The Mortified Mom Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, July 15th, the Mortified edition, and Jamilah Lemieux a writer contributor to Slate’s Karen Beating Parenting column, and Montu Naima, who is eight. And we live in Los Angeles, California.

S1: Hi, my name is Isaac Butler. I am, among other things, the co-host of Slate’s working podcast and a writer and father to Iris, age six. And I live in Brooklyn, New York.

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S3: I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. I write the Home School and Family Travel Blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to three little Henry who’s nine, Oliver who’s seven, and Teddy who’s four. And we live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

S4: Hi, I’m 91 dowsed and I’m a daughter to Jamilah Lemieux and we live in Los Angeles, California.

S2: Well, Isaach, thank you so much for joining us this week and filling in for Dan and Naima. Thank you for asking me about 15 minutes before we started recording if you could join the show this week. So let’s see how this goes.

S3: Naima. We’re always excited to have you with us.

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S2: Are you excited to be with us today? Naima. Yeah, great. So on today’s show, we’ve got a question from a parent who is struggling to make her husband’s daughter feel loved and like she’s part of their growing family while also trying to maintain some healthy boundaries in their relationship. Can she create a better dynamic without making her daughter feel rejected? Then we’re advising a mom whose son is having a hard time with receiving gifts. If the gift isn’t exactly what he wanted, how can she minimize his bad reactions without telling him how to feel? And on Slate plus, you get an extra special bonus segment about Zaila avant garde. The 14 year old amazing Just Wonder of Childhood, who became the first African-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee last Thursday. So we’re going to kick off the show with triumphs and fails. Isaac, you first.

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S1: Oh, I get to do this first. Fantastic. I’m going to go with Triumph, I think, this week. So Iris is in a new summer camp this summer, which I’ll admit has not been going great most of the time. She’s been having a good time. But one of the things that has been a downside to it has been that she was being teased. She’s being teased pretty badly by a couple of kids to the point of tears and then being made fun of for crying and the distracted. Seventeen year old counselors were not on top of it. So she brought this up to us. And I was bullied a bunch as a kid, too, although it didn’t start as early as six. But, you know, and so I was sort of thinking about like, well, what should we do in this circumstance? And you know what? I just decided if she knew who the kids were, I was just going to speak to the kid’s parents. I was just going to go right to that. It’s just I’m not interested in investing a lot of time right now, and I’m learning strategies for dealing with being teased. I just let’s just go to the authority figures and have them intervene. And so it turns out that both of the kids are at her morning bus stop. And this is the first time I had had to confront a parent that I did not know about their child’s behavior, which is like a very nerve racking thing to have to do if for those of you who have never done it before, especially when you’re like a like a people pleaser, like I am. But, you know, I went up to them. I brought Iris with me so that she could see that I was advocating for her. And I came up to them and I was like, hey, you know, there’s a little weird and awkward to do it. Seven forty five in the morning or whatever. But last week, you know, for a couple of days in a row, your kids actually been making fun of my kid to the to the point where she was crying. And anyway, I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but if you could just get them to stop doing it, I’d really appreciate it. And you know what? In both cases, it worked. The dads were super open to it. They were very apologetic and embarrassed about it. And they both had talks with their kids. And so far, Iris has been left alone since then, which is great. So I think that worked out pretty well so far.

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S3: That is a huge triumph. Not only are you an awesome dad, you’re like an awesome person. You know, you, like, handled conflict with another adult in a way in which, like, everyone walked away, you know, I don’t know. I feel like we’re so worried about the worst case in these scenarios.

S1: And that was totally going through my head. But I was like, you know what? You have to give them a chance to, like, do the right thing. You can’t just immediately assume that the parents are going to be super defensive of their kid or are going to be like a pain to you or, you know, whatever. It’s it’s like they’re probably going to be Mortified about it. And sure enough, that’s what happened. Right. It’s like sure enough, they’re like, oh, man. And one of the dads even came up to me afterwards, even after, you know, when the kids have got on the bus, he’s like, look, I’m just really sorry about that. And, you know, we had a good we had a good talk about it, you know, so so I think ultimately, I mean, who knows? There’s many weeks left in the summer. But all but so far, it’s it’s worked out well,

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S3: that’s so great,

S2: that is a tremendous triumph. And I cannot think of anything more horrifying than as frightful as the idea of my child being bullied. Is the idea of being confronted because my child is the bully is the type of thing that keeps me up at night. So, yeah, that went incredibly well. I’m so glad that it did. Thank you, Elizabeth. How about you try and fail?

