Arguably the best thing that happened during the Obamas' visit to England in April was the meeting between the president and two-year-old Prince George. The tiny royal, who had been allowed to stay up past his bedtime in order to meet Mr. and Mrs. Obama, shook hands with the leader of the free world - in his nightclothes. Moments after the photos of their meeting appeared online, the bathrobe Prince George had been wearing sold out in stores. It can't be denied that the bathrobe was adorable. But what toddler, in this day and age, wears a bathrobe?
I can't help but imagine those many bathrobes languishing in the closets and dresser drawers of children across the Western world in the weeks to come. So why did their parents buy them? Was it just to take one adorable photo to post on social media with a jokey caption declaring that now their Johnny was also ready to meet the president? Or was it something else? Something that had to do with seeing that little boy with his hair neatly combed and his pajamas neatly pressed that set off a yearning in the hearts of parents everywhere to return to the kind of lifestyle that Will and Kate represent?
While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are refreshingly modern by royal standards, they are still quite old-fashioned by today's parenting standards. In fact, they are very publicly living a life more commonly associated with the 1950s, with all the wholesomeness and family values that entails. Kate is essentially a stay-at-home mom. She is always impeccably dressed. Her children are neat and well-behaved. Their household runs like clockwork. And William is unequivocally the head of the family.
But does this really appeal to us? Aren't we supposed to want something else, to "have it all?" Women should be able to maintain their careers and their homes without giving anything up. Men should take on an equal share of the housework and childcare. This is what we should want. But that little bathrobe suggests otherwise.
When we see that little boy, looking like Michael Darling from Peter Pan, something pulls at our heartstrings. We want our children to look like that too. Not just to be adorable - although that's part of it - but to embody that lifestyle. That's a little boy who knows how to shake hands. He'll look you in the eye and say "How do you do?" He'll go straight to bed when he's told and he'll do it with a smile and a kiss.
Of course, Will and Kate (and little George and his sister Charlotte) are royalty. And that adds to their appeal. It makes the life they live glamorous and aspirational. It filters out impediments to the 1950s lifestyle, like the difficulties of raising a family on one income or the drudgery of housework. But what we are left with is a glittering nugget of truth; the essence of the thing, rather than the details.
That bathrobe is a whimsical nod to a lifestyle we women have said we don't want, one we've gleefully cast aside in order to pursue our careers, burn our bras, and order take-out instead of slaving away in the kitchen. But that bathrobe. We bought that bathrobe. And even though it will live in the back of the closet, we won't throw it out. Because, we'll tell ourselves, he might wear it one day. And, you never know, he just might.
1. Prince George: 乔治小王子，是英国威廉王子与凯特王妃的长子；bathrobe: 浴衣，浴袍。
2. arguably: 按理说，无疑地。
3. royal: 王室成员，皇族；stay up: 深夜不睡，熬夜；nightclothes: 睡衣。
4. sell out: 售空，卖光。
5. toddler: 学步的儿童。
6. 我不由得想象，接下来这几周，西方各国孩子们那么多的睡衣都将渐受冷落，沉寂在衣帽间和梳妆台下的抽屉里。languish: 受苦，受折磨；closet: 壁橱，储藏间；dresser: 梳妆台。
7. jokey: 逗乐的，举止滑稽的；caption: （图片、漫画的）说明文字。
8. 也许是因为看到这个小男孩梳着服服帖帖的头发，穿着熨帖的睡衣睡裤，各地家长的心中油然生出一种渴望，想回归到威廉王子夫妇所象征的那种老派的生活方式？pajama: （一套）睡衣裤；set off: 引发，触发；yearning: 渴望，向往。
9. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: 剑桥公爵和公爵夫人；refreshingly: 令人耳目一新地，别具一格地；old-fashioned: 过时的，老旧的。
10. wholesomeness: wholesome的名词形式，健康，有益身心；entail: 牵涉，需要。
11. impeccably: 完美地，无瑕疵地。
12. well-behaved: 彬彬有礼的，规规矩矩的。
13. household: 家，家务；like clockwork: 准时地，很有规律地。
14. unequivocally: 毫不含糊地，清楚明白地。
15. take on: 承担，接受。
16. Peter Pan: 《彼得•潘》，是苏格兰小说家、剧作家詹姆斯•马修•巴利创作的文学作品，原名为《彼得•潘与温迪》（Peter Pan and Wendy）；heartstring: 心弦，内心最深处的情感。
17. embody: 体现，代表。
18. glamorous: 富有魅力的，迷人的；aspirational: 励志的，激励人心的。
19. 这也剔除了50年代生活方式中的重重阻碍，比如靠一个人的经济收入来支撑家庭的困难，或者家务劳动的单调乏味。filter out: 过滤掉，筛除；impediment: 妨碍，阻碍；drudgery: 单调乏味的苦差事，无聊的工作。
20. glittering: 灿烂夺目的，闪闪发光的；nugget: 小块东西，尤指小金块；essence: 本质，实质。
21. whimsical: 异想天开的，想入非非的；nod: 点头；gleefully: 欣喜地，激动地；cast aside: 抛弃，丢弃；take-out: 外卖；slave away: 拼命地工作，辛苦地干。