S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership, the following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, September 3rd, the Fluid Fashion Edition.
S3: I can I’m a writer for Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family. I’m the dad of Laura, who’s 15, and Harper. Wait, she’s 13. Holy shit, geostrategy, we all live in Arlington, Virginia, May 13.
S4: I’m Djamila. I am a writer contributor to Slate’s Karen Feting Parenting column. And most of the kids are asleep on Slate’s YouTube and Facebook channels. I am mom to Nyima, who is seven, and we live in Los Angeles, California. I’m Elizabeth New. Can’t I write the whole school and family travel blog such that I’m the mom to three little Henry eight of six, Teddy three. And I’m located in Navarre, Florida.
S5: Hey, everyone, I’m so excited to be back. We’re so glad to have you back. Did anything happen while I was gone? Oh, my God. Today on the show, we got a question about a five year old’s gender fluid fashion choices.
S3: We’ll also be giving advice to the mom of an extrovert, a twelve year old who has glommed on during quarantine and as always, have triumphs and fails recommendations. I’m going to learn everything that you guys have been up to for the last three weeks.
S2: The triumphs and fails. Jamila, do you want to start?
S6: Yes, I actually have to triumph. This is an update because we talked about my anxiety over Nyima going to a school where there wasn’t a large black population. And so first day of school last week and my greatest fears were realized. I picked her up after day two. She did the first two days of school at her dad’s house. I was there in the morning to cheer her on and then, you know, on Tuesday I pick her up and so I’m like, So how many black kids in your class? She was like, you didn’t even ask me how my first day was. And I’m like, well, we we talked like we had talked the day before, you know, like I said, I’m sorry. I didn’t ask exactly in those words. How was your first day? I also I was there, so I didn’t feel like I missed it because I was there for, like, the first hour. That’s right. And so anyway, you know, she says five. And so then she reveals that she’s the only black kid in her class.
S7: And I’m like, this is my like worst case scenario, you know, because in my mind, I’m thinking, you know, it’s not ideal for there to just be two of them because they might not like each other.
S8: It’s not just about her having a crew of black friends. It’s about her not being alone in this space with people who share her experiences, with whom she can identify about certain things, you know, and even if they aren’t the best of friends that they can give each other that look, you know, that they’re coming to school.
S6: Like, I think we got a really powerful example of that this weekend with Chadwick Boseman passing.
S8: Right. Like black kids and other kids were going to school heartbroken, but like the heartbreak that a lot of black children are carrying is so different. Right. And so I want a name and to be in a space with teachers and kids that we’re going to understand that. Right. At least a good number of them. And that’s not what we were getting.
S2: But a zero black kids in the class, zero black kids in the class.
S8: Right. And so on. So maybe say Thursday I send the principal an email just saying, you know, this was a concern for me. I want to talk because there are two second grade classes. So there’s the possibility that there is another black child or other black children and that they just you know, Nyima just got the luck of the draw, you know, whatever process they use. And I don’t know how they separate the kids this year because in previous years, you know, when it’s not going on, the children actually are allowed to pick their own classrooms.
S6: Right. They did this kind of hippy dippy thing where they, you know, take some time exploring. And yes. So, you know, there are things about the school that were compelling and interesting to me. You know, I don’t know how that works. If all the kids want, you know, the cool teacher and everybody else is like, you know, and there’s somebody who’s just stuff. But whatever her teacher send me an email to introduce herself. I shared my concerns with her. You know, I use pretty dramatic words, horrified me. And just, you know, like if there are other black kids here, I’d like to know why they were separated from one another. And so finally, she can text me, said Principal. We schedule a meeting. I text the teacher who would have been named as teacher at her old school, because I think I might I don’t know if I mentioned that on here, but she’d reached out because Nyima hadn’t been at school and it turned out they hadn’t processed her withdrawal paperwork yet. And so, you know, we had a nice conversation. It turns out that she’s a fan of my work. And, you know, she said, well, if you all come back, you know, we’d be happy to have you. And so I texted her like, hey, how serious was that? You know, if you come back, we’d be happy to have you thing, you know, just want to investigate all my options here.
S2: This plot is really thickening, Djamila.
S6: Yes, it’s hot. It’s super thick. So she checks things out for me and turns out because they hadn’t fully withdrawn Nyima from the school, there was still Slaid for her. You know, this is especially important because she was in a magnet program. So because if they had taken her out, she had to reapply and been waitlisted. And so I name is back at her old school.
S2: We went home. I got. This is an incredible development in the space of one week.
S6: Yeah, in one week and one week and it’s what she wanted. She never wanted to leave her old school. She felt some pressure from her brother, you know, and that he was saying, well, you don’t want to go to school with me. And, you know, so that’s kind of why she’d gotten on board with it and she really missed her friends. I just feel like at this time, with so much has been taken away from them, you know, like that kinship that she feels to these other children, if I didn’t think it was a good school would be a different conversation. You know, like I stand behind the school and she was happy there. I was happy there. You know, we tried something else, didn’t work. I had a lovely conversation with the principal of the new school yesterday. I explained, you know, our decision name is then step mother, you know, agreed to let it be my call. They’re happy with the other school. Their son is there. But there’s also like four or five black kids in his class. So and it does turn out that another black child popped up yesterday. So it looks that there would have been two black girls as class.
S2: And can you bring her with you? I know I’m like you. Come on, baby, you know, and two boys and the other class.
S6: I wonder if perhaps they were thinking about, you know, you’re spreading out the black kids. That’s good for everyone else. Right? Like, I think those four black kids would probably have had a better experience in the classroom together. You know, that’s just my theory. So we’re out we’re back home happy about that.
S7: And they still have the spot. So that’s perfect because that could have been like if that door had been closed.
S2: So this seems like a real case of possibly you not filling out a form, really working out for your benefit this time.
S6: This is actually lots of it. There was me because her dad wanted to he felt he had to fill out the form and I had the school iPad. He was like, you know, can you give me the iPad? And I was OK. And I kept forgetting I we weren’t using it or anything because Nyima changed the password on it, like on the second week and we just never got to use it again. I just kept forgetting. So my forgetfulness worked out really, really good. And also part of the reason that I’m very happy about her being in a black school right now is that I just signed a lease and we are moving into a new apartment.
S6: Thank you. I will just say we will not be in Inglewood anymore. We’re not going to be in a black neighborhood anymore. It’s it’s far more diverse, you know, just to say we’re going to be in L.A., but it’s very different from where we are.
S9: And I was lucky to get something that had been vacant for a while. And because it’s been vacant for a while and people are leaving, you know, landlords are dropping their rates. And so I got something I probably would not have been able to afford under normal circumstances. And it’s got a lot of space and I’m really excited about it.
S6: And we’re near a lot of amenities and bars and restaurants.
S7: That’s so good because you’ve been so stressed about that and school. And so I feel like all of these things that have been weighing on you now are like settling.
S2: Thank you. Congratulations to you on renting the mansion from down and out in Beverly Hills.
