Five Minutes with Amy Sohn – Kveller
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Five Minutes with Amy Sohn

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

One daughter. She is 5.

Do you use disposable or cloth diapers?

My daughter is out of diapers but we used disposable. We felt that both came with issues – cloth had an imprint in terms of its cleaning, whereas disposable had an imprint in terms of landfills.

Is sleep training cruel?

Not at all. Parents need to do whatever they can to stay sane. For some parents this means snuggling up with the kid till he or she is 10. For others it’s CIO (cry it out). I think it also depends on what is meant by sleep training. I was a fan of graduated extinction versus cold turkey. Some parents can’t do cold turkey (and for some kids it doesn’t work either.)

Which parenting books are on your shelf?

Your Five Year Old, 123 Magic, Dr. Spock, Infants and Mothers, and Positive Discipline.

Do you consider yourself a stereotypical Jewish mother?

That stereotype has so little currency for Gen X parents. I think it’s an old and useless stereotype. Of course I worry, but I definitely worry less than my husband.

Do you plan to (or do you already) send your kids to Hebrew School? And if so, do they enjoy it?

Not sure about this.

Is there any Jewish thing that your family did when you were a kid that you don’t want to do with your kids?

No – all my experiences of Jewishness were positive. Hanukkah, secular Seders, and provocative and not too long High Holiday services. Of course as a stage hog I loved my Bat Mitzvah and I loved my brother’s Bar Mitzvah because there was no pressure on me.

How many preschools did you apply to?

THREE! When she was two. Then when she turned three we pulled her out of the one she was in and sent her to the one I went to, where I had legacy preference. The many privileges of being raised in Brooklyn.

What’s the most expensive thing you ever bought for your kid?

Probably her bunk bed, which was still under $200. We got a lot of gorgeous hand-me-downs from friends with girls. If you count plane tickets then those are the most expensive because kids are full-price on most domestic flights!

Obviously Prospect Park West is fiction, but were there some truths you were trying to get out about Park Slope?

Of course. I wanted to get at the neuroticism of modern parents, the political correctness combined with racism and xenophobia, the shame people have in being ostentatiously wealthy, the hippie granola culture of the Coop, the relationship issues of Gen X parents, even walking people versus stroller people.

Does your neighborhood feel Jewish?

It is a very active Jewish neighborhood. Beth Elohim is teeming with young families and there are three or four other synagogues all within a twenty-block radius, of every denomination of Judaism. My downstairs neighbor is a rabbi.

Are you a kveller?

I am proud of my daughter in so many ways but I try not to gush. I do it most around people who don’t see her often like my in-laws, who live across the country. When my mother-in-law was ill I sent her daily dispatches about the cute things my daughter did, but that was really more for her than for me. I like to have other things to talk about with my friends, especially those who don’t have kids. I also have to be careful not to kvell too much around other parents – they may have problems, struggles, insecurities, and when you brag you may inadvertently make them feel worse about their problems.

–Interview by Molly Tolsky

Amy Sohn is the author of the new novel Prospect Park West, as well as My Old Man and Run Catch Kiss. She has written for New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Nation, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has written pilots for ABC, Fox, HBO, and Lifetime. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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