The “Vanilla Sex” Edition

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S1: Just to give you a heads up, one of us is bound to say something not suitable for little ears.

S2: Welcome to mom and Dad are fighting plays parenting podcast for Thursday, March 3rd. The Vanilla Sixth Edition. I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer and contributor to Slate’s Karapatan Parenting Column and moms. Naima, who’s just about nine and we live in Los Angeles, California. I’m Elizabeth Newcamp.

S1: I write the Homeschool and Family Travel blog that statues. I’m the mom to three little Henry, who’s nine, Oliver, who’s seven, and Teddy, who’s five. We live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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S3: Hey, I’m Dan Kois. I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family. I’m the dad of Lyra, who’s 16, and Harper, who’s 14, and we live in Arlington, Virginia. Who it’s who?

S2: I don’t know. Are you? I don’t know. Are you? You don’t know him. We don’t know him anymore. Welcome back, Dan..

S3: Thanks. I am happy to be back working at Slate. I’ve been gone for six months on book leave and I wrote a book. It’s terrible, but a little bit of it at least has done so. Book Leave was a success. Thank you so much for letting me go away for a little while,

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S1: but unfortunately this is more of a pop by than I’d take off your coat and stay a while one, right?

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S3: That’s correct. This is going to be my last. Mom and dad are fighting for a while. I wanted to stop again to say bye to everyone. One last time. But I have now reached the point of parenting. It took much longer than I expected it to. Honestly, when we launched this podcast like 10 years ago now, but I’ve reached the point in parenting where my kids do not want me to talk about them anymore. They are no longer interested in me sharing information about their lives, sharing my fails with regards to them, sharing funny stories about the shit that they do. They just don’t want that out there anymore. And so I am stepping back from the podcast to respect those wishes, even though, in my opinion, they should embrace fame.

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S2: The moment all of us who have mined our children for content fear,

S3: I mean, it’s a miracle it took this long, honestly. And if they ever go through the archives of the very early days before Lyra was checking the transcripts every week for her name, they’ll murder me. But I got away with it up till now.

S2: You had a good run then. Yeah, but fear not, listeners. Dan and other parents of teens will be popping by on occasion to tackle questions related to raising those bigger children that Elizabeth and I don’t really know too much about. And boy, oh boy, do we have a great one today? We have a letter writer who was asked by her team if she has Vanilla sex, and then Elizabeth and I are going to take turns asking questions for once. Good luck to you, sir. Finally, on Slate Plus, what would it be like to switch bodies with your kids for a day? Freaky Friday style What kind of havoc could we cause? We’ll be talking all about it. But first, as always, let’s start with some triumphs and fails. Dan, you probably have racked up quite a few triumphs and fails while you are away. Why don’t you start?

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S3: Yeah, I’ve got a triumph today, as per usual, but unlike most triumphs, the story sucks. So the other week I was home, I was in North Carolina, helping her mom, who had just had hip replacement surgery. It was the middle of a school day, and I got one of those tax where you read the text and you’re like, Oh boy, is this that the first beat and a horrible story that I’ll never forget because it was from Harper at school saying, Hey, they just announced a lockdown, and I can’t tell if it’s a drill or not. Do you know what’s going on? And I was like, I don’t know what’s going on, but it was a warm day in February here in Arlington, Virginia, and I was actually putting on a bike helmet when she texted about to ride to the grocery store. So instead, I just have it to my bike and rode straight to the high school, and I was there in about three minutes because I want to know what was going on. There were like four or five other parents already saying in front of the high school, who also had gotten texts from their children because everyone has phones now, and we all tried to reassure each other instantly that whatever was going on, it didn’t seem like there was anything catastrophic. Like smoke wasn’t rising from the school, but there were police cars. There are five police cars lined up in front of the school, all with their police car darkened windows. So we couldn’t tell if there were people inside, but their lights weren’t on. There weren’t like people running around with guns drawn, so it didn’t seem like there was an immediate emergency at that second. So some time goes by 15 minutes, 20 minutes. I’m texting with the kids. Lyra’s in a third floor classroom. Harper’s is the second floor classroom. Everyone’s in lockdown. The shades are drawn. The kids are like up against a wall. All the kids are just texting each other and their families and more parents would show up to the school. We’d like give them the briefing, which is, we don’t know, do you know anything? And they’d be like, No, I don’t know. My kid says, da da da da da da da. There are all kinds of rumours right away, like there is a rumor that there had been a called in bomb threat, which is not actually scary. And there were rumors that there was a kid with a gun and that’s obviously scary. Then there were these rumors that there was a kid with a gun, but he’d been trapped in a bathroom by the police. So that was scary ish. I don’t know, is that scary still sort of scary, I guess. Someone said that their kid texted them saying they saw a kid get taken away in handcuffs. But of course, immediately, like the rumor mill is grinding and the rumor mill moves faster than it has ever moved before. Now that every kid also has a phone and their bad judgment is combined with parents bad judgment. So within like five minutes, the name of this kid who supposedly had been led away in handcuffs was on the lips of every parent outside, even though we didn’t know who that was at all. We were all like, Oh, I heard it’s such and such, and everyone’s like, Oh, really? And then we sort of settled in this long waiting period where just nothing was happening. The girls texted me there were still scores for the day. Lyra’s friends had already started making memes about it, and they were sending the memes around Ali. I finally got back on her phone. She’d been out like a Zoom call, and she had a thousand texts and she just called me and was like, What the fuck is going on? And I gave her the rundown, which was again, that it didn’t seem like there was a crisis. No one was running around. Kids were not like running, screaming out of the building, like it seemed like something was happening. But whatever it was, it was not like an active shooter or a bombing or something like that. But here were my triumphs from this situation. I got there fast, which I view as a triumph. In this case, I helped to keep my kids calm by sort of giving them the rundown on what I was seeing outside and not telling them the more insane rumors that I was hearing and I stuck around, you know, pretty soon within like 45 minutes, all the parents that were in front of the school ended up inside this much wider cordon that they had set up and like the blocks around the school, which no one was getting through. But the police never got around to clearing all of us gawkers off the front porch of the school. So there were just like 15 of us standing there. And so like we are the ones who saw when the first couple of classes came out of the school, all the first law classes like, you know, the kids who were in the gym and the kids are in the cafeteria who came out all calmly and talking to each other and like, not panicked. So I reported that to my kids that, like some kids, are starting to leave and they look not super freaked out. So that was useful. So about an hour after this all started, we got an email from the school. I got email from the school that there had been a phoned in threat. They thought at this time that no one was actually in danger, but they had to empty out the school, according to this procedure, and it was going to take a long time. Then three minutes later, we got another email from the school about the career fair because the emails from the school never stop even when they’re under lockdown. But the plan was they were going to take all the kids out of the school sort of class by class out onto the football field. But then from the football field, because this was the emergency plan, they were going to put them on buses and they were going to bus them three blocks away to the Knights of Columbus pool, where they could then be picked up by their parents. In theory, that was maybe great, but in practice it was a gigantic clusterfuck because there are lines of buses outside the football field totally backed up by the traffic of the one trillion parents had driven to the school to try and figure out what was going on, and they couldn’t even get to the Knights of Columbus Pool because of the gigantic traffic jams everywhere to get to a place that the kids could have walked in five minutes. So anyways, the kids are going totally stir crazy. Their phone batteries were good. Thankfully, they’re very sick of being stuck in their rooms. They were sick of being scared about what was happening, and they were sick of no one telling them what was going on and or people telling them way too many things that weren’t going on right. Larry really had to pee, and her physics teacher was telling boys who said they had to pee. While we’ve got soda bottles, boleros like, I will not fucking pee in a soda bottle. Get me out of here. So after about two hours of lockdown, Harper from the second floor finally got out of the football field and my other triumph was that I was inside the cordon. So I rode my bike over to the football field gate and I parked myself next to the gate where they were walking out toward the buses. And as she walked out, I like flagged her down. I was like, Come over here. And she was like, I don’t know if I’m allowed to. And I was like, You’re allowed to. And then right and then and then a cop and and like an administrator, there were like, It’s fine. You can go. Just go. You don’t have to get on the bus. I loved what a rule follower she was. She was like, OK. But it seems wrong. But I gave her a big hug and we talked about what had happened a little bit. Then she took my bike and rode to a neighbor’s house to hang out. And then Lara was still in her classroom for like another hour after that. She was one of the last ones to get out. I caught her because it just takes a really long time to clear kids out of classrooms one by one. And it turned out they were doing it in like the most officious way where, like a cop knocks on the door and then everyone has to go out of the room with their hands up and walk through the hall. And it just took for fucking ever. But I also picked up layer before she got wrapped up in this whole thing and I gave her a big. Hug and she immediately said, I found this very sweet. Where’s Harper? I was really worried about Harper and I want to see her. She knew that she was fine. She’s in the sex, but she does really want to see her. So we went back to that neighbor’s house and the girls gave each other a big, gigantic hug. And the drama was over. So it’s a triumph. But also it fucking sucked

