S1: Hello, Slate, plus, we wanted to take a moment and say thank you once again for your membership and support, which has become more important than ever, especially in times like these. You’re helping everyone at Slate do the work that they’ll do. And we’re doing our best to put out the best work for you. If you’re a reader of Slate as well as a listener, you might have heard that Slate.com recently installed a paywall. But as Slate Plus members, you have access to everything on the Web site. As long as you’re a member, you will not hit a paywall on this Web site. All you have to do is sign in at slate.com, slash log in that slate, dot com slash log in. And if you have any questions about your account, you can email us at plus at Slate.com.
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S3: Welcome to Mom and Dad are fighting Slade’s parenting podcast for Thursday, April 9th. The Let’s Go to the zoo during Coronavirus Edition.
S4: I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate Care and Feeding Parenting Advice column. And Monday night, Emma, who is 7. Oh, my God, I can’t believe I have a 7 year old. And we live in Los Angeles, California.
S5: I’m Elizabeth near camp. I write the home school and family travel blog that that skews. I’m a mom to three boys, Henry, who’s 8. Today, Oliver is 5. Teddy his 3. And I’m coming to you from the craft room slash Lego room slash mask making sweatshop in Navarre, Florida.
S6: Vermont alum. I’m a writer and father of two boys. Simon, who is 10. And Xavier, who is seven. And both of whom are furious that they are not invited to be guests on the podcast this week, as I am privileged to be.
S7: And we are podcasting from our homes. And so I am able to peer into Elizabeth’s home. And I have never been more jealous of a craft room.
S3: OK, wait. Your kids are welcome on the podcast.
S7: Oh, yeah. Listen, Jamila, don’t get it started. You’ll never get them off.
S8: OK. OK. We’re going to be calling because definitely going to be calling. You have no idea your kids are going to get to pick your kids.
S5: And I think Dan’s dad, right?
S9: Yes. Oh, my God. Dan’s dad has found the Facebook group and this thing was the same. I’m so excited. I’m so excited.
S10: Today on the show, we have a question about kids splitting time between parents. Well, everyone’s supposed to be staying at home, which is why you hear relative silence in the background of my house today. The letter writers partner hasn’t seen his daughter since March 7th because his ex-wife’s worry that it’s not safe enough. Tricky times here, people. We also have a new segment for both parents and kids. We’re also going to be talking to a zookeeper to find out what’s going on with animals right now. Parents, if you are listening with kids and want to zip ahead to the family friendly segment and save all this adult goodness for later when they’re not around. We’ll put the time stamp in the show notes.
S3: And as always, we’ll have triumphs and fields and recommendations. Let’s start with you, Elizabeth. Do you have a triumph or fail for us this week?
S11: I have a triumph. Surprise.
S12: So I have kept my oldest child alive for eight years.
S13: And we are so happy birthday today. Happy birthday.
S14: The triumph, though, although keeping him alive, because when you have three boys, that is like an actual thing that I worry about is them all surviving. But the triumph is being able to provide like the birthday experience, because since we love to travel and get out, we almost always do like an experience for their birthday. And we ask their grandparents to kind of pitch in. And with that, we’re usually able to like go do something fun and the kids think about what they want to spend their day doing. And Henry, who just loves marine mammals, wanted to take advantage of us being in Florida right now and go out on a dolphin cruise. And we had arranged for that. And then the little golf Marium here has like an opportunity to go like meet a dolphin. And so that was kind of the plan. His grandparents were gonna be down here and we were gonna go do that as a family. And so obviously, all of that came crashing down. And I was just trying to think, like, how do I not that every expectation needs to be met. And certainly, like us all dealing with the fact that these things aren’t going to happen as part of this. And I think part of learning to deal with life. But, you know, you don’t want your kid’s day to be special. So we came up with a couple of like really fun things. So this morning he woke up and we had run a string from his room door, like all through the house. Inside, outside. All around and on the string, like as it went through things, there was like a birthday card from someone or a drawing for one of his brothers or one of his gifts. So this morning, he got up really early and we were all up and we watched him follow the string all around the house finding things. And his brothers were running along with him, which was super fun and kind of just along gated that process. And because of our schedule today, we let him open all the gifts in the morning. We had his cake for breakfast, just like total. Yeah, total like do whatever. Because Jeff has some work that’s going on that is pressing and we’re recording today. So typically, you know, we’d wait till Jack got home from work and do a big thing in the evening. And then the other thing he had asked. Is that part of doing something is getting to like do something fun. So he came up with the idea that we would chalk our whole street on the sidewalk with games and stuff that kids could do. And then I would post to the neighborhood Facebook page that this was there. So this morning after we did the gifts, we went out and we drew little games and he like wrote the floor as Lauvergne. We drew rocks for his to hop on and letters and numbers and hopscotch and little chalk drawings you can take your picture with. And right in front of our house we said like, turn and yell, Happy birthday. You know, I post on the Facebook page. All day we’ve had people like we can just hear from the fat of the house yelling Happy birthday. So just a fun way and the love we’re getting on our neighborhood has one hundred homes. And it’s not like it’s huge, but lots of family. So people are saying, thanks so much for sharing. Like, what a fun thing to come down your road and get to do this. And Henry gets to kind of hear these kids yell out, happy birthday to him.
S12: So I’m feeling good that, you know, he picked something that everyone could enjoy, but also that we made his day kind of special.
S15: God, that’s so creative. It’s tremendous. When I mean, Jameela knows because Jimmy and I both are the care and feeding columnists at Slate. She knows that we’ve seen so many questions from parents about how you make an occasion feel special right now when you know, kids can’t get to go see their best friend or their and uncles or other special people in their lives. And that is such a really a clever work around that. You came up with her.
S14: It’s so hard. And like I said, I think disappointment is unfortunately part of this situation we’re in. But I do feel like he’ll walk away thinking like this was a special day to remember, like this is what we did on our birthday.
S13: And yes, it wasn’t what I had planned, but it was sure fun. That’s my hope anyway. He’s only 8, like, you know, 17, I would say, like, you know, it’s time to suck it up.
S7: But he’s eight years old. You should be allowed to have a fun, silly day on your special birthday. You know, so well done.
S13: That’s like I did yesterday. It feels like a real triumph. Yes.
S16: That is a real triumph. I think that that is exactly what we should be doing right now. I’m so happy the name I was able to still feel special on her birthday. And the sweet thing about turning six or seven or eight is like when someone says Happy Birthday, it just makes you smile. You know, it’s like, yeah, the whole thing. Yeah, the whole thing. It’s not about the presence of the party. It’s the acknowledgement, you know, that Yarber is worthy of celebrate, you know? OK. What about you, Roman?
S7: I think that we only degrade ourselves on a curve right now. So mean to give myself a triumph. There have been plenty of fales, plenty of fields. Tempers are short. You know, the kids, they can’t comprehend a lot on their best days. And these are not our best days necessarily, but the other day. And they forget. I wish I could remember what especially sparked this. But you guys as parents know that with your kids, you overperform manners. You say like, please and thank you. And you really sort of overdo it so that it sinks into them and eventually it sort of has some weird effect on your own manners. And so I’ve found myself, since we have been isolating at home, overcorrecting to remind them of how lucky we are, like, oh, well, we have a back yard and we have all this space and we have plenty of money so we can buy plenty of food. And we never have to worry about like, you know, my job can be done from the homelike we’re so lucky just sort of drilling that into them. And the other day, my older son said it’s sort of apropos of nothing. He was like listing the things that he was frustrated. And I missed school and I missed this. And he’s like, but, you know, we’re so lucky because like, at least we have each other and we’re here in our nice house. I was like, yes, exactly. And I felt so satisfied because I also have come to believe, like I even frustrated, just as everyone else says. And I would love to go to a bar and have a drink and people. So for like go to the gym or just do any any of the things that you take for granted in your adult life. But it’s nice to be reminded that like this thing that is kind of just a parental reflex actually does reflect how it’s worthy of thinking about this moment and that it’s actually getting through to my kids in the same way that instructing them about manners when it gets through to them. And when my kids are polite to someone else’s grandmother or like an older person I feel so satisfied with, like, yeah, they’ve learned that I valued that and I managed to get that lesson to connect in their brains. And so I feel like this perspective is more optimistic and more generous than I am naturally inclined to be. But it’s also true, like if you have your health in this moment, then you don’t have a lot to complain about.
