Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ever Felt That You're Making a Spectacle of Yourself?

At some point between one child and three, I changed over from a moderately odd person to a traveling circus.

Today I took my mother to an appointment. The horde came along. The horde's supplies came along. This includes a backpack of worksheets and one baby doll (Munchkin), two plastic dinosaurs (Genome), and the world's noisiest and most attention-grabbing toy car (Firefly). I also had a ten-dollar umbrella stroller.

After a good hour of the children hanging out aggravating the various blind and vision-addled people, I decided to take them for a walk around the neighbourhood. Firefly eschewed his traditional afternoon nap in favour of pushing his own stroller around, with me desperately redirecting him so he didn't barge into people. That stroller has questionable steering even when used by a qualified adult, and I don't like to think that I spent my day irritating the blind.

Munchkin pushed the stroller. Firefly rode in the stroller. Munchkin's doll rode on Firefly's lap, along with the World's Loudest Toy Car. Genome . . . raised my bloog pressure, I guess?

There must be some sort of conference in town, because the streets were filled with women in yoga gear pushing their single, well-dressed, quiet infants in jogging strollers. No one was jogging. I'm not sure what the exercise gear was for. Maybe they stopped jogging to stare.

I need a sign for the stroller that says, THIS COULD BE YOUR LIFE.

When I got back to the vision appointment to pick up my mother, she reminded me that I was a bit of a spectacle even when I only had one child. This is true, but I don't want to pass up the chance to frighten organised women who would never, ever be out in public depending on a six-year-old to push a stroller.

I made to attempts to leave behind the toy car, but Firefly caught me both times.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Underpants are Out in the Yard

All right, I just got them. But they _were_ in the yard.

Foolishly, this morning, I ventured outside.

I know. Jews do not belong outside.

I wanted to water the pants.

A bee went up my skirt and into my underpants. Feeling rustling in my skirt, I sensibly smacked at it. It stung me. This makes perfect sense in retrospect, but I'm not sure how one calmly and maturely deals with the distinct feeling that _something_ is in one's underpants, buzzing around. I, still channeling my most mature self, started jumping around. After all, now my butt really hurt. I also didn't know whether this was a bee or a wasp -- was i going to sting me again? So I drop my underpants. There's still something in there. I dropped my skirt.

I was wearing an apron. But remember: Out in the yard. Man, I'm a classy neighbour.

Do many exhibitionists  strip while jumping up and down and going "WASP! WASP!"?

I'm not sure who I thought I was notifying.

Eventually I figured out I'd better just hobble inside so I could divest myself of all clothes, remove the stinger, and call my mother. What do you mean, call my mother? Well what would you do in this situation? I had to call my mother so she could remind me whether or not I'm allergic to bee stings (I'm not) and what one does with a bee sting (put ice on it and take an anti-histimine).

See? Now you know and you won't need to call your own mother.

She also gave me a helpful lecture on bee sting prevention. Wear pants, carry insect spray, so on, so forth, thanks mom. I think I'll just stick with being inside for the next 18 months.

That said, I did eventually go out to retrieve my underwear. If my neighbours call the police, at least there won't be any evidence.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Please Don't Knit for Charity

Back in the dark days before Ravelry, there were a few lists for knitters, and that was how we informed each other about vital wool-related developments. The problem with this format, as any veteran Internet user knows, is that information that was useful or interesting to even a fraction of the several thousand subscribers was often swamped by the stream-of-consciousness of every over-sharing knitter in the English-speaking world.
One of the more common useless questions came up when someone posted some form of "My [blank] doesn't like handknits. What can I knit for him/her?" You get bonus points for extra-impossible requirements: I want to do it all with half a skein of worsted yarn, her birthday is tomorrow, she's allergic to every known fiber and refuses to hand-wash, I don't know how to purl yet.

There's a crucial mistake the aspiring giver is making. When one gives a gift, the gift should be _for the recipient_. It's not about what I _want_ to give. It's about what my recipient _wants_. Giving him or her a gift that I knit, just because I enjoy knitting, is missing something very crucial. I engaged in my hobby for you! How ridiculous is that? I might as well get a card that says, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM. I went skiing!"

This same error in thinking resurfaces in charitable donations. People give donations based on what makes the giver feel good and not based on what the recipient needs. Since people receiving charity are people with pressing needs, it's a bit more important a mistake than giving your brother a pair of mittens he hates.

Let us review three things that almost no one needs:

1. Hand knits. Especially people in hot climates. Most homemade clothing is of poorer quality than what is available for a lower price, premade. People in Afghanistan have many needs, but knit hats is not in the top ten. This is a very inefficient way of getting hats on the heads of babies.

2. Short term visitors to their country or area performing manual labour. Unless you have some highly valuable skill (i.e. you are a doctor), visiting a foreign country is always something you do for you, not the residents. That's fine -- might as well make yourself useful if you're going to travel -- but if your object is to get orphanages built, use your airfare to hire local labour. This goes double and triple if your purpose in traveling is to blog for charity.

3. Awareness. Yes, yes, I know. White people like it. But with relatively few exceptions, people are already "aware" of whatever it is that is causing them misery.

When I was growing up, my mother was overwhelmed sometimes raising an autistic son. I could think of forty things that would have been useful to her, none of which involved knit hats. Do you want to be of direct service? DON'T KNIT. Mind someone's child. Cook food. Clean their house. Walk kids to school. Walk kids home from school. Change diapers. Give money, and not to anyone whose purpose is "promoting awareness."