Posts Tagged ‘ parenting ’

5 Problems With “Frozen” That Leave Me Cold and Confused

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

My friends who don’t have children relentlessly hurl sympathy at me like Angry Birds whenever the film is brought up.

“Ugh, I have no idea how you tolerate that stuff. I’d rather have my pockets stuffed with filets, be tethered and hung over a pack of hungry wolves.”

My friends can be pretty dramatic. But the crux of their argument holds water. They hate the idea of having to watch a movie written for children 200 times in a month. In fairness, who would want to do such a thing? But many of us do it to please our kids, despite how unnerving it can be to grow so familiar with a movie you can’t stand. It’s like knowing all the lyrics to a Ke$ha song. You know it’s nothing to be proud of, but it’s infected your psyche, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

With that said, I am going to admit something I probably shouldn’t…but I love “Frozen!” I love the songs, I love that cute little snowman Olaf, and I love that it exists in a “happily ever after” world when there is so much about the real world to bring us down. And my wife and two young sons love it even more. However, I’m crying foul on a handful of scenes that just make no sense to me at all. I realize it’s a movie. But bear with me as I go over some off-putting aspects of “Frozen” that I simply cannot ignore any longer. If you’re a parent of young kids who miraculously has avoided the film so far, this post will include plenty of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

  • Why doesn’t Elsa just TELL Anna that she has special powers that could kill her?

This is easily the part of the film I have the biggest problem with. Elsa nearly whacked Anna when they were children, so Grand Pappy, the magical troll, removes the ice from her head and also conveniently removes all memories of her sister Elsa’s magic. So, their parents’ solution is to keep Elsa locked in a room for years, away from anyone she might accidentally murder. Seems about right. Except for the fact that they could have easily told Anna, “Listen, honey, Elsa has this problem where she might inadvertently freeze your face off if you touch her.” Seems like a normal conversation between daughter and parent to me.

  • Why is Hans suddenly a sociopath?

He’s the perfect gentleman for 75 minutes, then all of a sudden…BOOM. He’s Christian Bale in American Psycho. I get it. They were trying to make him as detestable as possible, so viewers would know who the bad guy was. But if this movie was trying to move away from traditional fairy tale norms, they could have just had Anna tell Hans, “Look, we were drunk. It was stupid. I don’t know your last name. Thanks for taking care of Arendelle and all that crap. But it’s time to leave.”

  • How does Elsa not know Olaf’s name?

When Anna finally reaches the ice castle and approaches Elsa, everyone’s new favorite snowman, Olaf enters the scene. Elsa is perplexed by this. “Olaf?” she wonders aloud, as if she had never seen him before. SHE MADE HIM. And if you’re going to tell me that this is the same snowman she made when they were kids and that’s why she doesn’t remember, why wasn’t Olaf talking in that original scene? Did he only develop speaking skills later in life, like a baby? This is all very confusing. Elsa birthed Olaf and should damn well know his name. What kind of sorceress is she?

  • If Grand Pappy was taking a nap, how did he know about Elsa striking Anna’s heart?

For an old guy, Grand Pappy is quite mentally spry. He emerges from a snooze to tell Anna he can’t help her with the “ice in her heart put there by her sister.” How did he know about that? Did he just guess by looking at her? Or did he look in his crystal ball and was already aware? And if that’s the case, WHY WAS HE TAKING A NAP WHEN SOMEONE WAS DYING?! Grand Pappy needs to reassess his priorities. The guys sleeps way too much during crises.

  • So, Arendelle welcomes back a Queen who abandoned the city under duress, practices sorcery, and left them all to die in a tundra?

I know it wasn’t intentional and all, but I’d consider moving to a neighboring community if my head of state was throwing ice at people and suddenly changed the temperature from 80 to 20 degrees while I was wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts.

In closing, yes, I understand that it’s a movie. And yes, that doesn’t change things.

Does anyone else have a kid’s movie with questionable storyline decisions that bug you? I want to hear them! Add your comment below, tweet me here or email me at jdeprospero@gmail.com.

