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.
S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, February 4th, the Concussion Chaos Edition. I’m Elizabeth New Camp. I write the Home School and Family Travel Blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to Three Littles, Henry who’s eight, Oliver who’s six, and Teddy who’s four. And we live in Navarre, Florida. And Jamilah Lemieux, I’m a writer contributor to Slate’s Karen Feting Parenting column and mom to Nyima, who is seven. And we live in Los Angeles, California.
S3: I’m Dan cos I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family. I’m the dad of Laura, who’s 15. Harper who’s 13.
S2: We live in Arlington, Virginia. Today. We’re going to talk about concussions. That energetic three year old’s not exactly a perfect pair will answer questions from a mom whose brain is almost feeling better except one. Her little one gets a bit too loud.
S1: How can she get her daughter to comply with the necessary calmness? After that? We’re going to answer questions from a non parent who’s looking for advice on being a fun aunt figure for her friend’s kids. We need more of her out there for sure. On our Slate plus bonus segment, we’ll be doing a rapid fire book recommendation round for everyone who is desperate for news stories. And as always, we have triumphs and failures and recommendations. So, Jamila, do you have a triumph or fail for us this week?
S4: I’ve got a little bit fail this week. Nothing too bad. So Nyima and my mother very close, which is something I absolutely love. And my mom, who lives in Chicago where I’m from, which is a nice little one bedroom apartment, you know, my mom has nice taste. It’s well decorated, but it’s very much a pretty standard apartment. Nyima talks about my mom’s home as if it is the Palace of Versailles, I think. And it kind of tickles me. And it it’s interesting because I can do nothing to dazzle her. Like as hard as I’ve worked every wall in this house, there are no white walls in my home. Every wall is pink, yellow. There’s flowers, there’s wallpaper, there’s paintings, there’s all this stuff. And it just does not really register to my daughter relative to my mother’s house. And so the other day, she was telling a story about something that happened on one of our last visits to grandma’s house. I’d snuck in, let her have some Doritos. She’s like, so I’m just sitting there and I’ve got Doritos on my hands and Doritos around my mouth on grandma’s luscious couch. And I just lost that when she said that, because I’ve never heard anyone describe a couch as luscious before. And it turns out this was grandma’s old couch because I bought her a couch for her birthday last year and it was delivered the day after we left. And so she was like, so this wasn’t even the new couch. This was her old couch, still her luscious, beautiful couch just sitting there eating Doritos. And so my faile was my inability to pull it together when she said Grandma’s luscious couch, I thought, your family is going to be that she ruined the couch.
S3: The three of us have had that. The next day I got a new couch.
S4: No, I think that I allowed her to eat Doritos on the couch because it was getting ready to leave the next day.
S5: Anyway, when you lose that, it’s something that I am says. What is her response to she? Does she think, oh, I said something funny that my mom likes to do. She get pissed off?
S4: I guess it depends on what she feels about what she’s saying. Like, if she’s really riled up, you know, and I start laughing, she’ll you know. You know what? You just don’t you know, you don’t get it. You just don’t understand me. And she might, like, storm off or ball up her face and get upset. But usually if I lose it, she loses it. To this time, I hit to a certain extent.
S6: So I just said, oh, that’s so different. That’s such a unique way. It’s such a unique way of describing a couch. She was like, that’s so you have to go right down in your one line a day box. Right?
S7: So I did. I wrote it down.
S4: I wrote it down for I have a file of Nyima quotes, but I’d also put it down for the show this week. But as a small update to last week’s recommendation, Elizabeth, the site where you can make the memory books by texting them Adalimumab I have been doing that, so I’m waiting for them to ask me the right questions so I could say, well, Nameless was sitting on Grandma’s luscious couch and then that’s perfect.
S6: And I think it was seven million.
S5: Feels like that because Harben Larible fucking hate it when we crack up at some malapropism that they toss out there, they just they’re like so offended that we would find them funny.
S6: So, Dan, triumph or fail this week?
S5: I have a snow triumph this week, we had our first real snow of the season this weekend, like lots of folks on the East Coast. It’s actually the first real snow in several years. The last snowstorm we had here in Virginia was the one that drove me insane and led me to force my kids to travel around the world with me for a year. That was back in twenty sixteen. You know, it wasn’t huge, but we ended up with like a solid six or seven inches of snow here. And so I actually have two related triumphs. The first small one is that this is the first time, I think in probably 10 years that I have viewed a coming snowstorm with like anticipation and happiness rather than just incandescent rage about how they’re going to fucking cancel school and it’s going to ruin my life. So I guess that sort of an upside of remote school. I told Alere this and she was like, yeah, I mean, now we just feel rage about school every day, all the time. And life is basically ASMs for your rage. But as I have a second very practical triumph that I’m very proud of, Harper really, really likes playing in the snow. She’s always loved it. She still loves it. But it has been so long since we’ve had snow that none of her snow pants fit her anymore. And I just really put off buying her new ones because, you know, climate change is a never going to snow again. We don’t know they’re so expensive and such a pain, she’d probably out of them. So when I was all said on Thursday, we’ve got this forecast coming up for the weekend of a bunch of snow. And Harper’s already starting to make plans with her various friends for sledding and playing and making snow angels and stuff. I’m like, fuck, she doesn’t have any snow pants. The only snow pants we have our earliest snow pants, which are grown woman snow pants. So when Harper puts them on, they just just slide right down her legs like a cartoon man whose belt has snapped. So I’m like, all right, no problem. We live in the age of instant distribution and procurement. I will find some at a store someone has planned ahead and is ready for this target. Nope. Ari? Nope. Dick’s Sporting Goods. Nope. Amazon. There are no snow pants anywhere on Amazon except for one pair of snow pants that are two hundred and seventy five dollars. I do not buy those.
