Alina Adams is a mother of three, and the NYT best-selling author of soap-opera tie-ins, romance novels, and figure-skating mysteries. Her latest is "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," the book of tips and inside secrets for those who can't afford a private consultant to guide them through the Draconian processes of finding an acceptable school, but still care deeply about their children's education. She has a Master's degree in Media Analysis and can tell you the subtext and/or ruin your enjoyment of most movies, plays and TV shows. Learn more at: www.AlinaAdams.com.
My oldest son has always been fascinated by travel, international relations, and learning foreign languages.When he was 12, he traveled with my parents to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, as…well as Odessa, Ukraine, the place where I was born. For weeks beforehand, he walked around with a phrasebook. His favorite was, “I don’t want any herring.” (Let no one tell you it’s not a vital phrase to know while visiting Russia.) He’ll be graduating from high-school in June, and has decided to take a… >> Read More
My first exposure to going to school under armed guard was in the late 1970s, when my family and I were emigrating from the Soviet Union. We stayed several months in Rome, Italy, while waiting for…our paperwork to be processed, our background checks, our health screening, my parents’ professions to be analyzed to ensure they wouldn’t be a financial drain on the U.S. Jewish community that ultimately agreed to sponsor us, and so forth. While we were there, Hebrew International Aid Society (HIAS) set up a school for the immigrant… >> Read More
My parents and I immigrated to the United States in 1977. We were Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union. We spent four months in Vienna and Rome, being interrogated, tested for disease, and processed.…We were lucky. Families applying for permission to settle in Australia had to wait an average of nine months. It was a year then for Canada. My early years in San Francisco, CA consisted of kids teasing, “Communist, Communist, you’re from Russia, so you’re a Communist!” Dear children of 40 years ago: First, I speak… >> Read More
I blame Lady Gaga. Now, whenever I correct my kids’ behavior or flat out tell them to do something differently from the way they’re doing it, I get a big-eyed stare in return, and an innocent,…“I was born that way.” Uh, no. Well, actually, technically, yes. Everyone is born a certain way. But then, many of those ways need to be changed. For instance, are you still in diapers? Do you still eat with your hands? Do you fling yourself upon the ground, pound your fists and howl when you… >> Read More
My 7th grader’s first semester report card arrived the other day. Amongst the letter grades was the following comment: His trademark is his need to question just about everything. This can be…tiresome for a teacher. Yup. We definitely didn’t receive the wrong child’s report card. This is the child who, at age 4, would not let anyone talk him out of the notion that “the number after infinity is zero. Because after infinity is nothing.” Who, when told that it was time for bed because the… >> Read More
Lifetime TV will be airing their remake of the classic weepie “Beaches” on January 21, 2017.
I won’t be watching it.
Partially in protest against Hollywood’s preference for reruns over…developing new material. Partially because I think recasting the WASP-y Roberta (from the book)/Hillary (from the movie) with African-American Nia Long, both changes the basic premise about who’s on the inside versus who’s on the outside in American society, and makes Jewish CC’s (Idina Menzel)—spoiler alert!—adoption of her best friend’s child at the end more… >> Read More
Picture it… No, not Sicily, 1922 (hat-tip, “The Golden Girls”), but Brooklyn 2016. There I was, at a public middle school on a snowy Saturday morning, giving my standard, pro-bono talk about…"Getting Into New York City High School." I was at the part where I explain that the way NYC law is written, the Department of Education is not required to offer students a place at any of the 12 high schools they listed on their application form. Kids can be sent to a school they… >> Read More
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, my 9-year-old daughter hurt her foot doing gymnastics. She’s been in a knee-high boot and on crutches for almost a month now. And I am grateful.
Not merely…grateful that we live in an age of miracles and wonder and modern medicine that made it so she didn’t have to be in a heavy, itchy, plaster cast, and that she can still take baths and sleep with less discomfort than she would have been forced to suffer even a decade ago. But I… >> Read More
The internet is all a-Twitter (pun intended) about the latest news. Which is Fake News ™.
Everyone from The Wall Street Journal to NPR to Scary Mommy is channeling The Simpsons’ Helen…Lovejoy, shrieking, “Won’t somebody think of the children!” and hyperventilating over preteens and teens not being able to differentiate between news from "legitimate publications" versus partisan mudslinging. Now, fake news is neither a modern phenomenon, nor is it exclusive to the internet. Back in 1932, the Paper of Record was crowing about writer Walter Duranty… >> Read More
When I found out I was having a daughter after two sons, everyone around me was very excited. My husband, my mother, the babysitter, and even friends and acquaintances cheered, “You’re finally…getting your little girl!” I was a bit more ambivalent and, honestly, kind of afraid of the whole the little girl… thing. I’m not into fashion or clothes (in fact, if you see me and I’m wearing something new and nice, the correct response is, “Oh, your mother’s in town!”). I’ve written about my failure… >> Read More
My daughter is 9 years old. When she was about 5, she asked me, “Is it legal for a white boy to be president, or are only Black boys allowed to be?”
She had clearly not paid close attention to…a ruler my oldest son had in 4th grade, which featured photos of all the presidents up to that point, from George W(ashington) to George W (Bush), and which my then 9-year-old summarized as, “White guy, white guy, white guy, white guy in a wig…” For the majority of my daughter’s life, a Black “boy”… >> Read More
A few weeks after Yom Kippur, and just one week before the 2016 presidential election, I am hovering in a pretty constant state of “I am not sorry if I offend you.”