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S3: I’m also going to take a triumph this week. So Jeff and I spent the weekend at a marriage retreat from military and first responder couples that’s actually run by the Center for Relationship Education in conjunction with a whole bunch of government organizations. It was so good. And so just like bucket filling in so many ways. But I’m taking it as a as a double maybe a triple win. So first it was like a win because after the move and just like covid and all of that, taking time for Jeff and I to do something that was like for us. And yes, I mean, the kids obviously benefit, right? Like if we’re communicating well and we’re happy, that’s good for the family. But it was like uniquely for us. And the second is that part of this is that the kids come along and they provide child care. My kids have not been in any type of care for a very long time, let alone like with another adult outside of maybe my parents in a very long time. And they were great. They had a great time. They were much better humans in this child care scenario than they are with us at home, which is always nice. And, you know, it’s kind of a third bonus. We got a date night out in Denver. Jeff and I, they have you plan a date and get to go out. Why they watch the kids. And just like having the stress free ness of not having to, like, make arrangements for care and then like, how are we going to get home? Like, we were in a hotel where we could walk to things and, you know, enjoy a drink and coming home and picking up the kids and going right up to stay at the hotel for the night. So just like a really lovely weekend of taking some time for us and learning some new things, but also having a lot of fun. So a big win here for some self care.

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S2: That’s a huge win, Elizabeth. And you all have done so much moving around in the past. Well, literally just having moved. But like in general, you know, like with the weather and Kobe, like, you haven’t had an opportunity to do anything like that in so long. So I’m happy for you.

S3: Thanks. Jamilah are you are you going to see us with a triple?

S2: Yes, it is going to be a triple triumph, but I am not the one presenting the triumph. I am relinquishing my triumph and fail this week to Naima. So Naima, do you have a triumph or feel that you want to share with us?

S4: The time that I have is that when I can’t see every day and cheer, I get ten calls and one minute

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S3: you did ten cartwheels in one minute. Had you done cartwheels before? Yes. Yes. How many do you think you had done before this.

S4: Five thousand.

S3: Five thousand. But how many do you think in a row. Because you did ten in one minute.

S4: Mhm. Well I’ve done in the

S3: well two in a minute. And then you did ten. Were you dizzy. I think I’d be really dizzy.

S4: I well I was a little dizzy but not that much dizzy but it was a long, long ramp so I stood up and did one then did another one and then did another one, then did another one, then did another one and another one. Then did another one and then another one and another one. Then getting another one and then and not on until I didn’t have more space to do anymore.

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S3: Did you feel really proud of yourself. Yes. Yeah you should. That’s awesome.

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S2: That’s super awesome. I have never done a cartwheel in my life. I’m not. So since she’s been doing them, I’ve been so tempted to try. I just have yet to find the time and space in which I don’t think I will break my wrist, the maybe my legs.

S4: My dad outsmarted a bunch of kids then going the way he did. He did

S2: well. He did so he surprised that he didn’t outsmart them, but he thought he shot them because they didn’t think a grown up could do a cartwheel. OK, well, congratulations to you, Naima. I hope you’re able to cartwheel forever.

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S4: I think I could beat him and

S2: I know you could beat him. OK, well,

S3: I don’t know that any adults shy of some kind of gymnast could do ten in a

S2: row. Yeah, no, you’re not going to find a grown up who can do ten cartwheels in a row unless Gabby Douglas. Yes, yes, yes. Very good, Naima. All right. Let’s get into our first listener question is being read, as always, by the magnificent Shasha Leonardo.

S5: Hi, mom and dad are fighting, I’m a 32 year old mom of four children ages 11, four, two and nine months and an avid listener of the show. Yes, my hands are full. My oldest daughter is not my biological daughter. She is my husband’s who had her at 19. Her mother was in the picture when we first started dating. And now we’ve had no communication whatsoever with her for the past three years. Both her, her dad’s and my choice as her mother was, without going into much detail, a horrendous role model. She came to live with me full time when her father and I moved in together maybe five years ago. I have taken her on as my daughter and treat her no differently than my other children, as that is what I believe she needs and has expressed that she wants. I have a difficult time with her in terms of co-dependency and attention when kids are sort of moving away from their parents. She is moving towards us in an almost suffocating sense. Sometimes, as you know, little kids and big kids needs and expectations are different. She sees us doing things with the little kids that she feels left out of things like bathing, bedtime, just basic taking care of small children, things she is overwhelming at times. I totally understand why she feels these things. However, I’m just looking for advice on how to better make her feel loved, like she’s just the same as my other children with her father. I feel like she is constantly looking for reassurance that she fits in within our family and is loved, whereas her dad and I do as much as we can, but it seems not enough. Will it ever be enough? Will I ever be able to fill the void of a biological mother? I thought that after being with me this long, she would start to feel comfortable in her place within her family. We have had her in therapy because I know this goes far beyond asking a podcast for advice.