S17: I love that you’re giving them the framework through which to see this and that internal voice and then you’re getting to like see it come back out. I tend to be a very optimistic person, and I think that if you can see the world that way, that’s a real advantage.
S18: Oh, a little first we’ll have our first little Sadie. Hi. Oh, good. Oh, great.
S19: Hi. This is just like the BBC interview.
S20: This is great. This is all we got for you. I have to say, I’ve been working on becoming more optimistic, positive person for quite some time. So it’s not like it’s holding a jackhammer, but it’s definitely there’s a certain amount of pessimism that I, you know, allowed myself to have. I think part of it was leaving New York. You know, like it’s just everything is it’s me against the world. You know, I’m greedy and I’m. I can’t get through. But there’s still an element of pessimism.
S21: So that this period is that he challenged me to, you know, the dangers of being completely self. Pessimistic right now are being trapped within your worst nightmare while living one of your has no merit, that it’s all gloom and doom.
S22: I mean, there’s plenty to be pessimistic about, right? Yeah, absolutely.
S7: You don’t have to look very far. And like you said, Jamila, I think it’s just like conscious, like if your personality is inclined that way becomes a conscious thing of being like, okay, let’s like keep that in check because what’s the point? Or, you know, why not?
S21: You know, we’re at the point where the best outcome. Right. Like if let’s say, yeah.
S23: Magically was a race tomorrow and everything’s fine and we went back to our regular lives in a matter of days and no one else gets sick and no one else dies.
S24: The toll is so great at this point, you know, in terms of lives lost, in terms of disruption to, you know, livelihood, you know, just kind of what this is highlighted. So it’s awful.
S21: But like to decide in this moment is still operate with a sunnier disposition and to just try and, you know, focus on what is good and, you know, knowing that the worst may very well be yet to come. But there’s no reason for us to live inside of the worse before it does.
S25: There’s so little that we have control of in this that I think having control of how you’re going to view the little things that you have is important. All these bad things are happening and I’m very much aware of that. And I feel like it sits with me deeply. But I do try to live in the place and tell the kids all the time, just like you’re saying, you know, we’re so lucky and we should be so thankful for these things, because if our eyes are on that, then it’s like you have the energy to fight the other stuff that you can.
S26: I’m deeply grateful for what I have and deeply resentful that others do not.
S27: And it’s okay to feel guilty that this isn’t everybody’s reality, you know, and sensitive to the fact that people have to leave the house to work every single day.
S28: And oftentimes on public transportation, you, you know, you know, being grateful for your privilege doesn’t mean cosigning that we should have it and others shouldn’t.
S7: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great point. You know, it’s really helpful. But I was surprised that that message got through and I was surprised that I found that it got through even to me. You know, I think there’s so many times that you say things as a parent that you’re saying to your kids that you don’t necessarily believe or adhere to yourself. You know, like you know, like I tell them to say, please to my husband. I don’t always say please to my husband. Look, I don’t always model that, you know. And so it’s nice to be reminded that sometimes the lessons work on me, too, in the spirit of optimism. Jamila, it’s you have a triumph this week.
S24: I do have a pretty sweet triumph that I could just layer right into this wonderful take that we’re baking right now.
S29: But I just feel that it would be better if I dipped into the archives a little bit because I have one that I’ve been sitting on and I was hesitant to use it. I’m just going to say this either establishes me permanently as the Bobby Brown to the new edition that mom and dad are fighting a couple weeks ago.
S23: Niam and I are playing heads up, which is, of course, the game where you put the phone or the tablet, you know, on your head and there’s a word there.
S28: And the other players are player has to make, you know, the person who’s holding the braids, you know, sight unseen. Guess what it is. Right. It’s kind of like. Right.
S21: And so the word was marinara sauce.
S29: And so I’m like, it’s a red sauce. You chief thinks. Then it goes on spaghetti. And she says marguerita.
S30: And so name has no concept of time in this game, for some reason she gets frustrated if he doesn’t get advice, clues.
S24: If I don’t guess and that’s for them. But like she’ll stop and be like, Oh, Ray.
S31: She has like a size. And she’s like, right, marguerita is the thing that I get confused with.
S32: Kasarda When I was in preschool, which is true.
S30: Like one day I picked her up from pre-school and I said, you know, what do you have for dinner? And she’s like margaritas. I was like, you know, I said, What are you talking about? She’s like, we just happened the other night. I’m like, you feels like she’s in the shower.
S33: I was like, you’re talking about Casey. Do you okay. Do you bring this up while we’re playing? This time the game, I was like, okay, I am. Come on, keep guessing. And so I was like, red sauce. I said, but it starts with an M.. She said, marijuana.
S34: And I just.
S33: I just I put my head down. You know, I just needed them minute.
S35: Achara, that I think this is more triumph than fail. It shows what a sophisticated child you’re raising, the level of sophistication in a facility with language.
S36: She’s just seven years old. She’s got a command of all this language. I think it’s to be applauded. I think you should own that.
S26: We’re going to try. You know, I was telling my older sister that was like, you know, it kind of surprised me. I said, we’ve had conversations. You know, marijuana has come out.
S37: We’ve had conversations about it. You know, it’s something I wanted to be aware of and be, you know, completely terrified.
S38: So I told her that. I told her I taught her that it’s lethal to children. So I guess you face it like like, you know, come back from that.
S37: I drink very little around her. Like, you know, even when we go out to restaurants, it’s rare that I order, you know, once in a while. But I typically just don’t, you know, maybe a glass of wine, maybe, but usually I just don’t drink with dinner with her. So she doesn’t see me drinking very often. You know, and so my sister was like, don’t you try to get on a high horse for one minute because that’s because you’re high. That’s why you’re not drinking.
S33: And so then I was like, wow. So my daughter has a vocabulary from the streets.
S31: And my sister thinks of me as a pie head.
S7: So here we are, my family, kids just they love to write, you know? They love to like, you know, just my younger son for Father’s Day made us think Father’s Day cards and class and mine was like your daddy. You’re like the greatest dad in the world. I love you so much. And the one he made for my husband was, Dear Papa, please don’t drink so much beer, which is like hilarious because my husband doesn’t even drink really slick.
S35: I feel like that’s just what kids do. They love to pick up on your biggest fears.
S25: It’s so relatable because my children also like have really grabbed on to my drinking of wine. Like all the time I’m like home-schooling and I’ll say you bring me a glass of water or something. Whoever is up and they’ll say, do you think maybe a coffee or wine might be better?
S13: I know. I don’t know how children lie about it. I’ll just take the water.
S39: But always at the inopportune time when you’re near a religious leader or like you have someone over.
S14: Right. And then they’re like offered. My three year old is like, I’ll pour everything.
S13: Wine, cheese, like it’s a breakfast meeting.
S25: Anyway, I’m so incredibly relatable.
S40: Yes. They seized upon the natty element. They’re like, I know something I can’t have.
S41: I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what it is.
S42: I don’t know why it’s bad. I know that there’s something bad about it. So I’m going to bring it up now.
S43: All I want is a margarita to be on. Yeah, exactly. I tell my story till you think you have a fully stocked bar, until you’re trapped in the house with no other options and you’re like citings, you just cannot replicate at home, you know? That’s right. If you have to make it go. It’s not the same. It’s just not true. That’s true.
S40: Hey. Well, before we move on, because this will easily become a mom and dad want a margarita, which is basically what it is. Now let’s do some business.
S44: Slate’s parenting newsletter is the best place to be notified about all of our great parenting content, including mom and dad, fighting and care and feeding the advice column where people entrust remind to dispense very sound, very reasonable advice.
S45: And they allow me to rants about race and gender and admonish people a little bit and much, much more. It’s also a personal email from Dan again, so personal that I once thought he’d sent the e-mail directly to. I responded to it and you get that every single week. So please sign up as slate that flash parenting e-mail. And by the way, Dan does not get the responses, so do not reply. Not a real email address. Also, check us out on Facebook by searching for slate parenting. It’s a fun, active community. Dan’s father has found the Facebook group.
