Backseat Combat Edition

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S1: The following podcast is for grown ups, maybe not for kids.

S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, February 11th, the Backseat Combat Edition. I’m Dan Coates. I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family Like the Dad to Lyra, who’s 15, and Parker, who’s 13. We live in Arlington, Virginia.

S3: I’m Elizabeth New. Can’t I write the homeschool and Family Travel blog? Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to three little Henry and eight, Oliver six and Teddy, who’s four. And we live in Nevada. I’m Jamilah Lemieux. I’m a writer contributor to Slate’s competing parenting column and mom to Nyima, who is seven. And we live in Los Angeles, California.

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S2: Hey, everyone, happy February on today’s show. Valentine’s Day is coming up. So we are going to do some classic Valentine’s Day triumphs and fails. We’ve also got two letters from listeners today.

S1: We’ll be discussing how to negotiate a cease fire when your kids are constantly bickering in the backseat of the minivan and will counsel a mom whose daughter will not quit it with the fake cough, which is not ideal in covid times. On our Slate plus bonus segment, we are giving some platonic valentines to important people in our lives. But let’s start with triumphs and failures. Cupid Ed.. Elizabeth, you first. You have a classic Valentine’s Day triumph, her classic Valentine’s Day fail.

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S4: OK, well, of course I could regale us all with a series of Jeff’s terrible gift giving, like the time he gave me to kissing animals from an ex-girlfriend as like a gift for us.

S1: And, you know, I think we all would agree that would be an excellent one.

S5: Or I could let you know that this year he will be giving me a card that he pulled from our stash of cards that a girlfriend gave to me. But she gives me cards that are already sealed so that I can use them again. It’s like a double gift. He pulled it from there. He thinks, I don’t know that it’s missing and he’ll be giving that to me. This. Yes, I’m surprised he’s listening to this. I know.

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S1: I don’t know what’s the more surprising part that he did it or that you’re such a great archivist of your card stash that you’ve already noticed it missing on February night when we recorded it and just enjoying the smash cut to Jeff with his headphones on on Friday, driving like a mad man to the art store.

S5: You know, at this point, it’s just endearing. So it’s it’s like I expect it.

S4: And I’m secretly proud of myself that I, I know what’s going to happen. But instead, I have decided to give my father a major win for many Valentine’s pass. So it’s kind of like a societal fail in both high school and college. Valentine’s Day was blown so out of proportion. And I was reminded of this. A friend of ours posted in high school. We used to have do something called data match, which I imagine had to be only a thing. My weird high school in Atlanta did. We would get these cards and we would fill them out like a like a Cosmo quiz.

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S5: Basically, the whole school would do them and then you could pay two dollars and get your results and you would be matched up with people in your high school. And these would be delivered to you on Valentine’s Day with your percent match to the school. Did this too terrible idea? Yeah, we had those. And then on top of it during that day, yes, they would sell flowers and they would deliver the flowers during class. And so you would get these data matches and then you could like send people flowers. The whole thing was terrible. Coupled with then I went to a women’s college and we had this board where you would write if you got a package to pick up. And on Valentine’s Day, they would bring out a separate board for if you got flowers and. Yes. Oh, and here’s the thing. Here is the champ.

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S4: My father made sure that I never had a Valentine’s Day without flowers. He sent flowers every year in college. He made sure during the high school years that both my sister and I at least got one flower from him through the high school things so that we never were without it. And, you know, then I went on to marry Jeff, who doesn’t believe in flowers on Valentine’s Day.

S1: He’s making the patriarchy work for you.

S5: Yes. Yes.

S4: So I feel like although society fails me in, you know, building all this up, that I needed to receive something to feel valued. My dad made sure that I didn’t feel completely, not at all valued. So Triumph’s to my dad failed to society.

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S1: You telling this story reminded me for the first time in probably thirty years that my high school also did something like this. And also that one year I wrote all fake answers, trying to make myself seem like as cool as possible. And I actually matched the coolest, prettiest girl in my high school who was absolutely mortified and in a rage that she admitted to me it was great.

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S5: My very dear friend, Mary, who I talked about last week, matched with her brother one year, it was like the algorithm was so bizarre.

S6: I mean, the algorithm doesn’t like you guys have a lot in common. It’s like, you know, you have the same genes. Yeah.

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S7: You know, new credible Djamila. What about you? Valentine’s Day, triumph or fail?

S6: Well, first of all, I’m astounded that, like, maybe white people really do live like Sweet Valley High because I was standing there like this is some shit that I would have read, you know, I would have read in a teenage novel.

S1: Yeah, those were documentaries.

S6: I’m consistently I learned so much on the show. So my feel is my lack of personal archiving, because when we talked about this, like almost a week ago, I said, yeah, this is a great idea. Valentine’s triumphs. And certainly I have some stories.

