Archive for the ‘ Milestone Monday ’ Category

College Prep. For Kindergarteners. Really.

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Have you heard the news? It’s great. One school in Long Island is so hell-bent on making sure they produce college graduates, they are canceling their “kindergarten show” in order to prep these 5-year olds for the big wide world they will enter in, oh, a decade and a half.

You might expect this from an uptight, competitive school in Manhattan. Might. But on Long Island? Come on. It’s not even an outer borough.

The administrators at the Harley Primary School in Elwood, NY sent a letter to parents. This, after protests began on the school’s decision to axe what is equivalent to an end-of-year school play.  Here’s an excerpt:

“We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers.” 

Wowza.

This take on it from Gothamist sums up what the school must really be going for:

“Gaining acceptance into a top school by 18, advancing quickly in a high-powered career by 25, developing a crippling addiction to pain pills by 32 and, if all goes well, a swift, stylishly-timed heart attack by 40. That’s efficiency.”

In all fairness, perhaps this little school in Long Island wants to make a name for itself and its students. Perhaps it is trying to be more like South Korea, which has one of the best education systems in the world, along with one of the highest student suicide rates in the world. Competition is cutthroat. Pressure is fierce.

I don’t blame them entirely for being worried about the next generation of kids. Many of the Millennials (and to some extent my generation, Gen-X) here in the U.S. have given us a crisis in confidence.  A minority of entitled slackers have made the majority fearful of becoming a country of deadbeats. But I’m not sure canceling a kindergarten show is the way to change that.

Anyone else care to second that thought?

 

pic of schoolteacher from 123parades.com

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“Ramshackle Glam”: A Great Book, a Great Guide, a Great Gift–All in One

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I met Jordan Reid on a TV shoot about moms, called MomTales. This is how we bonded:

Me: You know, when I’m not with my kids, I miss them terribly and I just want to be with them. Then as soon as I’m with them, I want them back in preschool.

Jordan [nodding]: There are only so many hours in the day you can spend playing Triceratops Versus T-Rex. At some point, you really just need a good trashy magazine and a margarita.

From there, we never stopped talking, except when the director told us to pay attention to the shoot.

This is a woman who runs a million miles and hours with a smile on her face, high heels (though she disputes that in her new book), and a wit about her that makes you instantly relax and laugh.

She has a 2-year-old boy, 2 dogs, a husband, and a full-time career as a style blogger on her site, Ramshackle Glam. Which means she also does TV appearances, goes to conferences, meets with advertisers, and somehow manages to post numerous times a day. With pictures. I’m lucky to get 2 posts out a week. Now she just came out with a book, also titled Ramshackle Glam. Where she gets the time to juggle all this is beyond me. Oh, and did I mention she’s pregnant with her second child?

People like her both inspire me and give me a much-needed dose of mom energy. But what I really like about Jordan (and her book) is that she keeps it real. She’s so relatable; she’s the kind of mom friend you picture having a glass of wine with and talking about how you may have accidentally-on-purpose thrown a remote at your husband last night because he forgot to tape The Bachelorette. Or how all your hair — no, but seriously: all of it — fell out six months after you gave birth. (Except for the hair on your legs; that’s holding on just fine, and you know that for a fact because you cannot for the life of you remember to shave it.) [This is a true excerpt from her book, fyi.]

I tore through it in just 3 nights. Then passed it on to a friend who is expecting her first child. It’s a super fun, entertaining read that also gets to the core of why motherhood can be so damn hard, heartbreaking, heartwrenching, and heartwarming at the same time.

Mother’s Day is around the corner. Know anyone expecting? Or a new mom? This is the gift to get them.

Here is my interview with Jordan about her book:

What inspired you to write a book?

I’ve wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember — since I was about four years old — but after I had my son in 2011 I realized that I had a lot to say about motherhood, and especially about the judgment that can so often color a new parent’s experience. Before I had my son, I would not have called myself a “maternal person” at all (and honestly, I still don’t know that I would; I mean, I adore my son, but I’m not one of those people who’s just awesome and natural and amazing around kids), and I was very, very nervous going into motherhood.