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S1: because the worst is the worst, just the worst.

S3: In the end, it was nothing. There was a kid who was briefly in handcuffs because in the middle of lockdown, he started running around the halls yelling, I will like to be a dick, right?

S1: Not as a result,

S3: but no, no. He did not have a gun or anything. It was that someone had called in a fake threat. It’s insane to me that that is all it takes to just absolutely shut down an entire high school and to freak out a thousand kids and the thousands of people attached to them. You know, they handled it well, considering but also it’s not that that that’s how they’ll have to handle it forever every time anyone does something like that.

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S1: I know it just seems like there should be a better way. I mean, I know like keeping things secret is important, like it’s important to not release too much information, but I do feel like this could give have provided information to prevent the panic. Right, right.

S3: Like, I think that’s what they were trying to do with the message that was like, we believe no one is in danger, but that was like not enough. Right. But I mean, the other problem is at that point, they they believe that, but they didn’t know for sure that there was something wasn’t going to happen. The thing that impressed me about the way the school handled it was that the next day they didn’t give all the details, but they actually were extremely forthcoming in an email to everyone that this phone threat came in. This is what it said. They they said that they were in the bathroom and had hostages and that police showed up. They actually talked to the person on the phone. They determined the call was actually coming in from across the country. Right. And so knew that no one was actually in the bathroom but then had to institute this whole procedure. We’re going to be looking at the procedure to see what didn’t where, but like they actually gave way more information than I thought they did. So I feel like in cases like this, it usually is like there was no credible threat. Don’t worry about it.

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S1: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it just feels fine. Sorry, we lost today. Oh, I would have had a hard time. Not like trying to go find out actual information and thus impeding any progress.

S3: It was interesting all the parents who had gotten there early, who we were all just sort of like lightly cracking nervous jokes to each other for an hour while all obviously all of us on the edge of hysteria. But we, like all managed to keep it together and I was proud of us all.

S2: Good job, Dan and first responder parents. What about you, Elizabeth?

S1: So all over the seven year old has been asking to have us spend the night because his brother has a couple. We’re kind of weird about spending nights like I I can’t. I’m not like a big fan of the big spend, the night parties, and I have to feel really comfortable with where they’re going. But Henry has a couple of friends that I feel very comfortable with. We know their parents very well, but Oliver doesn’t really have that. Plus, he doesn’t always sleep in his bed all night like he’s still coming into our room. So I continuously kind of say, like, you can’t have this kind of behavior if you’re staying at someone else’s house. But he’s been like, really asking, I really want to have spend the night. He does have one of his like closest friends, is also the son of my best friend’s mom, but her son has the same problem. Like, he wanders around, he doesn’t sleep. So she had this idea she was going to come over anyway to help me kind of reorganize some stuff in the house because Jeff was off snowmobiling, so I decided to move a bunch of furniture and she was going to come over and help me do that while he was gone. So we decided, OK, what if she spent the night to like? She’ll spend the night and this little boy, William will spend the night and then we’ll like, Have I spend the night? But both moms will be there, so everyone will feel comfortable. And so we we set up the set up like the basement. They’re going to sleep down there, set up the sleeping bags. All of that. Everyone is like, so excited. We’re like, OK, let’s put on a movie for them. And like, eight minutes into the movie, Oliver comes upstairs. He’s like, I’m going to my bed. I’m like, OK, well, you want to move up to your room, too. So I go downstairs. William’s like, No, but I’d like to sleep in Henry’s room because in order to do this, we we farmed Henry out to her to to the brother of this kid, right? So Henry spending the night somewhere else, we just have the little kids. So he’s like, No, I’d like to sleep in my own room, which is now like the furthest away from, you know, his mom, the room his mom is going to stay in, so he goes up to Henry’s room. And then Teddy is like, I’m out. Teddy usually sleeps with Oliver, but instead was like, No, I’m going to sleep on the floor outside mom and dad’s room. So now, like the start of this month, then I was like, all three kids have gone somewhere else to sleep. I going to like, talk to Oliver, like, Hey, usually spend the night. Like, part of the fun is that you’re like hanging out with your friend. He’s like, Why can’t sleep with him here? He’s like, We just want to talk. I want to sleep. I’m like, All right, cool. Then I like knock on the door. And William has gotten his fingers stuck in in a finger trap in Henry’s room, and he’s like wandering around and I’m like, What’s going on? Henry has like this loft bed and he’s like, I can’t get into bed. I got my fingers. So I think, OK, here’s how you get them on, you know, put them together. And then he’s like, I don’t want to sleep here. I want to. I want to. I want to sleep with my mom. I’m like, OK, cool. So he moves downstairs again. We set him up a little bed. The night was like everyone’s upgrade. They all slept in their own rooms, like sharing it in their own space.