S8: And in my thirty six years, I can only remember high school and college like we did do the flower delivery thing and like people weren’t sending me flowers. You know, I was a late bloomer. I wasn’t a late bloomer. I felt like a balloon that just didn’t get plucked yet. You know, I was I was a little socially awkward flower metaphor, running fast and furious and they just sprouting all over everywhere. But like the boys that I liked didn’t always, you know, have the same interest in me. And the boys that, like me, weren’t necessarily my cup of tea. So I didn’t really do too much real dating until my 20s. And like, I had three serious boyfriends. One big name is Dad. And like and prior to this moment, the only Valentine’s Day memory that I could remember is a piece of a Valentine’s Day that I spent with him. But I’ve made this, like, decision to like just not deal with any of those memories of our relationship that I just like, you know, we always have to deal with.

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S6: It wasn’t a bad memory. And I know just like I don’t necessarily want them anymore. But then as I was preparing for the show, I thought, well, perhaps it should I like maybe write that down for Nyima. I was like, oh, my parents are broken up.

S8: I’m not really interested in any of the, you know, cutesy stories of their romance. Like I just never wanted that, you know. So I don’t know. I have to decide maybe that listeners can tell me, like should I or you or you give advice. Should I like try to write those few memories down that I have?

S1: I would definitely write some of that stuff down only because I do think that our kids are intensely interested in the courtships of those who have come before them, whether it’s the people in their life who are still together or the people in their life who are no longer together. Like they are very interested in my mom and my dad and what their marriage was like in their life was like before they had me, even though they’re no longer together. I think that that stuff is worth keeping for sure.

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S9: That’s great. My favorite thing to do during the pandemic, which is rendered me single and celibate, is to archive my memories with my baby father. Perhaps I can do this while I’m babysitting his other child.

S6: I can’t. I can’t. I actually I don’t have to anymore. So.

S8: Yes, Mama, your dad gave me a lovely Valentine’s Day. He bought me flowers. He gave me a gift certificate for frozen yogurt. And it was on a car that made a joke about, you know, you say it’s no fat. I say it’s still high in sugar. But today we’ll just celebrate with violate the most asshole thing he said to me. He’s a very nice guy and it was a great Valentine’s Day. I’m sure I love you. That’s the story of our romance.

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S1: Now that it’s in the podcast, it’ll eventually end up in the Jamilah Lemieux Memorial Library. Yeah, it’s all taken care of right here. I’ve got to fail a Valentine’s Day fail, and it’s a Valentine’s Day parenting fail. So when Leah was in elementary school, you know, they did the thing that all elementary school, not all but most elementary schools do for Valentine’s Day, everyone makes brings a shoebox in and you decorate it and you give Valentines to every kid in your class. That’s the rule. That’s the rule that everyone follows. And people are generally very good about it. And, you know, starting in kindergarten, we sort of thought, well, Lyra really likes to draw. She really likes to write and make little projects. So before Valentine’s Day, we can occupy her for a little while by having her just make little valentines for her classmates, like little construction paper things, you know, gave her something to do for a couple of days in early February, which, as we are all learning, is when you really start to hit the wall, even a non covid years. But, you know, it’s after two months of cold, we were desperate for activity. So having three days where she would just be like busily drawing cute little Valentine’s cards were great and and they were so cute. And who would love these little valentines? Each one would just be like red construction paper folded with the person’s name on it. And she might be my valentine with a backwards bee. Maybe she’d tape some smarties to it or something. And we did that for a couple of years. And then in like third grade, maybe she was like Mom and dad, I do not want to do these. Handmade valentines anymore, and we’re like, why they’re so cute? I mean, doesn’t everyone in your class love them? She’s like, no, everyone else has Valentines with, like, cool characters on them that they bought at the store. And my Valentines don’t look like that. I don’t want to draw them anymore. I want to give them just regular Valentines that we buy at the store. And we realized that this is a fail on a couple of different levels. And one was that we were embarrassing our kid by forcing her to bring in her janki handmade and then for and causing her to compare her what we thought was her adorable seven year year old arts to other people’s, you know, professionally printed valentines. But then also very belatedly, we realized, oh, were the parents who all the other parents are like, what the fuck? They’re giving out hand drawn valentines to everyone. What is their problem? Yes, go buy them at the CVS like everyone else who fails for the price of one two fails or the price of one. So that year and forever after we just let her buy the Valentines. I mean, I forgot what she got. It was something totally basic and she loved them and she was completely happy with them.

S6: But the sad thing is that while you were talking, I was like, oh, we should do that. In fact, I would have done this to Naima the year that broke. Liara, like second grade was the most. Right, exactly. She was like, next year, I’m fucking telling them is what I’m doing, because this is not going to go on. The whole time she was making this was like next year. Next year, I tell the hours of labor really, really enjoy it.

S1: We thought we still force them to make birthday cards for everyone. And they’re always like, oh, really? Yeah. Tough shit. You’re doing it. I love that. All right, good. Try and say it fails, everyone. Valentine’s Day is a fabulous holiday for triumphing or mostly for failing. Thanks for sharing. All right. Before we move on to the business, we’ve got a little listener feedback from last week’s show. Last week, we answered a question from a mom who’s been dealing with the after effects of a concussion. She was looking for a quiet way to interact with her energetic toddler. So one listener, Erica, wrote with a great idea. Jamila, can you read her note?

