S1: Slate Plus members, it’s survey time, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate. Slate podcasts and Slate. Plus it’ll only take a few minutes. You can find it at Slate.com slash survey.
S2: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.
S3: Hello and welcome to Mom identified Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, March 12th, Quarantine’s a comment edition. I’m Dan, of course.
S4: I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family of Lyra. He’s 14. And Harper, whose? Twelve. Twelve. Arlington, Virginia. Hi, I’m Jimmy Lemieux. I’m a writer contributor to Slate Care and Feeding Parenting column and communications consultant and a bunch of other stuff. I’m mom to Naima, who’s thicker than we live in Los Angeles, California.
S5: And I’m Karen Wilentz, a writer and podcaster in Oakland, California. And I’m a father of two Georgia who is 14 in Israel. As of last week, the 17 we had like morning zoo type sound effects. Right now, there would be sirens going.
S3: No bells are ring in the sound of a crowd going insane. Karvelas back in Carvel, thank you.
S6: Happy to be here. How’s it been?
S7: You know, we’ve been good. The world’s ending. Usual shit. Yeah, the usual. Yeah.
S3: Today on the show, Corona virus school closures are coming. If they’re not already here for you. Several Slate staffers have already seen their kids schools, clothes. We will talk about what’s happening in our neighborhoods and talk about some coping techniques for long stretches stuck at home with your kids. Plus, Karvelas back. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.
S8: We posted a request for Carvell catch up questions to our sleep parenting Facebook group. Will be asking him to tell us all about his sad mom and dad are fighting for your life.
S9: Plus, triumphs and fails and recommendations, as always. Let’s start with triumphs and fails. Jameela, do you have a triumph or fail for us this week?
S10: I’ve gotta fail. Mm hmm. That did it. So. All right. That’s more of like one. No, we celebrate our failures. Yes. And I pulled up this sound effect for a carve out, but I wasn’t able to pull it up quickly enough. Actually, I had to re download the app, which is part of the story that I’m about to tell. But look, this was the excited carve-outs backhaul sound. Listen.
S11: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And here this down for my fail.
S6: You just described 80 percent of my parenting with it. That’s good.
S13: So on Thursday, Nyima and I were passengers in a Uber that was involved in a minor car accident. I hit my head pretty hard. It was a scary sort of thing that ended up with me spending the evening or the night I should stay in the hospital. They didn’t go home until the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, name was physically unharmed. She was shaken up, of course.
S14: It’s their first car accident and her dad was able to come get her from last little pretty quickly. So Friday evening. She’s with her dad as planned, and I’m not feeling quite 100 percent, but feeling okay enough.
S13: You know, banged up but had a C.T. scan. I was told that I didn’t have a concussion and, you know, thought that I could just proceed as normal. I went to the club.
S15: And for those of you all who who’ve been listening for at least the last couple of months and recall when Dan and I did a live version of the podcast at the Miami Book Fair, I promised that we were gonna have a night at the club with our fans, which of course, did not happen because I was not able to secure a venue large enough for all of them. But I do is always trouble. Always trouble. And Dan forgot to bring his club close to Miami.
S14: So what did what can you do? But I do on occasion enjoy the nightlife. Right. Parties and bullshit, as they say. Rest in peace, biggie. So I was out having a decent time. I went to a party, had about two drinks, which is important because I am someone who has been drinking since I was Carville’s kids age and I have a pretty decent tolerance for alcohol and I stopped drinking about an hour and a half before I went home.
S15: So at this point, it’s 4:00 in the morning. I’m waiting with a girlfriend for an Uber, whoever comes first.
S14: While we’re waiting for her car to come, I start feeling out of nowhere, very dizzy and not great. And as if I just suddenly became drunk, which was strange because, you know, and I spoke to other people who were there with me that evening, they were like, no, you didn’t seem drunk at all. You seemed pretty normal. And she gets in her Uber, I’m by myself outside.
S15: You know, there’s people around. And as I’m walking to my Uber, I pass out. Wow. And this is the first time that I’ve, like, full out, like past that blackout, hit the ground, hit my head, destroy my phone. In the process. I’ve got scratches and bruises and all types of stuff. It ends up with me spinning another night, a much longer night. Back in the same hospital, the fail is not that I went out or that I blacked out because I believe these are circumstances beyond my control, at least the last part.
S13: And I’m gonna have a life, too. But. I when I came back to my house on Sunday, I told her what happened. And that was my fail because one of course, she was already rattled by the car accident and then she’d seen me. You know, I don’t have any recollection of anything other than I heard the crash. I felt pain. I don’t remember like hitting my head or any of it. Right. Just the aftermath. She’s solid. So she’s like, you move forward. You hit your head and see. And then you hit your head on the side of the car. So that was scary enough.
S15: I had to come and retraumatize her by letting her know that perhaps this incident had led to me passing out on the street and a very kind stranger who is now a lifelong friend, who was a friend of a friend of a friend, basically. Was there likely to go to the hospital with me? I mean, there a lot more that’s involved in that. Like some strangers loaded me in the back of the Uber, passed out, and I drove around with him for a few blocks, woke up and was like, oh, my God, I’m like, I’m a guy. What happened?
S14: And went back to where I started, which is where I found the gentleman who was kind enough to take me to the hospital, stay with me until like two o’clock the next day, take me to the cell phone store and then to the Apple store to get a new phone. And that’s that. So it’s a scary incident. And I gave her too many details. I mean, to be fair, I have scratches on my face and things that she would have noticed and also my daughter and I.
S13: You know, she’s huggy and physical and I was in a lot of pain. So I also kind of needed to let her know they’d be gentle with mommy. But my baby has anxiety issues that are becoming more apparent. And so now I feel really bad because for the last few days, she you know that things along the lines of mommy, I just keep thinking about what happened to you and I can’t get it at my head. And it’s scaring me. It’s scaring me. It’s scaring me. So we’re gonna have to pursue some conversations with the professional, which was something that we’ve been talking about doing anyway. For those who read my contributions to Karen fading, I’m always trying to send everyone to therapy. I think we should all be in therapy. And my child is certainly on that list of people who should be talking to somebody about a number of things. But, you know, we’ve gotten fast tracked into counseling because of this.
S16: That is scary as hell. But I also agree with you that you could not tell her why you look the way you did and what had happened to you. And she’ll be all right. I don’t think it’s really a fail to tell her, even if you worry that you gave her too much information. Like, I think this is a case where erring on the side of as much information as possible, probably in the long run is OK.
S17: The thing I just remember about the kids being little and this still happens a little bit at this age, but like it’s so hard to know what information is going to turn into in their minds. Like we think that we know. And so we’re like, oh, well, it’s just this. And then they end up having a whole thing with it that we didn’t predict was gonna happen. And so there’s always that feeling as a parent that we’ve like messed up every time our kid has a difficult time with a piece of information. But I agree with Dan, like it’s really hard to know precisely what to say. And I mean, whether you can categorize something to try him for fail is like whatever philosophical question. But like, I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself for the mere fact that you felt like you wanted to be honest with her about the situation and that you maybe didn’t accurately predict what that would mean to her. Because how are you to know?
