person making the announcement was calling out two names and telling them to "CALL HOME IMMEDIATELY."  Do they do that in LA?  Somehow I can't imagine police in any other city getting into a helicopter to tell Jimmy "For God's sake, call your mother, she's worried sick."

Aerial policing is disturbing for many reasons that are above the pay grade of this blog, but here in Baltimore it also seems like a poor financial and logistical choice.  This city is small, with endless cover, narrow streets, and  a lush canopy of foliage.  I guess I should be thankful that the powers that be aren't deciding to blanket us with a layer of Agent Orange for better policing.  In any case, I hope Darell is safe tonight and has called home.  (No Amber Alert, and no local news coverage, so I'm thinking it wasn't anything too serious).

Today is day 1/28 until our little family is reunited in Providence.  I'm thinking of B. and hoping the days pass quickly.