Sunday, April 29, 2012

Girls Stuff

The Boy loves to dance.  When he hears a good beat, he starts grooving, sometimes getting his whole body into it, sometimes vocalizing.  It's not just the music he loves:  he loves dance.  The other night we flipped through Dancing With the Stars on our way to the DVR'd Sesame Street and The Boy stared, rapt.  I flipped it back.  Not only did he respond to the ballroom dancing, there was a considerable amount of ballet on this episode.  He loved it.  He cried when it was over.  We played it for him again and again.  The Boy loves Dance.

So there is no question:  when he's old enough, around age 3, he will take dance.  I had already planned to enroll him in dance class because I grew up taking dance -- and so did my brother -- and we enjoyed the heck out of it.  But it's good to know that he is probably going to enjoy taking dance as much as I enjoy the idea of his taking dance.

But gender roles, even in 2012, are tough.  One of The Working Dad's co-workers expressed concern about her son, perhaps, being the only boy in dance class.  And so she was a bit trepidatious about enrolling him.  The Working Dad, in his wonderful way, told his co-worker that her son could be in the class with The Boy and then he wouldn't be the only boy in class.

Still, 20+ years after my brother's last dance class, taking dance lesson's is still considered "girls stuff," Billy Elliot notwithstanding.

We put our girls on little league teams now, and we say that it empowers them.  But this can be empowering too (watch the whole thing, especially the guy in the orange t-shirt):  virtuoses des tours en l'air.

I'm so glad that The Boy has his uncle to look to, who will understand how hard it is to do a triple tour en l'air, and that it is as every bit an athletic endeavor as making a touchdown . . . more, even.  Mom and Dad will be cheering all the way.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I wasn't there.

Bad weather is rolling through the Dallas area tonight.  The forecast is for thunderstorms and possible damaging hail and straight-line winds.  No tornados.  Not like a couple of weeks ago when we had 12 blow through the area in the early afternoon.

I was at work in downtown Dallas.  The Boy was at School, in our hometown, approximately 23 miles away.  Downtown Dallas was under a tornado warning.  I watched a tornado from my office window go through an area south of downtown.  At points, downtown Dallas was pitch black.  We were told to move to the interior of the building, away from the windows.

This was not the scariest thing about that day.

The scariest thing was the tornado warning that included my hometown . . . the tornado warning that indicated that the storm was moving, not just in the general direction of my hometown, but directly towards my hometown.  And I was not there.  My little, little boy was at School, in the path of the storm, and I was not there to protect him, to lay my body over his like I would do if a storm hit when we were all at home together.

I think that this is the worst part of being a working mom.  You have to be away from your child, who is your heart, and you cannot protect him.  You have to trust that others will take good care of him and that he will be okay.  (And, of course, the ladies at his School were wonderful and did take excellent care of the kids during the horrible storm.)

I sat there at my desk quietly sobbing with this unbelievable urge to throw myself in front of whatever may be heading toward my boy, who was 23 miles away.  I felt completely and utterly helpless, and terrified.  I suspect that all mothers eventually have this feeling of needing to protect their children and not being able to.  I suspect that they all feel helpless and terrified.  It just maybe comes sooner for a working mommy.

In the end, a tornado did not go through my hometown.  It went south.  We got damaging winds and baseball sized hail.  Lots of cars were destroyed.  Some people lost fences, windows, sunlights.  We're going to need a new roof.  But The Boy was safe and sound.  In fact, he was his cheerful little self when I picked him up, as if he has not spent three hours of the afternoon in the daycare's saferoom.  I was relieved and glad.  I know they will always take care of The Boy when danger strikes.

Still, I'm comforted that tonight, if the weather threatens, if I need to, I will be there to hold him to my chest and lay over him as the storm passes over our house.  It will be scary, but I will be there.

Up All Night: The "You Will Have a Baby" Episode

This is timely:  The March 15, 2012 episode of Up All Night features stay-at-home-dad, Chris, having "baby fever" such that he wants his working mom wife, Reagan, to agree to have another baby.  The episode is called Baby Fever.

He approaches his wife right after she gets home from work.  She is a little tipsy from happy hour with her new boss.  She's babbling on about the drinks she's had and this mixologist who made drinks with a mortar and pestle.  Nevertheless, he says, whilst she's preparing another drink, "Babe, I was thinking that, you know what?  Let's have another baby."  She laughs derisively, and says, "Let's have six!"  Really, bad timing.  Who decides to have this kind of conversation with a drunk spouse?  But okay.  It was a bad scene, a poorly realized scene.  And really not funny.

The next we see of the husband, he is in conversation with his hockey buddy in which he says this:

"Yeah, Reagan's career is really taking off.  I'm worried that we're going to miss our chance.  Gotta get her on board now or it's gone."

His friend just says that he needs to argue his case to Reagan, talk about "tiny socks."

He then show up at her office with his iPad with videos of their daughter.  He refers to himself as the "baby maker" and his wife as the "baby grower."  And that's about the only acknowledgement he gives of the relative burdens of pregnancy during the entire episode.

And he continues in this vein through the episode.  He demands she agree to get pregnant and she demurs, in part, because her job is just taking off and their child is only just one year old.  He never actually wants to talk about her address her concerns.  His desire to have this baby is paramount.  But her concerns about her job and the age of their daughter are not unreasonable considerations.  They do actually warrant consideration and discussion.

I am sure that the writers and producers of Up All Night did not anticipate that the airing of this episode would be timed so perfectly with the renewed debate about contraception.  But here we have an episode in which a man is demanding that his wife put her body at risk for 40 weeks -- indeed, possibly her life at risk -- because he wants another child.  He is not asking her to have a discussion about whether they want more children and when.  That would be perfectly reasonable.  He is demanding that she do it.  And that sounds a lot like shades of Rick Santorum's pronouncement that it is "not right" to use contraceptives.

I know that this is supposed to be a comedy show, but I didn't laugh once.  Whether or not to submit your body to the condition of pregnancy is a serious decision for a woman.  Having spent literally years trying to get pregnant, and then experiencing some health problems with that pregnancy, I know a little bit about how serious a decision that is.

In the last scene, we see him in a bubble bath wearing a Frank Sinatra hat saying, "It's time, Reagan.  We're having another baby.  Case closed."  Aside from just being oogy, is that really supposed to be funny?  She says she can't deal with this right now because of everything that's going on at work.  And he gets angry:  "That's what you love.  Little Baby Work."

There it is.

Here's the thing:  every demand by the male lead of his wife to get pregnant was code for "don't be professionally ambitious."  It's okay if you want to have a job and all, but don't try to advance.  And if you do try to advance, then you're putting your job over your family.  And that's bad.  (P.S.  I happen to agree that it is bad to put your job over your family.  But queary, why is it culturally acceptable for the multitude of ambitious men to put job over family, but not the ladies?  Tradition?)

The entire episode fails to recognize, in the voice of the male lead, that pregnancy is a significant medical condition for women.  It fails to recognize that women should have some say in whether they get pregnant.  In the voice of the male lead, he only must demand that she get pregnant, and then she should agree.  Her feelings, her fears, her professional ambitions, they are secondary to his desire to have another baby.  Maybe the problem isn't that this show is a reflection of our culture at large . . . maybe it's yet another sign that this show is just really not funny.  But if the episode is a reflection of our cultural attitudes about pregnancy, it disturbs me.  I thought we were past the days when men made demands of women like that.