They’re barely a year apart, and in this photo, seemingly barely an inch apart:
Allison is four; Liam is almost three. Awfully close together, you think? Just look at them.
They’re barely a year apart, and in this photo, seemingly barely an inch apart:
Allison is four; Liam is almost three. Awfully close together, you think? Just look at them.
Maybe. I wouldn’t know.
Herein, number-one grandson — 15 last November, this tall for at least four years now — has approached his ladylove bearing gifts: brownies, and a bear.
She seems pleased.
Theunis Bates, managing editor of The Week, has an 18-month-old toddler who behaves like, well, an 18-month-old toddler. The problem with that is that the Bates family lives in “the world capital of obsessive parenting”:
My neighborhood’s online message board is filled with moms and dads worrying over the latest studies on toxic chemicals in plastic sippy cups and the urgent need to enroll their newborns in music classes that will stimulate their brains into genius. Of course, every parent wants to give his or her sprout the best start in life, but there is no scientifically correct child-rearing method. Science is constantly evolving — not so long ago, it was thought that pacifiers turned kids into sexual deviants; now Binkys are thought to be effective pain relievers — and findings can often be reversed. So until the experts figure out how to raise the perfect kid, relax, and let her eat crayons.
Where is this “world capital?” Brooklyn, New York.
(Seen in issue 684, 5 September 2014. Not yet on line at this writing.)
Children are a major disappointment in most cases, which is why I say that the modern ideology of parenting is baloney. People who don’t have them aren’t missing anything they really need. They’re not helping keep the race in business, no, but they’re not suffering for it either.
I didn’t mind it so much, but I did a lot of it at a distance, the result of a fragged marriage. Still, this seems true:
I used to wonder why my parents, especially my mother, kept bugging me to have children. Now I know. They were getting even.
The slope goes ever downward.
(Title courtesy of Alice Cooper.)
There is natural selection, and there is this:
I learned that only 1 to 2% of men who offer to donate to sperm banks are accepted as donors, and of those that are accepted, some donors are much popular among the donees than others.
Women who use sperm banks are looking to make a perfect baby: Handsome and brilliant. Talented and charming. Loving and kind. A match one might only dream of finding in the flesh.
“Donee,” apparently, is not some twentieth-century portmanteau construction intended to be the obvious opposite number to “donor”: Merriam-Webster traces it back to 1523.
“Many women see this as another way to give their child a head start in life,” says Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who has studied the sperm bank industry, of the high stakes of sperm selection.
And increasingly, say the banks, women want proof of perfection before buying a dream donor’s sperm. They ask for SAT scores and personality test results.
Actual men meeting their standards, one assumes, are few and far between. And according to legend, women spurn them anyway: better someone who can sweep you off your feet than someone who’ll happily sweep out the garage.
Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure the selection criteria exercised by the banks will be optimal. In 2011, Cryos International, a major worldwide sperm bank, began rejecting redheads as donors, claiming a surfeit thereof.
Apparently it took place some time after 1900:
At one point I was discussing the uniforms of the Civil War when immediately two or three hands shot into the air. I was not giving a lecture and throughout the discussion we were doing give and take, to make sure the kids understood what I was presenting. I acknowledged one boy who stated in complete seriousness and with an earnestness and thirst for knowledge “I thought there was no color until the twentieth century. Weren’t the uniforms grey and black?” I looked at him in dumbfounded amazement and noticed several other kids nodding in agreement.
You gotta admit, though: Betsy Ross did one hell of a job on that greyscale flag.
There was an older couple of ladies behind me in line at the supermarket making goo-goo eyes at the baby. When we were outside, one of them informed — not in those precise words — that I was handling the unloading process wrong.
My process is: Take the cart to the car, unload the groceries, return cart, take baby from cart and carry her with me back to the car.
Her order was: Put the baby in the car, start the car with the air conditioning or heater on, unload cart, and then return the cart.
When I was small enough to ride in the cart, there was no chance the parents would leave me in the car for more than a couple of seconds: I’d lunge for the controls. And there being nothing even close to child restraints in those days, I’d almost certainly reach them.
The “Terrible Twos” are merely a marketing ploy by three-year-olds, designed to throw parents off the track of how bad three-year-olds behave. You see, by the time a child hits three they become very capable, in an absolute sense. By this I mean they know how things work: doors, locks, caps on spice bottles, plumbing fixtures, ladders, chain saws, lathes, Machiavellian interpersonal machinations, etc. They can do a lot with those skills, in an absolute sense. And they all have the same kind of outlook on law and order that one would expect of devotees of the Anarchist Cookbook.