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S3: The next fun was had by everyone in their dream.

S1: Yeah, yeah. The next morning we, Jeff had come home from snowmobiling, so he made cinnamon rolls and all this fun like, you know, fun breakfast food and the kids are like, This is the best thing. We had the best spend the night. We can’t wait to tell you, no, the other kids, it’s like, No, you just this is the same as when we go camping and we sleep in different tents and we see each other in the morning. But you know what? Oliver feels very proud that he had to spend the night. I moved most of. The furniture in my house without my husband complaining because the kids were so occupied, moving rooms and playing and we all had a lovely breakfast. I’m taking it as a win, although you know now Oliver is like, why I can spend that. I’ve had to spend the night now. It’s fine. I can do this. You have it.

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S3: There is a long period where Lionel is desperate to have sleepovers, but she always fell asleep at like 7:45, so she would have kids come over for sleepovers. And then there would be like three hours where we just had to entertain the kid because Leah had fallen asleep.

S1: That was like this, like all of this is happening at seven, not at 10, like 7:30 or 8:00. But, you know, by nine o’clock, everyone knows

S2: it’s always so awkward hanging out with other people’s kids. That’s like fear of letting Naima have a sleepover. I’m like, If you crash first, I’m the one there having the sleepover with. And sometimes that’s what happens when people come over period. Just like I want to go be by myself or she’s on my nerves, and all of a sudden, now I’m on a playdate.

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S1: I know. But like, how do you tell them? Because Oliver’s like, maybe we can do another one and I’m thinking, like, No. Because if the mom wasn’t here, this would have been my right.

S2: This would have been a nightmare, actually to me.

S1: How was your week?

S2: I have a small triumph, and I’m going to take it. This morning we were getting dressed for school 9am and noticed that I pulled out a pair of shorts for her. I remembered because yesterday she said, Can I wear shorts tomorrow if it’s going to be hot? And I said, Sure. She says, You know, I’ve been getting hot on the playground with my pants on and my cool. No big deal because the weather here we get three to four seasons a day. So there have been days where I’m dropping her office in the 50s and it’s chilly. And then by lunchtime or recess time, it’s 80 degrees out. So sorry, it’s a complete. These are very L.A. problems. I apologize, but

S3: I’m so sympathetic.

S2: But sometimes it’s literally cold enough to wear like, you know, like winter coat in the morning, you know, and then very different the middle of the day. But today it wasn’t too chilly in the morning, so I put her in shorts and she said, Oh, you remembered you’re such a good mommy. And I was so happy to hear that because I remember so many things and I am constantly making mocktails and giving massages and essentially just running around being her, you know, handmaiden. And today she she she took notice. She took notice is

S1: you were seen.

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S2: I felt

S3: the rare times that that ever happens to us are so valuable you got to like, write them down and treasure

S2: them forever. I’m absolutely treasuring that forever. So thank you, Naima, for seeing me affirming me and making me feel like a good mommy today.

S3: It’s incredible how much our kids beat us down that we like. Appreciate something that crumb

S2: crumb

S3: of gratitude.

S1: You remember to pull out this Earth, even though I could have just put out the sword, right?

S3: Right, right?

S2: I remembered I got a hug. I got a kiss, she said. Come get this love. You don’t always get all this loving. You’re going to get this love. I said, I’ll take it. I’ll take it. I need it. Enough about us. Let’s get into our first listener question, which is being read as always by the lovely Sasha Leonhard, dear mom and dad. My 13 year old daughter dresses in pink IMO and calls me one of the straights, which I find humorous. I’ve had a fun, adventurous sex life. I spent time with different genders and different scenes dove deep. No regrets. My husband and I are in our forties and live as a straight couple. Just the two of us with our two middle schoolers were openly affectionate with each other in front of our children, but keep our sex life private. Recently, my 13 year old asked in the car if her father and I still had sex. I told her that, yeah, we did, and for dramatic effect that we expected to until we’re dead. She shuddered like it was unimaginable, but said that she respected that answer. Then she asked if I was all Vanilla. I didn’t predict that question I dodged, but left the door open to answering a more specific question in the future. So my question is sex serious? It’s private. But if my daughter asked the right question and I answer honestly, she just might hear that I always approach it with curiosity and think it’s great fun. But I also know that people do get hurt. Have regrets and even get diseases. Society doesn’t exactly love a woman if she’s enjoying herself in the wrong way. I’ve taught my children respect and consent, which applies to everything. It’s something I model when I kiss the top of my teens heads. I see consent. They’ve never said no, but I ask anyway. Have you thought about how much morality, internal or external you intend to layer in with your birds and bees talk? If you’ve already had to decide, what message did you settle on? Thanks. Well, let’s go to our expert, Razer, of teenagers then to find out. Have you told your children how kinky you get it?

