S1: Just to give you a heads up, one of us is bound to say something not suitable for little ears. It is, after all, the one hour a day I spend away from my children. Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast from Thursday, April eight, Slumber Party Predicament Edition. I’m Elizabeth, New Hampshire, right to home school and family travel blog, Dutch Dutch Peace. I’m the mom to three little Henry who by the time this comes out, will be nine years old, Oliver, who’s six, and Teddy who’s poor. And we currently live in Navarre, Florida, for like one more month.
S2: I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding Parenting column and co-host of Slate’s Wild and Wise Evening Chat Show and mom to Nyima, who is eight. And we live in Los Angeles, California.
S3: I’m Isaac Butler. I am a writer and the co-host of Slate’s working podcast. And I am the father to Iris, who is six and a half. The half
S2: is important, which is
S3: very I’m learning that. I’ve learned that this year,
S2: especially at six, that’s at the point where
S1: they know, yes, yes.
S3: A year is such a higher percent of their lives that it makes sense that half a year would mean a lot. I mean, that’s that’s like one twelfth of her life that we’re talking about if we’re talking about the half birthday, whereas when you’re ancient, like myself, six months is meaningless.
S2: Nothing lives
S1: by. Well, I think we’re so glad that you are joining us on today’s show. We have a question from a mother who lost their first daughter to stillbirth. Her second daughter is now a newborn and she’s wondering when to tell her second daughter about her lost older sister. Then we’ve got a sleepover conundrum. Our letter writers daughter is 10 and wants a girls only slumber party, but her boy cousins want an invite. Should they be put on the guest list on Slate? Plus, we’ll be talking about sparking creativity in kids. But let’s start out with triumphs and fails. Isaac. So your first so for your return to the show, do we have a triumph or a fail this week?
S3: I feel like you got to bring the fail when you return as a guest host. Right. I did a triumph last time. This is a very small one, though. I just want to share it because I think it’s it’s it’s people will hopefully find it cute. You know, we’re doing Zun School this week. Everyone’s favorite thing, school over zoom on a on a really crappy Chromebook that the school provided. We’re doing anything is incredibly arduous. And at one point I’m trying to get something loaded so that I can print it. And then I accidentally signed us out of it and, you know, who knows? And and I just was filled with such rage, such rage. We try not to yell either at or around us whenever possible. We try not to swear at or, you know, because we’re trying to model how we want her to express her feelings. And at this point, I’m ready to snap this friggin thing in half and I just go, God damn it. And I hit myself on the leg because it’s either that or I’m going to break this thing and there’s just this, like, silence. I’m like, oh, no. Oh, no. I did. I did the thing I did the thing that I’m not supposed to do. And I’m pretty good at not doing it. I just fucked this whole thing up. Then Iris comes up to me and she starts digging through the drawers of her desk and I’m like, What are you doing? And she comes and she hands me a blank piece of paper and she goes, Data, draw your feelings and then tear the piece of paper up. And I was like, my daughter is teaching me emotional resilience, all right, but I was like, Oh, sweetie, is that something they taught you to do in school when you get upset? And she’s like, Yeah, yeah. I was like, well, I have to get this stuff printed. I don’t I don’t really have time. And she goes, well, you could just scribble and then just, you know, just express it and then and then tear it up. And I was like, well, how about later I draw this Chromebook and you and I rip it up together. And she laughed and then we move beyond the moment. So it was like a fail that my daughter salvaged. So that’s my that’s my fail.
S1: I love that. Now, we like to call that, though, a triumph because, you know, is it loud? Yes, because we’re allowed to take our children’s, like, successes and claim them as our own.
S3: All right. All right. Fine, fine. Next time, we’ll have to do something terrible planned in advance to really fuck up as a parent to because I did do Triumph’s in a row.
S1: I love it. Djamila, how about you?
S2: I have a feel as I often do, but this one’s not related to parenting’s. That’s a little different as I did my pinky toe back into society. I went to an outdoor event the other day and met a very handsome man. We exchange info and L.A. dating is crazy and weird enough, but it’s also been a pandemic. So it just was kind of like, oh, cool. You know, like he’s really fine. And we talked on the phone a few times over the past few days. And it wasn’t until we had been, you know, I guess at this point I have maybe had like five or six hours of conversation before he revealed that he had a girlfriend. And even though this is an open situation, you know, I tell people all the time, if open is good for you, that’s great. Like, I think that people should find what works for them, but it’s just not what I’m personally looking for. So the fail was that I did not ask the most entry level of dating questions. And I as a woman who has been dating for like twenty years now, literally, which is sad, is, you know, honest. I forgot to ask them if they had a partner, because silly me, with my sweetness and naiveté, I just assumed that you wouldn’t be bothering me if you did. So that is my feel. However, there is an opportunity to turn this to a triumph. And this is to you, mom and dad. Listeners, listen, like, you know, my whole life I’ve always heard other black people talk about, like, how their white friends want to hook them up with the other black person they know. So none of my white friends have ever tried to hook me up with anybody. And so I’m putting this to you all because I don’t think there are that many single black men to listen to this show. And not that all of you all are white, many of you are black and women are black and married dads, whoever you are, help me. OK, over six feet tall, handsome, gainfully employed, smart, funny, awesome and amazing Los Angeles area and backs me on social media.
