Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

I’m sure that the new GUM Star Wars toothbrush – the one that lights up like a lightsaber and flashes for one minute  – (the length of time you should brush upper teeth, with another minute for the lowers) was intended for little kids.  But my nearly twelve year old son loves the thing.  His father does, too.  But that’s another story.

The cool new toothbrushes from GUM come as electric rotary brushes in the shape of Star Wars characters, as the light-up lightsabers, and as character brushes featuring Yoda, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vadar and more.  And if they might help him brush – forget longer — how about brush at all – I’m all for ’em.

Plus, I love their video:


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boy with appleMy daughter came home from school the other day with a very important question: “Why would anyone call a vagina a p***y?”

“Where did you hear that word?” I wanted to know.

“Puberty Ed.”

The fifth graders at my kids’ uber-expensive private school have started what used to be called Sex Ed, but is now called Puberty Ed (evidently, it’s OK to teach the kids the word “p***y” but not to use the word Sex), and a big part of the curriculum, it seems, is telling the names of things.

“We learn the medical term, the slang term, and the vulgar term.”

Well, then.

“You know what else they call it, Mommy?  A c***! And did you know that the F-word means sex?”

That’s it! Too much for me!

I’m all for sex ed.  I wrote a post a while back about not telling my kids the facts of life because I didn’t think they were ready to hear them.  But when they were old enough,(for them, that was age 9), I did tell them. I’m not a prude, or squeamish about the subject. I want my kids – my daughter especially – to feel comfortable with their own sexuality.  I want them not to think of sex as dirty or shameful.  What I don’t want, is for them to be learning the words p**** and c*** in school.  From their teachers.

Here’s how it works: the teachers explain the “real” words for the reproductive and sexual organs, the sexual act and various and sundry other words having to do with puberty.  Then they ask the kids what words they know.  And it turns out, they know A LOT of words.

I know that I can’t protect my kids from foul language forever.  And maybe it is better for them to learn the words in a safe environment, where they can understand how they’re different from the “real” words, and why they shouldn’t be used.  But maybe not.  Maybe learning those words in school somehow validates the words themselves.  I think the theory is that letting the kids say the words in a controlled, monitored classroom environment takes away their clandestine thrill. But I’m wondering if all it does is teach them bad words.

I like that school has taught my ten year olds what’s about to happen to their bodies.  I like that the whole process of how babies are made has been de-mystified and de-giggle-fied for them.  But language is a powerful thing.  Words matter.  They don’t teach them bad grammar so they know what good grammar is. They don’t learn the N-word during Black History Month,  or the K-word during the unit on the Holocaust.  Teaching words like those – and like the ones my kids learned at school this week – only perpetuates their use.

It might be naïve to think that simply by not teaching kids bad, demeaning, prejudicial or offensive language that language will just go away.  But wouldn’t it be a nice goal? Wouldn’t it be nice to try?

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Imagine if there was a battle between Batman, (the caped crusader) and Nancy Drew, (the girl detective) Who would win?

Depends on what the fight was.

If they were vying on a brawn-only basis, Batman. Brains? Nancy Drew.

But if you asked my ten year old twins who would win – then you’d have a real battle.  Because when it comes to electronic games, boys see things one way, and girls, another.

See, my son LOVES the new Batman game  for Wii Batman: The Brave and the Bold the Videogame (full disclosure – I received a free review copy, he played it.)  I was impressed with how it looks less like a game and more like the actual cartoon…uh, excuse me, animated series. (seriously – when did it become a bad thing for kids to like cartoons?) My son likes the story, he loves the graphics, he thinks it’s easier to learn than some of the other, more complicated games I’ve gotten for review.

