Quarantimes Week 19: Butterflies and Skyscrapers

July 24th, 2020

Phoebe asks, “Can I be anything I want when I grow up?”

“Of course!” I say.

“Then I want to be a butterfly,” she decides. Eliza says, “I’m going to be a skyscraper.”

Parenting is more complicated than they make it out to be. I always imagined that when I had kids, I’d talk to them in simple, honest terms. But that was assuming there’d be a basic foundation of logic in the line of questioning. I didn’t picture myself having to be the dick who tells my daughter she can’t be a skyscraper when she grows up.

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Things are equally confusing when I’m simply trying to orient them to the world. 

They’re watching this inane Amazon kids show I cannot stand called Princess Sophia. Until recently we had successfully evaded the princess trap, but in the time of a pandemic, screen standards are low. The boy in this episode wants to be a figure skater, but he’s afraid to tell his dad and friends. They all want him to play ice hockey.

“Why is he afraid to tell them?” I ask.

“Because he’s a boy,” they tell me. 

I’m pretty sure it had never occurred to them before watching this show that activities like ice skating could be gendered. Their dad taught them to ice skate. At this point, they don’t know about the difference between figure skating and hockey skating, never mind that it’s allegedly a boy/girl thing. I resent that they are learning this shit.


I think about this kind of stuff a lot, and it’s much more nuanced and complicated than I thought it would be. Today I joined a group of Southern Vermont moms to Zoom about how to raise anti-racist kids in a pretty white place. I sat in anxious discomfort for an hour, trying to be candid while afraid of saying the wrong things.

Several other moms brought up how “performative” it is to proudly display your diverse bookshelf. I myself am quite guilty of this, having intentionally curated a children’s book collection devoid of racist crap and chock-full of books by diverse authors and featuring diverse characters and storylines.

Performative it may be, but it’s one thing I can do. Another thing is to monitor what they watch on TV. I let them watch Princess Sophia but I definitely regret The Little Mermaid. Sorry, friends with ‘90s childhoods. That movie is ridiculous!!

Luckily, I haven’t heard much in the way of “I want to be a mermaid when I grow up,” thank god.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

What I’m reading:

No god but God by Reza Aslan, about the origins and evolution of the Islam faith

Your ‘Doomscrolling’ Breeds Anxiety. Here’s How To Stop The Cycle on the NPR website

What I’m listening to:

On Radiolab, Dispatches from 1918 — How the media coverage of the Plague of 1918 reveals what life was like back then

On NPR, Herd Immunity Response To COVID-19 Pandemic Can Be Problematic — why the idea of “herd immunity” is bad, because, well, no one wants to volunteer to be the one who dies so the herd can benefit (3-minute listen!) 

What I’m eating:

The cucumbers have arrived in my garden!

The cucumbers have arrived in my garden!

What I’m working on: 

Ghostwritten for Helpshift: How Fintechs Keep Costs Down While Raising Up Customer Experience

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One Response to “Quarantimes Week 19: Butterflies and Skyscrapers”

  1. I love “I want to be a skyscraper.” “Butterfly” is very cool also.
    I’m just glad I don’t have to hear Barney and Spongebob in the back room anymore.

    Thanks as always.

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