S8: Sure. She writes, I was listening to the show and I really felt for the mom with the brain injury. I have chronic migraines and my son is nearly 10 and just a boisterous person. We try to foster empathy, but I agree about them having to be reminded. Now, my son tells me to go to my room and closes the door to make sure that I’m OK. My suggestion is a game called Avalanche. When my son was small, we would get under the covers or in a duvet and try to be quiet. So the snow didn’t squish us. It was dark. It was a way that we could play and have fun sustainably. While she was having a migraine, he really looked forward to it and I was the only parent that played it with him. That’s a great suggestion.

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S1: Yeah, I really like that idea for a game. It’s like sweet and cozy and imaginative, and I think a small child would really get into that. Another listener, Kate, to our suggestion for noise canceling earphones to the next level. She said that she puts in earplugs and when things get loud, she puts on a shooting earmuffs like the kind that you use at the range. She says they protect you from the loud, but you can still hear and converse during quiet times. Genius. One thing that we love to hear is feedback. So thanks to everyone who wrote in and with that, on to the business. Hey, if you want to be notified about all things slate parenting, you should sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter. So it’s all of our content in one place, mom and dad are fighting. Ask a teacher, Karen, feeding all our great pieces and podcasts. But also, it’s just a fun story for me, for my household. Directly to your inbox each week. So sign up at Slate Dotcom Slash Parenting email. And finally, if you want to connect with other parents, try joining our parenting group on Facebook. It’s super active, full of people with great advice, great questions, great support. It’s well moderated. So if anyone’s a jerk, we kick them out. Just search for Slate parenting on Facebook and join us there. All right. Back to the show. Let’s move on to this week’s first listener question. It’s being read, as always, by the unparallelled Shasha Lanard.

S10: Dear Mom, Dad, my oldest and second are 18 months apart. Exactly. So right now they’re five and a half and four and out of utter necessity only they sit next to each other in the far back seat of our minivan. This arrangement cannot be changed. I cannot put the infant between them. I cannot put one in the middle row. They have to be next to each other. Unfortunately, I’m losing it every single time we drive anywhere. One of them picks, picks, picks on the other. They do it to each other equally and are both guilty of this. Sometimes it escalates into hitting. I cannot reach back to them. I can’t separate them. I also can’t drive with it. Going on help. Minivan mayhem.

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S4: OK, we had a very similar situation when we lived in Europe. We only had the Honda Civic and I had Teddy while I was there. So we had all three when we would drive in the back and they could not stop no matter what order I put them in. We bought that like foam poster board that you use for science projects and we stuck them between the seats.

S6: And so it was like kid, posterboard, kid, posterboard kid. It is definitely an office environment. Yeah, yeah.

S4: I like Cubby’s and we cut them so that we could still sit out the back, but they couldn’t see each other and they could like draw and poke things and it worked great.

S5: I have no idea if that is safe. I felt like OK, if it becomes a projectile in the car in an accident, it’s just a piece of like foam posterboard, not like posterboard, like the foam core kind. It was great.

S1: I would you it to stand up on the seat because the seats are so close.

S5: If you’ve got two car seats next to each other, she’s got so just like wedged in between the like wedged in between. I did Google it and they make products that do something similar. There was something on Shark Tank called the Space Traveler, and it’s like a pod that fits around just one of them and zips up. And there’s also like these sheets that hang down. But I mean, my kids would have gone straight through the sheet, but the poster board was like Hardy and it was, you know, less than a dollar. So on the couple of times they poked through it, we just stopped at them and I got another one. And I will say then when we took it down, they felt like it was like special because otherwise we were in, like, their white and their cubicle pods and their cubes.

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S1: Yeah, that’s very funny, but also potentially a great solution. I have this image of just someone figuring out that you just punch the poster boy like five times, it collapses onto the other person.

S5: What you can do that’s fun is like grab a pencil through it and no shirt like tip. Yeah, that’s super fun, but that also keeps them entertained while you’re driving. I don’t know that this is a real solution. This is how we handled it. We drove all over Europe like this.

S1: I think I love it. What about you?

S9: To me, I would just add or ask, have you exhausted all of your options in terms of devices and podcast and like, are these busy hands, busy hands, you know, sometimes can be used to hit, but oftentimes are too busy doing something fun. So do they have something to keep them occupied aside from each other? Because it doesn’t seem like there to their great company for one another in the car. So maybe one of them is listening to a podcast that they like on the radio and the other has headphones or unless they’re competitive in that way. Right. Is it do I need to serve you each? Would you would prefer to have or do you need the same thing? So maybe they each have headphones and a tablet. I know that’s a terrible thing to say. Like, hey, go out and spend a couple of hundred bucks on devices. But I’m just saying, in the chance that you already have these things, you need to figure out a way to utilize them. I would also maybe add can you put, like, those big mittens on them that they struggle to take off? That’s something you could do temporarily that keeps them from doing harm to each other. Maybe they can just kind of pop each other with the mittens on. It might not hurt as badly.

