The flu, gay families, and other thoughts

The flu this year is a bloody nightmare. I’ve had it twice now. And no, I don’t get a flu shot. Incidentally, I was totally amazed at how commonplace the flu shot is in the US now (not so when I was a kid), every drugstore has the “flu-shot available”, “get your flu shot” signs out, even the pediatrician asked if my kids had had their flu shots… why does everyone in the US need to get a flu shot? (Also, the chicken pox vaccine… what the hell?)

We have a great family doctor here, who comes to the house and everything, so we saw him this week as we’ve all been felled by the flu, and I mentioned the pervasiveness of flu shots in the US, and he said something to the effect that he’d recently read a study about how, statistically, Americans are less healthy than Europeans, so maybe that’s why. Sweeping generalizations aside though, I don’t get it, in Italy mostly only the elderly, the very sickly, or people who work in healthcare or childcare positions get flu shots, the rest of us just either get the flu and get over it or don’t get it at all. Anyway, I had it twice this year, felt like death run over, survived both times, and am now hopefully done until next winter.

I recently started reading this blog: Mommy Man: adventures of a gay super dad, which, incidentally, is just more proof, if more proof were needed, that a two dad family, or a two mom family, or a mom/dad family, or a just one parent family, or a two parents plus multiple step parent family all really just sound the same when talking about their children. Anyway, Jerry wrote this post: How to talk to your children about gay parents, by a gay parent. It was a good post, nothing earth shattering, just a lot of common sense, which, alas, is apparently lacking in a lot of people.

And I’m not even talking about the far-right, ultra-conservative, don’t believe in evolution and God speaks to me directly whack jobs that we wish were just a figment of an overly-zealous Hollywood writer’s imagination, I’m talking about otherwise reasonable people. This piece has been published in quite a few places, and the comments on it just blow my mind, I don’t know how the author keeps his head from exploding, seriously, exploding brains all over his computer screen. Even the respectful comments, most of them run along the lines of great, I’m sure he’s an awesome dad, but kids need a mom and a dad, gay families are actually harming these children because they’re not giving them something intrinsically, atavically important, which are the biological parents. Or something along those lines anyway.

Really?

Can we all agree, first off, that children mostly just need to be loved? And that, frankly, there are more different combinations of families out there than most of us can even imagine. Cause there are kids being raised by single parents, and kids being raised by grandparents or other family members, and kids being raised by step parents, and by the state, there are also kids being raised by complete assholes whether they be biological or not, and any of these combinations are pretty much acceptable and accepted (even the assholes) but for some reason two same-sex parents is just more than our minds can conceive?

I was talking to the husband about this once and I was surprised to hear him say that ideally kids should be raised by a mom and a dad. But then I thought about it and, sure, ideally, kids should be raised by a mom and a dad, ideally the mom should stay home and take care of the family and be happy while doing so, the dad should make a comfortable salary and always be home in time for dinner, ideally they should all be happy and healthy and vacation at the beach every year. But we live in the real world, not in a sitcom set in 1958. There is no ideal, there’s just several billion people on the planet trying to live their lives to the best of their abilities, and some of them are gay and some of them want to raise families and so some of them will adopt or find a surrogate or a sperm donor and start a family, and this affects me and my life not even remotely.

And it is no harder to explain to a child than a hundred difficult situations, if done with a little common sense.

Personally, I’m not a gigantic fan of surrogacy, because there’s a lot, A LOT, of kids that need families and should be adopted, but adopting is a long and difficult process, even for a “traditional” family, and some people just have a very strong pull towards the biological imperative of genetically reproducing themselves, so who am I to say that they shouldn’t? I did (reproduce myself, that is).

So as long as they’re loving their children, and raising them, and just generally doing their jobs as parents, what do we have to be so judgy of? After all, we’re all going to manage to screw up our kids one way or another, right?

 

And on a conclusive, and completely unrelated note, does anyone else watch White Collar? Because, Matt Bomer is unequivocally hot, but doesn’t Time Dekay also have a little “je ne sais quoi…”? No? Just me?

No children on my plane, I’ve got rights.