It was triggered by the…latter, but I didn’t actually realize (or, at least, verbalize) that I felt that way until the former. While my daughter was singing in her Reform Jewish day school/synagogue’s choir, I was reading through the greatest Al Chet hits listed in the high holiday prayerbook (and watching her perform, I was totally watching her perform, honest).… >> Read More
“Di-lemmmmmmma! Dilemma!” my 17-year-old son goes around the house, singing to the tune of “Tradition!” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” (Try it, it tracks.)
So what might his (non-musical)…dilemma be? My son is a senior in high school. And you know what that means—college application time! All the experts advise visiting a college before applying. Not only does it present an opportunity to display that much in demand “demonstrated interest,” but it also allows teens to assess whether the school in question would… >> Read More
My father called me a Socialist. (It could have been worse, he could have called me a Communist. Having spent the first 35 years of his life in the USSR, that’s pretty much the worst thing he can…call anyone.) It started when he heard that private consultants charge New York City families up to $30,000 to help get their kids into school (yes, even their local public school; in NYC, in some neighborhoods, that warrants—I am not kidding—an 18 month game plan). Don’t believe me? Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Pi-dfrrSs&feature=youtu.be He asked, “Isn’t… >> Read More
My 17-year-old son returned from his five-week trip to Israel as a Bronfman Youth Fellow a little taller, a little tanner, and a whole lot angrier. At me.
Prior to his trip, I conducted an…interview with him as part of Kveller’s “Why Be Jewish?” series, where his anger first started to show. An excerpt: "I feel that our Jewish observance is superficial and that we don’t try enough. You kind of do your own thing, and I don’t understand how it fits into the commonly accepted policies of Judaism…… >> Read More
I am not a big Facebook user. I post funny/thought-provoking things my kids say, and I enjoy looking at photos of my friends’ kids. But I don’t document my meals. I don’t engage in politics…because, “Wow, your self-righteous and accusatory post has totally prompted me to disregard a lifetime of personal experience and change my mind on the spot,” said no one ever. And while it may seem like I post personal things, if only when I link to my posts here and elsewhere, the fact is, I never… >> Read More
Last month, my brother and his wife had a baby boy. Because his mother is not a fan of online over-sharing, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Besides, this story isn’t about him. It’s…about my own son. My rising 7th grader was very excited about his new cousin. He visited him in the hospital, held him, and couldn’t stop marveling at how tiny and cute he was. He picked out books he’d outgrown to pass down to him. He knitted him some booties. (Booties, I’ve since been informed, are… >> Read More
When the youngest of my three children started preschool, my husband informed me that I could have as many more children as I liked. He, however, was never changing another diaper again for as long…as he lived. I could make of that data what I will. It wasn’t an idle threat. Unlike women who say they might as well have been single parents when they were raising their kids, my husband was extremely hands-on with all three. Besides the aforementioned diapers, he slept with the kids in a separate… >> Read More
My daughter goes to a Jewish Day School. As a Jewish Day School, they periodically get anti-Semitic threats. The school takes them all seriously and, as a result, they do regular lock-down drills.…(For the record, my sons, who go to secular schools, also have lock-down drills, but they’re more vague about the whys of it.) A fellow parent was telling me about how terrified she was of school shootings, and how she thought about the possibility of one happening whenever she sent her kids off to school… >> Read More
When I was pregnant with our first son, my (non-Jewish) husband wanted to name the baby after himself. His brother is a Junior, and it’s a family tradition. I told him that Jews don’t name after…the living. When I was pregnant with our daughter, my husband wanted to name her after his grandmother, Rose, who was, in fact, as he pointed out, feeling proud of himself for remembering the rules, dead. But I didn’t like the name. We were discussing this with my father, who suggested, “How about Rachel or… >> Read More
I love names. I love names so much that I regularly peruse the Social Security Index that tracks name popularity by year. I gave my three kids Jewish names (with periodic input from my husband; he…never suggested any, he just repeatedly vetoed my choices). To do that, I turned to books (we are “the people of the book,” after all). Here are some of my favorites, and a few new ones that have come out since then: 1. “The New Jewish Baby Book: Names, Ceremonies & Customs – A Guide… >> Read More
In New York City, refusing to serve a pregnant woman alcohol is now officially a Human Rights violation.
According to The New York Times:
The city is explicitly prohibiting restaurants and bars…from refusing alcoholic drink orders to mothers-to-be, with new guidelines that say doing so would represent discrimination under the city’s Human Rights Law…. That would also apply to foods deemed risky during pregnancy, such as raw fish or soft cheese. Now, I am not a lawyer, but I did spend many years working in soap… >> Read More
This article is part of our essay series, “Why Be Jewish?,” based off of “Why Be Jewish?”—a new book by the late Edgar M. Bronfman. Read the rest in the series here.
So here’s a fun,…new parenting milestone! When Kveller asked me to participate in their “Why Be Jewish?” series in support of Edgar Bronfman’s book of the same name, and suggested they were looking for something beyond the traditional blog post, I thought I had a terrific idea. My 16-year-old son will be spending this summer in Israel as… >> Read More
My third grader began reading the Harry Potter series a few weeks ago. Unlike those who read it on the first go-around, she isn’t waiting a year between books, but flying through at a feverish…pace, finishing up the last page of the previous tome even as she’s reaching for the next one. Her teachers think she’s reading above her level, and have contacted me about having her read more appropriate books. I told my daughter she is to read what the teachers tell her at school—but she is free… >> Read More
According to recent news reports, a Mississippi landlord evicted an interracial couple from his RV park, claiming their marriage went against the beliefs of his church and community.
Oh, well, I…can hear you thinking, what do you expect? It’s Christians. In Mississippi. Wouldn’t that be a nice stereotype to cling to? Which is why I am now going to share with you a similar story about a Jewish Day School. In New York City. My husband and I are an interracial couple. I am Jewish,… >> Read More