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The Moment I Realized I Shouldn’t Force Football on My Son

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

We all do it. Every last one of us has interests, passions that we either hope our children will gravitate toward, or we flat out force on them. Family traditions, sports, fashion trends. All things we often unknowingly (or knowingly) push down the throats of our kids without consideration of their own preferences. But we still do it, because at our core, we are self-serving creatures with a relentless desire to recreate our own childhood, or to produce a new shopping partner or drinking buddy in 20 years.

I’m a New York Jets fan. It does not feel good to write that. Actually, it feels like admitting that I eat processed cheese out of a spray can. But like most dads, I bolted to pick up a Size N jersey when my first son, Antonio was born. “Look, he’s officially my child. He’s branded now,” I thought to myself. The fact that it was a Tim Tebow jersey made the moment that much more sadly fitting.

Over the next several years, he was given a Jets helmet, blanket, t-shirt, not all by me, but I certainly didn’t resist the continuation of the branding process. Then, this season started, and it became clear to me pretty quickly that my son was ready to be molded into a fan. When I turned on the Jets-Bills game last Sunday at 1:00, he joined me on the couch, and he seemed legitimately interested in the game, at least for a while. He predicted Jets to win 20-17 over our inter-conference foe. I was fairly sure he was wrong, but his clueless optimism was actually quite refreshing. He had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Any football fan knows the Jets’ season has been a complete and utter disaster, from top to bottom. And I’m one of those fans who lets it get to him. Moping around, grimacing, refusing eye contact. It’s utterly exhausting, and equally embarrassing. I’m a grown man who actually allows the outcome of a sporting event affect my mood.

As expected, the Jets lost, and lost big, their record falling to a dismal 1-7. If you don’t believe me, ask Mike Francesa. I sat there, despondent, silent. Antonio asked if the Jets lost, and I told him they did. Then, I saw something that made me feel physically ill. He slumped down in his seat and grunted, “Oh maaaaaan.” He was noticeably disappointed. Most people say that he resembles my wife, but in that moment, he looked more like me than he ever had before. And it made me sad. Very sad.

“Come here, honey.” I said to him. “It’s okay if you like to watch football with daddy. And it’s okay if you don’t. But one thing I need you to know is that we shouldn’t let a silly game make us sad. Daddy won’t do that anymore, and neither should you.” He nodded solemnly, I turned off the television, and we preceded to play “store” with his cash register.

I made two mistakes here. For one, I unabashedly thrust my own personal interests on my son, hoping he’d develop an interest and football would be something we could bond over in the coming years. Secondly, I showed him with my actions that the outcome of a game can and should affect you personally. I tried my best to quell that assumption, but we’ll see if he listens.

Later that night, when the subject of football came up once more, as much as it pained me to let go of the dream of sharing a fandom with my son, I encouraged him to find his own team (assuming he continued to have interest in the game), and that it could be whichever team he wants. He chose the Pittsburgh Steelers. While I’m not thrilled it’s an AFC team, at least it’s not the Patriots. That would break my heart. But what would break my heart the most is if I condemned my son to the same miserable, hapless allegiance that I’ve fruitlessly clung to all these years.

So, if you have a hobby or interest you’d like your child to get involved with, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with introducing them to it, as long as the downside doesn’t outweigh the good. And they don’t turn out to be bitter Jets fans.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to contact me at jdeprospero@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

Image: Football photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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The Benefits of Raising Bilingual Babies

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Group of multiethnic babiesAn interesting study has determined that babies who grow up in diverse neighborhoods are more likely to be open-minded and to interact with people of different cultures and races. (No real surprise there, right?) Plus, not only can raising babies in multicultural areas likely help them develop tolerance, compassion, and empathy for others, but babies are also exposed to other languages — a bonus because they have the opportunity to learn a foreign language.