S5: How did you know how to do that? I’m very happy to. Great triumphs. Elizabeth beat that.
S7: I know I’m not. I’m actually going to match it with a double fail, one of which is like a stereotypical my family fail and the other something we just, like, never do. So and I will say our hot water heater has gone out this week. Our router was damaged by lightning and neither of those even reach the top of this situation. We were supposed to go to Tampa for Henry’s medical appointment. And this has been like push back, push back. And we finally they the the center was open. We had, like, scheduled the appointment. It takes forever to get in there and we have to drive down there and get all this insurance approval. It’s a total nightmare. So they had sent me an email like reconfirming, but it was at the same time that the two hurricanes were coming towards us. And so I thought, well, we’re probably going to cancel. So I didn’t do the thing where you, like, reconfirm your appointment. I didn’t even look at it anything. I just like marked it to look at later in the week. So we packed up the car on Thursday to drive down there. And as I’m driving down, I’m like running through like, oh, I never reconfirm the appointment. So I open the email and it says basically we have moved to virtual because like schools are back open and they’re back up and we are two and a half hours down the road like, oh my God, we’re trying to get in touch because only they said, like, we’re going to send you for the lab work. You can come in like our lab is still open, but like we’re not going to drive down to get lab work. So we’re like trying to call and Jeff and are like, OK, well, we will at least drive to Tallahassee and someone will go into the Trader Joe’s and then we can turn around and go back. And the kids are like watching a movie in the back of the van. We’re like, they don’t even know. So we pull into the Trader Joe’s, we finally like talk to everybody. And the appointment is just can’t they are not open. They’re going to, like, send the lab work. We’re going to do a virtual appointment. It’s like, all right. So we’re trying to figure out, like, how do we save the state? Because, of course, when we get to the Trader Joe’s and I like get the kids out to have a snack and Jeff’s going to run in and. Some shopping, they’re like, are we at the hotel because we we had told everyone, like we had books like a beach hotel so that we like had space. And because it was really complicated for just two of us to go because he has a lot of anxiety. So we’re not sure who he’s going to want to take him anyway to. The whole family was going to get this little trip that’s canceled. They’re all freaking out. So Jeff’s like, OK, on the way back, we’ll do some geo caching, which is something our family loves to do and the kids are really into it. We always carry a little bag of, you know, geocache stuff for those listeners who might not know what geo caching is, such as me do you caching is like there’s a little app and people hide little boxes. Sometimes they’re like old ammunition cans or flashlights or things that everything’s been taken out of. And there’s a little log book and some prizes. And when you find it, you write your name in the logbook and you take a prize and you leave a prize and they give you the GPS coordinates and there’s a free app on the phone. I guarantee you, there’s like probably 12 within walking distance of your house right now. It’s like Pokémon, though, right? You’re not like physically touching things, are you? No, no. It’s like a physical thing. It’s like I find a thing that someone has left and you put in a prize and get a prize like little erasers, or sometimes there’s Lego mini figures. We have like a bag of little things to leave in there in our car. And my kids just think this is the best thing ever.
S2: It’s like a treasure hunt, but there’s always a treasure nearby.
S7: There’s always a treasure nearby. You can do it anywhere.
S10: It’s the best things ever. I just wonder when man’s inhumanity to man will ruin this like it does everything else, like ridesharing and probably right or left, just like bags of poop inside geocache.
S7: Yeah, I think they probably do. Sometimes we get places and they’re not there and the app tells you like how to find it. We always do easy ones so the kids can find it. OK, so Jeff is pulls up the geocache and then we give it to the kids and the kids like call out the directions to us. So they’re calling out the directions and I’m like following.
S5: And I turn into like dilapidated empty strip club parking lot and there’s just like inappropriate for the children picture, you know, but now they’re like calling me down to it.
S7: So if if I, I would be like, oh, no, we’re driving back. But they are like guiding me on this thing and I’m just like that. So anyway, it turns out the geocache was lovely. It was an empty flashlight. It had a ton of good toys inside of it. I think we kind of like parked the van so that the strip club was not part of the like picture a back door. Yes. I mean, if it was closed and dilapidated, it could have been a whole different scenario had it not been.
S2: What a great place to hide. A geocache, though, is inside a strip club.
S7: Yeah, the different kind of geocache here. Right. So, yeah. So not only did I uncharacteristically not read an email, load the entire family into a van to drive eight hours for an appointment that wasn’t happening. I then took the kids caching at a strip club.
S10: That’s a fantastic I think this is great. I think this story only gets better as the kids get older. Right. Because this will be the type of story that you retell, you know, and like when they get one day, like, maybe one of them will be like, wait, what was that place? You know, and like, when you can really have a good laugh at it.
S7: Well, they already were like trying to tell my parents because there were Lego mini figures inside this geocache. So this is like the best, you remember found. And they were like it was in this empty parking lot. My parents were like, oh, where I was like, nowhere. No, on the side of the road. It was nowhere hard to tell what the building was, really. But of course, now now they’ll know. I took my kid. I took your grandkids to an empty strip club. Sorry.
S2: The things that parents learn from their children’s podcasts. All right. That is a good one. Good Triumph’s good fails. I have a triumph which has to do with where I’ve been over the last couple of weeks. I apply for writer’s residencies all the time just because I’ve always had this dream of like what it would be like to get one of these things where you just go away and you are in the middle of nowhere and you just live in a cabin and someone makes you meals and there’s no Internet to distract you and all you do is right in the stranger. Right? Right. Who among us does not share that dream? Whatever I apply every year and I never, ever get in, I’ve gotten rejected by Zero and McDowell, any writer’s conference, you name it. I’ve gotten rejected by it by then. This winter I actually got accepted to a Cambage residency in northwestern Georgia. So I got the acceptance letter maybe in February and the acceptance is for two weeks in August. Then I thought it wouldn’t happen because of covid. They closed for a little while, but then after a month or so of being closed and figuring out new procedures, they opened it up and they were like, we’re still running the residencies. You’re pretty naturally socially distancia. You’re just alone in the woods, for fuck’s sake.
S11: So I decided I was going to do it. I have these two weeks of, you know, solitude and no obligations other than to write and. And then I forwarded the email to Holly and she was like, hey, there’s this part here where it says that some people bring their kids.
S5: I was like, motherfucker, no. The whole point is taking care of a kid.
S2: But I thought about it a little bit more and I realized, like. That’s a little bit old family thinking, right, like that is the way I should have responded to that when Lyor was five, I’ve always been like, oh, I’m here with you to this writer’s retreat. But I was 15. She can make her own food. She doesn’t even like to talk to human beings. She requires no human interaction. She’s also a writer. She’s extremely enthusiastic and talented writer and would really love a week where her whole job was just to write.