I’ve got a bone to pick. Several airlines (mostly in the east, and namely Air Asia and Malaysian airlines) have instituted child-free areas on some of their planes. Interesting concept. Now, I have kids, and I’m not wild about flying with them and I’m even less wild about flying around someone else’s kid on the rare occasion when I don’t have my own, who doesn’t want to enjoy their child-free time? But, I’m not sure I agree with the whole precedent. From my point of view, that of a mother often flying with two children, airlines would be better off creating child-friendly zones rather than child-free zones. Seriously. A happy child flying is a gazillion times less obnoxious than a drunk businessman flying, and if you’re making the child happy you’ve got happy parents flying and happy parents buy more tickets. When I get on a plane with my husband and two kids, whichever class I happen to be flying in at the moment I’ve just spent almost four times as much as the person flying alone next to me. Because kids practically pay full price.

And unless they’re making their child-free zones sound proof, it’s really just a marketing scheme because I can tell you, from direct experience, that if there’s a screaming baby in the middle of economy class you can hear him all the way at the head of the plane. So why not make the baby more comfortable, and his parents more relaxed, so he isn’t screaming through the entire flight and everyone can sleep.

Starting in the airports, with dedicated lines at security, where they scan strollers without having to close them and lift them onto the machine and preferential lines, not for the businessman and his teeny tiny laptop case, but for the frazzled mother travelling alone who has managed to take the concept of multitasking to a whole new level but could still actually do with some help. With amenities on the plane as well as basic necessities like diapers and milk, baby food and snacks because accidents happen, you can forget something and your child doesn’t have to go dirty and hungry for 6 hours. They remember to stock the gin, they can remember to stock the milk. (Like Japan Airlines does,  and Lufthansa) Make us pay for them, but make them available. Slightly larger bathrooms, so my toddler and I can both fit in there. Games and tv programs, specific seats for children so they can actually sleep and not drive everyone around them batshit crazy because it’s two in the morning and they can’t fall asleep sitting up (like the SkyCouch on Air New Zealand).

I’d gladly pay for my child to fly more comfortably, and any parent who’s ever had to travel with a young child would, I’m sure, pick the airline that made their flight more pleasant. After all, all these children that are such a nuisance, such an annoyance on flights, are future customers in the making.

And let’s talk about us parents. Flying is nerve-wracking. You’re wrestling your kids through a crowded airport with more luggage than a football team, you’re afraid of loosing your children and your sanity along with your flight. You’re stressed and that stress is going to make your kids go apeshit. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to know that you’re flying with a company that wants your business and wants to make you comfortable rather than the douchebag flying alone and giving you the evil eye when you and your brood make your way down his aisle, like his mere presence is somehow more relevant, more important, more untouchable than your own?

Airlines shouldn’t be making child-free zones, they should be making child-friendly zones. I’m betting there’s more money in it for them at the end of the day, because any parent is going to gladly spend that extra dollar if it makes their own experience more comfortable. And everyone else on the plane gets to be more comfortable right along with them. Win-win.

Because the next step is child-free flights, I vote for asshole free flights, how about you?

 

If you liked this post please consider sharing it with your readers, almost all of us will have to travel with our children sooner or later and if enough parents raise their voices maybe the airlines will start giving a crap what we think…

Stuff that drives me nuts… y’all.

In my opinion the English language is sorely in need of a second person plural, “you” is simply not enough. Many languages have it, and the South has found a solution to this grievous problem: y’all. As far as I’m concerned y’all is just another personal pronoun, you is the second person singular, y’all is the second person plural. But… you’ve got to know how to use it, most people don’t.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and many of the books were set in the south or had southern characters. I get that the easiest way to make a character sound southern is to use “y’all” and “bless her heart” and arcane and/or seldom used colloquialisms like “faster than a dog with his tail on fire” or “longer than a ‘coons age”, but for the love of God can’t these authors just freakin’ do some research before using unfamiliar terminology. When I read y’all used instead of you (singular) it makes me want to rip my teeth out.

So, let’s just review, you can say: Sandy and Bobby, are y’all coming?  But you cannot say: Sandy are y’all coming? If you’re only referring to Sandy. (unless you’re asking Sandy if both she and Bobby are coming, but honestly, when in doubt don’t use it!)

Okey dokey. Y’all leave me some comments now, y’hear!

The lazy-ass approach to child rearing

I have two kids of four and two. My kids still occasionally drink from a bottle. GASP!