S8: There’s no place that will deliver these in time because everyone else had the same problem I had was that they needed snow pants ASAP. And I was like, fuck, I have ruined it. The only snow pants I can buy online will be delivered to me on March 3rd. But then I realized Harper doesn’t need new pants. I’m sitting there on the couch with all and I’m like, Oh, what she needs is like stretchy straps that like they hold up your pants. So they’re like overalls and goes suspenders. I go, Yeah, and boom. There are a bunch of suspenders available for next year. I was on I purchased them there. Twenty bucks. Harper wore them with almost no pants all day on Saturday. All day on Sunday. She’s outside in the driveway right now is Shira. I can see her from this window playing in her snow pants with the suspenders. She’s having a great time and I feel like I really pulled this one right out of a hat at the last second.
S6: I love it.
S4: You absolutely did. That was brilliant. Alere was one came up with it, so shout out to her. But wow.
S6: Oh, now you invented would have come to an event. You invented suspenders.
S8: So within a week or two I would have developed suspenders at home.
S4: Yes. Use giant credit.
S9: I have to admit, this is the first time in my life that I have considered the existence of snow pants for people who are not small children. I’m aware of ski. I guess I’ve thought of ski gear, you know, like things that you are wearing to go skiing. I don’t know what. I’m from Chicago. I’ve spent years of my life living in places where there was no right. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I, too, could have had snow pants.
S4: And been less cold and wet.
S5: I’d like to ask our producer, Rosie, who’s currently in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Do you have everyone in your family has adult snow pants, right?
S10: No, actually, we don’t got. We still, like, do all the stuff outside. We just layer up. Yeah.
S7: You just you’re too tough. We just layered up.
S8: Anyways, I’m definitely a bar harbor suspenders for some formal occasion and I put my pants up to my armpits.
S1: Suspenders. Good for so many things.
S5: I assume everyone that I believe everyone should own suspenders at this point.
S1: Well, I have like a Florida man story for my triumph for the week. So I took the kids down to the beach. We had kind of some cold weather coming in and a storm. So the waves were pretty good. Took the kid.
S5: That was it in the 50s.
S1: Yeah. Hey, we got to the 30s at night. It was. Yeah. So we are the 50s still like with our little hats on shelling because the winter is kind of the time for great shells here due to ocean currents and all that stuff. So so my kids have always been like over shares and the pandemic has only made that worse. So we’re on the beach and they will basically speak to and speak to I mean, scream through their masks at anybody else on the beach, which is not, you know, in the summer it was like packed in the winter. There’s nobody there. So there’s probably like four or five other adults shelling. They are like screaming at these people about what they found. And this woman was sort of like, this is my first time shelling and I haven’t found anything. My actual triumph is that Henry then dug into his bucket to find like this really, really nice little conch shell type thing. I’m sure that’s not actually what kind of shell it is, but I know nothing about shells and like kind of threw it at this woman for her to have. And she was just like so overjoyed and they collected a lot of shells, but he legitimately gave her the best shell that he had found that day. And I just thought, like, oh my gosh, he is actually an OK human like in this moment so that, you know, I worry about that a lot. So he had given up the shell. And then, of course, my other two boys seeing this also offered up shells from their bags, which was very sweet. But as we’re walking down there talking to these people, there’s like fishing lines like way out into the Gulf and then like Kayak. And so Henry is like engaging with the just most Florida looking man you have ever seen, like no shirt on and it’s not warm. And he’s got these, like, kind of waders on.
S6: It turns out this is this man’s birthday and he has come out for his birthday, two shark fish, and they take out these like cow heads into the ocean on hooks and our cow heads. Yeah, like like the head of a cow. Yes. They kayak them out there and they drop them out onto these hooks. And this man is like as he’s talking to Henry, is like reliving something in and Henry’s like, what’s on the end? And he’s like, well, it’s definitely a shark. It’ll be about twenty minutes. And Henry is like, we have to stay. And I was just not with us, but I’m thinking, well, Jeff would also be like, we have to say so we kind of show a little bit around the area and then this man, like, hands off to his buddy, the real and he just like pulls kind of with your suspender plan over his bare chest, his suspenders. And he he wades out into the ocean. And sure enough, here is this tiger shark and he gets on its back and they undo the hook and they measure it and they take a bunch of pictures and then he slaps it on the tail and it swims away. And the whole time I’m thinking, what the fuck is happening, like, why, why, why, why?
S8: So that shark got to eat a whole cow head. I mean, get its picture taken and then go on its merry way.
S6: Well, when you put it that way, Dad was like harassed by this shirtless Florida man for his birthday.
S8: It’s like if you’re a Florida shark, you just that’s just this Thursday, man.
S1: It was something else. But I do have this picture of this man sitting on his the back of this shark and my kids, we get into the car and Henry was like, well, that was weird.
S8: Yeah, they’re going to talk about that for like, this is going to be a family law.
S1: Twenty five years weird and cool in Florida. And I was glad, you know, honestly, I was glad they released it. I wasn’t really sure what happened to a court shark, but did they?
S9: OK, so the cow hit. Is there any preparation involved in this?
S6: Is it you know, is it just is it cooked or is it just chopped by don’t leave? It is just like I don’t know, it’s large enough that they have to kayak it out there in the hook was really large. I didn’t actually see because when we arrived at the beach, all of the lines they had four lines from their tent were like way far out in the ocean, rest in peace for cows. Where did they get the cow heads? I don’t know.
