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May 23 2014

Pennsylvania Just Became Better for Same-Sex Families–And The Rest of Us

By at 11:48 am


I was watching “Frozen” with my 3-year-old daughter when I heard the news: the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage was overturned! My Facebook feed exploded with cries of “Mazel tov,” as well as, “Finally, PA,” and, “Welcome to the 21st Century.” This was big news, and not just in an abstract, I believe in equality and social justice kind of way. This was news with measurable impact on people I care about, news with the gravitas of, “I remember where I was when I found out.”

That means, I will always remember that I was watching “Frozen.” Disney’s latest blockbuster is being heralded by parents everywhere, even while they can’t stop singing, “Let it Go.” It’s notable for depicting princesses who defy the waiting-for-Prince Charming stereotypes, but it’s not quite defiant enough for my taste. One of the opening songs still has Princess Anna say, “What if I meet…the one?” I was as devoted a follower as anyone of “How I Met Your Mother,” so it’s not that I’m opposed to the concept of “the one” being portrayed in popular culture. Rather, I think that marriage doesn’t make sense as the primary plot device in a movie marketed towards kids who haven’t started kindergarten yet.

Even so, my daughter is no stranger to weddings, having already attended three in as many years. Last June, she attended the wedding of two of our family’s dear friends, and she talked about nothing for weeks before or after the celebration. Leading up to the wedding, we talked a lot about being quiet during the ceremony, giving gifts, and eating a special meal, but we made no mention of gender, even though the marriage was (and is!) between two women. To our then 2-year-old, a party was a party, and the particulars mattered not at all. Even now, even after seeing “Frozen,” when I asked her this afternoon, “What does ‘married’ mean?” she said, “It’s when people love each other.” Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 13 2014

Purim Costume Evolution: From Princess to Star Trek

By at 4:19 pm


Like many little girls, my daughter went through a Princess phase. I never had a problem with it. Frankly, I’m thrilled my youngest child has somehow managed to pick up a knack for those feminine graces which I incontrovertibly lack. She was Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” a couple of years running for both Purim and Halloween. That lasted up until she watched “Fiddler on the Roof” and, 15 minutes before the start of Halloween 2012, decided she now wanted to be one of Tevya’s daughters, instead.

I was OK with that, too, even when she stressed that she wanted to be “the daughter that got married and had a baby,” not the one “who read too many books.”

This Purim, my first-grader has a new passion. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 12 2014

My Little Girl Loves Pink and Princesses (and Bugs!)

By at 9:56 am


I’ve always found the nature versus nurture discussion interesting. Now that I am the mom of a boy and a girl, it’s downright fascinating. It’s from that perspective that I rolled my eyes after I watched the commercial for GoldieBlox that Kveller posted.

The thing I probably love the most about my daughter, Ellie, who’s 4, is that she will dress herself in full princess garb, crown to slipper, and then march outside to examine bugs with her yellow magnifying glass, moving dirt around and onto her tulled tushy with a red or blue shovel. This is also her outfit of choice to wear while she does experiments from her multicolored science kit.

Ellie’s favorite color is pink, with purple in close second. She plays with her dolls – stuffed and Barbie–and is always the mom. She has a jewelry box stuffed with plastic baubles that she wears with the pride of a woman who just received an engagement ring. Ellie couldn’t be girlier if she tried. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2013

Fairytales for the Next Generation: Beauty Isn’t Everything

By at 9:40 am

I am a storyteller, so my children were first exposed to fairytales through my own storytelling rather than reading them in books.

My son really loved “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” amended slightly to teach the lesson about not walking into strangers’ houses, and “Little Red Riding Hood,” which I was nervous about telling due to the carnivorous wolf but which my son found hilarious. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 14 2012

An Obscene Amount of Princesses for Hanukkah

By at 11:46 am

There’s no easy way to put this, so I’m just going to come right out and say it.

I bought my daughters an obscene amount of princess toys for Hanukkah. No, not organic, hand-made, gender-neutral princess dolls who are engineers in their free time. I’m talking straight-up plastic, Disney, hot-off-the-shelves-of-the-big-box-store, probably-made-by-Taiwanese-orphans, useless-without-a-handsome-prince-to-save-them princesses.

I got them these. And these. And then I bought them this. And this. I wrapped them all up and gave them to my daughters for Hanukkah. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 3 2012

News Roundup: Royal Baby Edition

By at 3:02 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

- The Duchess of Cambridge is totally knocked up! And apparently has really bad morning sickness. We’re hoping she recovers quickly and we cannot wait to add her exploits to the Kid-Dish! (Remember how she might be Jewish?). (Washington Post).