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S1: That would be more like comedy. Yeah. If you see that, I’m just like, wow, right.

S9: Exactly. But no one’s getting hurt, but no one’s getting hurt. I’m also seconding Elizabeth’s suggestion in general, I do think.

S1: That this exact age is the age where stuff like this is really hard to control and stop like they’re they’re almost at the listening to reason stage, but they’re not quite there yet. And we’re going to deal with that a little bit with the next question to that. Like trying to get a four year old to see the logic in your argument is really hard. So sometimes you are reduced to like these kludges, like these self constructed solutions to these problems, like foam core or giant Minton’s or something like that that are the only way around this. I’m curious if either of you have just ever found. Any way to to help kids this age keep from bothering each other through? Like actual teaching, like I never was able to at this exact age, but like, are we just basically taking as a given that this age is impossible and you could talk to them forever and it wouldn’t change their behavior at all?

S4: Yes, four year olds are incredibly unreasonable. I think with a four year old, you can either prevent the behavior or distract them. So whatever that means, in our car, we use car snacks a lot, which are basically just snacks. I don’t have they’re usually like the little like fruit gummies and things. And we have the opportunity to, like, earn those. My four year old is very food motivated, so that’s a great little option for like, hey, if we make it here without a problem, you can have this. But I think other than, like Tamela said, providing something for them to do so they don’t remember to hit. But I, I think in general, kids do that because they’re bored and they want attention or it’s just something fun gets a reaction out of someone or they, again, are bored because they don’t have anything to do.

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S5: But this, too, shall pass. I think the five and a half year old, if he feels like around six, they get some sense of like, OK, if mom keeps stopping the car or if she’s she’s just like, well, I’m not going to take you there because we have to go in the car. There starts to be real consequences. But I think in general, four year olds kind of are like, oh, good, we’re not going in the car. Great. Oh, we’re pulled over again.

S6: I went, Yeah, it’s like wrangling cats. You’re going to get scratched. How much? It varies, but it’s going to happen.

S1: I only have one extremely great piece of advice for this parent, which is that the one thing you can put between them in a car that will ensure that they will be fully distracted and unable to reach each other is a dog by a dog. Put the dog in the back of the car between them. You’ll never have to worry about it again. Your friend Dan. All right, good luck. Thank you. Send us an update whether you got a phone call or a dog or a big mittens or you just sort of wait it out, because I think Elizabeth is right, that you’re probably six months away from this basically not being a problem anymore. We want to hear how it goes and everyone else. If you’ve got a question for us, email us your mom and dad at Slate dot com or post it on the Slate Parenting Facebook group. All right. Let’s move on to this week’s second listener question. As always, it’s being read by the superlative Shasha Leonhard.

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S10: Dear mom and dad, my four year old daughter has recently started faking a cough during a pandemic, and I am beyond frustrated. It started about a week ago before school when she started coughing. I felt like there was a 50 percent chance she was faking it, but I couldn’t be sure if she was really coming down on something. And with the current circumstances, I felt I couldn’t send her to school. I did tell her that if she was coughing for real, she would have to stay home from school and miss her pajama party and would have to be tested for covid, which she knows is unpleasant. But she insisted that it was real. 30 minutes later, she forgot all about it and it was obvious she was perfectly fine. Now she is doing this fake cough thing all of the time of her attitude. Kind of reminds me of when she asks to be addressed as Buzz Lightyear and wants to stay in character all day like she’s just enjoying playing a sick person. This evening she was trying out different things like I can’t eat dinner because I’m coughing too much and I can’t take a bath because I’m coughing too much. So far, we’ve just been ignoring, ignoring, ignoring and reacting as little as possible. Eventually she gets bored and moves on. But it is so hard to maintain as this behavior is so irritating to me and makes it hard to know if she’s actually sick, which is really important right now. And it continues to occur. I have considered just saying, if you fake cough again, you are going to time out, but I have also thought about doing a boy who cried wolf kind of explanation. But I worry that if I make it a thing, she will double down on insisting she is coughing for real. And it would show my hand that this coughing behavior is getting my attention. And I find that reasoning with four year olds is often futile. Any suggestions?