S18: Because kids are surprising and they always change and new information affects them in a way that we didn’t predict. And then a year later, the same information affects them totally differently. And we’re just kind of along for the ride as parents. And that’s what’s so hard to scary about it.
S13: Definitely. And I think one of the things that I try to be mindful of is that single parents tend to download a lot of information to their kids at a pace that other parents may not simply because they have somebody physically in the household to vent to to talk to about these things, to say. Maybe it’s not a good idea if you give, you know, every sort of detail. And I wouldn’t say that gave her every single certain detail. I mean, she had no concept of, you know, what does it mean that you’d have, you know, only to drink so that they thought you were drunk at the hospital and that’s why they weren’t very nice to you or uniting us, all of that. But one just the whole incident made me feel more alone than I’ve ever felt as a parent, sort of when Naima was an infant. And even though we’ve always had this great co-parenting thing, you know, the part that I do, I do by myself. Right. And it’s been fine. But like, now that we’re on the other side of the country, from most of our friends and family, my friends and family, you know, my village people who I can turn to in these situations. It really was like, wow, like name is really who I’ve got out here. I don’t feel too too bad about sharing it with her. And I do think that it’s good that our kids see us as people that have these full, complicated lives, you know, that involve them and at times that don’t involve them. But I do want to be mindful that I don’t allow the fact that my name is like the majority of the people that I’m close to in California. How to burden her?
S18: Yes. Yeah. I think that’s like so great that you’re conscious and aware of that as a person who was raised by a single mom in L.A.. I feel like I’m feeling a lot for both of you in this scenario and I’m having flashbacks to my own thing, and I don’t know that my mother, God bless her, like had that as a primary concern. You know, at the time. And so, I mean, you’re right. That thing about single parents downloading a lot of information to the kids. And that’s not always a bad thing. It just, you know, kids like that learn to navigate the world and grow up. And maybe some ways that kids who don’t have that don’t. And that’s not good or bad necessarily. But I think just having the consciousness. It’s just so does my heart. Such good to hear you say that you’re thinking about that, because in some ways, I think just being aware of that is like almost all it takes.
S7: Thank you. Kavala, do you ever try and profile for us this week?
S18: You know, I was going to like name everything as a blanket triumph. I mean, I’ve had many a triumph for many of you. I mean, your miner accident reminded me that actually I did have a minor accident last week, which was I don’t even want to get into, but it was like a little thing that happened and it was a whole thing and whatever. And like, it just makes me realize how many different things emotionally happen over the course of the day. But I’m just gonna give a generalized triumph right now that the kids are fine, they’re alive, they’re doing well, everyone’s progressing along and their paths in the way that they are. No one has really changed. Everyone has matured a little bit. And like, I think that the kids are great. And I think that that’s the triumph is like I just look at these two people who are now 17 and 14. And a whole bunch has happened since I left the show in terms of just growing up, because these are the ages in which a lot of external world things happen for kids and a lot of them have transpired. And in every situation, the kids have dealt with their circumstances in their world in a way that I find like impressive and and feel proud of to whatever extent I can feel proud of, you know, their lives. And so it’s good. Is everything perfect? No, as everyone behaving exactly the way I would want them to at all times. No, not at all. But overall, like, I just look at them and I’m so happy with how they’re progressing. And so I called their continued growth and life a triumph for us.
S7: That’s a great general triumph that we will delve into the specifics of. Yes. In our second segment. Yeah. Today I have a fail. OK, my fail is extremely work specific. Every Thursday here at Slate.com, I send out the Slate parenting newsletter. It goes out like every Thursday at 2:00 or so, every Thursday at 1:45. I always go, oh, fuck. Right, this is a newsletter. Yes. What am I writing about? So then I just like whatever the first thing is that comes into my mind about my kids and parenting. I just write it down as fast as I can.
S19: So last week the newsletter was about lyra’s love of Bernie and about how she was annoyed at me that I voted for Warren in the Virginia primary and about the ways that her combativeness about Bernie and reminds me just a little bit of like the stereotypical Bernie Barot.
S7: Even though she’s a 14 year old girl. The hall. Aren’t they? Well, Lyra read the newsletter. Oh, did not like it. She was pissed. Not that I had, like shared her affiliation or really anything I said about her. She was pissed because there’s no such thing as a Bernie Barrow. It is something invented by the mainstream media to fool you into thinking that the things that Bernie is angry about are not worth being angry about. She wrote me a 700 word e-mail. Good for her. In response, accusing me of, quote, crafting elaborate newsletters to try to pretend to be one of the good one. Nice and ouch. And also dope. And also how that may really hurt her paternity test.
S20: You wonder.
S7: I mean, I definitely earned it, right. Like my daughter’s heartfelt political beliefs should probably not be the subject of a newsletter I write in 15 minutes and send thousands of people. And lesson learned. All right. Let’s let’s talk some business. That’s all. I’m the parenting newsletter is the best place to be notified.
S20: All our parenting content. Keep it moving. Keep it moving. We think we all have thoughts about that. Go ahead. Yeah.
S13: Yeah. I just wanted the joke going straight to the newsletter. I think that’s great. I know you’re impressed by the quality of the letter and her thought process and that she thought to write it in 700 words as opposed to just rolling her eyes and stopping off or, you know, telling you your understand her. I think that’s great. It may feel like a fail that you wrote this letter and violated her feelings in some way. But it is certainly a triumph to raise a child who is capable of responding to you in that way.
S6: Yeah, I would say so. I would agree. And also, I relate the political situation in our house has been tense as it isn’t every household. It is brother against brother. Except it’s really me versus everyone. Because my son’s 17th birthday dinner, which was last week, I was like, okay. Going into this, we’re not going to talk about politics. Can we all agree and. I was the only one who agreed to that. Everyone else. And so Ezra and Jordan spent the entire thing trying to like get me to explain why I didn’t vote for Bernie in the primary, even though I like whatever. And so then I had to explain what my doubts were about why I preferred Elizabeth Warren to Bernie, not the Bernie was a bad person, but why I preferred and that. But like the kids are having such a hard time with the idea that, like a person may have good reasons for thinking that one candidate is more qualified to be president than another candidate without it being just them, really in a weird way, just parroting every possible other reason why one dude in one primary could choose not to vote for Bernie in a state that was clearly going to go for Bernie anyway. Things got really tense and like the kids were yelling at me and they were like accusing me of like selling out the future and not caring about anyone in like winning. Everyone at the ages was so intense. And I just was like guys like, honestly, I kind of put them in place in ways that didn’t want to. And I had to be like, look, you know, my mother died from lack of health care, like I was homeless when I was growing up. Like, these issues are not theoretical to me like this. You know, I’m saying is economic justice and health justice. And like in this country, like these aren’t ideas for me. These aren’t things that I’m excited about. This is like life or death stuff for me. And so I’m not looking at, like, who’s just saying that stuff? I’m looking at who I actually think has the likelihood to, like, actually make things happen. But anyway, it was like then I feel like I was like too intense. They were like, wow, dad. Like, I didn’t realize. And I just was like, this is why I didn’t want to talk about this at my son’s birthday party. But you know what I mean? So, like, it just was kind of intense. But everyone, you know, we recovered as a family. But that strident youth excitement for Bernie is really exciting to me because like the kids are so motivated around politics. And I think that’s wonderful. And obviously, if Bernie wins the nomination, you know, whatever. But like Jamelia said, it’s a triumph that these kids are so excited and meaningful and are working so hard to put their vision into practice.