S40: It was the sweetest thing, Dan.. Father like thanked his fans for supporting him. It was the best part of my day when I read that.
S45: So find us on Facebook, OK? And now we’re gonna get into this week’s listener question. And it’s being read, as always, by the wonderful Shasha Leonhard.
S46: Hi, mom and dad. My partner and his ex wife separated before their daughter’s birth and of co-parenting amicably for the past 10 years. I’ve always been impressed by the good faith they treat schedules with compared to other divorced couples that I know enter coronavirus. My partner and I quit going to work March 11th, nearly two weeks before my governor shut down non central businesses and childcare. His sister is an E.R. doctor and I work with germs and exponential curves from my day job. So once we saw that this thing was not contained, we decided the best thing we could do in our extremely privileged situation was stay home as much and as soon as possible. We are quite cautious. We don’t go out except to walk or jog. So we’ve not been within six feet of anyone except each other and our toddler in weeks, thanks to grocery and diaper delivery through a series of excuses and evasions. My partner’s ex-wife has kept her daughter since she left our house on March 7th. His ex-wife has gone so far as to agree to bring her daughter over and then texts that she doesn’t think it’s worth the risk. And then not show up. My partners only face time with his daughter twice. He worries that his ex is ignoring his attempts to virtually contact his daughter out of a desire to avoid questions about dad. And when she might see him next, he isn’t sure how to proceed without escalating things and jeopardizing what he feels has been a good co-parenting relationship.
S47: Given what I’ve seen of their texts, I doubt there’s anything we could say or do to convince her it’s safe enough because it’s more about a desire to hang on tight. It seems more like the unhealthy way she depends on her daughter emotionally has just been put into starker relief. He also believes that she fears she will get caught, separated from her child in a situation where, for example, one of our houses needs to quarantine. He’s explained to her how careful we’re being. He’s proposed possible ways to modify their existing agreement, like consolidating her time at our house. So there are fewer trips back and forth. Something I’m in favor of as risk mitigation, because, frankly, I know that they are exposing themselves to more of a risk than we are. So far, nothing’s resulted in any actual movement by his ex-wife. How should he proceed? Is it worth escalating things, for example, by contacting his lawyer? Our state recently published guidelines telling parents to continue to follow custody and visitation schedules on someone is under medically ordered quarantine. Is there some better way to make it clear that this isn’t in the best interest of their child without involving a lawyer? Is there some softer way to magically get her to see the light and preserve a positive dynamic that we’re not thinking of? I worry about the emotional impact on a child of not knowing for nearly a month when she will see her dad again. While so many other parts of her world have come unmoored. Thanks for your help. Bunkered down in Boston.
S40: So obviously this is a situation that it touches me and my heart first in various clear reasons. But I’m curious to hear how you feel when you hear something like this from the outside. Let’s start with you.
S15: My gosh, that’s a tough letter. And I feel for the families involved because one of the worst aspects of this whole scenario has been that the lack of clear guidance. I think that so many of us just want to do what is right and we just want to be told what that is. And even if the state’s guidance is that parents should adhere to existing custody agreements, I can’t really blame any of the parents involved in a situation like that for worrying that that is not enough. And the woman who wrote the letter is saying that she honors and respects their co-parenting relationship. But then she’s also kind of saying things about her husband’s ex wife that aren’t super generous and are really like she sort of accuses this woman of being too emotionally reliant on her child and wanting to maybe exploit this temporary situation to make some other point, or that she fears that her daughter would be separated from her forcefully if they would have to go into quarantine. And to all of that, I say, yeah, that seems very reasonable to me. Like, I think that any parent would worry a sudden quarantine arrangement would disrupt their child’s sharing arrangement and that they would miss their child and that after the trauma of separating, you maybe are more reliant on your child than you would have been if you were still together. And as parents, you are reliant emotionally on your children. I mean, I like I sometimes look at pictures of my kids when they’re at school, you know, because I miss them. And I think that that’s fair. And I think that maybe the woman who wrote the letter should try to be like a little more human and understanding of where this other parent is coming from. That said, I think that they have like a very difficult situation that they have to negotiate. And if safety is at stake, I think you have to make a difficult choice for you emotionally in order to preserve everybody’s health. And the difficult choice may just have to be having a relationship with this child that is more virtual than actual.
S25: At least for the moment, I very much agree with your kind of assessment of the situation. And I think to grossly oversimplify, a possible solution would be that they need to get on the phone with each other.
S12: It seem like a lot of this was being done by text and many of the things that you just went into about like what is their actual need? Whereas the safety line for the child. Why? It’s face timing a problem. All of that can really be solved by getting on the phone and having a conversation and finding out where people are. I mean, maybe they are doing this also and it’s just a difficult situation. But the letter only references all these texts, say the hard things and hear the answers back.
S25: Not all the same, but I know like when my husband and I text like things all the time go awry, like just because you’re reading in to things and whereas like you can hear and say like, oh, this is really panic. It’s not that they’re trying to get out of something or I’m on the other side. Maybe she really is trying to take advantage of this, but it just seems like we don’t have all the facts because the parties aren’t really communicating. But like I said, I think that’s probably a gross oversimplification.
S48: But to me, I feel that you probably have advice to offer.
S49: I certainly have a lot of feelings. You know, I’ll say as though it has also been co-parenting with someone that I broke up with before I was born.
S50: I know that it is a very delicate dance. We’ve done this, you know, amicably.
S51: Ninety nine point nine percent of the time. You know, for the past, I’ll say after a couple of arguments in year one. Right. And I’m giving that is context. I just say haven’t done this for a long time. But to say that like despite not having had any actual we had maybe three arguments in year one and one terse disagreement in her first year in daycare.
S32: And aside from that, it’s been easy breezy. No beef, no, you know, passive aggression.
S51: Really, everything’s been good. And yet I still sometimes write scripts in my head for my parents and his wife.
S50: And I feel that you are writing a script in your head for this woman. You are doing that now. The script could be accurate. You could be completely wrong.
S52: There are some shades of what you’re talking about that are not quite unreasonable. So if this person say lives alone, her emotional attachment to having her child with her is quite different than someone who has a partner and another child. And that’s not to say that her relationship to her daughter means more than your husband’s relationship to his daughter or her brother’s relationship or her siblings relationship to her, but that there is something very different about being a single parent of an only child.
S51: You know, like that bond is quite different.
S52: For better or worse. And furthermore, to have to go through a situation like this completely alone is, you know, for many people, quite devastating. You know, and again, this isn’t something I’ve had personal experience with, but I’ve written that script for myself in my head, you know?
S50: Well, they think that I’m doing this well.
S49: They think I’m trying to hold onto her. They think I’m being unreasonable or, you know, in both directions.
S17: Like when you read this, it’s like the mom can’t win. She’s either, like, overly attached or we could see a very similar letter that basically said she’s not concerned enough with.
S53: Right. You know, her safety, right? Absolutely. Like, we’re all just trying to do the best that we can.
S15: And again, like no one’s told us. And so the idea of calling in a lawyer who is like not an immunologist, but is there to like litigate these disagreements, just seems like. So it’s like what is a lawyer gonna be able to do to really help anyone feel better in this situation at this point?
S17: I would say it’s mostly scare someone, right? Because the courts are largely just so. Yeah. Any hope of like a resolution outside of a lawyer scaring you into doing something? I did get to a point where I thought, OK, they have this phone conversation and maybe the mom is like, well, I’m just not doing anything and you can’t get anywhere.
S12: Maybe now we’re at a point where you have to start talking about, you know, do I have to get a lawyer involved or can we come to some other media ending?
S3: Right. No.
S17: It doesn’t seem like at this point we’re there. It seems like they’ve exchanged some text messages.
S42: If somebody is not quarantining exactly the same way that you are, you know that they’re not processing this moment exactly like you are. Does not mean that what they’re doing is correct. And don’t get me wrong. If somebody is doing things that are unsafe, you know, I go I’ve been going on things. I’ve been going to visit friends like, yeah, you can be critical of them and you can encourage them to make better choices.