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S2: OK, that is quite a lot. Isaac, what do you have to offer?

S1: Well, first of all, I just want to say that she’s very lucky to have someone this caring as her stepmother. And the parents seem very, very on top of all of this stuff, which is really great. You know, sometimes you get a letter where you’re like, oh, we have to do an intervention with these parents. But it seems like you have you know, they have they have a good sense of what’s in their daughter’s best interest. I would also note that there’s actually two big differences here. It’s not only that she has a different birth mother, you know, than the than the other kids. And she’s also considerably older. You know, the other kids are four years old, two years old and nine months old. And so in different ways, they’re sort of in this, like, early childhood phase. And then you have a, like, tween kid. That’s just a big difference. So some of it may also be about that, that what parental love looks like to those three kids in terms of literally what the activity is, is more similar than what parental love looks like to an 11 year old. And so those two things may be compounding each other. That’s not advice so much as just an observation about the situation. A couple of things that I would just note from the letter is, you know, you don’t make a lot of mention about what your husband is doing and how he fits into all of this. And there may actually need to be some reassurance there as well. I mean, you know, you shouldn’t be on your own to solve this problem. And maybe you’re not. I have no idea. But getting your husband involved in making sure the two of you are really making her feel loved and part of the family is really super duper important. And I just think trying to find as many age appropriate ways to make her feel loved is really, really important. I mean, obviously, you’re not going to go back to, like, dealing with potty training with her, you know, whatever it is. So you don’t want to, like, regress too much, but just finding, you know, positive things that you all can do together that are age appropriate, maybe there’s special stuff you do with her, just the two of you, and maybe even, you know, because you have those three other kids and she’s an older sibling roping her a little bit into helping take care of them in some ways that she feels like part of the family as an older sibling, too. Those are some of the things that come to mind because it’s important that you don’t infantilize her and treat her as a two year old, but also make sure that she feels fully, fully a part of your family.

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S3: I love this idea of like roping her in to some of the activities in the house because the younger kids are kind of all going through that like they need be. They need this. I just think there’s so many ways to include her in that part of the day. Like, put her to work her. Yeah, put her to work, but in a way that makes her feel part of, you know, like she is perfectly capable of being the person sitting in the room with the kids in the in the bathtub while you are getting close and are right there. Right. She’s capable of also getting all the pajamas or helping with teeth brushing or those kind of things, which I think makes her part of those moments. I a little bit feel like you may be speaking the wrong love language to her. And I don’t know, I’m a big fan of the book, The Five Love Languages of Children, because I think so often that the way that we give love to people is not always the way that they receive it. And if you are not speaking in the language that they understand it, it doesn’t really work. Right. You know, it sounds just from this letter, I don’t know. But she may be a quality time person that just really needs to be filled by focused quality time with her or with the family. I mean, the book is great, but you can probably also go online and look up the different love languages and just sort of read through them and instinctively know which one. And some examples of ways in which you can provide her that support in the way in which she interprets it as belonging and loving. And that’s not to say that anything that you are doing is wrong. But when you are able to speak the same love language to them, it fills the kids up so much faster. One of our kids, his love language is gifts and we are not necessarily gift people and just kind of learning like how I can fill his bucket by essentially bringing him little things from where we’ve been, which to him say, like when I wasn’t here, I was thinking of you. And that fills him so much faster than sitting next to him on the couch because that’s not his love language. So I just think maybe look into that and see if you can bucket fill a little faster and maybe get some of that making her feel included. The other thing I was thinking is like recognizing that she is going through some kind of trauma, like no matter how much you pour into her, her mom has left. And that is traumatizing. And I think it’s like so great she’s in therapy. But in these situations, the parenting that you have to do is kind of extra parenting. And so seeking some counseling. For you and your spouse as kind of a family counseling someone that you can go to and tell these things to, who are who has the experience of dealing someone who’s traumatized by abandonment. Right. And can say to you, these are the things this this kid needs. These are the extra things that you’re going to need to do to make them feel secure because the person that she attached to as a child is not here. And so I don’t know in any way want you to take that as like you’re not enough. It’s amazing that you are writing us this letter and saying, what else can I do? That’s awesome. There may just be things that you can’t fix just by you loving because you are not the person that left her. So I just encourage you that if you feel like nothing else is working to get some some support Jamilah, what do you think?

