Little Oil is Not a Little Me!
Warning: This post is embarrassingly self-conscious. I debated just throwing it out, but then thought, "Heck, if you can't over-think things and fight against straw-people arguments on the internet, where can you?" AmIright?
Twinsies! Photo by Russ Roca, of Path Less Pedaled
Cute! She's Like a "Little You!"
On Twitter and in real life, I sometimes get comments about how Little Oil supposedly has exactly the same interests as me. Even though usually delivered as a compliment, I tend to recoil from such remarks. I hear it implied that I am "programming" her to be just like me. I am defensive about this and I'd like to explore it a bit here.
There are two types of preferences that Little shares with me and her Mama that others comment on. Or don't and I just react like they did. Because I am almost cripplingly self-aware. (Hence, blogging.)
Let's call those two preferences-types "Tastes" and "Values."
Look, People! I don't pretend that Little Oil is sooo cooool as to have discovered Talking Heads or Seattle Bike Polo on her own, I'm just reporting on some of the Darndest Things she says. If it happens to be the case that she really only likes Talking Heads, and especially their coolest album, Fear of Music, that's just the way it is! She's a cool person!
At home, she is mostly exposed to what Mama Oil and I like. That's the cultural landscape that she currently finds herself in. She chooses from stuff we like, that's most of what is on the menu.
The important Parenting Philosophical Point here is that we aren't programming a little "Us" (blog nickname aside), we just like enjoying music and art and books together and it seems like if you expose your kid to stuff you genuinely like rather than prepackaged, "Baby Genius" brand garbage, you are more likely to share enjoyment and make a connection with one another. I know this will be challenged the first time she get's a hit of Elmo or something, but so far so good.
Good news, I'm a big nerd and most of the stuff I like is already designed for children, so I have a better chance of making it through kid culture with my eyes ungouged and ears unbleeding than Mama Oil, but we'll just have to see.
Also, she's a toddler. If she likes something, she becomes obsessed. So us happening to enjoy making her dolls and bear dance to Life During Wartime one morning blows up into a full scale David Byrne and Talking Heads binge that has been going on for weeks and shows no sign of slowing. This single-mindedness makes her preferences seem maybe a bit more significant than they perhaps are. Also, cuter.
Not A Clone, Anyway.
She's even into some stuff that is within our cultural bubble but not among our favorite things. Like Bike Polo. If I'm riding solo and I happen upon some folks playing a game of polo I'll stop and watch for a second, but Little Oil is like a fiend. Whenever we are within a one block radius of any place she's ever seen a game played she insists that we go check out the polo. Once there, she is hypnotized, watching the ball and explaining to me what's happening, like the cutest commentator possible.
Polo, Papa! She hit the ball. Ooh, he's riding!
He hit the ball!
...and she doesn't even like everything we like anyway!
Talking Heads, Kimya Dawson and They Might Be Giants? Approved.
Punk music of any kind (except New Wave), or reggae or Psych or British Invasion (even the Kinks!)? Denied. (and by the way, she wants to know, "Where David Byrne go?")
This taste thing goes beyond music, of course.
Bikes, robots and food are all hits. Mama and Papa sleeping in has not yet caught on.
And Then There's Values.
We really have gotten this from soooo many people after mentioning attending a protest with Little Oil, or when someone realizes that she doesn't eat meat or that we actually bike almost everywhere together:
Oh, cute! You are indoctrinating her with your vegetarian, low-car, anti-authoritarian worldview! Like inducting her into a cute little cult!
I think that's... interesting! I'D rather let my child make their OWN choices regarding such things, when they are ready.
Until then, we'll just be living like NORMAL PEOPLE.
I've only got one thing to say:
The kid is raised in a household with particular, reasoned, progressive values!
Yougottaproblemwiththat? Photo by Russ Roca, of Path Less Pedaled
The Oil Family:
Not perfect. Maybe not normal. Definitely not ashamed.