S50: But I think that you feel that it’s safe for her to go back and forth.
S42: The mother doesn’t feel that way. It’s OK for somebody to have an abundance of caution as you know it. You know, she said that the local government has said that custody orders are unchanged. And you should. You know, in so far as you can do so safely, your child should maintain the same schedule that they’ve been on the Weeb guide.
S32: You know, I made a good point. If we’re lacking for guidance here, like there’s no agreement on what people should be doing. There’s no voice of, you know, national caution and reason that we can really trust in any meaningful way. But we’ve also got a lot of bad guidance that we have.
S25: This situation is constantly changing. And I think trying to make a plan today for what tomorrow is. It’s difficult. So I totally agree with you, though, that I think overall everyone should be just giving everybody else a little more grace. I was. Also interested because I think people hear this and there are a lot of people out there that are in similar situations, but not exactly this. Have you had conversations with NamUs dad about like how things might change or altering that or you guys are just kind of constantly checking in? Given that she’s still going back and forth between you guys, we’re constantly checking in.
S54: I know that that conversation is soon to come. Like I’ve been kind of preparing for it in the last few days. What we’ve been doing is two days here, two days there, which is a bit of a departure from our usual schedule, which is usually a lot more fluid and kind of based on, you know, does somebody have an event or something to go to on Thursday night where, you know, usually she with me, but this week she’ll be with him on Thursday. You know, I do think that we may end up adjusting to longer stretches of time.
S55: I’ve also completely eliminated going to the grocery stores. I haven’t been anywhere in two weeks except for when I went to their house to name his birthday.
S42: And leading up to that, I was when I was like, OK, I’m going to their house.
S32: I can’t go out the house again. And after that, I was just like, you know what? I’m done going to the grocery store. You know, I mean, like this just arrested. I mean, take when there are other people that are exposed to me being my child and I ask her dad constantly, I’m like you.
S20: You know, because sometimes his wife or the other, you know, a little want-to-be on the car.
S42: And I’m like, I’m going anywhere, you know, like I’m constantly, you know, we’re covering our heads and covering our mouths and our hands. And we go out like we’re taking a super seriously in order for her to have that back and forth time.
S56: I certainly conspiracy’s circumstances on which I’m like, I would like to just keep nightmare here for the foreseeable future. And I would feel completely justified in doing that. And I would hold that if there was a situation in which my ex and his wife felt that being with me represented a safety risk.
S55: And I would want them to say that. And I do think that the mother is operating from a place of primarily. This is about her making us the safest option. It technically is the safest option for her to stay still. And, you know, I think you need to extend some grace to her. What she do needs to talk about, however, is letting her father speak to her via face time like that is unfair. And I do understand that maybe she’s thinking that the little one will be less freaked out about not seeing daddy if she doesn’t have constant reminders of daddy. But that’s ridiculous. And she will, you know, eventually, if she’s not complaining or asking questions already, that will settle into her mind. She’ll be watching. You know, a TV show or reading a book and see a kid interacting with their father. And it’ll be like, wait a minute.
S42: What has been, you know, like now I’m finally ready to say this.
S25: I think just like the united front, that the mom and dad, if they talked like they could say to this child, like, it doesn’t sound like this, dad. I mean, again, all we have is this letter. Right. But that the dad is unwilling to say, like, hey, we’ve made a decision for your safety, that you can’t come here. But what we’re gonna do is I’m going to be available this way. And I think that message like coming from both parties, like the mom here, could also be sympathetic to that and say it must be really frustrating that you don’t get to go see your dad. And that is hard. But we’re doing this for your safety. Here are ways that I can make sure you guys stay in court. You know, he still loves you. He’s still there for you. I think all of this is there. It just seems to me, like you said, that everyone is kind of up in arms about everything.
S14: I mean, all we have is the letter, right? Right. And then may be the text, but also that like there’s just not a lot of communication.
S26: Please call lawyer. You don’t bounce back from that one, my friend. All right. Thank you so much for reaching out. We’d love an update on this one, truly. And if you have a conundrum for us. Send it to mom and dad. Slate that come and you just might hear us debating about your life on the show. Onto our new segment. Drum roll, please.
S29: Everyone is fighting now. Isn’t that a great name? I came up with this.
S57: We’re literally all fighting now. Like it’s dynasty in my house. Does anyone else, like, hear their arguments with their children? And it’s like this is not an adult child. These are peers. Like everyone’s being petty. The little ones making a very excellent points.
S35: Same same as that’s brought out their animal instincts for survival by any means necessary.
S58: Well, it’s perfect that it’s bringing other animal instinct, because today we’re going to find out how the camels are doing at the zoo right now without all of their little friends coming to visit.
S45: And who better to ask than a zookeeper? So Elizabeth happens to have a zookeeper friend who works at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado, which is amazing because I feel like I have a zookeeper friend now, too.
S14: Once you meet Meghan, you’re a friend for life. That’s one of the wonderful things on Megan. So she was like one of my first mom friends in Colorado Springs. We did a stroller fitness class together with our children who both have April birthdays, all their dear friends and Megan and our dear friends. And that was even before I knew she was a zookeeper, because everybody needs a zookeeper, friends. After this interview, you’ll see why. But she’s been involved in zoo work for over 18 years and many of those as a zoo. So she works at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo now and is a consultant for other zoos. She also teaches zoo keeping technology at the Pikes Peak Community College. But her passion really is teaching kids of all ages about caring and learning for animals and about conservation. And so I’m so excited to have her share that with us. And she’s going to share with us about what’s going on. And I think we’ll all learn something and also find out kind of how the animals are doing.
S59: Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to hear you.
S44: We’re very glad to have you, Megan. So we’ve put a call out on the Facebook group to get questions from kids and our readers and listeners delivered some very great inquisitive inquiries from their little people. So we’re going to start with a question from Jonah.
S60: I’m down on the video and I love you right there. My question of how I got on or gearing up to do or do they make people think it’s a good question.
S59: The animals are doing really well.
S61: So the good news is, is that zookeepers are still doing the same stuff that they always do in terms of providing really good care for the animals that they are looking after. The one we are differences is that now there are no people around.
S62: So the animals are doing great. And do they miss people? And it’s kind of a hard question to answer. So I’ll have to put on my behavior hat for a minute.
S61: We usually talk about when we talk about animals, we refer to external states that we can measure and see. And so, you know, I can’t necessarily ask a hippo. Do you miss seeing people? But we can kind of look at their behavior. And we do know that they’re still eating well, they’re still acting normally.
S59: They’re still playing with all of their toys and enrichment items. So it is probably a difference for them.
S63: I’m sure they notice that there are not people around anymore. I talked to a friend of mine the other day at a zoo that I work with out in California called the Living Desert. And after this whole quarantine started, they actually had a litter of African wild dog puppies born. And so, you know, the rest of that pack is really used to having a lot of people around and seeing people come and go in front of their exhibit. And we were having a discussion about it’s going to be really interesting when they open back up that these puppies have never seen large crowds of people.
S64: I don’t know if they’re necessarily missing them now, but it’s certainly going to be something that the keepers are keeping an eye on in terms of how does their behavior change between now and when we open back up. And that will be one of those kind of interesting things to watch that. What are those puppies thing? Because it’s not going to be something that they are seeing on a daily basis like the other members of their pack.
S25: So the animals are still seeing, for the most part, their regular keeper, like the one that they are seeing. And I assume they’re still getting like fat checks like so kind of like guys, like some kind of life is normal.
S65: Yeah, normal people that they see every day. So the people who deliver cookies morning, noon and night, they’re still there.
S61: So that part of their routine hasn’t changed. You know, they still are having the training sessions, they’re still getting enrichment. And also the vet staff is still on grounds and still working. So their veterinary care is still still a part of their day, the one part that’s maybe not there. So Shining Mountain, for example, they have a really robust giraffe feeding program. I’m sure some of their giraffe are feeling a little sad. Maybe their snack.
S65: Klein has dried up a little bit, but maybe that’s making them dream better. I don’t know.
