Back to Work and Back to School Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.

S2: Hello and welcome to Mom and Dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday September 12th.

S3: Get back to work and back to school edition. I’m Dan Kois. I’m an editor at Slate and I’m the author of How to Be a family which comes out next week. So I’m also currently one hundred percent and that same person also I am the data Lyra who is 14 and Harper was twelve.

S4: I mean Jamilah Lemieux I am a writer a cultural critic I am also one of Slate’s parent feeding parenting columnists and I am the mother to name. I’m Rebecca Lavoy. I’m a journalist and podcast here in New Hampshire and I am mom to Henry who is 18 and my son Teddy who is 16 and a half and my stepdaughter Lily who is 19.

S3: I’m excited to say that Jimmy is here in the DC studio with me.

S5: Happy Homecoming. Jimmy you’re back to D.C. I’m back in D.C. just for one week only.

S3: But I’m going to Treasury today on the show we’ve got a question from a mom who’s about to go back to work and is freaking out just a little plus a question about how to keep grandparents from going all gender essentialist on your baby. Of course we’ll have tried some failed we’ll have recommendations and let’s start today with some triumphs some fail. Jamila what do you have to try.

S6: For about I’d like to say that I have a trial.

S7: Wouldn’t we all I’ve been back and forth between New York and Los Angeles quite a bit this summer and it’s finally coming to an end. I have an actual move date of September 30th so I will be living in the same city in the same house 50 percent of the time with my actual child. So I can really be a parenting podcast because I’ll be parenting again for the first time in a while.

S6: But I just got back actually from a few days out in L.A. hanging out with the kid and she’s happy and healthy and whole and I’m giving myself a triumph because we had such a really great visit and I leave each time feeling sad and conflicted and you know was this the wrong thing to do. Should I have been out there at the same time as her dad or step mom. But she really seems to be adjusting to life and she is happy and she still loves me. So I just feel like I’m giving myself a general triumph like I am successfully parenting as at this moment in history next week. That’s that’s could change. I’m going back on Monday so who knows.

S8: But for now all is well now after the summer that you’ve had that seems like the the foundation of plans to live in the same city as your child seems like a great yes. Yeah yeah yeah yeah excellent.

S9: REBECCA How about you I’ve got to triumph it’s a triumph by proxy kind of. I’ve talked a lot on this podcast about my relatively fraught relationship with my mom and everything has changed has done a complete 180. Right now my relationship with my mom is totally awesome because she has a boyfriend and now listen I may be overstepping.

S10: I may be overstating the relationship. I’m not saying either one of their names on this podcast Obviously yeah. But she started seeing this guy a couple of months ago and our entire relationship is completely different in all of the right ways. I’ll give you an example for one of their dates. Like they’ve been meeting up at these different like very quaint places around New England like one of their dates. They met up to go to like an antique show and one of their dates they met up to do it like this little small town Lake festival and one of their dates a couple weeks ago was at one of the state fairs which happens to be in my town a mile and a half from my house. And she had sent me a text and said oh maybe after we’re done with the fare we have dinner plans like way over in Vermont at like 6:00 p.m. but like maybe we could stop by and see you guys and I could introduce you and I was like Sure yeah I’ll just be home working whatever just come on by. I got a text at like 3 o’clock and she’s like I’m so sorry we’re not going to be able to make it over we have dinner plans and we have to rush over there and I’m like if you had any idea like the idea that my mom would be like so busy and happy that she wouldn’t want to like barge into my house.

S11: I’m like a random Sunday to like introduce a total stranger to me and like give them a tour of my house and like you know do all the stuff that you normally likes to do which is totally over-the-top like it was incredible and I was like Yeah no problem we’ll just catch you next time. I just had surgery this week and I have gotten very helpful loving text messages nothing fraud nothing like Oh dear God how are you going to get through the week but things like oh hey let me know if I can help. I’m really busy I’m going out to dinner tonight like kind of stuff very normal and awesome and I’m just like so thrilled because I do feel like my mom’s having something else to focus on that is making her happy is making everyone happy it’s a total trickle down parenting effect so it’s awesome.

