Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You Get Some, You Lose Some

She didn't believe us when we told her that he stole her two front teeth!

Monday, September 25, 2006

More Name Games

I am writing this despite the fact that the people about whom I will be discussing may (or may not) read this. Frankly, I wish I could just say this to their face, but I am nearly always caught off guard in the situations I am about to describe and become an utter flibertygibbit.

So, the other day I saw some good friends of ours; a lesbian couple with a daughter. They are extremely nice and friendly and I think we would see much more of them if we lived closer. They also really care about us, and are culturally a bit more forward than us upper-midwestern types, so they, well let's just say that they cut right through the bull and get to the meat of the matter.

One of them: So, what will he call you?

Me (proudly): "Baba!"

The other of them, judgementally and clearly ignoring my obvious happy and excited response: WHAT? What about "Mom"?

This sort of thing happens regularly with them and, frankly, with many lesbian couples with whom we come into contact. I don't think any straight person has EVER asked me what the kids will call me. Only lesbians seem interested in this. Not just interested, it is as if they have some sort of stake in what the kids call me. As if, somehow, our movement depends on it.

I have blogged many times elsewhere on the topic (see for example, the first entry, and here, and here) and have come to some conclusions that have evolved over time.

To begin, because I met the SYO when she was 16 months, we decided that we would let her decide what to call me. I was and am so simply giddy to just be a part of their lives, that it still just doesn't matter to me much at all. And if there is anything I've learned, it is that the label doesn't make the parent.

She began by calling me by my first name. This evolved through several permutations including calling BioMom by her first name (to BioMom's parents and siblings' dismay).

Now she generally uses the terms "Mom", "Mommy", or "Mama" to refer to either of us. Frankly, we find this quite confusing and during the day, I suppose, we each respond to her or look to her for clarification. In the dead of night we each bury our head in our pillows and hope she is referring to the other!

Most of our lesbian-couple friends have their kids use some version of "Mom" and "Mama".

I think this is most confusing for the kids themselves and not within the household, but when they are out in the world, referring to their family. My experience is that these kids whose parents are so particular about what they are to be called often resort to their parents actual names while in public just because it is easier. How else can their teachers, friends or friend's parents know which individual about whom they are referring?

Ironically, the child of the couple to which I referred to above does this to me, calling her parents by their first names. I asked her why she did this and she said (in her four-year-old vernacular) that she was just trying to be clear. I asked if her parents were okay with her calling them by their first names. She said they were not.

Now, on to "Baba". As I have posted, BioMom and I have come to the realization that when dealing with a baby, you can't just wait and see what they will call you as there are a gazillion opportunities to refer to the other person:

"Mama is coming home!"

"There is Mom!"

"Where's Mommy?"

Hence, we needed an identifier.

Lifting the logic and cuteness from Lesbiandad.net, we chose "Baba."

There you have it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Hip Hop Star

So last night at about 5:30 am, after Big had had an unusually restless night, I found myself in a kid-sanguich. One little one to my left squirming with the bud of a new tooth and possibly a cold, one larger one to my right, attempting to squirm on to the bed, tears in her eyes with a bad dream. Believe me, I was on [their last name] overload.

It took a while to get it out of her (and a bribe of some cinnamon-sugar toast with the crusts cut off) but here is some version of a translation:

Me: So, what happened in your dream?

SYO: I'm not telling.

Me: Was it about [Big]?

SYO: I'm not telling.

Me: Was it about me? Mom?

SYO: Well, I guess it was about me.

Me: What happened?

SYO: [MRM#1] and [MRM#2] broke up.

Me: WHAT? That'll never happen!

SYO: How do you know?

Me: Because they just fit together. Like puzzle pieces. Anyway, what did that have to do with you?

SYO: I was really sad!

Me: Yeah. I understand that, but don't worry. They won't break up.

SYO: So, MRM#1's new wife. . .

Me: Wife?

SYO: Yeah. . . His new wife. . .

Me: You know, he probably would not have a wife.

SYO: What?

Me: Yeah, um. [MRM#1] wants to be with a man. That's just who he is.

SYO: Okay, but in my dream, he marries a hip-hop star.

