Alina Adams is a mother of three, and the NYT best-selling author of soap-opera tie-ins, romance novels, and figure-skating mysteries. Her latest is "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," the book of tips and inside secrets for those who can't afford a private consultant to guide them through the Draconian processes of finding an acceptable school, but still care deeply about their children's education. She has a Master's degree in Media Analysis and can tell you the subtext and/or ruin your enjoyment of most movies, plays and TV shows. Learn more at: www.AlinaAdams.com.
The Chosen, the novel by Chaim Potok, was first published in 1967, and has been a staple of middle-school reading lists ever since.
It tells the story of two unlikely friends, Reuven and Danny,…who are growing up in Brooklyn during World War II and through the creation of the state of Israel. Reuven is the son of a Modern Orthodox academic; Danny is the son of a Hasidic rabbi. Reuven's father expects Reuven to be a professor but Reuven really wants to be a rabbi. Danny’s father expects… >> Read More
I expected my oldest son to move out of the house after he turned 18. But I expected him to go to college — not to Moldova.
I expected him to be a car, a train, or a short airplane ride away,…coming home for major holidays, and maybe even some weekends (that laundry isn’t going to do itself!). I did not expect him to go for a 10-month immersive Russian-language program. No holidays, and definitely no weekends. His decision changed everything. Knowing that I wouldn’t see him from early September until late May really drove home… >> Read More
In response to posts I’ve written about my kids doing chores but not receiving an allowance, and about them needing to get jobs if they actually want to earn some money, I’ve been accused of…everything from exploiting them to robbing them of their childhood. (There was also the person who commented, “Way to enforce Jewish stereotypes”). I’ll admit, despite having a general case of ridiculously over-inflated self-confidence, I was starting to doubt my decisions. What if the naysayers were right? What if I was putting too much pressure on… >> Read More
One of the most exciting things for my 10-year-old daughter upon starting 5th grade was that she would finally have the chance to run for Class Representative.
Class Representative — the job…itself and campaigning for it — combined all of her favorite things: Making posters, baking cupcakes, compiling lists, planning parties, hanging out and telling others what to do and how to do it. (She’s become passionate about staging plays and making her own movies.) But running for Student Council in 2017 isn’t like running for Student… >> Read More
Once upon a time, my oldest son used to come home from school and ask, “So what did my fans have to say about me today?”
This was in response to comments posted on my Kveller pieces about him,…including how he travelled by himself on public transportation (then, later, also took his younger brother), how he did plenty of chores but didn’t get paid for them, and, most (un)popularly, how I refused to let him be labeled Special Needs in school. That post generated so much outrage that he even wrote a personal… >> Read More
Back in 2012, I scandalized the Internet by revealing that “This Summer, My Kids Are Doing… Nothing.”
In New York City, where children are to be “enriched” (not unlike uranium), and…parents camp out overnight for a chance to register at a science camp held at a private school which only accepts gifted preschoolers—and which many parents believe is their ticket to gifted Kindergarten and thus, the Ivy League—my confession of summer sloth was akin to child abuse. My kids don’t do camp, sleepaway or day,… >> Read More
Recently, two NFL footbal stars got into a public debate over hair. Player Mike Vick told Colin Kaepernick to chop off his afro and go with a more "clean cut" hairstyle if he really wanted a shot…at playing in the NFL again. The football debate came at the exact time as my family was having the same discussion. Only it wasn’t about the NFL. It was about New York City high school. My middle-child is a rising eighth grader, which means that, this fall, he’ll be applying to high-school. (Yes,… >> Read More
My oldest son graduated high-school in June. Now he is headed off to college–after a gap year studying Russian in Moldova, which my Soviet-born parents are not ecstatic about, as I wrote…here. Back in 2015, I wrote about how I will not be sending any of my children to anti-Semitic universities. While I 100% support students’ right to free speech, I feel no compulsion to support that Constitutionally-protected free speech with my money. I feel exactly the same way about businesses that discriminate against interracial couples.… >> Read More
My oldest son has always been fascinated by travel, international relations, and learning foreign languages.When he was 12, he traveled with my parents to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, as…well as Odessa, Ukraine, the place where I was born. For weeks beforehand, he walked around with a phrasebook. His favorite was, “I don’t want any herring.” (Let no one tell you it’s not a vital phrase to know while visiting Russia.) He’ll be graduating from high-school in June, and has decided to take a… >> Read More
My first exposure to going to school under armed guard was in the late 1970s, when my family and I were emigrating from the Soviet Union. We stayed several months in Rome, Italy, while waiting for…our paperwork to be processed, our background checks, our health screening, my parents’ professions to be analyzed to ensure they wouldn’t be a financial drain on the U.S. Jewish community that ultimately agreed to sponsor us, and so forth. While we were there, Hebrew International Aid Society (HIAS) set up a school for the immigrant… >> Read More
My parents and I immigrated to the United States in 1977. We were Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union. We spent four months in Vienna and Rome, being interrogated, tested for disease, and processed.…We were lucky. Families applying for permission to settle in Australia had to wait an average of nine months. It was a year then for Canada. My early years in San Francisco, CA consisted of kids teasing, “Communist, Communist, you’re from Russia, so you’re a Communist!” Dear children of 40 years ago: First, I speak… >> Read More
I blame Lady Gaga. Now, whenever I correct my kids’ behavior or flat out tell them to do something differently from the way they’re doing it, I get a big-eyed stare in return, and an innocent,…“I was born that way.” Uh, no. Well, actually, technically, yes. Everyone is born a certain way. But then, many of those ways need to be changed. For instance, are you still in diapers? Do you still eat with your hands? Do you fling yourself upon the ground, pound your fists and howl when you… >> Read More
My 7th grader’s first semester report card arrived the other day. Amongst the letter grades was the following comment: His trademark is his need to question just about everything. This can be…tiresome for a teacher. Yup. We definitely didn’t receive the wrong child’s report card. This is the child who, at age 4, would not let anyone talk him out of the notion that “the number after infinity is zero. Because after infinity is nothing.” Who, when told that it was time for bed because the… >> Read More
Lifetime TV will be airing their remake of the classic weepie “Beaches” on January 21, 2017.