S11: She doesn’t have to do athletic program or anything. So I thought I would ask her and she was game. And Harbage said, sure, that was fine with them. So I spent two weeks in rural Georgia one week. The first week was by myself. The second week was with Wira and it was just the two of us in a weird house on top of a mountain. And we wrote all day. Lyra took her isolation so far to the extreme that I would set out on the porch looking at the beautiful scenery writing. And she never even left her bedroom in the weird little house on a mountain, except for occasionally we would go to swim in a river. And she had been warned ahead of time that there was no Internet. So she gritted her teeth and dealt with it. We played cards and watched movies a little bit of night, but really we just wrote like thousands and thousands of words and neither of us really bothered the other one. And it was totally glorious. And I’m really glad that I did not reject Alice’s idea out of hand. Like Aleo, I’m sure would not have pressured me if I’d been like, no, I don’t think so. She went really fine, no problem. But it was a really good idea. And I’m glad I did not go with my first instinct and be like, fuck, now. It was a wonderful time together where we both got things done that were important to us and bonded though without speaking really well.
S7: That’s fine. That’s the best kind. Yeah, for sure. No pressure at the moment. And she probably feels special that she got to go and do this.
S5: I think that she did think it was a writer thing. Yeah. Yeah.
S2: Well she saw the other, you know, dinner. You would go and pick up your dinner at the house where they fix it. And so she saw and Matt from a distance, some of the other artists there. And, you know, they were like professional novelists and and professional artists, studio artists and and a jazz singer. You know, there are like real people making their living from art. I think that was that was cool, too. And super cool. It’s a great triumph. All right. Before we move on, let’s talk some business. So every Thursday is Djamila Slate live show. The kids are asleep, except not this Thursday. It’s Thursday, September 3rd. The show is off to give all the hardworking people who make it a break as everyone has to recover from last week’s incredible Nyima episode. But we’ll be joined again by amazing guests next week, September 10th, and every Thursday after it. It’s a lot of fun. Don’t miss it. It’s a 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific every Thursday night this week on Slate’s YouTube or Facebook page. If you want to check it out. Right now, though, we have all the old episodes still archived on Slate’s YouTube and Facebook pages, and they’re great. We’ll put links on our show page. In addition, business number to sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter. It’s a great way to stay up to date on all of our parenting content and shows it’s the best place to be notified about everything we do. Care and feeding. Mom and dad are fighting. The kids are asleep. Basically everything Djamila does, everything Djamila does for Slate, dotcom and much, much more. Plus, it’s a fun personal email for me directly to your inbox. I’ve been off the last couple of weeks now. I have so many parenting stories to share from several weeks of fun and excitement on top of mountain with nothing to do. Sign up at Slater Camp Parenting Email. If you want even more parenting advice, you should join a Slate parenting group on Facebook. It’s full of useful and fun parents who have all kinds of great advice for you or who are there to just commiserate sometimes when you need them to commiserate, as I needed them to commiserate. When I was complaining about how Harper’s middle school, even though it’s all remote, is still starting at seven forty five a.m. every single day for some fucking reason. I took that to the parenting Facebook page and everyone told me that does suck. Dan, you’re right to feel angry. Thankfully, parenting just search for sleep parenting on Facebook. And finally, so much business, don’t forget to tune into our final bonus. Mom and dad are fighting episode thanks to Target, it will appear in your normal podcast feeds this coming Tuesday. Those have been great and I think all our listeners have really loved having double. The mom and dad are fighting every week. All right, let’s get into our first listener question, as always, being read by the wonderful Shasha Lanard.
S12: My younger son, age five, enjoys dress up and imaginative play, which includes dressing up in princess dresses. We are totally fine with this and are happy to buy him dresses along with all the other costumes Wonder Woman, Superman, Ninja, Chef, Monster, etc.. Like a lot of kids, he gets very intense about certain play and then cycles on to the next thing. And right now we are big time into dresses again, totally fine. The situation. The other day he asked for a girl’s bathing suit just for fun and I didn’t really know what to say. On one hand, I’m fine with it. My husband is a little more uncomfortable with the idea, but also in the end, fine with it. I actually don’t think he will want to swim in it at the pool since even at age five he is not comfortable with people outside the family seeing him in dresses. That makes me a bit sad that social norms are hitting him so early. Maybe I answered my own question. We have asked him if he likes dresses better, we try to avoid calling clothing, girls clothes or boys clothes and he says no, he just likes all the clothes. I would like to hear your thoughts for parents who don’t have a lot of experience with fluid gender norms. Thank you.
S13: Embrace it. I think that in general, my work as a parent, it’s twofold.
S14: I have to teach my child how to interact with the world around her, right? How to survive, how to engage with people, how to be respectful of other people. I also am charged with creating a world for her right. A world in which she can be herself, a world in which the values that I want to instill in her centered.
S15: And that’s not always in ways that they are centered or experienced by people outside of our home or outside of our community or outside of our city or wherever. And with that, I think that allowing a child to embrace things that are not typically assigned to or thought of as to be boy things is. I just think it’s important, I think that if we have the courage to do this, if we’re able to allow our little boys to wear princess dresses and our girls to wear baseball uniforms or whatever it is, and we teach them not to shrink and not to apologize for the world is and will become more comfortable with it. Even empowering them to be themselves can come at a cost. And I get that. And I think that with every bit of harm reduction that you’re able to do while still allowing him to do these things, if that makes sense. So if there are places that you think may be particularly hostile, if there are family members that have, you know, outdated attitudes about certain things, that these are not the spaces in which we go to. And if we have to be in these spaces, maybe this is when we adjust a little bit, perhaps until you’re old enough to really be comfortable with somebody saying something unkind to you and to know that that’s coming, the world ought to catch up to your son. Your son should not move backward to adjust to the world. So if he wants a little girl’s bathing suit, then a little girl’s bathing suit is fine. You still don’t know yet if this is a matter of simply exploring fashion or exploring gender identity or just exploring color and texture you like there. There’s a lattice and clear here, I think that more than most parents you’ve received. What could be a hint, right? This could be a breadcrumbs, could be something that’s telling you that your child may not identify as a boy. I don’t think that you’re getting a lot of evidence or anything that points to this, but this possibly could be the little thing that years later, when you think back to what your then daughter’s childhood was like and what you may have missed, realizing that, OK, it started with the clothes, it could be that your son is going to be a fashion designer and make women’s swimwear.
S13: You know, I just think that you owe it to him to allow him to be as free as possible and explore as much as you can. I feel like I’m probably saying the same thing over and over again, but I just want to emphasize that this is OK and this is good for you all. You all are right for allowing him to embrace it. It’s the people outside that are not comfortable that are the problem.
