Here's a couple of things I've been thinking about lately:
1. "I don't know where that is, I'm not from here."
We're setting up interviews with folks for Little Monster care, and since these are with people we randomly connected with on the internet, I'm of a mind that they should be somewhere public for everyone's comfort. I also happen to know a friend of a gal who was killed after responding to a craigs.list childcare job posting, so I get being cautious. In this light, I figured that a coffee shop would be appropriate. There are a few around town, so I started off suggesting the one that's in an old fast food place because it is relatively large and has a big old former fast-food sign. It's also across the street from the college and a half mile from the big box shopping area, so I presume most people have seen it, no matter how long you've lived here.
The response from one person was "I have no idea where that is, I'm not from here originally." Newsflash: me neither! We've actually lived here the same amount of time! I suppose that if this is the first new place you've ever been, it might be hard to get out, or if you never drink coffee, you'd have no idea about the coffee places... but there is the go.ogle, and I picked places with websites.
My strategy when we are in a place even for a week is to know where the important stuff is: gas station, grocery store, restaurant or two, and then possibly the hospital. When we move somewhere, I expand to figure out where there's big box type store(s) or a general store, the library (and a vague sense of "open often" or "open rarely"), and a coffee shop or similar cafe. I just see it as part of moving that you hunt down these places and figure out how to get to and from them, so it's a mystery to me that "but I've only lived here for 6 months!" is a reason not to know or figure out where a common public place is. I'll grant you, the coffee shop downtown that's on a weird diagonal street between major streets is hard to find even with an address, but if not a coffee shop, is there a better public meeting place? The community center we don't have (or if there is one, I haven't found it yet since we have a fancy gym/community gathering space instead)? Hmm.
2. Father-daughter dance events
The local gym/community center-ish place is having a father-daughter ball sometime soon in celebration of possibly Valentine's day. I admit to being a wee bit weirded out by this event. Yes, it's a nice idea to have daddy-daughter things, but the related Purity Ball things? Whoa weird. (I should say that as a resident of a place it snows for most of my life, debutante balls are not a thing that's typical around here so this is a bit culture shock, a bit personal preference for less glorifying stuff). I see no reason for girls to promise that when Daddy gives them away on their wedding day, they're still virgins, let alone in public at some strange group ritual. Very odd. This particular event is just supposed to be a dance, an occasion for little girls to dress up, play princess, and have Daddy (or Grandpa) take them to a fancy dinner and dance.
I guess I object to such deals further on the idea that little girls need to be taken care of more than little boys. There aren't mother-son Purity Ball equivalents where sons promise to stay virgins until marriage. There's no occasion where little boys are expected to dress up and pretend to be royalty while being doted on by moms. I'm not a fan of the double standards we build for boys and girls. My kid is just starting to get the very distinct line between "girls can do anything" and "boys can't do girl things" that's so much a part of growing up today. As much as I tell her this is untrue, that boys can wear dresses if they want, and they can like pink if they want, my opinion isn't the one that matters. Her peers' opinions are what matter and besides choosing them carefully for her, there's not much I can do.
Some of it I get, that women are stuck with the physical evidence of pregnancy, and there's no avoiding that, while the man involved can deny involvement convincingly until there's a DNA test to prove otherwise (and the damage is so much less severe to a man than a woman). But how should that change how I parent my kids? I think I should be having the same talk with girls and boys about sex and how risky it is without marriage or a relationship like it, how sex and love are physiologically intertwined so it's worth waiting to have sex until you've got emotions to go with it.
3. The ever-shifting technology line
When I got a cell phone, I was 17 and I could use it sometimes. It was the family cell phone. I took it with to school so I could call home (because it was long-distance, I couldn't just use the phone at school). It was not for texting, it was only for calling friends after 9pm and on weekends (again with the long-distance problem), or for emergencies like the time I put the car into a 7 foot snowbank.
When the kid first used a touch screen device, she was about 30 months old. Now she can navigate it herself for hours if there's enough battery. There are apps on it that are just for her, some that are also for adults, and lots that are "boring grown up things."
The first time I touched a computer, I was probably about 18 months old and I had my own program on it when I was 4 or 5. It took 15 minutes to turn on and start my program.
Now that we know the technology better, as its use matures, I think the line between using technology and withholding it has to change too. The trouble is that it's hard to know where the line ought to be. We went to the Giant Store of Swedish Furniture (i.kea) the other week and I was shocked at the number of children under 3 who were intently watching an iDevice or smart phone while in strollers. I think I'll probably try to keep screen devices away from Little Monster until zie is at least 3 unless it's viewed only (like a tike movie in the car on a long trip). But how long can I keep a personal electronic device away from the kid? At what age can she have an iPod of her own? Or an iPad? We actually have more small digital music players than house residents right now, so she could have one of her own now if we weren't opposed to it. IT'S SO COMPLICATED. My brain may explode, so I give up for now and will think about it again some time.