Dear Care and Feeding,
I am almost 5 months pregnant with our first children—a set of twins. I’ve been reading like a bad student before a final, and the nesting is really starting to kick in, but my husband and I can’t agree on whether the babies should share a room. We plan to have them in cribs in our room for the first four-ish months, then transition them to their own room(s) once they’re a little older and don’t need to eat as often. I think we should put them both in the same room for convenience, and keep our third bedroom as a spare, as we’re often the place where friends and family crash when they need a helping hand. I figure by the time we move them to their own room, they’ll be on the same schedule and need to eat around the same time, so waking up won’t be so much of a problem. My husband thinks when they cry, they’ll wake each other up, leading all of us to get less sleep because babies don’t really stick to schedules. Who’s right?
—Two to Tango, Four to Nap?
Dear Two to Tango,
I’m an identical twin, and I don’t think I’d be offending my parents by saying they had absolutely no clue what was “right or wrong” in terms of raising my brother and me. Not to mention, they found out they were having twins 48 hours before we were born, so that added a layer of spontaneity to things. We shared a crib, then moved into our parents’ bed, went back into the crib, and this pattern continued for at least the first few years of our lives. I actually called my mom to discuss this with her, and she said, “Honestly, we just did what we could to make it through each day. Somedays were harder than others, but I just followed my gut, and it worked out OK.” I think she did a great job.
To answer your question, you may both be right, or you may both be wrong. One twin may be a heavy sleeper; the other may wake up at the sound of a pin drop (that was the case with me and my brother). You won’t know until the twins get here, so there’s no point in losing precious sleep over this stuff now. If you’re a “Type A” planner, this parenting gig will drive you insane because you never know what each day will bring. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, follow your gut, be loving and supportive, and the universe will take care of the rest.
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Dear Care and Feeding,
My daughter, “Kate,” is sixteen and has been best friends with “Ned” since they were in preschool together. When he was 12, Ned came out as a gay. His parents were not great about it. They said “we love you anyway” which is problematic in and of itself, but worse, they’ve basically pressured him into not being public about it. They’ve told him it’s not appropriate to discuss sexuality at school (which he put up with for a couple years and then started slowly coming out to more kids, not just Kate and their small friend group). They wouldn’t let him join the LGBTQ student club. This year, Kate and Ned went to Pride without telling any parents (we would have given our permission) and when Ned’s parents found out they were furious and grounded him for a month. In response, Ned ran away from home. He’s been gone for three days. Kate knows where he is and has been talking to him (the police are not involved because Ned’s parents haven’t reported him missing). His parents are furious with her, and by extension us, for not giving up Ned. His mom screamed at me yesterday that I needed to punish my daughter until she told. I’m really torn. On the one hand, if my child were missing of course I’d be frantic and ready to torture anyone who knew where she was. On the other hand, I can totally understand why Ned ran away. It’s also not clear to me HOW I would get Kate to give it up. She is insanely stubborn, and I am quite sure that nothing I could threaten or do would get her to betray a friend. She’s assured everyone that Ned is safe and that he is happy to come home once his parents admit they are wrong. What do I do?
It certainly seems as if Ned’s parents have some issues, but put yourself in their shoes for a minute. As you mentioned, you would hold the kid hostage until Ned gave up the intel on your daughter’s whereabouts, and I would certainly do the same. This isn’t a game. Your daughter needs to tell you and/or his parents where he is as soon as possible. To do so, you need to assure Kate that Ned will always have allies in your family should things go sideways once he gets home. I know it may seem like betrayal to a teenager, but it’s the right thing to do.
If you’ve followed my advice here, I always make it clear that the time to step in to help another person’s child is when a child could be (or is) in danger. That potential certainly seems real in this situation, so please take a more hands-on approach.
Assuming your daughter falls in line, I would tell Ned (yourself, or via Kate) to reach out to a therapist or counselor who can help him navigate this difficult situation. Make sure he knows that your home is a safe haven for him. If his parents won’t allow him to be his full self at home, school, or anywhere else, then he could be at risk for self-harm, and that should be taken very seriously. In a perfect world, his parents would be the ones to take him to therapy, but based on how you described them, I find that to be highly unlikely.
Either way, you’ll need to step up your game and keep tabs on his situation, because it doesn’t seem like many grownups are advocating for him.