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S9: Well, if you listen to the show as recently as last week, you may know that I have some experience with faking illnesses and injury. I have quite a bit. In fact, when Nyima was maybe she was four, when this happened, four or five, she faked a leg injury so long that her leg began to hurt because she would not be in because she was limping on it like and like we lived at the time. We lived up a flight of stairs and she committed to this injury going up and down the stairs. She took this injury from New York, where we lived at the time, to Los Angeles, where we were on a very special trip for her. Like I just remember being in the middle of the street by the Staples Center and running into someone that I know in a city where I do not live as my child. Fake injury almost got us hit by a car. So you have she was exactly the more I think about like, no, she just turned four because we just had her fourth birthday party. So I have been in your shoes. And now that she’s almost eight, I wish I could tell you that this is necessarily going to go away. Perhaps your child is a little weird areas, too, I would say. I think ignoring it is great because it does cause her to move on and she’s not being rewarded for the behavior. I think that considering that she’s coughing during a pandemic and that’s a little bit different, that that is making you anxious. Perhaps everyone’s sensitive to that sort of thing right now. And she could be hurting her little throat. It’s time for you to scare her straight. You should not scare her to the point where she does not want to see a doctor or thinks that being sick is such a bad thing. So it’s not necessarily like Walker through what happens to people who have covered. But it may be time for a virtual telemedicine appointment where she has a serious conversation with the doctor. And maybe this is not a real virtual telemedicine appointment, if you know what I mean. You don’t actually have to do a doctor. If there’s somebody you can FaceTime who can make themselves look enough like a doctor under normal circumstances, I would say take her to the doctor and walk through this if you can. But have this person give her a very serious talking to you about what it means to fake an injury and how absolutely busy they are managing the pandemic and what a waste of time it is for them to have to deal with something like this and what the consequences of making up an injury might be and make up some consequences. At this point, it’s all theater because there’s so little that you can do with the four year old. So maybe a little bit of theater will make living with this particular four year old a little easier for you.

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S1: What a fun assignment for a far away friend to be like, hey, can you please pretend to be a doctor on a zoom and scare a kid? I’ll do it. I love it is volunteering, send us e-mail if you want to be able to be your fake doctor. Elizabeth, what do you think?

S4: So I agree with me that it’s time to scare this child straight. I love the fake doctor idea. I also think you could try sitting down and explaining, like that fake coughing, like what it does to vocal chords. Again, explaining just the as a mom, if you keep coughing, then we do need to go see the doctor that something is not right in your body. Now, we’ll say also, I do not think this child has pandas, but one of the first symptoms that appeared for us was actually a throat clearing tic that happened that I also thought was a fake cough and went into the doctor. And of course, the doctor was like, it’s a fake cough, just ignore it. And then that was followed by like a series of that. We had eye blinking, all kinds of things. But at that point, even the medical advice was sort of like, well, we know it’s not a real cough, it’s not producing anything. It’s not doing this. We need to just kind of ignore it so that they don’t continue to cough.

S5: I do think, though, if she’s if she’s trying to play like a sick person, in addition to the to the fake doctor’s visit, you could also treat her on a weekend like she is really sick, like, oh, you have this cough. It must be it’s been persistent. It must be very bad. You must stay in bed.

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S4: And we couldn’t possibly watch anything or do this because you are so sick to try to again, just, you know, reason with a four year old or at least convey to this four year old, these actions have consequences. At the end of the day, though, I think like it’s a four year old.

S7: All right. I agree that all of your advice is reasonable and would work with a kid that is older. But I’m just very dubious that even this fake doctor call, as delightful as it would be. Djamila, I want you to record the Zune when you do it. Absolutely.

S6: I mean, originally it’s going on Amazon to buy a doctor coat.

S7: Just so you know, I’m just very dubious that that that it’s going to stop a four year old necessarily. And I think this letter writer is right, you know, to worry that any way that you treat this is going to be in some way reinforcing. And so I wonder if there are ways to sort of acknowledge that the behavior is happening, but steer it in ways that are less disruptive to things that I can think of. One is I think the letter writer is really perceptive to tie this to the sort of same performative way that kids will love to like Buzz Lightyear for a weekend or just say I’m a princess or whatever. And we often found it useful in any of those circumstances when we were like being driven crazy by the 11th straight day of Lyra being like, I’m the Rainbow Magic, BlueBell Fairy or whatever, we would just sort of lean into the performance part of it and sort of treat her like an actor. And we would make it clear we understood that it was pretend and we would try and steer her towards the pretense. We would say, oh, this is the person that you’re playing today that’s so exciting. We’re all going to pretend to be people. What kind of costume do you need? What kind of person should I be? And so steering it into a game in which you play the doctor and she plays the patient, and then when the game is over, it’s over, might be helpful and it might be a way for her to sort of acknowledge because it’s fun that a performance is going on and that is what she’s putting on as opposed to her trying, you know, fairly and competently to fool you, which is what seems like it’s sometimes happening. Now, the other suggestion I would give it, and I’m sure that we will have child psychiatrist writing in to me to be like, dad, you’re insane. But couldn’t you also just buy a Costco sized bag of cough drops? And every time she coughs, just hand her fucking cough drop and be great news. These cure coughs and you give it to her and she sucks on it. It’s delicious. She won’t cough for a little while. Eventually she’ll cough again. Great news. You get a cough drop, but who cares? Give her the cough drops for a while and eventually she’ll just stop. Or maybe she wanted to. I’ll have to buy more cough drops. I don’t know. But like at least it’s a way of dealing with it that isn’t going to drive you completely insane.