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S2: I agree with both of you. You know, I mean, as I said, it’s really wonderful that she has you as her mother, you know, and that you are this caring, this sensitive to what’s going on with her. But as Elizabeth said, like, there’s no level of sufficient that you could be that’s going to make it so that she is not a child dealing with trauma. Right. And this is a common trauma. It’s a trauma that is well studied and well understood. You know, that being detached from one’s mother in such a way is going to have an impact. And so I should say it’s not surprising that she’s not in the same developmental place in terms of detachment and wanting independence and pouring more into her, finding ways in which she feels part of these rituals that are centered around the smaller children and not just as a helper, but that there’s something for her to and maybe, you know, like some 11 year old girls, like having their hair washed. I mean, I think that’s a sweet pampering thing that you could do for her. That’s akin to getting your hair wash at 6:00 is because you can’t wash it yourself. Getting your hair washed at 11 or 12 is kind of like going to the beauty shop, you know, and it’s a sweet ritual that many mothers and grandmothers and caregivers of children with hair keep going much later than they have to. You know, it could be giving her manicures from time to time, right? Because some of those grooming and basic child care things that she’s watching, her younger sibling experience, she didn’t get from her mother. And so it’s not simply the idea that they’re getting this other attention that she doesn’t or that, you know, that they’re younger. It’s that this is also perhaps a painful reminder that the way that these kids are living the stage in their lives, you know, I would imagine that her, you know, life at four years old looks quite different. So what are the sweet maybe not seemingly age appropriate, but not in a way where there’s something that’s going to stunt her growth, but where if she can feel nurtured, you know, is that giving her a little butt rub after volleyball? You know what I mean? Like, I think there are ways where you can show that kind of tender, you know, at times physical care that we usually associate with smaller children to her. I think that, as Elizabeth said, making sure that your conversations with the therapist, that you are bringing this up. Right. Not just the frustration, but that, like, this is a specific issue or, you know, a space where we’re seeing some things, you know, making sure that you’re staying in constant communication with the therapist and that it’s not just, OK, I’ve kind of handed her off to you because you’re going to fix this thing and you can solve for right. That you have to be an active part of this process. And it also may be worth it to you and your husband to be talking to someone, because this has been quite an experience for everyone. And there may be some things that you’re feeling feelings of rejection or inadequacy that you want to work out so that they don’t become a problem within the household because you’re obviously, like you said, your hands are quite full. You’re doling out a lot of love. Hopefully your partner is showing up and showing out and doing everything that he can to. But you’re not responsible for the conditions that created this. You don’t have a magic wand or a version of love that erases these challenges. The best that you and your partner can do is to love your daughter through them. Do you feel

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S3: like at eleven to you can ask her some of these questions? Like, I guess I sort of feel like at eleven you can have this conversation to say, like you’re so much older than your siblings. How are ways that we can make you feel included? Are these are there things you want to be doing that we’re not doing? Like I wonder if even that kind of frank conversation that you couldn’t have with a younger kid like maybe an 11 year old is capable of that kind of conversation?

S2: I agree. I do think that, you know, at eleven you can ask questions. Are there ways that you could feel closer to your younger siblings? Are there things you’d like to do together that you’re not doing? And are there some things that maybe your friends who don’t have big families get to do like Mommy and me? I like you know, maybe it’s just going to the grocery store and it’s just the two of you. And the same with our father. I think it’s important that she gets one on one time for sure.

S1: I mean, I just totally agree. I do. I think there’s a level of self-awareness that kids have by the age of 11, where you can talk to them about how they’re feeling and what they need. I think it’s important to not do that at the actual height of when when the neediness is expressed, you know what I mean? But it’s like, you know, even I mean, Iris is six and outside of a fraught moment, I can say to her, like, hey, here’s this problem we’re having. What do you think we could do about this thing we’re having? And she and I can sort of talk about it. So I’m sure by the time a kid is 11 years old, they have enough self-awareness that you can start talking about that and start figuring out to circle back to Elizabeth’s earlier point about how to speak in a way that what you’re saying can actually be heard and received, which you have limited control over, but some control over.

