Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Recent Interview with My 11 Month Old

My Baby: Daddy, why haven’t you posted any of our conversations for the last two months?

Me: Ever since you actually started saying words, I’ve felt uncomfortable making up what you would say to me.

My Baby: Everyone knows that these “interviews” are just projections of your internal dialogue, a way of making your always-keep-it-complicated politics palatable…like when you tried to mix iron drops in my sweet potatoes. So why stop now? You should keep casting me as the Marxist Feminist, the naive radical without real experience in the world.

Me: You’re making me feel stupid.

My Baby: No, you’re making you feel stupid.

Me: Oh, right.

My Baby: Let’s pick up our conversation where we left off in October. I was saying that crises can also be opportunities. We live in a world where money and goods move from one country to another so fast that all social structures, including families, are always on the verge of collapse. You think your daddy has a good job in a Michigan car factory. Boom! That factory is on the Mexican border. Slam! It’s in China. Kablooeey! Myanmar. The union is gone and the health benefits are history. Daddy has to make ends meet and asks to mow the lawn of the CEO who moved the factory, but the Mexican guy who migrated here after his factory moved to China charges less.

Me: You’re depressing me.

My Baby: No, you’re depressing you.

Me: Right, I forgot.

My Baby: What you need to remember is that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) successfully organized the janitors in Houston and that they went on strike until their employers gave them contracts guaranteeing full-time work, health benefits, and a living wage. What you need to remember is that the Democrats took control of the US Congress and although that doesn’t mean fair trade policies will automatically prevail, it does mean our demands for protection of labor rights and the environment will not fall on completely deaf ears. What you need to remember is that even if the US government doesn’t change, the efforts of Brazil, India, and dozens of other developing countries, combined with the efforts of scholars, NGOs, and grassroots activists, have already stopped the Doha Round negotiations. What you need to remember is that mommy has way more opportunities to get a good job than she would have had fifty years ago and that the Salvadoran nanny we would have to hire because the government doesn’t provide childcare just might organize the other nannies with SEIU one day soon. Remember that Barrack Obama is just the beginning, that there are going to be legions of interracial leaders who seem to defy the old rules, people who don’t even remember when the world was divided between so-called capitalists and communists.

Me: I don’t know, BabyG. You’re just telling stories. The first story made me depressed. Now I’m supposed to be elated about the messed up world you are inheriting? You’re not even a year old, how can you tell me about hope?

My Baby: Our birthday is only three days away. I’ll be one. You’ll be twenty-nine. Together we’ll be thirty. That’s how old Jesus was when he taught the world about love and hope. This is a time to be excited.

Me: You’re right, I am excited. We’re going to get lots of presents! Boogey boogey boo, tickle tickle.

My Baby: Daddy, I feel like you are not listening to me.

Me: No, I am not listening to me. Ha! Got…me?

Monday, December 18, 2006

If you're driving alone from Ely to Elko @ 75mph @ 12am & your tire pops & you can't change it, & Triple A=Triple F for the environment THEN what?

According to our friend C's younger sister Kathy, you just call up the new, fantastic auto club you joined after canceling AAA's policies that made you sick because:

1) They oppose mass transit and energy efficient cars.
2) Their marketing strategies are aggressive, like credit card companies that hide key info in fine print.
3) They don't recognize same-sex partners as spouses.
4) They lobby for more highway building.

Remember that? The policies made you very, very angry, and so you cancelled that bad membership (and, knowing you, you called up to do it so you could let them know why.)

And, since you've never been one to be left in the lurch, you joined up with those fantastic others, the peeps at the Better World Club...who work at "balancing economic goals with social and environmental responsibility" by, for instance, kicking back a percentage of their profits to environmental cleanup and awareness.

Now it's midnight and you're all alone in the dark Nevada desert with a three-legged car, and instead of having nobody, domp dah dee dah!, you call up your rescuers just the way you would if you had AAA. Then you yourself kickback on the hood of your non-SUV, maybe even your Hybrid or veggie-oil-run-Volvo, and you await your rescue while perusing the galaxies, and hopefully remembering what it was you thought about stars when you were six years old,and thought a lot about the night sky. It could make you smile.  

Of course, I think that when you get home you'll want to shoot an email off to the Better World Club. Suggest that while AAA's environmental policy is horrid, it also can't be denied that the Better World Club's name isn't nearly as catchy (BWC?).