My daughter.  Not so much.  It’s not that she doesn’t like it, it’s just that she’d rather play her new PC-based game, recently released for Nancy Drew’s 80th (!) anniversary (and yet she still looks so young! how does she do it?!) Nancy Drew, Secrets Can Kill. (also a free review copy) My daughter doesn’t care much for battle games.  She never says the six most dreaded words a mother trying to get her son to go to bed ever hears: “Let me just beat this level.”  She likes that the Nancy Drew game allows her to solve puzzles – not just fight her way out of things.  She likes that there’s a main character who’s a girl. And I like that the girl characters in this electronic game (unlike so many others) aren’t built like porn stars. (more…)

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Pirate cutout Not too long ago, I went on a cleaning binge.  One of the things I threw out was a poster-sized blow up of a picture of me from my wedding.  My husband had blown up pictures from several different stages of my life to decorate the room in which he threw me a surprise 40th birthday party.  The party now being mymble-farrumph years ago, it seemed time to toss the giant blow up of my face.

The porter in our building, however, didn’t see it that way.  He could not throw it away.  First, he brought it back to our door. “You must have thrown this out by mistake,’ he said, handing it back to me. I assured him that, no, I just didn’t really want a giant blown up picture of myself.  Still, he couldn’t throw it away.  It just seemed wrong to him, he said. It was my wedding picture.  He kept it in the building’s staff room for months until one of the other doormen finally got tired of looking at me, and threw it away himself.

And now, as my parents contemplate selling their country home, and I go about cleaning out the rooms in which my children have spent every summer since they were born, (and my family has spent every summer for the past 25 years) I know just how he felt.  I don’t really WANT  four hundred and ninety-seven scribbles drawings from my twins’ second summer at the house, but somehow, it seems wrong to throw them away.

Let me first say, I am not a hoarder.  And not: I am not a hoarder in the creepy “yes I really am a hoarder I’m just so far gone that I don’t know it” way that the real hoarders on that A&E show mean it.  I’m really not.

Two or three times a year, I have my kids go through their toys and saved school work, and together, we do “keep or throw.”  We’ve gotten rid of LOTS of things that way.  And given away a lot, too. “Throw,” more often than not mean “give away.”  My wardrobe is in constant overhaul mode.  Anything I haven’t worn in two years is OUT. I regularly go through the medicine cabinet and toss anything that’s out of date. Getting rid of things is not the problem.

It’s just getting rid of these things.

There’s the pink bathing suit and coverup set my daughter wore the summer she was two.  I’ll never forget her strolling onto the patio with it on and then carefully taking off the robe, thinking for a moment, then taking off the bathing suit, and finaly heading into the bow-up kiddie pool.

I know I’ll always have the memory.  But I kinda want to have the suit, too.

Or what about the endless paintings my kids did in their summer at the Parrish Museum Art Camp.  This being The Hamptons, my then five year olds didn’t just paint, oh no, they went to visit Jackson Pollack’s house, and then went back to camp and made paintings inspired by his work. Seriously.

I can’t throw those away.

There are the “Welcome Home Daddy” signs they made, and then took to the train station, where they stood on the platform, he in his pirate costume, she in her tutu,(that’s them in the picture) waiting for Daddy to come out to country after working all week in the city.

There are finger paintings, and birdhouses, and bath toys, and doll strollers.

And it all brings back so much that I can’t bring myself to give it away.

Of course I know it’s ridiculous.  I know I can’t hold on to their babyhood forever.  But maybe, just maybe, I can hold on to the physical evidence of their babyhood just a little bit longer.  And maybe then, if I’m really lucky, they’ll stay my babies a little bit longer too.

Original Post to NYC Moms Blog.

Nancy Friedman write about momming, aging, and her 20 year quest to lose same ten pounds, at From  Hip to Housewife.

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So sleepaway camp was supposed to be for four weeks.

Four weeks of no tooth brushing, rare showering, mediocre (at best) food, and fun fun fun.   For them. I’m talking about them.

For me, those four weeks went almost exactly the way a friend of mine told me they would:

week 1 – I was tearing up every time I walked past their picture

week 2 – still sad, but feeling better

week 3 – starting to enjoy my freedom

week 4 – Whoo hoo!  Party!  And the end is in sight! My babies are coming home!

Only they didn’t.  Come home, that is.  They begged and begged almost from the first day they got to camp to stay the full season: seven weeks.  And I said no and no and no and no.  I want them with me.  I want to have a summer vacation with my kids.  I want to watch their tennis improve – not just hear about it. I want to serve them mediocre food.