S21: I think that’s really exciting, except for a little cynical Nyima who I’m being made aware that, you know, Elizabeth Warren, who I supported.
S13: We got to go meet Elizabeth.
S22: Now that I saw that on Twitter. I was very excited for that.
S13: Yeah, it is beautiful. Bittersweet moment. But you know, and I told Naomi how things should go. She said, well, what did I tell you? And she hadn’t a she’d had to do an assignment a couple weeks ago where they asked, would you want to be president Sunday? And she wrote, No, I don’t think people would be very nice to a black lady president. Mm hmm. Wow. Wow. You did tell us that. And she was like. And some second graders came to class the other day and my teacher asked what they thought. And they were girls. They were black girls to urban schools. Black. Okay. And she asked them what they want to be president. They said, no, no. Their name was like, sorry for all your hopes and dreams. That’s what you get.
S19: It’s signed, sealed, delivered. That said, I guess. Yeah.
S10: Well, baby Biden voter in the making. Hopefully I can. I kid. I kid.
S23: That’s terrifying. But anyway, enough said.
S7: No more politics. No, about. All right. Before we move on, let’s do some business. Sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter. It’s the best place to be notified of all of lyra’s political beliefs. Also, we’ll tell you about parenting content on slate.com, including mom, dad, her fighting care and feeding and much, much more. It’s personal e-mail for me every week about what I thought of at 1:45 p.m. Sign up at Slate.com, slash parenting e-mail. Check us out on Facebook. Just search for Slate. Parenting is a really fun community. We moderate it so it doesn’t get out of control. We also use it to find topics for this here podcast right here, which is why people who hang out in the, say, parenting Facebook group got to ask all the questions that we will be peppering Carvel with. Later, the show. And speaking of questions, we want questions. We’re only answering one listener question. Say we’re doing it in the Slate Plus segment. We need more of them. Please email us at mom or dad at slate.com. Make this the week that you pose a child rearing conundrum. You ask us to solve a parenting problem or you unwittingly reveal your own complicity in everything that is wrong in the universe. We can’t do the show without questions from you. Please send a man, mom or dad at slate.com. Oh, okay. On our first topic last week, the first of Slate’s parents became victims of Corona virus. Not that they caught the virus, but it’s that there. New York City School is the first of any Slate employees to close down all over the country. Parents are now holding their breath not just to avoid breathing in the virus, but because we know any minute now we are going to get that email that is going to transform the next week or weeks or months or the rest of the school year into a shit show. Obviously, this may be totally crucial for public health. We’ll all do whatever we can to help stop the spread of this virus, to protect vulnerable people and to get things back to normal as soon as we can. But still, this is a potential. Nightmare. So I want to do a quick round robin, where does everyone stand so far? His school still on in Oakland and L.A. and in Arlington. Let’s find out. Carvel, you first school.
S24: As of now, is still up and running around here. I don’t know that it should be. I’m a little stressed out about it. Georgia revealed to me that they don’t have hot water in her school and they almost never have soap in the bathrooms. And fantastic. And I was like, that feels to me like such a tiny little metaphor for everything that we’re facing, which is that all of the little shit that we didn’t take care of, all of the social safety net stuff that we don’t have, that we have just been like. We’ll deal with the later or like whatever. We’ll just invent an app that solves that. Now we’re all going to see how we should have had that stuff in the place. And so, you know, my kids are older, so I have even less anxiety about the kids who are home all day. That drives me crazy. That feels less of a thing because they’re older and there haven’t been any closures in Oakland. There’ve been a few in San Francisco just across the bay. Oakland does have the advantage of having one of the cruise ships filled with Corona people just docked in Oakland, which is stressing everyone out. You can see it. The whole thing just looks so ominous, even if it’s not really that ominous. It just looks hella ominous. And so I think there’s just a weird, eerie pall over the whole city. There’s no real traffic. Everything’s kind of under-populated right now. So I’m pretty much expecting that schools closure is going to happen relatively soon. This is a social safety net thing. One of the reasons why big cities don’t want to close down schools both here and I think in New York City is because there’s such a huge population of homeless children for whom schools are the only place they get food and shelter. That right there is an issue. And that right there is one of the reasons why some of these schools maybe should be taking the drastic measure even before its time, but are afraid to do it. So we’re in a funky spot right now is the best I can say, and I don’t really have an answer. I just feel like I kind of wish we could get around to closing the schools, but we don’t really have the social safety net to support that.
S19: Yeah, I mean, even plenty of kids who aren’t technically homeless, but who still depend on school for their. Yeah. Maybe their breakfast and their lunch. Yeah. And if they jameela what’s going on at l.A.
S13: Well the governor has pursued permission to close the schools if needed. So I think we’re bracing for the possibility that that can happen or will happen if not now lay somewhere in California. I’m anxious about it. I share the sentiment that this is something that could possibly save lives, but also would make certain children and employees vulnerable, you know, depending on the school district. We don’t know who’s going to be paid for time, which they’re not able to physically show up to class then. There are so many children that rely on school for food and a safe place to be. It creates a lot of anxiety in me, as on one hand that someone who works from home and essentially the only time that I have to be out of my home working or that I have to be in particular places when I can record this podcast or when I have a speaking engagement. And so I have to booked in New York for next week. They were booked very far apart. And so even though they’re just a few days apart, I’m going to have to leave and come right back. Which gives me some anxiety about the possibility of traveling by air to New York, of all places, not once, but twice in a short amount of time. And that my financial picture is in some ways tied to my ability to get on a plane and go to other places. Right. So that’s going to require me to do some additional pitching and thinking about some things that I could be doing here to make freelance money that I haven’t necessarily been doing, because I’ve been great with, you know, writing the column and doing the podcast and working on, you know, unpaid writing work and going out on the road and getting a check and being able to sustain my life that way. But having a child in the house while working from home is not the easiest thing. Name is not 14 or 17, so she can’t be entirely left to her own devices. But she is old enough where she can get some tablet times and Barbies hime, some independent playtime. But it certainly would change how I operate. And of her three parents. I am the one who is best equipped to stay home and take on the lion’s share of the child watching. If school were to be closed, though, it is scary. It is scary. What about you, Dan? Are you your offices will be closed?
