Jul 3 2014
Independence Day has come a bit early in our house.
As a mother of just one, all my maternal energy is focused on my single offspring. With no sibling living full-time in our house, Emmet gets all my attention–undivided and unsolicited. I watch every tennis lesson, bring him to every birthday party, and beg him for all the minute details of his day: who he sat with on the bus, what games he played during recess, and exactly what he ate for lunch.
While I am lucky to have three lovely teenage step-kids who dote on Emmet, he is my only biological child. One of the pitfalls of being an only child is having a mom who clutches to moments and milestones, knowing that each one is the first and last time she will be able to experience it. I know, I know: in order to fly, baby birds need to leave their nests, snag some air space, and spread their wings, sometimes with a push from their mamas. But sometimes, their mamas need a push, too.
This became abundantly clear these first days of summer. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m holding my breath for 11 more days.
My 9-year-old, Noah, left yesterday for 12 days of sleepaway camp.
This morning the cat didn’t get fed until 7. Noah’s 6-year-old brother, Sam, was the first one up and put on music to stave off the quiet. I found myself, after the breakfast dishes were done, listening to the washing machine on spin.
It’s going to be a long two weeks. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 2 2014
My 9-year-old just went off to sleepaway camp for the very first time. On the flight down, she was all nervous smiles and excited chatter. But after an hour of standing around with a growing number of kids she didn’t know, waiting to get on the bus to camp, her excitement dwindled. Tears began to well in her chocolate brown eyes, her lower lip trembling, and her whispering pleas of “please don’t leave me mommy” tugged at my heart.
Yes, saying goodbye is hard, but there was a part of me that couldn’t wait for that bus to hit the road. Of my three daughters, Ruby is the one I need a time out from the most. She crosses my boundaries more than the others, sauntering into the bathroom while I’m peeing, unwilling to break a hug or conversation until asked–no, begged–a hundred times. She is emotionally demanding, excitable, and thrilled one minute, anxious and frowning the next. Her amazing brain leaps from one subject to another, stringing it all together by a thread so quickly it’s easy to lose track.
Finally, the bus driver gunned the engine. Ruby waved goodbye through the tinted window and I waved back, praying she wouldn’t cry all the way to camp. The bus pulled away and…yes! My older daughter left for camp a few days ago and with Ruby gone, that left just the 3-year-old at home. When you have three kids, dealing with just two of them is totally manageable; having just one around is like a mini-vacation. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 30 2014
I was talking with a friend today about how parenting has become so hard. Everyday we see blog posts, new statistics, and another article on Facebook about how parents don’t like parenting. I admit to being guilty of these sentiments myself.
I readily admit that I used to love parenting until, six years later, I realize I am still doing the same things I have been doing all along: parks, playgrounds, constant vigilance, etc. Honestly, I thought it would have gotten easier by now.
Don’t jump to conclusions; I am familiar with the Yiddish expression, “Little children, little problems; big children, big problems.” I didn’t think it would be easier per se, just easier in a not-so-physically-demanding-every-minute-of-the-day kind of way. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 3 2014
Let’s be honest: parenting a toddler can make even the sanest person among us feel homicidal at times. I should know–I’ve got twins.
Tovah Klein, author of “How Toddlers Thrive,” is an associate professor of psychology at Barnard and director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development. She kindly took a moment from a busy book tour to talk me off the ledge talk to me about her new book and why we just need to shift our perspective.
In “How Toddlers Thrive,” you write about our current “overzealous child-rearing culture” and how the media often confuses parents. I am a confused parent. How will your book help me?
There’s a reason for confusing toddler behavior (defined here as ages 2-5): there’s rapid change going on in the brain in these early years–700 synapses per second are being connected! That’s why toddlers are exhausting to be around. They are trying to figure out who they are and what they need is for us to help guide them in a way that gives them a secure emotional base. Its important to take a step back and try and see the world from a toddler perspective. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 13 2014
“I want you to have roots and wings,” my mother used to say to me from as early as I can remember until the day she died. And I think of this during preschool drop-off on cool mornings when the sun slants softly through my 5.5-year-old daughter’s curls.
“Honey, do you want to go in without me? We can do our hug and kiss goodbye out here if you want.”
And some of the other kids go in alone without their parents: This is the beauty of the community we live in–the Middle East’s answer to Mayberry, USA, where every child is everyone’s child, and we all live and love and learn together even when it ain’t easy. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 23 2014
Most weekday afternoons, I pick my 7-year-old daughter up from her school, while my 10-year-old son takes the cross-town city bus home from his. Usually, the 10-year-old is home before us, but there have been enough occasions where he’s a few minutes late that I don’t give it much thought.
As a rule, his commute home takes about 20 minutes. On Tuesday, as Winter Storm Janus dumped multiple inches of snow over New York City, my son wasn’t home 20 minutes after class let out. He wasn’t home 30 minutes later, either. I told myself the buses were probably delayed due to the weather.
Forty minutes after class let out (and about 20 minutes after he should have been home), my son called on his cell phone (no apps, no games, just emergency minutes) to say the buses were so packed, no one was letting him on. (He is skinny and well-mannered. Neither trait is particularly conducive to shoving your way onto an NYC bus.) Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 22 2013
Many, many people posted a link on Facebook to a Huffington Post Parents blogpost entitled, “Open Letter to My Daughter, the Camper.” In the piece, which is certainly nothing if not loving and fun, the father writing gives advice to his first-time overnight camper daughter. He tells her the proper way to roast a marshmallow, to try new things, to be herself and–repeatedly–to have fun.
This blogpost was a lot like a marshmallow in many ways–sweet and delicious, if ultimately insubstantial. I really don’t mean to come down like a wet blanket over the parade. But my boys are leaving for three weeks in a few days, and I find that I’m thinking about this a lot: what are my hopes for them? And what should their hopes be for themselves?
It’s the longest amount of time my boys have ever been away from home–and that’s saying a lot. I divorced their dad when they were toddlers and the boys have done the back-and-forth divorce vacation tango for more years than they haven’t. Moreover, it’s the first time they’ve ever been away without at least one parent within yelling range. That’s a big, big deal–both for me and for them. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 3 2013
They might as well be teenagers.
My daughters are 4 1/2 and 3, and other than their short stature, penchant for screaming rather than brooding, and a total inability to write snarky notes to each other, they’re basically teenagers. They’re in that unpredictable phase where one minute they want to be treated like grown ups (i.e. 8-year-olds), the next minute they want to snuggle on your lap and suck their thumbs, and God help you if you pick the wrong one.
The struggle for independence is alive and well in our house. I have no idea who’s winning, but I’m pretty sure it’s not me.
Exhibit A: 3-year-old has exactly two skirts she wants to wear. Whenever they aren’t clean (likely because she peed on them), she huffs and moans about how she “won’t be pretty” unless she has the right clothes. Read the rest of this entry →
In the old days, “independence” was something that happened to kids naturally. Children were swept into adulthood by responsibility–you grow up fast when you are responsible for the farm that gives your family food–or the tides of history. A kid has no choice, after all, but to grow up fast when their parents sent them to escape Russian Cossacks on a ship bound for America. They had no choice but to grow up fast when they were separated from parents by war, sometimes forever.
These days, in our coddled existences, we simulate circumstances of independence-generating separation by sending our children to overnight camp. These are supervised places chock full to the brim of fun where our children can, for a few weeks, live their lives without us parents around. Read the rest of this entry →