Sunday, September 9, 2012

Potty on the Go? Um....NO!!!

If you had any reason to hit up a search engine for potty training info within the last week, you were sure to find the latest parenting goof, resulting in gasps heard around the world, before finding any tutorial advice.

By "goof", I'm being polite. 

Last week, in Utah, a mom decided it would be far more convenient for herself to bring potty chairs in place of booster seats, and to potty train her two young girls right at the table of a bustling deli while they ate their lunch.  I'm not kidding. 

Check it out here.

At first my reaction was just sheer shock and disbelief.  I wasn't going to even write about it because everyone else was covering it and voicing their own opinions. The more it sat, however, pun-intended, the more it bothered me for reasons I haven't yet heard in the media.

Public health issues aside, I think this mom is really selfish.  I don't mean because she is interfering with the lunches of many, or disrupting the ten suits at a business meeting two tables over. I think she is robbing those two little girls of learning social norms, and not permitting them the privacy for which they are entitled. Potty training is more than physicality.  It is about preparing our kids to be appropriate, teaching modesty and dignity, and most of all, creating an environment where kids can feel important and take pride in a monumental accomplishment.  It is an opportunity to make our kids feel special, not be gawked at by the pastrami-on-rye eater two feet away (Did I mention the girls weren't dressed?)

Why would a parent do this?  Because it is easier and more convenient for HER? 

Now I get that there are people out there who will oppose the whole modesty and dignity part of my argument because they believe kids should be proud of their bodies and not forced pre-maturely into modesty. That's fine...but not in a public restaurant, and not while sitting on a potty chair. And why while they are eating?  I don't care if you are in public or in the privacy of your own home, I've never heard of teaching table manners and potty training simultaneously.  Maybe that's just me.

What do you think?  Am I off my rocker here?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Are The World: Nostalgic Sentiment and Motherly Pride

I grew up in the eighties. Unlike some, I really loved that decade, especially the music.  I still love it.  One song in particular takes me waaaayyy back, and makes me happy...moves me even.

"We Are The World" was a compilation of all the great singers/songwriters of the time.  It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones.  The idea was to bring together a huge number of incredibly talented and famous artists, and create a record that would sell across all demographics to raise money for humanitarian aid in Africa.  It worked.  That single raised over 63 million dollars in 1984.

There was a video of the song, taped during the recording session, that played on MTV over and over (back when MTV played strictly videos and was hosted by V-jays), now you can see it here on YouTube.  Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Hall and Oates, Duran Duran, Bono, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen,Paul Simon,Kenny Rogers,Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson...and on and on and on...

The trend to help Africa continued in the summer of 1985 with Live Aid...a completely different scene, a global effort to have live performances coincide all over the world to help end hunger in Ethiopia.  That was the first time I cried watching Bono and U2 onstage (wouldn't be the last) this day my favorite band of all time.

There was just something about growing up with all of that music on a mission. Not only were we in love with our rock stars, but they made us care about more than big hair and leg warmers.  They opened up our eyes to the rest of the world.

So imagine 25 years later, in a darkened auditorium, 100 student performers close their summer show with a rendition of "We Are The World".  Leading a kids cast of 2nd-5th graders, my son sauntered slowly down the aisle toward the stage.  At the top of the steps, he entered into the pool of stage light just as the chorus began to boom, "We are the world, we are the children".  My son's voice bellowed out the song, joining in with the older cast...heartfelt for him too, just in a different way.

I didn't expect to be emotional.  I knew the song was coming, had heard bits of it during rehearsal.  This was the first time, though, I had ever heard Sam sing it, seen him sing it, especially while wearing his USA for Africa tee shirt. I get misty just thinking about it.

The mixture of nostalgic sentiment and motherly pride is powerful stuff.  I am so happy my son had the opportunity to learn about the song, learn what it meant to so many. More than that, it was so nice to have this very special moment with him, a musical and emotional connection from my past to his present.

(Cheap Plug:  Sam is a member of Saline Varsity Blues.  Go to for more info.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Scary Clown Idea Goes Too Far

This is not Dominic Deville.  Click on the link to see the person from the article.
It is true.  You can now hire a scary clown to threaten, torment and completely freak out your child for their birthday.  Dominic Deville is a professional clown. He's not the happy, floppy, sunshiny, rainbow and balloons kind of clown, however, his MO is to scare your kids half to death.  Happy Birthday!

This is a true story.  The week of your child's special day, Mr. Deville promises to leave messages for your child in the form of scary notes, texts, and emails.  He will tell them they are being watched, and that soon he will get them, or they will be attacked when they least expect it. After stalking your child, when he finds the time is right, he will hit them in the face with a birthday cake.  Ta-da! What a hoot!

Honestly?  Do we not remember the clown doll in Poltergeist that kept us from sleeping at night? I have an idea of what kind of parent would go for this kind of thing, but that is a whole other blog. 

Maybe the target audience here is for teens? I'll have to ask my 16 year old if he thinks this would be funny.  The idea is not to tell them they are being set up.  How many days do you think a kid will be stressing out looking over his shoulder before he brings it up to his parents?

In full disclosure, Mr. Deville states in the article that he absolutely backs off if kids get too scared or if parents ask.  By then isn't the damage already done? If the mission is completed, I have a hard time believing that the cake in the face at the end of the week will erase the terror that took place prior.