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S1: And that gives her a reason to stop coughing because she has gotten the medicine for the cough, with the caveat, of course, that doctors do not recommend cough drops for children under six. But if your child can handle a cough drop, you know better than I. Of course, they also have hols kids and other varieties of kids, cough pops that are on little stick. So if you’re worried about choking. Yeah, that option as well.

S8: I was going to say absolutely no on the cough drop. But the halls kids perhaps are very good and my daughter loves them. You do have to worry about them wanting to just eat them because they taste like candy, but they come on a stick and there’s.

S6: Maybe just take a hall’s kids cough, pop and coat it in tuna and then give it to your kid, go by the Dutch dropshots there despite the Dutch people, lovely French giving your kid Dutch licorice drops. You can give them black licorice and say that that is the cure for coughing. Exactly. We’re treating a fake cough here.

S1: Lots of great options here. I can’t wait to see what you choose, listener.

S9: I just thought about Nyima and her twenty four Pepto Bismarck’s.

S1: Oh I remember that was a classic day.

S9: Classic day. I just remember that last night I asked him is dad, how is your day. And he text back oh about five minutes later I get a message that’s like the length of half of a Subway sandwich.

S1: He’s just been typing since. Yes. Since he typed while.

S6: Yes. And one, two and one of the many details that he shared about her day. This was one day he was like, she’s thanks. She’s got this ankle injury and it’s preventing her from doing it. And it totally made me think I was like, she did that on Saturday.

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S9: So I’m so sorry. I wish that I had more hope for you that your child would grow out of this. But it’s very possible that this is just a thing that lives in your home.

S1: Can I tell you guys that? I basically did this the summer after her freshman year in high school. I was at Summer Music Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, and I was like walking up some stairs and one of the buildings and I tripped and, like, wiped out in an embarrassing way and to, like, defer attention from the wipe out. I pretended I had actually suffered like some kind of knee injury. And then I ended up like going to student health and they didn’t see any kind of knee injury. But then they, like, called my parents. So when I got home, I just continued faking it as if I had had a knee injury. And it’s at one point I think my parents paid for like some MRI or something to check out my knee injury. And at this point, I was so deep into it that I couldn’t get out. And so I just went months just like limping around Wisconsin pretending I had a knee injury because I didn’t know what to do.

S6: And you are nineteen now is freshman year in high school for high school. I thought you said college was a sham. Fucking wow. Dan, this is.

S1: No, I mean, it’s still pretty embarrassing in high school. It wasn’t that bad, but yeah, I just you know, it’s like Munsen like I’m sure my parents, if they are listening to the podcast, are going to be like, fucking asshole that kid, because they had to drive me out of fucking orthopedists and shit. And eventually, like when school started again in the fall, I was like, well, I’m feeling better than you are an awful child letter writer. I hope this is useful to you. I do think embedded in our personal stories of deception is some useful advice. Write us back and let us know how it goes. My hunch is in a couple of weeks, this will be gone or your child will be addicted to cough drops. Either way, I think he’ll be out of the situation for the most part. And if you’ve got a question you want us to answer, drop us a line. Mom and dad, it’s late dotcom or post to the Slate parenting Facebook group like this listener did just search for sleep parenting. All right. Onto recommendations. Jamila, what are you recommending this week?

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S11: Now, more than ever, it is important that we support our small local businesses. And I have been reminded of the power of doing so by switching from a large chain pharmacy to a small local one, a very small one. I would shout them out, but they’re just a little bit too close to home for me to feel comfortable doing so.

S6: Drop my things off maybe on Tuesday. I’m right after the show, I think. And I said one particular medication I was going to run out in two days. Right.

S11: So give me a couple of pills to make sure I don’t run out and that they would have the full order for me on Friday. So Friday comes the pharmacist calls me to let me know that my order is ready and that I can come pick it up at four o’clock or by four o’clock, rather, when they close. And so I look up and I realize that, well, make it at four o’clock. And I’m like, oh, it’s fine. You know, I had enough medication to get through the weekend, so I’m not really tripping over it.

S6: But, you know, I’m happy to know that they’re there at four forty five. The pharmacist calls me and says, hey, you know, I was just concerned that you hadn’t came. And I wanted to make sure you had enough medication to last through the weekend. And I said, oh, you know, she’s busy working. I’m so sorry. I actually do. But thank you for checking. And since he was still there, he let me come and pick up the rest of my prescription. You know, like that sort of customer service pretty almost brought a tear to my eye. It meant a lot to me, especially with medication, you know, and having had issues with this bigger pharmacy and it’s a big chain. I’ve been to a bunch of different locations and I’ve had different experiences. But once you’ve had a couple of experiences where you feel like somebody is not really concerned about you getting medicine that you have to take every day, it’s kind of hard to get past that. Right. And so that this person cared that much. And again, I think that that’s perhaps what a pharmacist should do, right? This isn’t a dry cleaners or. A shoe shop, this is something that I take to, you know, to be alive and well each day, but it meant so much to me.