S8: I mean, some you just get him at the fishing store in Florida. There’s like the cooler with worms and then there’s the cooler heads. It’s a much larger cooler.
S6: So those are the things happening on Navarre Beach in the winter.
S8: Great story. I absolutely love it. And I got a new idea for how to wear my suspenders.
S6: You go well before we move on to business.
S1: If you remember that last week we advised a listener who was fed up that she couldn’t do outdoor activities anymore with her little one. Well, quite a few lovely listeners wrote in to commiserate, and we wanted to highlight one particular letter.
S8: Yeah, we’re going to highlight one letter with some really great practical, inspirational advice, I thought, from a listener named Ellen. Ellen wrote this letter, Could one thousand percent have been me? I’ve seen a lot of friends with young kids change the type of outdoor activities they do. Most kids no more backcountry camping, but going to organized state parks instead because they seem easier. But this is a huge mistake because if you love the feeling of being in the wilderness, a crowded campground with cars nearby isn’t going to do it for you. Even if you’re still sleeping in a tent. The way we have found to stay sane and still enjoy things is to change the duration and intensity, but not the type of activity. Example, we took our seven month old and three year old backpacking once so far, and we chose a route where we only had to cover three or so miles per day, which the three year old was able to do and allowed tons of time to explore on her schedule and made it possible for us to carry the very heavy packs required, but still allowed us to get out into the real wilderness. The bottom line is, don’t feel like you have to do the boring kid version of these activities because you don’t. You can just do twenty percent of the distance, for example. But it’s still possible to do the things you loved unless it’s skydiving or something. Don’t lose hope. It’s OK if they complain or even cry at times. Celebrate the huge challenge and reward their effort resilience. Tell stories of when you also cried on the top of the mountain or whatever. I also strongly agree that ice cream should come after every outing. Thank you, Alan. That is a great letter and I particularly love the note. It is OK if they complain. That is something that I struggled with a lot when we started doing outdoorsy things with our kids after a quiet first eleven years of never going outside at all. As a parent, I think I often in situations like this think of complaining as a sign of my failure.
S5: But in fact it is just a natural response to shit that sucks, but also totally fine in a circumstance where eventually they will get through the complaining and find things to like about it. And you don’t have to view that as a judgment on your parenting necessarily.
S6: I have. This is great advice. So the only the only problem is that you didn’t mention geocaching, right?
S8: I mean that luckily we have a Facebook thread going crazy for geo caching that Elizabeth has made her full time job last week to promote geocache.
S1: Oh, Ellen, we’re so glad that you wrote in. And for everybody else that sent us some messages, keep sending in your feedback and keeping us updated. We love that. So now mom and dad at Slate Dotcom. Oh, yeah, that’s important. So without further ado, we are onto the business.
S2: You won’t want to miss Slate’s parenting newsletter, it’s the best place to be notified about everything Slate publishes about parenting, including mom and dad are fighting. Ask a teacher, Karen, feeding much, much more. It’s a really fun personal email from Dan each week. And you can sign up for that at Slate Dotcom Slash Parenting email. If you two are looking for a place to connect with other parents, particularly during the pandemic, you can come on over to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. It’s really active. There’s lots of variety of questions. We also moderate it so it doesn’t get too out of control. Just search for slate parenting on Facebook and make sure you answer those questions. And before you know it, you’ll have a group of people to discuss parenting with.
S1: All right. Let’s hear our first listener question. It’s being read by the magnificent Shasha Leonhard.
S11: Hi, Mom and dad. A year ago, I hit my head pretty bad playing soccer. I somehow bashed my head on the concrete wall that is part of the indoor court. I had a goose egg turned double black eyes that drained down my face for the next several months. I have a daughter and the sometimes freaky Energizer Bunny energy of a three year old was hard for my brain to handle in a concussed state. I’m pretty much healed up now, but still certain types of noises and things being flung at me, both of which equal headaches. She’s just being a perfectly curious, exploratory, excited and emotional tiny person, and I want to support her in doing that. But then there’s the scream crying My spouse and I have never brushed away emotions and experience has taught us that trying to shut it down makes the noise louder and last longer. We’ve tried talking to her about momma’s head, but as we all know, children aren’t reasonable. How can I keep up emotionally supportive parenting practices without losing my mind? What is an acceptable boundary here and how do I get her to comply? Thanks. Desperate for a dark hole to crawl into.
S8: All right. This is a tough situation and it’s a tough situation you’ve been living with for quite some time. So there’s two separate issues here, right? There’s the playing issue and there’s the screaming issue. I’m going to talk about the playing issue because I have good advice for that and don’t have any good advice for the screaming issue. So I hope you guys do is on playing. You need to establish if you haven’t already established the beginnings of the long process of reinforcing quiet, calm activities with this child and making sure that when you’re doing those activities one on one with her, you’re really, really super connected and focused, an extra loving and sweet to her during those moments to reinforce, at least for now, that this is something that she gets a lot of joy and pleasure out of and a lot of really focused attention from you. That is going to be what encourages her to keep doing these things with you, to do the kind of quiet play maybe in semidarkness that is best for you right now. And then when your daughter has those big bursts of three year old energy, I think you will feel less guilty about withdrawing as you need to. I will say that it’s going to be incumbent upon your spouse to take charge of those times when they can. And I want to really urge you not to feel guilty about it for some time in, you know, over the course of the next year or so.
S3: You are the quiet play person and they are the loud play person. That doesn’t have to be a forever role that each of you play. You are clearly an active person who loves playing sports and stuff like that, and eventually that can return to your life along with your child.
