Sometimes I’m able to make these weekly link posts thread together into a cohesive topic. Other times, I just find a whole bunch of awesome posts that have absolutely no common thread beyond being something I enjoyed. This is one of those weeks. These are just snippets, click on the title to read the whole post.
Your Children are Stronger, Intellectually Superior and More Emotionally Stable Than Other Children | Aiming Low
As a parent, you are well aware that your own children are far smarter and better at everything they do than everyone else’s children. You know this because you know your children intimately, and because you’ve seen what they are capable of. You know that while they may appear to do and say things that give them the appearance of being normal toddlers, they are, in reality, much better than that.
NO! Not your effing cart you little monster. MY CART. MINE!!!!!! Arg. Why is it so hard to buy cheap pillowcases? Why am I trying to buy cheap pillowcases in the hour – no make that 35 minutes – between pick up and karate testing? There are children dying of cholera in Haiti right this very minute and my four healthy children are plump and positively glowing with privileged goodness and I am still screaming at them because for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY stop talking. And touching the cart. But don’t wander. Just stand close to but not touching the cart for thirty seconds pleeeasasseeee. God, this is such bullshit, I am not paying $12.99 for two stupid pillowcases that they probably won’t even decorate at the pajama and pizza party tonight because, knowing my kids, they will be too busy eating their own pizza and everyone else’s pizza off of the floor. Besides. I’d have to buy TWO sets. $25.00? For three pillowcases?
I suddenly learned the not-so-difficult secret of the joyful silence of African babies. It was a simple needs-met symbiosis that required a total suspension of ideas of what should be happening and an embracing of what was actually going on in that moment. The bottom line was that my baby fed a lot – far more than I had ever read about and at least five times as much as some of the stricter feeding schedules I had seen.
Still, men seem to have been brainwashed to think of manhood strictly in terms of strength and potency. And I think the main confusion that’s got our jocks in a pinch is that we’re treating “manhood” and “maleness” as interchangeable terms. Which they absolutely aren’t. Maleness is something you’re born with, based on your Y-chromosome; manhood is something you earn, based on how you live your life. So do I like the idea that my testosterone might be down? Probably not. But as long as it doesn’t specifically affect my health, there’s no way it’s going to make me worry about whether I’m still a man. If anything, it will only tick me off if I have to keep waxing my back every summer.
For that matter, what makes you think you’re such a great seat-mate? Is it how you took your shoes off to aerate your sweaty business-man feet, or how you passed gas like, fifty times, but still acted like it was a big deal when a cheese cracker accidentally got flicked on you? I know you have pie charts to look at and Successories posters to visualize, but do you think you could cut us a little slack over here while we try to ensure the survival of the human race. You came out of a vagina too, busy business man. And you were covered in goo. A cracker fell on you one time. Can you handle that?
They know it costs a butt-load of money for you and/or your kid to fly across the ocean to come and take pictures of them. They know that you spent thousands of dollars to hand deliver $200 dollars in toothbrushes and sample size toothpaste. They know the difference between the new shoes your kid is wearing and the old ones you’re donating. They know by the look on your face, by the way you gesture to your teammates, by the way you slather on hand sanitizer before you eat, that your life is very different than theirs. They know you have way more of everything – food, money, luxury, opportunity – than they will EVER have, and they know you think those things are “Blessings”. And, yes, they know what an iPhone is. When we descend upon the impoverished to improve our family’s perspective, we may as well be saying to the mothers of these children, “Pardon me, I’m just gonna use your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson for a minute. I’ll be out of the way in no time – Oh, and I’ll leave you some shoes…. and a toothbrush.”
I just…feel like I’m really BAD at this morning business. Still. Just like I was always afraid I’d be. And predictably enough, the mornings when I breathe a sigh of relief and mentally congratulate on a job well done are the mornings I’ve managed to shortchange only myself. Sure, I had to skip my shower and my coffee…but we made it to the bus stop with minutes to spare. Okay, so I showed up at Ezra’s preschool in pajama pants and spit-up on my shirt…but the baby got to nurse off both boobs before we left and I didn’t rush him through it. So I catch the sight of my make-up-less face in the rearview mirror and see the face of someone much older than I am, someone who needs to moisturize/pluck her eyebrows/get her roots done, someone who looks SO TIRED…I did it. I made it through another morning.
Which brings us to a second common strategy of argument about one’s racial innocence: the “I have black friends” claim. I was shocked and angered when Salon’s Joan Walsh used this strategy in her criticism of my piece. Although I disagree with her, I have no problem with Walsh’s decision to take on the claims in my piece. I consider it a sign of respect to publicly engage those with whom you disagree. I was taken aback that Walsh emphasized the extent of our friendship. Walsh and I have been professionally friendly. We’ve eaten a few meals. I invited her to speak at Princeton and I introduced her to my literary agent. We are not friends. Friendship is a deep and lasting relationship based on shared sacrifice and joys. We are not intimates in that way. Watching Walsh deploy our professional familiarity as a shield against claims of her own bias is very troubling. In fact it is one of the very real barriers to true interracial friendship and intimacy.
I think Facebook’s redesign underscores something many of us recognize about what social media is becoming, has become, but perhaps were afraid to say before. That the frenetic, multi-panel real-time streaming pop-up window multi-media environment being generated by the social media arms race going on between competing services (Facebook, Twitter, G+) has reached such a frantic pace that it is anxiety-inducing and, ultimately, toxic to those who use it for cumulative hours daily, as many of us do. I believe that, and more importantly, feel that in my own life, every day. Driven to distraction much? Unable to focus? Unable to simply BE in your life without checking one or more social media platforms and/or updating every 30 minutes? Constantly feel like you’re missing something? That “real life” isn’t enough, is somehow lacking? Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Many of us do.