S3: I got to say, I think you get a total pass for this because of all the scrambled badness of the pandemic. Right. It’s like it just everything’s going haywire. And so it makes sense that you might forget the like the like rookie question.
S1: It’s like a reentry mistake. You know, we’re all going to have to learn how to interact with people. Again, this was just like it was like a practice round you.
S2: It doesn’t count. It doesn’t get in from a exactly season.
S1: You learn some things you won’t forget again.
S3: It’s like, look, Roger Federer didn’t play tennis for fifteen months. He came back, he played one tournament, only did two matches. And then he was like, I’m not playing again for another two months. Right. It’s like you got to just dip your toes in and then you get the data, you learn and then you you go back.
S1: Well, I have a failure that my children also rescued. So at the end of this, I’m going to claim it as a victory. But I really just like totally botched our Easter situation. There was a group that was doing a fundraiser where you pay them and they come put eggs like strew eggs in your yard. And I was like, this is great because this is something I don’t have to take care of. I like participating in this fundraiser in my community. This is like perfect. They came, they screwed eggs. The children woke up. They were like so many eggs in the yard. They were so excited that I was thinking they didn’t really hide them. They were just kind of like everywhere in the yard. So I was like, OK, we’re going to do a timed release. Like, let the little one run out first, then the next and then the next one. So, Teddy, I don’t know exactly what happened is I was like setting up to take pictures because that was the other thing I like made them wait so that I could be in the perfect spot to take pictures. This is where things really start to break down. There was some conversation about what the Easter Bunny is. The oldest child. Henry was like, no, no, there’s not one Easter Bunny on Easter. It’s like magic. And all the bunnies that live in the neighborhood, they’re poop becomes eggs. And somehow this. Yes. Set off some sort of situation where it was time for Teddy to run. He runs into the middle of the eggs. He grabs a bunch. And as soon as we let Oliver go, he just starts pelting Oliver with these eggs like he does. Not care that they are full of candy, he just wants nothing to do with them, he is like screaming, he is throwing them at the other kids. We kind of like bear hug him off. Oliver and Henry collect all these candy. And then it dawns on me like, well, Henry can’t eat any of this. Like, I had always intended to do a swap out of the candy, but I totally failed to brief that. So now Henry’s, like, mad because I’m like making him like they’re counting all their candy. And I’m kind of like, you can’t eat any of this. It has all these things in it that you’re not allowed to eat. I have this other stuff I’m going to switch it for. I mean, it was just kind of like so poorly organized on my part. And in this, Jeff, like, takes an egg and he sticks it up on a mirror and like to be funny, I guess. And Teddy like sees it and is like, oh, I found it egg. And so Jeff takes another one to me, like puts it on a bookshelf and Teddy’s like, oh I found it egg. So now he’s all into this egg hunt, but he has missed the egg hunt from throwing good total mess. And somehow my sweet Oliver is like Henry, we can put the candy that you can’t eat into these eggs and will hide them and Teddy can go find them. And that is what they did for the next like forty five minutes they had eggs from the candy that Henry couldn’t eat for Teddy. They thought it was hysterical because they got to choose these ridiculous places. They all had a great time. We like sat down to have our little Easter meal and everybody was happy after what was just like a colossally disastrous moment. And they’re like telling each other what a funny Easter was. And I left being like, wow, I, you know, failed to do this, failed to do this, failed to do this. So I’m taking it as a win.
S2: That is definitely a win.
S3: Total win. Sibling dynamics can get so effed up. And then you have created sibling dynamics that instead of bail you out in a crisis, I
S1: think we can only hope this continues into adulthood, but.
S3: Or at least into your road trip.
S1: Yeah, that’s true. Yes. Yes. Can we survive the time together? Can these children continue to lift up what will be numerous mistakes of planning on my part for sure. Oh, well, before we go any further, we are going to move on to the business. If you want to be notified about all things slate parenting, you need to sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter. Besides getting all of Slate’s great parenting content in one place, including mom and dad are fighting. Ask a teacher, Karen feeding and much, much more. It’s just a fun story from Dan directly into your inbox each week. So sign up at Slate Dotcom Slash Parenting Email. Finally, if you want to connect with other parents, join our parenting group on Facebook. It’s super active and moderated. Just search for Slate parenting on Facebook. All right. Let’s get on to our first listener question of the week. It’s being read, as always, by the fabulous Shasha Leonhard.