S10: It’s my triumph by proxy. Good on you Mom for getting a boyfriend. I hope it works out because this is really great. We have going on right now.

S6: Good for Rebecca’s mom. We’re sending all the best wishes for this relationship. Q Does he have.

S12: From my mom. That’s awesome.

S13: Cheers everything guys. It changes everything all right.

S8: Very nice. I have a fail but first I’m gonna deliver an update on a previous triumph. Good update. Yeah update we are now two thirds of the way through season two of Buffy. The girls were very upset about Angel. They’re very angry about Jenny calendar. I could not be happier. It’s going great. It’s like it’s the greatest but I have a fail for this week. It is back to school season so I don’t know if this is true of y’all. But for parents in my house it is back to trying to get your kids to tell you what happened at school season. Yep. Which means that once again I am failing to get Lyra to tell me a god damn thing that is happening at her school. And it’s not really the fail isn’t that I’m failing to get her to tell me anything that fail is that we are driving her crazy like she actually said that she said Mom Dad you are driving me crazy with this but I can’t stop myself from just like grilling her like not not grilling her because I think she did something wrong or something went wrong but I’m just like so desperately hungry for details of this new world she’s in she’s in high school and it’s a whole new school and they’re all new kids and opportunities and activities and things to be nervous about and things to be excited about and I am just fucking desperate to know anything about her day like right if they if they like Truman showed her high school experience. I would like quit my job and just watch that 24 hours a day. But so she gets home and we just like pepper her with questions and she makes it like 20 seconds like two questions Max before she’s just like Oh get off my back. We’re not satisfied yet and long ago on this show and I’ve early very early episode Alison recommended to me playing to truth and a lie with your kids as a way to get them to just tell you fucking paying about their day which we do at dinner still we have done it for years and we do it at dinner. It works sheet for now. She like grudgingly puts up with it but even that I can tell is like it’s a ticking time bomb and I just need a letter B which stick to fucking let it be. But we cannot let it be we want more. That is our fail that we are driving our child bananas with our bullshit all right before we move on. Let’s talk some business as always. If you have a question you would like us to answer on the air. Please leave us a message at 4 2 4 2 5 5 7 8 3 3. That’s 4 2 4 2 5 5 rude which is why my children are being to me when they don’t ask me about my day. Or you can email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com please sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter is the best place to find out about everything we’re doing on the parenting front.

S14: New episodes of Mom and Dad are fighting new additions of care and feeding all the other great parenting columns we do. Plus it’s just like a little personal letter for me that I send out every Thursday. That’s just like follow bullshit. It’s 100 percent bullshit total bullshit. Sign up it’s great you can sign up at Slate dot com slash parenting email. The next one goes out Thursday bullshit full.

S8: Also check out our Facebook. Just search for Slate parenting on Facebook. It’s a really great community. It is now 12000 user strong yet we moderate it and nearly every day. Gabe Roth kicked some schmuck out for being a dick so it doesn’t really get out of control. Gabe does a good job. I like kicking people out too. We got lots people kicking people out. It’s great. You get lots of great answers to questions great support from other parents. Plus you can respond to the episode or pose questions for us to answer in Slate Plus.

S15: Today we are talking about the parenting books that have really stuck with us in our parenting lives. We are going to answer to listener questions on the show today our very first one was email. Email ID.

S8: Our very first one was e-mailed to us. If you would like to e-mail us a question send it to Mom and Dad at Slate dot com and maybe your words will be read by the one and only Shashi.

