Monday, June 02, 2008

A real doll

Nadine's recent post about dreading her return to work after six months with her new girl got me to thinking about leaving for work. My lovely wife luckily took extended time off from her career for both The Boy and for Q early on, but she returned to the world of adults to make sure that we all didn't get thrown out into the street. I was also lucky to have a college professor's flexibility, particularly in the summers, which gave me much more time with my young children than most men. (True, I did often feel like I should be researching or writing something to help land that elusive tenure-track position somewhere in Backwater U.S.A., but I could deflect the guilt by erecting block towers or sand castles.) Now, though, we both work a lot, in part because we want to provide for them, in part because we want to see what we can make of ourselves.

It's hard to recommend that both parents work, apart from the fact that it's hard to get by on a single salary. Good does come of it, though: Q is currently smack in the middle of her princess phase, a phase neither my wife nor I encourages all that much. Too many of the Disney, um, heroines embody rescue fantasies, and we want our girl to be proactive, to think outside the princess, so to speak. (Probably not that much to worry about given Q's natural tendencies, but still.)

My wife's working has actually helped with that. A few nights ago, Q was playing with her Cinderella doll in the bath (the one with the bejeweled swimsuit that turns purple under cold water). Q proceeded to wash her hair, informing me that Cinderella had to look fancy because "she's going to an important meeting." And tonight, when my wife was asking Q whether she wants to curl her hair "like Cinderella" for her aunt's wedding this summer, Q forcefully replied that Cinderella "only curls her hair like that when she has an important meeting."

Odds are, Q (and The Boy, too) will have lots of important meetings in her future, many of which she will call and run herself. I like to believe that in being gone we're helping to teach her that sometimes it's okay and even important to be somewhere else.

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