S4: There really is no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say plainly and fast, we lost our first daughter to stillbirth in 2019. I was thirty five weeks pregnant. They couldn’t find a heartbeat. Now, almost a year and a half later, I’m typing this letter while I breastfeed our gorgeous, healthy newborn daughter Margot with compassion, grace and incredible support from family, friends and medical professionals. We have found a way to live after our loss. But I think about our first daughter, who we call Pikul every day. And as I watch Margo grow, I’m trying to find ways to incorporate Pikul into Margaux’s understanding of our family. When and how do we tell her she had an older sister? As parents, we live with pain and joy side by side every day. But by introducing Margaux to the concept of child loss, am I making her whole life colored with permanent sadness to. What are some ways we could continue to honor the memory of the daughter we lost without overburdening or overshadowing the daughter? We are so lucky to have now.
S3: So first of all, I just wanted to say to the listener who’s who’s written in that, you know, I’m very sorry for your loss and also very happy for the new addition you have to your family now. And that’s that’s really wonderful. There was a stillbirth in my family before my birth. There was a my my parents had had a stillborn child before me. And, you know, I’ll admit they were pretty tight lipped about the whole thing. And either I was too self-involved. It was probably that I was too self-involved or sort of understood that they didn’t really want to talk about it. We didn’t really talk about it. In fact, I didn’t talk about it with them until I was in my early 30s. And I just became like, really curious about what their marriage was like with my older siblings before I was born and and that they started opening up to me just so that, you know, that’s the experience that I come from my position here. You know, I would say that, first of all, just keep in mind that it is totally natural that your experiences over the last two years are raising lots of feelings and questions for you right now, but that you also have a lot of time to prepare for whatever this conversation is going to be. It’s going to be years in advance. Your child doesn’t talk yet. It’s going to be a while before that, before they can even understand the concepts that they would need to understand to really get what you’re saying. It’s going to be a while. So you have a great amount of time to prepare. And children love asking questions about where they came from and what you were like before they were born, because like there’s a part where they figure that out. Their brain figures out that the world existed before them and it blows their minds. Your kid’s going to ask you a lot of questions at that point. And if you follow their interest, I think a somewhat organic conversation is going to be able to develop there that and you’ll be able to figure out what’s age appropriate. I really believe that if you follow their interest and meet them where they are. But I do want to say, you know, you’ve said that you don’t want this to be a burden for your child. You want them to know the truth, but you don’t want them to feel like there’s a pall over their lives or like they have to emotionally caretake for you. And because of that, if you’re not already seeing someone professionally to talk about this stuff, I do think it’s really worth exploring that option. You’ve gone through what what teachers say are a lot of big feelings. That’s what they say about our kids when we mean whether your kid has a lot of big feelings. You’ve gone through a lot of experiences that are raising a lot of big feelings. And it’s probably worth sorting some of that stuff out on your own so that you actually know what parts of that you want to tell your kid and what parts of it you might want to keep for yourself. So that’s what I got to say.
S2: I just want to say one also, my sincerest condolences for your loss and congratulations for the birth of your sweet baby girl, having received a number of letters to care and feeding from children that were the child born after a pregnancy loss of some sort or traumatic pregnancy loss. You know, there have been situations in which a child was provided this information before they were in the right place to fully receive it, or that parents that had not perhaps found really healthy, effective ways to manage their grief, that had brought their grieving process to their children and to to their children on Earth in ways that they were not able to cope with that created some perhaps unnecessary trauma. So I echo Isaac’s suggestion that this is something that you discuss with the professional, that you all deserve support for what you’ve endured and what you celebrated in the past few years. And also, I’ll just add this. When it does come time to think about is this a conversation that you’re having with a child, you know, with your child as a child or one that you’re having with your child as an adult? I think of my own child and how she processes traumatic or very sad information. And it sticks with her in ways that I don’t know that that something like that, like I could imagine her really struggling with this at eight years old and maybe at 12. That’s a different conversation. But I think you have a long time before this becomes something that becomes a part of the household’s understanding of the family.
