Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Catchin’ Up: Kid Liars, Breastfeeding in the Funny Pages, Going Green and More

New York Magazine has been on a roll lately. They’ve been producing one provocative parenting piece after another. The latest was a recent cover story about why kids lie to their parents. And they do. Lie. All the time. (Without impugning anyone specific, I can say that I speak from experience on this subject.)

I felt great despair as I read through the article, wondering what, if anything, can be done about pint-sized tellers of tall tales . . . until I arrived at the end of the piece and found some pointers which included:

-- Don’t dissuade your kids from tattling because they’ll internalize the message that they can’t come to you with their problems. This will become habitual and, when they’re teens they won’t tell you one of their buddies has been getting loaded every weekend. Or driving drunk. Or other delightful stories.

-- As maddening as it may be, the article says, let your kids argue their points, even if you have no intention of giving into their demands: “In families where there was less deception . . . there was a much higher ratio of arguing and complaining. The argument enabled the child to speak honestly. Certain types of fighting, despite the acrimony, were ultimately signs of respect – not of disrespect.”

So when my Eldest Son is bitterly complaining about how I’m on a multi-year campaign to ruin his life and embarrass him with my mere existence, I can take comfort in the fact that by letting him prattle on, I’m encouraging him to, according to the article, be more honest?

Breastfeeding in the Funny Pages

The “Stone Soup” comic recently had a storyline featuring a new mom who was discretely nursing her baby at a restaurant and was asked to leave because her breastfeeding offended the man who was “nuzzling a buxom bimbo half his age.” Kudos to cartoonist Jan Eliot. Keep fighting the good fight.

Going Green

Ever since my children commenced their formal education, I’ve been on an anti-paperwork kick, frequently complaining that I feel as if I'm under an unrelenting siege from school paper with which I absolutely cannot keep up, no matter how many dead presidents I waste on containers and organizers.

My February Parents and Kids column was yet another volley in my anti-paper campaign, where I lament how my kids’ schools had been resistant to the notion of going paperless and hadn’t been accepting of the notion of sending me school notices, permission slips, et al, by e-mail, so they don’t wind up in massive, scary piles on my kitchen counter.

I have good news to report: The unnamed PTO president who I mention in the piece -- who unsuccessfully argued my point to the school department this fall -- called me after reading the column and told me that there’s been a change of heart at the school. The day will be coming, she promised me, when the school will cease and desist with sending home three copies of the announcement that Friday is Aloha Day and that I’ll get ONE e-mail informing me of the mirth and frivolity at my children’s institutions of learning.

So if you feel overwhelmed by your child's school paperwork, take up the cause and make the case to your school district to go paperless. Print out the column and tell ‘em it CAN be done. Your cluttered kitchen counters will thank you.

Lenton Cash

During Lenton season every year, my interfaith household takes on the task of either giving something up or promising to do something for the greater good during the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. This year, as I did last year, I’ve said I’d try to give up swearing and saying “bad” words (to the kids, “bad” words include: Darn, damn, stupid, dumb and the obviously blue language that occasionally *cough* slips past my lips, even when the kids are out of earshot, such as when I'm driving to work solo and am trapped behind a horrifically slow motorist). When I make a mistake, as humans are apt to do, I must deposit a quarter into a jar. At the end of Lent, we’re going to donate the money to our church.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. The jar is embarrassingly full. At least the church should be happy.

Letting the Kids Play

The New York Times ran a fascinating piece in their Sunday magazine this past weekend about the value of children’s free play time. Though it suggests that there’s no hard, scientific evidence that giving children the opportunity to play is a sure-fire ticket to future success, it does raise some interesting points. Well worth the read.

Read This

Humorist Christie Mellor has a very funny, spot-on essay detailing why you shouldn’t abandon who you are and suddenly don an angelic, Sancti-Mommy halo the minute you become a parent. It’s cleverly entitled, “Chardonnay Swilling Whore.” Not for the faint of heart. Or those who are easily offended.

(Image from Stone Soup.)

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