On Not Cooking With Kids, and Other Minor Burdens of Fatherhood

March 1st, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

Not Dexter Wells; image from Grub Street, which got it from iStockPhoto.

This past weekend, the New York Times Magazine published the final installment of “Cooking with Dexter,” the father-and-son-in-the-kitchen column written by Pete Wells, who also edits the paper’s Dining section. For about two years, Wells had revealed the trials and tribulations of living with a precocious foodie—who once treasured baby vegetables “like very quiet pets”—and did so with admirable patience.

I have to admit I didn’t read the column often, but I always winced when people I knew would complain about it. To them, it represented the height of New York yuppie food obsession, the entitled transference of haute bourgeois values from one generation to another—and in the very public eye of the Times, no less!

I mean, I get that argument, but as a dadblogger, I also understand that, once you’ve decided to make your kid the subject of your writing, you have to make the most of your material. If the kid likes food, well, then you write about being in the kitchen with him; if it’s Little League, then you write about baseball. What else are you going to do? The kid is going to be into whatever he or she’s into, and that’s what you can write about. You’re stuck with it.

In a similar vein, another NYT Magazine piece caught my eye. It’s one of those back-page “Lives” columns, by John Moe, who hosts “Marketplace Tech Report” on public radio and whose daughter Kate was born with dwarfism. The story, however, is less about Kate and more about Moe’s fears about how the world—specifically, mean teenage girls—will treat her:

Kate goes to a school in St. Paul that teaches grades 1 through 8 (she’s a second grader), and when I was there for a parent-teacher conference a few months ago, I noticed the older girls traveling in packs, whispering, laughing with mockery at whichever poor victim they were savaging at the time. I didn’t know these girls, but I didn’t like them.

Next afternoon, I was riding the No. 63 bus home from work. At the stop after mine, five pretty, well-dressed teenage girls got on and sat right behind me. I wished I hadn’t forgotten my headphones that day because I didn’t want to hear the horrible things these girls were inevitably about to say.

As it turns out, the girls are perfectly lovely—almost unnervingly so. Consider this exchange two of the girls apparently have:

  • “Sometimes I don’t think I’m as racially sensitive as I should be.”
  • “Well, we all have to work on that. But it’s a huge step to recognize it.”
  • “Thanks!”

Okay, sure, well, I’ll buy that. Although it sure doesn’t jibe with the teenagers’ conversations I’ve heard in the New York subways, virtually all of which have been so brain-bleedingly annoying that I’ve seriously considered sending my daughter to Switzerland for high school. Although I’ll still probably have to ride the subway here. Maybe I should be the one to go to Switzerland while Sasha’s in high school. What I’m saying is: If you like to imagine human beings as fairly intelligent creatures, stay off the subways between 2pm and 4pm.

Finally, there is Gawker, which this morning informed us (“us” meaning men) that we are all about to get more depressed:

According to a new article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the rate of depressive disorders among men in Western countries is likely to increase greatly—possibly catching up with that of women, who are are currently twice as likely to be diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

Why are we depressed? Because we don’t have traditionally male jobs, because we’re much more in touch with our shitty feelings, because we can’t keep our families happy, because life sucks.

If it makes you feel any better, the journal article just means we’re going to be diagnosed as having depression a lot more, not that you’re going to be more depressed than you already are.


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