S1: I have two very dear friends who have dealt with stillbirths and in the past few years, and both of them have handled it in, bringing their children in fully to the process of grieving and of honoring this child as part of their family. Insofar as saying, like you are a little sister to Pikul who has passed on, and for them that has worked very well as part of their way to grieve and honor this child’s memory. Both of these people also seek counseling. And as their children have gotten older, the one couple has already older children. And so they have also been in counseling as part of the grieving of the loss of this baby, because, of course, for the older children, they, of course, remember their mother being pregnant, going to the hospital and then coming home without a baby. For the younger ones, though, this is just like a part of their family. And the way they process it is by watching their parents process it. And I think that it has not been without difficulty. But in many ways it’s no different than having a child in which your parent is already gone. But you want to include their memory, you know, even telling your daughter that it feels extra special because she came after this loss like you were this immense blessing, because we had this loss. And it’s almost like our love for that child is also wrapped up, you know, sort of in our love for this family. And I think that because your child is so young, if you get into the process of just having Pikul be part of your family and part of your stories, that this just becomes part of your child’s story. And again, this has to be something that you are comfortable with and the way that you want to process it. And that should be talked about with a professional, because I do think going down this road means that it is going to be a constant person that your child is asking questions about. And you need to be ready for that as opposed to something you introduce kind of later in life. But at this point, as you introduce it and they’re growing up, they don’t totally know the pain of loss. Right. So it’s not a painful thing to tell them you had the sister who’s not with us. Now, you need to be prepared for questions like, well, where is she and I that is a question of what you believe, where she is, something that is absolutely beautiful that our friend Teresa has done is that every year on her child’s birthday, the child that passed, she invites kind of everyone in her life to do an act of kindness on behalf of her daughter, Evelyn, who passed was stillborn. I think we’re in her fifth year gone and it has become this beautiful thing that is happening in their family’s life that they go and do these acts of kindness and sign Evelyn’s name. And she invites other people to do that as well. They’ve been very open and posting about dealing with their grief. And I don’t think it makes the sadness any less. But I think what it has done is add this bright spot that this child that wasn’t here is bringing good to the world and that is very good for them. So I encourage you, if this is the letter to me, seems like they’re. Looking for a way to include Pikul in their lives, and so I think there are ways to do that and the disadvantage is that I think people don’t want to do it because it makes us uncomfortable to talk about loss. And I want to say, if you want to talk about the loss, it is OK and it’s OK for you to make other people feel a little uncomfortable. So if it makes you feel better to do something or choose a organization on behalf of your child or choose an activity or a way to get together, I think all of those are perfectly appropriate and inviting other people to join you. And that is a good way to to celebrate this life and this person that is with you even when they’re not physically with you. Well, listen, thank you so much for writing in for your question. We are, of course, thinking of you and your family and other listeners. If you have a question for us. Email us at mom and dad at Slate Dotcom. Now we’re moving on to our second listener question, read once again by the fabulous Shasha Leonhard.
S4: My daughter is 10 years old and wants to have an all girls slumber party. I recently mentioned the sleepover to my sister in law. She has twin boys who are the same age as my daughter and attend the same school. My sister in law expressed that her sons would want to be included in the sleepover. My first thought was no way. It’s perfectly natural for a girl to want an all girls party. But my sister in law said my nephews would be crushed not to be included. They recently moved across the country to be close to us and the boys have been slow to make new friends. They also have a household rule that the boys can only sleepover with family. I love my nephews. They are kind and respectful boys who are very close to my daughter. And the three kids regularly have sleepovers. But it also seems reasonable for my daughter to request a girl only party. Am I being old fashioned? Should I be asking my daughter to expand the guest list to include her cousins, or is there a way to help my nephews still feel included and still honor my daughter’s request? Thanks.
S2: Slumber parties are where she gets real, you know, in terms of the gender division. And it sucks, you know, especially for those of us that want to raise children that do not, you know, see the world through a gendered binary, that are not overly fixated on what girls can and cannot do or where boys can and cannot do. But you’re not going to have a very easy time getting a lot of those other girls, mothers on board with a coed sleepover for 10 year olds. They’re just kind of like maybe just a little bit too old. Right? If we were talking about maybe six or seven year olds and a bunch of parents on duty and, you know, six or seven year old sleepover sounds a little bit like a nightmare nightmare anyway. But maybe then but now if we were talking about, you know, I have a nephew that is most of his friends are girls and he does not feel comfortable being around groups of boy. Like if there was something to it like that, then there might be a different conversation. These are your cousins. You can have cousin time any other time if you want to have a pizza and cake situation before the slumber party starts, which is oftentimes when, you know, kids of other genders would be included. And what turns into a single gendered sleepover. Right. That we do something first. Maybe, you know, maybe they can watch a movie or something. Right. Maybe the party stuff is what they’re present for and then we roll into the sleepover. But I just think there would be so much more fun for you all to celebrate this birthday with the cousins in a different context than to try to fold them into an event that your daughter wants to be an all girl sleepover. Like when you went all girls sleepover, you want all girls sleepover. And I think that your sister in law needs to figure out how to explain to your nephews the power of the all girl sleepover, how much it means the little girls and why, unfortunately, they cannot be a part of it.
S3: I think it’s bad to teach your daughter to change your plans to accommodate boys that will stop regardless of what event we’re talking about. That’s a bad lesson. And I know that’s not how like that’s just what what what it feels like from the outside looking at it feels very different to be in the middle of that with a parent. You don’t want to offend your sister in law. You know, I understand there’s a lot of emotional pressure there, but, you know, your daughter didn’t want to coed sleepover. She wanted an all girl sleepover. And it’s only one for crying out loud. She hangs out with these cousins all the time. They have other sleepovers with time on one night where she does something different. It’s just not that big a deal. I think probably strategically in terms of managing your sister in law’s feelings, you probably have to make an immediate plan to do something else with the boys. I think the the pizza party beforehand is a great one or a different sleepover. Let’s get it on the calendar right now. So that takes the sting out. But I also want to say one other thing. I do really hope that these kids are all in a pod together that’s fairly restrictive, maybe with vaccinated parents because, like, it is not actually safe to have a bunch of ten year olds who to be inside unmasked overnight having a sleepover except in very, very narrowly specific circumstances. Kids can at that age can definitely asymptomatically carry the virus, particularly if you’re one of the states with the new variants. It travels easier amongst those populations. And so I do hope you’re being being careful about this. And if those those things that I’ve just mentioned are not true, I think you should consider canceling it personally.