Allegedly, I was three for about four and a half years. I don’t remember it that way, but of course I wouldn’t.
I learned a long time ago that both my children carry my Wiseguy gene, and it’s almost a certainty that they passed it on to their kids.
Last night, my son did one of those Foursquare checkins at a place called The Scene, prompting the following exchange:
Becky Carson: This ain’t a scene. It’s an arms race?
Russell Hill: Lots of good bands tonight. You should come out.
Charles G. Hill: Am I supposed to be concerned that my daughter is making gratuitous Fall Out Boy references?
Becky Carson: More importantly, where is the concern for the father that knows a Fall Out Boy reference.
Russell Hill: Well, this is concerning.
Which really should be the quote of last week, since it was in the issue of Entertainment Weekly that was mailed to subscribers last week, and which I didn’t read until today for reasons you’ve already heard enough about.
The topic is the Royal Baby, and due to magazine lead times, they didn’t have the name just yet. Jessica Shaw proclaimed:
At 4:24 p.m. local time on July 22, the Duchess of Cambridge, 22, gave birth to His Royal Highness Prince Something or Other of Cambridge, weighing in at a regal 8 pounds and 6 ounces. (There was no name as of press time, but it’s got to be better than North West. I’m a let you finish, Kanye, but Kate Middleton just gave birth to one of the best babies of all time.)
Best riff on that quote I’ve seen in some time. (And it’s Prince George, as we already know.)
Once again, something I didn’t notice is noticed:
Funny observation popped up in discussion [on an irrelevant topic]: among man-bloggers who are fathers majority are those with daughters. Women-bloggers, as noted, do not exhibit this particular trait — they are mothers as often to boys as to girls.
Which prompts some speculation:
[U]nderlying connection between man’s ability to write coherent texts and raising a female? what could be genetic condition for this correlation? Etc, etc.
I’m not quite sure what, if anything, I can extrapolate from my own experience. When my daughter was born, I was a terrible writer; today, 35 years later, I am, um, less terrible. Does my son, 32 this year, affect this in any way? How about the grandchildren (four boys, two girls)?
Children grow up and move away — they do if they have their own health insurance, anyway — but the trappings of childhood remain behind, as Tad Maudlin can tell you:
Eventually, the toys will get cleaned up and donated to a church sale or some such collection, but the last bottle of Mr. Bubble will just migrate to the rear of the cabinet. Periodically, I’ll clean and rearrange the contents of the cabinet, but I won’t want to dispose of half a bottle of Mr. Bubble. Eventually, I’ll say I’m saving it for the grandchildren, but I’ll not really know if I’m to have my line continue or if I’ll live to see it.
Lest Tad become glum about this prospect, I will mention a product that remains on my shelf: it’s Dow Hospital Germicide and Deodorizer (Citrus Scent), EPA Reg No. 464-400. Active ingredients: good old alcohol, plus a dollop of 2-phenylphenol. This came home from the hospital with my daughter in 1978, and I am not giving it up. For one thing, the can is still about one-third full, though the propellant has long since given up propelling. The citrus scent, however, is alive and well.
Moses had to write off two generations in Sinai before the Israelites were ready. We have, at the high end, a bunch of deadbeat Boomers who’d beggar any number of generations in the name of me, me, me, and I. At the low end, the non-approach to societal continuity has stunted the growth of the Millennials. I’m not of the notion that, once raised in moochery, the human mind is incapable of growth. But we need to admit that the yield of mature, liberty-loving Americans from this bunch is going to be low.
That leaves Gen X to mop up the mess. And I can’t say I’d blame them if they said it was spinach, and the hell with it.
Still, the Xers are more likely to own big-person pants than their parents, who too often resist the very idea of pants.
Despite predicted suck potential of well over 9000, the season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic turned out to be downright moving: Twilight Sparkle’s ascension to royalty, a notion I was bound to distrust, given its obvious mercenary motivation, seemed not only reasonable but inevitable.
Still, the best after-the-fact commentary was dropped onto this screencap of Night Light and Twilight Velvet attending the coronation:
Twi has her mom’s eyes.
And everything will turn out all right. I think.
One particular two-story house in the 200 block of NW 17 has two sets of porch steps. They call it “The Twin House.”
Who calls it that? The last three families to live there. These families either moved into the house with twins, found out they were expecting twins while living there, or found out and had twins born while living at 209 NW 17.
Of course, what we’re all dying to know is this: How will that affect resale value? Quips a former resident (and father of twins): “I have buddies that won’t even drive down that block anymore.”
