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Mar 5 2013

My Son Learned English from Watching TV

By at 11:56 am

boy watching tvIf my relationship with Hebrew had to have a status, I’d pick, “It’s complicated.” But as I’m rapidly closing in on the fourth anniversary of my move to Israel, it really should be better.

For a while–just as Sarah wrote a few weeks ago–I was learning Hebrew from my eldest child, but that stopped. One day, two years ago, at the tender age of 4, he decided he wanted to speak English and that was that. How does a 4-year-old make that choice?  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 13 2013

A Soviet Immigrant Mother’s Take on “The Americans”

By at 11:57 am

the americans My parents and I immigrated to the United States from the then-Soviet Union in 1977. My father is a staunch anti-Communist. He is also a very cryptic, closed off man (teddy bear rescues aside). As a result, my brother and I are in agreement that, should he turn out to actually have been a Soviet sleeper agent for all of this time, we’d be surprised–but not too surprised.

When FX announced their new series, “The Americans” for Wednesday nights at 10, I knew I had to give it a shot. For two reasons. One) It was about a pair of Communist agents living undercover in the States, pretending to be a couple of perfectly normal, Mom and apple pie loving, suburban citizens. And Two) It was set in the 1980s. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 20 2012

The Jewish Mother’s Guide to Surviving Santa

By at 5:03 pm

santa clausAs someone who learned English from watching TV, wrote a Master’s Thesis about TV, then worked in TV, I feel I can say with certainty that Christmas specials, be they rip-offs (sorry, homages) of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol,” or “Miracle on 34th Street,” all share a common message: Nonbelievers Snooze, Nonbelievers Lose. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2012

What’s Up With the Women on “Pregnant in Heels”?

By at 10:11 am

pregnant in heels bravoWhen F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that the very rich “are different from you and me,” I doubt he had pregnant women on the brain. But Bravo’s producers took his sentiment to its logically rotund conclusion with the reality TV show “Pregnant in Heels.”

Each week, maternity concierge Rosie Pope caters to New York’s super rich and their sometimes absurd pregnancy needs. Client-facing Rosie is always polished, professional, and the best friend you don’t yet have, though Rosie’s client commentary can be less rosy. Overall, it’s a televised spectacle, alternating between appealing and repulsive.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2012

I Was a Latch-Key Kid (And Look How I Turned Out!)

By at 4:16 pm

girl watching tvIn “Do Kids Raised By Nannies Really Turn Out Okay?” Renee Septimus asked the question:

Yet again we read a piece from the points of view of the mothers and the nannies. What always seems to be missing in these articles is the point of view of the children, arguably the most important actors in this story. The grown–up children, I mean–people who were raised with nannies, who by now have some perspective on the experience. Wouldn’t it be interesting and important to hear from them?

I confess, I did not have a nanny growing up. I was, however, from the age of 7 on, a latch-key kid (though I did not wear said key on a latch around my neck. It was hidden under a flower pot. Deviously clever, no?). Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 14 2012

Mad Women

By at 1:22 pm

mad men womenI love the show Mad Men, and am amused that Sally Draper and I are about the same age. Nostalgia is not my reason for my being such a fan. Rather, the storytelling is great, the characters are complex, and the narrative is compelling.

We baby boomers thought we invented sex. Don and company prove us wrong. We thought women were treated primarily as sexual objects and had a hard time getting ahead professionally, even if they were smart and capable. Peggy and Joan prove us right. We thought that our mothers didn’t do very much at home (I still wonder about that) and Betty shows us what the consequences of that can be. And, in the Mad Men world, and my own world at that time, the only mother who was “working” did so because “she had to.” Many of the rest of us, like Betty’s family, had “Negro maids” to do the housework and child care. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 12 2012

Is On Demand TV Making My Daughter More Demanding?

By at 4:22 pm

on demand remote “I want to watch Blue’s Clues,” my daughter announced in the middle of an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba!

“OK, honey, I’ll record it for you and we can watch it some other time,” I told her.

“What? I want to watch it now,” Ellie said.