S8: And so it just becomes a matter of really reinforcing through connection and love and attention that this is the kind of play that is best for you guys to engage in right now and giving yourself space when you need to give yourself space. And the more you do that, the more it creates that feedback loop that for a three year old reads as, oh, this is what I love doing with this person the most. And that will really help alone solve it all the time. But it will really help. And screaming, it’s a lot tougher for a lot of people, the best way to deal with a tantrum is to just let them scream themself out. But you don’t want to deal with that when your head is pounding.
S9: So I’d really love to hear what you guys think about that part of the ongoing conversation that you’re going to have to have with your daughter about what mommy’s head requires is that you are sensitive to sound and so wild tantrums are natural. I mean, it is possible that she can even adapt the ways that she is acting out. A three year old is old enough to have a concept of this is a thing that hurts mommy and I’m going to try to avoid hurting her. Talk about what it feels like in as close to three year old words as you possibly can for you to have those headaches from hearing loud noises, she should see you remove yourself, right. Or there should be some sort of protection of if she’s having a tantrum and your spouse is there, that you depart the room, that this is something that you are not able to deal with. I will say as a migraine sufferer and as somebody who has experience with chronic pain and other. Physical and mental challenges that I’ve had to share with my child from a very young age, you’d be surprised at how sensitive to those things they can be. But it’s something that they have to constantly be reminded of. The visible injury is oftentimes, you know, it’s jarring and it helps kids contextualize something. The unseen pain can be very difficult for kids to process, but you just can’t let them forget it. If she’s hearing about it constantly, it becomes a part of her awareness. And it also may be wise to invest in a pair of inexpensive, you know, noise canceling headphones. Right. That you can grab when she’s having a tantrum that would still allow you to communicate with her and you’ll still hear some of the tantrums. You’ll still be able to talk to her about what’s going on. But it won’t be nearly as bad if you’re putting on those headphones.
S1: That’s a good reminder to your three year old. Like this is getting too loud for me, even if you kind of see it coming. We have had a lot of issues with kind of volume level and emotional regulation. And something that has really helped is that we drew out this chart on the wall that was kind of, you know, one through five and then drew faces for what each of those kind of looked like, like very cartoony and then assigned what the appropriate responses. So like a five was like, you’re in danger, the house is on fire. And a four was like, you’re injured, you know, and then a three was like, you are really frustrated about something. And bringing them over to the chart and saying, like, what I’m seeing and hearing is a five, but the House is not on fire where we need to be at a three, because I think that says, like, it’s still OK that you’re crying and that you’re upset. But this level that you’re at here is just too much. And I always think, too, with these things, like having a visual tool for in the moment is good. But I think visiting these when there’s not screaming is also important. The other thing is that your partner can have your child practice outside what a five is and how that feels and how loud that is. So that when you say to them, you’re out of five and we really need you to be at a three, you know, because it hurts mommy’s ears, but also because that’s the appropriate response to this frustration that they have some kind of baseline for that. But I think, you know, something that I think everyone has mentioned is that it’s also OK to remove yourself. Like if if your health requires you to leave, there are ways, even if you are alone with the child, to remove yourself so that you are also safe and your child is safe and you’re not abandoning them, you know, you can use your words to say, I see that you’re upset, but I can’t stay here with you because it hurts me. So I’m going to go here and you sit here. I can still see you. You’re still safe. Can we get you some water? Like, what are these steps that they can do? I also wanted to suggest a little calm down kit of sensory things, a sensory bottle, which is we made ours with just like a water bottle and some glitter and glue and things like that. I really like those for the kids and we shake them up when they’re really upset and then we kind of watch them settle. And again, it’s just kind of like this visualization of inside and how they’re feeling, but also an opportunity to kind of breathe down and watch it. And having that basket or that group of items might also be an opportunity to give your child those and give yourself some space.
S3: That’s really good advice. I love that one through five frustration and anger chart. The only other thing I would like to add is for this letter writer. I certainly hope that you are checking in with your doctor about your post concussion syndrome in general. The rule of thumb is if you’re still feeling symptoms after three months after the concussion, you should definitely be getting some kind of treatment. So a year is a long time. So if you are not talking to a doctor about it, make sure you talk to your doctor about it.
S6: Well, good luck. And we hope you continue to feel better. And we’d love to hear an update on how it’s going for you and your family. If you have a question for us, you can email us at Mom and dad at Slate Dotcom or post it in this late parenting Facebook group. Now on to our second question, Shasha. Take it away.
S11: Dear mom and dad, I’m a single female professional who just turned thirty, as is to be expected at this age. Many of my friends are starting to have children. I have never been super interested in young children or had much experience with them, though I’ve coached middle school girls in lacrosse for many years. My question is how can I support my friends in the new parent phase of life and how can I start being a fun adult figure in their kids lives? Sincerely never been that into kids.