Addendum: Fishersville Mike recalls:
Reminds me of my family’s first house.
We had three boys.
In 1977, we sold to a family with three boys.
They sold to a family with two boys.
The wife said — no more kids.
Usually I put up screenshots of Yahoo! Answers stuff, but this one was so long I figured it would be easier to read as Actual Text:
I used to hate Aston Martins and just recently i started to love em. They are my favorite car and i really want to know how i could possibly own one in the future. the Aston Martin DB7 1997 is about 30 thousand dollars or less. And the Aston Martin i really want is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volantile 1980’s but they are about 120,000 dollars. And my dream Aston Martin is Aston Martin DB5 and those are about 500,000 dollars. But i am only 16 and i know that i can’t afford any of those cars yet. I want to become a computer programmer and build my own company become CEO and make millions of dollars off a revolutionary idea i am now thinking about while i am taking AP Computer Science in High School. I don’t have good grades i have like about a 2.5 in high school. Which is complete ****. I plan to work my @$$ off in college. i plan to go to a community college for 2 years get my life in order because i am clinically depressed and i had a hard time in high school because of my suicidal thoughts and my depression. My parents fail to acknowledge my depression. But once i am 18 i want to go out and seek help. I might pay money once a month to see a therapist. And take some medication to get my life back in order. Then i want to after community college to go to a University and get my PHd. yes thats right i want a PHd in Computer Science its my life goal and i want to be called Doctor. I want to work for Google making about a 100 thousand dollars a year possibly my 2nd year in a University i apply for this job. I also want to be part of an Orchestra and be part of Orchestrated Soundtrack. Then i want to build my own company like a software company to make gaming computers. I want a sweet house in Hawaii like one of those villas but i want a car to go with it, What do i need to get these cars and by what age according to my plan can i get the cars. Also before my job at Google i want to play Jazz at places and for a real job during the time of community college / begining of University, i want to work at Lego. I am fine commuting with a 2,000 dollar Mercedes Turbo Diesel until i get an Aston, but i want one. When do you think i can get my first Aston Martin, and i only mean from the 3 i listed above.
The most heartening aspect of this, I think, is that he’s willing to suffer with a Mercedes-Benz until he’s in a position to own that Aston.
And I’d rather not throw water on his dreams, you know?
But this is where the newlyweds ended up last night:
This is Kansas City’s most romantic hotel. Beyond a bed and breakfast, or an inn, each of the hotel’s 62 guest rooms and suites boasts an elaborately themed environment.
Though of course I wouldn’t know this, I am assured that some of these environments are more elaborately themed than others.
Uma Thurman gave birth to a bouncing baby girl three months ago, but only now is the child’s name being revealed. And it’s a beaut: Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson.
Friends and family call her Luna.
It’s Thurman’s first child with Arpad Busson, to whom she’s been engaged since 2008, with a period of disengagement somewhere in the middle. Which does not at all explain this:
Born in New York, baby Luna joins a big extended family: Uma has kids Maya and Levon with her ex Ethan Hawke and Arpad has sons Flynn and Cy with his ex Elle MacPherson.
I can just hear Letterman intoning “Uma? Luna. Luna? Uma.”
I’ve already sent these up to Facebook, but the overlap between my readership there and my readership here is gratifyingly small, so I’ll put them up here as well.
Background: daughter Becky, her mom (my ex) and all three of her young’uns showed up on my doorstep, which gave me an opportunity to show how much better a photographer I am than any of them were.
Yeah, right. This came out well:
Shot by me in my living room. But the ex shot this one in my driveway:
And she was so worried that it wouldn’t come out. Note le visage du canard on grumpy Gramps there.
Oh, and we hit Italia Express for lunch. Everyone was favorably impressed.
(Click-to-embiggen works; it will take you to Flickr.)
Liam (see announcement here) is home, and evidently none the worse for wear, though he seems uninterested in this whole photography business:
Then again, this family has always learned the concept of boredom quickly, and I’m not at all surprised he’d discover it before finishing two weeks on the planet.
For those of you keeping score, the total grandchildren count is now up to six. Becky texted me to advise that they were going to induce labor; by the time I actually got to read said text, the youngster had already emerged.
Anyway, if you’re so inclined, say hello to Liam Luke Carson, born 4/2/12, 9 lb 8 oz, 21″, and somewhere around 85 decibels. Major lung power runs in the family, you may be certain. Pictures will follow when I can get some.
(Once again, I had to issue the Standard Reminder of how these things happen. They never learn.)
To update the books: this is Becky’s third, following Nick and Allison. Russ has three: Laney, Jackson and Gunner. That’s half a dozen. Considering I’m not yet 60, you’d think this would be plenty for a while.
