Wednesday, June 30, 2010
"Oh, that's not a guilty pleasure," I quipped. "A guilty pleasure is a 'Real Housewives of Where Ever" marathon or watching multiple episodes of 'The Girls Next Door.' While drunk. SciFi is science plus fiction. That's multitasking." We all laughed, and the conversation took a turn and went elsewhere. But still, the ridiculousness of my quip made me wonder: What makes a guilty pleasure a guilty pleasure?
Friday, June 25, 2010
Parenting a teenager is all about trust. I can't force Annie to go to school, though I tried. I can't force her to want to be in school, and unless she wants to be there, she won't go. I trust my daughter's instincts, and I know that a path is not always linear. And she comes from a strong family tradition of alternate paths. It took me nine years to get my BA and I ended up with a successful and creative career. Her father didn't start community college until he was 24. By the time he died, he was the special adviser to a head of state.I see her point, but I'm not sure I agree. There's more to high school than just academics, in my opinion: There's self discipline, perseverance, collaboration, cooperation, and basically learning how to learn. Not every child is able to gain those skills on his or her own.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
What do you do when your child's role model grows up too fast -- and your child wants to try to catch up? In the Parenthood is in the pages of today's Boston Globe, with a story about kids and parents who are disillusioned about Disney star Miley Cyrus's transformation from goofy tween-age Hannah Montana to Britney-Madonna-Lady Gaga-like sexpot. (You can read the story here, and also view a slideshow of how her image has changed since 2006.)
I turned to Dr. Robyn Silverman, a child and teen development expert, for some advice on how parents can help their kids cope with the change. Here's what she had to say:
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
“Men are facing the same clash of social ideals that women have faced since the 1970s -- how do you be a good parent and a good worker?” Joan C. Williams, the director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California, told the New York Times on Sunday. “This is a pretty sensitive indicator of the rise of the new ideal of the good father as a nurturing father, not just a provider father.”
But there's a twist: Part of what's making it harder for modern men to be good fathers is the fact that their wives often discount the work these dads do at home (check out the discussion going on about this at my In the Parenthood blog at Boston.com).
I'll admit it: I know I do this sometimes. In spite of the growing acceptance of fathers in the workplace who put their families first, the overwhelming assumption is that dad can work late because mom's there to pick up the slack at home. And that breeds resentment. It's easy to fall into bed after a long day of juggling work and parenthood and housework and start thinking of all the things you did that he didn't have to do -- without considering the things he does that you don't.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The question of whether or not to implant microchips in our children isn't new. In 2002, CNN reported that parents in the United Kingdom were asking for microchip tracking devices for their kids after two 10-year-old girls were abducted and murdered. And Wired magazine wrote about it back in 2003, when Solusat, the Mexican distributor of VeriChip, launched its VeriKid program in Mexico.
What is new is that, in spite of the whole "Big Brother" aspect, and in spite of the obvious privacy issues (not to mention health risks), the microchip may be making a comback.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
There’s a huge difference between going green and, well, going “green.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not so much crunchy as I am crispy when it comes to healthy, eco-friendly living. But even to my not-at-all-trained green sensibilities, isn’t it better to go green by using as few resources as possible, rather than by spending bundles for something uber-processed that claims to be eco-friendly? If you’re spending $42 on a single tank top, you’re not being green, even if it’s made out of organic cotton or sustainable bamboo. It’s like investing in special, BPA-free bottles and then using them to feed your baby Coke.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It's often said that multitasking is how working moms manage to get it all done. But researchers say that our ability to do so may just be a myth. And unitasking is kind of at the root of the whole Fly Lady way of cleaning and decluttering -- focus on one task, do it for a set amount of time, and then move on to the next thing. We know that unitasking works -- at least, I can see how easily it works in terms of doing the laundry or tidying up the house. But could I apply it to my to-do list? Or, better still, my hours at the office?
Monday, June 14, 2010
"Here's the biggest myth of parenting: The more attention we give our kids, the better they'll turn out," he says. "Where are the results? Studies show today’s parents spend more time with their kids, and yet today's kids don't seem happier, more independent or successful. They seem more troubled, entitled and needy."
The solution? It's the title of his new book: To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First.
"You might say that today's parents seem to be marrying their children instead of their spouses. The truth is, we often find it easier to be with our kids than our partners," Code points out. This seems child-friendly, but we don't realize we're using our kids as an escape from our spouses."
Code took the time to chat with me recently for a post at Boston.com's In the Parenthood column. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children, ages 10 and 8. "I've been a full-time writer since 2007, but at 3:08 when the kids get off the bus, I'm a full-time dad as well," he says. "I'm so glad this shift in roles has become socially acceptable, because it fits my career-oriented wife and me to a T."
Here's our entire Q & A; scroll down to the bottom for Code's four tips for making a good marriage even stronger.
Friday, June 11, 2010
But guess what? It happens. We all have red stapler days, days when we want to chuck the TPS reports in the trash and tell Lumbergh to his face that he represents all that is soulless and wrong. At The 36-Hour Day I'm offering up some tips on how to cope -- or, at least, how to minimize the damage:
Thursday, June 10, 2010
One of the first things he did when we moved in to our current home is rig up a massive composting station out back, at the edge of the woods. A year later, he built raised beds and planted a garden (and I learned how to can and make jam and pickles).