S7: I completely agree, like I come down on get the bathing suit, all three of my boys have loved playing dress up with a variety of things, including skirts, dresses, all sorts of things. And I think, Djamila, kind of what you hit on is something we talked about in Tuesday’s bullying episode where we talked about kind of guarding against those opportunities and that certainly I talked about Oliver and his shoes and how much pink is his favorite color. And he has just wanted pink shoes. And I’m always OK with that. Although we do have conversations like, do you want to talk about what you’re going to say when someone comments on these shoes? Because I just know that that is going to happen. Or, you know, when someone assumes that you are a girl because you’re wearing these, do you want to kind of practice that and rehearse that with me? I think with the bathing suit, a couple of things to think about is that one, like Oliver in particular, when we’re at a store, loves the patterns and the things that are on girls’ clothing. And so often once he gets it on or tries it on, he doesn’t like the cut or the feel of it. So you don’t know if it’s really about the way it looks or likes me a lot, like you said, like the texture and the the variety of colors and things that you have in girls clothing versus boys clothing. But I think particularly if it’s dress up, it’s totally fine. And then you can move from there in terms of like what are your rules about wearing things out of the house? Like we have rules about our dress up clothes going different places. But I think you’re doing a great job if you’re it seems like you and your husband have discussed things and you come down on this is cool. Let’s let him play around with this stuff. And so much of what children learn and experience is through this time of play. And the last thing you want to do is hint through this that experiencing different things than what is gender normal or what society has defined is that is is wrong. So I think if if he wants to try in a bathing suit and you’re cool with buying a bathing suit, and that jives with the family rules you’ve already established in terms of like maybe you don’t buy dress up clothes or you don’t allow regular clothes to be dress up clothes. We’ve had issues with that. As long as all of this fits those other rules that you’ve established, I think go ahead, let them let him play around and see where it leads. The only thing I would also think is that this wouldn’t even be a question if it were a girl asking for a pair of swim trunks or a boy’s bathing suit. Like because so often we say like, well, girls can wear boy’s things, but boys can’t wear girls things.
S14: And so I think if you already feel like, well, one way would be fine and the other way should absolutely be fine, I do think that a lot of folks would struggle with this, with a little girl, you know, maybe not a toddler, but I think bathing suits are the more than any other item of clothing are. So, you know, I think a little girl’s bathing suits and how they’re all adults who don’t want their kids wearing two pieces, you know, when they’re very small or, you know, when you turn seven or eight, you know, that’s it. You can’t wear the two pieces anymore. I think we do get plenty about a little girl’s chest is my name. I complained or she used to. And now we’re approaching training period about the fact that her father and brother can be what she calls nipple naked in public. You know, they can whether they can be completely shirtless and she can’t.
S7: Yeah, I guess I was thinking more of like board shorts as an option for girls swim in shorts all the time, their swim shorts available. But I get what you’re like. Yes. If your daughter came and said, I just want to wear board shorts, you’re right that. Yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely true. But yeah, bathing suits definitely. Because that’s the other thing. Like our girls swimsuits are very political. Yeah. OK, Dan, sorry.
S2: What do you think there’s a tension in this letter that I worry a little bit that you guys are. Either are or are not seeing or are ignoring in favor of being super positive toward this letter writer who I think in general is trying to do the right thing. But I got a real sense of like I doth protest too much from this letter, right? Like how many times in this letter did she say, we’re fine with it, we’re fine with it? Well, my husband’s not so fine with it, but he’s fine with it. I think they’re uncomfortable, I guess. And so I’m interested in what caused this discomfort and I’m particularly interested. And this ties, I think, to what you were saying, Djamila, in the fact that what caused the discomfort was not princess dresses, which it’s interesting to me in twenty twenty are like a somewhat more acceptable way among a particular kind of like parent who thinks of themself as broad minded for a boy to express a desire to wear traditionally girl’s clothing than a swimsuit, like the fact that it was a swimsuit is what all of a sudden made her go. I this what what do I do with this? What do I do about this? This is what led to her sort of like mini crisis that caused her to write in. I’m not surprised by that. And I think it’s worth exploring that a little bit more because I think it ties not only into questions of like what swimwear represents for people. I think what is striking this mother is that this is a moment at which it seems like it’s moving beyond pretend play into the accoutrements of real life, whether the kid wears the swimsuit out to a swimming pool or not, a swimsuit is real life in the way that a princess dresses, not real life, even for a little girls. Princess dresses are not real life. They are dress up and play. And I think what we’re not quite getting at yet in our conversation about this is the tension that these parents feel about what seems to them like a step beyond what they’ve been comfortable with up till now towards something that seems intuitively. Bigger and different, I wrote to a friend of mine about this question, Sean Williams, who wrote a really great piece for Slate a couple of years ago about his child, Barnaby, who at the time was totally obsessed with My Little Pony stuff and had my Little Pony onesies and backpack’s and stuff that they loved to wear. And Sean wrote about that experience in the ways that kids at Barnaby School were treating them as a result of this. And, you know, I asked Sean if there is any advice that he would want to give a parent who sort of right at this moment of trying to figure out whether a kid’s desire to dress in non-traditional clothing represents anything other than play. Well, one thing that he said that I thought was useful is that, first of all, it’s worth knowing that to a kid, those delineations aren’t as clear as they are to us. To a kid, this does not necessarily mean the same kind of step as it might mean to an adult. Intuitively, for example, Sean gave was we make all these connections between the things that our kids get infatuated with and the future people they might be, but a kid might get obsessed with, you know, going to sleep with a with a toy garbage truck every night. And that does not mean they’re necessarily going to go into sanitation as a career. Sean, to basically said the same thing that we’re all saying, which is, you know, embrace this opportunity to explore and for your child to learn more things about themselves. But I think one thing I would really urge these parents is at this point in your child’s life, to do your best, not to think about the things that your child is exploring in the context of, well, what is their life going to be like when they’re 15 or 20 or twenty five? Because I think you just don’t know yet. And I think the further you go down that road, the more stress and anxiety you’re going to cause yourself and that you’re going to put onto your kid. Yes, I think it’s worth that, as Elizabeth and Jamila both say, to prepare and protect your kid from problems that they might have if they choose in the end to start wearing clothing that is non-traditional out in public, it’s worth it to prepare them. But I think preparing yourself for some future in which your child is trans or non binary is premature at this point. I like Shaun’s advice of. Lean into the freedom to explore that you’ve given your child, you’ve got a whole different set of things to address somewhere down the road if your child starts identifying as one gender or the other or neither, right now, the situation you have is that you have a very inquisitive, very curious child who is curious about a lot of things and just the same way that you would if it was garbage trucks or fire trucks or airplanes or dolls or whatever, allow that experimentation and exploration to flourish. But don’t get too wrapped up at this point. And what that means for you down the road and given the sort of discomfort that I think is very present in this letter, as much as the woman who wrote in is really, I think, doing a wonderful job at being as supportive as she possibly can, Sean suggested. And I would back up the suggestion it’s worth reaching out to an organization that can be helpful with issues of gender fluidity as things start to develop with your child or even if they don’t start to develop with their child, because these are useful things to know anyways. And he’s just the Ackerman Institute for the Family there. Ackerman dot org extremely engaged, but I think it’s worth it for you to start. To know what these feelings are and what this discomfort represents so that if the time does come, that there are bigger issues you need to talk to your child about, you’re not approaching them from this position of, oh, I guess it’s OK with us. But instead, you have a clear sense of why this is important and why this matters, which I guess is a little bit sort of contradictory advice. Don’t put all your eggs in this basket right now, but also prepare in case these eggs go in this basket. I guess that’s the advice.
