By Kathy Crabtree
Editor’s note: Although Oregon replaced its “Things look different here” slogan in 2004, recent transplant Kathy Crabtree proves it still rings true. Watch for her impressions of her new home in this and future CNews columns.
Having recently moved to Portland from the Midwest, I enjoy a spectator’s view of current Northwest trends. The latest colors, styles and fashion statements – for example, how you wear your baby – can be observed while sipping a latte at any coffee shop on Alberta Street.
The baby-wearing trend fascinates this transplant. Not only does there appear to be a wide selection of baby-wearing apparatus – backpacks, wraps or slings– but one also has a choice in baby accessorizing: front or rear views.
Then there is an additional choice of wearing your baby facing inward or outward. From my unofficial survey, it appears mothers have a tendency to wear their babies in front with the babies facing inward, at least until they are somewhat older. Fathers, on the other hand, wear the children on their backs facing outward. Analyzing this trend one could conclude that mothers tend to keep close eyes on their offspring; whereas, fathers appear more confident the babies won’t try to escape while they aren’t looking.
I’ve also become aware of multiple ways to travel on a bicycle with your child. Many bikes have child seats behind the peddlers’ seats – much like I’ve seen used in the Midwest. In my new neighborhood, I have witnessed several very creative contraptions.
One style has a basket in front with the baby facing the driver. Another has an older child pedaling a connected tire and frame. My favorite, though, is the front-loaded, cart-like equipment complete with helmeted kid, groceries and the family dog.
These sights to homegrown Portlanders are not uncommon, and more seasoned transplants have become assimilated to the culture. Those of us new to the area, however, often have to take some time to minimize the effect of the differences.
For instance, in pondering the baby-wearing phenomenon, I wonder if how one was worn will influence one’s outlook on life later on. Will those front-loaded, forward-facing babies be in the forefront of the future – looking ahead and anticipating new directions and paths? Will those backpack babies value their past and where they have come to bring a historical perspective to the future?
My best guess is they will probably grow into secure and confident adults, having spent so much time cuddled close to those who love them the most.