I was frightened that having a baby would take away some fundamental part of me, that I wouldn’t be able to recognize myself anymore once I was a Mom. But what I discovered is that having a baby changes a lot, but it doesn’t change everything. You can still do all those things — from wearing the clothing that makes you feel good to connecting with your partner to having a house that feels like a home instead of a Baby Zoo — all that you used to do “before”…but you just might have to be a little more creative, that’s all.

How would you sum up your book? Is it for expecting parents, new parents, old parents?

The advice in the book is tailored towards new moms, but really, the fashion, beauty, home decor, and entertaining tips are only a small part of the book. What Ramshackle Glam really is, is a memoir of motherhood, and I think that the stories about marital struggles, guilt over your parenting choices, and the challenges of making friends as a mom are things that every parent — young and old — can relate to.

What has been the hardest part of motherhood for you?  

For me, the hardest part of motherhood has been figuring out how to live in the moment, and to not worry too much about “how fast it goes.” I can’t tell you how much that stressed me out, hearing from everyone on the street, “Oh, it goes so quickly, they’ll be grown and gone before you know it!” But over time I’ve discovered that while of course you miss every stage when it passes…the stage that you’re in right this very moment is almost always the most fun and exciting of all.

What about pregnancy? Have the challenges changed from your first to second pregnancy? 

With pregnancy, I’d say the hardest thing for me the first time around was just wrapping my mind around what day-to-day life would look like a few months down the road…because I had no idea. I couldn’t fathom how I’d get my stroller up the stairs to my walk-up apartment, let alone how I’d actually, you know, raise a human being. And that’s part of why I wanted to write Ramshackle Glam, to let people who may feel similarly get a peek into what’s-to-come, and to know that yes, it’ll be hard…but it’ll also be okay. The best ever, actually.

With this pregnancy, the hardest thing has been the fact that there’s really no “chilling out and enjoying the experience.” There’s no downtime to rub oils on my skin or meditate on the life we’re bringing into the world or play classical music to my stomach or whatever it is that we did when we were expecting our son — I can’t even remember; it feels like a lifetime ago. So honestly, when this baby arrives it’s going to be a bit of a shock. Fortunately, we’re also a little more prepared this time around, so hopefully that will balance it out.

You are a woman who is all about how to funk up your style, your “glam”…how do you feel in this regard about having a daughter? 

You know, I actually wrote about this the other day because I had a few friends say to me something along the lines of, “you must be so excited to be having a girl!” And what they meant was that I must be excited about the girly stuff that comes with having a daughter…dresses and such. And of course I am excited about those things — I’ve certainly spent my share of time in Baby Gap over the past couple of months buying little cheetah-print outfits — but the truth is that while I certainly am looking forward to all the things that come along with having a daughter…what I’m most excited about doesn’t have anything to do with her gender at all.

She may be into dresses or she may be into board shorts or she may be into things I can’t even imagine, and all of that is just part of what makes having a child so exciting. I know that who I’m raising is not a “little girl,” but a person, and our experience as parent and child will be as individual as she is. The style stuff is fun, of course, but when it comes down to it the most important thing I can do — the only thing I can do, really — is to support my daughter and be there for her whoever she may be and wherever she may go.

How the hell do you have time to do your life? You seem like superwoman. Tell me your secret. 

Ha! Thank you. Does “constant, massive anxiety that propels you into action” count as a secret? That, and the fact that I keep obsessively detailed lists of every single thing in my life in my iPhone — that helps.

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I Said Coddlers Were Idiots. People Got Mad. Let Me Explain.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

It’s funny as to what strikes a chord of passion and/or fury when I write a blog. I’m always surprised at the parts in my post that people take issue with, agree with or despise. I can never predict. So it came as a total shock when someone alerted me that my Parents Who Coddle Are Idiots post went viral. I began looking at the countless comments and began to realize how my rant didn’t translate to a lot of people.  I can take the hatred in the comments. But I don’t like it when I’m not understood. However, that’s my bad for ranting, complete with profanity, and thus losing the main focus.

What resonated with a lot of people was my perceived lack of patience. I said a little boy wouldn’t give Emmett his toy back. I said it took the father asking him 3 times, and about 60 seconds to get exactly nowhere. It’s not a long time. But it became clear pretty quick that the scenario wasn’t going to change by asking asking asking. We could have stood there 10 minutes and probably gotten the same response (though I would hope that the parent would finally intervene. Who knows?)