- If we go over the fiscal cliff, guess who will be most adversely effected? Women and children living in poverty. Oy. (New York Times)

- Yahoo! CEO Marisa Mayer had her baby, didn’t take maternity leave, and is now saying her baby is “easy.” Some moms aren’t happy with that, but another asks why we can’t just accept that she’s an outlier. (Slate DoubleX)

- There’s a new prenatal test that can detect genetic issues, is way less invasive than an amnio, and can be done earlier in the pregnancy. The catch? The tests aren’t regulated by the FDA and are very expensive. (Washington Post)

Sep 7 2012

Letting the Princess into the Farm House

By at 11:09 am

ariel bathing suit little mermaidIt all started with the arrival of the Ariel bathing suit.

I was whipping a cart through Target when my 2-year-old spotted the suit. “Oooh, so pretty,” she said. “And her hair is exactly the same color as mine.” My daughter has dark brown hair and Ariel’s hair is a shade of red you don’t actually find naturally. Something about her bubbly delight combined with her hilarious use of the word “exactly” softened me to mush and the suit went right in the cart.

Back in the days when parenting was still a theoretical concept for me, I was firmly in the anti-princess camp. Why would we want to expose our children to old fashioned and limiting stories of frilly girls waiting to be saved by a prince? Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 23 2012

What Happened to the Jewish American Princess?

By at 10:26 am

Acrylic nails: one of the markers of the Jewish American Princess.

I was absolutely astounded the other day when my younger stepson, Eli, who is 11, was musing about his sister Penelope’s new-found princess obsession–it had to happen sometime–and he said, “You know what’s funny? There’s no Jewish princesses.”

Bless his heart! No Jewish princesses?

I had a vague sense of the existence of the JAP stereotype in high school. I remember my friend Fran speaking dismissively of both WASPs and JAPs and wondering why she hated bugs and Asians so much, but soon enough I saw Spaceballs and was able to recognize a type–not someone I came in contact with myself very often, but sure, I knew young women sorta like that.

Then I got to college. Barnard, specifically. Hoo boy. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 7 2012

The Crunchy Mama and The Princess

By at 11:03 am

My older daughter is 3.5, and as a result, she is hurdling headlong into The Princess Obsession, and dragging the rest of the family with her. It’s not happening all at once; last week it was the newfound interest in the rhinestone tiara her grandmother bought for her, today it’s the demand for sparkly underwear. (I’m trying hard not to project these latest obsessions too far into the future, because all I come up with is Vegas Pole Dancer.) Read the rest of this entry →

May 2 2011

Princesses Can Save the World, Too

By at 2:49 pm

During a big, extended family Thanksgiving dinner, someone noticed how quiet the kids had gotten. My kid, specifically. When I found her, my 2-year-old daughter, Devi, was standing agape in front of a television where her cousin had decided to put on a DVD of Disney’s Cinderella. I’m sure I was asked if she could watch it, but looking at her–so completely mesmerized by the spectacle of singing mice with speech impediments, helping Cinderelly get ready for the Ball–something switched in me.

That was it, I decided: there shall be no Disney princesses. Not yet, anyway. The “old” Disney princesses– the aforementioned Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty–are caricatures predicated on an old-fashioned belief that if a woman is beautiful and wholesome enough, she will be rescued (saved from a life of being single, forever) by a handsome prince (because who wants an ugly one?), even revived from near-death. Life skills requiring logic, intelligence, savvy, and just good ol’ common sense are of little importance; just be pretty and be able to sing your sweet little tush off. And be able to communicate with small, cute animals.

By Februrary, Devi was asking for a princess dress, with two stipulations: it had to be blue, and it had to look just like Cinderella’s. So off I went to Target, found precisely what she wanted, and brought it home for her.  When she saw it, she wanted no part of it, so I happily obliged her and put it away.

Once in a while, she asks to see the dress, but will only put it on if she can strip down to her diaper first. I have since hemmed the dress to fit her, since all that remained at Target were the Cinderella dresses in 3T, which would be too long for her. Not that I know how to hem. Gus the mouse would be ashamed of me.

With the promise of spring came the official announcement that Prince William had proposed to Kate Middleton, and she (of course) accepted. (Can you imagine the shit storm she would have gotten from her parents if she hadn’t?)

I remember exactly where I was in 1981 when I watched Prince Charles and Lady Di wed (in Crystal Beach, Canada); I remember exactly where I was when I found out that Charles was cheating on her (college), and where I was when I found out that Diana was dead (walking with a roommate in Waltham, Mass., where we saw the headlines in The Boston Globe outside a coffee shop). I’m not British, but I have some interest in Royal lineage and history–you have to admit, some of those Kings were wildly promiscuous, impulsive, powerful… a little like watching old episodes of Dallas. So why do I care at all about William’s and Kate’s royal nuptials?

I didn’t find my prince-of-a-guy until I was 32. (He likes to say, but you found me, baby!) Not late, but I was no spring chicken, and had happily traveled the world, established a career in teaching (in two states), and had long established financial independence. Until we found each other, though, I was convinced that I’d dated every man between Boston and Rochester, and I was prepared to find a sperm donor and make a life on a single mothers’ commune in Brooklyn. The traditional happy ending didn’t have to apply to me, ’cause sistahs are doin’ it for themselves, and that was fine by me. Read the rest of this entry →


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