There was an article in the paper this morning, that said that children consider their father less important than five years ago. That is: there are now more children who consider only their mother as playing an important role in their upbringing. This is the result of research by TNS-Nipo, the largest Dutch institute for market research. They did the same research five years ago, interviewing five hundred children and their parents. In 2000, more than half of the children considered both their parents as most important. This has now decreased to 43%. Only 4% of the children mention only their father. This was 5% in 2000.

A week ago, there was a program on t.v. that showed the results of research that had been done among Dutch women between 27 and 42 years of age. Only 28% of them said they wanted children in the future, no doubt. The rest had doubts. 79 percent thought that young children have the right to have their mother around as much as possible. 72 percent thought a demanding job cannot be combined with having children.

Dutch population is not growing too well. More and more people are deciding not to have children, or are having fewer children than they'd really like. In the meantime, the percentage of people older than 65 is growing. Fewer working people are having to pay for more old people. Pretty soon, all people of working age, women as well as men, will be needed on the job market.

As the tv program stated, women of childbearing age have a problem. They are expected to have kids. The country needs children to be born. They are also expected to work. The country needs everybody to keep the economy running. More people need to work so we can still afford our social security system. But women find it almost impossible to combine work and children. And last year the government changed the rules for daycare, with the intention to make it more clear to parents, employers and government who should pay what. No matter what the intention was, the result has been that daycare has become incredibly expensive and less parents are using it now, because daycare can actually cost more per day than one person working can earn in that day. Staying home with your child and not earning any money is cheaper.

The above should clearly indicate that there is a problem. Employers should make it easier to combine a job with raising kids. The government should invest in cheaper daycare options, so that parents can actually afford to have a job. But what I'm missing in the discussion that's going on is: what about the fathers?

Everybody keeps talking about the trouble women are in, having to choose between working and having children. And indeed, women are the ones getting pregnant and needing maternity leave. But women don't have children all by themselves. There are fathers too. Why doesn't anybody mention that perhaps more fathers should be involved in raising their children? Why can't fathers stay home for part of the week and work parttime, just like their partners? I don't believe for a second that fathers can't parent just as well as mothers. The one thing they can't do is breastfeed - but that is a problem that can be solved.

It really bothers me that this is made to seem a problem of women only, whereas I see it as a problem that everybody should be working on.

Wilson—Top o’ the morn
Can I share with you the level of idiocy that prevails at work lately?
Madeleine (extremely tactless woman who CONSTANTLY asks me for pieces of candy from the common box of See’s and NEVER offers to contribute to purchasing same): Are there any goodies left from yesterday?
G: Um, you could look in the freezer for ice cream.
M: Oh, just ice cream.
G: Yeah, I think the cake is gone. Anyway it wouldn’t be very good by now.
M: Oh, the cake is gone?
G: I think so, I haven’t seen any.
M: You mean the cake in the refrigerator?
G: Oh, there’s cake in the refrigerator?
M: Yes (goes away, comes back with heaping plate of gooey cake in hands)—this is what’s left of the cake.
G: Ah ha.
M: It doesn’t look very good, I think we should throw it away.
G: Okay.
(She places the cake on my desk.)
G: I don’t want it.
M: Here (attempts to hand me cake).
G: No, I really don’t want it.
M: Okay, I guess I’LL throw it away.
G: (Noticing metal knife smeared in icing, buried in cake) That’s Rosa’s knife, don’t throw that away.
M: (Attempts to hand me icing-smeared knife) Here.
G: I don’t want it.
(She goes away, comes back with cleaned knife and places it on my desk, to my dismay.)
M: Okay, I’m going to have some ice cream, do we have any bowls?
G: Not that I know of, but there are plates in the lunchroom. (this is common knowledge)
M: Okay, can I have a spoon?
(Spoons are also in lunchroom, but I relent and fetch her one of my plastic spoons)
M: Do we have an ice cream scooper?
G: Um...I really don’t know. (Am irrrrrrrritated.)
M: ...So I guess I’ll just use a plastic spoon?
G: I guess.

What is WITH this person? How reliant upon me do people really need to be????? Can she not forage for snacks by herself? What is her procedure for finding snacks at home—does she have an assistant there to tell her contents of fridge and cupboards, or to approve disposal of foods clearly past their prime, or to find her dishes and utensils?
Totally discouraged. Leaving work.

Indeed what is WITH that woman? That little incident is as good or better than any of the crap that goes on here. I am confused as to why she comes to YOU in particular for snack guidance. Where is your desk located? Am now picturing your workspace located in small kitchenette equipped with hotplate, cupboards and dish drainer full of plastic utensils. Why do you have plastic spoons near where you are? Why are people clearly more demented than you and only 1/4 as intelligent asking you to give them plastic spoons? How do people such as this survive to such an advanced age? Our society is too soft I tell you. That woman should have been dead long ago. Can you imagine her trying to survive during say the bronze age? No one to give her plastic utensils. Would probably die from eating rancid mammoth flesh. In fact, you may want to consider putting enticing, yet dangerous food items in the fridge and withhold any food disposal tips. (Things in opened cans and the like.) Would be good. Weed out any useless members of workforce/society.
Told my mother about Colombo. She was amazed that someone else similar to me actually exists. She thought I was mentally ill while growing up. Could not believe that she could raise a child with such odd tastes. I told her about his collections, and she said, “You mean stuff like yours?” I said, “No, not exactly stuff like mine. It’s more cohesive. His mother ENCOURAGED him to collect. He’s a bit more refined in his collecting.” Then I told her that HIS mother sews up his blankey when it gets damaged. She looked at mine, and that’s when she decided to make me a new one.
Is your desk the closest to the kitchen? Were you the last person hired in that office?
Over and Out

Yes – clearly everyone is far too dependent on me. People come to me for band-aids, though there is a fully serviceable first-aid station centrally located. (There is also a locked cabinet full of enough food and water rations to keep the people on this floor alive for three days in case of earthquake, quarantine or hostage situation. It worries me that it should be locked. Who has the key? I’m sure everyone assumes it’s me, but A Ha Hah Ah Hh A! It’s not. --What if that person calls in sick on the fateful day?) Also, because I am one of the youngest people on the floor and wear amusing outfits (amusing to them), I am somewhat of a mascot. My cubicle is not the nearest to the fridge. I have no kitchenette in my cube. I do have my own personal stash of spoons, sugar and soy sauce packets, and emergency foodstuffs, but this is not common knowledge, nor do I maintain said stash for public consumption. In short, I don’t really know WHY this woman is incapable of foraging for snacks on her own! She’s intelligent, ambitious, and a very capable project manager. Clearly a case of person compensating for overachievement in one area by being utterly helpless in another.
Life is Futile

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