Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Recent Interview with My Six-Month-Old Daughter

Me: I'm glad we could sit down to talk again.

My Baby: I'm not going to talk unless you hold me…eeeeee…eeeeee…

Me: Upsy-daisy!

My Baby: OK, that's better. In our last interview, you said that you read depressing books about how childcare isn't valued so that you can work for change.

Me: That's right. It's important to be informed without becoming paralyzed by anger.

My Baby: Well, I know now how society could change so that it would be easier for us to be a happy family.

Me: Really how?

My Baby: First I have to tell a story. See, all the goddesses up above decided to have a contest among all the nations, a race. The nation that could get the farthest – not just a few individuals but all the people – would win. When the race started, one nation jumped to an early lead. All their people ran as fast as they could. Their fastest runners were way ahead. The children and old people tried to keep up. After a bit, though, the children and old people couldn't run at all. The fastest runners eventually got exhausted too and the nation as a whole clearly wouldn't win.

Another nation took the lead. They had set up a division of labor ahead of time. The men would do the hardest running and in return they were in charge. The women were expected to take care of the men, children, and elderly. Even though they were not ahead at first, they were able to move forward as a nation at a relatively fast pace. But the men did not put enough resources into supporting the women's caring labor. The women became exhausted and stifled by the work. If a woman wanted to become a full-time racer, she had to do the same amount of caring as always. As more women became dissatisfied, more energy went into crushing their voices and keeping men in charge. The second generation of men didn't want to be like their fathers always racing without spending time with family. The second generation of women refused to participate entirely.

Eventually, the goddesses noticed a third nation that had kept a steady pace and even gained momentum as the other nations slowed down. These people talked openly about taking care of each other ahead of time. Everybody's voices were given consideration including the elderly, women, and advocates for children. Men and women ended up sharing caring labor. Some women didn't do any caring labor. Some men did caring labor full-time. After several generations, this nation ended up winning the race, like the turtle that beat the hare.

Me: I like that story.

My Baby: The moral is that our society should be like the turtle nation.

Me: You should mention that you didn't make up that story. I think I must have been holding you in my lap when I was reading Nancy Folbre's book, The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values. You have to credit her with coming up with that story.

My Baby: I didn't think stories and ideas belonged to anybody. I thought they belong to the world. Just because someone gets a story published first, does that mean they own it? I don't think that's how the turtle nation did things.

Me: Nancy Folbre would probably encourage you to think critically about intellectual property rights, but it doesn't hurt to give people credit.

My Baby: Anyhow, I'd like you to put me down on my play mat so I can critically engage with those wooden toys over there.


Fiddler said...

Sounds like a good book... it's now on my 'list' to look for...

sky said...

you are so cool it makes me *green* with envy sometimes.

thanks for your long distance support. words are words are wings.