S16: Dear Mom and Dad are fighting. I’m the step mom to an eight year old and a 6 year old and a new mom to a baby boy 10 weeks old. I love my family. Being home has been chill but not magical. I love bonding with my baby and for the most part still having the physical energy and emotional bandwidth for other areas of life. It’s not all roses. Sometimes I don’t leave the house for days and it can feel isolating. I’m returning to work in 10 days. I’m a nurse practitioner. I enjoy my job and I find it really satisfying. Before maternity leave I often left the office late and went in on weekends. I don’t want to do that. I have no concept of time. Never have and often end up working late with no idea how. But now I will have to leave on time to make it to daycare pickup. My partner works evenings. I’m also going to pump twice a day. Any advice on streamlining time management prioritizing pumping when I’m crunched for time I guess my bigger question is that right now I don’t see how returning to work is possible. I’m home now and the laundry is piled up. The sink is full. The trash barely makes it to the curb and there are diapers everywhere. My partner does a lot. Before I went on maternity leave he did 85 percent of household chores and a large majority of yard work. How do we keep the house running not spotless but functional. When I return to work how do I protect my time. I have so many practical and emotional worries surrounding returning to work. I feel uncertain and scared. This is the hard part that no one talks about. Please help.

S15: First of all congratulations on your wonderful new baby. Yes. Yes.

S17: I would like to highlight in starting to respond to this question. One point you made toward the end of this letter which is you determine you define keeping your house running as reaching a level of not spotless but functional.

S15: I would like to commend you on a great recognition of how having a baby requires that you start to lower your standards for things like housework and personal care and and honestly sometimes a job. I would urge you to lower your standards even further.

S14: Dysfunctional but surviving with the heat on is a fine state for your house to be in for the next two years. It doesn’t even have to be fully functional. Large chunks of it can just stop working completely yardwork. Fuck that shit send it out the door. Don’t do any yard work for the next 2 years let your yard grow. But in general the first large piece of advice I’d give to you is something that it seems like you’ve already. You already naturally understand and I would just urge you to continue embracing it which is to recognize and accept that all the aspects of your life that perhaps ran one way perhaps smoothly or beautifully before this baby are gonna run differently and are gonna feel broken for a while but that’s totally OK and fine and they will return to a level approaching normalcy as the years go on.

S15: The more that you can stop yourself from freaking out about the things that don’t feel right and instead accept them as just being the way things are for now the happier that you will be now on this question of going back to work this is a really fraught time for parents in general and moms in particular this moment of my baby is so so tiny.

S17: My baby is just starting to like get fun. You know 10 weeks is exactly the moment when your baby starts like just doing that doing stuff like smiling at you it’s just like not a meatloaf that shits in a diaper all the time it’s like an actual human creature.

S15: And it’s like a bummer to then be like this tiny thing who I’m just beginning to bond with I know I have to leave him for you know eight hours a day but I would. But it sounds also like you are a person who legitimately loves your job who finds it as you say satisfying who is doing good for people in the world.

S14: And there is an element of joy and liberation at returning to the world whole even after this amazing experience and returning to the thing that you do that gives you at least some part of your identity that puts you in the world in contact with and helping other people. And one way to start to become okay with the possibility as you say of returning to work is embracing the things that work gives you not just the money that the money is also great but the fulfillment the satisfaction the completeness that that work can offer you. I just don’t want you to discard that as you think about returning to this job that you profess to enjoy. So that’s your sort of macro things. I would also love to hear from Rebecca and Jamila about micro things that helped you when you all were coming back to this to the working world after maternity leave at this stage of life and whether they’re about pumping or other sort of hacks to keep this balance working as well as you can.

