The business of arms length parenting

Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word


So I’m making an effort to keep out of Youngest’s latest venture of going to college to study joinery and carpentry. Apart from a trip to the design museum in Copenhagen to look at iconic chairs – “for one of your museums that was good fun” – I’ve kept my snout out. But in trying to be helpful I enquire what she might need for college. Outfits? Does she need some sort of special trouser?

“Snort. I’m sorted. Don’t you worry about it mum,” she says.

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“OK. Tools, won’t they be too big? Man-sized? I’ve been looking online and you can get smaller or ‘women’s’ hand-sized ones, but most of them are pink, bleugh, what’s that about?”

“Don’t mind pink. That’s your issue.”

“I’m not against pink,” I say. “If you remember it was me who cried when you sent your My Little Ponies to the charity shop – but not everyone wants pink hand tools. If the standard is based on the hand of a Caucasian man, they won’t fit lots of men in the world, nothing to do with gender, and it leads to injury.

“There’s this woman, Caroline Criado Perez, who uses data – you like data – to talk about how the world… cars, smartphones, house bricks, medicine... is designed with men in mind and how everyone needs a better fit. Anyway, there must be a huge market for smaller sized non pink hand tools – you could set up a business designing and selling them...

“No. Just no. I’M doing pre-apprentice joinery. If YOU want to set up a business selling smaller-sized hand tools, YOU go and do that.”

OK, back to minding my own business and parenting at arm’s length, even if they are shorter than the average Caucasian male’s. n