S66: I like this question. Hi. My name is abigger. I’m flying. Oh, I like Jamie Casey. Micro-scale me. Are here. You keep their feet running. And I feel right for having my name, my back.
S59: I think zookeepers rest all the time anyway. They’re not necessarily rushing.
S61: So the good thing is, at least at Cheyenne Mountain, they still have their full animal staff intact. So all of the normal keepers that would be there on a day to day basis are still there. So they’re still all kind of shouldering that workload together and sharing the responsibility of getting everyone fed and taking care of.
S63: The one difference that they do have that I think is a little strange for keepers is that they don’t have public demonstrations that they’re necessarily doing throughout the day, which is really a huge part of the job.
S67: It’s one of the most important things that we can do is actually talk to and educate kids. And that’s one of the things that we actually really enjoy is being able to have people connect to these animals that we love so much and see the things about them that we we think are so cool and unique. And those obviously are happening right now. There is no one there to go out and listen to you talk about your animal for 15 or 20 minutes. The cool thing is that I think you guys are seen on social media is that they are finding different outlets for those types of things. You know, so looking at all of these online safaris that are taking place or these behind the scenes types of activities that. Keepers are being able to do that’s kind of a cool way that they’re still being able to reach out and connect people with the animals that they love so much and being able to still share what makes them so unique and amazing and worth looking after.
S68: Thank you, guys. Probably seen, too, that animals are getting the opportunities that they may not normally have when we do have people in zoos, which is pretty cool. See, again, I was that my friend at the Living Desert the other day, and I know that they just took one of their porcupines out on a wagon ride.
S59: So he got to go on a tour around the entire zoo and see all of these things that he normally wouldn’t get to see.
S68: And also, all these other animals are getting to see a porcupine, which they probably wouldn’t normally see.
S36: That is an amazing idea for a children’s book. Somebody should really write The Children the day the porcupine is to go in the wagon. That’s a great radio flyer.
S59: Porcupine. Yeah, yeah. You pine out for a cruise. Yeah.
S63: So, you know, it’s kind of weird and it’s, you know, a little unsettling to not have all the people around. But at the same time, I think they’re really making the best of it in terms of being able to maybe do these things that are quite as easy to do when we have big crowds, people that are are visiting and around with us. So one small little, you know, silver lining to having life not be quite what we usually have it or expect it to be looking like day to day.
S25: If you could have an animal like at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, go exploring. Who would you at go around?
S18: Is it like choosing your favorite child? Yeah, I do.
S62: I love them all the same.
S18: And yes, if any of them I love I love you all. I want them all the same the same opportunities.
S62: Who would I pick? I don’t know.
S65: Maybe the orders just because they’re so stinkin, inquisitive. And I think it would be a riot. I mean, we would never get them back.
S13: But there’s now, too. Oh, my gosh.
S29: George has a tough question for you.
S69: OK, hi. My name is George. I am 10 years old. And my question is, did the zoo keepers still get paid to feed the animals?
S59: That is a good question. That’s a very kind and empathetic question to ask.
S61: You know, that’s one of those things that really is going to vary from institution to institution.
S70: So I think I mentioned earlier right now at Shinin Mountain, they still have their entire staff intact at this point is how they are moving forward. I know that there are others use that have had to make some really hard decisions so Libyan doesn’t go. I’ve mentioned a few times is one of those zoos. They unfortunately did have to lay off two thirds of their staff. So those two zoos in specific are nonprofit organizations. So they really do rely on people coming through the gates and supporting them through memberships and animal adoptions and things like that in order to be able to run their facilities for zoos that maybe don’t have as much of a cushion or a pillow to absorb some of this. There is a significant loss of revenues that’s happened over the last several weeks. And that is really hard stuff. To kind of navigate and manage and figure out. The good things is that they are keeping a functional staff. So for somewhere like the living desert, they do still have their veterinary and their animal care staff on grounds. So they still have people there that are providing for the welfare of those animals and making sure that they have all of their needs met on a daily basis, as well as having a little fun on the side as our little party Pinehaven showed us. But that is an unfortunate, kind of sad offset to this, is that there are some places that have had to make some really difficult decisions in terms of how do you navigate this time where you don’t have those lines of revenue coming in that they so, so very dearly depend on.
S12: Are there ways that if someone is able for them to be able to help their local zoo?
S59: Yeah, you know, so I think even just kind of connecting and looking for those distance ways.
S70: So, you know, memberships still are something that’s a direct line of revenue for those zoos. And, you know, we can’t necessarily go right now, but that membership is still going to be supporting day to day programming or day to day care that those animals are receiving and other programs at zoos may have available to them on their Web site.
S68: So things like an adoption animal program or, you know, kind of those symbolic type adoption things are, again, those revenue streams that are going to go directly into supporting the zoo and the work that they’re still doing.
S63: Even when we can’t have people come through the gates, I know that a lot of these are looking for kind of creative ways to to generate maybe funds. So looking for maybe an online interview, the keeper type of program where you can pay, you know, a small nominal fee and then have an opportunity to maybe do a science project.
S71: Now, there were all homeschooling and have your kids be able to actually talk to a zookeeper or learn a little bit about an animal that they really enjoy or are interested in. So those are all kind of those small ways of looking for your local accredited to do and being able to look for ways that you can support them financially. You know, I will say that I think it is still really meaningful to that. People are reaching out on some of these social media platforms or even sending in letters and just kind of those words of support during a time like this that it is it’s sad and it’s a bummer. And, you know, there are keepers whose livelihoods right now are kind of a little bit in the limbo zone. And I think hearing from people that they’re still thinking about them and they still support the work that they’re doing, it really does mean a lot to know that the community is still behind them and supporting, you know, their facility and their their animals, really.
S72: We have a lot of questions about elephants and negative and trying to hack their living app. And I want to know how it’s growing. What do you know? Hi, this is Evelin from Louisiana.
S60: She is 4 years old and she has a question for the zoo keepers. Hi. Hi, I.
S59: So good questions. The simple answer to that is a lot. They eat a lot all every day. I remember, Elizabeth, your kids, when we used to go to the zoo when they were little. Your kids were always really interested in the elephants pooping. Yeah. Oh, well, I used to watch that elephant food.
S18: It was the highlight. Would you be interested in owning.
S59: Everybody poops. Everybody poops. So I’ll have to kind of dig in my memory banks to see if I can remember exact numbers.
S63: But each day, every one of those elephants eats close to a bale of hay. So that’s around 60 to seventy five pounds of hay. And then on top of that, they get green. So specifically designed green for them. We can kind of basically think of it like elephant cereal has all the nutrients and vitamins in there that they need. And then they also each get a five gallon bucket of produce cut up. And that’s a variety of different fruits and vegetables. So sweet potatoes and cucumbers and apples and oranges, bananas, kind of anything that you can think of.
S59: And then that all comes in roughly two hundred and fifty pounds a boot with which you’ve been placed into Elizabeth’s kids favorite part of the zoo.
S35: I think a lot of kids know that they’re adults are trying not to go to the grocery store as much. Is it a challenge for the zoo to make sure that you have enough groceries on hand for those elephants and all the other animals that you have to take care of as this all started kind of evolving over the last several weeks?
S63: I think zoos, for the most part, actually did a really good job of making sure that their supply chain was set for several months. So typically when we do food orders, a lot of times we’re ordering for a six to twelve months at a time. So, you know, we have these prescribed diets that are set out for our animals. And so we can kind of extrapolate those numbers forward and then make a good estimate of how much food do we need to get us through a specific amount of time. You know, that was something that was being looked at, you know, weeks and weeks ago when this all started kind of happening and evolving over in Europe and other places. And so I know that a lot of zoos were actually kind of beefing up their stockpile even back then to make sure that we had the dry goods that we were able to utilize.
S73: And then, you know.
S63: Thank goodness for all of our brilliant truck drivers and our supply chain within our fresh produce type of supply line, but we utilize the same human quality food that gets delivered to grocery stores. And so, you know, they’re still tapping into that supply chain as well to make sure that all of the fresh produce and the things that we’re getting in in that regard are still available and they’re for animals. So certainly something to be planning and looking ahead for most. Do you have someone that manages their food in their commissary? Their food supply specifically?
