Wednesday, August 6, 2014

An Open Letter To the Babies of Hipsters

Dear Hipster Babies,

Welcome to life in a first world country! Only here do we write open letters to everything from Kim Kardashian's booty to “That Barista Who Made Me a Misto Instead of a Caffè Americano.” That’s lesson one. Everyone loves an open letter!

But you’ll know all about that when you have your first Google internet implant that’s bound to be available in your lifetime. So let’s talk about the other things a hipster baby needs to know.  

Mustaches. Sorry about all the mustaches. Ironic facial hair on dogs, coffee mugs, and miniature finger tattoos have lead to the proliferation of 'stache-themed baby items. Mustache pacifier? It's a thing. And if your parents live somewhere like Portland, OR or Brooklyn, NY, you'll get one at your baby shower. 

You'll look cool sporting a binkie with a handlebar mustache though, because you'll have a name to match your level of sardonic suckling. Yes, hipster babies, your names will be either gender neutral or plucked from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Nothing goes better with your 'stachifier than an alpaca-hair blankie and the name Myrtle or Gatsby. Have fun at the independent coffee house where you'll meet up with Zelda and Jasper in your vintage pram that makes even Mary Poppins say, "Practically perfect in every way."

If your folks take the gender-neutral name route, then on paper some of your names will prompt people to wonder, “Is that a boy or a girl?” It’s all fine and good to choose Jane or Bob, but today’s babies are sporting the sweetest little genderless names, like Harper and Riley. If you're lucky, you'll be born to real envelope pushers. Maybe you'll be named Person or Human!

Because they love the idea of you so much, hipster parents want you to have a self-determined life. They want this badly enough that they may not even reveal your gender to anyone, including you. They don't want to box you into a stereotype predicated on the knowledge that you have or don't have a penis. That might limit your journey of self-discovery. It says a lot about your teachers, your classmates, and most especially your grandma and grandpa that they will all still love you a whole lot, even if they don’t know which public bathroom to take you to.  

If your parents are into the gender thing, great news! You’ll be feted before your arrival at a gender-reveal party! Put that in your mason jar and sip it! From your grandmother to everyone your mother ever meets during her entire pregnancy, and in those first few weeks after delivery when she still appears pregnant, everyone will want to know if you’re a boy or a girl so that they can start advising your parents about whether or not to circumcise you. 

The best way to share your gender, if Pinterest is any guide, is by baking a color-coded cake for your gender-reveal party guests. Will your cake be pink or blue on the inside? Or, will it be baby-shaped—disturbing not only because of its creepy realism, but also because someone will have to slice into the cake in the most gruesome dessert scene since 1950s Jell-O molds?

It's important that you understand what freedom means to hipsters, now that you're one of their offspring. Like the hippies who inform today's hipster philosophy, but with more emphasis on 401k savings and social media, your parents really want you to be free to be you, your own true self, as long as that means having a rooftop urban garden. 

For example, your parents might encourage freedom from pants. Yes, hipster parents might help you to use "elimination communication," which sounds like a deep and meaningful talk about how to thin your vintage lunch box collection, but is actually about not wearing diapers. Social scientists and your own grandparents may never understand why this is preferable to Pampers, but part of being a successful hipster is inscrutable and seemingly meaningful parenting decisions. 

Part of making your hipster way means redefining traditional roles. Maybe you'll have a stay-at-home-dad or a work-at-home-mom or a goat from whose milk your parents make and sell artisanal cheeses. Or, as is the case in the pricey cities where hipsters congregate, a stay-at-home grandma. After all, mom's setting up her found art exhibit at a studio in a neighbor's basement and dad's a recent grad and self-taught app designer, so free child-care from a woman who is paying for her own mother's assisted living expenses and your organic applesauce is all they can afford. 

We know that the world can seem like a scary place, an overwhelming and unpredictable place, a place with a lot of smartphones, but everyone here really does want the best for you. Even if these people can’t agree about whether you're better off in the charter public preschool or the progressive private preschool.

The thing to remember is that hipster parents just love their babies. We know because they arranged an elaborate save the date announcement for your placenta burial ceremony, which they inked on burlap with milk paint, then took a picture of it and put it on Instagram (Valencia filter) for their closest friends, many of whom they've never met in person. 

That’s also why they've signed you up for foreign language immersion starting in kindergarten and have already hired that kid who got accepted at every Ivy League university to start tutoring you when you turn seven.

So, welcome, Emory or Peyton or Wilma or Rufus! One of your parents sports a monocle and the other one likes it. 


Your fellows of the First World

*This originally appeared on my other blog.

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