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S3: No, we have not gone into that in great detail with them. It’s interesting to me the way this question starts with the sort of what do you do if your kid asks you specifics about your sex life, but moves into a sort of grander question, which is what? How do you deliver the message of essentially sex positivity to your kids? How much do you moralize? How much do you perhaps tie in your own experience? When is that valuable? When is that not useful in general? I think in a situation like this, I would probably respond way worse than this parent did. And I would just be like, I don’t go around asking people how Vanilla they are. People’s sex life is a real nature, business kid type situation, and you don’t need to be like asking randos how their sex life is. I’m interested that she left open the possibility of answering like more specific questions about her own personal sex life later down the road like that is just not on the table in our family, and I don’t think I ever would be like my hunches. When my kids are grown ass adults, I still will not be talking with them about the specifics of our sex life. But who knows, maybe we’ll have that kind of relationship. But I do think the broader question is the more important one, which is when you talk about sex generally, how do you present the the ethics and morality behind it? And that, to me, seems like a case where what we always try to stress when we talk to them are in conversations that, for the most part, don’t go on for very long before the kids are repulsed, just by the act of talking with us about general sex, not even our own particular sexual situations,

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S2: just as sex exist, period.

S3: Right. That sex exists, period, is to try to convey that that in fact, yes, it is a thing people do because they enjoy it, that it feels good and makes a connection with a person. And when done in a respectful and helpful and kind way, it can be a truly great experience for everyone who’s involved in it. And that is basically as far as we usually get before they’re like, OK, I’m satisfied by that answer and do not wish to speak about this for seven more months. And that’s with teenagers who are like, You know who? I like it actually, theoretically sexually active ages. Like, Yeah, that’s not even talking about when they were like seven or eight, when I was basically like, Oh, they would run screaming.

S1: But it sounded like this girl kind of recoiled.

S3: She did the recoil,

S1: but then she

S3: then she advanced,

S1: right? Barzee.

S3: Yeah, I’m very impressed with her, with this daughter. Yeah.

S1: Oh, I think it’s interesting that she presents it as this like dichotomy because sex is not right. It is both serious and fun. It is both private and like, we talk about it with people in our lives, like there’s all these elements of it. And and what this made me think of is that the Amsterdam Science Museum, the Nimo, has this whole permanent exhibition that is a room of basically of sex education, and we ran into this at a lot of places in the Netherlands that this was just presented kind of like information about sex, not necessarily the medical information that we’re taught here, but like this room at the Nimo has a little it’s like open doors, but it says, like, you know, the suggested ages 12 and up. But anyone can go in there and there are just like hundreds of different kinds of dildos and a video of people orgasm being like just their faces. And there were these these puppets that had tongues and you could like make them French Kiss was the idea like all this weird stuff. But with the the overall message being sort of like this is a jumping off point for discussion, but also like it is funny and it is fun, but also like an entire room of different kinds of condoms to talk about sexually transmitted disease and why that’s important. And. Obviously, I have not my children have not asked me any details about sex lives, they got sex education when we were in the Netherlands that was taught even to my four year old as a very like babies are made, you know, with an egg and a sperm and a penis goes into a vagina like it was taught. Very basically. They have this whole set curriculum for the country that includes talking about consent, talking about it like different ways to approach sex, all these kind of different decisions that surround it. And it’s such a personal decision what you share with them and what the mood is, right, like in the car. Did she say this just to kind of shock you versus like if they’re coming to you with a problem or talent sharing their experiences with you? And you feel like the next step to have a conversation is to share something back. I think at that moment, you’ll know whether this is something that you want to have that conversation, you know or not. Like how much you want to let them in. I also think it’s important to establish boundaries like if this is not something you feel comfortable talking about, it’s also perfectly appropriate to tell your children. This is not something I plan to share with you.

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S2: Yeah, I feel like a lot of what needs to be said to children about sex can be found, you know, within the questions you raised in the letter, you know what I mean, or just the things that you are considering that, you know? Yes, it can be approached with curiosity, but it can lead to being hurt or getting sick or, you know, having regrets, and that there are these societal rules and things that are going to impact how you know you may feel about yourself or how people may feel about you in relation to some of the sexual decisions that you’ve made. And I think it’s important that you do talk to your children about that. Like I, my mother didn’t. My parents didn’t talk to me much about love and dating, period growing up, you know, I mean, there was definitely a lot of safe sex talk. I got that drilled into me, you know, and I think there was something relatively sex positive and that I was definitely not raised to think that if I, you know, spread my legs, I was a bad girl. Or, you know what I mean, that there was some sort of inherent shame that came with having an interest in sex. Like, I didn’t pick that stuff up at home at all. But but there just wasn’t a lot of talk, and I wished that there had been a little bit more conversation around dating in particular as opposed to sex. And the two are so deeply intertwined and so often young people are exploring, you know, both of them at an age before they’re really mature enough to do so. And so I think having some guidance around like what might happen, you know, if you like somebody and you decide to sleep with them and what might happen if that person is not, you know, transparent with you about their intentions or if they don’t have the same interest in you that you have? And then, you know, and that you’re being introduced to some of the heartbreaks and challenges that can befall you as you enter, you know, a sexually active world without being blindsided or only relying on, you know, pop culture and you know, your friends to tell you about it. And of course, there’s, you know, great books about adolescent sexuality and things that you can turn to. But I think in regard to looking to your own experience, there’s a time and place as as far as you know, going as specific as to these are some of the things that I’ve done or this is some of the stuff that I’ve been into. And I think personally, it’s just kind of hard for me to imagine that most kinks are really worth discussing with your very young child. You know, I don’t know that I would ever really want to talk kink with my child or my mother, period. But I think it might be affirming for your child to hear that you’ve had relationships or, you know, experiences with different genders, and that you have explored yourself freely. And you know that there were things that you did that went well and things that didn’t go so well and you learned a lot along the way, and you’re happy to share what you’ve learned with that and being focused on hear the nasty, gory details of what I’ve done.

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S3: It is interesting how much other than your last point, Jamilah we have, all three of us have sort of steered towards broad general conversations about, you know, the value that sex has and the risks that it runs and even broader conversations about, well, what dating might be like and what you what kinds of experiences you might have. And we’ve mostly not actually talked about the kink part of this question. And the one thing that gives me pause about that is, you know, the knowledge that my kids are only a few years away from being part of a dating and sexual scene. That, to me, seems like the fucking wild west and is certainly going to provide any number of opportunities for them to get involved with people who have totally different desires and expectations than they might. And I do feel like I’m not necessarily doing a great job of preparing them for that possibility or eventuality, or even letting them know that it might be coming. And it may be that I don’t need to because they have the internet, and so every possible kink and predilection has been shown to them in 180 pixel high definition video already. But nevertheless, I do think this sort of granular question of what do you do when what someone else wants and what you watch are not exactly in opposition but are not exactly congruent is one that is worth talking about. I think a lot about a really great profile that Slate ran while I was away on book leave. Profile of Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist for the stranger who’s been doing this for, like 20 years or something. And it was written by a really terrific writer. Laura Anderson, a former Slate staffer and a significant part of the piece was written not exactly about Dan Savage, but about Laura’s life as a young woman on the dating scene, essentially attempting to use the the sort of lessons that Dan Savage had taught for so long in her life to be good giving and game. As Dan Savage always says, and the ways that that’s. And often ended up feeling to her as though what was actually happening was that she was just allowing every guy she ended up with to just do whatever he wanted and that no one was actually being good giving and game to her. And she rueful. Yup, really says speaks volumes here.

