The first thing I do when I wake up and get the children dressed—which, my God. Getting the children dressed. We picked out clothes last night so we can avoid the freakout that comes in the morning, the tears and sobbing over the wrong pants (mostly my daughter). But still, you have to pull them out of their beds. While they are halfway out of the bed they cry out for their lovies and their morning milk and sometimes, because I don’t want them to crawl back under the blankets, I will turn them upside down like I’m a crane operator and lower them back down to the mattress so that they can pull these things out of the bed; then we have the snuggle, which sounds nice but you say “okay we need to get dressed” and they scream “no, snuggle! Snuggle!” To avoid getting dressed. The snuggle is a scam, man. The jammies get unzipped and there are tears. You end up with a lot of toddler bits and butts smushed against your leg and sort of sigh and put on the Captain America underpants, or the Hello Kitty underpants, because every freaking thing needs a brand on it, it’s not just that “gender norms” start early but that a whole suite of cultural normativity is jammed into their little brains way, way before any of their emotional bits are fully wired into their brains, it’s like the culture is setting up highways of thought so that their thoughts can follow predefined routes, and among those thoughts are that you cover a vulva with Hello Kitty and you cover a penis with Captain America. Why buy these things, you ask? Seriously go to Target at Atlantic Center which always looks like a human tornado has ravaged it, and ask for toddler underpants and see what you can get. Should I buy hand-woven $90 artisanal toddler underpants in order to hide my children from the giant gender-brand axis of infiltration? See these two handmade artisanal middle fingers? Besides, it’s coming for them anyway. That rapturous desire when you see some shitty toy truck crest a mud hill on TV, they’ll experience that. We’ll get through it. But wait, the mother of someone we know saw that my son was wearing pink pants and a pink shirt and purple boots one day and said, “I will pray for him,” because magical Jesus intervention will somehow protect him from becoming a big flaming toddler homo in his Captain America underpants. She’s from a culture that I guess hates homosexuality even more than most cultures do? I mean there’s the war we’re all fighting and then there’s the facts on the ground. Anyway if the nice lady says the thing again, I will say, “I have absolutely no worries about that, I love his pink pants, and I think he looks great,” which is the truth, and enough. The kids are pretty. I don’t care at all if my kids are gay, I care a lot though that they will come home in 2029 and be like I’m in a polyamorous marriage with this virtual octopus collective from the Warcraft Moon. I don’t want to have to attend a 3-D wedding with a bunch of virtual sea creatures who’ve had virtual tentacle sensors nano-branded into their nucleus accumbens so that they have spontaneous orgasms whenever another virtual octopus sends them an email. I mean, I will attend, and I will give away my child at the virtual altar, I’m old-fashioned. I’m doing the best I can which, all along, people tell you will be enough but of course that is complete bullshit, the best you can turns out to be years late and 100 lbs overweight. So now the underpants are on. All that is left is the pants, the shirt, the two socks, the hooded undercoat, the Uniqlo Keith Haring-branded jacket (lady, you think pink pants are scary), the blue snowsuit, the purple boots, the two mittens, the ritual of preparing breakfast and putting it into a plastic bag to be eaten on arrival at daycare, the ritual of hugging and kissing goodbye (my wife takes them 3/5 of the days), and so, finally, okay, there are two things I am assuming here which is that (1) any sort of intelligence or consciousness I personally can add to the situation of their childhood must be worked into the context of the rituals of waking, eating, playing, laughing, walking, and sleeping; and that (2) as the cultural pressures of gender and race and religion and branding seek to establish their beachheads inside the brains of my kids—that it is also possible (this is my working hypothesis) to create small confident spaces that they can access inside of their minds, building up an immune system that fights against viral culture, creating a system based not on the acquisition of power or the ascension to heaven but the fact that love is effective. You can reject a lot of insane bullshit and bad ideas simply because they are incompatible with love. If you remember to. Who remembers to? Who can even say “love” with a straight face? Lace up your jerkin, Sir Loser, when you speak of love. Could you rebrand it as something cool? Could you re-brand an emotion? Could Apple release Love? How do you help people remember?