S1: So I absolutely agree with both of you in terms of the situation that we’ve presented, which is like your daughter has asked for an all girl sleepover, it is absolutely OK to say you can have an all girl sleepover, like regardless of the the these people being, you know, your family being close and them having sleepovers before. I do, however, kind of want to discuss the idea of like the coed sleepover outside of this particular question. Again, I’m not talking about a situation in which your daughter has asked for a all girl sleepover like you. You should heed her. This is what she’s asking for, for her birthday. And there may be many reasons, many of which I can think of, like there are I still want to have just girls nights, even though I have male friends who I like hanging out with. Sometimes I just don’t want to hang out with them. That’s OK.
S3: I feel the same about my male friends. I get it.
S1: Yeah, I think though. So when we lived in the Netherlands, the idea of a coed sleepover was much more mainstream at at nearly any age. Given that there was an understanding of what the appropriate behavior was for that sleepover, that there were parameters for the sleepover. And obviously, given the specific kids in question right like that, maybe you don’t have a sleepover with a bunch of like new preteen couples. But we would see older kids, our babysitter, things like that, frequently have sleepover parties in which there were boys and girls. And I started to really think about, like, what are we what are we saying about. All boys are our boys, if we say like, well, they can’t be included in this, you know, friendship kind of level where you’re sharing secrets and doing kind of that kind of relationship building. And as a mom of three boys, some of who I think would be this would be their ideal, like a sleepover with with a with a coed group of people like them would be awesome for them and they would excel. And one of my children in particular, in which I would be like, this is not a good fit for you, but I just wonder if we need to be thinking about whether it really needs to be all girls for the sake of being all girls or all boys for the sake of being all boys all the time. Like, can we not say to them, like which we are giving you some level of trust and not all, you know, people are going to act.
S3: I’m I’m totally fine with coed sleepovers. I mean, you know, I went to you know, when you’re in high school, it’s really like crashing at a friend’s place. And then there are people of all genders there, do you know what I mean? And my parents knew that that was happening. And like, if I went to New York City to visit friends from summer camp there, it’s likely that whoever’s apartment we were out there would be both boys and girls there and there might be some making out there. But segregating the genders is not going to stop there from being making out at a sleepover, do you know what I mean? Like, there was a lull in the middle. It was like there were coed sleepovers. Then there was like actually the prepubescent period there wasn’t. And then a high school there was. But some of that was just because I didn’t really have any friends. So, you know, I’m I’m totally fine with it. I think there are ways to structure it and to have conversations about it and to teach people about consent within it and all sorts of other things that it can be a great learning experience. I don’t think, as you yourself have said, it’s going to work for every and not every kid is well suited to that, you know. But, you know, I did it all the time and I don’t see any any problem with it.
S2: Frankly, I think one thing that we as parents can and should be more intentional about once, you know, we’re able to actually like have social activities for our children, again, is trying to break up the gender binaries. You know, I will say I do not recall anything approximating a coed sleepover. My mom was I like I just remember the battery of questions regarding any adult men that were going to be in the house that my mother put me through, you know, and there’s I understand that. And and also, I think on some level, there are some things that are less common with black folks because of respectability politics and this idea that we have to conduct ourselves a certain way to be treated as human. So the idea of letting your little girl sleep in a house with boys is just like completely unfathomable in ways that other parents might be able to know more comfortably. Just recognize, like, OK, as long as we keep the kids, you know, and reasonable sleeping conditions and they’re not able to get to Hanzi, it’s fine. It’s not a huge deal. And also, kids experiment as sleepovers, period. It does not matter what assortment of gender you have in the room. They’re going to do it at some point. So they’re either going to do it with, you know, some of the girls. They’re going to do it with some boys. And that’s great and important. And they should as much as we don’t want to, like, be the facilitators of it, like we all saw on some level, understand it, some of that experimentation is just part of what needs to happen. I just add LIG. It would be really great because I know that these two boys want to make new friends and it may be less about like I think I agree with what you’re saying, Elizabeth, I think is that these girls want an all girl party, which is a specific thing. It is the talking about boys. It is the type of movies that you’re watching is the sort of jokes is the ability to to talk about your bodies in ways and hopefully good, healthy, affirmative things, just stuff you don’t always want to do in front of boys, you know, like somebody might have gone to period and things like that. Right. Like they need that space, I think is important for the boys to understand the value of all girl spaces and the value of know, I should say, the gap, the value of. I don’t know. Hmmm, that’s tricky because I’m like I’m not trying to say I I’m like, I don’t see the value of them. Space’s it sounds like this is a you know, the value
S1: of but like a like a safe space. What you’re describing is these these girls are asking for a safe space, which it happens to be able to be. All right. If that’s how that’s how I interpret it.
