For your ribbons and bows, 17

8 02 2015

You might think this story were from The Onion. You would be wrong.

Princess Bedrooms

The opening:

When their new $70,000 princess-themed playroom is finished in March, Stella, 4 years old, and Presley, 2½, will have a faux gem-encrusted performance stage, a treehouse loft, and a mini-French cafe. A $20,000 custom carpet with colorful pathways will lead the girls to the various play areas.

“It’s going to be a pink explosion, with hearts and bows and crowns and tassels,” says their mother, Lindsay Dickhout, chief executive of a company that makes tanning products. The playroom will occupy about 1,500 square feet on the ground floor of the family’s 7,000-square foot home in Newport Beach, Calif.

I’d like to note that my apartment is about 400 square feet. I’d also like to note that if I could afford it, I’d love a bigger place (my id: MORE SPACE! MORE SPACE! MORE SPACE!) but 1500 sq feet seems extravagant (not that I’d turn that down, mind you. . .) and 7000, well, that might as well be 70,000. Jeez.

Onward:

Dahlia Mahmood, whose company Dahlia Designs has offices in Los Angeles and Ashburn, Va., created a $200,000 princess-fairy themed room for a 2-year-old girl in Virginia five years ago. She built a castle-shaped bed with turrets in which all the girl’s princess dolls could be stored. The room has its own entrance with a tiny door, too small for adults but just right for the little girl. Hand-painted bathroom walls were accented with Swarovski crystals.

When the girl turned 4, Ms. Mahmood returned to the project and redesigned the room, removing portions of the castle, expanding the bed to full size and installing two large, molded, fiberglass trees outfitted with twinkle lights, she said.

Now, why do I think this is more about the parents than the children? Perhaps this:

While the family was out of their Millstone Township, N.J., home, Ms. Blum Schuchart went in and installed the “royal prince nursery.” The room, which Ms. Urs estimated cost between $15,000 and $18,000, included a crib with blue satin ribbons, a Rococo-style dresser painted in silvery-gold and elaborate tufted blue curtains. The family saw the room for the first time when they came home from the hospital with their new baby, Luke.

“The boy’s room is very regal. I’ll be heartbroken when Luke wants it to be a big-boy Dallas Cowboys room,” despite her love for the team, Ms. Urs said.

And status, of course. It’s all about status:

Some companies say that when it comes to princess décor, Marie Antoinette-level pricing works best.

PoshTots, a Chesapeake, Va.-based online retailer of children’s furniture, sells expensive items including $35,000 princess carriage beds. A few years ago, the company introduced a $3,900 princess bed in the hope it would find more customers than the company’s nearly $10,000 option. But sales of the cheaper product were a dud. “If our customer wants to go princess, they’ll go for the $10,000 bed,” said Andrea Edmunds, PoshTots’ director of marketing.

Some parents do have a glimmer that indulging every offhand desire of the tot set just might have adverse long-term consequences, but one mother bravely waves aside such concerns:

“They have their whole lives to think practically and be efficient in the real world. This is about being creative,” said Ms. Dickhout. “I’m not at all worried about them becoming princesses.”

~~~

h/t Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

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Everybody knows the deal is rotten, 14

16 11 2014

The Greek state is caging children:

Nine-year-old Jenny stands and rocks backwards and forwards, staring through the bars of a wooden cage.

When the door is unlocked she jumps down on to the stone floor and wraps her arms tightly around the nurse. But a few minutes later she allows herself to be locked back in again without a fuss.

She is used to her cage. It’s been her home since she was two years old.

Jenny, who has been diagnosed with autism, lives in a state-run institution for disabled children in Lechaina, a small town in the south of Greece, along with more than 60 others, many of whom are locked in cells or cages.

Fotis, who is in his twenties and has Down’s syndrome, sleeps in a small cell separated from the other residents by ceiling-high wooden bars and a locked gate. His cell is furnished only with a single bed. There are no personal possessions in sight anywhere in the centre.

“Are we going on a trip?” is this wiry young man’s hopeful refrain whenever he sees anyone new. But with barely six members of staff caring for more than 65 residents there is rarely an opportunity to leave the centre.

They have no money to care; they cannot care without money.

Efi Bekou, who looks after the institutions in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, states that

the economic crisis means that the Greek state is bound to rules set by its lenders in the EU and IMF, including a moratorium on hiring new staff – as a result, she says, it would be impossible to employ the number of staff needed at the centre.

Is this the fault of the Greek state? It is a poor, and poorly-run state, so probably yes.

But not only the state’s fault: the Greek crisis was set in motion by the global recession in the fall of 2008—the same global recession which saw Americans lose their jobs and their homes and blamed by financial analysts for their lax fiscal morals.

And so, too, have the Greeks been blamed by the European Union for its lax fiscal morals, from which they, the EU, must sighingly rescue them yet again.

No word on any rescue for children in cages.

h/t Filipa Ioannou, Slate





When I was young

23 10 2013

I should be grading.

I did some, not enough, and the papers aren’t due back until tomorrow, but I wanted to cut down on the number I’ll have to do tomorrow night.

Whatever. I found a link to this Reddit thread, “What is the most philosophical thing you have ever heard a child under the age of 5 say?”  in a post by Tyler Cowen; herein are some winners:

pinkpickuptruck 2255 points 2 days ago

My little sister handed me a juice box as I was packing to move out and said “No one is really a grown up. They just act old because they have to”

whosthedoginthisscen 312 points 2 days ago

“This darn penis.” – my 4 year old nephew reacting to a tiny boner getting in the way of him practicing swimming during bathtime.

pehvbot 415 points 2 days ago

I was rock climbing and a kid and his dad walked by (it was in a publicly accessible park). The kid asked what we were doing and the dad said “Rock climbing”. The kid, his voice dripping with contempt, “Why? The father replies “For fun, you know like when you play video games”. And without missing a beat the kid says “Sometimes I lose at video games”.

JoshuaZ1 300 points 2 days ago

My little brother asked “how do we know that there aren’t any more numbers to count between 2 and 3.”

[–]EgonIsGod 256 points 2 days ago

“What am I alive for?” Existential distress is not the sort of thing you expect from a 4 year old at bath time.

KellyLoyGilbert 95 points 2 days ago

“You don’t know what I’m feeling inside.” A five-year-old boy to his mother as they were walking around Golden Gate Park.

stormborn_ 202 points 2 days ago

I said, E, what’s wrong? She responded “anything.” Perfectly describes that feeling.

tubabrox 155 points 2 days ago

I’ve been babysitting for a family since their oldest who is now 9 was a baby. When the littlest one was about 4 he dropped this one on me and I haven’t been able to forget it since:

“This is how the world works: people bein’ weird, then they die.”

PockyClips 19 points 2 days ago

I had a friend die in a motorcycle accident… He left behind a wife, a daughter, 4, and a son, 1. The day after a bunch of us his went to see them. We get there and his widow is a wreck, of course… She’s cleaning the house, rearranging cabinets, washing all of his clothes… Anything to keep busy. So the girls get her to relax for a bit and I took it upon myself to keep an eye on the kids. As I’m sitting on the couch, the four year old comes over to me and climbs into my lap. She’s says, “You guys are here because my Daddy died, huh?” I say, “Yes, sweetie, we are.” So we sit there a beat… I’m not a religious guy, but their family was. I didn’t know what they told her, what they wanted her to think about the whole sorry mess, so I decided just to keep my mouth shut. Then this sweet little girl looks up at me and says…

“Well, better him than me.”

And she gets up and goes back to playing. It was the most unsettling thing I had ever heard from a child… Yet she was absolutely right. Brrrrrrr…

Ericthemighty 26 points 2 days ago

I was teaching 2 years ago. I went over to the kindergarten where a friend was a teacher to get ready for lunch. I witnessed a little girl ask a boy about a bandage covering where he got stitches, doesn’t that hurt.. “Yeah, but I just don’t think about it.”

So many more.

And really, are you surprised that I picked out the snarky and the ontological?





We don’t need no thought control

29 05 2013

Does it infringe upon the rights of parents to raise their children to insist that they educate their children up to a certain point and to certain standards?

Yes. So?

We in the US (and most other places on the planet) sensibly grant parents the right to raise their children as they see fit, but this particular right is conditional, not absolute. If they neglect or abuse or deny medical treatment to their children they will lose those rights, and once the children reach certain ages (these vary depending upon the circumstances), the parents lose those rights, regardless.

(“Right” is an awkward term to use in this case, largely because rights are assumed—not by me!—to be absolute and inalienable, such that to speak of “conditional rights” seems nonsensical. “Privilege”, however, seems too cramped a term; “authority” works pretty well. . . so, ah, yeah, I’ll use authority here on out.)

In any case, what I now call “authority” and what others might insist is a “right” has nonetheless come to be seen as something which, unfortunately unique among our understanding of rights, is paired tightly to “responsibility”. The default mode is parental authority/right/responsibility for children, such than an abuse of authority/failure to meet responsibility leads to loss of said authority/right.

Christ, I’m really talking around the issue, aren’t I? Nothing like spending two days in a writing seminar to unmake one’s ability to write.