Ask them to say no to liberal frumpiness...beg them to come up with a catchier name. (Says MaGreen to the kettle that called the pot black...)


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vegetarian Smarty Pants'

Woesy are the tales a number of my non-culturally-vegetarian friends have told about declaring their food choices to friends, lovers, family, and parents. Though many families come around to at least accepting their wayward muncher's habits, it almost always takes at least a very uncomfortable Thanksgiving or so before it happens.

My own father now not only accepts it, but enjoys cooking vegetarian meals for me and GreenDaddy when we come home. I suppose at a certain point, when you live far from your family, a good solid fact like "M. is a vegetarian" is a treasure. My dad may not know the particularities of how my tastes have changed, so he has a hard time finding just the right birthday gift, as he used to love to do; sometimes he and I spend torturous hours together because we're not even sure enough about each others' changing tastes to have good conversations...but he can count on the no-meat thing in our relationship, and I can tell he relishes it.

His meals say to me: it's true, we don't know each other as deeply as we did when you were a child, but look at this wonderful pasta I've created without the beef I'm so fond of...I made it because although I don't know everything about you, I know something important about the choices you make, and I want you to see that I'm still listening to you, I'm still helping you to be whatever it is you've become, even if I don't understand it.

Besides cooking me vegetarian suppers, these days, my father brags about me. He brags, according to all his friends, about my sweet husband, my weighty baby, and my handsome intelligence. He's always bragged about my smarts, though he makes fun of the vegetarianism even as he supports it. But now, thanks to the heads-up from T., I can explain to him that it is because of the very smarts of mine that he loves to brag up, that I don't eat meat. I can say, "Dad, I can't eat steak. My IQ is too high." Yuk, yuk, yuk.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I Need Your Birthday Cake Recipes

Purpose of this post: I'm begging for recipes & ideas

Well, we're having people over for BabyG's birthday and the question is: what do I do about cake?

The memory I'll indulge: Once my grandma made my father a sandwich cake, which she was very proud of, and which he still describes with shudders. I think there were spam layers, some sort of chopped veggie layers, and cream cheese layers. On white bread? Something like that. She made it because dad said he hated cake, and she wanted him to have a cake he'd like.

Moral: In most other ways I'd love to emulate my grandmother, but I don't want to bomb on the cake-thing.

BTW: I hate cake. And so does GreenDaddy.

Why cake matters: The photo, I guess. Maybe she'll have fun digging into it. I'm not sure.

Important note: I am a terribe baker. But deep down, no matter what I write afterwards, I want BabyG to have cake.

And: If at all possible, whatever cake, or cake variation I make...I'd like it to be impressive.

And: I realize my expecations are high and as of yet undefined. Please bear with me.

I am of twenty-two minds a few of which are:

1) Cook the baby some sugar free cake and don't jolt her into sugarhood.
a) But what kind of cake...not carrot. We are stealing friend Cos's
birthday open house idea, and so think we won't also steal the
delicious carrot cake his birthday starred.
b) Recipes anyone...? Or ideas about kinds?

12) Cook a cake alternative. I've read Jello is fun (but ew!...)
a) Any other ideas/opinions about this?

17) Cook her a massively chocolate cake with sugar and the rest.
a) Do they make "healthy" chocolate cakes?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Introducing our New Line of Blog Action Figures: GreenDaddy, MaGreen & BabyG

Last week GreenDaddy suggested that we'd have to kill Green Parenting for when I go out on the job market next year, because if people Googled my name something might spook them. So that night I painstakingly changed all our names to fit the others in BlogLand. It’s only half done…the rest will soon follow. I had been considering doing it anyway, because I can’t stop worrying about the saftey of posting both pictures of BabyG and her name. I figure I can get away with one or the other, safely. I love the sound of her name, I love writing it…but I would rather post photos.

This issue brings up what I can already see will be a great challenge for me as a parent: naming boundaries in the name of BG’s safety. I’m not a real rule-maker sort of person; I don’t want to be over-afraid. But because of mistakes I’ve made in my own life, I know I error in the direction of not-enough-consideration-of-possible-dangers. I want to be more thoughtful, more wise in choices I make for BG.