“Be nice to your kids,” says the old joke. “They’ll pick your nursing home.”
Several quote collections credit this to Abraham Maslow, though none of them bothers to cite an actual source for it. Still, there’s serious truth to it, and Francis W. Porretto expands upon it:
The next generation will determine the value of our retirement funds. Not in the naive fiscal sense, but in this regard: Inasmuch as a dollar is only worth what it will buy in the marketplace, our progeny, which will control the levers of production when we retire, will determine what our retirement funds will be able to buy — by producing the goods and services available for our dollars. If they’re less innovative, less skillful, less knowledgeable, less quality oriented, or less inclined to work than are we, the bounties in our marketplace will descend from their current level to … less. So genuine concern for the next generation isn’t just a reflection of what degree of duty we feel for our children; it’s also a matter of self-interest.
I have long suspected that our self-proclaimed cultural arbiters really don’t like children: the little brats cut into one’s time for self-actualization, after all, and the most important, or at least loudest, issue of the moment is keeping those wombs empty by any means necessary. You’d think the little ones were forbidden by Vaal or something.
On the other hand, at least we’re still managing to reproduce at a respectable rate, cultural arbiters notwithstanding:
While almost all of the developed world, and many other nations, have seen plummeting fertility rates over the last twenty years, the United States’ rates have remained stable and even slightly increased. This is largely due to the high fertility rate among communities such as Hispanics, but it is also because the fertility rate among non-Hispanic whites in the US, after falling to about 1.6 in the 1970s and early 1980s, had increased and is now around 1.9-2.0, or slightly below replacement level, rather than collapsing to the 1.3-1.5 level common in Europe.
New England has a rate similar to most Western European countries, while the South, Midwest, and border states have fertility rates considerably higher than replacement. States where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a strong presence, most notably Utah, also have higher-than-replacement fertility rates, especially among the LDS population.
Replacement level in the developed world is considered to be about 2.1. (Which suggests that around 4.4 grandchildren would be the bare minimum. I am running ahead of that statistic, thank you very much, though I’m far beyond the point where I can claim any credit for it.) Still, I look at the five grand a year with my name on it kicked into the Social Security system, and I have to figure that this might support one retiree for three or four months, max. We’re asking more and more of the youngsters, while doing as little as possible for them; worse, we’re doing as little as possible as expensively as possible. Sooner or later, this, like everything else that can’t go on, won’t.
(Title from the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.” Because.)
Number One (chronologically) granddaughter addressed her father’s utter lack of Valentines on this day as follows:
Dad, when you get a girlfriend make sure she is nice, cute, smart, good with kids, rich, and her name should be Kristine.
Just remember: if you thought you were picky, you’ve got nothing on this almost-nine-year-old girl.
There is, of course, silliness in several thousand varieties on Twitter, but once in a while something like this comes along:
And this is what happened, later that same day.
Number One Grandson has a Facebook account, which does not bother me greatly: I mean, he’s almost twelve, fercryingoutloud. I’ve read blogs by people with ages barely into double digits, without thinking Dark Thoughts or anything. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was that he’d be listing himself as “In a relationship.”
I duly gave my surprise an airing on my own Wall, which drew this remark from his mother: “I saw that and about passed out.”
As someone once said, “If Booth Tarkington had written Seventeen today, he’d have had to call it Twelve.” God only knows what would have happened to Penrod.
Nearly 1 in 5 American women of childbearing age has undergone surgical sterilization. This ought to be genuinely shocking, the subject of sociological study. What does this incredible statistic say about a society so vehemently hostile to human procreation that it spends many millions of dollars each year to permanently extirpate the reproductive capacity of its women?
Yet the very fact that this practice is so widespread prevents anyone from daring to comment critically about it, for fear of seeming to be “intolerant” or “judgmental” toward the victims of this surgical war against human fertility.
It was thirty years ago today — okay, give or take a week or two — that I went under this particular knife. Better I than she, right? And besides, we’d generated our replacements: we had two children, who are now busy having children of their own. (Sixth grandchild is due in the spring.)
As for women to whom I am not married, which is, for the moment, all of them, I am loath (and unqualified) to provide surgical advice, even if you’re 83 and simply want greater rack projection.
What do you do when your own personal aesthetic starts to shift? Tavi, four years into the fashion-blogger scene but still barely fifteen, is left with a quandary:
I took this picture a couple months ago, going for some Heathers/Twin Peaks vibes, but started thinking too much about how I look in it and avoided posting it for a while. I wasn’t insecure, quite the opposite — I didn’t want to post this photo because I look good in it. And, as someone whose “thing” for so long has been “Challenge beauty standards! Screw convention! Look like a grandmother on ecstasy at Fashion Week!”, that somehow felt hypocritical.