S19: Yep. Slate’s offices are closed basically starting tomorrow on Thursday. All Slate employees are being told to work from home. When I recorded this podcast next week, it will be at home and we record in the afternoon. So it’s after school lets out anyway. So my kids will be around somewhere while I’m talking. Through all this stuff, I’ll have to watch my talking. Except for that. It won’t be on their phones with headphones, I won’t be listening at all. But our school is so on for now. Although just ten minutes before we started this recording, Fairfax County Public Schools, which is the next county over, it’s one of the biggest public school systems in the country, announced that Monday is a teacher work day and it’s the day that everyone’s working out their remote learning situation because they anticipate that they will have to close schools quite soon. I think that Arlington County schools are going to send out a very similar notice very soon. We have had cases in Arlington and cases in other D.C. suburbs and in D.C. proper. So I think it’s just a matter of time. I think the clock is ticking and quite soon we our kids will be home as well. Now, like Karvelas kids, my kids are older. So the question of like, can I get work done while they’re around is much less dire than it would have been, you know, 10 years ago. And something like this happened or even, you know, five years ago when the big snowstorms that hit Washington. So like upset our life and overturned our schedules that, you know, basically we panicked and spent a year traveling around the world in response. So I don’t think it could be that bad this time around. Who knows how long it’s going to last, but we’re definitely anxious. And every parent I know is anxious about this in some respect, that, you know, that this is probably the best thing for public health and for your kids health. You know that there are other kids or maybe your own kids who need school for health reasons, for social reasons, for educational reasons, because they don’t have anywhere else to get something to eat. You know that that’s a huge problem for any number of kids around the country. And, you know, selfishly that, like, it just makes your life easier if your kids go to school every day and each day that they don’t go to school creates this new set of problems and responsibilities and impediments to getting the shape you need to get done done. And that just like adds a layer of stress to everything. How are your kids feeling about things? Well, how do your kids talk about this virus and talk about the possibility of school being closed minded? Talk about it with glee, with nothing. BUCKLEY They’re counting down the days until the day that Arlington cancels school and they know it’s going to happen. They fucking know they’re like, this is our payoff for the fact that we got no snow days. This is stupid climb. And now we’re getting that followed by you guys.
S25: I haven’t told little anxiety attack much about rhinovirus. So she did observe a parent. There is the child of a very famous person who left I’ll never name who attends her school is the first time she got to lay eyes on them and they had on a mask.
S13: And so, you know, she said they had on this math, and I could tell from how she was describing it that she wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. And so I said, oh, they’re concerned about getting the flu. And I left it there. And I’m not going to pile anything else onto this town right now. I have just simply been emphasizing the importance of washing her hands and coughing and her elbow and that it’s more important this time of year than ever, but that it’s always important.
S26: And that’s it. Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting, my kids, they’re so fascinating because they have grown up with information overload for as long as they can remember our attempts to protect them from the stuff that we tried to protect them from. Now that they’re teenagers really only lasted for an increasingly small portion of their lives, that we were able to keep out the stuff pretty soon once they got the iPod touches and then this and that and then being able to go on YouTube at school, it’s just, you know, the flood began and it has not stopped. And they’ve developed a certain strategic remove from everything. I think even Georgia, who was sort of like anxiety prone, growing up in very like organized and always concerned, is this going to happen? Is that going to happen?
S24: What about this plot of future tripping with her? I was talking to her about this yesterday morning or this morning. I forgot when. And she was like, honestly, dad, I mean, like, who gives a shit?
S27: Like, who’s kind of like the little nihilistic? And I was a little bit I was like, yes. I mean, like, yes, that’s a protective stance. But also that’s probably good. You could probably use a little bit of that. You know, because I think she just has this feeling that all this stuff is going on. No one really knows what’s going to happen. There’s not really a whole lot of like prediction or management of like the world outside of. And so I think she’s just kind of keeps it very focused. And she doesn’t seem to have a lot of anxiety or fear at this point. I mean, our whole general thing is a family is like protect the babies and old people. Like with you know, that’s our thing. It’s like, you know, everyone’s kind of come to terms with like the virus is probably going to kill any of us because we’re all in relatively good health. But like, let’s be super careful not to contract in and hand it on to other people because we live in vulnerable population. Anything either the kids have. We thought about what this might look like in terms of the economy and like it’s just kind of like the infrastructure of this country, I think that might be something that would maybe make them I don’t even know. I don’t know what they’ll do. I think that they’re both dealing with it as well as can be expected is what I see. And I think in general, what we feel as a family is that there’s not a whole lot of like catastrophizing in terms of like, oh, my God, here’s the worst case scenario. Like, let’s prepare for like this horrible, like apocalyptic zombie land. But I think there’s a lot of realism about the fact that things may change tremendously for us and everyone we know and may or maybe they won’t. Who knows? And really all we have is each other. And it’s just like sort of prepare ourselves and like be safe and be connected and we’ll see what happens.
S9: I’m hearing a lot from news reports or various authorities about how well, good thing that it’s, you know, the year 2020, everyone’s wired, everyone’s connected, or kids are just going to be able to get on their eye pads or get on the computer and just do distance learning. And their teachers will teach from their homes and our kids will be in their homes. And heck, maybe won’t even need to reopen this. How do you kind of work it out? Leaving aside the obvious issues with the fact that in plenty of schools around the country, an enormous percentage of the kids do not have access to a laptop or an iPad or even the Internet. And so this question is totally moot. Do you guys see within your schools any belief that distance learning could work? Do you think teachers could pull that off? Do you think your kids could pull that off?
S13: They use iPads. Name is in first grade. I have not been connected. And we actually have parent teacher conferences tomorrow. So we’ll get a chance to ask some of these questions. But we’re not connected to what they’re doing with technology. Right, in the way that some kids, typically older kids. But in some school districts, our individual schools with smaller kids where the homework is assigned to be completed on the i-Pad or on a computer so that we’re part of their experiences with technology at school at home, which would make it certainly a bit easier for those who had access to continue on with that stuff at home. So I would imagine that we would be dealing with a lot of worksheets, much in the way that packets come home for holiday breaks. I think this would be a lot of worksheet learning and I feel capable and competent of helping her with everything except for math. There is a new math, as you all are aware. And yeah, it was in kindergarten that I was first confronted with an assignment that I could not help my child with. And I felt like the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Then it was just simply a completely different approach to learning math. And I had been exposed to and as somebody who struggled with math, period, especially as an older kid, not necessarily at her age, but as someone who just not a good math person. I was. But that was, you know, like when she told me she couldn’t do it now almost as soon that she was just being lazy because she doesn’t like doing homework. And, you know, and I thought I was like, oh, oh.
S28: Mm hmm.
S21: So I think we can get through this with an asterisk. But ultimately, I do think this will be detrimental to name and her little classmates if it goes too long.
S24: Yeah, I have a lot of questions about the current state of school. Anyway, I say this with a lot of caveats. I don’t know that distance learning is even the major question right now. Sure, some of it can happen. I think it will further stratify access the way our whole country and system seems to already be set up to do by people who have access to certain privileges and people who don’t. And then just get another way in which access to those privileges guarantees you sort of more stuff than it wouldn’t otherwise. And that’s what I grew up with. And that’s what I just see it being an increasing factor in the way this country runs. And so if the schools, which are kind of like a socialist democratic institution fold, then it seems unlikely that the thing that would rise to replace them would be anywhere close to as egalitarian as schools are, which themselves aren’t super duper egalitarian, but are somewhat so. That gives me pause. That makes me unhappy. I also don’t superduper know that like all the stuff that goes on in schools is like so important to anything other than just the remaining system of privileging people who experience that stuff in school. I’m not like advocating for some wild like no schools thing, but I’m just saying that I think with so much stuff going on, if these kids don’t have half a year of school because we’re collectively dealing with like a change in the way things operate, that didn’t strike me as like the biggest loss here.