Me, laughing uncontrollably: A HIP-HOP STAR?? [MRM#1] left [MRM#2] for a HIP-HOP STAR??

SYO: Yeah!
ME: Do you know what a "hip-hop star" is?

SYO: Yeah! I'm sort of a hip-hop girl!

She showed up this morning, ready for school wearing her uniform jumper, a short sleeved white shirt (it actually frosted last night in this northern tundra), and black cow-girl boots.

Some hip-hop girl.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Conspicuous Consumption Dot Com

If Thorstein Veblen had been able to forsee the cyber revolution, he would have predicted-or even invented (!)- Zebo.com, the new Website for young people who want to consume extremely conspicuously.

Today's New York Times reports "If the Internet encourages people to share with the world the contents of their souls, Zebo encourages them to share the contents of their homes."

"Zebo.com, which went live last Tuesday, is neither salacious nor gossipy. The lists of strangers' possessions is about as interesting as a FreshDirect order. Yet some four million people have joined the free site since January, during its private beta test. . . Most of them are 16 to 25."

But. . . Why?

"Some Zebo members said they like to list what they own because they enjoy maintaining an evolving inventory of what they have and what they crave."

It's a little like MySpace, but "while visitors to MySpace are greeted with the saccharine 'a place for friends' tagline, visitors to Zebo are greeted with a brusque: 'Hi. What do you own."

Other members seem to use the site as a kind of 'registry for every occasion': "'It's great. You can see what your friends like and you can get them birthday or Christmas presents."

Maybe I should start listing my material desires here!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Friday, September 08, 2006

Irregular Newsletter No. 3: 9 Months

Dear Mr. Continues-To-Be-Big:

I read on some other blog somewhere that the nine month point is that where the amount of time you've spent outside of the womb now approximates the amount of time you spent in the womb.

What an accomplishment!

It is unbelievable to consider the change that humans make over the course of those 18 months.

Since the last irregular newsletter, posted at nearly eight months of age, you have perfected the technicalities of crawling and have improved your speed dramatically. Furthermore, you seem completely unsatisfied with this skill. Not long after you began crawling, you started pulling yourself up on anything that appeared above you; stable or not.

This has lead to a series of heartbreaks on all of our parts as you have clumsily fallen your way to several fat lips and short-lived shiners.

No new teeth to report, but we're starting to see glimpses of actual communication: you now seem to "clap"! I put this in parentheses because it is a small, close-fisted clap-like motion, but you seem to do it when you are excited, happy, or in response to music or singing.

It is daring. Your whole body gets into it and your eyes light up behind a big smile.

You absolutely LOVE pineapple.

And cheeze.

Oh, and Pirate's Booty. That too. (I'm a bad mom).

We're hoping you don't begin to really walk this month.



Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Different Incentives for Boys and Girls?

Tim Harford's explanation for the rise in teenage oral sex may be rational for boys, but it doesn't explain the cultural shift in behavior among the young ladies.

See my previous post for a review of the recent discussions.

Harford cites research that hypothesizes an explanation: if teenagers really did think about the consequences of their actions, they would have less risky sex if the cost of risky sex went up.

The problem is that while this may be spot on for men, this doesn't explain women's behavior entirely.

I get that the motivation to have sex for women (say pleasure, peer pressure, wanting people to like you etc.) remains the same and if sex gets more risky then they may move on to less costly behaviors.

This may even be motivated by men wanting to avoid the more risky act.

But, as Caitlin Flanagan asks: How did we go from a middle-class teenage girl (fictional but broadly accurate) who will have sex only if it's with her boyfriend, and only if her pleasure is equal to his, to a middle-class teenage girl (a gross media caricature reflective of an admittedly disturbing trend) who wants to kneel down and service a series of boys?

In fact, in some senses, for women, this behavior seems even MORE risky. At least according to this evidence, regardless of the act, women have gone from a few (even one) intimate partner with whom to share sexual acts, to many random partners. Instead of Suzy going steady with Dan and speculations that they are (ahem) involved, we have Suzie's All-She-Can-Eat Fellatio Emporium. This can't be a positive evolution.

It seems to me that Harford's analysis is a little gender one sided.