S2: Yes. But it would be really nice maybe because you all are a family that’s been in this community longer than you, alcohol, some sort of party at some point. And maybe that’s the part two of the birthday, you know, and trying to put too much on your plate, you know, or maybe this is a summer party or something. And a couple of months when more people are vaccinated, as I mentioned, that, you know, you all can host a little welcome to town thing, like a little barbecue or something where kids get together and can meet your nephews and they can make, you know, some more friends.
S1: I think that’s great advice. Well, good luck. We would really like to know how everything goes. And please, please, please stay safe. Make sure you’re you’re doing the right thing for your community and check with everyone. We really want to make sure that you guys are safe and can have a good time if and when you have this party. So if you have a problem for us, email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com or do what this listener did and post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group. All right. Moving on to recommendation’s, Djamila, what do you have for us?
S2: So you may have noticed I’ve become a bit of a Starbucks fanatic over the quarantine. I’m there a lot. There’s one very close to us. And like Nyima likes to have lunch from there. I am recommending the ice chocolate almond milk shake and Express. So it’s super good. But if you don’t enjoy that, milk’s in your coffee very much. This one, actually. Really, for me it tastes great. The chocolate, the almond together. Just so the ice, chocolate milkshake and espresso from Starbucks I think.
S1: What do you have for us?
S3: I don’t know how we would have gotten through this pandemic without television. To be completely honest, Iris has gone through a lot of different series. He had a long obsession with the new Cierra, which actually led to my interviewing the the showrunner of it for working to talk about their creative process and and stuff like that. So it’s actually been kind of a fun journey because like I like television show, I watch television with you. And she recently burned through another Netflix kid’s show called Keepa and The Age of Wonder Beasts, which is just delightful. It’s a postapocalyptic story, not what you think of as delightful, but it’s about a young woman who is, you know, in an underground vault who comes up to the surface where the human society has sort of been destroyed. And there’s these anthropomorphic animals and then humans who kind of live alongside and fight them. And she tries to reconcile these sides. She tries to teach the mutants in the humans to kind of live together in peace. It’s got a great voiceover cast. It’s very diverse in all sorts of different ways, both in terms of character and voice cast. And it is extremely, extremely funny. So there’s like a tribe of lumberjack cats. They’re all human sized cats, led by Leah Deloria, who just want to like, you know, you get easily distracted every time the characters try to have a conversation with them. There’s a whole plot line in one season where kippot tries to have a problem so that the animals and humans can understand to live together happily. I mean, it’s just very sweet. It’s got an incredible sense of humor, really cool music, great visual style. It’s the deeply fun. It’s like a show that you will find yourself laughing at, which is very rare when it comes to shows the kids watch. So I highly recommend it.
S1: Yeah, this sounds great. I am recommending a subscription box called Let’s Make Art and they have a bunch of boxes, but I am really loving the watercolor box because I can actually do it with my kids. They have a kid’s box, which we have tried and it’s great. I’ve used that for our curriculum, but I recently switched to this watercolor box and actually their tutorials themselves are free on YouTube, the box and you all of the materials. So if you already have a set of watercolors, you can go online and just take some of these classes. But it teaches you some watercolor techniques. But everything is so simple that you can really sit down and do it with your kids and all of us sit down and do it together. The art, you know, runs the gamut of how it turns out. My art usually actually turns out like something I’m pretty proud of, which I feel like is a big a big thing, because a lot of times when I do projects, I’m sort of like, what did I do here? But they do such a nice job, kind of coaching you through it that you turn out with something you’re excited about. And as a result, your kids come out with something they’re really excited about, too. So I really enjoy doing this with my kids. I’ve done a couple of like on my own with a glass of wine at night to calm down, but they’re just a really great family box. And again, if you already have water colors, just go look up. Let’s make art on YouTube and you can try one of their classes. But for a fun something to do or stock up on with summer coming. Well, that’s it for our show. So one last time, if you want us to weigh in on your quandaries, email us at mom and dad at Slate, dot com or post. Get to the parenting Facebook group, just search for sleep parenting if you haven’t already, please subscribe wherever you listen to podcast, it really helps us out. And plus that way, you’ll never miss an opportunity. And while you’re there, feel free to read and review the show. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson. For Jamilah Lemieux and Butler, I’m Elizabeth New Camp. Hello, Slate. Plus, listeners, we’re so glad that you’re joining us today. We have with us Isaac Butler and he is the host of Working. And so, Isaac, you spend a lot of time thinking about creativity and talking to creative people about their jobs. So we wanted to bring this conversation down to the kids’ level,
S3: up to the kids’ level, up to the kids’ level. They’re more purely creative than we are because we’ve educated it out of them.
