Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mouth agape

The week isn't yet finished, but I've already had some head-shaking moments.

(Oh, and I wrote this post last night; this morning we woke up to the news at 5:30, explaining the foiled terrorist plot to blow up commercial airliners to the US from Britain. Suddenly not taking a big vacation this year looks juuuuust fiiine. Especially since it looks probable that you will not be able to take a bag full of goodies to entertain toddlers on the plane. So we might not be traveling far for at least four years. Assuming we haven't been blown to smithereens by then.)

1. People smoking at a park filled with kids. I know that there are very few places in New York City where you can legally smoke, but honestly! Miss M spent close to an hour in the sandbox, and there were two women chain-smoking on the bench about eight feet away from it. Yuck. I probably should have said something, but a) I am as non-confrontational as they come, b) my children weren't in imminent danger, and c) where else were they going to go? It was
5 pm on a beautiful summer afternoon. The playground was crawling with kids. Plus they looked scary and kept screaming at their own children.

2. I spent a couple of hours at the zoo on Monday with friends from Portland, M & B, and their two boys, who are 4 and 13 months. They come to New York for a week every summer to visit M's parents. M's parents were at the zoo as well, and the jaw-dropping part was that I could not believe how unhelpful they were with the kids. (I had originally thought that it was going to be a great adult to kid ratio--5:4--but it was really 3.1:4.) Yes, it was hot; yes, we spent most of the time in the children's part of the zoo; yes, part of being with a pre-schooler is answering the same questions over and over and listening to them say inane (but sometimes cute) things. But these are their grandchildren! They just sat on benches, complained about the weather (take a number!), and didn't engage the boys at all. Someone asked M's mother how old the younger one is, and she gave an answer that wasn't really close. The thing that killed me, though, is that she was going on and on about her other grandkids (M's brother's children).

I don't know why this bothered me so much, but it did. It made me sad. And also so grateful for my parents (who are far away) but especially for my in-laws, who call and beg to come visit with our kids. They take Miss M on Thursday afternoons so I can go to the farmers' market with just one very easy child. They drop everything to entertain them, spoil them rotten (but only after asking our permission), and brag about them to their friends. So...happy for me and Taxman, but sad for my friends. (I know there are plenty of people who have fraught relationships with their parents, but M & B are just about the nicest people on earth, in my experience. If they can't make it work, I fear for the rest of us.)

3. We are spending the weekend in the Berkshires, where it will be downright glacial after dark. The low 50s! Anyway, Miss M doesn't have appropriate clothes in her current size. The sweatshirt that fit her in May will of course not fit her now. So I stopped into the little girls' department at Macy's--it was their usual Wednesday one-day sale.

I was horrified. Probably 90 percent of the clothes they were displaying were name brands that were, of course, overpriced because they were name brands.* But really, even at 40 percent off, do I want my daughter look like a mini hip-hop princess? She's two! Only once in her entire life has she given me a strong preference about her clothes. So, no, there will be no Ecko Red miniskirts, no Puma sweatshirts, no Baby Phat capri pants, and definitely no Apple Bottoms tops because I don't want anything in her closet "designed" by Nelly...or that has a brand name referring to a woman's ass. Did I mention that she's TWO YEARS OLD? Next stop, Club Libby Lu! (Heh. Over my dead body.)

I am curious to know who thinks that clothes like this are appropriate for little girls. I understand there is a certain point in a kid's life where you need to allow her to exercise her own judgment (within reason) about what she wears. But how does that filter down to sequined tops and miniskirts in size 2T? And furthermore, who buys these things? Don't their girls play in the dirt, dribble food everywhere, and decorate their pants with markers?

Can somebody help me out here? Am I just disgusted, confused and disgusted, or just confused?

* Full disclosure: I do dress my kids in a lot of Gap clothes because they have great sales and the clothes are really cute, 100% cotton, and hold up well in the wash. And don't make my toddler look like a hooker, which is a bonus.

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