The ‘Sick Kid’ Dance Every Parent Recognizes

We’re in the bathroom because it’s the only room with a door, and we’re whispering. “Well, she did say her stomach hurt last night. What if she has to spend the whole day on the couch, no TV?” The other parent nods. “Right, OK, that sounds good.”

It’s a dance parents around the world know all too well. The kid says they’re sick, but how sick are they, really?

Sick enough to miss a day of school? Or just sick and tired of having to get up early and hoping for a day off worksheets? [Read more…]

This Fear Is Parenting

Little-girl-runningI still remember every time the seatbelt tightened across my chest on that ride home from the hospital. On a good day, it takes less than half an hour to get from there to our house.

The day we drove our newborn home, it took closer to an hour. Each time the wind blew, it seemed, my husband stomped on the brakes. The belt tightened across me. My one hand clenched the car seat next to me, the other hovered just above her body in its Winnie the Pooh sleeper, feeling her breathe. [Read more…]

Stop Using Your Kids to Deny LGBT People Their Rights

Gay-Hands“What do I tell my kids?” It’s something I’ve heard over and over from the opposition to equal rights for folks who are LGBT.

Every time this disenfranchised community gains an inch in the mile-long road to equality, the sturm and drang rings out from frazzled straight parents, sure this will set their lives on end.

What do I tell my kids about the two men holding hands? What do I tell my kids about that person entering the bathroom with a little sign on the door that matches their gender identity? What do I tell my kids about the two ladies who are getting married?

Well folks, what do you tell your kids about straight folks, about cisgender folks?

Do you go into a discussion of anatomy or intercourse when you see a man and a woman holding hands? When you see someone who you assume is cisgender walking into a bathroom? When you get a wedding invitation for a straight couple? [Read more…]

These are the Children in a Small Town

spuddies“Do you know everyone?” the girl asks. I shrug. “Close enough,” is the answer, as I turn to the next child on line to buy candy from the AYSO soccer concession stand.

“What would you like?” I ask, tacking on that child’s name too.

Names matter.

Remember how special it felt as a kid when an adult knew you by yours? You puffed up with pride, feeling like a grown up or a celebrity (nearly the same thing when you’re too young to drive). You felt, if just for a moment, like you mattered. [Read more…]

Teaching Kids to Look for the Helpers Isn’t Enough

Fred Rogers with the Neighborhood Seen on his show. ONE TIME USE

Fred Rogers with the Neighborhood seen on his show.

There’s an old Mr. Rogers quote that’s often brought out in tough times. If you want to get technical, the quote belongs to the mother of the TV personality best known for his cardigans and puppets, as Rogers related her telling him as a child to “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I’ve quoted Rogers and paraphrased him often over the years. As parents, we’re tasked all too often with having to talk our children through trauma, and his advice is both comforting and actionable. They don’t have to sit there alone and afraid. They can do something and turn to someone. [Read more…]

A Letter to the Mother of My Child’s Bully

sad-girlShe doesn’t cry about it. That’s not her way. She gets angry though; a slight deviation from the righteous indignation of tweenhood. She doesn’t like being called names or being lied about.

Would you? I don’t think you would.

I wonder though: Do you call your children names? Is that why they are so mean to other kids? Or are you the other sort of mother, the one who can see no fault in her kids, the one who is slowly building an ego so large it will one day explode? [Read more…]

They’re Going to Need This When We’re Gone

crazy-kids“One day you’re going to want to remember this moment,” we tell them. The looks on their faces make one thing clear: both the 7-year-old and the 11-year-old think we’re crazy. The 2-year-old just wants to drink his yogurt drink in peace.

We are undaunted. We will get this photo if it kills us (and quite possibly them).

“Please,” we beg. “Just sit there. Just for a minute. No, not even a minute. Just pretend you like each other for a second.”

Their butts hit the seat, and I hit the shutter at rapid speed. [Read more…]

This Is for Every Man Who Thinks Hillary Clinton’s Nomination is NBD

Hillary-ClintonIt was day two of the Democratic National Convention, and it was already getting late. Former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had become the first woman in America to secure the nomination of a major political party earlier in the day, and I was already emotional.

Then my daughter climbed up onto the couch beside me and wiggled beneath my arm. “Mommy,” she said, “if I ever meet Hillary Clinton, I will give her a hug, and I will cry because she is the first woman to be president.”

That was it. I lost it.

I can already feel the Republicans, especially the Republican men, reading this rolling their eyes. Hopefully I can hold onto you for just a minute or two as I try to explain what it’s like been like to be a mother of a little girl these past few days. [Read more…]

Here’s What Happens When You Make Fun of Pokemon Go

Pokemon-go“Teach your kid to fish so they don’t end up playing Pokemon.” “Teach your kids to hunt so they don’t end up playing Pokemon.” And on and on the comments go.

Pokemon Go is the hot game of the summer, and the backlash from non-gamers has been fierce.

In case you’ve somehow avoided every major news outlet this summer (and if so, please do something about that because we’ve got an important election coming up), Pokemon Go is an app-based game that uses GPS to send players out and about to “catch” characters for game play. The characters can be found anywhere, which has destroyed the long-held stereotype of schlubby gamers perched on their couches shoveling potato chips in their mouths while they play a game. Pokemon Go players are literally up and running around.

And that’s really making people mad … and leaving me scratching my head.

A disclaimer is likely in order here. I do not play Pokemon Go. I couldn’t tell an Evee from a Weedle or a Jynx from a Pidgey. My husband and child, on the other hand, have gone full bore into becoming “trainers,” and there are few things sweeter than watching a father and daughter head out the door of your house on a summer afternoon to watch them go exploring. Yes, even when said exploring requires holding gadgets in their hands.

They laugh and chat and try to one up one another and do exactly the sorts of things hunting and fishing parents do with their kids.

It’s something I’m guessing people who share finger-wagging Internet memes don’t think about because they have a very specific thought of what a gamer is, and they have no interest in changing it. It’s much easier, and much more popular in society to make the assumption that other people’s innocent pleasures are not nearly as beneficial to the world as our own, that ours is the best and only way to do things.

Parents should raise kids exactly as we do, because if they don’t, the consequences could be DIRE!

Thank goodness real life isn’t nearly so black and white.

We can raise kids who fish and hunt AND play video games and turn out just fine. We can raise kids who do just one or two and turn out just fine. Heck, we can even raise kids who do none, instead spending their spare hours collecting bugs or stamps or huddling under a comforter with a flashlight in a book, and yes, once again, they will turn out just fine.

Our kids need less mandates that they fit one sort of mold and more encouragement to find their own passions. If they don’t, can you even imagine how boring their future will be?


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I’m a Much Better Parent to Other People’s Children

little-girl-looking-awayI’m trudging through the aisle, an overloaded cart of food in front of me and one million and one notes on my to-do list running through my head. Will two oranges be enough? Do we have an extra bag of flour or did I buy the brand that’s been recalled? How many Oreos does it takes to satisfy the cravings of six hungry tweens?

Then I heard them. They were babbling about video games. Loudly. And clearly running.

I cringed. It’s a Saturday night at the grocery store, I thought. Shouldn’t someone tell those kids to calm it down a notch?

And then I remembered. [Read more…]