S10: Well I can tell you that one of the things that was interesting to me about this question also was that this new mom also has two step kids that she’s been co parenting sort of handily even before she had this baby and kind of balancing all these things. So I will tell you maybe you just have the stepkids part times maybe doesn’t fit we’ll feel quite as onerous and you know they’re not probably like a full time daycare because they’re school age and it’s different. But you’ve already got a lot of the pieces here. And I just want to reiterate what Dan said about enjoying the parts of your job that you enjoyed before. There is nothing wrong with that. And you are giving a gift to your kids if they see you immersed in a career that you find fulfillment in that you enjoy. If you have the kind of job where sometimes you lose track of time because you and you’re enjoying what you’re doing that is a gift as a gift to show your kids that that kind of career is possible. So even though you’re now faced with the very difficult and very practical issue of having to leave at a certain time to pick a pocket a certain time and you can’t do that like the fact that you want to be there that’s really really good and it is a really positive thing for your kids to see even if it’s practically difficult. The second thing that I’ll say is you’re a nurse practitioner. I’m guessing that you work in a setting either hospital setting or a private practice setting where you have a support staff there who can help you schedule your day and schedule around stuff. I promise you it would be really surprising to me if you were the first nursing mother to ever work at this practice or at this hospital. I would not hesitate to walk into work on the very first day and tell everyone you need to whether it’s your practice manager or your scheduler or your H.R. person or you know the perhaps the senior partner physician in your practice or senior partner nurse practitioner just say I’m really grappling with some of the logistics around this and I just need help I need to know how other moms have done it. I want to sort of replicate a model that works I don’t want to try to like go this on my own and try to figure something out and then not be serving my patients well and helping all of you well and serving my self Well look I just I need some structure I need some help it would probably be a huge relief to your colleagues if you just came out and said that because they probably have ideas or have a system or have thoughts and it probably will give them an opportunity to step up and help you. So that would be the first thing that I would do and I think it’s important important to know while you’re doing that and while you’re saying that is to also know that you are the 100 millionth maybe even more than that mom who has been in this exact same situation you are not alone if you talk to anybody else that you connect with through parent groups or your friends who’ve had babies or people at work who are recent parents you will find your people and you will find a tremendous sense of comfort in just talking to them about how they were able to manage at your specific workplace you know getting out of there at exactly five 515 or whatever it is you have to leave about building in those nursing break about not feeling guilty about walking into a house with a sink full of dirty dishes. Because honestly that is not important. And I think that makes me feel really good about your question is that it really does seem like you have already figured out what’s important. And I promise you that is 90 percent of the problem. You are 90 percent of the way there. The rest is just list making logistics figuring out what to outsource and figuring out what can just sit like your lawn. Maybe you can get a neighbor kid to do it for you for 20 bucks. Totally worth doing. You’re on the right track. You are 90 percent there and you are not alone.

S18: I think that’s great advice from both Dan and Rebecca. I would just add you know as somebody who also has no concept of time. And never has scheduling things via your phone. Or Apple Watch perhaps if you have it is incredibly helpful. So you know I knew that I had to pump it. I think I may maybe try to do it twice a day when I was nursing and only did it once a day when I was at work. But you know I put a reminder on my phone and I had multiple alerts to go off.

S19: So you know I’d have to stop in silence that so I couldn’t just forget to do it and my phone is always attached to my hip and you know it’s part of my work so other reminders related to all things baby going there can be helpful as well including you know giving yourself reminders before you need to leave the office or right.

S18: You’re saying I in the past could work and work and work all night you know without thinking about it. Obviously you had to go to daycare now so maybe the first one is if it takes you 20 minutes to drive there you get in and you know 10 minutes to get all your stuff packed up before it’s time to go that the first reminder maybe it goes off an hour before it’s time to go you know like OK it’s now it’s time for me to start wrapping things up and preparing to leave here and then the next when it’s 30 minutes before it’s time to go it’s like OK this is time for the last conversation. The last check in on a patient and it’s 15 minutes OK. I need to pack my bag and my milk out the refrigerator you know change shoes and I can get to the parking lot and gets the car on time and make it to daycare. Yes breast is best.

S7: However it’s not always possible for a mother to exclusively breastfeed or to breastfeed at all.

S19: And if you try and find that you have to either supplement your milk with the formula if you try and find that nursing does not work and I don’t mean try it at the hospital a couple of times and then maybe once or twice when you get home and give up but I mean really put forth the effort to attempt to make breastfeeding the only or the primary source of nutrition for your baby.

S18: It’s OK. It may not work for you and you may not be able to nurse as long as you’d want it. And that’s OK.

S15: Yeah that’s good advice.

S17: One other thing I would add is this is a little bit of a follow up to Rebecca’s point about going in on your first day and being very upfront with people about needing help to figure this out and navigate it is if you can pull this off.

S15: If your position and your seniority and your experience allow it be the person who has a baby in the office. Don’t hide that baby.