And then I noticed something.  All of my reasons for not wanting them to stay started with “I.”  And camp isn’t about me, it’s about them. Plus, my husband was perfectly OK with them staying.

So I said yes. And we drove up there for visiting day and got to see them.  It was great.  Only now I have to start all over again…

Week One…..

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In fourteen days, my kids will leave for sleepaway camp.  You’d think I’d be excited.  They are going to have this incredible experience, make lifelong friends, enjoy the mountains, and a lake, and the camaraderie that’s practically exclusive to being at camp.

You’d think I’d be looking forward to having some time alone with my husband.  To enjoying evenings out without worrying about a babysitter. To getting to read the paper on the actual day it comes out. (Most of my news comes to me in the back seat of a cab!) To not having to say “brush your teeth, have you had a shower lately” or “how did a cream cheese sandwich end up under your bed?”

Well, I’m not doing that. Me, being me after all, well all I’m doing is bursting into tears every five minutes.

I guess I’m selfish.  I don’t want them to leave me.  My husband keeps on telling me that they’ll be fine.  I know they‘ll be fine.  They’ll be great.  I’m the one I’m worried about.  Since I have twins, they’re both leaving me at once.  And so, being me again, I start to think about when they’ll leave me emotionally – when they both start to care way more about their friends then they do about me – at the same time. I think about when they’ll leave me intellectually, when they’ll both start to think they know everything and their father and I know nothing — at the same time.  When they’ll  leave me  physically to go to college — at the same time.

At the same time – I’m happy for them.  I am. I loved camp and I know they will too.  I’m just sad for me.  Because it isn’t just that they’re leaving for camp.  It’s that they’re old enough to leave for camp.  It’s that this is just the beginning of them really, truly becoming independent and separating from me.  Which is healthy, and wonderful, and what a parent hopes their child will do.

And kind of wishes will never happen.

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My son patiently explained that when a baby was growing inside of it’s mother, it got all of it’s nourishment from the Polenta.

Perhaps Puberty Education (the new p.c. way of saying sex education) isn’t quite working out.

For years, when my kids asked where babies came from, I told them the truth: they didn’t want to know. And you know what?  They didn’t.  They watched National Velvet and practically fainted when they realized where the baby foal was coming from in the opening scene. I told them that before they were babies they were “ingredients.”  Then after a while I told them the proper names of the ingredients.  And last summer, when they were nine, I told them the rest of it.

They didn’t want to know.

My daughter wanted to know if there were some other way to have babies.  Like maybe how gay people got their babies.  (this is NY – a kid with two dads isn’t news to her.)  My son decided he’s never getting married.

Think maybe I told them too soon?

And I wasn’t the only one.  In puberty ed last week, the teacher brought in a tampon, unwrapped it, showed them how the applicator worked, then doused the thing with water to show how big it got and how absorbent it was.

Oh – and that was in my son’s class.

Why, I ask you, did he need to know that?  At ten?  My husband is almost 50 and he still doesn’t know that much about tampons.

I do want my kids to hear the truth.  I don’t want them to think sex is weird or bad or dirty. I don’t want them to be freaked out by the changes in their bodies. They should be prepared, understand the biology. But maybe TMI is having an effect on them. I’m worried it’s freaking them out, upsetting them, making them more uncomfortable in their bodies rather than less.

So how do you know what to tell them when?  I sure don’t.  Books can help. Friends. Teachers. (Except when they’re showing your kid a tampon!)  But really, it’s you who knows your kid best. I might have misjudged their readiness to know about the facts of life, but I knew how to tell them.  I’m their mother, it should come from me — not from some kid on the playground. But I also know my limits, and when the time comes that my kids are thinking about sex, and birth control, and STDs.  Well, I’m gonna go to the experts.

This months SVMOMS book club pick is The Body Scoop for Girls, by Jennifer Ashton. It’s a comprehensive guide to adolescence, changes in your body, and overall wellness.  And I’m definitely gonna need it.  (it’s gonna be my expert) This post was inspired by the book.

[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this post, for which no editorial guidelines were set.  I received no other compensation.]

If you liked this post, please share the love! (not in a puberty ed sort of way!)

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