I'm always surprised when I see someone capitalizing on tormenting kids, but the fact that there is a market for these people, and parents who pay the tab...well, it just leaves me dumbfounded.  Maybe I'm not getting the joke.  Maybe I'm too overprotective.  What do you think?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ten minutes of pure sunshine

I was picking my fourth grader up from school the other day, and couldn't help but make an observation.  As I sat there in "the loop", one of many cars lined up between two schools, I felt like I was viewing a happy ending to an ABC After School Special from the 1980's.

One school houses kids for the day in grades K-3,  the other holds almost 800 fourth and fifth graders.  When the bell rang, kids bounded from every entrance and it was hard not to see their absolute delight to greet their parents or grandparents, or older siblings and babysitters who were picking them up. Their enthusiasm equally reciprocated upon their arrival.

So what is so strange about that? I, for one, can't wait to see my son standing their with his buddies, backpack over his shoulder, watching our car creep through the loop until I pull up beside him.  But every family I saw...and I do mean EVERY family, was either skipping or jumping up and down to see each other, or had hands held and swinging happily, or were engaged in immediate enthusiastic conversation.  Even the more shy burst into smiles and were welcomed into a hugs and warm receipt.   

I found myself wondering if this day was just a fluke, a sudden ray of sunshine in our busy, suburban parking lot?  Or if I was really so fortunate to live in a community that really celebrates their children and parenthood?  For the days that followed I found myself actually looking for trouble, some kind of grumpy encounter or tears or anything that would indicate dysfunction. I've yet to find it.  How cool is that?

Now I am realistic enough to know that there are certainly many kids I don't see who get on the bus and aren't as happy or as fortunate to go home to a Mary Poppins existence.  All communities have families with problems and ours is no different. Even the giddy ones greeted at the school door may have meltdowns the minute they get into their car, or at the start of the homework struggle, or when sibling rivalry sets in.  But for at least ten minutes everyday at 3:35pm, it is nice to see such pure delight, boundless energy, and sincere joy and affection between kids and their families and friends.

So today I am thankful to live in a place where I get to see this kind of interaction everyday....well, at least until middle school.  Even then, who knows?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Break: We'll Take a Breather Before Summer Gets Busy

Five days to go.  The last two weeks of school are filled with activity, whether you have an older child buckling down for exams, or an elementary school child packing in field trips and field days and end of the year parties and picnics. 

For my youngest, it is a non-stop scheduling frenzy in school and out.  I am one of those parents who is lucky enough to be able to arrange my work schedule around all of the hustle and bustle, and it is my choice to be involved, so I'm not complaining.  I'm just absolutely admitting that I am READY for a break.  And my kids are too.

For some kids though, there is no break at all.  They are excitedly packing for their first camp, or getting ready for their first class to begin as soon as the last school bell rings.  For some, this works well, and I totally get parents who don't have a choice but to thrust their children into activity due to work schedules. I've been there and done that too!  My kids both have activites galore this summer, but this time around, they won't be jumping right in.

At our house, it is almost tradition to have one week of decompression.  That's right, I let my kids just chill.  They can sleep in as late as they want, play video games, watch movies, and just relax.  Before we know it they will have full schedules of friends and camps and sports and practices and rehearsals, which we will all enjoy as a family.  But for the first week, I allow them to be couch potatoes if they so choose, to catch up on much needed rest, contemplate their summer plans, and just hang out at home.

This mom can't wait!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Other People's Kids Behave Badly

For Mother’s Day, my family decided to take my mother out for an early dinner.  As you can imagine, we were not the only ones with this idea so the restaurant was packed with people.  At a table nearby were two women with two children.  The kids appeared to be around age two and were running and squealing--really screaming-- as they played around the other tables in our vicinity.  Their squeals of delight were so loud and ear piercing, conversations could not be held at our table, or at any table for that matter.  Not only did this interfere with our celebration, but twice I saw two servers nearly trip over the tots, while carrying large trays of food.  Did I mention the two women at the table, presumably the parent(s) did absolutely nothing?  This went on for a good twenty minutes, before the party finally left.

We’ve all been through child meltdowns in public places, crying babies or two year old fits.  As parents, we sympathize when we see this happen and most of the time the parent in question will resolve the matter or step out from the theater, restaurant, church, etc.

What to do though, when other people’s kids are majorly disrupting those around them in a public place?  Especially if the kids are just playing and not in distress. Do we have the right to complain?  In my Mother’s Day situation, should the staff have asked the women to corral their kids?  Or is it none of our business?

So today we are talking about other people’s kids, a pretty taboo subject.  What is good etiquette in situations like the one mentioned above?  What if we see a child endangering themselves?  For instance, what if we see an older child we know smoking cigarettes at the mall?  Do we tell the parents?  From testy tots to troubled teens, what is the right thing to do?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The new math, lattice multiplication

Is anybody else surprised by the way our kids are learning math? 

It isn't that it doesn't may indeed be easier than the way we learned multiplication, and even addition.  It's just that when I think of math, I think of it in a way that is absolute, which I thought included the method with which it was resolved.

Today my third grader brought home a new way of solving multiplication problems.  It is called the lattice method, and it works like a dream.  Although, it is so easy, that I worry my son isn't learning to calculate, he's just learning how to solve large multiplication problems with smaller addition problems.  Easy, but is he learning enough about the process?

I'm not an education major, so I'm sure the developers of the curriculum know exactly what they are doing, it just takes some getting used to.  I learned my multiplication tables on a grid I made out of tongue depressers and masking tape.  I loved that grid!