S64: And that was something that I think they did a really good job of kind of getting out ahead of and making sure that, you know, the elephants had their groceries for the next long.
S35: Why there must be such a fun job being the person who is in charge of doing the grocery shopping for the zoo. That’s another really good idea for a children’s book. I’m feeling very inspired for this purpose.
S38: OK. So wait, what about Peanut?
S24: Is that just like a myth?
S65: Like do elephants really eat peanuts? They can, but that that’s not necessarily like the ultimate very favorite thing and or grizzly farm.
S53: I don’t know. I think it’s probably is Disney. It’s a Dumbo. Dumbo. Yeah.
S71: But know it actually does have a program with their elephants. They have some elephants that do public feedings with our guests so people can come and actually buy a piece of fruit and they actually get to go up and and actually stick it into the trunk and feed the elephant. And then they take that money. A lot of that money is earmarked for elephant conservation. So it’s kind of one of those ways that, you know, people can be a direct contributor to wild elephant conservation just by visiting and getting to know the elephants that live at the zoo, which is kind of fun. But for them, they actually really like their fruit, their kind of a fruit, ladies. They enjoy that as a treat. Everyone, Swidler for training. Sometimes they’ll get bread, which they do like. I mean, who doesn’t not like carbs? So I do a lot for a bag. So you will see during training times, every once in a while we’ll get we’ll get some bagels and bread in there. They won’t say no to that.
S35: Megan, this is going to be a hard question to answer. Maybe. But what is your favorite thing about working at the city?
S65: That is a hard question to answer. I feel extremely lucky.
S62: I think I am one of those rare people that gets to say I literally have gotten to do my dream job for most of my adult life. I don’t know if I could pick out one thing. You know, there’s so many different aspects of it that I really enjoy.
S35: When you were a kid, did you want to work at the zoo?
S63: You know, when I was a kid, I don’t know that I necessarily said I want to be a zookeeper, but I do have pictures of me as a child that, you know, while my friends were playing with Barbies, I actually you guys know there’s like old cardboard blocks that look like a brick, like printing a brick.
S65: Yeah, we had those. And instead of playing Barbies, I actually built habitats for my stuffed animals and cut out construction paper.
S63: So, you know, drew up little signs for them and wrote little information plaques. So that’s certainly something that I think has always been a part of, really just who I am. Work for me really has never been work. It really is soul food. Like, I just feel like a whole human being when I get to be around animals or talking about animals, you know. And even though I’ve moved a little way from not necessarily being at the zoo full time, the fact that I still get to teach. And now hopefully influence this next generation of keepers that’s coming in behind us. It’s a physical job. And, you know, not all of us can do this forever as we all start entering our 40s and whatnot. But the fact that we have this whole generation of college students and kids that’s coming back behind us to make sure that this really important work continues is still something that I find a huge amount of joy in. So, you know, what is my favorite part? All of it.
S67: That’s such a lame answer. But, you know, being close to those animals, having the connection with those animals and really the people I work with, they are just some of the most fantastic human beings. I just love them dearly. They’re like family.
S25: Oh, you know, you don’t get a lot of bad guys in Zookeeper.
S36: No. We’re a man. Well, I hope the zoo opens up and is back to normal as soon as possible. All year.
S35: And that all your animals and all of your human people at the zoos who are healthy and happy.
S74: Thank you. I appreciate that. And we appreciate all the kids listening out there in the family supporting the zoo’s. It means it means a lot to know. You know, people out there have our back and listeners let us know.
S75: Who do you like to hear from next week in awe. Everyone is fighting that segment. Just write us an email. Mom and dad, it’s late that. OK. This show is an average just yet. It’s time for recommendations. So remind what you have for us.
S35: I have a recommendation for a really wonderful book that I wrote about as a critic. It’s a book called Making Comics. It’s by a woman named Linda Berry who damn place knows well because he wrote a beautiful story about her years ago for. Times Magazine and Linda Barry is a sort of eccentric, hard to categorize artist who makes comics. And in this book, she has all of these exercises and they are not necessarily for children. They are not necessarily just for adults. They’re kind of just for human beings. And these exercises have really engaged my kids the last couple of days. For example, she has one where you draw with your non-dominant hand or you close your eyes and time yourself drawing a plate of bacon and eggs. And you do that three times over and sort of see what the results look like. Really simple, really easy to do, but somehow really charming and just really beautifully done. And I think we’re all looking for non screen things to do with our kids. I highly recommend this book Making Comics.
S25: This sounds amazing. I’m going to get this and put it in my morning basket. Yeah. Safdie on a thing I look for. For those like morning activities that we can do and you don’t really need to prep for but are thoughtful.
S35: And it’s the rare activity that I don’t think a parent would mind doing. Look, there’s so many kids games and toys that I’m just like not engaged by it, but it’s got a charming and fun to close your eyes and draw with your left hand. Like, why not? You know, what’s your recommendation this week?
S25: So I am recommending a children’s book called The Rabbit Listened by Corey Fields. It’s kind of the book that we all need right now. Now, it’s definitely a children’s book, but it’s one of those ones that as an adult you read and it hits you in the heart like it’s teaching you a lesson, too. In this book, Out of the Blue, something terrible happens to this little boy or girl, actually, that I can’t remember the name, but it is completely like gender neutral, which I love, because you can kind of assign, you know, whoever fits. Like when I’m reading it as a mom, I’m like, it’s a little girl and my boys think it’s a little boy. But the illustration shows like a huge black building being knocked down by a flock of birds, just like out of the blue. This terrible thing happens. And one by one, this parade of animals comes in like the bear comes in and says, let’s get really angry about this and yell about it.
S76: And the child says, that’s not what I want. And then the snake comes in and says, let’s go knock down somebody else’s. And the chicken comes in and says, let’s talk about it. Let’s just talk to talk about it. So the child kind of dismisses each one until the rabbit comes in and the rabbit just sits next to the boy. And in the picture, literally, just like sidles up to him and they sit for two or three pages. It’s that rabbit sitting there. And then one by one, the boy goes through each of the emotions that the other animal has. So he throws a fit and the rabbit sits there and he says, I’m gonna go knock down someone else’s tower. And the rabbit sits there.
S25: And finally, at the end, the boy just builds a new tower. And I think that it is such a pertinent book both for parents and children. Now it’s white pages with very simple illustrations. It’s fun to read, but it also is really sending this message of there’s a time for all of these emotions and they’re all okay. But it’s also okay to just be the person that sits and listen. So I really recommend this. You can, of course, buy it online. There are also quite a few YouTube videos of people reading it. So, you know, you don’t want to buy another book or whatever. Look it up on YouTube and watch it with your kids. Even my now 8 year old picks it out frequently. There is a time and a place for the parents to just be. So I recommend the rabbit listened by corrido fields.
S44: Very nice. Okay. So mine is for some of you if you’re willing to try this. It will be a resetting of the way that we’re approaching this time that we have indoors.
S77: So, you know, I think a lot of us have given a lot of energy to, you know, either in practice or just the idea of like doing certain things in preparation for when we come back out.
S44: Right. So whether it’s getting active for the first time or staying active so we don’t, you know, compromise our hard work. If it’s, you know, learning a new skill or saving or planning for something that happens outside and just thinking, you know, constantly being focused on life after what we’re doing in here is preparing us for life after I should say, I’ve come to a point where I’m really trying to focus on treating each day as this is life.
S37: So this is not just, you know, life on pause or life on hold. This is in preparation for what happens when the doors open up again and we can start having more normal social activities or going back to work and school and treasuring each day that we have, despite the circumstances in real time, as opposed to thinking of it as some sort of, you know, practice or training ground.
S77: I don’t think most of us are thinking of it as a vacation, but many people feel they have to be in some sort of training camp and you have to start a new business.
S78: You have to start a new fitness routine. You just have to start something new or finish something. And, you know, we’re here and there are beautiful moments that happen each day.
S58: And there are difficult moments. And there’s. No ones.