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S2: I grew up reading Dan Savage. That was like he yeah, introduces you to a very high level of like sexual ethics, and most people are not actually able to live up to. So like to do the things that he talks about really requires a lot of maturity and honesty that’s pretty hard to access.

S3: And many of the people the 23 year olds date do not have that maturity,

S1: and being in a relationship with someone else is playing by the same rules. Right?

S3: That’s right. And so that is the kind of stuff that I feel like I’m not doing a great job preparing them for and that broad, vague platitudes of the type that I’ve been delivering, even if they’re true, maybe don’t do a great job of preparing someone for.

S1: We talk about consent for like, can I give you a hug? Can I give you a kiss? Do you want to have sex? But this idea that like no consent is like continued, We’re continuously getting consent in our sexual relationship and what to do when that consent doesn’t happen. Like, how can I remove myself from the situation? And I guess I just think that if we practice that with small things, that we’re building the confidence they need when it’s a big thing,

S2: you know, it’s tricky. There’s just such a fine line with kids with, you know, the things that need to be said and just giving them information that they can’t handle or, you know, would prefer not to have. So they don’t have to have their minds, you know, rocked by you saying, Yeah, you know, in ninety seven after Smashing Pumpkins concert, we went backstage with Billy Corgan and blah blah blah. Like, that’s you know, that may be too much. And then maybe one day your kid will be twenty two and you’ll be having a glass of wine. And you can totally geeky about these things because I know people who have that sort of relationship with their parents, you know, usually it’s a mom and a daughter. I don’t really know any guys that are talking to their mothers about sex like that or, you know, and I shudder to think about boys and their fathers because that can go on a whole lot of different directions. I mean, in terms of fathers encouraging terrible things, let me be clear that that was exactly what I was.

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S3: No, no, I understand.

S2: Hey, but you know, I don’t think that that’s is urgent as it is that you create, you know, a constant culture of sex positivity in your house, which means the sex questions are not bad and sexual curiosity is that bad? And you know that you are respecting of the fact that, you know, sex is not only a source of curiosity and in, you know, interest to your child, but that it’s, you know, something that they’ll have to define for themselves and have their own experiences with independent of you and how you may want to guide them. But they really need you to be there and feel that you’re non-judgmental and that you’re safe. You know, to talk to you about these things, which is tricky because you know you’d hate to have a kid. And I’ve heard horror stories, you know, of people nursing an STD because they’re afraid, you know, and it gets worse and worse and they don’t want to tell anyone. And, you know, because their parents didn’t make them feel that they could come and say, I’ve had sex, so they’re suffering, you know, on their own as opposed to being able to say that. So I think that’s your biggest go. Like, does your child feel not just comfortable asking, do you all have Vanilla sex? Because that’s a shocking and kind of funny question, but like coming to you and saying I’ve done something and there’s some consequences that I need to deal with them or I’ve done something, and I have some feelings that I need to process them and I need you to be there for me.

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S3: Yeah, that’s all right. And you’re right that. The point is not to address every possible hypothetical, but to build a groundwork of ethics that allows someone to navigate any number of different situations. I just remember being 24 and how sex in particular seemed to bring out the worst in everyone I knew. And you know, that scares me, but also. That is also part of being a person in the world and growing up, and probably the answer is not to tell my Billy Corgan story that’s first slate plus members only buy to think a lot about the groundwork you are building in questions of morality and ethics and be really consistent about them all the time.

S2: All right. Thank you again, letter writer. And we will always take an update. If you have a letter for us, you can send it to mom and dad at Slate.com. Or you can do with this listener did and post it to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. All right. Now we didn’t email these questions in advance, but we’re going to claim host privilege and ask them Anyway, are you ready, Dan?

S3: Yes. So I’m ready to be peppered with questions from you guys about my long history at mom and dad are fighting. Go for

S2: it! We’re here to talk about Dan’s long history of mom and dad are fighting. And my first question is what is the most memorable letter that you got in the 49 years that you’ve been hosting the show?

S3: Vanilla sex is probably top 10. I bet that’s a good one, given I would have to go back to find the most outrageous one. But the one that comes to mind is one that wasn’t particularly outrageous, but that spurred an incredibly fascinating conversation very early in the life of the show. That ended up, I think, defining what made the show different. Like what made the show unique in the sort of parenting sphere, at least in my mind? And that was maybe only in our third or fourth episode. Alison Benedict, rest in peace and I got a letter from a non parent who felt ambivalent about having kids and who wanted to know how we made the decision to have kids and and what we thought, someone who sort of thought maybe they should have kids or whose partner was interested in having kids but didn’t really know what to do should do. And that was the kind of question that I never thought anyone would write into a parenting podcast with and that I had never really heard anyone in the, you know, in the parenting space talk about that much. It was sort of taken as a given that if you were reading in this world or listening in this world, you not only have kids, but you live for them and they’re all you care about. And so the conversation that ensued from that between Alison and I about the doubts that we had had about having kids, the ways and reasons that we decided to have kids in the end and the advice we gave, which was, I mean, literally in my case, if you don’t feel 100 percent like you super want to have a kid, don’t do it. Like, Wait, there’s no reason to rush into it. I was surprised to hear those words coming out of my mouth because I don’t think I had ever exactly articulated it in that way before, but it made the podcast into something different than what we expected it to be, which was which was that it was about the grander questions of parenting as much as it was about the nitty gritty. What kind of diaper should I buy? Questions and the grandest question of parenting of all, of course, is should I be a parent? And the way we address that, which I think help to make child free people feel more comfortable listening to the show and more interested in it, and which also helped listeners and us feel more comfortable talking honestly about the stuff in parenting that was great, as well as the stuff that was difficult. Really, did, I think, set the tone for the show over the years? So whoever it was who sent that question in, which was very unexpected. I am very grateful for that.