S16: FOUDA Incredible. Could you imagine that, like the legends that would be created in the half year of no school everywhere in America, the songs that will be sung forever of those glorious formonths? Oh, my God. God, that would be like the signal event in every kid’s life. That would be the event.
S9: Yeah, that would be it. I am unconvinced about distance learning. As longtime listeners know, I already fucking hate my kids school. I pads and canvas and Google classroom and blackboard and everything I’m reading that they use. It never works. It drives me insane. So if they try to like zoom into classrooms or something, it is gonna be an absolute shit show and I’m going to hate it. So maybe, maybe my kids will just be at the four months of no school while every other sucker tries to Skype into their whatever. I just think it’ll be a disaster, but maybe it will all be great. Maybe they won’t cancel school. They’ll definitely cancel school. I wish all of our listeners luck over the next few weeks in making your home as peaceful as it can be and making your kids as comfortable as they can be and making your lives as calm and happy as they can be in this extremely crazy, tumultuous time in our history. Everyone stay healthy. Everyone is. carve-outs says, look after the babies and the old people do everything you can not to spread it around. Email us and let us know. How’s it going in your house has gone to your neighborhood or post on the Facebook page? Search for slate parenting on Facebook. All right. Let’s move on to our second segment. One of the things that we often hear from you are loyal listeners is asking for updates about former hosts. Of course, poor Allison Benedikt has passed R.I.P. Allison Benedikt. Same with Gaber off. He’s dead. Actually, every former co-host is absolutely dead, except for Carville Wallace. We are lucky enough to have Carville with us today. We thought you were gone, but you have come back. So we’re going to do a Carville catch up. We posted a call for questions on the Slate Parenting Facebook group and people went crazy with questions for you. CARVILLE So Jamal and I are going to ask you some and you answer to the best of your ability, please. People really, really want to know. Question number one. CARVILLE Have you had to explain the shocker to any other unlucky teenager?
S22: You know, I read that right before we started and I could not remember exactly. I knew that was a reference to something that happened on the show. But I forgot. No, I have not had to explain the shocker to any unlucky teenagers. I will tell you that probably my kids. Well, I think the shockers a little bit like dated at this point. I don’t know that kids are still. But at this point, I will just suffice it to say that if anyone would be explaining anything to anyone, it would be my kids explaining stuff to me. Okay. Wait, what is the shocker? Okay.
S9: So, I mean, are we I suggest that maybe you just Google. Okay.
S14: I’m going to do that right now.
S22: Okay. So this is strange. There’s no I haven’t had to explain it.
S9: We’ve you have reached the age where it’s a lot more like your kids earning explains stuff. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It’s nearing the case certainly in terms of Bernie.
S20: That’s it. You got it Jameelah. No I don’t. Oh, my God. What is wrong? Why? Why?
S24: Well, you really did succeed in turning this into a shock jock. Morning drive time show.
S29: Now, by opening you talked about this on the show.
S10: I don’t even remember how it came up. Like, I literally have no idea how it came up. I forgot. You’d have to lie. What did you do before I got here? Because every so often, like, I get like a really disparaging comment about the fact that I mentioned that I smoke weed. It’s like, oh, wait. I’m like, do you know where this show came from?
S9: And do you know where this show has been? Oh, my God.
S13: OK. CARVILLE There are some parents who have inquired as to why you never talked about being queer on the show.
S22: It’s funny because I. The way that question was worded was I read right before we went in the air, said something like, how come you didn’t say it? I remember that some people wrote in with questions where your experience would’ve been helpful. But the thing is, I actually totally answer those questions and did offer my experience and direction from my own experiences. Coming up the way I did and everything spins I did. And so I don’t think I made it ever made a decision to not talk. I mean, I always thought I was talking about it. I just never thought of it that I had to, like self identify on this show. It didn’t feel like a thing to do or not to do. I kind of thought that where I was coming from and the way I talked about everything sort of was like, it’s all folded together. It didn’t occur to me to after the show or until after I was on the show that maybe people felt like I should have said something different. I don’t know. One of my bigger issues, like when I’ve talked about it online, which I did multiple times while I was on the show, I just never talked about it on the show, but I had talked about it like on my various accounts or whatever. And one of the things I thought was interesting about that is like the assumption of straightness as a default thing that I always found weird and kind of not shocking, but always was interested in that. Like everyone is straight unless it’s that they state otherwise.
S18: And maybe that’s even as you put it in your introduction. Yeah, maybe that’s even the case. More for men and maybe that’s even more the case for men of color magnitude more and more and more the case for black men.
S22: And so, you know, I remember like a couple of years ago or like last year, I was going to a speaking event. I need to buy a new shirt. So I’m at the Macy’s or whatever. And I’m having this conversation about like shirts with the shirt guy and he’s measuring and we’re getting this fitted shirt and everything. And then he goes, he said something like, oh, you can get this one with this collar. But then he was like, but I don’t think you need to wear that. Like, that’s not something a straight guy would wear. And I just was like, where’s that even coming from?
S18: Like, why is this guy like, I don’t know. It just like such a weird thing to be like. Not only do I have to make this assumption, I have to verbalize and establish our shared straightness in this world gone queer kind of vibe. And I find that whole thing kind of iffy. And so maybe on some subconscious level, it’s a little bit of a trolling move to just let people assume and then to be like, bam. But I don’t even know that I do all that. I just think that the way I think of the world and the way I talk about relationships, love, sexuality, sensuality, gender roles, what we’re doing as a society, what we need to get better at. To me, that all comes from my experiences of queerness. And I don’t know that I ever felt like it was necessary to be like. And as a queer person, here’s why I’m saying this that it lends more meaning and gravitas to what I’m saying. But maybe I’m wrong about that.
S16: I don’t know that you’re wrong. I also get frustrated with baseline assumptions of straightness and the way that they inflect, how people respond to a lot of different things. I mean, that is a crazy story about Macy’s. I cannot believe somebody did that in the year of our Lord. Twenty twenty but twenty nineteen. To be fair it was a twenty nineteen. Okay. Well good thing we live in a different era now, but things that people talk about a lot with regards to the show is, you know, a thing that we in the very beginning of the show did not do a particularly good job with or even think about that much was present, much of a diversity of experience. Her opinion, right. It was me and Alison were basically the exact same person. We have all the same opinions. We had kids basically the same age.
S9: We both lived in East Coast suburbs. We were both white magazine editor. So like there was not a lot happening there in terms of presenting other ways of family life, other experiences from which you might develop some kind of experience. And the show has changed a lot in the years since. Is that why you killed there? That’s why she’s dead. She’s dead. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And also Rest in peace game. But a thing that listeners ask about a lot is can you have. We would like there to be a more regular queer co-host that a queer parent should be on the show more often.