S28: But, you know, we’re here. And I just really don’t want to lose the value of this time because it could be you know, it could be two months. It could be six months. It could be twelve months. We don’t know how long this is going to go on. And so the idea of only, you know, being focused on what happens afterwards, I don’t think is a very healthy or sustainable way to operate. So I’m recommending that we think the out what happens later and truly try to make the most of what we’re doing right now.
S7: That’s good advice. My kids, often we’ll take them out for breakfast or something on a Saturday and they’ll say, what are we doing next? What are we doing, Max? Or we’ll go to a movie. And Levitical, what are we doing next? Routine next night. My husband and I both get so frustrated. We’re like, just enjoy what’s happening in this moment because, like, you know, something good will happen next. But like, just like, be in this moment. And I think that’s sort of what you’re saying and like that. That’s good advice, because there’s just so much we don’t know.
S28: You know, absolutely. And I don’t think we need to make ourselves any more miserable. It makes me think of when, you know, I give my daughter like a Barbie doll or something or an well, though.
S20: And the back of the box has other l-l dolls. And so it starts with the excitement of the one she has. And then it’s like I want to get her her and her. I’m like, you just got this the basketball here. So this is the box.
S43: Yeah. No one is L-O-L at the moment. Now. Quite a few surprises.
S12: Life is like a series of sometimes good things and sometimes bad things and just saying like.
S17: I just have to be where I am and that is all I can handle and all I can do is a really good way to learn to get through these moments because this might be the biggest thing that happens to us. But it certainly will be the last thing you know. Right. And we can hope this is the biggest thing, but it definitely won’t be the last. Frustration. And to some people, like there are little things in your life that feel bigger than us, even though this is massive. And especially when you’re younger. You know, I think as we get older, these things feel bigger because we understand the consequences more. But I think it’s I really did like life lesson both for parents and for children to just remember that, like you said, we’re not waiting for anything. This is life.
S44: Think. Marijuana. marguerita pulls out a little wisdom every now and again.
S38: And I think it’s a good recommendation.
S37: Thank you. That is our show for the week. Thank you so much for joining us. Remind you are the cutest boy I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m gonna go on hange later.
S43: Oh, yes. This is so much fun. No, I’m going to join hands later and look for guys who look like you because I think I might be in love now. Oh, my gosh.
S35: Come on. This is what Xoom has done to us. We’re just so happy to see someone who is not our family.
S36: I don’t know when to say goodbye to any of you.
S39: Like, we’re just it’s it’s such a relief to look at someone not in my family.
S79: Like the mailman smiled at me once, like today. He just like, ring the doorbell, like ran like last week when they smiled at me and I felt so warm inside.
S37: I was like, a person sees me.
S38: I feel so. I feel the.
S13: Literally our Craigslist missed connections. Still a thing. I wonder if that’s like going crazy for a hybrid. You look from a window. I saw you from seven feet away. You met? Yes. Yeah.
S79: You handed me my over, turned your head right to see me. But I saw you and you were very happy.
S13: I felt so connected to that area.
S79: But I was rambly thinking about Craigslist, missed connections the other day. Like, I’m convinced at some point somebody tried to find me there and I just didn’t look for them. And it’s the greatest regret of my life because I know somebody.
S35: The path not taken.
S79: You know, the path that you and I could never like. Just find myself on there because I always changed my hair and eyes. I just got bored. I was like, I grew a blue hair.
S30: I’m like, no, that’s not me now. I don’t know.
S80: All right, guys, this is lots of fun. Dan free episode of Mom and Dad or Friday doesn’t happen to them. Hopefully we didn’t burn the house down.
S81: If you have a question that you like for us to talk about on the show, please, then it’s an email at mom and dad at Slate that come and join us on Facebook. Just search for Slate’s parent pain. Mom and dad are fighting. It’s produced by Rosemarie Bellson for the new camp. My alarm. Jamie, you.
S82: Hello, Slate Plus listeners. Thank you, guys, as always, so much for supporting mom and dad are fighting. It means a lot to us. So we decided that we wanted to do something for you all in return and make sure that you got just as much of our advice as you can handle. Good. Better otherwise. And so for this week, Slate Plus segment, we’re gonna do a second listener question, which is being read once again by the fabulous Shasha Leonhard.
S47: I need advice on how to help my almost 3 year old daughter warm up to her new baby brother, who is now 3 months old, before covered 19. My daughter had daycare three mornings a week and we had a part time nanny who was only for her. She also spent one afternoon a week with grandma. So we had all these special her play dates in place because we knew this would be a challenging transition for her. Now that’s all gone because of corona virus and the tantrums are real. Whenever the baby makes any noise, she immediately either growls at him, starts yelling at the top of her lungs, or bonus runs over to him and tries to punch him. I or my husband always commonly tell her that this behavior is not OK and then try to engage her in something else before the situation spirals out of control. I know her struggle is normal, but the constant tantrum feeling and the need to literally protect the baby all day, every day is wearing me and my husband down. My husband is home and not working due to Copan 19, which is stressful on a whole other level, but he is able to mainly care for her. While I watch her baby every day, I make sure to spend time with her. I set up one or two activities for her to play, and then we go outside in our tiny yard whenever we can. But the tantrums just seem to be getting worse and I don’t know how we’re gonna keep it together for another month or possibly longer. Mom and dad need a pro tips, OK?
S28: You parents of multiples take this away because I can’t even fathom.
S39: I mean, we have to defer to the real pro here. Who is Elizabeth, right? Yes, of course. Tell us, Elizabeth.
S25: 1. I think this is totally normal. And you somehow wonderful letter writer managed to delay this normal to the worst possible. My oldest child was like so into the baby when we brought Oliver home. The middle child and was like into it for two and a half days and then said, OK. When is it going back? And we were like, no, no, it’s not going back. It’s staying. And he was like, What?
S17: And then was really mad for a while. The big thing is that one I think you’re facing some of just like 3 year olds throw tantrums. We are in an incredibly stressful situation in which all of the routine has changed. And there is this new being in the house that is supposed to magically be part of the family.
S25: And to a 3 year old. I don’t know if you were pregnant or adopted. Whatever the situation is, you probably talked about it with your child. They knew, but they didn’t really know that what was happening was something this drastic to them. It is that drastic.
S12: And I think the issue here is that you have to just validate the child’s feelings. So when they are screaming and throwing the tantrum. I find this works with most tantrums in general is the ignoring B like behavior that surrounds the tantrum, but not leaving them and saying, I see that you are really mad and it must be super hard that dad has to go be with the baby and not with you, or it must be really hard that we can’t get you this thing right now because of the baby that is so hard because they’re throwing the tantrum, because they need some kind of attention and having them feel validated is a huge part of that. The other thing is I think they’re doing a great job of making sure that their older child get some one on one time. But likely the child is also craving that one on one time with mom and dad, because that’s what they had before. So I think if you can utilize like we used to do special bedtimes where it was like mom and dad with the older child and we would say how special that big brothers get, you know, three books, a bad one for mom, one from dad and one together, or whatever it is to say. This is a really special thing about being a big brother. I also feel like they’re separating that older child. I have always invited my other kids to help me care for the baby and then made that a big deal.
S17: So Henry loved to bring me diapers and so I just made it like there was no one that could bring diapers the way that Henry could bring diapers. Right. Like if I was changing a diaper or even if Jeff was home, I would ask for Henry to get the diaper because he is the best big brother that brings diapers or pacifiers or gets water or whatever it is your child is willing to do. I don’t think you should force them to do it, but I just always think that inviting them to take care of this new member and then endlessly praising them for even the smallest of tasks is important.
S12: And finally, I think just you need to tell this child how much you love them all the time. One of the tricks I like is to speak to the baby and say, do you know what? I just loved seeing Henry do today or I love seeing Oliver do today, because that other child is constantly hearing you talk about the baby that way, like the baby spit out the need that the baby did that. So if you can talk to your partner or to the baby about this other child, it feels like a whole new level of praise. I also think like this is normal.