S5: So basically what I feel.
S13: Yeah, whatever, Jimmy, that is what I agree, as I say, I think that obviously, no, this does not mean your family must start preparing for a life in which your child is Tranz and thinking about, what, fifteen, twenty five look like.
S16: I think that all families should be prepared for the possibility that their child is trans. Right. So I think it’s something that because you now you’ve got something before you that could be that could be right. It could be so many other things as well. But it could be a signal that this is going to be play that I think just thinking about that. Right. And what that would mean to you, because they’re grappling with what it means to them that their child wants to simply wear girls clothing. Right. So it may be that there’s some work they need to do that other families that would perhaps be more prepared for their child to to be trans or gender nonconforming. There may be some things that this family just simply needs to do. I just wanted to say one thing that’s possible. Know. It could be that a swimsuit, which is such a political piece of clothing in so many ways and something that is so gender specific that this is the line where it goes from, OK, we’re cool with this to like I don’t know how I feel. It also could be the logistics of the penis. Right, because in a girl’s bathing suit, unless it’s one of the little shorts sets and even with those, they’re not designed to manage that sort of equipment. So perhaps the possibility that the letter writer is largely concerned about what happens if your penis is poking out in this girl’s swimsuit?
S7: That’s what I like. We have rules about that exact situation because my kids like to play Maui or superhero or whatever in which they’re running around in their underwear, which is totally fine here. Or maybe they’re they’re tying a skirt around their waist and they don’t have underwear on which I have just said that’s totally fine in the house and in this play space. But we cannot play that way outside of this house because our penises are not for other people to see with, you know, in public, in general. So I think that is where whatever rules you have about dress up or clothing or whatever that is in your house, that extends here, too. Right. Regardless of what piece of clothing it is. I agree with both of you. And even on a bigger level, that these opportunities, when they’re little, when they ask us for things that feel awkward or feel like these these big decisions, but they’re asking for something little opportunities to demonstrate to your child that you hear them and that you are there for them, regardless of what that question is to say through your actions or through your response, like I’m always here to hear you. You’re not going to get judgement from me. Now, I may give you advice that you don’t like. I may say to you, the world is very cruel. And here here’s how we have to prepare for that. But if you think of this as like the first time, they’re just telling you something, that one like how cool that they’re able to ask you that, because I’m sure there are kids, even at five, who would know. I can’t ask my parents for to have a girls bathing suit because I would receive this litany of reasons why that was inappropriate. So I think, one, to feel good about that, even if you feel awkward about it, like a lot of parenting is you being you. Is the parent feeling like this was handled totally different when I was a child or the way I saw it and I’m going to do something different and that is awkward. It feels awkward and it feels like, am I doing the right thing? Am I negotiating that boundary? So I guess when I read the letter, that’s kind of what I thought, is that this is this is different and this is new. And these parents, the letter writer, knows the right thing to do, but it still feels strange and that’s OK and keep being available to your child. And Dan, I think that’s good advice. Like if this is a place where you feel awkward and you feel weird, go educate yourself. This is a time to do that so that when, however you experience gender fluidity, you are educated and prepared for that. But also this decision is small in comparison to maybe where your brain has gone.
S2: I’m now envisioning them sending their child out and girls from school with a codpiece just covering the junk just to follow local community mores. Thank you, listener, for writing in. This is a super interesting question. There’s a lot of really good writing out there on this, including Shawn’s piece in Slate from a couple of years ago. We’re going to link to that in our show notes. And best of luck. And I hope that the swimsuit that you do eventually get for this child is beautiful. If you want us to help you listeners, send in your question or your conundrum to mom and dad at Slate Dotcom or do like this listener did and post it in our sleep parenting Facebook group, right onto our second question. Once again, it’s being read by the inimitable Shasha Lanard.
S12: My 12 year old daughter is a massive extrovert and quarantine has been especially tough on her. She does get to see friends in person regularly in socially distant hangouts and through a pod with another family. But this social time isn’t enough for her. And as a result, she wants to be with me or next to me or on me pretty much all of the time. I know that I am lucky to have a pre-adolescent daughter who actually enjoys hanging out with me, but now she follows me around the house. She lounges on my bed playing with her phone while I’m trying to work. She calls me on the phone when I leave the house to get groceries or to go for a run. If I am sitting in a chair reading or watching TV, she will wedge herself in next to me or behind me. Keep in mind, this is a five foot five nearly grown person all over me all the time. She now wants me to lay in bed with her when she’s going to sleep at night and sometimes will call for me just to know that I am close by. I have tried gently asking her for physical space, and I’ve tried explaining that her clinging is distracting while I’m trying to work from home, but she seems to have moved from a social need to some sort of anxiety that she’s projected onto me. I would have tried getting her to talk about this, but she doesn’t seem aware of anxiety manifesting in this way. I’m getting really frustrated with the constant physical contact, distraction and general neediness. I haven’t been so in demand since she was a toddler. How can I deal with this in a gentle way? I don’t want her to feel rejected at this very delicate age and during this stressful time, and if this is anxiety related, I want to help her deal with it compassionately without losing my damn mind.
S7: You need to set some boundaries.
S5: Seriously? I mean, I think she has the kid.
S7: No, no, I know when she says gently, she says like, oh, honey, I need some space. And the child, like, moves a half inch for the moms and dads out there that are home all the time with your kids and you are in the same space, you have to be able to say, I need some time alone. This is what time alone looks like. If that means setting a timer and saying, I will see you at this time and then you have to enforce that boundary, the boundary has to also come with dedicated alone time with this child where you are meeting her needs. And if that means inviting her to things. So I’m going to go for a walk. I’d love to spend some time with you. Would you like to come with me? I’m folding laundry. Would you like to sit in here and chat with me? Why? I fold the laundry to meet those times when you say I’m about to get on a phone call or I have, you know, one hour of work that I need to sit down and do and then I will check in with you. So I think it’s important to let her know when you are going to be there, when those moments are, and then follow through with those, but also set some boundaries for yourself. Like you, you are, in fact, living with a toddler. I am experiencing all of this with my children. And even with the little ones, though, you have to set boundaries if not for you and this time, but for every other person your daughter is going to come in contact with in the future, because if it’s not you, it’s going to be someone else at some point. And this is not the behavior you want with a partner you want her to feel comfortable with, with herself and knowing what these feelings are like. Now, I do think if you really think this is anxiety or even you just have the tiniest hint, I’m going to suggest that you go see a therapist and either have her go or you two go together, whatever. There’s lots of virtual options right now. But giving her someone to talk about the stuff, if it turns out to be nothing, then all you’ve done is taught your daughter that mental health checkups are important and a regular part of life. And if it is something more than you’ve given her a tool to deal with this, I don’t know specifically what 12 year olds, but this is definitely something we’ve discussed with our family therapist because Henry’s anxiety manifests in this way, like in the being with us. And we have talked specifically about strategies and we talk with her about them and then she helps Henry understand them. So getting a middle person involved here is not, I think, a bad thing. But when I read this, my first thought was just like, I know you want to be gentle, but sometimes being gentle means providing a line saying where that line is, but then also figuring out how to meet her needs somewhere else. But maybe I don’t have a twelve year old daughter, so what do I know?