S16: And I do think that this particular question came about as a result of. Sort of the host, Ron DeLay, that’s been going on over the last six months or so since Rebecca left Rebecca. Rest in peace. We miss you went out for a.
S17: I want to just clarify that none of these people are actually dead for any listeners who were like, my God, everyone’s dead. None of these people are dead guys. I just wanted to clarify that for that one person who’s just freaking out right now.
S10: I Googled Alison and Dan that this thing. I feel bad. There’s something.
S16: They’re just dead to me. But I do think there’s real value in having hosts who represent a lot of different perspectives. And I would just tell listeners. You don’t always know exactly what perspectives your hosts are coming from, and you can’t always assume what perspectives your hosts a podcast are coming from. And so the show, I think is doing its best to offer a lot of different voices and a lot of different ways of being a parent. And bear that in mind, I think when you’re listening, because the assumptions you make might not always be correct.
S17: It’s also true and this is again, like a level of like just the kind of sensitivity I have around the issue is that like it’s also true that a lot of times there’s a desire. I don’t know if you know where it exists, but sometimes you’d sort of like lay out all of your marginalized that any markers and they’re collected like trading cards, points for like whoever has a platform to like, here’s our dark person, here’s our queer person, here’s our you know, and like I didn’t necessarily want to play into that. Also, I felt like my experiences are coming from a person who grew up having to, like, wrestle with my sexuality and sexual identity in a world that was like superduper straight, like more than a little bit homophobic and queer phobic and all bi phobic. And I was. And so that’s where my perspective comes from and everything like that. But I also felt like and still feel this way that if I was to be like, hi, I’m Carwell and I’m an open, I’m like, you’re queer parenting then. Now I become responsible for all LGBTQ issues everywhere in every possible way. And my experience growing up was personally one way, but culturally community. I didn’t grow up in those spaces. And so I don’t feel qualified to like be on this podcast representing that world for people think there are other people who are way more qualified to do that. And I think, you know, and so that’s another reason why I didn’t necessarily want to just like plant my flag in the sand and be like, now I’m the like reigning expert in that. I felt it was really important for me to talk about relationships in a way that is influenced by those experiences that I’ve had and the pain that I’ve gone through in the fear that I’ve had and the things that have hurt and like how I’ve had to adapt to a world in which there’s this kind of systemic oppression in the here.
S30: I didn’t feel comfortable sort of like standing up as like a spokesperson for this community, because that’s inevitably what happens when you come on a kind of straight oriented podcast or platform and then announce that you’re the rainbow flag person.
S9: Right. All right. I have another question from our listeners. I’d love to hear about the making of the Finding Fred podcast. And if it changed how you parents for those listeners who don’t know, Carvel is the host of a fantastic podcast about Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers called Finding Fred. I really, really loved it. And I to echo this question. Tell us about that experience and tell us if it had any effect on your parenting style.
S30: Yeah, it had a tremendous, tremendous effect in my parenting style. I mean, it’s over now because it was a limited series. We did 10 episodes and I don’t think we’re gonna return for a second season. You know, there’s talks about what we might do next as a team, if anything. But that said, no. I mean, part of the reason I took that job is because I was like, I don’t think anything bad could come from spending several months immersed in the world and thinking of Fred Rogers, and particularly not just in that, but in having these living conversations with people about what these philosophical ideas mean to us today. What is I like you the way you are. I mean, within the context of systemic oppression, like, well, how do these things work together? How do we navigate these worlds? To me, I felt like no bad would ever come from for me as a person, from spending time with those ideas and with those brilliant people that we had on the show. We had a viewing. We had Reverend Angel kohta Williams on the show. We had come out well. We had actually see Ford was great. Um, two episodes. I mean, we you know, we really like delved into the living moments of these things and that changed me a lot. I learned something powerful from every person that I talked to. But I would say that the short answer and the obvious answer is it is true that spending so much time with a person whose priority was the care and listening to of children, that that was not just something you did while you were doing other stuff, but that that was actually the primary purpose and all other activities were designed to facilitate and allow for that to happen. That has been for me a kind of nice perspective shift. And I think in some ways before I did that show, I was thinking of like being nice to my kids as like as thing of expedience. I’d like to be nice to my kids and be good to them because I love them and don’t want bad things for them. But I also think that I also was doing a lot of just thinking about how I’m going to do my world and how do I make it so that the kids are like not in the way kind of thing. And I think just that spending that time changed it. But even more than that, it was just the amount of space and time he took so much space and time. And he he was such an advocate of listening and quiet as ways to really hear what’s underneath what children are saying and doing. And that is a very difficult concept in a capitalist environment, in a place where we’re like. We love our kids, but they’re in the way of us doing stuff right. I need to get stuff done and the kids are there and it’s I love them, but I need to get stuff done. This obsession with getting stuff done, whatever for the larger sense. But I’ll say that one of the impacts it probably hasn’t parenting is it makes us not as great of listeners as our kids might benefit from us being. And so just being able to like spend more time with that idea. Veha Fred Rogers I think has been super helpful for me.
S9: The movie that came out last year, not the doc, but the narrative movie directed by Marielle Heller presented really, really well, was the way he listened and how slow he took every conversation. To an extent that would be like bewildering time. Yes. To normies, yes. And I think that’s a great lesson to take.
S23: Yeah, totally. And now I’m not going to be for it like I am. That’s going to imitate this dude. And it’s just our acting and talking like him because like, that’s not who I am. Under any circumstances. But like, I also really liked the idea of like, well, what would Fred Rogers look like if he had my life? What would Fred Rogers look like if he was you? You know, I mean, we’re having this conversation with a viewing. Who is like that? What is the Fred Rogers in my neighborhood in Chicago look like? It’s not going to be this white guy in a cardigan that’s going to be, you know, what is the Fred Rogers in the hood look like? I you know, I like recently volunteered to do a thing at San Quentin. And I was thinking about that going in like, what’s the Fred Rogers look like? Who’s in San Quentin right now? What is the spirit of that energy and how does that manifest in all the different ways that life forms us? How does our energy remain in all of us? And to me, that’s just been like a nice thing to think about the world through that lens.
S13: Can I please tell you all a very brief Mr. Rogers story that I had I love and thought about it so many years until listening to you talk about the podcast. So when I was of Mr. Rogers being age, I must have an let’s just say I’m going to hope that I was to three, maybe no older than four when this happened. My mother must have been in the kitchen. We didn’t have a terribly big apartment. You know, I was out of our line of sight briefly. So I’m watching Mr. Rogers on PBS, as often did. And they were getting ready to go to the trolley land. The land of make believe. A land of make believe. Which was my absolute favorite part. I just loved Mr. Rogers so much. And I certainly loved the land of make believe in Daniel Tiger, which, of course, comes back to bite all millennial and Dinnick marriage when they get to deal with just Daniel Tiger without the writers.
S10: That’s all you get. I get. And so I’m torn because I had to. Oh, my God. Don’t even talk about bathroom stuff at all. As I was doing it really badly.