S9: So I love this question. I feel like we’ve gotten various iterations of it here and certainly at care and feeding over the past few years, and I appreciate it every time. I will say, especially as someone who was at twenty eight, the first out of my circle of girlfriends, but like, I felt so isolated. And you may be having the opposite experience where you could be the odd man out for not having a child. But in terms of social activity, like once I was able to, you know, get out and about, I would look on Instagram and be like, oh, they did a thing tonight and they didn’t invite me. Right. And so one big thing is not assuming that your friends don’t want to still engage with you like they used to on some level. Right. Like don’t assume that everything is now about the kids. I would imagine that many of them, if not all of them, would really love to have you being a presence in the kids lives. And it’s not necessarily about having some sort of skill or trick or something special that you bring to the table. You know, it’s being around as being a person that they know I found in my child. I think part of the reason that she’s so sophisticated and inquisitive is because she spent a good amount of time around adults like me, the friend who’s willing to go have the brunch with the baby, like, you know, pick up the bottle off the floor when they toss it, you know, roll your eyes at the person who rolled their eyes at the screaming kid next to you guys in the restaurant. Make yourself available to be present for things that are already happening. You know, from if you do need an extra hand on a doctor’s visit or if you want to make the Costco run or, you know, hey, I know you guys hang out at the park on Third Street, I would love to stop by on my way from work and maybe kind of just cool out with you all for a little while. And then also suggest perhaps that there are things that you have noticed that your friend is not doing anymore, that they used to like to do. Right. Like, I don’t know. Is social activity supposed to look like any more? So I’m just making it up as I go along, but like, hey, let’s drive somewhere. And I play those cool tones from the back of my car and we park with the blanket. I think that’s a picnic. Right, like suggesting a picnic. Suspenders, suspenders. Right. See, OK, you’re not alone here, Dan. I get it. I get it. This is this is what the world is doing. Says weird. Yeah. I get it now and then in terms of you really building that bond with the child when you’re there, engage them in conversation. There’s a good chance. I know I’m rambling a little bit because I’m like, yes, please. Oh my God. Do more of this. This is what, you know, childless adults should do is a beautiful thing and it’s beautiful for everybody. Right. Like, these will be the kids to take care of. You know, if you don’t have children of your own, like at some point, these may be the children that look after you, you know, that that support you. So all that to say, yes, this is a very important thing that you’re doing and I’m proud of you. Thank you. On behalf of all the moms and dads in general, non binary parents, seven words.
S8: I got seven words for this letter writer. I’m bringing over dinner. Let’s hang out. That’s all you need. You show up at five thirty. You’ve got a shitload of food. You’re there to hang out and eat. And the most important thing for you to remember, I think they really want to amplify from watching me said is your friend wants to see you and wants to connect with you and your friend also wants you to connect with their child. Both those things are important to your friends and you can very easily provide those things. It’s not hard to connect with the baby or connect with a little kid, especially when they’re not your baby, you’re not your little kid. And the instant they start crying or misbehaving, you just hand them right back to the actual parent. So. If you do that. Every couple of months for your friend, you will be the best childfree friend that they have. I absolutely guarantee it. He will maintain and solidify that relationship in a way that will be meaningful to you. And I know you’re worried about. Am I going to be able to bond with this kid? You know, I don’t have a lot of experience with kids. I’m not even that interested in kids in general. But a great rule of thumb is that you don’t have to be interested in kids in general. Kids in general are not that interesting, but specific kids who you spend time with and get to know are interesting. And that’s all you have to do.
S1: I feel like you guys really covered it. I have two things to add, which is first, that as your friends start to have kids know that particularly in the beginning, their silence is not them saying they don’t want to be friends with you. And like Dan said, the biggest thing that you can do is say, I’m coming over and there’s so much chaos and figuring things out in those early days that you almost have to be pushy and just say, how can I be there? How can I drop something off or just do it? The other biggest thing you could do is compliment them all the time and tell them they’re doing an amazing job. Because I think something that parents do not get is anyone saying, I see what you’re doing and you’re doing a great job, particularly if you are the person hanging out when they’ve just been vomited on or the kids screaming or whatever. That scenario is that if you are a really good friend, my best friend forever, Mary has no children of her own. And this is the thing she does for me is that every time she calls, she is like, even if we haven’t talked in forever, like, oh, I saw this thing that you did, you know, that you post on social media or her and Jeff also talking. She’ll be like our Jeff told me this thing, like she just says, what an amazing parent you are. Like, how lucky for these kids to be able to do this or I’m so glad you get that you’re that you’re doing this for them. Whether she believes that or not, it doesn’t really matter. It is probably the greatest thing she does for me as a friend. And then it also boosting my kids like she reflects that same thing back to them of just saying, like I saw you did. This cool thing is she’s invested in the kids, but it’s not like she does anything particularly special with them. Like, yes, she volunteers to take them to the park and things, but she’s interested in them because she is my friend and therefore kind of knows about their lives and engages with them that way. And I just think that is probably one of the best things you can do to build that relationship is just to be there and be positive in a time in life when most other people who interact with your friends will have something to say about how they’re doing it wrong.
S6: So if you can be there to be their support and you guys just gave such other wonderful tips about how to be there and volunteer and if you are inclined, like always offer to take the kids that I mean, obviously, obviously, if you want to really rock start at the top. Right. Just to take the kids off.
S9: But this is the hardest job that your your parent friends have probably ever done. And it is unpaid largely. We are paid and love. Yep, so Ossabaw, don’t forget, buyer for paid, inva and bar and a lot more work, right? Like, yes, there’s so much love, there’s so much goodness, but there’s so much work. There’s so much work. And it is more often than not thankless. You don’t start getting like really great. Thank you. From your kids until they’re like.
S6: Five, six, seven, and there’s still why they’re so angry to say like thirty two, right, when they have their own children, when they have their own children, and it’s often the silence.
S9: Thank you. That they say to themselves as they wallow in the labor, labor, labor. But now you get the OK, you get moments of hearing. Thank you from your children. By the time they’re five words, really sweet, you know, and they’re able to like, offer like sincere gratitude for something. But more often than not, you’re just like busting your entire at my child is not my teacher. Just text me, please. Send my girl back. So I’m going to step aside and go yell at my kid real quick. But because she’s not in zone class, can we just. OK, can I just. No judgment zone. If they had a second grade good program, I swear to God. Like, if you could if like if you could enroll next year, like it’s no big deal, like you could just start school again, but they were like, yeah, she could just take the second grade test real quick like she can, and it’ll be on her permanent transfer forever, 2nd grade. But like, she can go to regular third grade, sign me up. It’s called home school. Right.
