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Jul 18 2014

Why I Don’t Buy Into The Idea of the Terrible Twos

By at 10:20 am

angry-toddler

When it comes to raising children, 2 seems to be the universal age of terror among parents of boys and girls alike. I mean, they call it the “terrible twos” for a reason, right? As the mother of a 2.5-year old, I can say that the past six months have most certainly been challenging at times. But usually when I share my experiences with a fellow parent whose children are older, I’ll get a response along the lines of, “Oh, 2 is not that bad. Just wait till you get to [insert whatever age the child being spoken of is].” In other words, it seems like every age has the potential to be terrible.

But is 2 really so tough? Of course it is, sometimes. Over the past six months, my husband and I have experienced many of the things toddler parents complain about, including, but not limited to, intense temper tantrums, pickiness at the dinner table, and the downright abuse of the word “no.” But at the end of the day, I don’t think these things make my son’s current age “terrible” per se. If anything, I chalk up the fits of stubbornness to an almost necessary part of his development.

Sure, it’s not easy to watch my child get red-faced and start screaming uncontrollably out of nowhere when he doesn’t get his way, but perhaps he needs to experiment with that sort of behavior until he reaches a point where his coping and communications skills improve and he’s able to find more effective–and less noisy–ways to express himself.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 17 2014

How to “Do Jewish” in Huntsville, Alabama

By at 1:57 pm

Jewish-in-Alabama

It was two days before our visit to family in Alabama. Feeling hopeful, I Googled “Huntsville kosher.” Nothing useful came up. I tried “Jewish Huntsville.” Not much better. Finally, with “Huntsville synagogue,” a Conservative shul and a Chabad center surfaced,­ neither of which had weekday services or kosher food. I sighed and went to pack a few boxes of granola bars.

Figuring out how to “do Jewish” in different locations is always on my to­-do list before a trip, but some cities make that job easier than others. We hadn’t even left and I was already feeling disconnected from our usual community.

Even my children thought to do some advance scouting of the Jewish landscape. They asked me if the family member we were visiting was Jewish (yes) and if he kept kosher (no). I explained that the place where we were staying had a kitchen and that we’d be arranging for our own food, which would all be kosher. That seemed to satisfy them.  Read the rest of this entry →

We Came For a Bar Mitzvah, But What We Got Was a War

By at 12:38 pm

Israel desert hills

We came to Israel this summer to celebrate.

And for many other reasons, too. Because our kids had never been and we wanted to show them the land of their people, because we love beach vacations and no matter where you are in Israel you’re seldom further than an hour from an incredible beach, and because the food is amazing (never mind the shwarma and falafel, even frozen schnitzel and french fries are delicious here–especially if you eat them on the beach!). Because you can kayak down the Jordan river and ride a wobbly camel in the Judaean desert, buy fragrant spices and the freshest challah at the bustling Middle Eastern market in Jerusalem, and find the most exquisite shoes at the beautiful mall just steps away. Because Israel grabs you by all five of your senses and never lets go…

what-we-got-was-war-3

But mainly we came to celebrate my oldest son’s bar mitzvah. He’s been practicing his Torah portion for almost a year. I’ve heard him once or twice–he doesn’t falter, never hesitates. He has spent hours with our rabbi in Oakland learning, discussing, preparing his speech and his words of Torah. Read the rest of this entry →

Are We Too Prudish About Kids’ Public Nudity?

By at 11:01 am

Beach-nudity

Being a very young kid in Southern California in the 1970s meant lots of beach time. It also meant minimal bathing suit wearing until around the age of 4 or so.

No one made anything of it. Maybe my grandparents had seen everything during the many summers spent in the crush of humanity on Coney Island, and a couple of naked small kids was par for the course. My parents have family photos of one particular beach excursion with visiting relatives, our smartly solar-phobic Great Aunt Lil completely covered up while my sister and I rocked our birthday suits. I love those faded, orange-hued pictures. (A teenager would probably ask which Instagram filter we used.)

That was then. This is now. Americans historically don’t have a laid back attitude when it comes to public nudity compared to say, Europe. But based on a couple recent experiences I had trying to quickly change my kids at public parks, I think our puritanical ways have hit new levels of intensity.  Read the rest of this entry →

Getting Over My Fear of Sending My Daughter with Special Needs to Sleepaway Camp

By at 10:04 am

Special-needs-summer-camp

For most parents, the decision to send their children to sleepaway camp is made with little hesitation. But whenever my husband and I considered sending our youngest child, we balked.

