HOT: Anime Dress Ups

I’ve complained in the past about the dodginess of most girls’ role models. So you can imagine my ambivalence about the prospect of NKOTB playing dress ups as a princess.

However, if she wanted to dress up as Voltron, I’d totally be down with that:

Via: The Wet Male

HOT: Complicated Explanations of Geek Culture

NKOTB would greatly impress at least two of her grandparents if she invested a bit of time learning complicated explanations for geek culture:

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For those who are completely baffled, an explanation is here.

HT: Boing, Boing.

NOT: Baby Boom

Data, demographics and economics might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but not matter what their level of interest, all current or prospective parents of young children in Australia should familiarise themselves with one piece of demographic data and its economic consequences.

A while back, economic gadfly and guru Chris Joye posted the following Australian Bureau of Statistics chart on his blog:

The graph shows the number of births per year in Australia over the previous 20 years. The quite noticeable jump at the end of this graph is the effect of the Federal Government’s baby bonus scheme.

It shows we’re in the midst of an enormous Baby Boom. There are going to be a lot of tots wandering around over the coming years.

In fact, when the NKOTB is born next year, she will enter the world with around 60,000 more peers than I did when I was born at the start of the 1980s.

Why do I say that current and prospective parents should familiarise themselves with it? Well, because the short term economic consequences of this baby boom will have an enormous impact on you and your children’s lives over the coming decade.

The graph above underpins a sudden and significant increase in demand for the kinds of products and services consumed by young children; most significantly, childcare.

First year economics teaches that a sudden increase in demand should result in a sudden increase in prices. It also teaches that for services that are either heavily regulated or provided by Government, a sudden increase in demand will result in shortages.

Which is of course exactly what we’re experiencing. It’s why childcare places are currently so expensive. It’s why waiting lists for inner Melbourne childcare centres are hitting 12-24 months. It’s why Joyce and I have been (jokingly) canvassing moving into a commune based shared parenting collective.

Again, most parents would have already been more than familiar with this state of affairs. However, what the graph above shows is that they should get used to higher prices, reduced access and lower quality for services that their children consume, compared to those that they consumed when they were a child.

The bow wave of the 2007+ Baby Boom will wash over every aspect of our children’s lives. Unless major action is taken now, current childcare shortages will spill over into kindergarden shortages, pre-school shortages, primary school shortages and then high school shortages.

If it’s possible for me to predict this now, it’s obvious that the government and education bureaucrats will be aware of the problem. But given the track records of governments of all political stripes in long term planning and  the current  environment of fiscal restraint imposed by the fallout of the GFC, I don’t think I’m being overly cynical to believe that the government is not going to make the investments needed to accommodate this baby boom.

So, the next time you’re complaining about the price and hassle of getting the services you need for your kid, think of the graph above and remind yourself “Get used to it”.

HOT: Grandparent Made Geek Gifts

Well, it’s coming up on Christmas Time and I would pay good money for this very geeky, iPhone themed baby play mat:

However, it’s not for sale as it’s home made by the grandparents of the lucky tot in the picture above! Very cool

Via: Boing Boing.

HOT: Strong Female Role Models

For me, finding out the sex of our baby was a real moment of crystallisation.  The whole pregnancy thing went from being an abstract idea, to something concrete. It went from being a question of  ‘I wonder whether?’ to one of ‘how will we?‘. Thinking in practical terms rather than just daydreaming has opened up a whole range of issues that I’d never really considered before. One issue that I’ve been pondering quite a bit since we found out we were having a girl is role models. As Sir Charles noted in the early ’90s, as a society we tend to get this wrong:

Obviously, JJ and I will be the most important role models in NKOTB’s life. Luckily, she’s in good hands there :) . HOWEVER, despite the Chuckster’s protestations to the contrary, I’m convinced that societal influences play a part. While JJ and I can model a lot of positive behaviour, I feel like how NKOTB interacts with society and what society expect of her is going to be at least partially driven by the way she sees other girls (particularly Eurasian girls) acting and being treated.

I know I’m coming to the party pretty late here and there’s decades of feminist literature that’s thought this through better than I have, but on first blush, I think pop culture female role models are a bit problematic.As Geek Dad recently posted:

Most stories are about boys and for boys, or about men and for men. Think of the classics, like Oliver Twist or The Count of Monte Cristo, then think of more recent popular stories like Diary of a Wimpy Kidor Tangerine. The books I remember reading in high school were all about boys–A Separate Peace,Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, and on and on and on.

I think this is a pretty good point. Not to sound like a whinging feminist (oh, how often I have been accused of that!) , but how many children’s movies/books would pass the Bechdel Test?

Inevitably, when girls are portrayed in children’s movies/books, they reinforce some pretty unhelpful gender stereotypes. As the picture below (of unknown providence) neatly summarises, Disney sends girls some pretty regressive messages:

Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take some active parenting over the long term to counter-act this kind of thing.

So, I’m consciously looking for strong female role models (particularly Asian or Eurasian) to bring into NKOTB’s universe.

So far, I’ve got Dora the Explorer, Madeline, the Paper Bag Princess, Mulan, Anne of Green Gables, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Chihiro from Spirited Away.

What do you think? Does anyone else have any good female role models I can add to my arsenal?

HOT: Fifty Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

JJ once observed during a visit to the town in which I grew up that all of my childhood stories ended with “and then there was blood everywhere”. It’s not quite true. Often there were broken bones, but no blood. The point is, my parents were pretty stingy when it came to cotton wool wrapping when I was a kid.

That’s the way I want it to be for my kids.  I don’t want them to be looking for someone to hold their hand before they do something. I want them to learn self-reliance; to think about it and then work out how to have a go at it themselves. And to wear the consequences if they don’t quite get it right. Like in the real world.

To paraphrase Captain Lance Murdoch on The Simpsons:

Bones heal, chicks dig scars, and Australia has the best healthcare system in the world.

The emergency ward isn’t that scary (after the first couple of times).

Given this starting point, I was always going to be positively inclined to Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler’s “Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)”. The book consists of 50 self contained ‘dangerous activities’ that your kid will get more out of taking the risk of doing than avoiding like a lilly-livered little wus.  Activities include old-fashioned wholesome fun like supergluing your fingers together, melting glass, boiling water in a paper cup, whittling wood and sleeping in the ‘wild’.

And the old stage horse: Licking a 9-volt Battery.

A HOT for striking a blow against the cultural nanny state in which our children will be forced to grow up.

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