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S1: That’s awesome. I feel like anyone who’s listened or even just joins for an episode like, here’s the connection that you have created with your daughters. And so like, even through all of the all of the fails, all of the triumphs, like what really shines through is that you have created this really great relationship and connection with them. Is there something if you had to narrow it down to like one or two things that you did consistently to create this connection? What would they be?

S3: I have a couple of practical things that spring to mind. Many of them are things that I’ve talked about on the show, often as recommendations are are are triumphs over the years. One is that we have over the past nine years, basically we have basically we have driven into our kids the expectation that when they get home from school, they will have to sit down and talk to us a little bit about the things that happen to them during the day, even if they are super fucking boring. We don’t care. They have to come up with something to tell us about. We made that happen. You know, when they were much younger by playing a game that we talked about a lot in the early years of the show, which is to truth than a lie, right? It was when kids had trouble coming up with something that they wanted to talk to us. We would frame it in the context of a game where sitting around the dinner table, they would have to tell us two true things that happened in the day and then make up one false thing and everyone try and guess what the false thing was. And that was a way to get them to search their memories and come up with a thing. Now we don’t do the game anymore. It’s not necessary usually, but they just understand that when they get home. It doesn’t matter how boring their day was, it doesn’t matter if they have anything interesting to say or not. They got to sit down and talk to us at least a little bit about it. And that has really helped us understand what is going on in their daily lives, what is what their school experience has been like, how their friend relationships are going. Obviously, I’m sure it’s only 10 percent of the iceberg that’s, you know, above the surface of the water. I’m sure there’s so much underneath that we have no idea about. But creating that ritual that then becomes expected, like so many other rituals and family life has been incredibly valuable in accreting levels of detail that we understand about them and giving us opportunities to talk with them about stuff over the years. Ninety nine times out of 100, the conversation doesn’t turn into anything important or serious, but one time out of 100 something does come up that that it turns out there’s something that is more necessary to talk about, or that we’re deeply grateful that this thing existed. So that has been really great, and I really recommend that if you can do it and they don’t always love it and they often roll their eyes, but they just understand that this is just like a thing you have to deal with with mom and dad. And the other thing that we did was that we have tried to continue having adventures, you know you before the trip, that was a big part of our life. And of course, the trip was the grand adventure of their childhoods, I think. But even after that, even in the COVID era, we have tried to get them out of their comfort zone and get ourselves out of our comfort zone a little bit and go to places and do things that they weren’t expecting. And that as I will always stand firm, that that is the thing that I hope my kids will remember about their childhood and that they will tell people about, and that they will try and instill in their kids if they have them down the line. So, yeah, that’s what I come up with.

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S2: I love it. Is there anything personal that you’ve shared on the show and later regretted doing so?

S3: Yes. Any number of things even and the occasions when I was right, like when I talked about the pandemic pod, the great fear of the first year of the show, which longtime listeners will already be rolling their eyes about as I start to bring it up was the stay at home mom disdain gate of, I believe, 2000 for 2005. I can’t remember exactly what it was is when Alison and I did a like a quick take lightning round, which we literally did because we just didn’t have a good idea for a second segment. One episode and at the last minute, we were just like, Let’s just do a thing where we just like, ask each other questions and you have to answer in one word, really great. And Alison and I was like, All right, how do you feel about X. How do you feel about why? And then she was like, How do you feel about stay at home moms? And I was like, I don’t know, disdain. And that yielded 10000 angry emails. This is when we saw the phone line that people would call in with questions on. And so people are calling into whatever like four, three three rude and being like, Go to hell. Dan, I’m a stay at home mom and I can’t believe you treat me with this day. And they were absolutely right, of course, to be infuriated at me because what a totally rude thing to say. That’s awful, Dan. But it did yield in the in the matter of untimely, poorly thought out personal revelations. Some great content, a whole nother episode where we then I then had to like, explain myself. Plus, like at 3000 word slate piece or something, they spent days writing, Boy, did I agonize over that? But yeah, that’s the great personal revelation I made at one time that I definitely should not have said out loud. One might even say, I shouldn’t have said it today.

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S2: I was going to say that could have been saved for your therapist, but that’s

S3: a great news. It’s your guy’s problem. Now I’m off the show.

S1: I’ll just be outraged on behalf. Yeah. Please do stay at home, mom. Was there a moment that you took a parenting stance that felt controversial or maybe even like went against the grain? But in hindsight, you feel proud that the stance became more widely accepted.

S2: Oh boy, we know. I think we know it this way.

S3: I already brought that one up. The thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently due to the news is my long standing, often stated belief on this show that there is no such thing as an inappropriate book. I don’t know if it goes against the grain. I think you guys basically agreed with me, but I do think we heard a lot from listeners and people on the Facebook page that it was crazy to like, not screen what your kids. Read. But, you know, I have long said that like I read shit that was totally inappropriate for me when I was a kid, but it did nothing but make me curious about things and and did not damage me and me just made me want to learn and read more, and that the value of reading beyond your supposed reading level so far outstrips any possible harm you might undergo by reading a Stephen King book or like seeing the F-word that it doesn’t even make sense to think about, like banning books as a result of their appropriateness. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days, as we see like that one trillionth time. That appropriateness is used as a cudgel to remove books from libraries or schools or communities like. The idea that mouse is not appropriate for eighth graders is stupid. The idea that the concept of the 16 19 project, or that the idea that white people were in fact responsible for slavery is too damaging to tell our children. And so therefore we can’t have books that say that in our libraries is so stupid that I feel really on the right side of history without one.

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S1: I think that’s a great one.

S3: All right, I have a question for you guys. On my last day, what is the dumbest advice or thing I’ve ever said or done on this show?

S2: Well, I think it’s when you just brought up this dame for stay at home mom. I don’t think

S3: it’s got to be something. Sorry, I didn’t. I didn’t prep university prep.

S1: But I feel like there are these moments when you you double down on things for the sake of it.

S3: Yeah, that’s the slate editor in me. Yeah.

S1: As opposed to backing away slowly. And then you have this way of going onto the Facebook page and inviting comment, like inviting people to continue to come after you. Yeah. Which I have a general like who like, I think if we say it’s going out, but I’m not going to invite anyone to come, come at me with it

S3: again, it’s just engagement, baby. Yeah.