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S2: I agree. A letter writer, thank you so much for reaching out. Please send us an update. We love updates and we’re wishing you all the best. Thank you for being so caring and so tender with your daughter. And I hope that things improve for you all soon and for the rest of our listeners. If you have a parenting question that you like for us to ponder, shoot. She an email mom and dad, it’s late dot com or you can post it to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. All right. We are on to our next listener question. Let’s hear it again. Sasha Leonhard.

S5: Dear mom and dad, we have an eight year old boy who is delightful often, but seems a little delayed when it comes to considering how other people feel. The problem I’m bringing to you is that of the art of receiving gifts, birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah. I dread all of these occasions whenever my child receives a gift and it isn’t exactly what he wants, he’s just downright rude. I’m talking sarcastic, using an aggressive tone and saying things like, why would I even want this? Why did you get me this? Even handing it back to the person? In the worst cases, a tantrum and door slamming ensues. As you can imagine, this is completely mortifying for my husband and I to witness and of course, absolutely hurtful to our loved ones who have given him a gift. I can see it makes him a difficult child to enjoy. I can see that it strains his relationship with the friend or family member who has given him something broken and ashamed. When I see this and it reflects badly on us as parents, this is just a selfish add on here, but obviously worth mentioning because it does make us feel judged when our son behaves in this way. I have tried a number of things with my son to help him understand graciousness, I have talked to him about what he is grateful for. He totally rejects this idea and says he doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead, I tell him things that I am grateful for, still no interest. I suspect that he shuts down these conversations because it makes him feel awkward. Maybe he senses that he’s not very good at it. Either way, he seems uncomfortable with the discussion after trying all sorts of things. I thought maybe he’s just not ready to develop that true empathy yet so I could just teach him how to parrot good gift receiving behaviors. So I told him that when he gets a gift and he is disappointed with it, he should just smile and say thank you. Then he can go to his room and say to himself, I don’t like this. Or he could tell me I don’t like this, but that he mustn’t tell that person. This is my least preferred option because it’s essentially telling our son to hide his feelings, which is the opposite to what we always raised him to do, all feelings are OK, etc. But maybe we raised a monster. So my question is twofold. How can I help my child feel grateful for what he has and how can I teach him to behave appropriately so he doesn’t hurt other people’s feelings from Mortified mom?

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S2: My, my, my Elizabeth. What say you?

S3: So I think that teaching empathy is super, super hard. And this is something I’ve talked many times. Our oldest son has pandas. There’s some swelling in his brain and it messes with a bunch of this stuff. So I have dealt with hefting to basically teach Henry what is appropriate public behavior, even if that’s not what’s going through his brain. And it is it’s hard. And he’s nine. And I feel like we have just kind of been able to capture that and consistently do this. So first I say like there’s hope. Do not give up. You have not raised a monster. You are doing a good job just by asking. So first, you know, because there’s work ahead, but it’s not all is lost. I have found that with trying to teach empathy, you have to model it all the time and not just in the gift giving situation. You have to constantly be having these situations in which you are talking about people’s feelings, who you see and who you interact with and also your own. I love the idea that you’re listing the things that you’re grateful for, I think continue that make that part of your meal time or bad time. Even if he doesn’t participate, have everyone else participate because eventually he’s going to want to participate. And also, it just makes him more comfortable with these conversations. When our kids push back about things that are uncomfortable, it’s kind of your job as a parent to keep pushing and make them more comfortable. We can’t just say, like, well, we’re uncomfortable with this, so we’re not going to discuss it anymore. I think there’s a real opportunity to model gratefulness just in general by saying thank you and being, you know, so over the top with that, not to the point of which you’re not really thankful, but just in your everyday life, making sure you’re pointing out the way people feel or the things that you can do to make people feel better. And also then when he has experiences where he doesn’t feel good, saying like, yeah, it doesn’t feel very good when someone says this to you. So really bringing that to the to the forefront and helping him process that. I think volunteering as a family is a great way to do this and make it part of your routine and not as like punishment for this or anything, but find a way for you as a family to get some kind of volunteer experience routinely into your kind of daily or weekly or monthly or whatever that is. Right. Your routine that you all go do this because being able to help others is a great way to practice those empathetic skills. And also just seeing like what gratefulness looks like, putting him in the position of doing something where other people will thank him, I think is a good way to understand how that thank you feels. I also want to say that, like, you are in control and until the gift giving situation is resolved, you can just avoid this situation as a family, decide that you do not open gifts in front of others. You can do that at a birthday party. You can do that in front of family. You can just say my son has a hard time with this. We just don’t open gifts. We open them as a smaller family or just him and I and then write thank you notes. There is so much opportunity to help your child understand how to process this, even if they are just copying what you wrote down onto a note card and sending it. And then you’re not hurting people’s feelings. So I think it is perfectly OK for you to say we don’t open gifts in public. And that would be my advice in the short term. So why you’re working on all of this, just create a situation in which this embarrassing thing for you and possibly hurtful thing for your family just doesn’t happen? I don’t know. Isaac, what do you think?