S17: Don’t feel like you’re sneaking away. Don’t be ashamed of leaving at five because you have to pick your baby up at daycare. Don’t make excuses or apologize for how you’re not available at a certain time because you’re pumping be the person who is doing this thing and set the example for everyone to your workplace. It’s going to benefit everyone in your workplace and it’s going to help you do this time management that you’re so worried about. If you are not spending huge amounts of like emotional energy worrying about what everyone thinks about you and if instead you are upfront about this very human situation in which you find yourself and in which as Rebecca notes hundreds of millions of other women have found themselves you are going to find it much easier to do the practical work of setting your schedule and making things happen really than to happen. If you’re not also fighting yourself about it and how you feel about it. I recognize this is not possible for everyone it’s not possible for huge numbers of people in all sectors of our economy but if you’re in a position at work where you can embrace that even if it makes you feel uncomfortable even if you’re talking through your guilt that you feel do it because that’s gonna make everything better for everyone else and for you.

S10: That’s right. And also being a nursing mother you know not you don’t have to be Norma Rae but you are in a protected class and you shouldn’t like wield that like a weapon. You should wear it like a beautiful outfit like you get to say I need to go pump now someone else is going to have to do this you need you have the ability to do that and you know as a as a health practitioner you probably you know maybe do have the agency to sort of work your schedule around it. And as Dan says it is really important to think of everybody that comes after you and the work the hard work that you’re doing to make it a better workplace for all the parents you are going to be working there in the years to come.

S15: All right. Good luck to our listener and once again congratulations on your new baby. I hope you guys are really really happy and I hope you return to work goes Great. Thanks for saying that question.

S17: It was sent via email once again if you’d like to send us an email with a question send it to Mom and Dad at Slate dot com. Here’s our second question it is once again read by the inestimable Shashi leotard.

S16: Dear Mom and Dad are fighting. I’m assist gender female married to assist gender male and me recently gave birth to a son. We both feel strongly about establishing a home with as little gender stereotyping as possible so our child feels accepted and loved regardless of his gender identification or sexual preferences later. We aren’t so naive to think that our son will not be exposed to gender stereotyping in his life. But my question involves how to talk about this with family members particularly are less than work parents. Our son is seven weeks old and already we’re hearing joking comments like Well he is male around things like eating and life centering around him. I find comments like these to be harmful not so much now but in the long run. Once our son is able to understand boys are expected to exhibit certain attributes. Do you have advice on how to broach the subject with their families. Do we wait to hear a comment and then correct. Or do we bring it up independently. On a side note both my husband and I are totally people pleasers and are terrible at confrontation particularly with his ultra sensitive mother how do we put our foot down on this and continue to do so as our little guy or whatever he identifies as later gets older. Thanks.

S20: Well you know I would say as someone who I think many of us and most of the folks that are writing into us as parents are Gen Xers or millennials and like the generations before us we are approaching parenting and family in ways that are oftentimes different than our parents. You know and most of us are children of boomers and that can be really tricky to navigate sometimes because we’re using language such as gender and talking about concepts that are not brand new but we’re not part of any sort of sustained national discourse in Mommy circles on the news really anywhere until quite recently and so as we see some of our peers struggling to understand the importance of affirming the ability for children to identify their gender expression for themselves and wanting to raise them in ways that allow them to explore and you know make decisions and share things about who they are with us and for us to love and affirm and nurture them through that certainly are our parents and grandparents are even less equipped to.

S18: Understand some of the the reasons and the urgency behind doing that unfortunately. So I think that considering that you and your partner are both non confrontational and tend to be people pleasers and do not want to upset or frustrate your parents and that this sounds like the sort of conversation that’s going to be really difficult to have with these particular family members that you’ve described.