S1: You like to have the argument, which is fun, of course. And I think some of that too in. In sort of the way that Jamilah, I’m going to speak for us, that we parent as millennials, I think is more like when we encounter something that isn’t the way we would do it, but we don’t really find hurtful. It’s like, OK, that’s weird, and I wouldn’t do that, but OK, you be you. And I think often when you encounter that, it seems like you’re you’re more.

S3: No, I’m definitely more. I’m definitely more outraged by absurdity. And yeah, and even though I recognize I should just let people be people, sometimes I cannot stop myself. And I also know that that is like maybe one of the least attractive aspects of my parenting. I think I am just I just have a lot of unnecessary arguments with my children because I just can’t believe the insane things that they do or believe or or espouse. And instead of just being like. You are 16. Why? Why needs I have this debate with you? I leap into it full throttle. Rarely does good ensue.

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S1: I definitely feel like we’ve had some people that have written in and you feel personally like that. You have to correct the way they behave, and I feel more like, that’s weird.

S3: But you what did they write in for if they didn’t want me to correct them?

S1: Exactly.

S2: Good point, Dan..

S3: All right. Well, I have really enjoyed being on this show for forty nine years. It’s really helped me raise my children who are now ages 50 and 48, and it has been really great to connect with listeners in all the ways that I’ve connected with them, often positive, often because of them being angry at me. But I would say 90 percent of the time with them expressing real care for my family and all of our families, and being grateful and for the advice we give. Even if it’s bad and enjoying the stories that we tell. Often the care for my family exhibits itself and concern for my children, given the things that I’ve said on the show. But I also think that that’s a kind of care that they’re showing me as well. So thank you to all the listeners and thank you to for being such great co-hosts last couple of years. I really, really, really loved talking about it with you.

S2: Well, it’s been really fun talking about you with you, too, Dan. We will miss you. Rest in peace.

S1: But he’ll be back. He already we have the email where he said he’s going to come back and help us answer ten questions.

S3: I will pop in from time to time, but I am also dead to you.

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S1: Yeah, you never forget. Fair enough. Fair enough. Yeah, you’ll be back from the grave.

S2: That’s right. Beckman very well. Before we put down all the way in, let’s do some recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you have this week?

S1: I am recommending a graphic novel called When Stars Are Scattered, and it’s by Victoria, Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. And it is the story of Omar’s time in a refugee camp and sort of every all the decisions he had to make. He’s taking care of his his brother in this camp, and it is a just such a wonderful book. I actually Henry asked for it from the Scholastic Book Fair. It was graphic novels like Share and he read it and said, Hey, I think you’d really like this. So he basically recommended to me and I read it. And now we’ve had some wonderful kind of discussions. And then with everything going on kind of with Ukraine, it has been a a wonderful way to talk about refugees and about kind of the hardships they face, but also, you know, the challenges of being in the camp, what life is actually like. And it’s beautifully illustrated and just just a wonderful, heartfelt story. I definitely recommend it. Oliver’s now read it too, and it just gives the kids some context in a way that I think some other things can’t provide. When stars are scattered by Victoria, Jamieson and Omar Mohamed,

S2: very nice, Dan.

S3: It is not out yet, but because I will not be here next week, I’m going to recommend now. The new Pixar movie Turning Red comes out a week from Friday. I believe the 11th and Disney Plus. It’s incredibly fun. I wish it was in theaters, but it’s not. But it really deserves to be. But it is super funny. Super cute. Super touching. It’s about a Chinese Canadian 13 year old and her conflict with her overprotective mom. Also in addition, the girl turns into a giant red panda that wreaks havoc on her community. It’s directed by Dominici, who directed I Believe a previous mom and dad are fighting recommendation. The short film Bao, the Oscar nominated, maybe Oscar winning short film that Pixar put out a couple of years ago. It turning red is totally delightful. I believe it’s basically going to be as beloved as Encanto by a slightly older age cohorts, even though it doesn’t have a song like we don’t talk about right now.

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S2: Maybe I’m grateful for that. I started my morning with Bruno every day I could, you know?

S3: Yeah, maybe this will give you a little respite from Bruno.

S2: That’d be nice. That would be nice. Well, I am recommending some trash if you haven’t had it already. Get into love is blind season two. It is just as chaotic, if not more than the first season. There are a bunch of strangers living in a dorm situation and dating through pods. People find love through what are apparently seven minute dates. It looks much longer on television, but a series of seven minute dates with people whom they cannot see. And the question asked by the show is, Is love truly blind? Which is an ablest and weird and kind of stupid question, but it is a fascinating show. There are some really messy people on there. You will find a very clear villain very quickly. Maybe two, maybe three, actually. But the final episode I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen all the tremendous work was on Twitter already, because people have been talking about the outcome for about a week now is somewhat gratifying, and it’s just a good watch. So if you’re looking for some trashy TV, love is blind season to it streaming on Netflix.

S1: Like, if I haven’t watched this at all, should I just jump?

S3: You should definitely watch season. Even I watch season.

S2: You gotta watch season one.

S3: Okay, yeah, you got to watch it.

S1: All right, so I can binge both seasons.

S2: I’m excited. You can very quickly to that. Is it for our show? But before you go, please subscribe to mom and dad are fighting and leave us a review on Apple or Spotify. And if you rely on this show for parenting advice or some coffee to keep you sane on your parenting journey, consider signing up for Slate. Plus, it’s the best way to support the show. It’s the best way to support Slate. Members will never hear another ad on our podcast or any other Slate podcast, and you get bonus content on this show and your other slate favorites such as Political Gabfest, The Waves, and Slow Burn. So sign up now go to Sleep com slash mom and dad plus again at Slate.com slash mom and dad.

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S3: Plus do it in memory of me.

S2: Yes? Make a donation in memory of Dan Clark. If you have a question for us, you know what to do. Email us at Mom and dad is Slate.com or posted to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. Just go to Facebook and search for slate parenting. This episode is Mom and Dad Are Fighting is produced by Rosemary Belson for Dan Kois and Elizabeth Newcamp and Jamilah Lemieux. Thank you for listening.

S3: What a great final gift you gave me.

