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Aug 28 2014

Is Your Toddler Obsessed with What’s Fair? So Was Moses

By at 8:34 am

toddler-angry

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Shoftim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

My kids, like yours, most likely, are obsessed with what’s fair. Sure, this is a classic toddler hang-up: Nothing is fair, but everything is fair game for a tantrum. And when you have twins, the fairness stakes rise exponentially. Beware the tiny fairness police.

The thing is, it’s very, very hard to predict what will elicit an “its not fair” from the peanut gallery. My husband and I try to anticipate–purchasing dual copies of the most coveted items, spending one-on-one time with each child as often as humanly possible, being generally far more patient and attentive than either of us have the bandwidth to be, and yet, we’re repeatedly surprised by how our kids can find unfairness in the most unlikely places. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 7 2014

Five Reasons to Stop Saying the B-Word

By at 9:36 am

bullying-eraser

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

A Woman Threatened to Hit Me on the Subway In Front of My Son

By at 11:01 am

Subway

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 6 2014

Rusty Kanokogi: Gang Leader, Judo Master, Jewish Mom

By at 9:58 am

rusty-judo-jwa

Does Rusty Kanokogi sound like name of the Jewish mother next door? Only if it’s the mom who mastered Judo in Japan, convinced Congress to pass Title IX in sports and secured women’s Judo’s spot in the Olympics. ​

The woman who received the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan’s highest honor for a foreigner, was born Rena Glickman in 1935.

Writer Wendy Lewellen chronicled Rusty’s life and says it happened this way:

Living in Coney Island, she befriended the hawkers, the barkers and the social misfists of the colorful boardwalk. By age 13, she had formed her own girl gang, The Apaches, which fought neighborhood injustice.

In the 1950s, she worked out with weights: her brother’s, at home, since the YMCA wouldn’t allow her to do so there. One day, a male friend showed her a Judo throwing move he had learned, and she found her sport. In 1962 she traveled to Tokyo to study in the female section of Kudokan, Judo’s home. Once she had pulverized her female opponents, she moved on to the men. She even met her husband there. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 30 2014

How Do I Explain to My Daughter that Sometimes Friends Break Up?

By at 10:11 am

Friends-break-up

Like all relationships, adult friendships can be complicated, but how exactly do you explain your friend “break up” to your child?

For these purposes, let’s call this friend Sally. Sally was close to my kids, through dinners, outings, and birthdays. She and her husband spent time with us at the pool and they would even babysit when we were in a pinch. Every time we pass their house, Cara would wave out the window to them with the nicknames her brother gave them. So when Sally stopped coming around, Cara asked why, and I couldn’t answer her.

There are no books for this. Throughout their young lives, we teach our children to be friends with everyone, and here I am defriending this woman and all Cara wants to know is, where’s Sally? And every time I tell her maybe we’ll see her soon, Cara says, “I’m sad not to see Sally.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 24 2013

The TV Show That Brought My Family Together

By at 9:54 am

all in the familyThe last couple of weeks, I have been surprisingly emotional over the death of actress Jean Stapleton.

The television show All in the Family was a big part of my childhood and Jean Stapleton’s passing almost feels like a member of my own family has died. I know that sounds starstruck and kind of stupid, since All in the Family was a television show and not real life. Yeah, yeah, I should pick up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and spend my life doing something meaningful rather than watching TV. Got it.

“One of the most acclaimed and controversial shows on television.” is what Henry Fonda said about this show and it holds true today. Watching old episodes on DVD, the show holds up beautifully, still uproariously funny and touching in just the right way, despite the 70s fashion and the infusion of political correctness that has permeated American life in the decades since this show went off the air.

I love it for those reasons certainly, but I love it for something much more.

For a half hour a week, on Saturday nights my family gathered around the television and watched this show–and we laughed.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2013

My Toddler And I Had Our First Fight

By at 2:01 pm

Every duo fights. It’s inevitable, especially when you’re always together.

Until recently, Lila and I have had a pacific relationship. But increasingly, I’m interacting with a rapidly evolving and independent little person. This is wonderful overall, but Lila is less predictable and more difficult to manage than she was only a month ago, stretching me as a parent (sometimes uncomfortably).

One recent evening, I picked up Lila downtown. She insisted on walking to the Metro. I pushed her stroller with one hand, using the other to navigate Lila along the sidewalk, while my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Thankfully, Lila listened when I told her to stop, especially near street corners. Our journey home was mostly manageable until Lila sat in a busy street, while we crossed; I immediately scooped her up and said there would be no more strolling after dark. Read the rest of this entry →

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