We noted a while ago the statement by historian of marriage Stephanie Coontz that 20% of working class men do more housework/childcare than their wives. So we should be prepared for this anecdote from the NY Times “Metropolitan Diary”:
It was a damp and cold morning on the Hudson as the ferry made its way to Lower Manhattan. As the large brawny deckhand, clad in a hefty blue anorak, a knit cap hugging his head, closed the sliding exit door, he continued a very intense discussion with his co-worker, a fellow of similar build and dress. Both were right out of central casting as Exhibit A for life on the docks.
Eavesdropping, I was hoping to be treated to a colorful story about a dramatic recovery, or some other novel talk of the sea. The beginnings of their conversation were promising.
Big burly sailor No. 1, authoritatively: “It’s a struggle, but you will know when they are ready. Just wait.”
Big burly sailor No. 2: “But that’s the question: How do you know when they are ready?”
I strained to listen closely over the noise of the engines.
Big burly sailor No. 1: “You lift them up and put them on the potty and tell them that’s where big girls go.”
Big burly sailor No. 2, incredulously: “And after that, no more diapers? It’s that easy?”
Knowingly, big burly sailor No. 1 took the time to share his strategy and to explain that it was not that easy.
Sailors discussing potty-training techniques — who would have guessed?