July 2017
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The whole general mish-mash

1. The bloodbank has Moomin mugs again! My visit yesterday resulted in 0.5 litres less blood but in return I got this:

mummimamma

Yay!

2. I registered at Pinterest. My username is Lattermild. There isn’t much to see, yet, but that’s bound to change. If you have your own board(s) or suggestions for whom I should follow, let me know.

3. We seem to have succeeded at getting the lass a place at Birralee as of this autumn. It’s for pre-school (or nursery school), and doesn’t guarantee a place at school proper, but I am quite delighted in any case.

4. If you read Swedish you should go read this entry by Ketchupmamman, which says all the things I’d like to have said about why genderised clothing for kids bothers me.

Shuffling the cards

You know the room where I just tore down the horrid, horrid carpet wall covering? Where we meant to have the hobby/guest room? Well, progress is being made. There is now paper up on the wall where the carpet used to be, the moulding is all white (one more coat needed) and paint is going to come up on the walls quite soon. And on one wall? Probably pink paint.

See, we’ve come to the realisation that we have to move the lass from her current room. We did absolutely nothing in there, luckily, so no work gone to waste. The problem with her in there is it’s next to the bathroom and when someone takes a shower it sounds like a really bad storm or something. Which means we can’t really have a shower when she’s sleeping, whether it’s in the evening or the morning. This is, you could say, a tad inconvenient.

So. Since we’re so good a procrastinating* this realisation came to us at the perfect time, just in time to change the plans for paint in the room we’re working on and move her in there, then we can do a little bit of work on the room she’s in now and get the hobby room set up there. The shower thing will be a problem whenever we have guests, but that’s not going to happen often enough to warrant worrying about it. Once we get around to doing up the bathroom – a few years down the line, probably – we can consider a little measure of noise insulation.

And, yes, pink. I told her we would paint three walls white and that she could choose a colour for the fourth. So far she’s insisting on either green or “girl colour” (jentefarge) with a heavy leaning toward the latter. So I’ve told her she can have pink, as long as she starts calling it pink, not “girl colour”, since there is no such thing. It seems to be sinking in. Well, the calling it pink part, anyway, I guess I can’t expect to conquer the combined force of society’s genderization of colour in just a few sentences, but I’ll settle for the naming part for now.

I’d try to convince her to go for green, except I’m planning on buying closets and such from IKEA in the new Stuva series with green fronts (mainly because the pink and blue are of such insipid hues) and figure it will be easier to match with a pink than finding the perfect shade of green paint. Also, I figure it’s better to let her have SOME pink, then hopefully she’ll grow out of it at some point. If we were to be militantly against it might become an obsession, which would not be a good thing.

______________

* And boy am I glad we have been procrastinating on this, it would have been a major pain in the ass to discover this after having set the hobby room up with desks, computers, sewing machines and craft supplies. Major, major pain. Procrastination FTW

Med rettepenn i hånda

Jeg vet jeg tilhører mindretallet når jeg henger meg opp i stavefeil og grammatikk i ett sett, og jeg er jo for så vidt enig i at det viktigste er at budskapet kommer klart fram (men mener altså at det er større sjanse for at det skal skje dersom språket – teknisk sett – er korrekt). Med bakgrunn som korrekturleser – riktignok på hobbybasis – er det vanskelig å ikke sitte med en mental rettepenn når jeg leser.

Er det en blogg jeg leser er jeg overbærende med mye (men jeg foretrekker blogger der språket er godt) og synder selvsagt selv, tankene beveger seg langt fortere enn fingrene klarer å henge med på tastene av og til. I nettavisene blir jeg enten småirritert eller lattermild, litt avhengig av humøret og hvor ufrivillig morsom feilen er. I reklameskriv fra bedrifter er grammatiske feil ofte nok til at ellers interessante tilbud går i papirsøpla.

Når tilbyderen i tillegg må antas å ha brukt massive mengder penger på teknisk løsning, men ikke har spandert to minutter på korrekturlesing blir det hele bare, tja, patetisk – særlig når temaet for nettsiden er læring:

Ny nettportal for de yngste, lansert av Foreldre & barn

Ny nettportal for de yngste, lansert av Foreldre & barn

Kjære Foreldre & barn: Det heter “mellom 3 og 7 år” eller “fra 3 til 7 år” (alt. “på 3 til 7”). Enten eller. Man kan ikke blande ordene som man vil og få norsk.

