Monday, July 18, 2011

Parc Slope

-These sure look familiar. I'm assuming the fact that I have the cheaper (but still not cheap!) version means I don't have the original, although I got mine a while back, so maybe this is an example of that alleged phenomenon, high fashion borrowing from the masses?

-Oh, to be able to grow garlic. This lifestyle of living in tiny rooms to better serve Academia is not conducive to that particular goal.

-Big surprise: the #1 article "recommended for me" at the NYT is one tailor-made for one of the tags on this ol' blog: Jewish Babies. Not sure what to make of Israel-as-IVFsville. On the one hand, I share the quoted feminist's concerns about the physical repercussions of that much IVF, and have my own feminist qualms about what it means to encourage baby-making, given who, for social and biological reasons, bears the brunt of this demand. Oh, and the social conservative/Dan Savage in me wonders if it's so fantastic for the state to encourage the formation of single-parent homes. (Supporting existing ones is another matter.) On the other, if the beneficiaries really are as "Jewish and Arab, straight and gay, secular and religious" as the article claims, then we can at least rule out the idea that this is exclusionist political natalism. So as icky as political natalism is under the best of circumstances, this is... the best of circumstances. Those who want a kid are helped, there's less Octomom potential because of the subsidies, and, even if this is all on some level about Jewish Babies, it appears that most everyone's happy. So... consider me undecided on this one.

-This was recently posted to one of the seemingly infinite social networking sites (OK, one of the three) I'm on these days: "has anyone else ever noticed that people with children feel much more free to invade your personal space than people without?" S/he who is the origin of the quote may identify him/herself, or not. I was going to respond there, but it had become a massive thread going all over the place, and I came too late to the party. So, here instead. Yes, I have noticed this. It first bears a mention that kid-complaints are virtually never about children themselves, virtually always about parent behavior, which is why it's always bizarre to me that they're cast as being about whether or not one finds babies cute. It next bears a mention that I've never been all that worked up about lax parenting/over-indulged kids, or else how would I have lasted four years in-and-around Park Slope? I tend to think, not having kids, that I don't know how difficult it is to care for them, so, not my business.

But I must respond here, because OMG was this ever the situation in Paris. It's true for the most part on public transportation, where someone can be eight months pregnant or 80 years old and whatever, but anyone who gets on with a kid under 10 is immediately owed two seats, one for himself, one for the kid. But it's also true in parks. I would sometimes need to Skype from such places, some of which do indeed have the alleged free weefee. In this one park, the park closest to the dorm that actually had this service, Skyping involved first walking through a soccer-ball zone, my head (and laptop) popular targets for this multi-ball extravaganza. Small French children, a lot stronger kickers than one might imagine! But I had to get through in order to avoid what was ostensibly the kids' part of the park, the one with what I've just described, as well as a playground/play area/whatever. I would then go up some stairs to the drunks/rebellious youths/quiet readers section, and park myself a) wherever there was a signal, and b) wherever I'd be least offensive to readers/bothered by drunks.

So. This strategy worked, for the most part, except for the odd soccer ball migrating from the lower level, and for the games of tag or "le tag" that would sometimes involve a huge gaggle of gamins darting in front of as well as behind the bench I was sitting on. But when it totally, utterly failed was when parents would decide to bring their tots intentionally to the upper level, to play a game of 'whee, jump off the ledge,' the ledge being the edge of some plantings, a couple/few feet above the ground, not like jumping out a window. At the end of said ledge, smack in the middle of where "whee" was meant to culminate, was the only bench it made sense for me to sit on. One father, in particular, found this adorable, more adorable still when she gravitated to my bench, extra-adorable when the fruit of his loins confused my laptop for a toy and began grabbing at that. And I was all, hello, I'm a grad student, this is the most expensive thing I own, and I live in such close quarters that I have to communicate with folks back home from public parks. In my head. I probably just shot a glance intended to say that, but, in a city where friendly smiles are less expected even than in NY, no message was conveyed, I suspect. Meanwhile the toddler herself was, in fact, adorable. The father friggin' out-Park-Sloped Park Slope.

Anyway, this is kind of a thing in Paris, where children are normally so well-behaved, dressed impeccably, etc., leading visitors to wonder if children back home are as uncontrollable as alleged. But, possible misanthropic wifi-seekers, the park is where they're allowed to run free.

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