We all succumb to it.
Some people get it constantly. How to dress the baby, how to discipline the toddler, what to feed them, what toys to give them.
Until recently, I have been surprisingly blessed in this department. I don’t get much pressure from my friends, or my mother, or even my in-laws.
But now it has started, and it comes from…
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Owl’s daycare is fantastic.
He loves it there, and his Daycare Lady really considers him a member of his family. She kisses him goodbye every day and tells him she loves him. She guards his health and welfare zealously. She feeds him ridiculous amounts of healthy, organic food.
She’s Persian. So is her helper, an older lady whose adoration of Owl is almost overwhelming. I’m happy to have Owl exposed to their language and culture, and he has already picked up some Farsi, which has got to be good for his brain.
But it does seem to result in the occasional parenting culture clash.
My knowledge of Persian culture is practically nil, and consists almost entirely of what I picked up from reading Persepolis.
(I do wonder if they, like the Greeks, have a particular adoration of children, because ALL the home daycares I looked at in my area were run by Persian women. This struck me as somewhat disproportionate, because most of the Persians hang out on the North Shore, and I don’t live on the North Shore.)
But there is one thing I am starting to pick up about Persian culture:
They seem to have a pathological loathing of the cold.
Perfect Husband discovered this at his work, where the Persian employees insisted on space heaters at their desks… in AUGUST. (The fact that two of them felt that ideal place for a heater was the TOP OF THE COMPUTER we will blame on individual stupidity, and not cultural factors)
I guess when you come from the land of Eden, even summertime in Canada can feel chilly.
I should have paid closer attention.
I should have noticed the way Daycare Lady would fussily pull Owl’s hood up over his head, only to have him pull it off again, when I arrived in the mornings.
Once, when I picked him up he was wearing pink cotton girl socks instead of the socks I sent him in, because apparently Helper Lady felt that his own socks came off too easily. She insisted on these pink substitutes instead because otherwise his feet would be bare.
You know, indoors. Where it is warm and fully carpeted. I chose not to tell them that he usually toddles around barefoot at home.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, Owl caught a cold again, and that’s when Daycare Lady cracked.
After giving kind assurances that she knew I was a good, loving mother, but perhaps… a trifle inexperienced, she begged me to “please, please put him in warmer clothing, even just going to from the car to the house”.
She was convinced that his newest cold might have been prevented if only we had put a hat on him.
I do admit to being a little cavalier about Owl’s warmth when going to and from the car, because he doesn’t really seem to give a damn. His thick Canadian blood must keep him warm, because he never fusses in the cold or the wet.
And it’s not like I bring him to daycare in his skivvies. I dress him about the same as I dress myself.
But it turns out Daycare Lady has been quaking in horror when he arrived in his little blue jacket every day, cheerfully bareheaded in the light November drizzle.
What do you do in this sort of scenario? Continue dressing your child lightly on principle?
Of course not. Besides, it IS getting colder, and I was going to have to switch coats eventually.
So I started putting him in a bulky woollen coat with a think, fuzzy lining and tie on his woolly owl hat for the 30 second transfer from car to house.
Not because I thought it had anything to do with his catching a cold.
Not because I thought he needed it.
But just because I don’t want to look like a terrible mother.
On days when it is sunny and 10 degrees outside, I felt distinctly silly.
Daycare Lady was suitably grateful, but older Helper Lady was still unconvinced.
I think her cryophobia goes even deeper than that of Daycare Lady, because I have arrived to pick up Owl when she was on duty and found him wearing his hat inside.
Then, one day, I picked up my be-hatted baby from Helper Lady and she, in broken English, decided to make her own request for the sake of her beloved, poor, neglected Owl.
Could I please, PLEASE get him some slippers to wear inside? They make lovely little leather ones. Not for outside. For inside. To keep his socks on and his poor feet warm. The other baby has them. Couldn’t I get some too?
This nettled me because I’ve actually been looking for a new pair of Tender Toes or Robeez for several months now.
For those of you who haven’t tried these, they are magic for keeping baby socks on. Quite indispensable, and nice and soft and safe for his developing feet.
Everywhere I looked seemed to be out of the 12-18 month size.
And now here I had this sweet old Persian woman BEGGING me to please go out and pick up a pair.
The OTHER baby has them, you know. They’re leather, and for indoors. They can’t cost much. Couldn’t I please, please make this simple purchase? THE OTHER BABY HAS THEM. DON’T I LOVE MY BABY?? LOOK AT HOW CUTE HE IS SO WHERE ARE THE SLIPPERS?
I could see that Helper Lady had probably been working up the courage to make this request for a while, as day after day Owl pulled off his socks and she had visions of his feet turning blue, and then black, and then falling off from frostbite BECAUSE HIS MOTHER DIDN’T LOVE HIM ENOUGH TO BUY HIM ROBEEZ.
So I spent most of the next Monday trawling store after store, driving from mall to mall, until I FINALLY FOUND SOME DAMN ROBEEZ.
Now the Persians are happy, convinced that they have saved Owl from becoming a human ice sculpture in the balmy atmosphere of the living room.
And, hopefully, they are less concerned about my parenting.