The bigger point is that at this age and with toys/objects–frankly almost anything in societal norms– unless you are firm from the beginning, no 2-year-old is going to instinctively know what to do. A toddler won’t “want” to give something back or else he/she wouldn’t have grabbed it in the first place. If the child is raised with parents who ask, ask, plead, plead, with everything but don’t take charge, then guess what? That kid is always going to think they have a choice.  To hit, grab, steal, throw food, pull hair. This goes far beyond the playground. This is about parenting with clear rules and boundaries.

When I finally said, “Let’s give that back,” and gently took the toy from the little boy, he didn’t cry. He just went onto the next thing. I didn’t grab. I didn’t yell. I was nice. But I stated it instead of asking. I simply don’t see the harm in that. However, a lot of commenter’s said similar things to the one below:

…”What if a stranger prying the car out of his hands sent him into a meltdown? It would have been more appropriate for you to ask dad to grab it instead of you physically intervening.

Sure I could have asked the dad. And then maybe he would have asked his kid. Again. If the child had a meltdown, then I would have stepped back and let him deal with it. Frankly, I probably would have told him to just keep the toy. But that’s because I find myself all too often being the mom who backs down when other people’s kids aren’t behaving. Even on playdates when a child is being bratty to mine, I am almost always the one who says, “Fia, why don’t you go play in a different area,” etc. But I am sick of being the one who changes gears for the kids who are coddled. If their parents were more direct with them, it wouldn’t put me in this position. In this scenario, I found that by simply stating I wanted it back made for a very easy pass over. The toddler basically handed it and I took it. The reason it was so simple is most likely because he was told what to do.

I know from the comments, many of the people who “got” my post will know exactly what I’m talking about here. Seems like these people have had similar experiences as mine:

  • Excellent!!! I feel the same and what sucks are that bratty kids make it hard on the kids who have parents that “tell”" them what to do!!
  • I love this article and am glad to see that there are parents out there that are not afraid to be a parent. I am not my child’s friend nor do I intend to be. Say what you want but I NEVER have these problems with my kids because they respect what I say when I say it.
  • Love this!! Well said!!! Parents are parents first and friends later! It’s ok for your child to get mad at you. We are their adversary!! All these spoiled bratty whiny kids running around controlling their grown parents. It’s sad and pathetic really.

One commenter even directed me to a post she wrote about the type of parent to avoid at the playground.

From the time my kids could interact, I’ve tried to be clear and firm in sharing. I do it with love and I do it with patience. Sure there are times it doesn’t work, and of course it depends on the kid (and the parent). But my kids are not the grabbing type. They also listen really well and usually share really well (which their teachers consistently tell me. Emmett, my wild boy, apparently sits better than a bunch of 3-year olds in circle time).  They also have incredibly happy temperaments. I don’t think that’s just luck. I also think it’s cool my kids are so well behaved. Kids learn quickly to be polite, to share, to not hit, to not grab. They like rules. And order. I think parents who have kids who grab or don’t share, aren’t realizing how simple it is to teach your children basic etiquette. It may take a few tantrums and time-outs, but to me it’s been well worth it.

I hope this clarifies why my original post wasn’t a matter of being “more patient” or as some called me, “a bully.” I’ll wrap up with this woman’s comment:

How would it feel if they turned around and said YOU’RE not parenting right because you are impatient and don’t let your kids figure things out for themselves? 

I know exactly what I would do. I would tell them my kids do think for themselves. And what they think and know is that they don’t grab other people’s toys. And if they do, they give it back. Promptly. No “asking” required.

Find out what your parenting style is here.

Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep

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A New Workout That Fits

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

I failed in my initial New Year’s resolution to get in shape. My reasons were legit. But even when I tried to get back in the saddle, it was disastrous. A friend suggested Pop Physique. I was too lazy to look it up online. So I didn’t. Clearly my motivation was hitting a low. Then she sent me an email with a Groupon for the one in my neighborhood. You know how those Groupons are: HURRY OR YOU WILL MISS OUT FOR THE REST.OF.YOUR.LIFE. As Groupons usually do, the “sale” only lasted 24 hours. I nearly got divorced when I bought meat from a door-to-door salesman. I jump when under pressure. So of course the urgency of the Groupon made me bite. Luckily in this instance, the stars were aligned.