They also started drinking from a proper cup when they were one year-old, they learned quickly and there were few accidental spills, though, truth be told, there were many purposeful ones of the I wonder what happens if I overturn the cup on the table? The couch? The rug? The stairs? My shirt? variety. I chalked it up to scientific experimentation and was always to be seen with a rag at hand.

In my opinion, my children will likely not be permanently damaged from this protracted bottle use as I have otherwise kindly been informed, I have the evidence of my own pictures at four and five with a bottle hanging from my mouth and no evident scarring.

They will let go off the bottle whenever they see fit, or their friends start teasing them about it, whichever comes first.

I have the same laissez-faire attitude to potty training. My four-year old decided one morning, right after turning three and just in time for preschool, that he was done with diapers and thus consequently had a grand total of two accidents and was well on his way to adulthood. Much too my own chagrin. With the girl I’ve had to be more proactive (due to some diaper rash issues) but she seemed ready and I don’t pressure. (I believe my own mother was more of an overachiever than I with respect to the diapering, but it was the seventies and disposable diapers where rather expensive if you had access to them (in Italy) so I can see the logic of abandoning them sooner rather than later and, of course I was exceptionally gifted).

This no pressure attitude towards reaching developmental milestones works for me. In my heart of hearts I don’t want them to grow up too fast, I don’t mind washing bottles for a few more years (or, sob, months) or changing a diaper here and there. In my mind, they’re little for no time at all. And I wonder how this is anyone’s business but my own. And when did child-rearing become a competition? How is the manner in which I raise my children anyone’s business but my own? (and occasionally the husband’s…). So I beseech you, stop with the unsolicited advice, they are happy and healthy and well-adjusted that is all anyone but the parents should care about. Parents have so many more important things to worry about, like keeping these children alive, on a daily basis, and well on to adulthood, like raising them to be happy, emotionally sound adults, like making sure they always hold their own in life, that they never back down when they’re in the right and that they apologize when in the wrong… (I could go on and on here but you get the gist) it boggles the mind that a bottle or a diaper even registers as one of the things we really need to be expending energy over.

So please, when you see my two-year old contentedly drinking her evening bottle, soothing herself into bedtime mode and my four-year old right beside her with his own bottle cause more likely he needs the comfort of knowing he’s not such a big boy yet, well, just avert your judgmental gaze and mind your own fucking business.

Linking up today with Shell at Things I Can’t Say for Pour your Heart Out

Because paying 50% taxes on our income is money well spent they say.

Can I just say that the fact that the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula have been here for well over two thousand years is a complete and utter aberration of all that is logical and just, and also, that the ancient Romans, if they were still around today would kick modern Italians on their completely irrational and frankly, lazy, asses.

Can you tell, by my opening paragraph, that I’ve been once again banging my head against that play-doh-like wall that is Italian bureaucracy?

We’re buying a house. The husband and I decided upon marrying that we would assume the “separation of assets” state because it suited our own particular needs. This basically means that everything that was ours prior to the marriage (not much) remains the sole asset of the original owner, if we inherit our inheritances are our own, and we can buy property with our own money in our own name without having to be co-signatories.

And yet, for reasons that defy our understanding, despite the fact that we’re buying the house together, in both our names, the notary overseeing the purchase needs a document that states that we have in fact decided on the separation regime. This shouldn’t be too hard, there’s an office that gives you these documents. The problem arises because, well, I can’t really explain why without being unnecessarily rude to Italians, so let’s just say that the bureaucracy here has the sole purpose of driving otherwise normal and calm people completely bat shit crazy.

The husband and I were married in Rome, when we were married we resided in Milan, we now reside in Cuneo. I can get this document in Rome, I can get it in Milan, however I cannot get it in Cuneo. How is that possible? If I could only get it in Rome it would be insane but it would be completely within the boundaries of what is considered normal in Italy in 2012 where we haven’t yet fully realized that this is, in fact, the age of computers and the internet, but if I can in fact get it in Milan, where I no longer live, but where apparently they can communicate the necessary information from Rome why can’t I get it here?

They can do a whole host of other documents online, but not these… why? WHY?

It is a miracle, that as a people, Italians have been around for as long as they have, it makes me want to challenge all of Darwin’s theories regarding evolution because if it really was a question of survival of the fittest they would have become extinct sometime right after the Renaissance.