Monday, September 04, 2006

And People Think Economics is Boring

Whenever I'm at a party and people ask the "so, what do you do?" question (a much more prolific question while in the DC area BTW), and I respond, eyes glaze over.

I almost always retort with something to the effect of "at least I'm not an accountant!"

I should direct them to what A Random Walk drew my attention to this morning: an article by Caitlin Flanagan, and then (of course) to an economic-y oriented follow-up related article by Tim Harford published over at Slate.

The gist of the Atlantic article is this, despite the author's disbelief:

Fellatio, which was once a part of the sexual repertoire only of experienced women, is now commonly performed by very young girls outside of romantic relationships, casually and without any expectation of reciprocation.

. . .

Somehow these girls have developed the indifferent attitude toward performing oral sex that one would associate with bitter, long-married women or streetwalkers. But they think of themselves as normal teenagers, version 2005.

. . .

It was like some weird search for communists-was the sweet, well-spoken daughter of a friend actually a blowjobber? I looked at the small girls in my children's schoolyard-as cosseted and protected and beloved a group of children as you will find anywhere on the planet-and tried to convince myself that in a matter of five or six years they would be performing oral sex on virtual strangers.

As an aside, she references the book I am currently reading in honor of Cousin's Mom (it is her favorite): The dearest book of my childhood, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, includes Francie's first period, but again, the novel's no upper: shortly after first blood Francie is assaulted by a pervert in a tenement hallway.

The author asks: How did we go from a middle-class teenage girl (fictional but broadly accurate) who will have sex only if it's with her boyfriend, and only if her pleasure is equal to his, to a middle-class teenage girl (a gross media caricature reflective of an admittedly disturbing trend) who wants to kneel down and service a series of boys?

Here's the economist's response to this social and cultural shift:

But an economic explanation would instead start with the premise that this is a response to changing incentives. What sort of incentives have changed?

Schoolchildren are now bombarded with information about the risks of sex, particularly HIV/AIDS. Oral sex can be safer than penetrative sex: It dramatically reduces the risk of contracting HIV and reduces the effects of some other sexually transmitted infections (although you can still pick up herpes, warts, and thrush). An infection that might have made a girl infertile instead gives her a sore throat.

The rest is basic economics.

When the price of penetrative sex rises, rational teenagers seek substitutes. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that even as the oral-sex epidemic rages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the percentage of teenage virgins has risen by more than 15 percent since the beginning of the 1990s.

. . .

A real economist would want a tighter hypothesis and serious data to back it up. That economist might well be Thomas Stratmann, who, with law professor Jonathan Klick, has pushed the idea of the rational teenage sex drive. Their hypothesis is that if teenagers really did think about the consequences of their actions, they would have less risky sex if the cost of risky sex went up. They discovered a very specific source of that higher risk: "In some states, there are abortion-notification or -consent laws, which mean that teenagers can't get an abortion without at least one parent being informed or giving consent." If teenagers are rational, such laws would discourage risky sex among teens, relative to adults.

Klick and Stratmann claim to have found evidence of exactly this. Wherever and whenever abortion-notification laws have been passed, gonorrhoea rates in the teenage and adult populations start to diverge. When it becomes more troublesome to get an abortion, teenagers seem to cut back on unprotected sex.

This photo was sent by a friend with the title "BUSTED!"

Friday, September 01, 2006

Got Milk [in Your Corporate Office]?

Check out this article from today's New York Times. Bold, mine.

[A]s pressure to breast-feed increases, a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs-generally, well-paid professionals -breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. But for lower-income mothers - including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military - pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.

It is a particularly literal case of how well-being tends to beget further well being, and disadvantage tends to create disadvantage - passed down in a mother's milk, or lack thereof.

Chicken Sangich

Check out Big's most recent culinary adventure (BioMom's Mom sent this to me via the St. Paul Pioneer Press): Chicken with Sweet Potato and Apple

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 large sweet potato (12 ounces), peeled and chopped
1/2 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup chicken stock

Heat butter in saucepan. Add onion. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken. Saute for 2 minutes or until mixture turns opaque. Add sweet potato and apple. Pour in stock. Bring to a boil. Cover. Simmer for 14 minutes. Puree to desired consistency. Note: Extra portions freeze well.