Thanks, Critters!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Writing at the Huffington Post, screenwriter Ken Miyamoto does a pretty good job of explaining what it is like to be a stay-at-home dad, something I did almost full time in Boston when our daughter arrived, and part-time with both kids while we were in St. Louis. In terms of how one fits in with society, Miyamoto is spot-on:

Image courtesy of Unsplash.
Many honestly do treat you like a lesser man.

Women can often do the same. Try being a dad with kids at the playground during the day. You will often feel ostracized. Like you don't belong. Like you are invading some sorority meeting.

Now, this isn't always the case. And yes, we live in a different time where this is happening so much more often. Virtual offices are increasing each year.

But it's still taboo to most, whether or not people will admit to that.
Indeed, I regard much of the rest as spot-on. My main differences are that (1) as an egoist, I wouldn't describe full-time parenthood as a sacrifice, even colloquially; and (2) I'm not sure guilt is the right term for the emotion he feels towards the end. That said, I will freely admit that one can certainly drop context from time to time: There are times when being home with kids is awful, and can cause one to forget context for a moment and wish he had made other choices in the past. (Bivouacked in the den at 11:00 p.m. with a toddler and a vomiting baby, while waiting for my wife to come home from a late flight comes to mind. But every pursuit has its low points.) And, I am sure that for anyone not used to going against the grain, the omnipresent pressure to conform to a more traditional role doesn't help matters.

But being at home with kids is more a blessing than a curse. They're growing the whole time, and you will grow with them. It is wonderful to see the first, and transformative to experience the second.

-- CAV

P.S. Regarding the title, Critters is my affectionate substitute for kids or children, when I am addressing both of them. I once tried varmints on for size, but my daughter immediately objected, and specifically asked me to use critters. The question of which is "Critter Number One" and "Critter Number Two" remains open in her mind.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "Critters is my affectionate substitute for kids or children, when I am addressing both of them." My first thought was, at least you don't have 101 of them. Then I realized you have 102! Because Sto zvířat is Czech for "100 Critters." --Or at least that's what it is in Russian. The -yata ending is the original Slavic nominative plural for certain neuter nouns, similar to -ata in Greek actually, I think, but in Russian the basic nouns have been regularized and the old plural is now used as the plural of the diminutive ending -yok. So in Russian, zver/zvery 'animal' but zveryok/zveryata 'critter, beastie, little animal.' So it could just be 100 Animals. As for why it's -at in the name, that's because in most of the Slavic languages, including both Russian and Czech, a noun modified by a number larger than four takes the genitive plural, which ends in yat for these nouns in Russian and Czech.

(I figure this is one of the few sites I read where a comment like that would actually be eagerly read.)

Snedcat said...

Slight mistake in the preceding: Russian for 'animal' is zver'/zveri. That is, the r has a y sound melded with it, which is the source of the ř (kind of r plus the j sound in rouge) in the Czech.

Gus Van Horn said...

Playing the part of the philistine for a moment, I plugged Sto zvířat into Google Translate and got the more boring one hundred animals. But for all I know, there might be a diminutive aspect that the computer misses.

I like the idea, though. Perhaps, if one of my critters gets involved in a garage band a decade or so down the road, I'll suggest such a name.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Well, you could use "Thing One and Thing Two" but I have it on the very strong authority of a Cambridgeport librarian that that would be racist.

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Well, I hear that some wise authoritarians would take one look at me and conclude that I am racist anyway, so that's a wash...