Rebecca is developmentally delayed. Whatever issues we blithely dismissed regarding our older children rose to the surface, and we resisted for many years the voices encouraging us to send Rebecca to sleepaway camp. But we were finally convinced that this would do her a world of good.

Rebecca began attending camp when she was 15. Most teens begin their stint as a counselor at that age, but Rebecca was a first-time camper. She is a child, mentally speaking. She cannot read, add, or subtract. She will never ride a bus alone. She will never learn to drive. Rebecca relies on us for her most basic needs. We help her get dressed and with all aspects of her personal hygiene. She depends on us, her parents, and siblings for so much. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 16 2014

I Downloaded Israel’s “Red Alert” App & This is What Happened

By at 3:04 pm

code-red-app

For the past week and a half, my phone has been emitting siren sounds thanks to an app called Red Alert [also called Color Red in Hebrew]. While it is meant to alert Israelis to the very real danger of incoming missiles, many in the diaspora, like me, have downloaded the app as a way to obsess stay informed.

And I have chosen to keep on the audio.

Now, I know that having my phone bleep isn’t the same when my life does not depend on my ability to locate and get to a miklat (shelter) with my kids within seconds. Or, if we were at home, get to our mamad (protected room). Hearing the sound doesn’t strike fear in our hearts or give us nightmares. Read the rest of this entry →

My Sons Grow Farther Apart Every Day

By at 2:10 pm

Two-brothers-other-worlds

There are moments in parenting when all the rules go out the window and only pure instinct remains. This was one of those moments.

My son Dalen climbed into bed with me, his long lanky body curling into a ball of elbows and knees that jabbed into my stomach every time he sobbed.

“Charlie said he’s never going to play ‘Crazy World’ again!” The words bubbled up with each wave of tears and got stuck in his throat.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jill Abramson is Not Ashamed of Getting Fired from the New York Times

By at 1:22 pm

Jill-abramson-instagram

There’s a little Jill Abramson in us all.

The first-ever female executive editor of the New York Times opened up to Cosmopolitan about getting fired from her position and the media brouhaha that followed. Spoiler: Abramson was careful to dance around the reason for her dismissal (though she acknowledged that the way women’s management styles are viewed “is an incredibly interesting subject”). Still, she made it clear that being fired is nothing to be ashamed of:

Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women–it’s hard, I know–they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.

We’ve compiled the best snippets from the Cosmo piece for you, but definitely read the full interview here. Read the rest of this entry →

My Daughter Came Home From Camp a Vegetarian

By at 11:20 am

Vegetarian

Every time my daughter goes away to overnight camp, there is something different about her when she returns home.

The first year she went away, she came back practically self-sufficient. I was so impressed at how well she took care of herself. I didn’t have to remind her to brush her teeth. She didn’t need any help in picking out her clothes. She even made her bed without my asking for a short period of time—and then she went back to forgetting how to do it altogether.

Last summer, she got into the car and had something important to say. I could tell that there was a big announcement on the horizon. She had a look like she knew something that we didn’t know. I could tell she was taking a moment to enjoy that with a satisfied smile on her face. Read the rest of this entry →

From Birthday Parties to Bomb Shelters

By at 10:14 am

children lighting birthday cake candles

Thursday morning. Hundreds of rockets have hit Israel in the last few days, but for the moment, my city seems to be in a sirenless bubble, even though Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which lie to either side of it, have been targeted. We in Modi’in are an island of warlessness in a sea of war, reading on Facebook as friends report their siren stories. The mother of a classmate of my almost-5-year-old daughter calls. Is the birthday party still on? It’s going to be in the park across the street, the same shady spot we’ve had it for the past two years. The party is also for my other July baby, who’s turning 3. I say it’s still on unless the situation changes. She says her son will come.

I should be asleep, but I’m not. I think I hear the beginnings of a siren wafting in through the kitchen window. Well, that’s it, I’ve gotta cancel the party. Can’t have it in the house, there are still boxes lying around from our move, no time to clean up. A second later, the wailing morphs into the late-night laughter of teenagers in the summer. Oh, just a joke, ha ha, well, okay then.

Friday dawns beautiful. We set up the crackers and pretzels, the pita and hummus, the cucumbers and peppers. I had initially thought hiding out under one of the cement benches next to the sandbox would make more sense than running across the street with more than 20 kids. Just in case the sky explodes. But we settle on a plan to herd the kids into the parking garage under the apartment building on the other side of the street, and from there into the stairwell. We have 90 seconds, plenty of time, not like the people who live across from Gaza and only have 15. The kids start coming and I show them where the bubbles are. Read the rest of this entry →

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