I dette tilfellet tester vi kanskje tjenesten uansett, vel skulle jeg gjerne genierklært snuppa, men snart fire år er litt for tidlig til at denne typen dårlig innflytelse vil ha noen effekt (hadde hun vært 7, derimot, hadde jeg kanskje nølt mer, i hvert fall om det viser seg å være gjennomgående, ikke bare en enkeltstående tabbe på forsiden).

Oh, yes

I remembered one thing…

Last year I read about the Salvation Army in the lokal paper, how they were collecting Christmas gifts for people who lacked the resources to buy them and how people were actually wrapping up junk to donate. People are weird.

Well, it was the first time the fact that this sort of collection was taking place had penetrated my mind, and I filed it away for future reference. However, I had forgotten all about it until Deer Darling posted about their plans for donating gifts. But then I got my act together. We had various odds and ends about the house that were screaming for a more appreciative home. A children’s book I managed to buy in duplicate for the lass, one of the many Duplo boxes we purchased at 1/2 price and that has yet to be opened and that she really doesn’t need, the rather expesive pair of shoes I bought last winter that really didn’t work for my feet but which I had worn just long enough (about a week) to make bringing back to the shop not an option, so I’d considered selling them on finn.no, but not gotten roun to it. And so on. Yesterday morning we wrapped it all up properly and wrote appropriate gift tags. For good measure I added post-its with accurate descriptions of the contents, I figure it will help the organisers distribute and then they can easily remove the post-its them before actually giving the gift to a recipient.

And then we got the bus to town and handed the gifts to the Salvation Army.

Here in Trondheim they accept donations at the Christmas tree in the town square. Apparently the same is true for Bergen, and in Oslo it is rumoured that you can hand your gifts in at Fattighuset. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be any information about the collection online, and I think I might send them an email and suggest they add it – it would be useful to know just where in other towns and guidelines for how to wrap, what to give, how to mark and so on.

In any case, I plan on making it a yearly tradition with us. So much of the charity we contribute to over the course of year is pretty intangible and “just stuff on tv”, but even now, at almost four, I think the lass got some of the point of this. And it seems particularly important to remember how lucky we are at a time of year when overspending is urged from every available advertising space.

Male is default

Male is the default; female is exceptional.

Case in point:

The lass has pink clothes. Probably more than I would ideally have chosen, in fact, because I’m not that fond of pink myself. However, most of her clothes are colours that I consider gender neutral (but then, to me, gender neutral is pretty much everything except pink and baby blue), or at least not pink-on-pink, but say, pink and brown, pink and grey and so on. Hence – which follows from the above theory – she is continually taken for a boy. Today she wore

  • jeans (very “girly” pattern in silver on the back pockets, but quite plain otherwise)
  • red and silver trainers
  • long-sleeved t-shirt in yellow, green and red

Both the IKEA employee who was running a “fairground” where the kids got to throw tiny softies at a target for the chance to win a big softie (for free, everyone got a prize, did I mention I love IKEA?) and a mother with a daughter (ok, now I’m doing the assuming, but the kid wore all pink from head to toe) a little younger than the lass automatically referred to her as “he” and “the boy”.

Why? Why when everyone knows about half the kids you meet are going to be female is “male” still default unless you shout your gender from the rooftops by wearing pink-pinkety-pink? What the f*** are we teaching these kids? When did this start applying to toddlers and not just babies (come to think of it, when did it start applying to babies)? I’m the daughter of a feminist, and wore practically no pink as a child, did everyone assume I was a boy, or were they more practically minded in the 70ies?

Disclaimer: I don’t “mind” the lass being taken for a boy, as such. It doesn’t matter on a personal, individual level, I’m just worried about what it says about our society’s expectations for girls (and boys).

The irony? I haven’t been extremely opposed to pink so far. I have even purchased a few pink-and-princessy garments for her myself. But because I am now continually made aware of how much “people” read into the pink/not-pink choice, I am getting to the stage where I might just ban pink from the house. Just when the lass is getting to an age where she might actually start caring.

Mind you. Perhaps that is just the point in time where it is important to start introducing rules and not just go with the flow?

Genderisation

There has been a Panorama programme about sexual bullying (or, rather, sexual harassment) in schools, involving shockingly young children as the perpetrators. Several of the blogs I read have commented or linked, and you can read more here and here, to start with.