And that’s when it hit me. Her technologically advanced world is one in which she thinks all TV is on demand. After all, she watches pretty much two shows–Gabba and Sesame Street–both of which I TiVo so they are always at her beckon call. Why wouldn’t she expect the same for Blue’s Clues? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 13 2012

Zooey Deschanel & Mary Kate Olsen Pray to Mayim Bialik

By at 3:35 pm

Catch the latest episode of Saturday Night Live? In an actually funny sketch, “The Quirky Girls Club” featuring Zooey Deschanel and Mary Kate Olsen offer their praise for the original quirky girl, Blossom star Mayim Bialik. Check out the clip below, and skip ahead to the 3:00 minute mark if you’re in a hurry. Thanks to The Shmooze for writing it up!

Jan 30 2012

Just Another Afternoon Watching Sex and the City with the Kids

By at 2:03 pm

Even before the separation, I was a free-wielding mama. I used to let M and Little Homie color on the walls of her room with a crayon. I let my kids stand on chairs next to me and slice bread with a butter knife on the kitchen counter. Crumbs on the floor can be swept up. Stains on their clothes means that they had a good time. Bedtime is a fluid concept in our house, and if we’re all having a hard day I’ve been known to break out the Ben and Jerry’s. I (still) don’t censor myself, even though I know it means that one day the preschool director will probably call me because one of my kids said “shove it.” But, I love loyally and loudly. Mess with my kids, and I’ll cut you. Read the rest of this entry →

May 6 2011

Friday Night: Too Many Screens?

By at 9:07 am

It seems like kids (and adults) these days are always plugged in.

When I was pregnant, my husband and I did a lot of thinking about what kind of parents we wanted to be. How would we teach our baby-to-be about the world? What values would we exemplify in our lives? What aspects of Judaism would be important to us? And of course–what were we absolutely, positively, sure we would never do?

One of the things on that no-way list was letting our kids watch TV/movies anywhere and everywhere. I remember one Friday evening when we went to a restaurant in our neighborhood and saw a family of four having a lovely dinner out. (Ah, the days of being able to celebrate the restfulness of Shabbat by going out to dinner on a Friday night without needing a babysitter!) But when I looked closer, I saw that the daughter was listening to music on her ipod and the son was watching a dvd. I was really sad to see that. I thought to myself, “we’ll never let our kids do that.” After all, I’d grown up in a house where you weren’t even allowed to bring your book to the dinner table.

I’ve seen it more and more lately. There’s even a new restaurant in my kid-friendly neighborhood that caters to that mentality–they have booths with televisions and the kids can choose from an assortment of dvds. When I asked a friend about it, she said it was the only way she and her husband could enjoy a nice dinner.

I don’t know about that.

Now, my daughter isn’t quite 2 yet, so I haven’t faced this head-on the same way some of you have–but shouldn’t there be other ways to enjoy a nice dinner? Aren’t there other toys, games, or activities that you can bring to the table if you need your child to be entertained? Lately crayons and stickers have been our distraction of choice–and it seems to be working. When it stops working, I’ll try to find something else. To me, the ipod (with its videos of Laurie Berkner) is our last resort–and only used if one of us can’t take her out of the restaurant.

Of course I’m realistic, and I’ve broken my own rules a couple of times too. At one of our  Passover seders at a friend’s house, when we hadn’t wrapped up by 9 pm, and we weren’t putting our daughter to sleep there, we might have let her sit at the table watching a dvd. (Okay, we did let her sit at the table watching a dvd.) But those were extenuating circumstances–we should’ve thought ahead and brought the pack n play and let her go to sleep. My mom told me that my grandfather was probably rolling over in his grave at the thought of tv at the seder. I agree–which is enough incentive for me to not ever do that one again.

There was an article in the New York Times recently about families that were too plugged in–though they all sit in their living room together, each person has his/her own screen (from ipads to tv to cell phones) and thus, are totally separate. That’s not what I want for my family. So I’m going to do my damnedest not to let it happen. How? Starting with me. If I have fewer screens in my life, so will my husband, and so will our daughter.

I’m determined to do it. What about you?

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