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By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
I think it’s important to talk to your kid about current events. First of all, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear their opinions and thoughts on a variety of topics. And occasionally you might actually agree with them. At the very least, it’s a great chance to tell them why their opinions are wrong.
In our house, current events and politics are an almost daily topic of discussion. Last night I decided to give my son a pop quiz on his rudimentary knowledge of our state and federal “political system.? Try this with your own kid or any adult for that matter and see how well they do.
•Alex – who’s the President of the United States??
•Very funny. Today’s President.?
Okay • so far he’s outperformed close to 45% of the population.
“Secretary of Defense??
Now he•s outperformed probably 70% of the population.
“Secretary of State??
•Ummmmmm. . .?
•Connnn . . “
•Very good son! Now tell me who our state representatives are.?
•Josh Penry and some guy who has a weird last name I can’t pronounce.?
•That would be Bernie Buescher. Okay, name one of our United States Senator??
•Wayne . . . .?
Hey • I’ll bet he’s still in the 90th percentile. I went on to ask him the differences between the platforms of Republicans and Democrats and he discussed their stances on abortion, taxes, the war in Iraq, welfare, the role of government in general and a couple other topics. Wow! The kid’s been paying attention. I also asked him how he thought the government handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, his thoughts on nuclear proliferation in Iran and border control. In each case I was delighted to hear his responses and smiled to myself that he’s on the right (wing) track.
My point is that you ought to talk to your kids about this stuff. You want them to understand the issues. Someday they’ll be voting on important topics like whether or not to cut off your social security benefits. It’s our job as parents to teach our kids how to think through issues and develop informed opinions.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, May 8, 2006
Somehow I managed to live some 30-odd years without ever perusing the 1922 children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit.
One of my mothers-in-law gave my now 5-year-old daughter a copy of this classic by Margery Williams.
For a bedtime story, it’s a bit long. We started it several times only for Margaret to lose interest once the character the Skin Horse starts extolling advice to the Velveteen Rabbit.
But now that she’s institutionalized (i.e., in kindergarten), she’s willing to have us read a portion of a longer book each night before bed.
One Sunday night her dad read the first half of the book and I sat down that Monday evening to finish the tale. I was actually looking forward to finding out what happens to the demure fuzzy sack o’ sawdust.
Despite the fact that the story ends with the Velveteen Rabbit turning into a real rabbit, it is no feel good story. Margaret and I were both in tears.
Yes, we may both be a tad bit over sensitive, but what the heck is up with this story? The Velveteen Rabbit gets put into the burn barrel because the quack of a doctor decides he’s full of scarlet fever germs. The burn barrel, for Pete’s sake.
The gentle boy loved the Velveteen Rabbit. The Velveteen Rabbit wanted to become real — not a pile of ash and glass eyes.
Margaret was disturbed by many things in this story. First, was the idea that beloved stuffed animals got old and worn and their eyes will fall out.
She kept wailing over the fact that her own Bunny was going to get old and his eyes would fall out.
Now the alternate title for “The Velveteen Rabbit? is •How Toys Become Real.? Yeah, I•ve got a better one: “How to Make your Kid a Complete Obsessive Freak.?
Margaret is now horrified by the idea that any of her kajillion stuffed animals will get old and then sent to the horrific death of being burnt at the stake.
She wants to keep them all forever. For. Ever.
In the past, I•ve culled the herd of free-range stuffed animals that live in Margaret’s room for time to time. Not any more.
To Ms. Margery Williams, I say: “Thanks a whole bunch, lady!? Now my kid is going to go through life with a boxes of pristine stuffed animals that she•ll never be able to touch for fear of wearing them out and can’t get rid of either because they’ll end up in some hellish land of hosed up stuff animals.
Margaret’s gonna end up one of those freaky chicks with weird collections that take up all her closet space. No one will date her except those sunless creatures who spend all their time buying memorabilia on eBay for sports they never actually play.
Then she’ll likely marry one of those people and he’ll catch a heart attack from all the Arby’s beef ‘n’ cheddar sandwiches he shoves in his piehole all day long, leaving her alone with her hosed-up stuffed animal collections and a load of Mookie Williams’ rookie cards and Jason Kidd sneakers.
I’m gonna make my kid watch more TV.
Friday, May 5, 2006
Obviously you’ve the seen the photo accompanying this blog and it includes my son’s picture. Since he had to be in a photo, I was forced to confess to him that I was writing the blog. Here’s a reenactment of how that unfolded.