I won’t be watching it.
Partially in protest against Hollywood’s preference for reruns over…developing new material. Partially because I think recasting the WASP-y Roberta (from the book)/Hillary (from the movie) with African-American Nia Long, both changes the basic premise about who’s on the inside versus who’s on the outside in American society, and makes Jewish CC’s (Idina Menzel)—spoiler alert!—adoption of her best friend’s child at the end more… >> Read More
Picture it… No, not Sicily, 1922 (hat-tip, “The Golden Girls”), but Brooklyn 2016. There I was, at a public middle school on a snowy Saturday morning, giving my standard, pro-bono talk about…"Getting Into New York City High School." I was at the part where I explain that the way NYC law is written, the Department of Education is not required to offer students a place at any of the 12 high schools they listed on their application form. Kids can be sent to a school they… >> Read More
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, my 9-year-old daughter hurt her foot doing gymnastics. She’s been in a knee-high boot and on crutches for almost a month now. And I am grateful.
Not merely…grateful that we live in an age of miracles and wonder and modern medicine that made it so she didn’t have to be in a heavy, itchy, plaster cast, and that she can still take baths and sleep with less discomfort than she would have been forced to suffer even a decade ago. But I… >> Read More
The internet is all a-Twitter (pun intended) about the latest news. Which is Fake News ™.
Everyone from The Wall Street Journal to NPR to Scary Mommy is channeling The Simpsons’ Helen…Lovejoy, shrieking, “Won’t somebody think of the children!” and hyperventilating over preteens and teens not being able to differentiate between news from "legitimate publications" versus partisan mudslinging. Now, fake news is neither a modern phenomenon, nor is it exclusive to the internet. Back in 1932, the Paper of Record was crowing about writer Walter Duranty… >> Read More
When I found out I was having a daughter after two sons, everyone around me was very excited. My husband, my mother, the babysitter, and even friends and acquaintances cheered, “You’re finally…getting your little girl!” I was a bit more ambivalent and, honestly, kind of afraid of the whole the little girl… thing. I’m not into fashion or clothes (in fact, if you see me and I’m wearing something new and nice, the correct response is, “Oh, your mother’s in town!”). I’ve written about my failure… >> Read More
My daughter is 9 years old. When she was about 5, she asked me, “Is it legal for a white boy to be president, or are only Black boys allowed to be?”
She had clearly not paid close attention to…a ruler my oldest son had in 4th grade, which featured photos of all the presidents up to that point, from George W(ashington) to George W (Bush), and which my then 9-year-old summarized as, “White guy, white guy, white guy, white guy in a wig…” For the majority of my daughter’s life, a Black “boy”… >> Read More
A few weeks after Yom Kippur, and just one week before the 2016 presidential election, I am hovering in a pretty constant state of “I am not sorry if I offend you.”
It was triggered by the…latter, but I didn’t actually realize (or, at least, verbalize) that I felt that way until the former. While my daughter was singing in her Reform Jewish day school/synagogue’s choir, I was reading through the greatest Al Chet hits listed in the high holiday prayerbook (and watching her perform, I was totally watching her perform, honest).… >> Read More
“Di-lemmmmmmma! Dilemma!” my 17-year-old son goes around the house, singing to the tune of “Tradition!” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” (Try it, it tracks.)
So what might his (non-musical)…dilemma be? My son is a senior in high school. And you know what that means—college application time! All the experts advise visiting a college before applying. Not only does it present an opportunity to display that much in demand “demonstrated interest,” but it also allows teens to assess whether the school in question would… >> Read More
My father called me a Socialist. (It could have been worse, he could have called me a Communist. Having spent the first 35 years of his life in the USSR, that’s pretty much the worst thing he can…call anyone.) It started when he heard that private consultants charge New York City families up to $30,000 to help get their kids into school (yes, even their local public school; in NYC, in some neighborhoods, that warrants—I am not kidding—an 18 month game plan). Don’t believe me? Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Pi-dfrrSs&feature=youtu.be He asked, “Isn’t… >> Read More
My 17-year-old son returned from his five-week trip to Israel as a Bronfman Youth Fellow a little taller, a little tanner, and a whole lot angrier. At me.
Prior to his trip, I conducted an…interview with him as part of Kveller’s “Why Be Jewish?” series, where his anger first started to show. An excerpt: "I feel that our Jewish observance is superficial and that we don’t try enough. You kind of do your own thing, and I don’t understand how it fits into the commonly accepted policies of Judaism…… >> Read More
I am not a big Facebook user. I post funny/thought-provoking things my kids say, and I enjoy looking at photos of my friends’ kids. But I don’t document my meals. I don’t engage in politics…because, “Wow, your self-righteous and accusatory post has totally prompted me to disregard a lifetime of personal experience and change my mind on the spot,” said no one ever. And while it may seem like I post personal things, if only when I link to my posts here and elsewhere, the fact is, I never… >> Read More
Last month, my brother and his wife had a baby boy. Because his mother is not a fan of online over-sharing, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Besides, this story isn’t about him. It’s…about my own son. My rising 7th grader was very excited about his new cousin. He visited him in the hospital, held him, and couldn’t stop marveling at how tiny and cute he was. He picked out books he’d outgrown to pass down to him. He knitted him some booties. (Booties, I’ve since been informed, are… >> Read More