Hey Emmanuelle, look what mommy bought for you today! Yes, your first pair of high heels. I think its time you have a pair… I mean how old are you now? 13 months? Such a late bloomer.
Here you go honey, hot pink pumps in perfect size 3″.
What? They hurt your little toes? Yeah, that part of the trade-off, but wow they look awesome and everyone at the party is going to think you are the cutest thing evah.

Seeing you makes me wish I could fit into a pair of those naugahyde suckers. If I break my toes and bind it for a few years, I’m sure I can make it fit and then its matching outfits for me and you! Weeee. I should have been a designer. Why didnt I think of that? High heels for infants. Fucking brilliant.

Early developmental feminism
Early developmental feminism

 
Didn’t we learn anything from Jonbenet?

“On my way to play marbles”
“On my way to play marbles”

Standards change, but our obsession and allegiance to beauty never has and doubtfully never will. Cross culturally, spanning 1000s of years, our ideals of beauty no matter how painful, expensive or even crippling has ruled many a heart & mind. What’s interesting now, is how it’s marketed to us. But what about back then?

While searching for the image above of those ridiculous infant heels, I was reminded of the more notable practices we’ve subjected children to in the name of beauty & cultural acceptance over the years, such as Chinese foot binding.
 
 
 
Over a billion Chinese girls were maimed and crippled in this practice that lasted over 1000 years. A casual play by play from Wikipedia sits below:

Orthopedics; Chinese woman, World War 1 era.
Orthopedics; Chinese woman, World War 1 era.

When girls were around 3 to 6 years old, the toes on each of their feet were pressed with great force downwards and into the sole of the foot until the toes broke. The broken toes were then held tightly against the sole of the foot and wrapped tightly with cotton bandages prepared by soaking them in a blood and herb mixture. The foot was then drawn down straight and the arch forcibly broken. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure eight movement, forcing the freshly broken toes to be pressed tighter into the sole of the foot. At each pass the binding pulled the ball of the foot and the heel ever close together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch. The end of the binding cloth was then sewn tightly to prevent the girl from loosening it. This unbinding and rebinding ritual was repeated as often as possible (for the rich at least once daily). The girl was not allowed to rest after her feet had been bound; however much pain she was suffering, she was required to walk on her broken and bound feet, so that her own body weight would help crush them into the desired shape.

Fashion Smashin: An xray of bound feet.
Fashion Smashin: An xray of bound feet.

 

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Yes, I shamefully left Max & Manu to forage their own fun while I indulged in my fascination with ritual and modification. Fascinated in part because societies & families, both historic and current, willingly maim their own. I’m interested in why human beings instigate and conform to widespread abuse, noting that those who sanctimoniously deny the possibility within themselves are often the most capable of all. Recent cases like The Stanford Experiment and the US military’s condoning of torture come to mind.

I am reading & thinking more about how P and I can create for Max & Emmanuelle healthy rituals or rights of passage that will help them feel empowered by and comfortable in the changes they’ll experience in their own bodies & mind. Helping Manu into high heels certainly isn’t one of them as you see, my own first experience with heels was less than stellar.

I was at church, and instead of sitting in the pews itemizing my sins, I was off chasing a potential boyfriend through the halls. I had all the confidence in the world I would catch him in my brand new pair of high heeled Candies, and as he ran down a flight of stairs, I went right after him…. head first. As I hit the bottom stair, with my dress piled up over my head, I was too shocked to move but I remember going home and tossing those shoes in the back of my closet. I was in my late 20s before I ever wore another pair. I didn’t blame the shoes, I just felt my skill and competence on the flat would get me much further in life than perched like a little bird on my toes.
 

“I’d rather go naked than wear high heels”
“I’d rather go naked than wear high heels”

 
 
* High heels and Chinese foot binding are not being compared in this post.

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Manu, my daughter is a silly filly. If there’s a place you don’t want her to go, that’s the place you will find her. She is a trickster and a barrel of monkeys. Let me tell you about Emmanuelle…

Give me back my Scientific American!
Give me back my Scientific American!

My daughter is strong. She will go through & tear apart your magazines and eat them, and then dare you to fish around in her mouth with your nubby digit in a futile attempt to retrieve the pulpy slush between her gnashing gums.
 
 
 

The
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My daughter is a sneaky caterpillar. She will wriggle like a larvic commando across the floors to your favorite house plants, rip and shred their leaves from their mother trunk and caw with delight as you try resurrecting the dead, dismembered branches back to life.

My girl has the fastest lobster claw in the west. Before you can say, “That poached salmon and carafe of wine looks divine”, she’ll have everything in a godspeed trajectory to planet floor.

In motion for some commotion.
In motion for some commotion.