S19: I would not say let’s bring this to them before something has been said you know but it but rather when someone makes a comment about well you know he’s a he’s a growing boy and you know boys love to eat or you know. Well of course he’s doing that because that’s what boys do that in that moment you as best as you can gently say hey you know we really want steven to we don’t want steven to feel that there’s anything he has to do or should do or does because he’s a boy. And I know that maybe a little bit different than how you’re used to operating but we just ask that you try to refrain from saying things like that particularly when he’s old enough to hear it because it’s one thing for you know someone to look at a three month old baby and say yeah look at that little guy he’s got quite the appetite. You know maybe he’s going to play football and another for someone to say that to a 3 year old child who can hear it. And I would say in the interests of picking my battles wisely I think that with people that may be closer to your peer group folks they’re gonna be part of your day to day life.

S18: It’s easier to have or maybe more urgent to have a conversation you know from the beginning about let’s talk about parenting philosophy and why this is important to us and why we do not want to engage in gender stereotyping we don’t want to raise a little boy who is violent or aggressive or feels that he is inadequate if he doesn’t take a natural interest in sports or having crushes on girls or if he wants to do things that are you know traditionally associated with girls and femininity you know we simply we don’t want to do that we don’t want to limit him those ways simply manage your expectations you know your loved ones you know who’s going to take issue with or be just horribly confused and devastated to hear these things and and who’s going to be able to at least try and be onboard with you and focus on you know your conviction that you know you’re doing the right thing for your child and how you will speak to him about these issues I think is ultimately going to be more impactful and more important than how these other family members and folks around you will engage him.

S15: That’s a really crucial point. Yes that that it’s him that matters in the end and how you talk to him you’re gonna have way more of an impact than any of these people no matter what. I’m interested in this answer. A lot I agree with so much of it but I think I disagree a little with one tenant and I am interested for Rebecca to be the tiebreaker on this one. I don’t think that you have to necessarily continue that talk with your parents into the realm of this is how we feel and we don’t want to make gender central statements in this house and this is why it’s important to us even gently even kindly.

S17: I think you have a little time before you need to do that necessarily especially if you’re a person who’s doesn’t love competition especially if you have an ultra sensitive mother in law.

S15: I think there’s maybe a way around that you know if you’re I don’t know Rebecca Lavoy who loves confrontation with her mother maybe you just go ahead and do it right away.

S21: But I don’t think you have to. You have a solid two years before your baby is gonna have any recognition of what the hell is going on at all. Probably even honestly a little bit more than that. So you’ve got those two years to spend exhibiting for your parents and for anyone else of that older generation who likes to talk about babies in a certain way the way that you watch talk about gender in your house and to your child you can exhibit that at all the things that you do. And I’m sure you already are exhibiting this in all the ways that you live in the way that you dress that baby in the way you talk about that baby in the way you think about that baby and you can do that. You can exhibit that behavior on a day to day basis while correcting the stray comment that comes in with a sort of airy and light a touch as possible. Right. Well he is a male. Well he’s a baby. All babies love to eat don’t they. Yes they do. Yes they do. You don’t necessarily then have to go the next step from there to. And it’s very important to us to talk this way because we don’t want to raise a child who believes et cetera et cetera et cetera. I would just suggest that you can you might be really surprised how much that can sink in. If grandparents hear that every time they’re in your house and every time they make a comment like that and they hear it without judgment they hear it without reprimand but they see you exhibiting that as lightly and as charmingly and as sweetly as possible. And a lot of grandparents will just start to adopt that phrasing even if they kind of think it’s silly even if they kind of don’t get it they’ll just do it because they’ll get that those are the rules. Now that’s not true of everyone. It’s not true of every grandparent that are playing grandparents who will hear that once and they’ll be like What are you talking about. You don’t believe that a boy should be big and strong and then you’ve got to get into it with him. But a lot of grandparents will and if two years from now they’re not maybe then sit him down and have that conversation and talk to him about why it’s important. But if you’re really allergic to confrontation or you really think it will damage that relationship. This is maybe one other alternate route. What do you think Rebecca.

