I hesitate to point to the New Republic's article on day care in America, because so many of my friends have kids in day care right now. They worry enough as it is. But there is a huge difference between the places that serve middle-class communities and the day care that serve the poor.
Jonah spent some time at an unlicensed home-based day care, when he was little. Nine toddlers and babies in a window-less basement apartment with one non-English speaking babysitter. There were some days that I worried about his safety.
She was just reviewed by a psychiatrist and found fit for trial, but I guess it wasn't a clear decision.
The judge, Justice Gregory Carro, said two state psychiatrists had interviewed Ms. Ortega and reviewed her “rather voluminous” medical records and determined that she was able to participate in her defense in a meaningful way.
Sounds like the Stabbing Nanny had a long history of mental illness.
Should nannies have to get a license to practice? If gun owners have to go through a background check, shouldn't the same go for the people who left to mind your children?
I'm still working through the report, but there are some interesting findings buried in there.
First, it seems that parents are not relying on one kind of care for their children, while they are at work. They utilize a piece-meal approach. They use a little daycare, a little help from relatives, and sometimes the kids are left alone.
Second, the study itself wasn't that great. For example, they asked parents whether or not their kids spent any time in self-care. Self-care means being left alone at home. But they didn't break down the age of the kids well enough. They lumped 5-14 year olds together. Leaving a 14-year old at home for an afternoon isn't a big deal. A five-year at home for an afternoon is another story. I also wonder how honestly parents reported this information.
Third, it's clear that extended family, as well as older brothers and sisters, are providing a lot of free care of children in this country.
Fourth, I wish they was some data here on whether the child had special needs or not. Childcare is MUCH more complicated and more expensive when the child needs specialized help. I have my own horror stories.
Sheryl Sandberg recently said, "the most important career choice you'll make is who you marry." Choosing the right spouse is bigger than that. It's the most important life choice that you'll make.
The other day I consoled a friend whose marriage is falling apart. Fights about money. Separate vacations. Restricted bank accounts. Drinking on the sly. Bad stuff.
At the same time, there's been lots of talk about the pros and the cons of getting married in your early 20's. For me, marrying in my early 20's would have been disastrous. [Several sentences about my dating history prior to the age of 30 were just deleted.] There might be a greater dating pool in college and it might make career sense to start a family in your 20's and get it out of the way, but a person isn't quite cooked until they hit 30. Or at least, I wasn't.
So, how should you pick a good mate?
The basic priorities have to be the same. Is the priority going to be career advancement, family, material goodies, religion, extreme sports? You can't have it all in life, and you need to pick someone who wants basically the same stuff that you do. If need a stable life where the bills are paid regularly and there is always a quart of milk in the fridge, don't marry a guy whose priority is drinking in dive bars in the East Village.
But after you get the deal breakers out of the way, there is a lot of room for choices. It helps to have certain things in common and to have the definition of fun. For example, Steve and I both like food, so we eat well together. We watch Game of Thrones and dream about vacations that we'll take when the kids are older. Because we met in grad school, we were already very similar types of people. But those things aren't deal breakers. People can grow to like their partners' interests or at least, put up with their weird obsessions with electronic music or orchids.
You also have to do the right things to maintain the marriage. Surround yourself with people who have a good marriage. If your friends are a mess, you'll be a mess. Be kind to each other. Laugh at the other's jokes. Take the time to have fun. Trust each other. Talk during dinner.
Well, now I feel very old and boring. But boring works. Boring is much better than fights about money. Separate vacations. Restricted bank accounts. Drinking on the sly. Bad stuff. My advice is to be boring, but have lots of laughs, too.
The government provides all sorts of protections for married couples, as well as actual monetary rewards. Filing joint tax returns, in many cases, can save some dollars. There are estate taxes and social security benefits.
My single friends sometimes gripe that the government should not be giving any benefits to married people of any sexual orientation. They feel that the workplace gives families too many perks without providing similar provisions to single people. Why should single people have to double up on their workload when others take maternity or paternity leave? Shouldn't all people have to pay the same taxes, regardless of their marital status? Shouldn't a niece who inherits a house from a deceased aunt be exempt from a hefty estate tax?
It's a slow week for the kids. Because it's Passover week and next week is a vacation week, there's been little homework. They polished off their homework in 30 minutes, and we ran around outside for a while. (God, I'm out of shape.)
It was a slow evening for me, too. For once, dinner was all prepared and I'm not feeling pressured to pump out an article. So, I sat on the sofa listening to NPR's coverage of the Supreme Court's review of DOMA.
I'm not really the best person to write about this case. There are some first class, Supreme Court specialists who blog and write articles for mainstream papers. I love listening to the discussion, but I am not an expert.