S17: Can I and I know Dan is the veteran of 12 year olds, but no longer because the only places teenagers these days. That’s right. I just want to say one on some level, like letter writer, you’re strumming my pain with your fingers thing in my life with your words. You know, my daughter is often on me. She’s seven. Was like even we sit next to each other on the couch, like she’s always touching me like it, even if it’s just her feet on me. But it’s also come to be like a sweet little intimate kind of thing that we have, you know, like sometimes I’m driving. I reached behind her and, you know, like I grab her foot or, you know, it’s like we are a lot more physically close these days than we were before Colvert. And so even though your daughter is a bit older, I know that there are a lot of parents that are out here with you experiencing the same thing. However, and I definitely want to cosign everything that Elizabeth just said.
S18: You kind of asked your daughter if this is anxiety. And she was like, nah. And you’re like, so it’s my anxiety. It’s absolutely anxiety, the world has been snatched from under all of our feet, and I’m sure to some extent you are impacted by it emotionally and spiritually and perhaps professionally and socially. And so your daughter is experiencing all of those things. But she’s 12, so she has none of the coping mechanisms that you have as an adult. Parents are not super humans, right? Like we are suffering. We are depressed. We need space.
S17: We’re having a really rough time right now. So I don’t want you to feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed or feeling crowded by your daughter.
S18: But I think that it’s important that you give her a bit more grace than you are giving her. While also affirming that need to create boundaries so that you have the space you need to be extra supportive and also, as Elizabeth said, so that she does not have a, you know, codependent relationship with her partners, with her girlfriends, with other people who come in her life.
S2: I think you can also be really clear that there is a larger lesson at play here. I mean, with a 12 year old, you can be clear about this in a way that you may be happy with a seven year old or with kids Elizabeth’s kids age. But, you know, with Harper, who also is a really special kid and really likes to be with us a lot, though, though, it doesn’t really manifest an anxiety the way that I think you’re right. This kid clearly is manifesting anxiety. We’ve started just being really clear with her and saying, look, people who love each other have the right to. And and it’s totally normal for them to not want to be with each other every second of the day, to want to have time on their own. That doesn’t have anything to do with whether you love the other person or not is totally healthy for people to want to have time by themselves and time with the people that they love. That’s just like a normal thing that everyone wants. And then you will want it to some day, even if you don’t exactly feel like it right now. And at 12, this kid, I think, is old enough to start hearing that message. You don’t necessarily have to say so, that eventually when you have a partner, you’re not like a clingy, needy, crazy person or your friends or whatever, and you don’t even necessarily have to make it about your struggles if you’re feeling struggle. So that that might be helpful in this conversation. But you can also just make it about this is just the way things are in the world, in loving relationships between people. Those people like to have time with each other and they like to have time on their own to just be themselves, because they are still the individual people that they were even before they got into this relationship. And I value that time for myself. And you can value that time for yourself, too. And I want you to start to learn how to do that. But, yeah, you know, like you guys, I’ve I’ve had plenty of experiences with this, with Harper in particular, who is the exact opposite of LEHREN, who does want to be with us a lot and will drape her now enormous 13 year old husband. We are just like sitting in a chair and it can be really hard for a parent to say, essentially, I don’t want to be with you right now because I think to a parent that reads as a rejection and kids are very eager when they know it’s in their interest to make us see that they feel that they read it as rejection. But I also think that kids will actually be fine. And in nearly every case with a parent just saying, I would like some time by myself right now go read a book, I think it would be totally worth it for you letter writer to talk to a therapist about this child and their anxiety and for your child to talk to a therapist. But I also think your kid will overall, in the long run, be completely fine. If you say for the next half an hour, I’m going to be in the bathroom taking a shit and you need to leave me alone or whatever, and things will work out a lot better for you and everyone else if you set those clear boundaries. Agreed. You don’t have to use those exact words. That’s just a suggestion for a script you might want to follow. Good luck, listener. Your daughter sounds delightful. Maybe have her call Harper on the phone and they can have a chat for a while. If you want us to help you send in your question or conundrum to Mom and dad at Slate Dotcom and we’ll do our best to help you out. Let’s move on to recommendation’s. Elizabeth, what do you have for us?
S7: I am recommending something that we use at our home school table, but really you could use anywhere. But it’s great because all of my kids can use this and use it kind of on their own so you can set them up and get some time. And this is a magnetic centigrams set and ours is from Chuckling Raw, which is sold at Target. But the magnetic set is so nice because even the little ones can use it. So, Teddy, it you know, it has a variety of patterns. So when you could just make patterns on your own, but it has kind of patterns where you’re trying to fit these pieces into and the starter sets just have the shapes. So like one through whatever, he just has to match the shapes which at three he can do. And because it’s magnetic when he touches it, it doesn’t move all the way around. So this has been great. I know there have been a lot of questions about like what do I do with my little one so that I can get some time? This is something you can sit them down. It’s pretty quiet if you’re nearby. He can mostly figure it out and I can give him little like, oh, that looks nice or cute. You made a bunny. And then he goes on to the next one. And it’s not something that has like a ton of pieces or a huge cleanup. So I highly recommend the eight year old also loves the harder challenges on it. So I can also set him up to go play this or say like, I bet you can’t do this one or less time you and see how long it takes you to do this one. It took me this amount of time, which I just make up. So it’s a nice toy to keep some kids entertained. It also travels well. So again, that’s magnetic to from chuckle and ah, that’s a great recommendation.
S2: Djamila, what do you have?
S17: I am recommending the series Moesha, starring pop singer, actress, multi hyphenate, black princess Brandy, the real Cinderella, the real Cinderella. I think like for Millennial’s and maybe younger Gen Xers, Brandy was such like I was somebody posted an old Seventeen magazine cover, like I think it was Brandy and the singer Monica like their their covers. And I’m like, these kids don’t know. There was a time where you didn’t get black girls on these magazines every month. Right. Like if I go like any given laws, I can go look at Cosmopolitan 17, Marie Claire Vogue, et cetera, and I’m going to see at least one or two women of color. And I’m definitely going to see at least one or two women of color. Right. That was not the case back then. And Brandy was our like she was royalty. And I personally do not like the show as a kid. I thought that the name was weird. I thought the militia was like a white person’s take on a black girl name. I’m sorry. I just still think we have so many better sounding.
