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Kids, Life, Opinion

Dwell Thinks Its Aviation-Inspired Sheets Are ‘Inappropriate’ for My Daughter

October 13, 2014

Here’s the thing about getting overly excited by the arrival of a catalog of high-end nursery furnishings: one way or another, you’re going to get your heart broken. Usually, it’s by drooling over the latest mid-century child’s bookcase, only to discover it’ll cost you $899. But today, with the arrival of the Dwell Studios catalog, my wife and I found a new way to feel deflated: simple sexism.

I never would have imagined how much I love being the father of a little girl. It’s just awesome. But I am very, very sensitive to the everyday sexism that permeates the world of girls’ clothes, toys, after-school programs and, as we discovered tonight, bedsheets.

Flipping through the lovely Dwell catalog, I was drawn to a new collection, Flight, “inspired by the clean lines and bold graphics of mid-century aviation posters.” It also fits in with one of my fatherly missions: making sure my daughter knows she can do any damn thing she wants to do. CEO, scientist, poet, pilot.

Except that apparently won’t fly with the folks at Dwell. The “Flight” collection, the catalog language explains, is “for the little adventurer”, and as we all know, girls have no taste for adventure, right? To drive the point home, Dwell includes a graphic that reads “Appropriate for” followed by two boxes, “boys” and “girls”. Boys is checked, girls is not:

IMG_1758Let’s leave the high flying to the boys, shall we?

And with that, Dwell gently wraps an arm around us to lead us to the gender-limited world of “Posey,” which is “appropriate for” girls (not boys, of course) and features “a field of flora showcasing a variety of blooms in rich, saturated hues…a beautiful collection that feels timeless, fresh and beautifully girly.”

Thanks, Dwell. Thanks for helping me understand which of your $160 crib bumpers would be “appropriate” for my child. Because God forbid I screw this up and accidentally inspire my daughter to like aviation, or my son to appreciate flowers. I mean, can you even imagine?

I’d laugh it all off if I didn’t believe it shocking that in 2014, nobody at Dwell thought “um, maybe girls might like planes?” Or even “perhaps the word ‘appropriate’, which suggests ‘inappropriate’, might piss parents the hell off?”

Here’s what’s really appropriate, Dwell: that I teach my daughter not to buy into this kind of sexist crap, even if your sheets do look exquisite.

Source: @standupkid

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The Playground Skill I Hope to Learn from my Four-year-old

July 1, 2014

Yesterday, after dropping by my wife’s job at CNN in Columbus Circle, our four-year-old daughter jumped eagerly in the Time Warner lobby: can we go Central Parkkkkkkk? My New Yorker’s instincts told me this was a very lousy idea. After all, it was 3 o’clock and we had to get back to Brooklyn. And nobody wants to be stuck on a rush hour F train forced to tell a four-year-old we can’t sit down. Seriously. That sucks.

But admittedly, there was another fear squashed way down deep inside me: I knew she wanted to explore and find a playground. And playgrounds, if I’m fully and completely honest, scare the crap out of me.

Off to the park we went, and while climbing on rocks, a playground I never knew existed rose out of the ground to invite us. I was toast. We spent the next two hours there. She had a fantastic time, and I did my best. I pushed her on the swings, explored a rather cool area with tunnels and ladders, and sat happily as she made friends in the sandbox. It was amazing to watch. She settled in with another girl named Emma, and the two of them started building a sand castle, working together to make it perfect. It grew to such a height that it even attracted the attention of a pair of boys “on holiday” from the UK. They added a train bridge.

In the space of an hour, my daughter was able to do effortlessly what I’ve never–as a child, or as an adult–been able to pull off: painlessly making friends. In fact, the longer my daughter laughed and played with Emma, the more I felt awkward not seeking out her father, who, as luck would have it, kept his distance, watching his daughter from a just-at-the-limits-of-acceptable-parenting distance, and aside from a regular glance at his daughter, kept his focus firmly on his cellphone.

Had he been standing closer, and had he been more involved, the pressure on me to introduce myself–to simply talk–would have been crushing.

I don’t know how my daughter does it. As a kid, I was screamingly shy. I did a little better in college, but as an adult, aside from workplace banter, I’ve been remarkably inefficient at making adult friendships. I just haven’t got a clue how it’s done. So I watch my daughter, and marvel. She literally walks up to kids her age and talks to them. Just. Like. That.

I, on the other hand, would agonize, plan, run it through in my head, and settle inevitably on inaction. Yesterday, when I was finally able to get her to leave the sandbox, she said she needed to run back and talk to Emma. She ran over, asked her if she lived nearby, and if they could meet again for a playdate. I was stunned. It was a concrete effort to take a chance encounter and build on it. I guess, maybe, that’s how friendships are created?

Watching her, I wondered where she got that kind of confidence, those guts. That fearlessness. I don’t know if maybe I had it once, and lost it, but I did promise myself: I won’t let her lose it, and if at all possible, I’ll try and learn from my daughter. If she can do it at four, there’s no reason I can’t make a Dad friend, too. What kind of example would I be to my daughter not to have healthy friendships and let her see them?

I just hope she’ll be patient with me. I haven’t a damn clue what I’m doing. And those playgrounds. They’re so intimidating! Any nice Dads up for a playdate?

[Originally published at The Huffington Post]

Source: @standupkid

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