This choice making comes up in so many different ways. In the simplest of ways, it’s just letting her explore. The other night we were at a restaurant, and she was standing up on the booth, holding onto the edge of a cement table. I worried she was going to slip and hit her chin on the cement edge, even though I was right next to her and she couldn’t fall far or hurt herself badly. But I wasn’t hovering over her, I wasn’t that vigilant. If she slipped I knew it would hurt, but I thought it was better to let her explore, to stand there, to be a baby. And then she slipped and banged her chin, and she bit her lip and she howled. And I felt so stupid and terrible. The woman sitting next to me said, “I was waiting for that,” and gave me a tsk tsk look.

I tried to explain that it’s so hard deciding what to let the baby try. Or how hovering you should be. But she just looked at me like I was insane.

A much more complicated issue of choosing boundaries and dangers your child your face is in discussing immunizations, an issue we somehow missed discussing on Green Parenting. There are three camps: 1) Don’t immunize because the shots might be detrimental to your childrens’ health (especially if they contain Mercury, though are made without Mercury now; you can ask your doctor what kind of shots he/she gives); 2) Pick and choose what you’ll give the baby…some might give babies shots for the most serious diseases, but not “mild” ones, and others might not give babies shots for sexually transmitted diseases; 3) Immunize completely because you don’t want your baby at risk for a preventable disease for the rest of his/her life and because the older they are, the more difficult it is for them to take the shots.

For me, this issue is about choosing between two evils nobody wants to think about: poisoning your baby accidentally or not preventing their susceptibility to a potentially life-threatening disease. You hope neither will happen, and probably neither will. I prefer the possible accidental poisoning, because I think it’s less likely to happen than the other. But I don’t know what is in the shots, exactly; they might have had adverse effects. I just don’t know, the way I don’t know exactly the effect of a medicine on me twenty years from now. But I take it. It is risky. I know they've changed vaccines because of the protests of parents over the last two decades -- they're much safer. And vaccinating BabyG means she won't be spreading diseases to other peoples' children. Also, BabyG will probably be traveling in countries where there isn't a vaccine blanket, like there is in the US. I'd also rather know now if something goes wrong, than spend my life afraid I've set her up for a gigantic disaster. What if she got polio? How would I explain that to her? I'll always remember my grandma's description of caring for five babies with whooping cough, two of whom nearly died…because her sister convinced her not to vaccinate them. It turned her completely off to "natural" parenting of any kind.

I really worried about giving the vaccines, and luckily, they didn’t bother her at all. I cried when she got them, though. It was so frustrating to do tons of research, and to find no clear-cut answer. Proponents of either side of the issue implied the parents on the other side were negligent or worried about the wrong thing. But many of my friends swung the other way, and didn’t vaccinate at all. They were just as worried about their choice as I was. There wasn’t an easy choice. This choosing the better danger; this choosing the boundary business in the name of a defenseless baby’s, my defenseless baby’s livelihood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Anonymizing on the internet is another aspect of these boundaries. We chose, at first, not to be anonymous. I was always worried about that choice, though. It’s less clunky to use real names; it’s more ‘real.” But I always felt slightly uncomfortable. The gamble is that no crazy freak will come after the baby we named and posted photos of on the internet. Probably none ever would have.

But how would I explain to my child that I just felt safe...oops…if all this backfired? Or explain it to myself if something went even more wrong? It’s easier for me to be experimental with things like her falling and bumping her chin. And the funny thing is, it’s much more likely she’ll fall and bump her chin in a certain scenario, than she’ll get a disease or she’ll be bothered by a crazy internet viewer. And I allow her more leniency to fall in situations where the fall is likely; my fear is greater in these things like immunization or random crazies, they’re so much less likely, but the stakes are so much higher.

So now we're named like a superhero family, which I guess we can handle. I still have more names to change, and then it’ll probably be several months before you can’t find this website through our real names.

If it hadn’t been such a pain to change so many names, post by post, I would have had a contest to choose the best names for our family. I didn’t think of that until too late. GreenDaddy did think of choosing names similar to our real ones…Roy, Myra, and Lola or something. But in the end we both preferred being obviously anonymous to being secretly so.

This post is all over the place, I know. I’d love any advice on how to make good boundaries. On when to know if you’re loopy with ridiculous fear or loopy with ridiculous fearlessness. And does anybody know if there’s a find and replace feature that can be attached to Blogger?