S10: I think that this writer in her is coming to this question with a lot of unsaid things from previous interactions with these parents. And I think it’s really coloring her sense of how this could go with a seven week old It does seem early to be you know worrying this degree about these things although good for her for like being proactive about thinking about it. Do you know her philosophy of parenting around gender and keeping every door open and opening up all these possibilities. But I am guessing there have been interactions before that have not gone well which are waving her off and helping her try to script the interaction that she really wants to have around this because she’s carrying some worry about something that has previously occurred. So what I would suggest and this is really hard to do. Trust me I know that it’s hard to do because I try to do it all the time and it’s one of the hardest things I do. But it often pays off the most is to when you find yourself in one of these interactions that is directly counter to everything that you’ve decided. A that you want for your baby but that B is also going to be problematic with your grandparents with your baby’s grandparents and your relationship around raising the baby go into those situations with a fully open heart to the possibility that these people have nothing but the best intentions they may be wrong they may be saying stereotypical and stupid things but they are coming into it with love and with good intentions.

S9: And what happens when you decide that that’s what’s happening is it really can change the way you communicate back in the moment. You might find yourself saying instead of Hey I really don’t like that expression. It means this and it means this and it means this and it’s going to set up our kid for all sorts of issues around gender. Later you can say hey what do you mean by that. Because when I hear it I hear this and you know it makes me uncomfortable because of this. When you assume good intentions you find yourself asking more questions than you do leaping to confrontation and you often find yourself in a situation where the confrontations you most fear are actually not necessary because when you assume good intentions it opens the path to like a real conversation about it that can happen organically rather than having to be planned at some brunch that you’re like dreading for weeks and weeks and weeks.

S10: So I would give a or have exactly. Yeah I mean I think that you’re both right that the best thing to do here is to demonstrate your own parenting to the people that are going to be interacting with your kid and demonstrate it hard and fast and feel free to just like draw lines around what you do and your kid will embody your values that is typically what happens.

S9: But then in those moments where things get uncomfortable snap out of the mindset of oh god oh god there’s gonna be some sort of confrontation that I’m dreading and I don’t know what to say and should we do it now which would later snap out of that mindset and try to get into a mindset where you’re thinking hey listen grandma just thinks she’s being funny grandma thinks that this is the way that we talk about babies in 2019. So let’s just like assume that she loves my baby and is trying to be funny and trying to make everyone at the table laugh and let’s take it from there and see what happens. That’s what I would do.

S22: I think that’s really good advice. I’m gonna say that you basically agreed with me but I don’t know if that’s actually true.

S23: To be fair you actually also agree with me Dan because I know I rambled a little bit but for the record I said I don’t think you need to have a serious confrontation particularly with the grandparent. Definitely not a confrontation right.

S19: That you know as things come up you can just kind of redirect the language but that you don’t right now because the baby’s so young you know you don’t really need to have a conversation about parenting pedagogy unless it’s with somebody else that’s going to have extended amount of time with your kid too.

S15: Right right right yeah. That’s fair. All right. Good luck to you listener. You are indeed more than work unlike your parents. Great job. We’re very proud of you for the job that you’re doing raising this young gentleman. Whatever gender he ends up identifying with. Thank you for writing in once again.

S24: If you’d like advice from us write us and mom and dad at Slate dot com or go to sleep parenting Facebook page and leave a question there it now is the time on the show when we choose items or concepts and recommend them to you a little part I like to call recommendations. Rebecca would you like to start so creative.

S10: Yes I would like to start with a new cooking staple that I have in my house this autumn which my BSF Molly introduced to me. I. I do like to cook and bake but I like a lot of people don’t have a lot of time to do the kind of cooking and baking that I love to do especially this time of year because I live in the country and we lived down the road from an orchard and we’ve got like apples and like fresh peaches at our disposal. So last weekend my friend Molly brought over this like incredible. We just had this like spontaneous get together my house that we didn’t even plan in advance so I was like How did you do this. But she brought over this incredible fruit tart which was just like fresh peaches and brown sugar and fresh blueberries and stuff and this incredible pastry. And she was just like Yeah I just buy the puff pastry and the tube at the grocery store it’s really awesome. So my recommendation is and my kids loved it and everybody there loved it. My recommendation is to go to the Specialty Food section of your grocery store the refrigerated section. Run don’t walk get yourself some of the puff pastry it comes like in this weird like tube container and you can use it to make all sorts of incredible things that people will be really impressed by that your kids will love that you can like use up all the fresh fruit sitting on your counter. That’s about to like it flies and stuff. Peaches blueberries plums apples whatever you’ve got lying around you can throw in a puff pastry so good. So I’m going to provide a link to some very simple recipes that I found using this said precooked puff pastry and that is my recommendation for this week. Random Walk.