And studies through the years have pointed out the benefit of raising bilingual babies. Bilingual babies are better creative thinkers and they have sharper brain functions — in fact, learning a foreign language helps babies improve verbal and problem-solving skills, which come in handy when they begin taking tests in school. A more recent study on bilingual babies further supports this fact, by showing that babies who learn a different language around 6 months seem to learn and process information faster.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences studied 114 babies around 6-months old; each baby was repeatedly shown the same image to gauge their response to it. The babies growing up in bilingual households or surroundings got bored more quickly when shown the same image repeatedly, and they were likely to move on to a new image. This indicated that babies who are still learning to distinguish two vocabularies and languages have increased cognitive development to process differences (like images) faster. Although the research focused on a small sample size in a specific geographical region, the study confirmed an advantage of learning more than one language.

Growing up, I was immersed in a bilingual environment — I spoke English at school and Mandarin at home, alternating between the two languages seamlessly or substituting Chinese vocabulary I didn’t know with English words. Although my neighborhood wasn’t multicultural, being exposed to two languages certainly helped me see the value of learning a foreign language — if only to expand communication and improve translation skills, understand the nuances of different verbal expression, and open up ways to understand others of different backgrounds.

Within the past few years, as more and more parents realize the advantages of preparing baby for an increasingly global world, they have started to enroll their kids in foreign language classes — starting as early as preschool! — with the hope that having them learn Chinese or learn Spanish will give them an edge and a better sense of the world later in life. But making sure kids are practicing and speaking a different language on a daily basis is just as important, so they can speak the language better and remember vocabulary. From middle school to high school, I also took French classes, but it was difficult to become fluent because I didn’t speak it daily outside of school. And by the time I got to college to learn how to read and write Chinese, those lessons really didn’t stick with me beyond the classroom. So there’s no doubt that the younger the kids are, the more likely they’ll have an easier time retaining another language (or two!) faster — which is just another positive reason why parents should consider raising babies in environments with cultural and linguistic diversity.

Imagine this: if every child has the opportunity to learn a foreign language, just imagine a future where everyone understands each other just a little better!

More related features on Parents.com:

 

Image: Group of multiethnic babies via Shutterstock

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Pearls from the Diamond

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

kid playing baseballEditor’s Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

For baseball parents, those whose kids either play the game or are fans, October is huge—it’s the month for the Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series. The bright spotlight October shines on baseball’s finest teams and players also “loads the bases” for teaching moments.

I’ll never forget the cloudless Colorado Saturday afternoon 16 years ago that found our 10-year old son at shortstop when a line drive off the bat struck his team’s pitcher square on the face. As the boy crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain and bleeding from his nose and mouth, our son and his teammates all rushed to the mound and surrounded their stricken pitcher. We in the bleachers collectively gasped in horror, and then I and another doctor-parent ran onto the field to stem the bleeding and send someone to call an ambulance (yes, this was during the Jurassic Period before many of us carried cell phones).

As the other young players sifted through the pebbles for our pitcher’s presumed missing teeth, our son backed away from the crowd, shaking. He slowly sat down on the infield dirt, desperately trying not to throw up from the sight of his good friend—and his friend’s blood and teeth—now lying motionless on the ground.

The ambulance was there in minutes and our pitcher was whisked away (he went on to make a full recovery, although he needed a tooth implant). But it’s what happened after the ambulance left that changed our son’s life. As he was hyperventilating, his back to home plate and his head between his legs, the coach patted him on the head and matter-of-factly told him to quickly warm up because he would be the new pitcher. Despite his love of pitching, when the coach broke the news, our son looked like he had been the one hit with the baseball. Somehow, he rallied, got his legs back, and took the hill.

My son is all grown up now, a lawyer, and married. But in the years since replacing his injured friend on the mound, there hasn’t been a hurdle or challenge he’s faced when he didn’t call upon that little league moment to find strength and courage.

Embedded in kids’ passions are priceless parenting moments. We were lucky because our kids loved anything that bounced, and sports have always brought forth metaphors for life. But lessons abide in everything kids undertake with commitment, from art, writing, music and theater, to math, science, technology, and history. Commitment itself is an important message for kids. Parents needn’t wait for dramatic episodes like ours to teach life lessons.

