Disclaimer A few years ago, before our second child came along, I used to write a monthly column for a magazine published by the NCT.

Christmas. And it's nearly here again. Don't you just look forward to the happy family atmosphere; the joyous reunions and the deep conversations with your beloved family?

Or is it more like a war zone, requiring the UN to sort out embittered grandmothers, stressed out partners and screaming kids? For us, it will be somewhere between the two. Our little girl, Jane, will be exactly 18 months old on Boxing Day.

She has one grandmother who dotes on her every little smile and gurgle, and another who loves her as if she were her own.

Usually Jane sees only one granny at a time, and I think she's pretty adaptable that way. She can live with the slightly peculiar ways of granny No 1: I have a sneaking feeling that she quite likes some of those ways. And as for granny No 2: well she really does have some odd ideas, but Jane seems quite happy about those as well.

Usually, whenever we go to see either granny, it is only for a few hours and we, too, can cope with their ever-so-slightly odd notions of how to bring up baby.

In fact we are quite lucky compared with some of our friends. Jane is grandchild No 2 for one granny and grandchild No 9 for the other one, so they are not quite so obsessed with her as some of the grannies we know.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mum, I think my mum-in-law is great. They are adaptable, clever and resourceful, and are often a great help ... in small doses. It's just that sometimes they do try to tell us how to bring up the babe in our own house. When I am well-rested and reasonably relaxed this is not a problem. Even when the two grannies have conflicting views about how to deal with some minor problem like incessant midnight wailing, I can handle it.

The only time I have a problem here is with the double standards. Granny offers us the benefit of her wisdom and experience in bringing up the babe. Great. Marvellous. But then she goes and breaks her own rules. She does something she has constantly told me never ever to do. And then she says its OK for her to do it, because she's been through it all so many times....

But do they ever think I might have a point when I explain the distilled wisdom of Dr Christopher Green Or Jean Piaget Or the latest issue of Loaded? No, they do not.

Instead of congratulating us on how well Jane sleeps through the night and how easy she is to put to bed, we are told how lucky we are, because You were never like that.

Well, of course not, I want to say, because you never knew how to do it right!

But I guess you can't contradict grandma. So I just open another bottle of wine and put another Teletubbies video into the machine and we start another round of the wheels on the bus....

Happy Christmas and merry New Year!

A 1938 Howard Hawks film starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. The movie is considered the definitive absurdist comedy, and was given very high praise yet garnered no Oscar nominations.

Grant plays a bumbling, somewhat stiff paleontologist named David who manages to get mixed up with a silly yet charming woman named Susan (Hepburn). They first meet while playing golf and a series of zany mishaps occur between them- David finds Susan repulsive with her absent-minded goofy manner. The two meet again later on and David learns that Susan is good friends with a man he greatly wishes to impress, and she tries to help David gain this man's respect.

During all of this, Susan manages to attain a leopard from her brother Mark in Brazil- the leopard is named Baby. Susan has taken a liking to David, who happens to be engaged to someone, and Susan lures David over to her place by way of pretening the leopard is attacking her. From here on, David and Susan deal with a ton of screwball situations involving Baby and other people. They will lose Baby, David will end up in a frilly woman's robe, and both will end up in jail. Can you guess whether the two fall for each other at the end?

A good movie- the quick dialogue and goofy mishaps can keep a viewer humored. Bringing Up Baby is the first and only "screwball comedy" Hepburn has done.

(In jail) Susan: Anyway, David, when they find out who we are they'll let us out.
David: When they find out who YOU are they'll pad the cell.

What are men taught?

What are women taught?

Shouldn't they be the same?

He says, "Watch out, I'm a Cave Guy," and I laugh, thinking it's a joke.

He isn't joking.

I don't even realize until he says something about his boat. I joke, "Take me away on your boat."

"Why do women always say that?" he says, annoyed.

"You don't know?" I say. Really?

"No. What do you mean?"

"You activate the romance trope. All the stupid romances where the man carries the woman off on his horse or boat. He's a Cave Guy. They are overwhelmingly attracted to each other and of course it is True Love, so it's ok when they have uncontrollable lustful sex."

He is looking at me like I am another species.

I say, "Haven't you ever read a Harlequin Romance?"

"I don't read fiction." he says, scornful. He reads Julius Caesar, tries to in the original Latin. My Latin is better, though, I had two years.

"Maybe if you did, you'd understand why women joke, take me away on your boat."

Nope. He doesn't read fiction, he doesn't read poetry, he is interested in cars, women, power, Caesar, conservative politics, certain types of boats and the upcoming collapse.

I am interesting in everything. And women have to learn "male" culture to be employed. Look at Laura Ingalls in the 1860s: women could be school teachers, but not once they'd married. Then they were wives. Jobs slowly expanded. Teachers were the start of social security in the US, to keep them from starving. Women could be nurses, but it was shocking and wrong at first. Stewardesses. Birth control becomes reliable, or mostly reliable. Women become secretaries, become business owners, become doctors and lawyers.

Isn't there a spectrum of what men learn? My ex had read as much or more feminist literature than I had, and he could dance too. He also taught golf and tennis and sometimes cross dressed. We joked that a house husband is the ultimate accessory for a professional woman, but the reality was that the American Women in Medicine Journal said that salaries couldn't be compared for male and female doctors. I sat down and read the statistics in medical school in the early 1990s. Over 95% of male doctors had a non-working spouse, a wife. And male doctors were married, the vast majority. Half of women doctors never married, and of the half that did marry, half were married to male doctors. The women did not have a non-working spouse. I did. It broke down eventually, but it worked for 14 years.

So what is YOUR upbringing? Are there whole areas that belong to men or belong to women, and that you know nearly nothing about? What do you think about that? A division of labor: but really, both people need to know how to do everything. To back each other up. To have respect for the work inside and outside the home.

I can knit. I can change the oil in my car. I can deliver a baby and assist in a Caesarean section. I sang the Mozart Requiem the last two days in concert. I really suck at electricity and want to take a course to get better. I refinished the wood floor in my kitchen and it needs it again.

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