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Dear Care and Feeding,
My son is going into the seventh grade this fall, and apparently Spanish is required for him at his current school. He can also take other languages, but Spanish is required. My son is white, and I do not think white people should speak Spanish as it is cultural appropriation in my eyes. Latinx people have been mocked for speaking Spanish, and to congratulate a white child for learning it and speaking it doesn’t sit well with me. I would much prefer he take French or Latin, but apparently the district requires all students to take it. I want to protest this but my wife has asked me not to, and to let it go. I took Spanish when I was in school, but it was a different time and I definitely do not speak it now. I have already told him he is never to speak it out of class. The only other option I have is to put him in private school, but I am not a fan of privatized education either. Is making sure he never speaks it out of class a “good enough” solution or do I need to put my foot down with the school here?
—No to Spanish
There’s a thing about being too woke for your own good, and this absolutely qualifies. White kids can learn Spanish, dude. It’s not like he’s mocking Latin culture by running around with a sombrero yelling, “Arriba! Andale!” like Speedy Gonzales. He’s simply learning a language that is commonly used across America.
I’m a 6’2 215-pound Black guy who’s learning Japanese, and I often speak it when I’m around my second grade basketball team that’s filled with players who speak Japanese as a first language. Does that qualify as cultural appropriation to you? I’m going the extra mile to communicate with my players because I care about them that much to do so.
The fact that you’re willing to pull him out of school because of it seems irrational and unwise. Take a deep breath and relax, because I promise you if he speaks Spanish in a way that doesn’t disrespect Spanish speakers (aka, mocking), most reasonable people will be OK with it. In other words, the issue here isn’t with the school or your son, it’s with you.
Dear Care and Feeding,
I watch my niece (18 months) during the day while my sister works out of the house and my BIL works from home. My niece is going through a bit of a clingy phase, and struggles when she sees or hears her dad. I worry that she feels rejected when she calls out for him, and he ignores her. She’s too young to understand that he’s working. He’s a very involved father, and in no way do I feel that he’s not spending enough time with her in general. My sister and her husband have talked about him going back to the office now that every adult in our family has been vaccinated. He prefers to work from home. Should I bring up my concerns about my niece feeling rejected? I worry I’m too influenced by pop psychology around “daddy issues,” and I know it already breaks my BIL’s heart to ignore his daughter during the day. But it breaks MY heart to hear this little girl call out for her father every time she hears footsteps and cry when she’s ignored. Is there a way he can work from home and handle these situations differently? Should I bring this up as an argument for him going back to the office?
Dear Daddy’s Working,
You should definitely bring this up to your brother-in-law, because quite honestly, he may not even be aware of the problem because he’s so focused on his work. If he’s as loving a father as you say he is, he can find 15-30 minutes during each workday to spend with his daughter. It could be eating meals together, reading a quick story, starting an impromptu dance party, or anything else. However, boundaries have to be created so he can do his job effectively. That means his daughter can’t barge into his office every ten minutes asking to play.
Using his daughter’s behavior as an excuse to get him to go back into the office probably won’t work, though. Most employees have thoroughly enjoyed working from home for the past 15 months and believe that sitting in a cubicle farm after a 45-minute commute isn’t too enticing.
By the way, are you watching your niece at their house? If so, why don’t you take her to your house or somewhere else (playground, walk around town, etc.) so she won’t be heartbroken every time she calls out to her dad? That seems to be a pretty simple fix.
The lines between work and home life will forever remain blurred due to the pandemic, and hopefully your brother-in-law will realize that he’ll be able to get the time back that he’s missing with his daughter. A quick 30-second break to say, “I love you” and give her a hug can go such a long way.
More Advice From Slate
My 3-year-old has developed a habit that deeply bothers me. He has started repeatedly “complimenting” me by saying, “Momma, I like your white skin.” My husband and I have tried to redirect this by talking about how compliments about people’s character are kinder than those about appearance, about how all skin colors are beautiful. He has responded by doubling down and saying that he doesn’t like Daddy’s brown skin. My husband and in-laws are Hispanic, and while I know his grandparents love him unconditionally, my heart hurts to think of him saying something like this to them as well—or worse yet, to any children at his preschool. What should I do?