A couple of years ago, we set out fruit trees and expanded our garden -- or, rather, he did, given that I kill plants just by looking at them. We both plan out which vegetables to buy, but he plants and tends them and I pick, cook, and can. He runs his Suburban on a combination of diesel and waste vegetable oil (no, it doesn't smell like french fries) and fantasizes about having a wind turbine on our property. (Not going to happen, though. Two reasons: We don't get that much wind, and we don't particularly want to piss off our lovely neighbors.) And, this year, he's rebuilding the old chicken coop out back, with an eye toward raising up his own flock of dinner. I've assured our lovely neighbors that we won't have roosters (they crow all day, not just in the morning, you know), and I've vowed to name each chick after a different recipe. ("Heeeeeeere, Homemade Stock! Bok bok, Sweet-Potato Curry! Where'd you hide your eggs this time, General Tso?") While I kill plants effortlessly, I'm not sure I could kill a chicken, but I'm positive I could cook it up just fine.
And that pretty much sums up the disparity in our crunchy granola green-ness as well. He'll bike 40 or so miles to work to save on gas; I'll roll down the windows and turn off the AC. He spent years as a vegetarian; I'll buy organic milk but let the kids stir Strawberry Quik into it as a treat. "You're not crunchy, so much as you're just a little crispy, aren't you?" he asked, laughing as I wrecked the wholesome nature of the homemade, corn-syrup-free lemonade by stirring Red No. 40-laden grenadine syrup into it (to make it pink! It tastes better when it's pink!)
He knows me so well.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
1.) I hadn’t gone to bed at nearly 2 a.m.
2.) I hadn’t gone to bed at nearly 2 a.m. because I was working
3.) My husband hadn’t gone to bed at 9 p.m.
4.) My husband had regained consciousness quickly enough to offer to get up with him (Hahaha! No. He sleeps like he's made of concrete.)
5.) My 3-year-old hadn’t trotted in at not-quite-6 a.m.
So I got up, coughing (I’ve got a cold. Yes, of course I went to work later that day) and struggled to find the sleeves of my robe and found socks for my feet and stumbled downstairs with my youngest boy, who was clutching both a small stuffed leopard that he insists is a baby jaguar, and a large stuffed border collie that is nearly as big as he is. He requested “Cimmanin Tohst.” Which I made. Which he, sitting at the table, then didn't eat, preferring to chatter on about super heroes and puppies and whether maybe there could be a super hero who actually WAS a puppy and wouldn’t that be so, so, so cool Mama?
When I am under the weather, or stressed, or, in this case, both, four hours of sleep is nowhere near enough. I was cranky and resentful. I had so much work to do. I made coffee and sat down at the table with him and nodded and coughed. And realized: Someday, sooner than I think, I’m going to look back on this moment -- sleep-deprived, borderline sick, to-do list already long -- and I am going to miss it.
Monday, June 7, 2010
In our family, take-out isn't often an option. Aside from the fact that our budget is tight right now, three of our five kids have food intolerances or allergies, which means anything with gluten is a no-no. That rules out pretty much anything that's ready-made.
Over at The 36-Hour Day, we're sharing the ways that we cope with the witching hour. Here are my five go-to meals that can be made in 15 minutes.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
That number is way up from a study reported in the Lancet in 2005, in which four percent of new fathers were found to have symptoms of postpartum depression.
When my first baby was born, my husband called me a semi-new mom, since I'd been a step mom for several years by then. My first was his fourth and, even though every child is different, of course, he was an old hand at the new-parent game by then.
New fathers generally don't have a wealth of information to fall back on. Pregnancy books are usually aimed at women, obviously, though there are a few notable exceptions, like Christopher Healy's Pop Culture: The Sane Man’s Guide to the Insane World of New Fatherhood and Dad's Pregnant, Too by Harlan Cohen. But dads-to-be and new fathers need help as much as moms do, and that's what we're talking about at Boston.com's In the Parenthood column right now.
Friday, June 4, 2010
A lot of people don't go to their high school reunions. I went to my 10th, and was on the fence about this one. I had my excuses: I didn't feel like I could take the time off from the office (or get enough work done in advance to cover myself while I was gone), I spend plenty of time socializing on Facebook, so I was already in touch with the people I cared about most... why make the trip?
In the end I was glad I went. But the fact is, there's nothing like a milestone reunion to make you feel both 17 and, well, old at the same time.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
It might not seem like that big of a deal to us now, as adults, but for little kids, "graduation" from kindergarten or preschool to elementary school can make for some serious stress. There's some great advice out there about getting your child ready for her next academic adventure, but what about easing the transition out of the setting she already knows and loves?
At Boston.com's In the Parenthood, I'm not talking about finding ways to celebrate, per se. Graduating preschool may be a milestone, but it's not a major accomplishment, as far as I'm concerned. (High school? Absolutely. Middle school? Maybe... depends on the child and whether he's overcome academic obstacles. There's something to be said for recognizing achievement and setting the stage for more of it, I think.)
So I'm not looking for ways to mark the end of Pre-K as much as I am trying to help a young child understand that these types of endings are a normal part of life, and that you can hold on to old friends while also making some new ones.
The experts at ChildAware.org suggest helping your barely school-age child cope with the transition by giving them a chance to have some input. Involving them in some of the decisions, when possible, planning ahead and giving them more details, listening to their fears and concerns and accepting their feelings can go a long way toward helping them feel comfortable about the change.
When it comes to maintaining their preschool friendships, the onus is on the adults. Follow your child's lead: If the friendship seems to be petering out, consider that it may have run its course, and let it go, but if the kids miss each other, make an effort to arrange playdates away from preschool, so that meeting in a non-school setting becomes their new "normal."
Parents, please share your wisdom: How will you (or how did you) help your child manage a transition to a new school?