The debate is fascinating. Great discussion about federalism and the role of marriage in society. I'll link to the best commentary as I find it.
Also, I just don't understand the arguments against same-sex marriage. If you're going to write great analysis of an issue, you have to have some empathy for both sides of the topic. In this case, I just cannot understand why anybody would care that gay people want official state recognition of their long term relationships.
Is gay marriage really going to degrade the institution of marriage? The institution of marriage has taken far more hits from celebrities who rotate spouses like a new spring wardrobe. Kim Kardashian's 72 day marriage to Kris Humphries is hardly a model for long-term commitment.
Loving, long-term relationships are good things. It's good financially. It's good for family life. It's good for one's own health. Right now, the benefits of marriage are siloed up in middle class and upper middle class families. I figure the more people who model the benefits of marriage, we're all better off.
That's right, I said it: this is a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality. Once gays can marry, they'll be expected to marry. And to buy sensible, boring cars that are good for car seats. I believe we're witnessing the high water mark for "People should be able to do whatever they want, and it's none of my business." You thought the fifties were conformist? Wait until all those fabulous "confirmed bachelors" and maiden schoolteachers are expected to ditch their cute little one-bedrooms and join the rest of America in whining about crab grass, HOA restrictions, and the outrageous fees that schools want to charge for overnight soccer trips.
To understand why female lawyers, doctors, bankers, academics, high-tech executives and other, often expensively pedigreed, professionals quit work to stay home, you need not search their souls for ambivalence or nostalgia. In fact, searching their souls guarantees that you won’t get the story, because it’s not to be found in individual decisions and personal stories, which are always complicated and hard to parse, but in the structural realities of the American workplace. And by this I don’t just mean the family-unfriendly policies of the kind Marissa Mayer is accused of advancing—though refusing to let workers telecommute doesn’t help, and let’s not even talk about how few American companies have on-site child care or adequate parental leave. I mean that among the professional and managerial classes, success at work requires more hours in the office, more hours on the computer at home, more trips out of town, and a much less predictable schedule than it did in Betty Friedan’s day. The life of a Joan or a Peggy at an advertising agency looks almost easy by comparison.
Last week, the chattering class moved on from talking about Sandberg and leaning in to talking about division of house cleaning chores. (See Jessica Grose, Jonathan Chait, and Stella Bugbee.) I didn't weigh in, because we've dealt with that topic so many times on this blog. A sloppy search of my archives pulledupdozens of posts. However, I've been getting nudged to write a post about it, so here goes...
Having a tidy house isn't totally worthless as Bugbee makes out. If the kids have clean socks in a designated drawer, it is easier to get out them of the house in the morning. It's easier to throw some waffles in the toaster, if the counter isn't strewn with the remains of the previous night's dinner party. There are obvious benefits from having the cabinet under the sink stocked with rolls of toilet paper.
I speak from experience here, because right now Jonah's clean clothes are stacked in front of his dresser and are not actually in his drawers. The kitchen counters are piled high with a mix of clean and unclean platters and bowls from last night's dinner party. And the upstairs bathroom does not have any toilet paper.
Having a clean house is a nice thing. But making it clean is super boring, and in our spoiled Western world, we have so many better things to do with our time.
Steve and I used to quarrel more about the housework than we do now. In some ways, quarreling over housework is a young person problem. By the time that you've been married for a million years, an equilibrium develops and standards change. I have learned to ignore the chaos on the top of Steve's night stand and desk. And he's recognized that it's actually gross to have a kitchen so dirty that you can see a dead cockroach in the digital display of the microwave.
Like Chait, I do more of the housework, because I'm home. But I do not accept that housecleaning is my job. I do more, but I consider it a temporary situation and a low priority task. I got a headpiece for the phone, so I tidy up, while chatting with my mom. I watch dumb TV shows, during those rare moments when I try to squeeze the mountain of folded laundry into our cramped, hand-me down, paint-encrusted dressers. (I do think that if we ever invest money in proper furniture, the house will be tidier.)
When Steve's home, he does a fair share of a certain type of housework. During the week, he cleans up after dinner and throws in one load of laundry. As long as we have a mutually agreed upon priority list for the weekend, we're conflict-free. It would be nice if there was some recognition that the workload for the house was not evenly distributed, but we'll let that one go for the moment. He does many chores around the house that I don't touch, including the bill paying.
Not only is housecleaning is a worthless task, but quarreling about the housework is also a complete waste of time. After fifteen years of marriage, we have nearly reached an equilibrium point. It took a long time for each of us to make adjustments in expectations and to arrive at certain patterns. I'm glad we're at this point, because there are so many better things to do with your time. Keeping score about the house cleaning is just as boring as putting away the platters from the dinner party and keeping the bathroom stocked with toilet paper.