S2: Jamilah one last time, one last time. Appreciate it! OK, slate plus listeners, let’s keep rolling will assume that everyone has seen or has at least heard of the movie Freaky Friday, the most famous version, perhaps, is the one with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan playing mother and daughter who lives. That made us wonder if you had the opportunity. Would you swap places with your kid if you had the chance? Now you all have multiple children, so I want to know which kid would you be most interested in swapping with?

S3: Oh man, I want. I want to swap with both of them so bad. I want to swap with liar because then I could be doing high school theater again. She’s in Annie, so I could go to Annie rehearsals, and that would be so fun and I could like actually see how it is that Lyra spends her time at school when she insists to us that she never talks to anyone or does anything. But in fact, she has text chains going off a zillion people. I just think that would be delightful. But I also want to swap places with Harper, who is like, constantly like going out to Starbucks with random friends and is playing softball now at Yorktown and also has much easier classes than Lara does. So I’m less likely to be tripped up by the math. One way to think about this question, of course, is which kid would do a better job of being you for a day?

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S1: Not the one I’d swap with Elizabeth.

S3: Let’s hear what you have to say.

S1: Well, no, I slept with the five year old. I slept with Teddy. Listen, his life is like, amazing. You know, I think that he has a great muscles because you can be, yeah, I mean, he gets driven around he because he’s the littlest like. I always order him something. When I drive through to get coffee, it’s like I never did that for the others. And if all three are in the car, forget it. He just has the best life. He goes to this amazing preschool every week. You know, every day there’s something cool in there.

S3: If you took Teddy’s place, though, do you think you would instantly come around to his opinion that he has a terrible and he never gets anything and everyone is mean to him and picks on him because he’s little? No, no. You would mean you would understand you would have you

S2: have the best light.

S1: You like scream and people bring you stuff, which is, of course, why you scream. But you know, like, I just

S3: I think you would learn a valuable lesson about how hard Teddy really hasn’t.

S1: I think though, if I slept, I was thinking that if I slept with Oliver, he would actually be an OK parent. I think he would feel responsible to like, get, get people places and do things, and no one would ever notice because he’s just like my quiet one. I could just, like, go sit up in my room and read, in fact, that’s how he gets out of home schoolwork now. He just like sneaks off, and then I find him with a book, and now I’m posed with like, Well, do I interrupt him from reading or. Right, right? So I just doing it. That’d be great. Henry would definitely be the best parent, but he has the toughest life like he is busy. I could never do diving the way he does. He’s doing this thing now where he throws himself back towards the board, and the coach would ask me, and I just be like, That’s idiotic,

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S3: like, like an inverse

S1: dive. So he’s

S3: the one that Greg Louganis did, that he worked as

S1: head rotating towards the board. And I have a certain spot or it looks like his head is too close. And then I audibly gasp, and that’s apparently very bad. So, yeah, so information. It used to be a five year old who eats whatever they want, you know, insists that things are cut in different things and then runs away, runs the house. People drive me around, buy me things and drive throughs. Cook for me, clean for me. I think that, you know, Jamilah.

S3: If you switch with Nyima, what would you love about it? And do you think famous friends would be able to tell or would you be able to live her life flawlessly without anyone ever knowing it was? Yeah.

S2: Well, there’s one big thing that could trip me up. If I switch with Naima, I need her dancing skills. Because Naima is an amazing dancer. I mean, even the little

S3: they don’t just come in her body, hopefully.

S2: Hopefully it just comes with her body, like she has the confidence and freedom in her body that I’ve never had. She can do cartwheels and tumble, and she’s so physical and she runs. She jumps in like, I was not that kid at all, so I would love to switch with her so I could see what that’s like. But I think if there was a dance contest on the schoolyard, would she makes it sound like that’s the thing that really happens. I could get out of very quickly, very quickly.

S1: How? How do you think she’d do in your life?

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S2: I think that you would think she is me and is running my life. So probably surprisingly well, maybe a little more organized.

S3: I bet she would make a lot of executive changes, like in that day she had. She’d be like, OK. I got one day it is time to make a lot of purchases. Upgrade the apartment, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

S1: I was thinking about this. I worry about Jamilah phone at any lake, but I feel like she would also just data mine the hell out of the situation. Oh my God. Like, what can I collect on my mom in this?

S2: All the information.

S3: If I switched places with Lyra at the end of the Friday, I would have been fired from Slate because she would have written a take so incendiary that it would get me kicked out. Basically be like, you know, overthrow the government and, you know, put the Republicans in pogroms and they would be like, I’m sorry, Dan. That’s like, I think we can’t we just that’s not something we can polish on Slate.com. And I be I be out the door on my ass.

S1: But it would be well-written.

S3: It would be extremely. Yeah. No, no. No one would be like, This doesn’t sound like it was written. Like, It doesn’t sound unaccomplished. Yeah. It just seems a little extreme for you. Yeah. No, it’ll be written fine. I think she would be totally fine on that front. If I switch with Harper, I would definitely be revealed instantly because I would be unable to stop myself from just fucking dominating softball practice. Like the idea of getting of, like being able to play against a bunch of high school freshmen. Yeah, and just crush. It is too alluring to me and I would be unable to resist.

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S1: And what about the make up situation?

S2: Oh my

S3: gosh. She would. I would also be revealed one day when I just didn’t show up to school wearing any makeup and they’d be like, What do you

S1: think she’d give you a makeover?

S3: Oh, that’s true, that’s a good question. Like, what what would what would I look like? Yeah. I mean, she’d probably do my nails. She I think that she generally feels that my clothing is OK, at least in the sense that she borrows it. A lot of it. I bet her focus would be more on like buying nicer stuff for the house or a cooler car, or signing something with a contractor to give us a second floor or something like that.

S2: Yeah, I know my makeup would be very dramatic. Oh yeah. I’d be wearing all of it, all the things that she’s not usually allowed to touch when she plays with my makeup, I would have a full face.

S3: Would you ever?

S2: Her permissiveness would still involve her ruling with an iron fist,

S1: but doing the things she

S3: right. But now, but now she feels you have to say yes. And of course, we yes, the parents child would be like, No, I don’t have to say yes, exactly.

S1: I’m still the adult, right?

S3: Or I’m you. Maybe, maybe it wouldn’t be as great as I think it would be.

S2: Well, this has been fun. Thank you again for joining us, Dan. We will miss you and thank you. Slate plus listeners, we will talk to you, Elizabeth and I. That is next week. I.