S19: I’ve never heard of a Malatia. I think it should have been called Aisha. My personal beef I’ve been holding on to since like nineteen ninety four when it debuted or whatever, nineteen ninety five. But anyway I was really big into hip hop and Brandy was so perfect and shiny and cute and she just wasn’t really my cup of tea at the time. And as an adult I’m like oh my God, I missed out on the best show. It’s about a teenager being raised by a recently married widower father. She’s got a younger brother who’s annoying. She’s got the standard sitcom, you know, homeboy next door who comes by and eats all the family’s food. You know, she’s got girlfriends. The show has in many ways, you know, there’s some things about it that will drive you crazy. But for the most part, it’s aged really well. She’s a little feminist and a poet, and it’s so cute. Coming of age story growing up in Los Angeles, California, balancing, having a new step mom who also teaches at her school, is missing her mother and just coming of age as a young woman. And it stars Randy. So I would say that and if you were a brandy girl or a guy or a person in your youth and you didn’t watch versus last night there, these battles between musicians, some of them have been between producers and others have been between rappers, some of them between singers. So Brandy and Monica, Monica is also a singer, went head to head. They were in the same room, socially distance. And there’s always been tension between them. And they addressed that. You know, they have a very famous song together, The Boys Mine, which is the only Grammy winning record that either of them have. And they’ve got, you know, over two decades of complicated history. And they played and they sang and it was beautiful. And if you want something to uplift your spirit, I it’s all about brandy right now. So, Brandy, I apologize to you for not loving you. When I was little girl, I didn’t get it. I get it now. You’re everything. And yeah. So watch militia and watch Brandy versus Monica on YouTube.
S2: I just checked in in nineteen ninety eight. Militia was a semi popular name in America. One hundred babies per million were named Leyshon. So it wasn’t like in the top hundred or anything. Now it’s very rare. It’s only it’s the twenty thousand five hundred and forty third most popular name in America.
S17: That’s because the show had debuted in what year. Nineteen ninety five.
S5: And I, I do say so but but they named after. I think it was fairly reflective of people. Well 70 percent over the culture.
S19: Yes. And I agree and I appreciate that people wanted to pay tribute to such a great show and great character. I get it. I totally get it. It just wasn’t my favorite element that I kind of came up with one hundred black girl names that I think would’ve been better than Malaysia. But I still love it. I think Mo’Nique it’s a very good black girl named a lot of people have.
S2: I have a cousin that Monique I have a cousin in Keisha going to be like those people who read children’s books to their kids, but they just like replace one word in it that they just don’t like that they think is objectionable. You’re going to rerecord every episode of my wish. I could just change everyone saying Melissia to Mo’Nique. Yes, show it tonight.
S19: Yes. No, we’re already watching. You know, she’s started watching Arthur Salma because I was still like my I don’t really like Malaysia. And she got into it with her step mom. And I was like, OK, I’ll you know what? I’ll give it a shot. And like three episodes in I was like, this is the best show I’ve ever like. I can’t believe I deny myself all these years coming soon to Babi Theater.
S18: Yes, definitely coming soon to Babi Theater. And the crazy thing is the parents are in their late thirties. But like you see the like the tremendous difference between late thirties bombers and late thirties Xers and millennials. Like I’m like I identify with the kids to this day. Like when I watch it, I’m like, I am not y’all. I’m Malaysia and her friends. You two are regular grown ups. And I don’t I don’t see it.
S2: I think it’s possible I would not identify with the kids. I would identify with all the parents. All right. Good recommendation. Good pair of recommendations. I’m recommending so sometimes a great movie comes out and your kids are like a little bit too young for it, so you don’t see it with them, then you forget about it. And then the years go by. Sometimes it doesn’t even take that long for you to forget about it. But anyways, this is all a roundabout way of saying I showed like the movie Lady Bird the other night directed by Greta Gerwig, which came out just like two years ago. And boy, oh boy, did she love the hell out of it. And I loved it even more than I did the first time that I saw it. So the lesson is show Lady Bird to your teenager. It rules. All right. And that’s our show one more time.
S3: If you’ve got a question, email us at mom or dad at Slate Dotcom or post it to the sleep parenting Facebook. Just search for sleep parenting on that very platform. And of course, don’t forget to join us this coming Tuesday for our very final special. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson, Jamilah Lemieux, Elizabeth Minicam. I’m Dan. Thanks for listening.
S2: Hello, sleepless listeners. Welcome to the very special extra Slate plus segment of this week’s show. As always, you get a bonus segment for being a member of Slate Plus. But also you get, of course, our gratitude. The support that you give us means a lot to us specifically. It means my salary, but also it means a lot to us emotionally. So recently on Slate, staff writer extraordinaire Heather Tweddell wrote about millennials integrating astrology with parenting pegged to a whole new series of astrology books for babies and little kids, astrology board books and picture books for parents to share with their children. It’s a super interesting piece. We’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s got a lot of very good reporting in it, interviews with parents and publishers about this trend and about what astrology means to them as parents. Jameelah, you have mentioned getting into astrology as part of your transformation into a California person. Yes. What do you think about applying astrology to parenting and doesn’t even know what science she is?
S20: She does know what science she is. I have a very cute video of her from. Oh, my God, maybe it’s three birthdays ago we went out to dinner, just the two of us and her actual birthday. And I didn’t realize that she knew. And then she said, you know, get a video of me.
S6: And she’s singing birthday, birthday areas, areas, areas, you know? And so I asked her about it.
S20: And that’s long ago. And she wasn’t a hundred percent, you know, she didn’t know what that meant. And I was like, OK, you know, so that’s just a thing that you’d heard or and I told you an so I’ve been talking to her about astrology lately. I want her to understand it. My mother gave me a cursory you know, I knew my son that was born on the cusp. So I kind of vacillated between identifying with two signs for a long time, which is weird. You know, I knew the basics. I knew a little bit about her sign. But I like I talked about the fact that I read about astrology and relationships. I’ve started doing that recently. So I’ve read about the relationship between Herries children and their parents and you know, about Liow parents and their children. And I think it’s I think it’s cool, you know? I mean, I think I tried astrology as like a set of clues.
S21: You know, it’s not going to tell you exactly what your life is going to be like or what you should do or on any given day. But there are these hints, right? These things and the stars that, you know, at times are quite accurate. Yeah, I think it’s cool to get kids started on it and but without making it, you know, like a religion or something that they have to, you know, adhere to or take very seriously or, you know, ask that she respects my interest in it, you know, and and gives it, you know, her willingness to explore it. But I think that’s about as far as you can take it with a little person.
S2: What about you, Elizabeth? Does astrology play any role in the science focused new capital?
