All Posts by: Nicholaus Noles

Baby Activist Header

Two lawmakers, Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum, were recently banned from speaking in the Michigan House of Representatives after arguing against a piece of legislation that contained a bunch of essentially anti-woman program cuts and abortion restrictions. The legislation itself raised some concern in Michigan because it was being rushed through at the last legislative minute, but things really got kicked off when the news came out that these women had been silenced for speaking their minds. This spurred an event called, “Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!”

Since you don’t actually have to have a vagina to help vaginas take back the capitol, my son and I attended the event, and I discovered that babies make awesome activists.

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Gymboree’s Gender Gaffe

 Kids clothing retailer Gymboree recently came under fire by activist moms for selling onesies that say, “Smart Like Dad,” without also selling onesies that say “Smart Like Mom.” Instead, the equivalent onesie for girls says, “Pretty Like Mommy.” In isolation, none of these messages are bad, but they reflect a decidedly sexist attitude toward gender: if you’re a girl, then it doesn’t matter if you’re smart (just make sure that you’re pretty!). Although it’s true that we’re all getting worked up about baby clothes, these kinds of messages have real consequences for children as they grow up. This kind of messaging about gender roles is why generations of fathers have been uncomfortable experiencing and expressing their emotions and why many women gravitate toward education and career paths that are less math-intensive.

Remember those angry mommies that I mentioned before? Well, it’s not the 1960’s and this is not an episode of Mad Men, so they started a campaign to give Gymboree a piece of their mind. The result? Gymboree pulled the clothes from both physical and online stores.

Let’s face it. Everyone likes to stick their kids in clothes that say cute things. But it’s best for everyone if we stick to neutral messages like “Bananas over mommy” (appropriately accompanied by happy baby monkeys) or Un-BEAR-ably cute” (with, you guessed it, bears).

Note: For their organization in giving Gymboree the business, the sauce goes to…

MomsRising

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Not-so-Pretty in Pink


Here’s another entry into 8BitDad’s pink-themed coverage. I was walking through Toy “R” Us when I saw two sets of stacking rings. Now, stacking rings are great toys for kids, but do you see something wrong with this picture? That’s right. The child who plays with the one on the left will get an opportunity to learn about the colors while they’re stacking. Blue, green, yellow, red…standard stuff. The kid with the pink stacking rings? They learn blue, pink, lighter pink, lightest pink, dark pink. Regular stacking rings are pretty gender neutral, but these pink stacking rings are aimed at little girls, who apparently only need to learn two colors.

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Ruin Marriage? Really?!?

People connect. Mentally, physically, spiritually, politically, socially, and philosophically, we connect ourselves to other people. Marriage isn’t for everybody, but there are a lot of reasons that connecting yourself to someone legally can be as important as any of these other connections. A spouse can help you to live and die on your own terms, protect your interests in your absence, and ensure the uninterrupted well-being of your children. Being straight, I would enjoy a lot of these advantages even if I weren’t married, but the rights of my gay friends are not so well-defined. Denying people the right to marry is hypocritical and bigoted. This little number (see above) has been making the blogosphere rounds and I think that it illustrates my point quite well.

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Are you two daddies?

As a developmental psychologist, I spend a lot of time chatting with kids. I was talking to four-year-old girl recently and the name “David” entered our conversation. Here is a short transcript of the conversation that followed:

Girl: My daddy’s name is David!

Me: Really?!? That’s great. You know what…my little boy’s name is David too!

Girl: You have a baby?

Me: Yes.

Girl: Can he walk?

Me: No.

Girl: Does he sleep in a crib?

Me: Yes.

Girl: Are you two daddies?

Up until this point, this conversation was pretty standard stuff, but this question stumped me. After a few minutes of question and answer, I figured out that the little girl had seen me working alongside my research assistant (a twenty-something young man), and she was either asking me if I was gay or if he was my partner in raising my son. Whatever her motivation for asking if I was “two daddies,” I was pleasantly surprised that such a young girl had been exposed to the wide variety of ideas about what constitutes a family.

If you want your child to be as awesome as this little girl, or if you own family is a little different in some way, I want to recommend Tom Parr’s books. Three of his books are particularly good. It’s OK to be Different is about accepting the many ways that people are different. If you’re an average family, a mixed race family, a mixed religion family, or if you’re two daddies (or two mommies), check out The Family Book. Finally, Parr’s book on adoption, We Belong Together, is an awesome way to talk to an adopted child about their place in your family.

Sauce: Todd Parr

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Kid Gives Speech After Learning To Ride A Bike

This video of a kid making an off-the-cuff inspirational speech after learning to ride a bike is popping up around the internet. The kid’s speech is charming and unintentionally funny, which makes the video internet gold, but the content of this little boy’s speech reveals what he learned from his dad in the process of getting up on that bike.

Perhaps the most important lesson that this boy learned is that his own personal skills and qualities are changeable. A lot of people talk about personal attributes as fixed values. You’re smart or you’re dumb. You’re fast or you’re slow. You ride a bike or you walk. Learning to ride a bike taught this child that hard work and practice are tools that can be used for self-improvement.

We give our children a starting point, but don’t forget that we’re also responsible for teaching them how to push their personal boundaries.

Sauce: Break.com

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The Last Post

In a heartfelt final post addressed to his family and friends, blogger Derek Miller posts about his own death. Miller’s last post is, by turns, matter-of-fact, poignant, brave, and contemplative. This post is a blogger’s version of The Last Lecture. Ironically, the first post that I read on his blog was his last, and I have a feeling that this is an experience that many people will be having over the next few days. Early in final post, Miller says the following:

“I haven’t gone to a better place, or a worse one. I haven’t gone anyplace, because Derek doesn’t exist anymore.”

I don’t know Miller’s politics or his views on spirituality and religion, but despite his claims to the contrary, I’m pretty sure that he lives on in the hearts and minds of his family, readership, and – at the very least – on one of Blogger.com’s servers.

penmachine.com

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A storybook that says what we all feel


Adam Mansbach’s forthcoming storybook is decidedly not for kids. It articulates the feelings of frustration that every parent experiences when their young child refuses to go to sleep, with allegedly hilarious results. I judge this book by its cover, but here is a (slightly edited) excerpt:

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the f**k to sleep.

Sauce: Amazon

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