S8: You know, we have to say or you’re going to be like, I got a contract to travel around the world. I’m going to be gone for the rest of the year. But don’t worry, my kids will be going to school in the places we are.
S9: I worry that I’m doing that and we’re doing cultural anthropology in Beverly Hills, so and then put them back in school.
S8: So no one from the Los Angeles schools be listening to this podcast right now.
S9: Literally no way. There’s telling nowhere but to our dear letter writer. Sorry about that. I just want to add, hearing you’re doing great is the best feeling that you could possibly get because you’re not going to get. Thank you. So just being reminded that you’re doing a good job. All affirmation, all praise like poured into our veins. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my second grade drop out. Right.
S1: Well, listen, I hope that helps. And I can already say that just by asking this question, you are already on your way to being a wonderful auntie or whatever you want to be called, Your Majesty, to all of these wonderful children that your friends are having. So other listeners, whether your parents or not, if you have a conundrum or would just like some advice, you can email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com or post in the Slate Parenting Facebook group. OK, so now we are doing recommendations. Dan, what do you have for us this week?
S12: I’m recommending a brand new company that full disclosure is run by an old college friend of mine, Shelly Butler. She’s an acclaimed theater director who’s directed all over the country and regionals. And in New York, she and her husband have created this new company called Artistic Stamp. And it’s both pretty innovative and also a little bit hard to describe. But here is my try. It’s interactive theater that you do through the mail. So there are a number of plays that have been written by playwrights that have sort of broad storylines. But the interpretation of the play is left up to actors, and it’s done by the actor sending you a letter in the mail and then you writing back to the actor. So the actor playing a character right to a letter, you write back to that character and then your interaction over the course of a couple of letters makes up the play that you are enjoying. So it’s well suited to coronavirus times when we can’t go to life theater. They have them for all ages, including for adults. I think the real sweet spot for this is like maybe ages nine to 13. The letters are a little bit magical. They’re a little bit spooky and it’s they’re fun to get. They’re beautifully illustrated and laid out. And the actors who are doing these roles are clearly putting their all into it are doing one of these plays for lack of a better term. Right now. They’ve really enjoyed getting these letters about this great adventure that they’re being recruited to participate in because the world is in danger. And then they write back like, yeah, well, how do we know you’re actually a magical creature? And then the actor playing this role has to figure out how to deal with that. It’s very enjoyable for me as well. Once again, it’s called artistic stamp. You can find it at artistic stamps.com.
S3: And I find it very charming.
S1: And I hope that this company succeeds because I think it’s a great idea that sounds so fun and a good way to sneak in some writing practice. Jarmila, what do you have for us this week?
S13: So I am recommending press on nails. Listen, no industry has stepped up to meet the needs of this moment. Like the people who make press on nails, if you had told me. That in twenty twenty one.
S7: I would be wearing press on press on nails were a lesson I learned very quickly, very early in life, they were a ridiculous proposition. They do not work there, you know, like they were when we were kids. Like, you know, you try this as a teenager. I feel like most kids that were into, you know, nails try press on nails and acrylics. And I tried that at home version. I tried them both and they were horrific. Like, there’s nothing worse than like especially back then. They were probably like three colors. So one of them was like red. So you’ve got like one missing red fingernail, right? I am endorsing nails. Is this as if I’m not missing a fingernail, as my colleagues can see today? And yet and yet replacing that fingernail that came off while I was washing dishes last night will be so much easier. Like a part of my for performance of myself was stripped away from me during the pandemic. And I’d seen other folks say, you know, wow, press on nails have really come a long way. They’re really good. And I just could not believe it. I was like, I there’s no way they were literally garbage, dirt. Like they don’t fit the size of your. Now, I don’t know what they’ve done.
S13: It’s so easy. It’s so quick. It’s so inexpensive.
S7: There’s so many. In fact there are even like some of the like top mail folks are like selling, you know, prisons that you can buy or and if not a price on nail, but like a nail wrap. Right.
S6: With like just the color I’ve been using the wrap the like sticker wraps. And they’re amazing because I like my nails real short, but same thing. I like to go get them done in the before times and I cannot believe that I can put these on and you can put three on and deal with something and you can put the right that’s like that is so much different than having to Dan, get get Harper in here. She has an opinion.
S5: She has a lot to say about this whole thing.
S7: So yeah, I haven’t tried to wrap shit there next. But I will say like I tried the like kiss brand, like the super inexpensive available a target available on Amazon available at Walgreens. Like I got the short ones and they are super natural length and like.
S13: Easy to take up, just in love.
S1: I know I don’t know what happened, but somebody somewhere developed something amazing recently and just in time to meet a hero. What a hero. Well, I. I’m recommending something that doesn’t pair well with nails, but it’s crazy and super putty. If you listen to the Christmas episode, you heard that we like can’t do slime because it’s always a disaster. So this is like a really nice kind of textured play. It comes in all kinds of fun. They have ones that smell. They have ones that change color. As they get hot and cold, they have some that glow in the dark, like all kinds of stuff. It was recommended to me by my child’s therapist to, like, work out the hand muscles. But it turns out all the kids like it. It doesn’t ever like Harden or really stick to things that well. So that’s really nice. You have to watch it around like fabric and things. But in general, the play is not messy, which I love, and they can play with it and it stores in a tin and you are sure to find something that you like and it’s been a great little like hand it to the four year old to play with at the table or when someone’s driving me crazy. So that’s crazy. And Super Pudi comes in all kinds of smells and textures.