S1: There is this notion that some people are more creative than others and that some people are just born more creative. But yet there’s this other belief that, like kids are instinctively creative. So how accurate do you think those concepts are?
S3: Right. It’s like some of us are born creative, some of us become creative and others have creativity thrust upon us. Right. To paraphrase Twelfth Night, I just don’t think it’s particularly helpful, no matter how true it is to think about qualities or capacities you want to develop in yourself or you want your child to develop as biologically determined. It just like that’s not useful. It’s like, what can you do with that? You can’t really do anything with it, you know what I mean? Like, are there people who have maybe a greater capacity to be inspired or something that might be biological? Sure, probably. But like, if you want to learn how to play tennis, you’re not comparing yourself against Rafael Nadal or whatever, you know? I mean and also, I just think so much about creativity is out of our control and somewhat mysterious. And so it’s just important to focus on the stuff that that that is in our control and that that you can create habits, that you can create ways of thinking or ways of doing that are more creative or help you to be creative, even if inspiration itself might feel very mysterious and like it happens outside of you, you know. So to give an example, like no writer I know is inspired to write all the time. Right. But almost every writer I know who’s like every novelist I know, for example, has a set time during the day that they sit down to write every day. And then sometimes nothing happens and sometimes brilliant things happen. Sometimes really shitty things happen. But it’s like but it’s the habit. The habit is the thing. You can control the inspiration you can’t. And so I think that’s absolutely applicable to kids and to thinking about like how how do we, you know, kids not going to sit down to write every day, but how are we creating environments that enable their creativity is how I kind of think about it.
S1: How much do you think, like boredom plays into creativity? Because one of my tenants of homeschooling is kind of like to have the kids be bored or lot because I find it in that those moments like, yes, they get into a lot of trouble. But the trouble is actually really creative. And I, I try to like set up opportunities in the household. We call it like strewing, like we have things around for them to be creative with, but we don’t like set it out and say do something. We kind of try to let them discover it and be bored with it and figure it out. And I have found that that is like in their boredom, even though a lot of times it’s trouble, they’re like incredibly creative.
S3: Yeah. You know, at Iris’s preschool was called a play based learning approach. Right. Which is just the room is filled with lots of different areas. And not every kid can do everything all the time because they’re spatial limitations where there’s stuff that they can do and then the kids do the thing they want to do. And and this is the really important part that I think is really key with children’s creativity. The teachers kind of. Yes. And what they’re doing and try to like help them take it somewhere or just leave them alone. Sometimes I think I mean, I think boredom is useful. The way that I usually think about it is space and time. It’s less about being bored. It’s to me anyway. It’s more about having the space and time to have the ideas percolate up from your subconscious to your conscious mind. You know, when I’m stuck on a piece of writing, I go for a walk or I take a shower, you know, without your headphones in, because then the music or podcast will distract you. So if you’re trying to get an idea right now, hit, stop and know it. But but, you know, there’s some version of that for kids, which is giving them enough unstructured time that they can have ideas and creative impulses in the first place. And then whatever it is that they’re choosing to do at that time, figuring out how to support it, and that might be giving them space to do it by themselves. It might be turning it into an activity you do together on the fly when kids are playing with their. Is there action figures or whatever, you know, they’re creating dramatic situations, that’s a creative thing, even if they’re doing it by themselves. You have nothing to do with that. Like they’re directing their own little episode right there. Right. Or, you know, your kid might sit down and draw and be like, oh, what are you drawing in to be like a robot like, oh, do you want to talk about it? No, I want to draw the robot. OK, or the kid might say, let’s do something with robots. And then suddenly you’re you know, if you’re following their interest in encouraging them, you just want to encourage them to go deeper and further with it. You know, when you get to become an adult and you’re trying to make something creative, make something artistic, you know, obviously there’s a point where you’re thinking about revision. You’re thinking about how do I make it better, how do I improve, how do I do all that? But I don’t think at least with small kids, that’s particularly useful unless that’s something they’re interested in. You know, Iris has a really good friend who’s an amazing DRAS person. He’s a six year old. He draws better than I do, you know, and he is very interested in revision and and making his drawing better. You know, not every kid who wants to draw wants to do that. There’s no reason to, like, lay that trip on them, you know what I mean? And so I think that you can just really like. Yes. And and encourage what they’re doing and go further with it, which and this is important. Takes creativity on your part, too. So so one of the challenges is about encouraging your child to be creative, is that it is a creative challenge for the parent. Just like punishing your child often means you actually face far more consequences that they do because you have to deal with whatever you’ve taken away from them. Yeah, it’s a similar thing, actually. It’s like you have to do what they’re doing, but more so because you have to suggest an idea on the fly or, you know, whatever it is. And so parents and teachers need practice with this to.
