The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul

2006-06-19

An Inconvenient Question, Perhaps.....

I know that I originally started this as a more-or-less travel related blog. But lately I've been pondering political things far more than where to find great travel discounts.

I blame Joey for that. I don't doubt that having him is a good move. On the contrary, I can't wait to see the result of my impromptu genetic experiment (mix one Old World Slavic gentleman with a New World Slavic/Baltic hellraiser, and what will you get? Hmmm.....LET'S TRY IT OUT AND SEE IF WE ROLL SEVENS OR SNAKE EYES!!!).

I also can't wait to take him to some of the amazing and beautiful places in the world, to watch him grow, and see him master knowledge that I never could, due to my own lack of talent in that area and/or the fact the technology required still may not exist for a few years, and he'll be in the perfect age group to conquer it. You know....like why my parents could never program the VCR while their lazy lump of a daughter sittin' on the couch, familiar with most things computer, did it in a matter of minutes without even looking at the stupid manual. That kind of thing.

When I say political, yes, I mean personal things, mainly regarding being a chick who is going to be a mother. Considering all politics is at heart really about your own selfish interests, whatever they may be, that's natural. I'm looking at the world in a different light....and quite frankly, I don't get it.

I never paid much attention to all this "working vs stay at home mommy" stuff, believe it or not. I figured I'd make up my mind when the time came along. I gave up on planning my life for decades in the future based on incomplete current knowledge once I realized that life can and will throw you a curveball now and then, and wreck all your detailed plans in a blink of an eye. The twenty-year-old me could never have predicted that one day I'd have in-laws in Russia and be living in Florida (Florida!!) of all places, instead of married to that idjit I picked up at the campus radio station and living in some terminally hip metropolis.

Thank God for that! That idjit is probably splitting the ramen soup package into a lunch and dinner portion. I only wonder what he eats first....the salty broth or the tasteless noodles.

Anyway, I guess I'm just paying better attention to that stuff when it hit me. In every article about the plight of the working mother, the author keeps bringing up the childcare paradise that is Europe (ok, paradise in the writer's humble opinion) and how inadequate America is by comparison. Name the stat, and we're at the bottom.....no paid maternity/paternity leave, 80% of American childcare facilities suck, it costs a fortune even to have childcare that sucks, you have to start looking for it even before you conceive in some places, and the staff sticks around for maybe six weeks before quitting. Live-in help? Yeah, that's a good one....if you have a spare 30k or so, and can overlook the fact she's going to start smacking the kid around five minutes after you leave with a rubber hose (don't wanna leave any marks that might mess up the family Christmas portrait, right?) Meanwhile, Europe has universal day care, maternity leave for a year (or more), on-site pediatric care for sick children at said centers, hell...maybe even a place to drop off your dry cleaning and pick up a hot meal to go when you get the kidlet after work.

It sounds pretty sweet. I can't deny that. I applied at one company back in Phoenix before I moved (USAA insurance) because they offered such a facility to their employees as a benefit, and I was still on the Pill at the time.

Of course, in the description of this paradise, there's always a mention of how some past president (usually one of the Republican ones) shot down some spending bill that could have provided the exact same system here in America. Wrap it up with a "maybe our daughters will have a system like they do in Europe if we ever grow up" paragraph, and voila, you have an article ready for publication, possibly even a Newsweek cover story.

Uh.....not so fast, sister.

If it's all so perfect over there in Europe, how come most European women have only one kid, if they have any at all, whereas here in America, with our Neanderthal system, many women have two or even more?

Stop and think about it for a second. If it was really all that great as the writers seem to think it is over there, the Continentals should be pumping out the little ones like crazy. Peg Perego shouldn't have to export a single damn stroller to the US, because Italy (population growth rate one of the world's lowest at 1.2 kids per woman) would be using every one they produce. After all, they have all the things that a mother should need to support her and her child, according to these experts.

So, why are the governments over there offering to pay women to have more kids? The Tsar's own homeland, Russia, recently joined the trend of proposing a monthly stipend for each child born to Russian parents to shore up the population decline. I told the Tsar that maybe we should sign up Joey for it, since after all, he's half Russian and we could use the $30 or so every thirty days to save up for his future college tuition. I had to reassure him I was kidding to get him to stop glaring at me (truthfully, I was half kidding....anything extra in the college kitty is welcome, don't ya know?).

I haven't seen anything in our media about "Bonuses for Brats" offered by the President or Congress to shore up the American birth rate, currently at about 2.1, or replacement level, for you statistics freaks.

A couple of countries have stopped talking about it and actually have those bonuses. Their birthrates barely budged.

Something just doesn't add up.

There are groups in Europe that have as many kids as Americans do, and even more. They're called immigrants. They don't use the day care centers lauded in the articles, even though they are relatively cheap and are all over the place. They are precisely the ones that most European politicians wish would stop having rugrats, since in a few years, they fear that their native languages will be pushed aside in favor of the newcomers' Arabic, Turkish and African ones.

So, maybe it's time to look at it from a different perspective. What are we doing right after all, if women feel that two or three is a good number (like I still do, even though I'm getting a late start) while Europeans think that maybe only one is doable, if that, in spite of all the extra help?

Don't give me this "we're all buying into the patriarchy" crap, either. My generation, and the one after it just coming into adulthood, feature some of the most outspoken females ever unleashed on this great land, and that's saying something right there. American chicks have always been on the feisty side. We were brought up to believe that we could do virtually everything a man can do, and dammit, a lot of my friends have managed to get there, more or less. (One can even pee standing up. It's frightening, really. No, it's not me, and I won't tell you who it is.)

It's a cultural thing, IMHO. Whenever I tell the Tsar that I bought something for Joey with the express intention of also using it for the next possible child, he gets this "you sure you don't just want one?" thing going. Many of his Russian friends have stopped at one, even though they live here now. It usually keeps going until I say something like "Ok, we'll see if we can handle only Joey. But I still want the option of another one in a couple years.....and you better give me a girl next time!"

Yeah, I'm bowed by the patriarchy, aren't I?

He may be descended from the same stock that pushed the Nazis back at Stalingrad, but he ain't winning this battle.

Back to the original question: what gives with the kiddie situation, and could it be possible that maybe we are doing something right in spite of all the things that these "experts" tell us we are screwing up? After all, if I thought this planet was incredibly farked up beyond saving, the last thing I would want to do is bring an innocent life into this mess. And in spite of not having any idea where I could get decent childcare out here in Redneck Rocket Scientist Land, I'm still planning on having more than one, unlike my European counterparts.

Discuss.

2 Comments:

  • At 12:09 AM, Blogger Slap-Happy said…

    Can't move to another state, much less country, so it's never been a concern before.

    I think there is some issue with who is reporting what. For some reason, the American Media(tm) seems to want us to believe that this country sucks eggs compared to Europe and Japan (witness the ongoing education issue). While I'm certain that childcare is easier to come by, what Americans consider acceptable is not the same as what Europeans do.

    I was raised in Germany, a country where corporal punishment (at the time, I've no idea now) seemed pretty frequent. And I was a good kid.

    We (my 3 year old brother and I) got fed the cheapest food available and yelled at/spanked whenever the baby woke up from her nap.

    But she (the sitter) went on to murder her husband, so I'm not sure it's comparable to the average experience.

     
  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger Kory O said…

    That's a good point about the media. They do have a "everything about America sucks" attitude going on most of the time.

    But that is pretty freaky about the sitter.....

     

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