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S1: You took so many of the words out of my mouth there. Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I was actually it’s very standard among the parents of of Boerum Hill that kids don’t open presents in front of people at their birthday parties. You always do it privately and then send notes. That’s actually expected because when they’re little, you don’t want to provoke jealousy from the kids who are attending the party. And that sort of just been maintained, at least as Iris has gotten older. So I’m a big, big fan of that. I would also say that I want to second everything Elizabeth said. And just just to reinforce that faking it until you make it is totally fine. And in fact, not all feelings are good to express in all circumstances. And that’s a really, really important thing that your child needs to learn. So it is a perfectly acceptable thing to be like, hey, regardless of how you’re feeling, acting this way is unacceptable. And the thing you need to do is this and then. I mean, you should probably put it nicer than that, but you know what I mean. And then as you continue to model it and continue to be like, hey, this is the behavior you need to do in this circumstance, you’re teaching a bunch of different things. And one of them is that there’s certain behaviors that contextually you just have to do regardless of how you feel. You know, you can’t reject a gift, then throw it in the person’s face. Who gave it to you just like you can’t. These a very different circumstance. You can’t, like, punch someone just because you’re mad at them. Do you know what I mean? It’s like it’s another set of behaviors the kids need to learn as they grow older, regardless of the actual situation with the kid. Like learning empathy is a big, big struggle, I think for most parents with their kids, whether it’s teaching a kid how to have and express it and experience it or actually teaching them when they need to back off of it, like it’s one of the really big struggles. So you are not a monster. You have not raised a monster. And I really do believe that you’ll get through this.

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S2: I again, I 100 percent agree this is not an easy skill set for children to learn. I think Elizabeth and I both offered some really great tips. And I would also say that I haven’t been to a birthday party where kids open presents in years. Like I think we’ve kind of done away with that tradition as a society as we should, because it is a lot to put on a kid.

S1: It’s such a trap, right?

S3: Yeah. There’s no there’s no good good way to handle that really for a kid. You’re right.

S2: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s definitely super difficult. I just want to really echo what Elizabeth said about, like, constantly getting your child to engage and thinking about other people’s feelings. And there are consistent reminders throughout your day from seeing and house people to watching interactions between people on television shows or hearing news stories where you can point out things that make people feel bad and things that make them feel good. And I think over time they will come to understand that you have to, at the very least, learn the social grace of pretending that you enjoy a gift. And that didn’t like, yes, we teach our children that we want them to express their feelings at all times. But not every situation is the feelings appropriate scenario. Like sometimes we have to have a poker face and there’s nothing wrong with that, you know, because eventually. Yes. I want you to appreciate that the gift was given that someone thought to buy you something. But if you’re not there yet, I assure you there is a lot more value in them knowing that the appropriate thing to do socially is to say thanks.

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S3: We used to play this game with the kids where we would just like pick things out in public that were uglier, weird or whatever. Right. And just name characteristics of it as a way of kind of teaching them things they could say about things like you. You see a sweater in a store that is just hideous. And we say like, wow, isn’t that fuzzy? You know, like just name these characters to sort of say, like, if if in fact you need to just speak the truth, you can speak the truth in a way that is that doesn’t hurt someone. Right. So you don’t have to lie if you’re uncomfortable with that part of this. Just wow. Describe the item.

S2: It’s so red.

S3: Yeah. This is so red. Exactly.

S1: That hat has so much personality it see.

S3: Exactly. And I feel like that is the fake it till you make it type of things that, that we do. And I love that both of you pointed out like that’s a skill adults you need as an adult. Yeah. Like you can’t just go into your boss or your, you know, kid’s teacher or whatever and say whatever you feel right. Or you shouldn’t. Yeah. In most cases, yeah.

S2: And we’re not even talking about some of the presence that our children present us with.

S3: Exactly.