S13: And so I’m torn because it’s like, okay, I either go to the bathroom and there’s no DVR. OK. There’s no knowing when I’m gonna get to see this specific episode ever again. So I go to the bathroom and possibly miss the land of make believe or I improvise. So I pooped on the floor in the living room. Enjoyed this segment. Mr. Rogers. And cleaned it up, unbeknownst to my mother, perhaps to this day.
S24: Priorities. Priorities, man. I like that. Ringing That’s a total kid, right?
S10: That was a triumph. I think I may have repressed this entire memory 30 years. The power of the power of Red Rock, who does not even like to hug like I to this day hate talking about stuff like that.
S15: And I was the same way bet. And so the idea that I was willing to do something as gross as shit on the floor is a testament to how powerful Mr. Rogers was.
S16: I love it. Jabil, I got a question for you.
S13: I want to know. I certainly know that. And I’ve kept up with you via social media to some extent, but I think everyone would like to know who followed your adventures more closely in the past, what you’ve been up to and what you’re working on and how they can find you and and continue to stay connected to your work and your life.
S31: Yeah, that’s a good question. Probably Instagram is the best way right now. Twitter is a lot for me. I actually logged out of Twitter recently like I didn’t delete my account, but I like made it so that if I ever want to tweet or retweets, I have to log in. And every time I’m confronted with that log in screen, I get a second pause. And I usually decide not to go on, but I’m pretty active still on Instagram. I am working on one larger book, which is a memoir about childhood trauma is the idea. I’m gonna be writing a little bit about people that I grew up with and their influence on my life. But I’m going to be writing sort of magazine style profiles of their own lives, writing about them the way I write about celebrities like önce and people that I went to elementary school with and whatever as a way of exploring all the ways that everyone is sort of like recovering from whatever they’re recovering from.
S22: So that is my big project for this year. I am possibly doing a few other sports slash celebrity slash memoir type things. Everything is in different stages of. Development things may or may not happen. I’ve got a couple of magazine articles. There’s a few other podcast things that are still slowly in development. Are we gonna do this? Can you submit a one pager for that? Let’s fly into town and talk about whether or not we gonna do this. So all those things are in various stages. None of them are guaranteed. And what I hear. It is my name. Underscore Carvell, underscore Wallace because my actual name without the underscore was taken by my uncle.
S20: Never that. Still mad at him about the final question from the listeners, Carl.
S9: Do you miss us as much as we miss home? Let’s say I say. I say yes.
S22: Do you want the truth? Or do you want. Yeah. radio-friendly adsit Notkin? Yes, of course I do. I really miss it. And like reading these questions on the way in. Really, really made me miss you guys. I was telling someone else that the thing I miss most isn’t reading listener questions. Ironically, it’s getting listener advice on my own trials and fails. That’s my favorite part. When I say here’s where I triumph with or here’s the thing I forgot to do or here’s what I’m worried about with my son. And then getting these emails from people who are like, yes, this is what I was like when I was in school or here’s what I learned those emails. I love those now that came with a lot of other emails that I didn’t love. And that’s just like the price you pay for being on a public platform. But I realized over time that that was the thing I missed the most, was getting all this listener feedback on like my own parenting.
S9: So, yes, I miss you guys. I love that. Well, I certainly hope that among the things you’ll be doing this year, he’ll be joining us again from time to time. We miss you and love. I think I will think I’ll be doing that right. Let’s do some recommendations. What do you want to recommend for our listeners this week?
S22: I want to recommend family time, which sounds a little bit, but it seems like we’re well on our way as well, on our way. And I’ve been thinking a lot about how. Of all the things that there are in the world and in the universe, the only thing that we really have is each other.
S32: That’s all we really have. We don’t have anything else. We see other things. We feel other things. We want to have an impact in other things. But the only thing we really have is each other.
S23: And regardless of what goes on over the next year, six months, two years, whatever, it’s really going to come down to each other. And so I just want to recommend for myself and for all the people who I love that we think about the primacy of our relationships with one another and the care and love of those relationships and the getting out of the way of what stands in the way and the returning of phone calls and the writing of letters and just the connections. I want to prioritize connection at this time.
S19: That is beautiful. That makes my recommendation sound extremely shallow. That is my job. My recommendation is wallpaper.
S20: I guess I’m Elza with that. But go ahead.
S19: We just decided recently that it would be fine if our first floor bathroom, the kids bathroom was wallpapered and it was painted this like ugly yellow. And we thought be more photos, wallpaper. And Aleo, who’s just like a genius with home stuff, decided she was just gonna do it herself. Oh, and you don’t have to, like, get wallpaper paste and all that shit. You can get wallpaper. That is basically is like a sticker. It’s like one of those like big fatheads stickers that Smith or whatever you stick up on your wall. But it’s like a beautiful pattern of wallpaper designed by someone who’s got a Nazi shop or whatever. And you just order a shitload of it.
S16: And she spent three days just measuring and cutting and trimming and getting my help, like lifting shit off the wall the hand at the end of it. It looked amazing and she loved doing it. And it was so easy and so cheap. And so like if you are like, oh, this bathroom is boring, what can I do to make it less boring by some crazy ass sticker wallpaper on the internet and put it up? It’ll look awesome.
S13: It’s so funny because I have a tab for wallpaper open on my computer. I was looking at it on Amazon. I’ve bought some wallpaper for the first time ever to cover up a bookshelf. It is incredibly cool and the next time I move I would love to do a wall or a room that is covered in paper. It just didn’t seem like such a great idea when I was younger. But now I’m like, wow, you can like have designs and prints. Then I could have like a cheetah print room or something. Yes. My recommendation perhaps flies in the face of what, dancing, jazz or the feel that he shared with us this week. But I am going to recommend, despite the heartbreak that I have experienced over the Warren campaign and just the state of the presidential election. Getting your children involved in your politics, of course, unless you’re a Trump voter, which means you should tell them not to do that. You should follow the opposite advice. You should allow your children to be their own people. How dare you press? Values upon them, they’re individuals. But if you are not a Trump voter, I think it’s cool to allow your kids to see inside of this thing. Most schools do a really inadequate job of teaching kids about voting and the political process and the responsibility that they have to participate in it. And why some folks decide not to write. I’m glad that my kid has gotten a chance to be in campaign offices and, you know, got to see me do some of the third thework this time around. And that one day when she is able to vote, hopefully she will be as passionate as Lyra is about her candidate of choice and will be capable of firing off a 700 word missive to me probably sooner than later about why my candidate for any given election isn’t the correct candidate. I’m glad that she got to see this, even with the disappointment. And I encourage others to not wait until it seems like they should be old enough. This shouldn’t be a mystery. It’s a mystery for far too many full grown adults, which is why we are a nation of non-voters with like 30 percent of people participating in national elections and 10 percent participating in local ones. And it should not and does not have to be that way.
S9: The great recommendation. Sometimes, you know, comes back to haunt you, though. All right. That is our show.
S33: Thank you, Cabell. Thank you, Jimmy. If you have a question. E-mail us at mom and dad at slate.com. Once again, join us on Facebook. Just search for Slate terracing.
S3: Facebook.com, Bobbit and or Fighting is produced by Rosemary Bellson, Jamilah Lemieux, Carbo Wallace. Dark Place. Thanks for.