Scene 1. Me arriving home from work to find son in his usual position on the sofa watching Battlestar Galactica on the sci-fi channel. Son is surrounded by a mostly empty bag of Doritos, pizza crusts, orange rinds and a giant glass of some blue colored liquid.
Me: “Son, I need to talk to you about something important so when you can give me your undivided attention please let me know.?
Son: immediately switches off TV.
•Whatever it is, I didn’t do it.?
Me: smugly happy that Catholic guilt has its advantages.
•Actually, I’m writing a blog at work, and you’re the topic. Do you know what a blog is??
Son: •No idea.?
So I explain to him what it is, and why we•re doing it, blah, blah, blah.
Me: “I wanted you to know about it because I’ll be writing about you and the things you say and do. Are you okay with it??
Son: •Yeah, sure?
Me: •Cool! We’re meeting the other moms and their kids tomorrow to have our pictures taken.?
Son: •For what??
Me: •To use on the website for the blog.?
Son: by now the master of two-word responses
Me: •Come on, you’ll be famous!?
Son: •How much??
Me: •Twenty bucks.?
Son: •Okay, fine.?
Now I just gotta figure out how to expense that.
Scene 2. Lincoln Park. Other moms and kids are there. So is Gretel who has spent a long day photographing exploding poop bombs. Son and I are last to arrive, running late because son broke the no-kids-in-the-house-when-I•m-not home-unless-you-have-my-permission rule and is not happy with the consequences. He is now pulling a pout meant to embarrass me.
We proceed getting our pictures taken with (most) everyone having a good time.
Me: “Gretel, let’s see the pictures.?
Gretel shows us the pictures and we all agree we look great.
Me: •I can’t tell if my son is smiling.?
Gretel: •I don’t think he smiled in any of them.?
Son: •Twenty bucks??
Me: •You’re not smiling!?
Son: •Okay, ten.?
At least that•ll be easier to expense.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, May 5, 2006
My kid started kindergarten last August — it has been a roller coaster ride to say the least.
She is a very bright and very precocious child. She has been doing very well academically so far this year. Her behavior ... well, that's another matter altogether.
She went through a period in which she was getting time-outs daily at both school and her daycare. Mostly her problem was that she was talking and horsing around instead of doing her work. We took this very seriously and tried in several different ways to get her to understand the importance of being a good student and learning as much as she can.
those kids? You know the ones, all touchy-grabby with their little kid hands and feet getting all up in everyone else's business. Yikes!
So now I am saddled with how to teach a bossy kid with no self-control to keep her hands and feet to herself.
Do they have special summer camps for kids who are impulsive, who don't understand personal space and want to tell everyone else what to do?
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Thursday, May 4, 2006
“In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that we’ve ran a few articles specifically about moms.
Have we always done this? Perhaps so and I was oblivious because such articles didn’t apply to me prior to 12 weeks ago.
The article, “Personality plays a role in parenting style?
threw all sorts of new issues at me that I didn•t even know existed. For instance, mothers are competitive? There’s some kind of underlying…?I•m a better mother than you are? judgment going on? Uh-oh, I didn•t know I was going to get a performance review.
And did you know there is such a thing as a mothering style? I did not know that. But since it’s based on the Meyer’s Briggs Type Indicator it must be accurate. The results of my college test said I should work in the food service industry…yeah-NOT!
I want to know what kind of 12 week job review I’d get so I consulted the all-knowing Internet oracle to find out and found this
Guess What! I’m a “kind? mother to my son. I don•t know what that means exactly but I’m pretty glad I don’t have a predisposed “unkind? mothering personality. However, it asked me questions that I had no possible way of answering at this point like how I will feel when he goes to school. I•m more of a “we’ll deal with that later? kinda mom.
Actually that seems to be my approach to most of my mothering ability at this point. I figure I•ll get a general idea of the subject and then just wing it when we get there. I have a “wing it? mothering personality.
Then there•s the feeler mom vs. the thinking mom. Well, I want to be both. Can’t I be both? I mean, who wants to be an emotional feeler stupid mom or a nonemotional smart boring mom? What kinda choice is that?
And then just as my synapses start to misfire, the article throws another rattle into my carriage spokes:
“One important arena to make an informed choice based on personality type is volunteering, something just about every mom is asked to do.?
What? I have to volunteer now?
