Monday, February 07, 2005

Thanksgiving in February

A good friend of mine from college likes to have a big, traditional Thanksgiving celebration on his birthday every year. Everyone brings a dish that's part of his or her own family Thanksgiving tradition. The email list of invitees used to be so long and the food used to be such crap. It was mostly about the beer.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that the invite list was about half as long as it used to be. "Oh! How nice! A smaller group this year," I thought. Then I noticed that all of the names were doubled up for the first time. Like:
and so forth.
The cynics among us talk about how it won't be too long before the list starts fragmenting again. I hope the food stays as good as it was this year, though.

This year, for the first time, I noticed that most people had brought children. This is so weird. These aren't my parent-friends; these are my college friends. These are the people who heard my shaky-voiced speeches when I was running for service organization office for the first time, the people I played parking garage roller hockey with, the people I went to late night parties with for years.

Those of us who have stayed in the St. Louis area have scattered to neighborhoods fitting our personalities. We were all Wash U students from around the country. But of course these two would end up in Valley Park while this whole group would head out to Maryland Heights and they would stay in University City. It just makes sense, but it's so interesting to see.

And the parenting styles, wow. That's interesting too. Some of us couldn't be more different. She heads to the hospital at the first twinges of labor pain, she had natural childbirth, she used formula after the first few weeks, and she breastfed for more than 2 years. His kid confused him with the vacuum cleaner while he is the primary caregiver. This toddler knows the words to several Disney movies by heart while this one has never watched TV, and so on.

I heard a very interesting comment from one of these well-educated, privileged, white, suburban home-owning parents yesterday. It's something that I think a lot of us have thought but mostly wouldn't say aloud. "When I was choosing a daycare, lack of TV was one of the major criteria I looked for. We visited one center where the 2-year-olds were all zoned out in front of the TV. I mean, this is what I would do. If I'm paying someone else to watch my kid, I want something better than that!"

Is this a demand for exceptional effort at a very low price driven by materialistic consumer culture? An acknowledgement that the women who work at daycare centers - usually not as well-educated as we - might be better at raising our children? Or something in between?

1 comment:

trisha said...

I just love this post.