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S11: So I am strongly recommending that if you are able to use a small local pharmacy, please do I also, for some strange reason, the only reason I had not done that sooner is because in the past and granted this neighborhood’s a little bit different. Some of the last ones I lived in, I always worried that maybe a smaller place wouldn’t have my stuff.

S6: And they had them for the most part. They had most of the things I needed there and what they didn’t have. They got to me very quickly.

S1: I love small local pharmacies. I want to additionally shout out the tiny pharmacy in Thiensville, Wisconsin, that went out of their way to find the senior living place where my mom lives, contact them, get every single person who lived there over to their pharmacy and give them all coed vaccinations on Saturday when fucking no one else in Wisconsin was doing shit. So great job to that tiny local pharmacy. Thank you very much. Elizabeth, what about you?

S4: I am recommending a book called Tea Time Around the World by Why is Bluff. And it’s a lovely little book that is a great picture book. It has kind of like bolded text, that very simple text. That’s like an easy first reader, but kind of talks about tea time. But then on each page with the illustrations, there’s kind of smaller text describing the traditions of tea from around the world. And it covers Thailand and Japan and Russia and Egypt and Pakistan and Hong Kong. And you can learn all about the different ways that people use tea in their lives than we do poetry, tea time kind of off and on here. And so when I found this book, it’s been a great kind of addition. And we’ve been trying out some different teas and different tea customs from the book. So a really fun way and something to do during the colder months. And it’s called Tea Time Around the World.

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S1: That sounds awesome. In addition to recommending that you drug your children with cough drops, that they’ll choke up. I also recommend. So I’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately and popcorn has been the stack of choice around here. So I’m actually making three recommendations. First of all, a Worli pop to pop your popcorn. That’s one of those big aluminum pans where you put all the popcorn in and heat it up on the stove and then it starts popping. You just turn the crank and it tumbles all the popcorn around so it pops evenly. VeriFone makes great popcorn. I also recommend Amish country Blu kernel popcorn, which after testing about 700 different kinds of fancy ass popcorn, I have determined to be my favorite. And finally, to put on your popcorn, Trader Joe’s everything but the Haloti space, which they make for putting on corn but is also totally delicious on popcorn to give it that Mexican a little taste. Everyone rush out and buy those things and you don’t have to thank me personally. You can just send me a gift certificate to thank me when you have the popcorn experience you’re about to have believe in the world, pop, folks.

S12: All right. That is our show. Thank you so much for joining us one last time. If you want us to weigh in on your conundrum, just email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com or post at Slate Parenting Facebook group. And if you haven’t already, hey, subscribe to Mom and dad are fighting. Wherever you listen to your podcast, it really helps us out. It helps us sell the show to advertisers and it helps you out because you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re there, you can also interview the show with five stars or whatever the platform of the five stars. And you know what? Tell us what you think. We’d love to know as long as you’re telling us how great we are. Mom, Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson. June Thomas is senior managing producer and Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts. Gabriel Roth is Slate’s editorial director for audio for the new campaign, Jamilah Lemieux and Dan Coats. Thanks for listening.

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S7: Hello, sleepless listeners. We are so glad to have you here. Your support for Slate helps Slate do the journalism that it does, and it helps keep us chatting away in your earphones. We’re going to talk today on our Slate. Postpone a segment about platonic valentines. We got a lot of questions on the show about making friends, about maintaining relationships, the relationships that are support systems the parents really lean on and how Valentine’s Day is coming right up. So we want to take a moment to appreciate all the platonic love in our lives. So I’m going to talk first about a close friend who I want to just, like, send a shout out to. I have no idea if she listens to the show. I have no idea if she’s even a slate plus member. But somewhere down the line, I hope that she hears about this because she is a great friend of the family who we have loved forever. I’m sending a shout out. I’m delivering a meticulously hand drawn Valentine to be decorated shoebox of our old friend Stacy Ileum at Stacy in law school back in like nineteen ninety fuckin seven or something. They instantly bonded because they were the two people in law school who identified each other immediately as not gunnars because they didn’t raise their hand all the time and they weren’t constantly up the teacher’s ass showing how smart they were, even though they were of course both very smart. The three of us for those three years during grad school did like everything together. We vacation together. We hung around Washington, D.C. We went to a bar review, which was every Tuesday night law school students would just go to a bar. So we’d go to madam’s organ or or the big hunt, America’s best dive bar rest in peace. And then we all lived in different places for a while. But now we’re back together in the D.C. area. And getting back together with Stacy over the last couple of years has been a true joy of returning to the Washington, D.C. area after he moved here from New York. Stacy doesn’t have kids, but one thing that has been great about that friendship is that she’s been super diligent about keeping in touch with us and making sure that the relationship does not falter even in times in our life when it was harder for us to do that. She invites us to stuff. She invites herself over now and then, just like I recommended in the show the other week, so that she can see us and connect to. The kids in the past year, this terrible year, she’s made sure that we’ve gotten together for walks and she’s logged in for all my Zoome trivia and play readings and stuff. She’s done all of this while building an extremely impressive life and career for herself, prosecuting white collar criminals and chumps and throwing them in jail. She’s great. She’s been a great friend for almost 25 years now. Once again, I don’t even know if she listens to the show. I don’t know. She’s a slate plus member. And I send her five seconds of this as a tease to force her say, plus, that could be the gift I give her and thanks. But anyway, Stacey, this goes out to you. I choose to choose you as a friend. Thanks for everything. Now I want to hear from you guys who’s a platonic valentine you want to send out Elizabeth? Hit it.