S7: So I definitely think it’s like fun. And we did do a really fun experiment with it when we were doing our astrology section of our Harry Potter curriculum in that we read our horoscopes each day. But I marked out who’s each one was. And then we guessed based on what our behavior like what had happened yesterday, to see like who’s matched up and who’s didn’t. And that was super fun and, you know, determined that sometimes they do match up, but most of the times they don’t. But I think of it more as like like these baby books and things like that. It’s just something fun and something that is you unique about you. But also Unite’s you with other people. So in the same way that, like, you might be excited that you’re a baby, that you’re also like I’m a Gemini. Like, I just think that is a fun thing. And we have little pillows with the kids signs on them, not because I necessarily give them any credence, but because I think it’s like a fun thing about them. Like this is the star sign that you were born under. And whether you decide that means something or doesn’t mean something, it’s still something about you. And for us, it’s a good way to get them to connect to. Constellations and to stars and then from that to like the mythology, which is what people used to talk about the world. So I think it’s one more way to just engage with something that exists in our world, seeing the stars and using the stars for pictures and for stories and then making it personal to them. So I find it more like just fun. And I think these baby books are great. Like I would definitely when I was reading the article, I was thinking like I would totally give these as a baby gift. Like, how cute would that be on top to say, like, I recognize something special about this gift is for your child, not just something I picked up.
S2: I think it’s a nice way to be personal to see your child and one twelfth of all the other children were born.
S7: Sure. But I mean, how many people are born on your birthday? And that’s still special to you. Like, nothing is really, truly unique. Like there are a lot of people that share a lot of the same things and thoughts and how you look like any one thing but the combination. And so I think this celebrates like one fun thing we can already tell. By the way, Dan’s looking at how do you how do you think I feel about how you feel about astrology? I assume it’s all hogwash. Anything that starts with millennial parents are embracing is going to be able to latch on to the contrary.
S5: I think astrology is ideal for children in the same way that superhero movies and scores are ideal for children. There you go. That shit should be for kids.
S2: It’s the fucking made up bullshit that doesn’t mean anything, but is fun to talk about and to play around with. The only problem is when adults get so super into it that it like drives their decision making or judgements about people and makes them insane. So for kids, you should absolutely give your kids some fun astrology books. I just want to warn you that there could be a gateway to being like an astrology person when they become an adult.
S7: I don’t know that they’re a gateway.
S5: I think that’s the opposite reaction to that statement, that they’re probably not actually a gateway.
S2: And it’s and, you know, I struggle a lot with this because I know that this makes me a real, like, curmudgeon. Killing Skold. Yeah, curmudgeon. I know that the portion of the population that currently is super into astrology isn’t at all like a perfect overlap with the portion of the population that is currently like rejecting science and yeah, antibacterials or climate change denial. It’s like I know there’s not one hundred percent or even substantial overlap between those two populations, but yet I, I still see them as like fundamentally cut from the same cloth and they both drive me crazy in similar ways. And like I view astrology in a way that I don’t even really exactly view religion as an agnostic. I view religion as like connected to a whole set of like cultural norms and mores and traditions and ethical considerations that seem to me very worthwhile, even if I’m not quite sure how I feel about a God. But astrology just seems so obviously like impossible to be true and without even like a real thing behind it, that it makes it an argument for potentially being true. It’s just there are these planets and they affect you in this way. And so that to me, just always seems so patently ludicrous that I struggle with taking it seriously when people talk about it. I know that that makes me boring.
S7: But sorry, I in general feel that anything that is observed without any thought is a problem. Right. Which is basically what you’re arguing against is like someone who just says like, well, I can’t help myself because this planet is doing this and I am doing that or like I had no choice but to do this. But I guess I don’t see any of these books are even kind of the discussion about there are certainly people who treat astrology that way. But just like to said, I think a lot of people treat it as like this is one of many factors which may influence me or influence my feelings or like how the world is going on around me and whether I believe that or not. I don’t feel like has any like great like as long as you are evaluating and using critical thinking and understanding that, like, you’re still a person in control of your own thoughts and behaviors, I don’t see any harm in saying like, well, this is going to be a rough I obviously don’t even know enough to give an example, but I know. No, but like Jimmy, we talked about like things happening in Russia and retrograde and and how that is like these forces at work. And then that can say, like, well, I need to just accept some of these. Things that are happening and be like maybe you can give a better example of how that would then affect your behavior, but you’re not saying like, well, I couldn’t help but go, you know, steal this thing or hurt this person because Mercury was in retrograde. Right.
S22: So Mercury is a ruler of communication. So what is said about Mercury when it’s in retrograde is that be prepared for challenges in negotiating contracts and things related to communication and technology. So computer failures or, you know, not having your Wi-Fi signal when you’re trying to record something, et cetera. It has been my experience that these things do track right. And, you know, but it also hasn’t been a matter of me saying, like, OK, here are the things I’m absolutely not going to do. Like I bought my car during like, the stars told me that that was not the ideal time to buy a car. But it also said, you know, if you’re going to make a purchase like that during this period here, you know, just think of some things to think about. Right. Like, that’s the wisdom that I got from a number of sources around that time.
S23: And so I just, you know, I thought about, OK, worst case scenario are things that don’t go well. That’s the same attitude I would have had purchasing a car, period. Right. So, again, it’s not my guiding principle or doctrine, but it’s like I said, it could be a series of clues or hints. I’ve found that personality traits across astrological signs do tend to be somewhat consistent. You know, there’s a reason that this stuff has survived for centuries. Right. And predates all of what we would consider modern civilization. So I understand the skepticism in the same way that, you know, as a person who doesn’t belong to a member of an organized religion within all of them, I can find things that are beneficial on an individual level or a collective level, socially, politically. I can point to things that just sound like they might as well be out of a children’s fairy tale book. And in terms of how ridiculous they sound to me or the lack of resonance they have from my life. But I give people the peace and space to deal with those things so long as they’re not harmful to other people. So hopefully astrology will not lead someone to vote against a woman having the right to choose what to do with her body.
S2: To Nancy and Ronald Reagan, Nancy, Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Here’s a determination I will make. I’m going to put a gavel down. We’re all going to agree with what I’m about to say about these children’s books in particular, as far as the bullshit tribal affiliations that we ascribe to our children from birth go, it is certainly not as bad as giving a baby a Chicago Bears jersey while some football, some kind of football related paraphernalia.
S23: Are we all at agreement because football is easy, because well and all the other problems with football. Yes, OK, well sure, yes, that’s fair to say.
S2: But why football is football is actively a force for evil in the world. Yes. Whereas that’s sort of just like. Yes. A force for whatever.
S1: Yes. That’s fair. Yes. No, not to pick on the bears specifically other than say that I know why the guy actually did buy my baby a deer, a bear over the weekend.
S5: I picked that one just for you, Jimi. I, I spent a long time of my life as a Packers fan, so I still thought they made sense, even though I no longer watch football.
S2: All right. The piece is really interesting. Check it out. We’ll post a link on the show page. I’m glad we’ve once and for all settled the story with astrology. It’s a shame that only Slate plus members will know the answers to these questions, but that’s the kind of benefit you get when you’re a member of Slate plus Slate’s membership program. Thank you for your membership. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week.