S14: Well, that’s it for our show. But a quick reminder, if you want our advice, email us at Mom and dad at Slate Dotcom or post it to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. Just search for Slate parenting if you haven’t already, please subscribe. Whatever you listen to podcasts, it helps us out and make sure that you never miss an episode. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bouncin. Jim Thomas is senior managing producer and Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts, and Gabriel Roth is Slate’s editorial director.
S15: Audio for Jimmy The You and Dan. I’m Elizabeth. New Camp.
S1: Hello, Slate plus, listeners, we’re so glad you’re here, keeping us chatting away in your ear. We must be at that point in the pandemic where it’s time to restock our bookshelves because we have seen a lot of requests for new books. Luckily, we love books and we love to weigh in. So here are some of our favorites and categories you suggested.
S3: All right. Here’s our first request. Someone asked, does anyone have any good recommendations for picture books about various religions? Religions aren’t really a part of our family life, but I don’t want our kids to be totally clueless on the topic. So we’re looking for books that are inclusive of all religions, but we’re also open to reading various books about different religions. Elizabeth, you got something?
S1: Yeah, I had two recommendations here. The first is from Dekay Publishing. It’s called What Do You Believe? It includes all of the largest faith, a couple of small, smaller religion and are just like facts and pictures about it. The second book is the You Sporn Book of World Religions by Susan Merideth. And kind of same thing, just pictures and a good way to kind of kick off the conversation and make sure your child knows about sort of major symbology in each religion. Next, we are looking for comedy read aloud specifically. They just finished Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime with their 10 year old. And now they’re looking for other comedic memoirs that are appropriate for pretty that are appropriate for preteens and focused mainly on the childhood years.
S3: All right. So you don’t want, like a Mindy Kaling or something because there’s a lot of sex stories. The two that Lara really loved at that age, she discovered them right about when she was 10, where Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants and Amy Polar’s memoir. I will say that they’re not heavily tipped toward childhood, but they are very funny and mostly unobjectionable. And I would also recommend these are not famous people, but they’re very funny. Good comic book memoirs of Kid Life The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gormley, Elderflower Bike Bell and be prepared by Veera Brossel.
S1: And I Have Earth Hates Me True Confessions from a Teenage Girl by comedian Ruby Karpe. She was 16 when she wrote it. And it’s perfect for your pre-teen.
S12: All right, next one. Any recommendations for a truly funny chapter book for reading aloud that is also modern? We’ve tried the Ramona books, but they’re honestly a little bit dated for him. But some of the funny early chapter books we’ve tried are just really stupid and we would love some more ideas.
S1: So I had two recommendations. The first is the Lemon Cello Library series by Chris Gravenstein. They’re sort of mystery and chaos. Funny. They have some puzzles in them. They were really fun reads with all of the boys. The other is The Train to Impossible Places by PG Bal. Again, funny, but also kind of mystery, really engaging. Great family read aloud.
S3: I second those opinions. Those are both books and series that my kids have loved.
S12: I would also suggest Swindell by Gordon Korman or basically anything by Gordon Kahraman, probably the funniest children’s book author of all time and former mom and dad are fighting long ago advertiser but still beloved book The Terrible Two and its many follow ups by jury John and Mac Barnett, which are the stories of two middle school movers and shakers and their attempts to really put one over on each other and prank the hell out of each other all the way through a school year. Totally delightful.
S10: So fiction books for a nine year old that take place in a real city or location to build interest in those locations. For example, from the mixed files of Basil E. Frankweiler, which took place in the Met in New York City, I want to recommend it’s actually a two part series.
S1: The first one is called Dragon’s in a Bag by Zeta Elliott. And it takes place in kind of urban New York. It’s a great like read, really invited. Henry was like all involved in it, asking about Central Park and all that kind of different parts of New York.
S3: I have a couple of great ones. Well, the first one is also New York. It’s When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, what Lyra still refers to as her all time favorite book that’s very focused on the Upper West Side. Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck is a great book. I sort of think of it as a modern follow up to basically Frankenthaler. A lot of it takes place at the American Museum of Natural History and then the sequel to Hols, which you may remember as a movie with Shilov, but is also a great book by Louis Sacar. The sequel is called Small Steps and is set among the family of one of the other kids from Holes. And it’s in the black community in Austin and it’s very embedded. And in Austin, Texas and the neighborhood there, that’s a great book.
S1: We had a listener looking for a book about dinosaurs. Their four year old’s mind was blown when they found out that dinosaurs lived in this world like right in our house. And so for this child, I really want to recommend you Spawn has a book called Life Size Dinosaurs, and it’s just lovely and has pictures of dinosaur parts as they would be kind of. Size on the pages of the book, it’s a great it’s a great book for this age.
S3: All right, next question. Any recommendations for a picture book series? This letter writers kid like series about the same cast of characters, but they still need pictures to make interest. They say that they have loved the Zoe and Sassafras and Bramblett Hej series. They have not loved Magic Tree House. What do y’all got?
S1: So I have a series called The Questioners Picture Book Series by Andrew Beatty. And this is like a twist. Scientist Sophia Valdés, Future Press EGI, PIAC Architect and Rosie Revere engineer their super inviting picture books about kind of different careers and kids in this classroom that are doing them. They are sort of crowd pleasers. They’re also what I love giving away as gifts because they’re just so lovely.
