This is a letter in 5-ish parts.
The Last Best Place was really bringing it for me, between the escapees and the killer bears. Other awesome things: on our hike in Glacier, we didn’t have bear bells so when we found ourselves in the huckleberry bushes in the early evening, we hollered instead, mostly “Don’t be aggressive, bears, don’t be aggressive!” loud renditions of Dayman, and whatever this is boring to anyone who wasn’t there.
Anyway, you suggested to me that this post might be “Violet Bait.” I guess that’s true, insofar as I’m this blog’s official person with kids, unless there’s something I don’t know about you/you don’t know about yourself. I’m feeling pretty frickin’ baited by this entire internet lately, and I suspect that the kidless are too. That’s all the internet is, a giant chunk of human-bait.
I mean, I think Melissa Lafsky (who I remember back when she was just a lil’ opinionista) is largely right in that bad-econ style thinking (the funny one is discussion of point 4 at 3:15 also did I tell you my favorite economist joke?) doesn’t explain the desire to have kids or our affection for our own, and that having kids is probably a pretty good way to get oneself out of bad-econ style thinking, if you are unfortunate enough to be stuck in it. But you know, so’s going tubing.
What I’m curious about today is parent-solidarity. This post in particular triggered a strong reaction in me. First I was all, wow it must suck to be totally unable to predict that you are moving to the one place in the entire world where there is an overwhelming number of over-entitled people’s over-entitled kids are eating your stout cake and failing to agitate for state-sponsored daycare or WHATEVS (not that that is the bulk of the post, it’s just what I initially reacted to). But then I was all, HOLD UP, maybe it is really like that! I don’t know! I haven’t been to the Slope in forever. Which is not interesting except that omg, the raw data I have here is my own experience/feeeeeelings, which is part of what Michelle Dean is getting at? Anyway, duh, my experience both differs from and converges with other people’s experience in various ways. Is there any basis for arguing that my experience qua mother has more in common with any other mother’s experience than with say, other members of my class(es)/race(es)/whatever? I’m not convinced either way, but I’m never convinced of anything, so. I think whatever core of solidarity there is is easily obscured by The Other Social Forces, certainly, and I also think that watching small children is a totally obscene amount of work (which Dean also acknowledges) and so of course even fancy Slope mothers take a GODDAMNED BREAK where they can get it, and I am not sure how vigorously to indict them for the fact that their break comes at their nanny’s expense. No, seriously, I’m not sure. How vigorously should I indict them?
Ugh. Trust and support sometimes feel like they’re in such extreme tension but they can’t be because then HOW CAN I CARE ABOUT THEM BOTH?
If there is a common-parent-experience, I think it’s at a pretty extreme level of generality, maybe so general as to be useless in formulating ideals/policy/whatever gets formulated. Otherwise, you get to the Sarah Palin mama-grizzly line of argument right quickly. (I think it’s kind of ridiculous that as soon as she started talking about mama grizzlies that that mama grizzly in Montana FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT AND ATE SOMEONE. Way to not be on message, bear.)
Anyway. I think this is all I am going to say about parenting/kids for a while. It comes perilously close to feeling like I’m arguing for my daughter’s right to exist EVEN IF I DON’T MAKE ALL THE BEST CHOICES ALL THE TIME. And that’s not an argument I am willing to have. She and I are just going to abide for a while. Mostly people are really nice to us, including on two insane flights yesterday.
Melanie, who was our host on the frontier, is a super-duper vegan environmentalist/friend of the bears. She was really annoyed at all the people being annoyed that they killed the mama bear who ate those people. She was arguing, basically, that you could only sustain that it was wrong to put down the bear if you thought she was just doing what bears do, and so we were somehow inappropriately lashing out at bear-ish-ness, and not that we were protecting ourself against a particular bear that had totally lost it in dangerous ways. She is anti-zoo, so that might be part of it, though I gotta say, rounding up a bear with a taste for man-flesh and putting it in a zoo does not sound like a good idea to even my relatively pro-zoo self.
I think your assessment in the post below is generally correct, though I don’t know if the Democrats favor “good policy” for any value of “good” that I’d use to describe anything other than… policy. I’m skeptical of the current potential for centralized federal policy or lawmaking as an engine of change or goodness, though I think this state of affairs is not eternal or inevitable, even The America, but it rather the result of a confluence of certain historical and structural factors. Ok time to go eat some human bait.