S9: Hello and welcome to Slate Plus. We’re so grateful to you, our members. We love the support that you give us and that you give the whole magazine. And we love doing bonus segments for you. This week, the bonus segment is our only listener question. This question comes from our Facebook page. Find it by searching for slate parenting on Facebook. And if you post a question up there, we might use it on the show. You can also, of course, always e-mail us at mom down at Slate.com. The question is always this, right by the fabulous Shosh Lee at r.d.
S34: Dear mom and dad are fighting. I’m a parent to a 14 year old boy and a stepparent to another 14 year old boy. I’ve been his step parents since he was 3. Our relationship is familial, but I don’t generally parent him as his father is wonderful and involved and his mother is wonderful and involved, too, honestly. He’s a great kid. My son also has a great involved dad and a good yet newish relationship with his stepmother. Here’s the issue. They compete for my affection. My daughters are both grown and they didn’t do this when they were teenagers. But the boys will shower me with compliments. If one is going to go with me on a long, boring errand, the other one wants to come. They bicker when I’m around, but not when I’m not around. Is this healthy? Do we need to do something? It just doesn’t feel good.
S13: This is a somewhat unique situation and I would imagine, but probably not as unique as you may be inclined to think. It sounds like both these kids would like to be the apple of your eye, obviously, and because of the changes and transitions in their family structure that they have seemingly experienced for quite some time. Perhaps they have not felt that they got the opportunity to be someone’s favorite child. Right. There’s other siblings, there’s stepsiblings, there’s grown siblings, their step parents and parents. And everybody has moved on from the relationships that created them. There’s been a lot going on. And so it’s wonderful. And it’s important to continue to remind them that it’s wonderful that they are not lacking in anything. In fact, they have an abundance of people who care about them and who are there to protect them and support them and stand with them throughout their lives, including these siblings, stepsiblings. But it’s also worth calling it out, you know, and perhaps this shouldn’t be a two on one conversation. Maybe it’s not that you all get the boys together to have this dialogue, but that it’s something that you question writer, do one on one with these kids that say, hey, I’ve noticed that when you and Steve and I are all together, there is a little bit of tension between the two of you that doesn’t seem to be there. When that’s not the case, then I love you both. I love you in different ways. You are each special to me. One cannot replace the other. I’m happy to take you to 7-Eleven for a couple of water bottles or whatever it is that we need to do. And I’m happy to take your brother, your step brother with me, too. But there should not be any competition between you. Because I have enough love to go around and just reminding them of that. And also could be I don’t know how much one on one time you get with each of these kids, but it could be that each of them are craving some one on one parenting time, be it from you. Be it in general that they are not able to access or have not been able to access with the way that your current family structure is, and that that might be something worth investing in, making sure that you do have things that you do that are specific to the verses in the leak and that everybody’s getting a good heaping help of your love and and clear that they’re getting just as much love as they need.
S35: Carel, what do you think? Yeah, this is an interesting situation. And the more you think about it, the slightly more complex it becomes. I mean, I think it’s normal for 14 year old kids to be competitive with one another, 14 year old siblings, same age siblings. So I don’t necessarily know that there’s like something rotten that, if left unaddressed, will continue to fester and just make everything bad in your family. My kids were super competitive and that’s not the same situation. But I just know that over time, ways in which they competed over our affection and love and cookies and whatever it is they were competing over. They’ve just learned to navigate better as they’ve aged. It’s just like part of growing up is learning how to deal with that stuff. And I think that your kids are in that same spot. I wonder if some of it feels like each kid is coming from a place of like fear, like the kid. That’s the stepchild. Even though you’ve been the parents since they were three, maybe feels a little bit like a way. I’m not. I’m not really the real son. Does she love me as she loves the real son? And then the same with the other kid like me feel like, oh, but I am the real son. As my parent, giving affection to this, like, not real son. The way that they each of them could be coming from that place and those like small festering things that are driving maybe some of the intensity of the competition. But I don’t know that the actual competition itself needs to be headed off at the pass as a thing unto itself. I do agree with everything from Moelis said. About finding ways to do individual time with each of them, a thing that each of them is interested in, that the other just isn’t interested in. I think if they both want to go, let them both go. If they both want to, like, go to the boring thing, then fine, go. Or one of things they should always do to the kids is like either you both or neither of you go but figured out you have 30 seconds. And then just like I try to put my kids in situations where they have to solve their conflict quickly in order for something to happen. And that didn’t always work. But oftentimes it did. The increased pressure forced them to work together. It’s a little bit like the movie plot where like aliens come to the earth and all the different countries have to come together to solve it. I then function as the Aley and create a situation where I haven’t got to make a decision. And so whatever you guys are beefing over needs to be solved in five seconds or else no one’s getting Ice-Cream. And so I’d say probably some of that can be thrown in the mix. I do like this idea of individual time can be thrown in the mix. And of course, just the steady messaging that I love both of you. Like there is no one or the other. There is no one that I love more than the other in a lot of times. I would tell my kids, you guys are free to compete if you want, but you’re not competing for anything real because because I love is exactly the same for both of you. Ansen, as we would make jokes about it, you know, they’d be like, who do you love most? myrie, Georgia? And I’d be like, Angeliki the dog. Like, that’s the person I love most. So if you have a dog, you can use that line. I do think naming it, calling it out. Not obsessing over fixing it and just kind of keeping it moving and staying. The steady course of love for both of them will probably resolve this in the long run.
S16: Yeah, I think this is all good advice. I don’t have an enormous amount to add. I think that when you have those conversations, having the very first conversation, one on one is the exact right way to go. So you can deliver that message. The overwhelming message, which is of love to that kid, straight to their face. The thing that they clearly want the most and the thing that they are craving and desperate enough for, that they’re willing to fight with someone else they love in front of you, like deliver it straight to them and then make it clear just how much there is and how much you can share with everyone. I do think the one other thing I would add is it’s totally okay to say I love you both absolutely equally, but I fucking hate it when you fight. When I’m around. So yeah. Don’t do that. Like it’s ok to just straight up tell them like that is an activity that makes me, as you say, not feel good. And that ending to this letter made me sad as it makes you sad letter writer. And it’s OK to let them know that these things don’t make you feel good and you love them. And what you watch that love to bring forth is them being kind to each other as often as they possibly can, secure in the knowledge that your love is inexhaustible and you think you often think about 14 year old competing to.
S13: Go run errands with their parents to have more mommy time or daddy time. Yes, and the other 14 year old boys. It makes me wonder. It’s unique. It is somewhat unique. Right. I wonder. I don’t know. I wonder if there’s a lot of group activity happening in these households. You know, where everybody’s together on Friday nights. You know, there’s days we go do this together. And if there’s just a need for a little bit of one on one time that these boys aren’t getting.
S9: Yeah. All right. Letter writer, I hope that this is helpful to you. Thank you so much for posting this to Facebook and other letter writers. Post stuff to Facebook, search for slate parenting on Facebook. E-mail us at Mom, Dad at Slate.com and all Slate Plus members. Thank you so much for being members of our membership program. That’s it. Until next time. See you later.