Before I wrote this blog I figured I should make sure Pop Physique is all over the country so if you feel inspired, you’ll check it out. However, it’s not. Only in Los Angeles. But don’t go WTF yet. I have another option for anyone who is interested. The Bar Method is apparently really similar, and that’s everywhere.

Pop Physique uses a small ball and light weights combined with repetition and small movements to basically kick your ass. Or abs. Or thighs. It’s hard, but there is no impact so I’m not worrying about injury while flailing myself around. There were times my limbs were shaking to the point that I wondered if my body was self-inducing a seizure. I was assured it was not and that this is normal.

The overall “technique” as they call it basically combines aspects of crossfit, yoga, boot camp, weight lifting and aerobics all in one. I think it’s nearly the perfect mom workout. The studio I went to was clearly founded and run by women. It was so organized and clean. They even offer childcare for some of the classes. The Bar Method might too. I was sweating but not dripping like I do in my loathed Bikram class. The stretching part at the ballet bar was great. It made me want a small ballet bar in my house. I’m already thinking it could be another solution to my evening mom blahs. I could stretch, and my monkey kids could hang. I am going to present it to Phil after a night where he has at least 2 glasses of wine…though I’m fairly certain he will say that me on a ballet bar without professional supervision will prove cataclysmic.

In the meantime I am committed to getting my pre-baby stomach back. Not to mention everything else. Hopefully it will help my slouchy posture too, which in turn helps my stomach. Too bad there’s no solution for shrunken post-baby boobs. Or at least no natural solution. Remember, I live in LA–land of the fake. But everything I’m doing is real. And that’s exciting–even if it’s well past the New Year.

 

Cartoon characters exercising via Shutterstock

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Toddler Question: How Do You Birth A Baby?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

My good friend Courtney is pregnant. When I was pregnant with Emmett, Fia was only 2 years old, so she didn’t really “get” what it all meant. In fact, the first time Fia came to the hospital and saw Emmett, she looked like she had been hit by a bus. Bewildered would be an understatement.

Now she’s 4 and can actually grasp the concept (perhaps too much) that her best friend Teddy is going to have a sister. The other night we were lying in bed. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Mom, how did the baby get in Courtney’s belly?”

“Well, Courtney and Brian and God (threw that in on the fly) made the baby,” I said.

“Mom, I know that,” Fia replied indignantly. “I mean, how did the baby actually get IN the belly?”

“Um, well, it’s hard to explain,” I stammered.

“Why is it hard to explain?” she persisted.

“It just is,” I said, hoping to change the subject.

“Well then how does the baby get out?”

Oh dear. My brain was being taxed on this one.

“Courtney pushes it out of her belly,” I said matter-of-factly. Then held my breath.

“She pushes it out???” Fia says quizzically. “Where does it come out?”

“Of her stomach,” I replied, knowing this conversation wasn’t getting any easier.

“But there isn’t a hole in her stomach!! Silly Mama,” she says.

At this point baby was put in a corner. As was I.

I had the choice to make something up–like the baby comes out of her bellybutton–or, try harder to change the subject, or explain all about Courtney’s vagina. The latter of which frankly felt a little weird.

I told her it was bedtime and we would talk about it another day. I think she was tired of not getting answers, so she let it go. For now.

I want to be as open as possible with my children. We don’t call her body parts a “lady bit” “minnie” or “vajayjay”. We don’t call Em’s a “willy” or a “wee wee.” We use vagina and penis. At first that felt strange to me. But in researching, they say it’s best to use the clinical name, for various reasons. One is to help prevent your child falling victim to a sexual predator. It indicates to these criminals that your child is comfortable with openly talking about their body parts, including sexual parts.

So when Fia was asking about Courtney’s future baby taking a trip down the canal, it’s not that I didn’t want to use the word vagina. It was more because I suspect it’s a hard-to-imagine concept. I didn’t want her to get freaked out by the power of the vag or start obsessing about how something other than pee could come out of it. Maybe I’m wrong on this. But you tell me. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the subject comes up again. I need to get my birthing bullet points  in order.

How tall will your little one be? Take our Height Predictor Quiz and find out.

Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas

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