Man, this mom thing is complicated. I deserve way more than the hypothetical $86,000 a year I should be getting for this job.
Thursday, May 4, 2006
The mommy blog. Or as a co-worker quipped, “the Breeder’s Blog.? Seemed like a really good idea at the time, and it still does. But can I really be having writer•s block already? I’m not even a writer. I think it’s a case of the nerves. Not about my writing, but the subject of my writing, which is my just turned 14-year-old son Alex. And let me just say this right here and now – if anybody knows who he is, and if you EVER tell him I’m writing about him I will be dead meat. Seriously dead meat. So it’s our little secret, alright? Besides, when your kid turns 14 I think it’s just fine to have secrets from him. Do you really want your life to be an open book to him? Especially your life when you were the age he is now?
This birthday (Alex’s) was hard for me. I realized that next year he will be starting high school, then off to college or the Naval Academy, and then I’ll never see him again. Dramatic, I know, but really. I’m not ready. For crying out loud he’ll be able to drive a car (legally) next birthday. That in and of itself is enough to make me freeze in panic. (I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best role model when it comes to driving techniques. He’ll definitely be taking driver’s ed.) But his recent birthday and reading about Richie’s little son just brought back so many memories. How can 14 years have gone by already? And when was the exact moment in time he surpassed me in height? I guess for now I can take comfort in the fact that I still outweigh him.
I remember the day he was born, of course. I’ve told him the story of it about a thousand times. “I know, Mom, it was raining out. Dad was stuck in traffic. You said the F-word to the nurse. I came out looking like a purple grape.? But I haven•t told him yet of the precise moment I fell in love with him. I remember that too. I also remember looking at him strapped in his car seat and thinking, “I can’t wait until you learn how to talk.? I must have been extremely sleep deprived.
So, I hope you•ll enjoy my tales of life with my only begotten son. Maybe you can relate, or empathize. I’m okay with “sympathize? too. Just remember • if he finds out I’m doing this, I’m dead.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
We, like most moms, like to talk about our kids. It’s hard not to brag about their accomplishments and moan about the tribulations of motherhood.
Lynn stops by my desk almost daily to tell me of the latest event in the always-entertaining life of her 14-year-old son, Alex — how he plays on the only lacrosse team in the Grand Valley and competes nationally in stick fighting, how his quick wit sometimes gets him in trouble … can a kid really be grounded until he’s 30?
And I counter her tales of teenaged angst with anecdotes about my precocious, 5-year-old daughter, Margaret — how she has blossomed into an amazing reader in kindergarten, how she is more concerned with being funny then being good, with her confusion between Jesus and the Easter Bunny.
Our daily momfest now includes the sleepless stories Richie tells us about her newborn, Soren — how she was misguided by the parenting books, how sleeping for three hours gets her really excited and how she never knew she could love someone so much.
When the three of us got together to talk about starting this blog, the conversation quickly turned to the topic of breastfeeding. Lynn and I recounted for Richie tales of nursing in public places — on airplanes, restaurants and even while answering the door.
We’ll never run out of topics to discuss and stories to tell.
When we pitched this idea for this blog to the managing editor, I assured him that my daughter is a veritable fountain of entertaining stories. Richie chimed in, “My kid … he’s just a fountain? • oh the joys of caring for an infant!
What we hope to accomplish here is to give our perspectives on the condition that is being “mom? and we hope that you moms out there • and dads, too — will share your stories as well.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
In case you’re wondering haute means fashionably elegant and is pronounced “oat?.
Not only are we elegant, we•re cool supermoms in different stages of momhood. We have it covered from teenager to baby.
I won’t say we know it all since I‘m the rookie but we want to connect with other moms, solicit and give advice, plus provide entertaining stories of life on the homefront.
Denny, a.k.a. My Boss, doesn’t waste any time in getting the ball rolling when he hears a good idea. He said yes and we were running full speed ahead.
In a day, we blogger moms brainstormed, posed for a photo shoot in the park, came up with our trendy new blog name, made lists of potential topics, and enlisted the help of our resident web genius to handle the technical end of creation. (Thanks Chris!)
At first I was overwhelmed with the speed at which we were working, but as I fell into the hammock that night I realized it’s just all in a days work.
I may be new at this, but it gives me confidence in knowing I CAN brainstorm, create, look pretty, write something decent, cook something yummy for dinner, and take care of my family, all before the sun goes down.