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…]

The Best Parenting Advice You’ll Ever Get

parenting-adviceIt’s been two hours, and we haven’t heard a single noise from the top of the stairs. A few years ago I would have been panicked. Quiet from the other room could only mean one thing: disaster.

Quiet was rare then.

Noise was a constant.

How I longed for the opposite, longed for the nights when she would disappear into her room and not come out 37 times during the evening hours with requests for a glass of water, to pee because she’d just drank an entire glass of water, a blanket because she was cold, a blanket that wasn’t quite so heavy because she was hot, a glass of water because she was thirsty, to pee because she’d just drank another glass of water …

If I could just have some peace, I wished. Just a little bit. One night a week, even.

Now there’s peace in our house. Too much peace. [Read more…]

Why American Girl Dolls Really are ‘Worth It’

Maryellen-LarkinWhen my daughter first started collecting (and pairing birthday checks with her allowance to procure) American Girl dolls, I knew the looks I’d get from some. I’d given them myself years ago, in the way that all non-moms assume that they know so much more than the mothers standing before them … only to be rudely awakened when the progeny arrive.

Yes, I allow my daughter to play with dolls that cost more than my favorite pair of sneakers, favorite pair of jeans AND my favorite top combined. Yes, I do think they’re pretty great … and not only for the myriad lessons about finance that my now 10-year-old has learned several times over each time she’s plunked down her own money, collecting checks from great-aunts, dollars and quarters from helping around the house, scrounged change from beneath the couch cushions and random 20s from birthday parties to put together her own collection of flaxen-haired dolls with fluttering eyes and petite outfits. [Read more…]

Ten Things I Want My Daughter to Know Before She Turns 10

DandelionTen is bearing down on our house like a tractor trailer running down a steep hill. There’s no stopping it, so we might as well pull in behind it and draft along.

I’m embarrassed to admit it took me longer to realize I could ride 10’s coattails than it probably should have. Even 10 years in, I’m still new at this. She’s my first. My only. I haven’t had a starter kid to practice on.

But the requests have come for months, “When I’m 10, can I …” At first I sighed and promised to think on it, put it off in the way parents have for ages, with pledges to “talk to your father about it.” But lately my answers have been quicker, smarter. I’ve started to slip things onto the track greased by the wheels of 10, things a kid should know by 10: [Read more…]

Dear Target — My Daughter Doesn’t Need ‘Girl Toys’

Dear Target cropIf parents spend 50 percent of their time trying to tell their kids what to do and how to do it, we probably spend the other 50 percent wondering if they’re really hearing us. The “uh huhs,” and “OK, Moms” would indicate they are … but sometime after the 79th repetition of “hang up your backpack, brush your teeth before bed, eat your peas,” the sense of defeat settles in.

Have heart, moms and dads. They may not listen to 99.99999 percent of the time. But every once in awhile, a moment will happen that makes it all worthwhile. Ours happened on Saturday.

We were driving to a lunch out when my 9-year-old began pontificating from the backseat about the toy aisles in the various department stores she’s visited. Toys they want to sell to girls, she told me, are separated from toys they want to sell to boys. As a girl who likes so-called boy toys just as much as bits of pink plastic coated in sparkles, she was indignant. [Read more…]

‘Ever After High’: A Feminist Mom’s Dream? Close Enough

EverAfter2

If it weren’t for the tagline, I wouldn’t have given Ever After High a second glance — or let my daughter give it one. But when the Netflix series popped up atop my queue with the words “Are you a rebel or a royal?” I was intrigued.

Telling little girls they can rebel? Not bad, Netflix, not bad.

Upon a little more investigation, I found the show that’s now earned pride of place streaming on Netflix started out as a series of webisodes supported by Mattel, makers of the dolls that bear the same name (fair warning, letting your daughter get hooked on Ever After High opens you up to requests for merchandise). Now it’s found a permanent home, allowing the stories of the progeny of fairy tale characters to develop. So far, so good.

But what would little girls get out of it? I decided to find out. With some help from Netflix, which provided party supplies, I invited some little girls (all aged 9) into my living room for an Ever After High viewing party … to find out if the show awakens the rebel spirit the show’s tagline so proudly promotes.

[Read more…]

The Things You Find When You’re a Mom

mangled doll handI was doing laundry when I found it. Five mangled fingers. One dainty wrist. And not much more.

Sighing, I picked it off my husband’s shirt, and chucked it into the playroom. I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I threw out Barbies hand.

Just days earlier I’d found her – torso and head intact, but without hands or anything below the knee – and suggested it was time she be retired. The response was shock, horror, outrage.

I got the picture.

Make that, I have been getting the picture. [Read more…]

The Milestone You Never See Coming …

Growing up Milestones rarely creep up on mothers. Instead we are prone to urging them on, to lying on beds facing our red-faced infants, cajoling them to roll over; to plopping wriggling toddlers on potties and sweet-talking them into being big girls and boys.

These are the milestones you read about in the parenting books and search for on the Internet. These are the milestones which we celebrate.

Then there are those that sneak up on us.

You’re lying bed one night, reading yourself to sleep, when a voice calls down the hall, “Moooooom.” [Read more…]

Can We Lay Off Video Gaming Parents, Please?

ControllerFor weeks now, I’ve been seeing the same photo popping up over and over again on the Internet. Two little boys are perched on a pier, their backs to the camera. In their hands are fishing poles, under their tiny rear ends are tackle boxes, and written on the photo are the words, “Because Memories Aren’t Made Playing Video Games.”

I can’t disagree more.

Memories are, in fact, made playing video games. My daughter is making them right now.

She and her father are sitting in our living room, each one with an XBox controller in their hand. [Read more…]

So My Girl Shoots a Pink (Toy) Gun — So What?

crossbowWhen the (toy) gun arrived in my house, I didn’t know what to say to my daughter. It was white, pink, baby blue, and purple, but still, it was a gun. Some folks would tell you little girls don’t play with guns because they’re girls. They’re supposed to be prepping for their future in the kitchen or some such.

I’ve never told my daughter she can’t play with guns. We are country folk, and we’ve been talking about the difference between toys guns and real ones since she could walk and — God forbid — stumble on the real thing in a playmate’s house. Safety first … for girls and boys.

But when the box arrived from Nerf Rebelle — one of those perks of being a blogger — I didn’t want to color the kid’s opinions.

Moms, what I’m about to say might upset a few of you. See, I don’t believe in “girl toys” and “boy toys.” I’m happy to see my daughter playing with trucks and your sons playing with dolls, and the sooner the world accepts that kids are better being raised with open minds, the better.

But I’ve seen something alarming of late. Ever since my little girl came barreling into this world, ready to climb trees clad in a dress, the notion that girls should have more options has slowly become a push away from so-called “girl” things and toward stereotypical “boy” things. Girls whose mom made them dress up as Darth Vader for Halloween = a step toward equality. Girls who decided on their own to dress up as Cinderella = oppressive.

Confused?

Me too. [Read more…]