Monday, February 20, 2012

Snail Hat or the Hat of Diplomacy

I majored in Anthropology and hope someday to put my training to use and write something insightful about French culture. Well, I'll work on that. In the meantime, I'll share this observation.

The French are not rude.

I was told with great earnestness that the French can be downright bellicose towards English-speakers. But I find that even when I (almost inevitably) fall into English, people are courteous and even warm.

Now I'm going to do something that's very "in" in Social Science, and explain why this observation can't be trusted as a general rule.  My grounds for lacking objectivity are quite tangible and boil down to this:

I walk around town with this person strapped to my chest.  Not only is it a baby, but it's a baby in a snail hat. Un petit escargot tres mignon!  Just try to be rude to someone wearing a baby in snail hat. I dare you!  Even cool and indifferent becomes a challenge when faced with a drooly smile and two pompoms.

It may just be that I'm a nursing mom high on oxytosin, but I think the baby-in-hat thing could bring about a new kind of diplomacy. International negotiations could begin with a presentation of representative infants wearing the cutest head gear their countries could devise. The attending politicians would have to greet the babies and say "isn't that adorable" before talks commenced.  It would have the salutatory effect of a.) putting everyone in a positive frame of mind, and b.) reminding officials of their duty to the next generation. Think about it...

The hat, by the way, was my second knitting project ever.  ("Aha," you say, "a crafting post cleverly disguised as cultural commentary!")  It actually was meant to be a hat for Maria, to go with the knitted collar I made her, but I misjudged the number of stitches and it turned out more Loulou-sized.  It's the simplest hat possible--you just need to know how to knit, purl, and make pompoms.  You can find directions here.

Truth be told, I got awfully impatient while making it and it came out too small even for Louisa. It wouldn't fit over her ears. Then my mom came to the rescue and crocheted the headband and the little ear flaps. A knitter I am not.

So if any of you real knitters know of a good beginner beginner project that I could move on to (maybe something a little more interesting) I'd love to hear about it. If it can further international relations, that would be a plus.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Face It: On the Difficulties of Getting Out the Door

A friend once proposed a rival site to Facebook, called Face It.  People would only post when they were having a bad day and wanted commiseration. No vacation photos or cute children's antics allowed.  Face It posts are written in that spirit.  They are "complaining songs" to put it in the parlance of Winnie-the-Pooh.

You know your daughter is in the terrible twos when you have conversations like this:

Me:  Time to get dressed to go outside. We've got to buy food.
Daughter: I want play outside.
Me: Yes, we can play outside as well, but have to get dressed to go outside.
Daughter: [incomprehensible moaning]
Me: Sweetie, what's wrong?  Do you want to go outside?
Daughter: [more moaning] Yes. Boots! Boots!
Me: You can wear your boots.  Let's put them on.
Daughter: [more moaning]  Help, help.
Me:  Yes, I'll help with the boots.
Daughter: By self, by self.
Finally, miraculously, the boots are on.  Then...

Daughter: [more moaning] 'now pants! 'Now pants!  I want wear 'now pants!
Me: Okay, but we have to take off the boots to put on your snow pants.

I don't dislike winter.  I dislike snow pants and those dang rubber boots that Maria loves too dang much.

As it turns out, the snow pants are too tight because beloved daughter has her beloved legwarmers on, and, as it turns out, she doesn't want to wear the snow pants any way.   The baby starts to scream because she was already dressed for outdoors and is getting overheated.  Two repetitions of the aforementioned dialogue and two timeouts later, no one is outside. I'm eating chocolate and airing my woes on the Internet.

I know this is just Maria exerting her independence and almost simultaneously behaving as though she's helpless to get attention.  I know this is just one of the petty battles of the first decade of family life, and that you fight these battles so that you have a better chance of avoiding/winning the Big Battles of the second decade.  I know that in the karmic sense, this is fitting because I was a bit of a whiner and it is right that I should find out what it is like to be a mother (not to a whiner) but to someone who often whines.

During these interchanges I feel torn between giving the kid a shower of kisses to make her she feel loved so she doesn't need to resort to all this drama (doesn't  work) or to go the 'thump on the rump' route (also doesn't work).  In the end, it seems like the extended timeout is the only way to restore calm.

It restores calm, but doesn't get us to the grocery store.  I guess it's rice and beans again tonight.  And chocolate...luckily there's plenty of that of that on hand.