S2: I thought about why he might not be ready to hear that truth. That might be a little too harsh. Yeah, but you will learn not every gift is a good gift. That is true.

S1: You think I liked that single tea bag wrapped, you know, a drawing that you spent twenty seconds on. Can you handle that truth? Yeah. Don’t do

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S2: that. You’re not ready.

S3: Not ready.

S2: Well, thank you so much, letter writer. You’re not awful. Your child is pretty normal. And please feel free to send us an update in a few months. I’d love to hear how the gift giving has changed after somebody has been met with dude, why would you buy me this? So it just might not even be a problem much longer because the gift table might be empty. So. Yeah, but. But I kid. I kid. We know that you’ll get through this totally fine. And if you are listening to this and your child is also doing something that has you Mortified and you want us to try and solve your problems, please send us a note once again, mom and dad at Slate’s Dotcom. Let’s move on to recommendations before we get out of here. Let’s start with you, Elizabeth. What do you have for us this week?

S3: I am recommending a free app called Brickit. Rebuild your Lego it. Not from Lego is created by a bunch of fans, but it is awesome. You can actually use the camera on your phone to scan your Legos and it will tell you what you can build with the Legos in that pile. It will also help you find missing pieces. So we are huge Lego builders in this house. And the worst thing to happen is when one or two pieces go missing from a set. And then I have to sort through all of them. And in true ADHD fashion, all of that. It’s it is just like there are Legos everywhere. I try to sort them by color. It’s a mess. This app changes all of that. You can just literally scan over it and it highlights the brick or you get a little pile and you scan the pile and it gives you instructions for what to build with that. So it’s been a great app to have like another way to play with our Legos, and it’s called Brickit and it’s free on the App Store and Google Play.

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S2: That sounds cool. Elizabeth, Isaac, what do you have for us?

S1: So this is one for the parents, not for the kids. But I read a novel recently about being a parent that was just so amazing and beautiful that I felt like I had to just recommend it to everyone who listen to this podcast. It’s by the author, Peter Ho Davies, and the book is called A Lie. Someone told you about yourself. And it is a novel about it’s really just about parenthood. It’s about this couple who have a first pregnancy that they terminate due to signs of Mosiah CISM in the fetus and then have a child a year or two later. And it’s about how their complicated feelings about the first pregnancy affect them as a married couple and as parents as the child grows up. It is not a long book. It’s under three hundred pages long, but it stretches about a decade of time. It’s very sensitive and caring and true. And actually, given the premise I just spelled out, actually quite funny. It’s filled with weird dad jokes and puns and and everything like that. And even though my parenting experience was nothing like the parenting experience of the characters in this book, it just really struck a chord with me. I just feel like it gets at something very, very deep about what parenting is like and how caring for a child changes you in ways both good and bad. So I really loved it and I highly recommend it. That’s a lie. Someone told you about yourself by Peter Ho Davies.

S2: Very nice music. That sounds super interesting. All right. Well, our final recommendation is coming from Naima, who has rejoined us. So Naima, what are you recommending for us this week?

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S4: I think cooking turkey legs for kids because it’s so good, yummy and so delicious.

S2: You love turkey legs, don’t you? Why do you like turkey legs so much?

S4: Because it’s real. And I love the meat.

S2: You love the meat. OK, so

S1: I’m going to take that recommendation because I am looking for my kid to eat more things other than hot dogs, chicken nuggets and edamame, which are about 90 percent of the food that you eat. So. So I’m going to take that recommendation Naima. I’ll let you know how it goes.

S2: Turkey legs are very good in the instant pot. If you have one or some sort of slow cooker pressure cooker situation, they’re super tender and they are fun for Naima to eat off the bone, too. So thank you for sharing that with us. And thank you so much for joining us this week. Thank you, Isaac. Thank you, Naima. That is our show one last time. If you have a question for us, just an email to mom and dad. It’s late that time or posted to this late parenting Facebook group. You can find it by searching for late parenting. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Morgan Flannery, Isaac Butler and Elizabeth Newcamp and Naima Lemieux. Giles, I’m Jamilah Lemieux

S3: now on the shelf forever. Yep.