S2: I think the magic of children is just, you know, and you mentioned this, Isaac, just that they haven’t had the creative impulse stifled yet, right. That they have not been in instances in which they have to turn off that part of their brain to get through the monotony of work or responsibility. And so creating time and space where they can creatively thrive is important. My daughter is constantly creating I mean, like the Barbie world that she envisions are so expansive that, like, it doesn’t stop when the toys get put away. We’re having breakfast the next morning and she’s like, oh, my God, can you believe what happened last night in our like, I think that what’s going to happen next with Tasha and Marcus is blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, like she’s she’s that part of her brain just doesn’t stop. She’s writing stories, you know, she’s writing little movies. And I’m glad that that’s something that she’s able to keep alive for herself at this point in her life, even while preparing for school. Because I think about myself and I just kind of struggle of even having a career, working in a creative field when you’re creating things that are not necessarily directly tied to when I submit this, I get paid. Right. This is the thing that I’ve been assigned to do. Like when you’re trying to write something on solicited, like you’re trying to pitch something or write a book proposal or just, you know, even just an essay or something that, you know, does not have a home, like making that decision to be creative, knowing that it could be an interruption of paid work or parenting or of other responsibilities, finding that time is tricky. So what I hope to do is figure out how do I make it so that she always has time to feel creative, you know what I mean? Because it’s something that she is interested in. And that’s not every kid. Other kids have their passion maybe for sports. Right. And that’s not to say there isn’t creativity that goes into the world of athletics. But, you know, it may not be storytelling or visual art or writing that, you know, or painting or photography that gets your kid. But if it is like how do you make sure they always have that, particularly considering how many of our schools are so deeply committed to prioritizing everything?
S1: But, yeah, totally. One of the pitfalls of trying to have opportunities for creativity is me like running away with it and trying to make it something more than it is. Like, you know, Henry showed a real like he was really loving photography and telling myself, like, just let him love it. Like, we don’t need to be in a photography class. We don’t need to be, like, learning about the particulars of the equipment. I feel like parents and really I’m just thinking about myself can get in the way of that creativity like I wanted this to be like, well, is this the thing that’s really going to spark him? So let me push that when in fact, the thing to do is just to Isaach, like you say, saying like. Yes. And like we can go take pictures together and I can show you mine when you say, well, how did you get this? Or I like the way this one looks, I can use that as an opportunity to show you something without being like we need to frame a picture that, you know, these things that I’ve learned. I find that very hard.
S3: Yeah. I mean, in our case, we’ve tried to follow Iris’s lead. So when she asks us to sign up for a class in something, we will write. Oh, yeah. Like you know, like so we did that. But if she’s not asking for a class in it or at this point, I think she’s verging on over scheduled, you know, at this point, especially with the pandemic and everything. So like I mean, some of it is you actually just want to leave them unstructured time to do what they want to figure it out and they will. And then but some of it is, you know, at what point does following the interest mean signing them up for a class? And, you know, with Iris, she wanted to learn how to play guitar. And I said, OK, we’ll give it a shot. And she took a few classes and she said, I still want to do this. And then same thing’s been true with like a drawing class, you know, because she said she wanted to do it. She said the other day, I want to learn how to draw things so they look exactly like real life. And I was like, OK, that’s a tall order for a six year old. But, you know, maybe we’ll get there
S2: a half now. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So she’s ready.
S3: But the other thing, because I neglected to mention this this earlier, I think the other important part of being inspired and being creative and whatever the feel, whether we’re talking about artistic or not, is to spend time with the creative work of of others. You know, that we get really paranoid about screen time. But when you’re watching a TV episode, there’s a lot of creative decisions that went into that. And, you know, your kids reading a book or having read a book that’s exposing them to it. You know, our babysitter is an opera buff, so she’s often showing IRA scenes from opera on YouTube or going to a museum or, you know, well, not right now, but you know what I mean. There’s all these things that you can do that really help replenish the well when you’re an adult trying to do creative work. And they’re actually really important for replenishing the walls of your kid’s creativity as well. You can treat them as an educational thing, like I’m going to teach you about the history of opera now, or it could just be like, can you believe this amazing thing that this woman is doing? Like, how is she able to sing like that? And then it’s just about sparking their enthusiasm for it. So, you know, I think that’s really important to of of just like exposing them to a bunch of stuff and then helping them follow their interests, which may be very different from yours. Who knows?
S1: These are such a wonderful jumping off point for dealing with creativity, and especially at this point where we’ve been weathering this pandemic and really looking for four more ways to make sure that our kids are getting that kind of bucket filling stuff. So I’m so glad you could share this with us. And we would love to hear your ideas of how you’re sparking creativity or doing creative things with your children. So join us on the Slate Parenting Facebook group for that. And thanks as always, listeners. We appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. So until next time.