Archive | January, 2013

Some notes on gender and parenthood

loo

Herewith, some notes on gender and parenthood, by way of organizing some thoughts and soliciting dialog in advance of a panel I’ll be speaking on.  These notes also provide attendees a place to which to be able to trace various threads, should they like, or carry on the conversation we started.

This Friday I have the honor to be speaking  at the Dad 2.0 Summit alongside four other really smart panelists and in dialog with the great folks assembled in the room. Our moderator is Parent Hacks founder/author Asha Dornfest; co-panelists are National At-Home Dad Network President Al Watts, therapist and Father’s Forum founder Bruce Linton, and Huffington Post senior columnist Lisa Belkin.

The question organizing our chat: Can parenting ever really be gender-neutral? Framed in the program thusly:

When it comes to parenting, mothers are held to an unreasonably high standard, while the bar for passable fatherhood is disproportionately low. As fathers strive for greater credibility as parents, the gap between those standards is diminishing. But will that gap every truly disappear? And is this the only way dads will ever be perceived as having a truly equal footing when it comes to raising kids?

Below, some notes on things I consider axiomatic and fundamental, but worth stating explicitly, since so many of us come from so many different standpoints.  Also, some postulations about gender, parenting, and the relationship between pubic and private sphere power.

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Now Some of Us Are Six

skipping6yrold

On his sixth birthday, Berkeley, CA.

He skipped the entire distance from midway through the school yard and down the street to our trusty steed. That crown’s his teacher’s handiwork, bless those amazing, amazing people.

Much afoot of late. Same day this chap turned six, his grandfather, whose name he bears from the middle on out, took a spill and wound up back in the ER at the local hospital, whence he had not a few days before exited, post-minor stroke.  That same night, yrs truly promptly fell ill with The Influenza, which is only juuuuust beginning to saunter off, stage left.  Accursed thing. Pops is more or less stable now, “salad speech” pretty much a head-scratching artifact of the past.  Though the memory, shaky to begin with, is notably diminished and diminishing. Cheery spirit still intact, lard love him.

And the boy? He’s wearing six very, very well. Qoth A. A. Milne, back in 1927, when his grandfather had just turned six:

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever;
So I think I’ll be six now
for ever and ever.

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At 92

DadDad-25Dec2013
DadDad (with grandkids) on Christmas Day 2012, Berkeley, CA.

 

Dad always said, “Live ’til 90, then start counting.” Well, we’re starting to count.

Friday morning, on his 92nd birthday, he had a stroke. A “mini” one, as opposed to, one supposes, a “maxi” one. Though these are often early calling cards for bigger ones to come.  He fell into my sister’s able and waiting arms, as it happened.  As I’ve long maintained, he has been a lucky man.

While the doctor pronounces that the stroke is “resolved,” everything else attendant to his advanced years is hunkering down for a determined, protracted stay, for the duration. Whatever length that may be.

Meanwhile, his aphasia-, mini-stroke-, and long, slow-growing meningioma tumor-wracked brain does its best to recover what speech and cognition faculties he can.  This, on top of years of crummy hearing, getting crummier by the day.  All this makes communication a midnight hayride.

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New Year’s Greetings from Westridge Canyon

WestbridgeCanyon2
Fearless foursome, Westridge Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains, CA.

 

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