S2: My. Let’s keep going, Slate plus listeners, we thought we should talk about the 14 year old spelling bee champ who is perhaps the most interesting eighth grader in the entire world, Zaila Avantgarde, who became the first African-American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee last Thursday, making her the twenty twenty one champion with the successful spelling of the word Mariah. So this young lady only took up competitive spelling two years ago in which she finished three hundred and seventy fourth place in the twenty nineteen level competition. Three hundred and seventy of plays in twenty nineteen. There was no 20 20 competition obviously. And this year she’s won the title, a feat that she credits to her tutors and quote, a little bit of luck. But why we’re so fascinated by this young lady just seems that she’s good at everything, maybe everything. She’s got three Guinness World Records in basketball dribbling. Yeah, three.

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S3: Amazing.

S2: Amazing. She’s got records for most simultaneous basketballs, dribbled six basketballs for 30 seconds. The most basketball bounces. Three hundred and seven bounces in 30 seconds. And the most bounce juggles in one minute. Two hundred and fifty five using four basketballs. She’s been in a commercial with Steph Curry before. She’s a superstar. When you see kids like this, I wonder and I think all of our children, our superstars, because all kids are superstars and all kids are great and capable of greatness. But like, I wonder, what exactly is the moment in which you realize, like, I’m not raising an average kid.

S3: She clearly is a is an incredibly hard worker and is like good at setting and meeting goals. Like, I am just in search of her. And her presence is amazing, too. You know, I think sometimes we get spelling bee winners that are clearly very good at spelling. But she just has this incredible presence, too, in her interviews. Like she it’s just like, how are you, only 14?

S1: You know, I have a couple of drafts. I have like page proofs of myself to go through and some other stuff. You know, she wanted to to just finish that for me as well, since she’s much better at setting goals and meeting them than I am. You know, that would be great.

S3: She’s already been offered like scholarships to a bunch of colleges and Jamilah. She wants to go to Howard. She’s told people, I’m going to tell her.

S2: I hadn’t even heard that.

S3: I just saw that. I was like, yeah, you are so another. I think we’re we’re counting up wins for Howard on this show. Right. And we got another two and one.

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S2: We’re coming back. We’re coming back. Story. We need to lock her now.

S1: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Get the papers out there. Just mail. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, it’s all really incredible. I will say in part, maybe because I’m a tennis fan, which means that you’re often following these athletes from like a very early age, that I do always get immediately protective and concerned with children when they’re thrust in the public eye and become, you know, almost mummified in the way that has happened. I mean, she’s an extraordinary kid. It has nothing to do with her, do you know what I mean? But I do worry about that kind of pressure. I worry about how our culture treats famous people, the lack of regard it has for the feelings and safety of children. And perhaps that’s on my mind, you know, because of everything that went on with Naomi Hosaka this year who’s been in the public eye since she was a teenager. And so, like, I’m very excited for this kid and I am excited for all of this attention. And then part of me is like after we are done taping this segment very specifically, so we get to tape the segment, let’s just like leave her alone for a little bit and let her have like a little bit more of a normal life or something. That’s part of me that just feels very protective. I don’t know about y’all

S3: know, I completely agree with that. I also like worry that she feels like she has to achieve more. Like if she wants to achieve more, you know, I’m here for it. But also, like the things she’s done are still more amazing than the things most of us, you know, will do. And I want to be like is enough. Right.

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S1: But you’re royalty situation, right? Yeah. We’re cuts to her as an adult drinking coffee. Yeah. Looking at the stock market

S2: now, I think she seems to have a really cool family. Yeah. Hopefully she will get to enjoy this moment and then kind of, you know, step back into the appropriate amount of exposure and fame for a kid, I guess whatever. A little bit you can get tiny little drop you can handle, maybe do like a commercial or a couple of award shows a year and then you go home and just dribble your basketballs and don’t deal with all these weird people on the Internet. But, yeah, that is that is scary, too. I know I saw somebody referred to her as like the first African-American woman to win the spelling bee, you know, and it was just like, how are you saying it? Like, because she’s smart and talented. You see a woman like she. Looks like a little girl, she sounds like a little girl is a little girl, you know, but I have very optimistic feelings for her. I won’t say high hopes because I don’t want to I’m not going to add any pressure. We are cheering for her with whatever she wants to do, even if that’s never spelling a dribbling a basketball again. We are rooting for her happiness and mental health first

S1: and for her to go to Howard

S2: second and for her to go to our second. Yes, absolutely. Well, Zaila in the very off chance. Did you ever become aware of this podcast? Congratulations. We are cheering for you. You’re awesome. Our kids love you. We love you, and we wish you all the best. And for our Slate plus listeners, thank you for shooting in the gym with us. We appreciate your support. And we will talk to you next week.