Sticking with my October World Series theme, baseball offers mundane but meaningful teaching moments every inning. A runner leading off from base learns to balance risk and reward. A called third strike teaches the consequences of inaction and missed opportunity. Batting averages prove success in life doesn’t require perfection—after all, the great hitters in baseball, those who hit “300,” still get out 70% of the time. Standing in the “on deck circle” reminds kids to learn from others’ experiences, while the fielder in the “ready position” reaps the rewards of forming good habits. “Calling for” a pop fly ball requires taking responsibility for a task, and then following through. The sacrifice bunt…well that’s obvious, as is “backing up” teammates on throws and ground balls. These will all be on display on the national stage this month.

And then, when you’ve passed enough wisdom on to your kids for one evening, pop some popcorn, cuddle on the sofa with your little ballplayers, and enjoy the best baseball of the season.

How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer

Dr. Harley RotbartDr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of four books for parents and families, including No Regrets Parenting and 940 Saturdays. He is also a Parents advisor and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

Image via Shutterstock

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The 5 Important Things I Realized While Trying to Fit in “Adult Time”

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

As parents, we’ve all been there. Wearing an undersized Spiderman mask or princess tiara and throwing on the best character voice we can muster after an 11-hour work day, we silently count the minutes till bedtime when we can finally unwind and enjoy a moment of silence (with a few glasses of something to accentuate the silence). Then, it happens. You’ve reached the point in your day when it’s so quiet, you can hear the hum of the air conditioning unit, a car honking its horn two distant blocks away. And you just breathe. Maybe you flip to your favorite TV show or set your fantasy football lineup (speaking for myself, personally). But after a while, something doesn’t feel quite right. You find yourself instinctively changing the channel to Nick Jr., using words like “poop” and “silly goose.” You come to the frightening conclusion that, like it or not, parenthood has invaded your psyche in every imaginable way. But then you realize something else; you realize that spending time with your kids yields more smiles than the time without them.

Here are some of the most significant reasons I’ve noticed hanging out with my kids is often more rewarding than “adult time.”

Children ask innocent, sometimes insane questions.

While poker with the guys is fun, do any of your friends ever ask you deep, eyebrow-raising questions like, “What does 4:00 mean?” or “What do squirrels do when they’re bored?” Doubtful. A child’s mind is a cornucopia of wonder and curiosity. They want to know things, ALL the things. And they keep us on our toes. I can guarantee you I’ve laughed harder and longer at one of my son’s questions than at any of my friends’ fart jokes.

They make you feel smart, even if you’re not.

I can list a great number of positive outcomes of me hanging out with friends, but “they make me feel smart” is not one of them. My kids, on the other hand, look to me like I’m the gatekeeper of all wisdom. They seek my guidance on everything from the creation of the ocean to the science behind fogged-up windows. While my sons will certainly become aware of my intellectual limitations once their math homework evolves beyond 10 + 4, it’s a hell of a confidence booster to be looked upon as all-knowing, even when we’re making half of it up.

When they eat ice cream and throw balls around, so do you.

Before I had kids, my days of devouring Ben and Jerry’s and playing with balls were at least a decade behind me. Now? Almost every day, there’s an opportunity to partake in one of the two. And really, who doesn’t want those kinds of opportunities? That goes double for bouncy houses. I can’t see one without “accidentally” tumbling into it.

Kids aren’t jaded yet.

There are no bills, no wars, and no stress other than determining which pair of pajamas to wear to bed. Children haven’t yet been exposed to the evils of life, and they see every day as an opportunity to cram in as much fun as possible. You can’t say the same about most employed adults.

It awakens your imagination.

Perhaps the most important benefit of all is that there are truly no limits to your imagination when you’re in the company of a child. Could that Batman action figure be riding your iPhone like a car to get to the kitchen to stop The Joker from stealing Batman’s meatballs (which are played by marbles, by the way)? Sure, why not? It sparks your creativity and forces you to flex mental muscles you never knew you had. Try using personification with your drinking buddies and they’d likely cut off your supply of beer and dial up a psychiatrist.

Does anyone else have a perk of engaging with their children rather than adults that they’d like to share? If so, please add it in the comments section below or tweet me! And please check out more parenting articles I’ve written for the Huffington Post.

If you haven’t seen it, check out my “Parental Guidance” video where I show you what it would look like if I behaved like my son! It’s rather outrageous.

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