S17: You are going to get through it. It is really terrible timing. And I feel for you because these tantrums feel like world ending. I wanted to recommend two quick. Like other resources. There’s a book called Sibling Hood Without Rivalry from Adele Faber. I think it is excellent. It gives some really good tips, some like this, but just kind of how to setup sibling relationships. And her big point there also is like validate the feelings that, you know, sometimes things happen and you don’t. Always have to like your sibling. You don’t have to harp on the fact of like, but we love them because we’re in the family. Like that will come naturally. It’s OK to say, like, yeah, I see that you don’t like them a lot right now.
S14: That is a feeling like I don’t love everybody in my family every moment of every day. Right. So being able to say like that’s normal, but we still continue as a family is kind of the unsaid thing. The other thing is Janet Landsberry has a podcast called Unruffled and she also has a blog.
S25: And she just has a lot of good sage advice about kind of the addition of a sibling. And she equates it to like processing grief. Both these books use the analogy of like, if your partner came home with another partner and said things like, I loved you so much, we got another one. Like That is what the children are processing. Like, you have brought home another one of them and they don’t have any frame of reference for, you know, what, having a bigger family is. So just like with grief, they say, like you could be doing something totally different and all of a sudden it feels overwhelming and you’re not sure why. And the tantrum is a sign of that. So you’re outside playing and all of a sudden the child realizes like, you know, who knows what reminds them that there’s a baby and they feel sad about it. So I think just continuing to validate those feelings and you will get through this.
S35: I do feel like this is a tough time to just be trapped inside with a toddler, a newborn, beyond any kind of question of sibling rivalry or, you know, healing from pregnancy or any of these sort of associated things that this letter writer is dealing with. My children are three years apart, and I’ve always found that to be a really enviable spread, actually, even though I do think for 3 year olds can be a difficult animal. I do think that they’re old enough. They’re sort of like they grasp enough that they’re not going to like kill the baby. They’re not going to pick the baby up and throw it on the stairs, whereas an 18 month old would do something like that. I think I used strategies sort of similar to what Elizabeth is describing, where we looked at the arrival of the new baby as like a promotion for his brother. So it was like suddenly his big brother was being promoted to this amazing new job and like became with so many perks, like he had a brand new bed and he was in charge of getting all of the diapers. We had those like white cloth diapers all over the house. And he would like fold them and bring them to me. And he took it very seriously. And it actually genuinely was helpful. He got to lorded over his little brother like he’d be like, oh, well, you don’t get to eat like oatmeal because you don’t have any teeth. Like, sucks to be you, you know, and that continues to be their dynamic to this day. But he’s treating it like a promotion to being a big kid as opposed to like a replacement that like now we have this new baby is just one way of thinking about it that I found helpful. And it is really terrible that you’re stressed about like the loss of income and all that stuff, but you are both at home together. And I think there’s such an opportunity there, like Elizabeth said, when the baby’s napping, because that’s all babies do. You get to be like gas-fired, like we’re going to sneak out and have a picnic, just the three of us. And the baby’s not invited because he can’t sit up. So, like, he’ll have to wait until he’s old enough to sit up a week and sit on the lawn and like have a cucumber sandwich. And like, it’s just this special thing for just us. And like, don’t tell your brother until he’s older because he’d be so jealous. You know, I think there’s like this this simple, simple psychological tricks that you can deploy to just remind your big one that they matter to.
S83: You have the framing of our promotion. I wish that I had come up with that letter writer and it’s not too late for that. Hold a promotion ceremony.
S27: So my shit parenting is stoking these little people’s insufferable egos, not having a second little one.
S37: I can attest to the power even at three constant praise and promotion. And you know, wow, you’re so great at this. You’re the best at this. You know, it kind of comes back so low. He was hopping about earlier with their birthday. You know, like affirmation just means so much. Just simply, it’s your birthday is like, wow, you’re the best.
S26: You’re such a great big brother. You’re such a great big sister. It’s like, no, actually, kind of second a little bit. They don’t like the baby. But hearing that it’s going to make them feel really good and hopefully they’ll become that way.
S37: I just want to say that the middle aged black woman that lives inside me, that will emerge as my, you know, true farm in the next 10 years or so is screaming, does you leave that baby inside while you go on a picnic?
S22: So just be clear that you have the baby monitor with you.
S83: Take the monitor with that smile at me, says leave the baby and walk down to the school. What’s going to happen?
S41: The white. Oh, man, play the monitor.
S13: It’s fine, but no.
S27: Now you is a big sister to see us and her brother and she are pretty close in age. So like she left 18 month, though, who probably would have, you know. They went through that 2000 fiercely protective of, you know, she can discipline him, she can raise them as far as she’s concerned, even though they’re still they’re essentially like a grade apart.
S37: Well, I think, you know, he’s in transitional kindergarten and she’s in first grade. So there’ll be two grades apart now. But like she doesn’t play when it comes to her little brother, for sure. You know, there was this moment for a while that, you know, I thought, I’m the superior parent because I’m the mama. You know, she’s just a thing we’re socialized to believe in. When they had a second baby, I was like, holy shit. Wow.
S84: You know, sometimes I think I’ve had him over here. You know, we’re at our last apartment plenty of times and taking their places. And every time I’m just like, wow, you guys do this. Wow. Regular basis. Both of them. Incredible. Unbelievable.
S45: Like I tip my hat, even though two of us. Two of them. This is the other equally matched, you know, like two kids, two adult kids increase their power exponentially, whereas adults don’t.
S35: So it’s like the two can two can collaborate and like seek to destroy you in a way that two adults can’t collaborate, quite unlike maintaining order, which is why I don’t know how Elizabeth’s hair is not completely gray as mine.
S13: It’s the I’ve let down so much like I walk into rooms all the time and I think they’re quiet. I’ll just deal with you ever like whatever the girl take.
S35: I’ll take a look. Jamila, you just said about new humor, like it may not have been easy initially. But what you describe now is so lovely. And it’s like probably what the woman who wrote this letter is probably that’s that’s in her future. And she it’s just so hard to see when someone is having a tantrum in your living room. It’s hard to be like, okay, a decade from now, you guys will be really close and none of this will be an issue anymore.
S22: And join forces against me. Exactly. To destroy me.
S17: That’s not even a decade away. Like as soon as the baby is old enough to realize that the ticket to everything is the older brother and the older brother realizes like, oh, if I just knew if I’m playing with this kid, like I got a pass like that happen so quickly in our house, like even at the three of them just became kind of this unit.
S12: And yes, they fight and sometimes it’s total chaos, but they are like this unit and they do they get along and they take care of each other.
S14: And even when Teddy came in here earlier, I heard Henry, the older one eight year old, running back saying, I’ll get you a bowl of snacks. You’re supposed to stay out of there.
S13: Like it’s those kind of. It seems like. Yeah, that’s the right. That is what I would do. Right. Like if they’re supposed to say the obvious. Jeff, I’m like, so who wants some food? You know, it’s coming.
S25: And it’s so. I agree with you. It’s just so hard. And right now. Yeah, even if this weren’t happening with a 3 year old and a baby, it would be something else. So hang in there, hang in there, hang in there.
S44: And you can give me some tips in a few years, because my plan is I’d like to have a baby in the next three years. So first relationship marriage, baby.
S12: You bet.
S53: You’re like in the real sweet spot because with a older child like these, are the parents really like they’ve got to have it because that you can do so much and wants to do so much and feels amazing. Do it.
S25: What a win.
S26: It’s going to be great. He’s going to be like eleven is going to be like, you’re going to help me raise the baby. It’s not going to be like, you’re the best big sister. It’s like you’re the best.
S53: Oh, exactly. You know, he thought, oh, no, not like a little. You know, just like to get her to do something. But it’s also like a good life skill and some service. I mean.
S85: I’m just saying, you’ve got it figured out, you’ve got it figured out. I gave up my love. There is another great book title.
S22: And then it’ll be nice. My mother, my mother made me into a servant, not a mommy here. Exactly.
S85: Oh, well, good.
S44: Let’s see a letter writer. We hope that things cool off soon. They will. We help you find a way to find peace with your children because you’re going to need it. Good luck with that. You multiple parents. So crazy. All right. That’s it for this week’s Slate Plus. Thank you so much for your support of the show. And we will talk to you next week.