I think I’ll refrain from commenting much, at least for the time being (in fact the subject is almost too depressing for words, though that’s hardly constructive), but Naomi’s comment on Abby’s post highlights a related issue that’s increasingly relevant to me in my daily parenting, and which really annoys me no end. To quote:

In cartoons, an animated animal is male by default. A male sheep, say, will look roughly like a sheep, but with whatever human charateristics their particular character has. A male animated dog reading a newpaper and listening to the radio is simply a dog reading a newpaper and listening to the radio.

Female animated characters, on the other hand, have bigger eyes, longer eye-lashes, an hour-glass figure, a wiggly walk and so on, not to mention make-up (which those cartoons in which their male counterparts do not even wear clothes).

These female characters are often brought in to an otherwise all-male (i.e. all just pigs and rabbits and things) cast when the storyline requires one of the characters to fall in love, or to be almost distracted away from some world-saving task by the batting of those log eyelashes …

This puts across the following messages, and more, to children:

1. Male is the default; female is exceptional.

2. ‘Feminine’ appearance is universal and natural for females of any species.

3. The anatomical differences between males and females of any species are much, much greater than they really are.

4. The role of the female is sexual, and is defined in relation to the male.

5. The male is the agent, the female is the object of his attention.

And so on.

And it’s not only cartoons. A while back someone asked the participants at Tett inntil for tips on which boxes to look for to find “female Lego Duplo figurines”, excluding the rather tacky princess series. As a responsible parent, she wanted female role models for her daughters, police women or firewomen and similar. My question was: Well, how can you tell that they are not female? Most Duplo figurines are “degenderised”, they have eyes, nose and mouth, as do, to my knowledge, both men and women. Only the princesses have skirts. A few have beards, they can be assumed  to be men (though I have heard of bearded ladies).

This feeds directly into the argument Naomi is presenting: “Male is the default; female is exceptional.” Because, of course, there ARE female Duplo figurines – apart from the princesses. We have one from the Zoo set at home, she has longer eyelashes and a ponytail, and a more, well, made up look in general (defined lips and so on). However, most female zoo-keepers I’ve seen don’t look like that. Granted, some of them have long hair, and would naturally wear it up while at work to prevent it from getting in the way, but then, so do quite a few male keepers… And would you really put on make-up to go clean out the elephants’ cage? So why do we assume – because of course we do – that the un made-up Duplo zoo-keeper with the sensible haircut is male?

What with a toddler in the house

…I am suddenly reading toy catalogues again. And I am increasingly frustrated by the pinkness, princessification and general gendering of toys. A post by Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town last year caught my eye, therefore, and I have been applying the Lauredhel’s Toy-catalogue Annex of the Bechdel Test ever since. With depressing results, I may add.

To play, try to find:

1. One or more girls, playing;

2. with no boys around; and

3. with something that is not related to domestic work, mothering, being sexy, or ponies.

Before Christmas I did a double take at an ad from Clas Ohlson in the paper. It contained about a dozen images of products, with only one person used for illustration. The person: A blonde girl of around 9 years with a skirt. The product she was advertising? This:

tool belt

It’s not even a toy, as such, they’re real tools, kiddie-sized.

I meant to save the newspaper page, but forgot. However, I got the Christmas catalogue when I bought muffin tins at CO the other day, and lo and behold, the same picture is used.

clasohlson1.jpg

Granted, on the catalogue page there is also a picture of some boys, but they are quite clearly advertising something else and not part of the same picture at all.

clasohlson2.jpg

The sad thing is that this should be so unusual as to warrant comment, of course. Also, surely a denim skirt is not the most practical choice of apparel for a wannabe carpenter? But who am I to dictate what carpenters should wear?

Rules

I’m not a big fan of rules in general, but these are my kind of rules “Let’s get some things straight before I get old and uncool”: 1001 rules for my unborn son.

I guess I should have started earlier if I wanted to write something similar for the lass (I’m old and uncool already, I suspect), though I will try to instill some of these, as most are applicable to girls as well – even the one about committing to the tie (should she chose to wear one).

I especially like 43, 132, 167168220224, 245257,

And this quote: “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any” (Fred Astaire). We were talking about this just the other day, because one of the words the lass pronounces most clearly is “Thanks” (that is: “takk” in Norwegian). Even though she uses t for k in most words, in this case it is a very clear and strong k. And she started saying it without being prompted, it seems to just come naturally when she is given something, like a glass of milk. Which is not so surprising, as the husband and I say it ourselves all the time. Children learn by example. Or, as the saying has it: Monkey see, monkey do.

And a lot of people should pay mind to this one, especially when posting pictures of others (including their own kids): 239. Never post a picture online you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing your mother, your boss, and the dean of admissions.