One of the factors, apparently, was No More Glasses:
Before I got contacts in March, I just never really counted myself in the general pool of people who might be considered attractive. I wasn’t insecure about how I looked, I just made peace with the fact that I wasn’t, to me, an attractive person, and decided to milk my charming personality instead. The glasses were an easy way to isolate myself from even having to consider keeping up some kind of face. Then I slowly came to feel that, well, maybe I did want my face to be visible. Maybe I liked my face. Is that not okay?
Now I admit to having read Style Rookie since 2008. When Tavi crashed the pages of The New Yorker last year, it suddenly occurred to me that omigod, there might be a swan there, albeit still playing those comfortable duckling games.
If I’d been paying closer attention, I’d have seen this on Tumblr:
i think i’m pretty now, at least applied to my own idea of pretty, which for me comes from all the things i really love, all the sometimes ugly books and movies and what i see on the walk to school, and i’m more intrigued by the idea of looking like a reflection of that and internalizing it and feeling like a part of everything i really love. and i don’t even think there is anything very subversive about what i look like/how i dress anyway?
Three months later, the internalization isn’t exactly seamless:
Right now, I could pretend to be an archetype of a feminist superhero and say I never want to be a conventionally attractive person. But, while I have so much respect for the people who can say that truthfully, I’m not there yet. I think it would be, in my case, much more effective to be honest and willing to have this conversation instead of signing myself to a stereotype I can’t fit. I admit to the basic human desire to be attractive. That’s certainly not all I want to be, and I’m not bending over backwards every morning for it, but it’s there.
The question in my mind: is she actually going in that direction, or will she decide that beauty is a form of currency, and work on building a nest egg?
Because there’s something here that doesn’t quite add up:
People who are conventionally attractive have the privilege of going through life knowing their appearance will usually not act as a barrier in accomplishing what they want to accomplish. Of course, this is a general statement, but typically, Pretty Woman does not have to worry about missing out on opportunities because of her appearance. (Pretty Woman also gets Richard Gere.)
There are, I suspect, occupational fields where said PW will miss out on opportunities because of her appearance, because she won’t be taken seriously; Dr. Christmas Jones, the nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough, seems decidedly atypical, and not just because she happens to run into James Bond. There’s nothing in the world that says that someone who looks like Denise Richards can’t operate a world-class weapons system, but rather a lot of people are used to seeing a grizzled old man in that chair — and some of them, it’s reasonable to assume, have some emotional investment in that familiarity.
So for the moment I’m filtering this through “She’s only fifteen.” This may be giving her short shrift, inasmuch as I was dumb as a post when I was fifteen, that whole National Merit thing notwithstanding, but I figure she’s got plenty of time, and she’ll have several opportunities to change her mind yet again, should she be so inclined.
My son lives in Missouri, so he presumably wouldn’t be directly affected by Texas speed limits, but I imagine he didn’t want to show this to a uniformed representative of the Show-Me State:
“This,” he explained, “is why walking is for losers.”
“You are an idiot,” said his loving wife. “You are going to make the damn engine explode.”
I dunno. Looks to me like he was a tick or two below the redline. On the other hand, if I’m driving that fast, and as a general rule I’m not, I’m also not simultaneously grappling with a frigging camera.
My children, over the years, have generally driven cheap disposable domestics or might-as-well-be domestics, acquired at third hand; the epitome of such would be my daughter’s early-80s Ford Escort, Muff the Tragic Wagon, which the last time I saw it, some time around the turn of the century, had semi-inoperative turn signals. (The circuitry was functional, but the actual lever had fallen on the floor.)
Of late, though, they’ve tried to break out of that particular mold: a couple years ago, she splurged on a VW Jetta, and this week I am informed that my son has ditched a Buick in favor of a ten-year-old Bimmer.
Now what I know about BMWs would fit between pages 67 and 68 of the owner’s manual, but I am reasonably certain that Teutonic sleds of this sort do not take kindly to the sort of haphazard maintenance that these youngsters have been used to providing. (Same goes for the Jetta, really.) In case he drops some weird issue in my lap, though, I figure I’d better brush up on the E39 5-series.
Interestingly, the specs on his car and mine are almost identical, though the Bimmer of course is driven by the correct pair of wheels. And the time to get such a car, apparently, is after — not before — a Kansas City winter.