Anyway. That we as a polity might infringe upon parental authority is neither new nor necessarily unjust. We might have good reasons to be suspicious of state mandates regarding children—see the history of removing Native American children from their homes, as unjust a policy as there was—but it is also the case that, absent state action, children suffer at the hands of their parents.

I can’t really object to religious or cultural communities wanting to instill their values into minor members of their communities (even though I do), because as deep a civic republican as I am, I am also a narrow civic republican who thinks pluralism is the bee’s knees (even if I am occasionally exasperated by those bee’s knees).

I”m losing the thread again, aren’t I? Shit.

Okay, I’ll just skip to the conclusion since I”m obviously skipping all over the place anyway. Requiring parents to educate their children is not an unjust limitation of their freedom to raise their children as they see fit, because parents ought not have the freedom to deny freedom to their children.

And the parts I skip over? All of the tough balancing between parents’ rational desires to pass their values along to their children and what to do when those values hinder their kids’ abilities to make, when they come of age, their own decisions. Amish and Satmar and FLDS children are not just Amish and Satmar and FLDS members, but individuals who, like every other individual, deserve to be recognized in and covered by the law, and not merely covered by their parents.

Or something like that.





We don’t need no education

27 05 2013

If your local  high school students thought Martin Luther King had something to do with slavery or never heard of Abraham Lincoln, you’d probably think, Huh, that’s a pretty lousy school.

And if those local school students attended a school  in a community in which education is required only through the 8th grade?

Would you think, My, isn’t it wonderful that the oppressive state isn’t forcing that nice community to teach anything contrary to their values?

Or maybe, How marvelous that parents retain the right to so completely control their children that those children are utterly unequipped to find their own way in the world, and are thus effectively prevented from ever leaving the community?

It’s even better when they get state support for such community-building. . . .





Baby, baby, please let me hold him

6 12 2012

I’m too broke to be decadent—but if I had the money. . . ?

Well, I’m probably too boring to be decadent: couldn’t be trendy if I tried.

I’ll leave the Douthat-slaps (similar to a dope-slap, but administered with sacred sorrow) to Katha Pollitt (among the many, many, others), and be glad that others have waded through his muck so that I don’t have to.

Do allow me, however, this one obvious point: The reason some of us don’t have children is that some of us don’t want children. At all.

Not: don’t-want-children-because-want-something-else-more, but: don’t want.

The usual disclaimers: I like kids. I’m glad other people want to have kids, and I think our environmental problems have more to do with too much consumption than with too many people (although consumption and people are not, of course, unrelated).

So, yeah: Babies!

Just not for me.

That I can choose not to have babies for the mere reason that I don’t want them is, for any number of fertility-mongerers the real decadence. That is, it’s not that I want to live the Euro-trash life, but that I can choose, and because I can choose, I can choose wrongly.

In other words, it’s a mere hop, skip, & jump from choice to civilizational collapse.

There’s nothing particularly new about this equation—this is a standard reactionary-conservatism trope—but just because it’s old doesn’t make it any more correct or less irritating. I’ll skip the rant on why it’s irritating (it’s late and I’m erasing 10 words for every 5 I write, so, y’know), and, oh hell, I’m just going to bring this back around to me.

I chose not to have kids, but to focus on the choice is to miss the real point, which is that I never wanted kids. The choice depends on the desire, and it was never my desire to have children. I didn’t choose not to have children I wanted; in some sense, I didn’t choose at all, but merely recognized that I lacked what it took to be a good mother—namely, the desire to be a mother at all.

Taking away my choice on that matter would not have changed the desire, nor would incentives have made a difference. Sure, some women forced into motherhood may come to love it, and more social support might make a difference in the number of children one might have, but that still leaves some of us to say Nope, no thanks.

I take motherhood—parenthood—very seriously, and believe that if you’re going to have kids, you oughtta do it right.

Tough to see how you can do it right if you don’t want to do it at all.





I may not be able to think. . .

20 04 2012

. . . but I can link.

Or steal, as it were, this time from Katha Pollitt:

But the brouhaha over Hilary Rosen’s injudicious remarks is not really about whether what stay-home mothers do is work. Because we know the answer to that: it depends. When performed by married women in their own homes, domestic labor is work—difficult, sacred, noble work. Ann says Mitt called it more important work than his own, which does make you wonder why he didn’t stay home with the boys himself. When performed for pay, however, this supremely important, difficult job becomes low-wage labor that almost anyone can do—teenagers, elderly women, even despised illegal immigrants. But here’s the real magic: when performed by low-income single mothers in their own homes, those same exact tasks—changing diapers, going to the playground and the store, making dinner, washing the dishes, giving a bath—are not only not work; they are idleness itself.

. . .

So there it is: the difference between a stay-home mother and a welfare mother is money and a wedding ring. Unlike any other kind of labor I can think of, domestic labor is productive or not, depending on who performs it. For a college-educated married woman, it is the most valuable thing she could possibly do, totally off the scale of human endeavor. What is curing malaria compared with raising a couple of Ivy Leaguers? For these women, being supported by a man is good—the one exception to our American creed of self-reliance. Taking paid work, after all, poses all sorts of risks to the kids. (Watch out, though, ladies: if you expect the father of your children to underwrite your homemaking after divorce, you go straight from saint to gold-digger.) But for a low-income single woman, forgoing a job to raise children is an evasion of responsibility, which is to marry and/or support herself. For her children, staying home sets a bad example, breeding the next generation of criminals and layabouts.

. . .

The extraordinary hostility aimed at low-income and single mothers shows that what’s at issue is not children—who can thrive under many different arrangements as long as they have love, safety, respect, a reasonable standard of living. It’s women. Rich ones like Ann Romney are lauded for staying home. Poor ones need the “dignity of work”—ideally “from day one.”