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Oh, the state of affairs in the higher-level science and engineering fields. We say college for all, and the post-docs need the jobs or are struggling to create a full-time position with adjunct teaching or nanny positions. Today's strip was one of the best for us career education types. "My kid will go to college" but my plumber will earn more, and likely have job security.
Today's strip shows why so many Ph.D.s who are in relatively low-paying jobs with little job security, but work in their fields (I'm thinking of non-tenure-track professors, but there are plenty of others), consider themselves "lucky." I laughed. I cried. I posted today's strip on Facebook, where my Ph.D. friends "like" it.
I can't tell you how many un- and under-employed people I know who also have college degrees. But when I was a student, my parents wouldn't let me attend vocational school because it didn't include college track academics, and when I was a teacher, the vocational schools were the dumping grounds for "problem" children. Reading today's strip reminds me of what Mike Rowe has to say on the subject of "dirty jobs."
I hope we can all agree that Uncle Duke wins the prize for worst parenting.
It's interesting that in BLOWBACK Alex is being pinpointed as the one "abandoning" the twins, as she is just one of two parents. Leo hasn't been accused. At any rate, there are many ways to be a good parent and many decisions to make that are unique to each family. Our decision and privilege to share a part-time nanny with a neighboring family turned out wonderfully, whereas my sister and her spouse decided to tag team with staggering work shifts, and that worked well for them. My other sister was a stay at home mom in a country with universal healthcare and paternity leave. Thankfully, all our kids are thriving and feel loved. For some, the grandparents' involvement is a blessing, but for others it isn't a desirable arrangement for any number of reasons. Alex has somehow landed a waitress job with insurance (unheard of in my day waiting tables!) and she and Leo have their reasons for not employing Mike and Kim as babysitters (it wasn't clear that was their intention anyway, even in buying the condo). Parenting is laden with tough and personal decisions with no one right answer. The best we can do is root for every mother and father and push for family-friendly legislation.
Sometimes (like today) I find myself laughing but not wanting to laugh. GBT puts the satire out there ("...PhD in microbiology...") and it's just pathetically funny.
Go, Alex! Everybody picks on her, but in an era when graduates are mooching off mom and dad and living in the basement because the world didn't throw jobs at them when they graduated, Alex and Toggle (he'll always be Toggle to me) are making it work on their own, even if it means waiting tables. I say they are an inspiration.
A mug of coffee should never be allowed on top of a soundboard...
I don't know why people are hatin' on Alex. And on Joanie. Joanie did what she had to do. (If you weren't alive in the early '70s, you wouldn't understand.) Just because Alex has admitted that she needs a little help doesn't make her a bad mother.
Nobody feels quite up to the task of mothering, and I don't see that Alex is abandoning anybody engaging help with it. I had the incredible good luck of having a live-in nanny the first seven years of my children's life (also a part-time live-in sister and a live-in husband). The neighbors called the sitter their "other mother." They've recently been to visit her in Spain with my (our) three grandsons, and her reactions to all of them couldn't be more adorably opinionated. She's a lifelong blessing for them. I love my weekend grandmothering, but I've come round to agreeing that it's better for the grandparents not to be the sitter. It's quite a different rôle.
I really don't get why Alex would recruit an unknown nanny with unknown morals and ethics after rebuffing her dad and Kim. Does she think they're not capable? Of all my friends, the only ones that ever did that are the ones that are estranged from their parents.
If there's going to be a new nanny character, I hope it's a dudette as cool for Eli and Danny as Zonker was for Sam.
I find Alex's list of what she would be looking for in a nanny interesting. I was in the same boat 26 years ago, but I was only looking for someone for a few hours, several days a week. I had a Ph.D. and had a certain notion of what an accomplished woman was. The woman I hired to help with my two infants had finished high school and married and had a child immediately. At the point she entered my life she had three children aged three to fifteen. When I interviewed her I found her pleasant and competent -- but not what I would have called "accomplished."
As I got to know her I found she kept her home beautifully. She decorated it with her craft projects. She had lovely flower gardens. She kept a large and productive vegetable garden from which she preserved food. She did sewing projects to supplement income. She watched school children before and after school. Then she came to my house with her three-year-old. She cared for my babies beautifully, giving me time to sleep or go out to shop (or whatever) by myself. She did my laundry and basic house cleaning. My ideas of an accomplished woman did an about-face.
Toggle is an ornery pup, and a perfect foil for Alex. He just slays me.
I believe the message that Garry Trudeau is trying to convey is that in reality, to be a primary caretaker is more than a full-time job. It's more like a full-time-and-a-half job. As stated in the common expression, "It takes a village to raise a child." Let's face it, there is very little support in today's society for those who are brave enough to nurture a new generation.
Alex is the third in a line of mothers who, up to this point, would not win any prizes. We met her grandmother 40 years ago, running away from home and her daughter. Alex was born on cable TV, 25 years ago this week, to J.J., who left her with Mike in order to run off with Zeke. Both nature and nurture would suggest that Alex is a high risk mother, and that is supported by her frequent outbursts of egocentrism. I, however, will be amazed and distraught (I take these characters way too seriously) if Alex turns out to be anything less than a sterling mother. I'm looking forward to watching this play out.
J.J. abandoned Alex, just like she had been abandoned by Joanie. Alex is carrying on the proud family tradition of leaving her children for others to raise, and even getting started before they're potty-trained. How third-wave feminist can you get?
I'm so glad new strips are back. I missed your wit and wisdom, Mr. Trudeau. I've been reading the strip since the early 80s, and will continue for as long as you keep drawing it.
I'm glad to hear you are well, and were just on sabbatical. You've helped me keep my sanity and made me laugh every day. Thanks lots, my wonderful friend.