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S5: So mine is going out to my friend Bethany, who, again, I have no idea. She listens to the show.

S4: She is like my mom person. I met her when I was first married and we were stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in the middle of nowhere. She is a couple of years younger and had just got married and then graduated. So her husband had already moved out to Edwards and then she graduated from college and moved out. So it was a couple of years younger than me and we just instantly bonded over the fact that we could talk for hours, which at Edwards, that’s all there was to do.

S1: Edwards is like in the middle of nowhere, California. Right.

S4: It’s it literally in the middle of nowhere. Yeah. It’s where the space shuttle used to land because it’s just desert. So you can just bring her down anywhere.

S5: So we lived out there. I text her constantly about the things that annoy me, be it my family, my husband, the things in the world, all of that. And she always replies with either like a appropriate emoji, something ridiculous her children are doing, or just like she logit, solves my problem.

S4: So she’s just kind of that person for me. She gives good advice, never judges, tells me how it is, but then says things like, but of course in public I’d have your back. So I just really appreciate that. And I decided that my virtual valentine to her would have like a picture of a beautiful lake house listing for a farm in Maine. And it would say there is no one I would rather send Zillo photos to while discussing how perfect this farm in Maine is for growing food, knitting and raising our families together.

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S5: Because the conclusion of every conversation is that the two of us should just move to a farm and raise all the kids together and husbands can visit when they have not. The husbands can visit when they want, but clearly we found this perfect house. So my platonic valentine goes out.

S1: That’s very, very sweet. I love that this is like a texting relationship across time zones. I’ve got an in-person relationship right here in the city. Djamila, what do you have for us? Who’s your platonic Valentine going out to?

S6: My Platonic Valentine is one of my best days. William Bryant. Miles, I have a handful of people that I would describe as my best friends, and they are my best friends. But the way the like people have like this is my best friend, you know, like and we are each other, we’re bookends and we do everything together. I don’t quite have that with anyone. And I don’t think I ever really have like William is really in a lot of ways, aside from like my back home homegirls, just one of my soul mates.

S11: We met our freshman year in college and he we were theater majors together. He has been a part of my life and so many important and impactful ways. I’m close to his mother just since I was 18 years old. And this is the year where we cross over from. You know, now, I’ve known you longer than I have it right like that. I’ve known him for more than half of my life. And so we are separated by distance for the second time. And our friendship because we both moved to New York, where he’s from, Tibet say his his literally his neighborhood. So he was so instrumental in walking me through my New York life and helping me make a home there. He went to graduate school in London after we’d been in New York for a couple of years. And he is still in New York now. And I’m here and his name is Godfather. He was the first person I ever you know, I was outside of the family that I ever trusted are called upon to have to go pick her up from school and was always there if there was an emergency, if she was faking sick and needed someone to come pick her up.

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S6: Actually, I think the times that he had to pick her up, she was actually sick, thank God. But he’s just he’s the world to me.

S11: And I miss him so terribly. And his you know, his mother has gotten sick. He’s lost people over the pandemic. It’s been a hard time for him. And his apartment is upstairs from his mother’s. And since they are in such close quarters, he is also quite socially distanced in a way that we have that in common, that more than a lot of people we know we’re not out in the world being active with folks. And I just I love him and I and and I guess this is a fun time to announce. My Slate Live show is returning next week. We’ve got a new name, a new vibe and a new co-host who is my friend, William Bryan Monroe.

S1: What a great valentine.

S11: Yes. So happy Valentine’s Day to you, Will. Thank you for always taking my call. And thank you for stepping into this new adventure with me. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

S1: I like the idea that he’s listening to this and obviously is like what I have to do.

S5: What what am I doing? Oh, shit. The is will you work with me? This is my proposal. Will you work with me. That’s perfect. I love it.

S12: All right. Thank you for those platonic valentines to those friends. Stacy, I’m sorry that I’m not offering you your show on say like, I’ll go talk to people and see if that’s something I can I can just dish out. Thank you, Slate listeners, Slate plus members for being our Valentine’s. Don’t tell anyone, but of course we love you best. You’re our favorite listeners. Until next time. We’ll talk to you next week. Thanks.