Right now, as we sit and listen to some Brain Eno music application on my iPhone, I am watching it slowly make its way towards her mouth. Maybe she thinks it will sound better with a viva voce reverb! Or that a baby slobber-filled jack helps the output levels. Never mind the mountain of toys, books, and play things strewn all around her. She has quite an eye, quite a honing device for the no-go zone.

And then, when I whisk her into my arms away from the aforementioned dangers, her face is unfailingly full of surprise. I ask her how she always seems to find that rich vein of mischief while exploring her universe. And even though she can’t talk just yet, she can answer with her eyes, “Why momma, that’s where all the interesting things are. I’m not afraid. I’ll go far.”

I love getting to know you.
I love getting to know you.
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I’ve got some bad news, my friends, for those of you who believe that after the human race pillages and pollutes our home planet to death, that we’ll be able to miraculously venture into the Galaxy looking for other Massalias to plant our brassicas. I’m sorry to say it just isn’t so.

I am the MASTER of the Universe!
I am the MASTER of the Universe!

Let’s look at it like this: If the Sun was the size of an orange, the Earth would be a tiny bread crumb floating 20 meters away (20 yards). Try it in your backyard, it’s very telling. Now imagine the light traveling from the Sun to the Earth takes 8 minutes, which it does. That’s 20 meters in 8 minutes which means that at that scale, light would travel through your backyard at the speed of a dung beetle! (whose speed is demonstrated here by Manu crawling across the carpet).

It’s easy to fathom the Earth at 20 meters from the Sun. Now, still at this scale, how far do you think the nearest stars from us would be? A few kilometers maybe? Nope. A few state lines over? Nope.

The nearest stars would be 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) away… more than the distance from San Francisco to Paris!

Can I eat the Dung Beetle, daddy?
Can I eat the Dung Beetle, daddy?

So if the Sun was the size of an orange, its nearest neighbors would be like a handful of cherry tomatoes and a few Halloween pumpkins floating about in random directions 10,000 kilometers away. How long do you think it would take that poor dung beetle to crawl from San Francisco to Paris?

On our journey to find ourselves another home in the Universe, we already know that our neighboring stars can’t harbor any planet that could support life, so we would have to explore further, much further, maybe even the entire Galaxy. How big would our Galaxy be at that scale? Let’s say that if the Sun and the Earth could fit into a cozy backyard here in San Francisco, the nearest star would be in Paris and the rest of the Galaxy would stretch over 130 million kilometers — almost the distance to the Sun!

So here we are: for us to explore the Galaxy at the speed of light, it would be like a dung beetle crawling through a piece of land as wide as the Solar System between the Sun and the Earth. Good luck finding something, Mr Beetle! And we don’t even travel at the speed of light yet: our hypothetical Mr Lightspeed Dung Beetle is still 20,000 faster than our fastest rockets.

See the task at hand? Sorry folks, no dreamin’, we’re stuck on good old Earth!

Don’t worry, daddy, I’ll follow the Dung Beetle all the way across the Galaxy
Don’t worry, daddy, I’ll follow the Dung Beetle all the way across the Galaxy

 

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Although we will be moving north to Sebastopol very soon, Pierre and I are making the most of our 3 room housey in the hood. The bedroom now doubles as the kiddos room & storage room, the office doubles as both our offices & the play room, and the kitchen is now the living room, the doggie bedroom & default everything else room.

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double dutch
double dutch

We learn to make the most of it all. Pierre comes up with the ultimate feeding machine to make late night feeds flow: Make head rests in the crib, and feed the kiddos at the same time with double bottle action. We save approximately 1 hour 30 minutes a day with this new-fangle method (click images for a better look).

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The family that sleeps together…
The family that sleeps together…

 
 
Even Kangaroo Care can be pruned to a one-chest hay ride.

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pierre_double-baby-blog.jpg
The streets provide an exercise in ease as Pierre shows how to handle two babies (and a dog & bag of groceries) at once. He becomes an amusement park ride, as the kids swing and sway to the beat of his to and fro.

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waiting-for-bath-time.jpg
Even when we can’t physically hold them, our kiddos follow us everywhere, even inside the bathroom to watch Pierre get his hair cut. Pius is the most intrigued because he thinks that camera I’m holding is a chicken tendon snack. Yum.

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merritt-twin-hold-blog.jpgThere is one frontier I haven’t quite made it into in terms of doubling things up. That’s the tandem breast feed. Also known as “The football hold”, and you know how I hate sport references. It just feels too animal, too much like the body being a host for little larva. Its just.. too.. weird. I’m diggin’ everything else about the double-baby-momma experience though. Pierre & I often say to the other, “Thank you for ‘the babies’”. Our pride, meow.

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manu_buddha_blog.jpg

Lest one accuse us of neglecting the joys of bonding one on one with our kiddos, I give you Manu to set the record straight. She looks like a baby Mao, an enlightened Buddha, a leader of the people. I can almost hear her say it now, Power to the people!

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