Aug 7 2014
When I received a call that my 5-year-old son was being a bully at camp, I felt as if I had failed as a mother. Outrage quickly followed the humiliation, as I imagined a scenario in which my child would intentionally bother another child. By the time I arrived at camp at the end of the day to collect him, I had worked through an entire spectrum of emotions, but I vowed I would listen to his explanation and try to contain myself. There is always another side to the story after all, and at the risk of sounding defensive, I know my child. And he is not a bully.
From the conversation I had with my son, I gleaned that there was an altercation during a soccer game and both boys had been aggressive. When the other child tried to take the ball my son lashed out and was sidelined. He was remorseful and assured me he would try harder to get along with this particular boy in the future. Together we reflected on alternative ways that he could have reacted to the situation and how he might control his anger going forward. I then informed him of what the repercussions would be if I ever heard another discouraging report like this again.
Now that I have had several days to ruminate on the situation, I realize that the main source of my angst is the word bully itself, and I think it is time we reevaluate the usefulness of this term. Below are five reasons I think we should stop using this word so haphazardly. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 30 2014
My husband asserts that one (among many) of the reasons why he married me is because I am not the sort of woman who picks fights in clubs and then runs to him to “take care of it.”
He’s right. I’m not one for public scenes. Raised by Soviet immigrants, I was taught to keep my head down and to avoid trouble, not court it.
Last week, while riding the NYC subway, I was reading a book when the sound of a child shrieking prompted me to look up. The source of the shriek wasn’t hard to locate. Two seats over and across from me sat a little girl, surrounded by four young women, one of whom, presumably her mother, was repeatedly smacking her along the head, while looking defiantly up and down the subway car and demanding, “What are you all looking at?” Read the rest of this entry →
May 29 2014
From 7th grade through 8th grade, I was bullied.
In 7th grade, I started at a new school and made friends quickly with a popular group of girls. With wonderful friends and good grades, I thought I had made it. But just as suddenly as we all became friends, it quickly shifted to “Mean Girls.” It was weeks before my Bat Mitzvah and each girl in our group stopped talking to me, wrote nasty notes to me and would hang up on me when I called. I was left feeling helpless and wondered what I did wrong to provoke such a response. This is where irrational thinking set in.
My grades began to go down and I started to dread going to school as I would hear their whispers and laughter, all directed at me. I felt betrayed. I also started to feel scared as I was left with only a few friends, which can feel deadly when you are in middle school. I never spoke of this at home as I was embarrassed and did not want my parents to know. This was the beginning of years of self-doubt. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 27 2014
Thirteen years ago when I had gastric bypass surgery, losing over 150 pounds, I thought it would be the end of being called fat. Then my 7-year-old daughter, Cara, came home school the other day and said a girl had teased her.
“Your mom is like the fat minion from ‘Despicable Me,’” Cara repeated to me.
She barely got the words out before she broke into hysterical crying and I didn’t know how to comfort her. She was upset that someone would say that about me and I was upset that she had been teased for my shortcomings.
What she doesn’t know is that I could not care less about being called fat. I have been called fat my whole life and it no longer fazes me. My teasing started early. I remember when I was five and cast as one of the three little pigs in my day camp’s “Disney Review.” The kids seem to think “Pig” was a name that should stick. By middle school my nickname was “Moose,” but in high school I was just a regular teen. My personality kept me sailing through college and into my early 20s, but by my mid-20s I was hovering at the 300-pound mark and it was hard to ignore the looks and stares I was getting–especially on planes and subways. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 19 2013
“Where has the time gone?” my fellow third grade moms trill as end of school looms. “This year has just gone by so fast!”
Not for me. For me, my middle child’s third grade year has dragged by in excruciating increments until I was telling people I was just hoping to hang on and ride it out–like labor.
My son was miserable in third grade. And he generously decided to pass that misery onto me.
It all started when none of his friends from previous years were placed in his particular class. I agreed with him: tough break. But, he could still see them at recess and after school and, well, life is full of tough breaks, so how about we suck it up and soldier on? Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 23 2013
It happened again today.
My daughter went outside to the playground in front of our house and within five minutes the kids that were out there headed for the hills.
It’s happened before, many times.
The scene usually plays out like this. My daughter looks out our front window and sees kids at the playground across the street from our house. She furiously rushes to me and asks if she can go play outside. After a good five minutes of her running around aimlessly in excitement and me running after her telling her to put her shoes and a jacket on, she sets off outside. She gets to the playground and in her excited state runs and flaps her arms, doesn’t listen to what is going on or starts talking a blue streak about her stuffed animals or what we are having for dinner and even when she does listen, she often cannot follow what the other kids are doing. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 12 2012
The preschool teacher sent a nice note home: My delicious (OK, that’s my word) 2-year-old grandson L. had noticed that his classmate’s nose was running so he got a tissue and started to wipe the kid’s nose before the teacher swooped in with a lesson on hygiene.
L. should have given the lesson on empathy.
You read so much about bullying these days, but the two words I’ve never seen in those articles are “empathy” and “kindness.” And those are really the words that people need to understand, internalize, and teach to prevent and combat bullying. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 24 2012
I took my son to his first day of “school” today. Actually, it was half of a half-day, more of a parent-teacher meet n’ greet and let-the-kids-touch-everything to get everyone familiar sort of deal. I didn’t feel worried at all about sending Aiven to school because he adapts well to new situations and I know he needs to spend time around other kids. Besides, my husband and I work from home and I fear our son is getting sick of us.
About a week ago, we started getting inundated with emails from his school: class schedules, after-school programs, PTO meetings, holiday calendars, orientations, donation requests… I’m surprised there wasn’t a parent-teacher conference in there. Or maybe there was. I just had to tune it all out to stay sane (also known as denial). People: the kid’s not even 2! Is this normal or overkill? I have no idea because I am new to this whole school thing. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 16 2012
Karl Taro Greenfeld is a half-Japanese, half-Jewish writer whose work has taken him around the world in many ways. He was managing editor of TIME Asia, editor of Sports Illustrated and is the author of two books about Asia. Triburbia is his first foray into fiction, and is a Dubliners-esque portrait of a city–New York and specifically TriBeCa–through its people and parents. In the well-written series of stories that somehow all coalesce into a novel, parents learn how to parent by doing and kids learn how to torment one another much as the adults involved torment themselves. Greenfeld took time to do a Q&A with Kveller’s Jordana Horn about the transition from journalism to fiction, nightmares of parenting, and books with pink covers.
Your book is an ensemble piece of sorts, focusing on various parents in TriBeCa. What made you–a journalist who’s written extensively on Asia–take on this particular subject? Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 31 2012
So, I wanted to cut a bitch today.
Which isn’t really anything new, except for one thing: This “bitch” was 3 1/2 years old.
(Watch the storm clouds roll in, people. It’s about to get real.)
It was the end of the year party in my daughter’s preschool–(Cue Sunrise Sunset and throw in a side of falafel and you get the idea.) And it’s kind of a big deal. My daughter has had quite a year. And while she’s weathered a shitstorm with a stalwart valor that humbles and inspires me, she is a sensitive child who survived some serious upheaval. And sometimes it shows. Read the rest of this entry →