S10: The Media Mayhem series I absolutely love by Car was as a very fun illustrated novel series about a little girl who’s a superhero or she’s in superhero school. That’s a fun one. I like that one, too. We’ve got a listener who is looking for a graphic novel, recommendations for a seven year old boy. He’s finished the Zyda Space groceries and loved it. He likes the dog man books. And when he was younger, he was into Captain Underpants. And currently he’s coming back to Calvin and Hobbes on a regular basis, which family loves. But they want something else.
S3: I have 7000, but I’ll focus on just a few for this kid and for a family who, as this person knows, representation is really important. I’d recommend the Goldie Vance series, a totally adorable series about a teenage detective written by Hope Larson and drawn by Brittany Williams, the series of comic books, and then also have been collected in graphic novels. There’s Helo by Judd Winick. I actually don’t know if it’s pronounced Hilo or High-Low, but it’s yellow and it’s Jadwin Adventure series with an Asian-American hero. The Hildur Books by Luke Pearson, which have been turned into a Netflix series, are totally beautiful and absolutely fun. And then Kasky Bush’s Amulet series is a classic adventure that basically every kid I know who’s into comic books has devoured in one weekend and gone totally insane for and they’re all really good and super fun.
S1: I just have one to add, which is the thirteen story Tree House Books by Andy Griffiths. This is different than the like tree house mysteries, which my kids were not into. These are like graphic novels about this crazy tree house. And in each version there’s many, many versions of these. The tree house gets 13 more stories with thirteen more stories. So a super fun, easy read. It was kind of the first book that Henry really picked up and could read on his own. So it’s a great intro to a little more story than kind of the dog man Captain Underpants, but still in that graphic novel format.
S3: All right. And finally, we’ve got someone asking for children’s books that include Asian boys in particular or other people of color, but that aren’t specifically about race. One example that they give of something that their kid has really liked is Hilo or High-Low, and they’re looking for more stories in that vein. What do you guys got?
S1: A bunch of what we’ve already recommended fit some of these qualifications. But I wanted to recommend to Instagram accounts, both which I believe are tied to blogs that feature different books each day with kind of a synopsis and are pretty well curated. The first is here, we read the WE is WECT and they review quality, diverse books. It’s awesome. The second is specific to your question, and it’s called Asian Lit for Kids and that’s on Instagram. And each day she has a different book and they’re showing you kind of what the book’s about and highlighting it. And these books are all going to in general, they all fit what you’re looking for, which are more like story books that feature the main character as a person of color.
S10: I would also suggest Color of US That Come, which is a site dedicated to multicultural children’s books. And they’ve got a couple of lists, including like thirty Asian and Asian-American children’s books for ages eight to 18. And even though a lot of the books are about cultural traditions, they’re not necessarily about the experience of being an Asian person, if that makes sense. And I think it’s you know, personally, I’m always excited to get books where I gets to see folks doing the sort of things that she does and it being normal as opposed to it being this kind of big. Well, we’re doing this black thing. And so I would say that it looks like most of the Asian books on that list would fit what you’re looking for. So color of a second in terms of books for people of color had actually a couple more illustrated series to mention that I didn’t get here before. My little reader of Color Came and Destress. Me, Lulu, the Lulu series by Hilary McKay is a really sweet illustrated series about a young girl who’s kind of quirky. She’s seven and she’s Bess’s with her cousin, and she’s constantly getting into all sorts of mischief and trouble. And, you know, it’s not about her experiences as a little black girl, but just as the little girl who would like steal a duck on the school’s walk to the duck pond, you know, because she thought she had to rescue it and all the high jinks that ensue from there. There’s also the Jewel Kingdom series, which features girls of color as well as white girls that are princesses. I know they’re princesses can be kind of polarizing, but if you have a girl or a boy or a gender nonconforming child that is into princesses, this is a very sweet, well illustrated series with somewhat diverse cast of princesses that I think will capture their attention and find them reading about girls that are wise and crafty and thoughtful while being sparkle princesses all at the same time. So I think it’s a pretty cool series. I think in the past I recommended a book called QUILLIAN is a Mermaid, which is a book about a little boy who identifies with the glamorous swimmers that he sees at the local pool, and his grandmother takes them to the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. So this would also, I guess, count as a location book if, in fact, Coney Island ever opens up again and we can do cool things like having a mermaid parade. But anyway, there’s a sequel to Julian is a mermaid called Hualien at the wedding. And so we’re seeing this child who is, you know, perhaps gender nonconforming, who expresses themself in really beautiful, bright colors and flowers and is loved and embraced by their family and is celebrating the love of this queer couple in their family to women that are getting married. So it’s just a check is just a really, really lovely book that features a family structure that you rarely ever see depicted in children’s literature at all. And they happen to be people of color. It’s super gorgeously illustrated. Finally, all the people could fly, which is, I think, a must it really should be on everyone’s bookshelf. And I think I’ve purchased it for more new parents probably than anything else. This is a book that I read when I was a child. It is a Newbery Medal winner and is a collection of stories by a couple or rather was illustrated by a couple, Leo and Diane Dillon, which I thought was interesting when I was a kid. It’s a collection of folk tales. So these are slave narratives. These are stories that have been passed down from essentially the time of chattel slavery in this country of Trickster’s and escape and dreaming of a life after enslavement. And it’s a really beautifully done book. And it’s a book that is despite the weight of the circumstances, appropriate for children and really easy to read and understand from a very early age.
S2: Well, we, of course, want to know your book suggestions as well.
S15: So if you haven’t already join us in the Slate Parenting Facebook group with your recommendations. And while you’re there, check out the great suggestions that others have already posted. Thank you for joining us, this late person. We will see you next week.