S25: Puff pastry time fall fruit season is a great time to invest in some puff pastry and make some various desserts. The only problem with that puff pastry is that I just don’t like the exploding tubes the exploding tubes freak me out.

S24: You know like you tear the Press your thumb in there and then it’s like wham.

S15: And I I have to make my wife open it. It’s too scary okay.

S10: It’s like that the Pillsbury rolls do that to us. You know Sarah.

S8: It’s like opening a bottle of champagne too much suspense writer a party or like mother’s party poppers. I gotta go blow up the Jack in the box it’s going to explode it’s too much to any scares too many jump scares in my kitchen I’m going to recommend today an extremely good obituary this obituary was published this week in the Hartford Courant it is for a guy named Joe Heller not Joseph Heller the novelist but just some dude named Joe Heller who worked in like a chemical factory for a while and was on the school board.

S14: He died September 8th at the age of 82 in Center Brook Connecticut. The obituary is written by his three daughters. It is packed with great stories and it is a remarkable tribute to a guy who just sounds like an absolute and total fucking weirdo. I’m going to read to Representative passages. These are very short passages from a very long obituary passage 1 Joe was a self-taught chemist and worked at cheese burrow ponds where he developed one of their first cosmetic lines. There he met the love of his life Irene who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum. Boy was she ever wrong. Joe embarrassed her daily with his mouth and choice of clothing. That’s number one. Number two Joe was a frequent shopper at the Essex dump and he left his family with a house full of crap 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with. If there was ever a Treasurer that he snatched out from under you. Among the mounds of junk. Please wait the appropriate amount of time to contact the family to claim your loot were available tomorrow anyway it is an incredible obituary because the longer you read it the more you realize just how much love these three daughters had for their hilarious gross father. I ended up crying at the end of pituitary and I dream of living the kind of life that would spur my daughters to write fifteen hundred completely insane words in the local newspaper. When I croak it is completely great. I will put a link on the show page. I recommend Joe Heller’s obituary Joe Heller. I’m sorry I never met you except for that. Apparently if I met you you would bake sweet rolls that look like piles of shit and serve them to me at breakfast.

S23: According to your obituary Jamila what do you recommend that I’m sure of when you pass away your children are going to write a wonderfully ridiculous obituary.

S6: I better get 2030. I would like to recommend the game heads up.

S23: I may be extremely late to the party on this and that and I’ve played it with friends of mine in the past and played other games like it but my daughter recently got hooked on it and it’s that you know I’m sure you have seen it a game that got popular from Ellen’s show where you know there there’s a number of trivia categories and there’s only a few that would be appropriate for most children.

S6: We’ve tried the celebrity one daughter looked at me like Who are these white folks. I don’t know any of these names like Frank Sinatra was one of them I remember that. Yeah. But it’s just so much fun.

S23: They have they have a category specific for children and they have a general one that’s pretty simple you know it may be something like. It’s like it’s like playing charades you know you’ve got your phone a tap your head and the phrases there and the person you’re playing with is trying to get you to guess it without saying the words and my kid will absolutely say some of the words from that phrase sometimes but it’s cute and endearing and we have a ton of fun playing it and it’s something that we can do and goobers while waiting for dinner at a restaurant or in the doctor’s office waiting to be called. It has been a godsend. It fills gaps of silence. It allows us to be actively engaged with one another. It is a lot of fun.

S25: Heads up is a great game for little kids and bigger kids too.

S15: It is also great because it’s the rare game that if you are willing if you and another parent are willing to give up your phones for a few minutes.

S25: To kids who really don’t know each other that well and are still trying to figure out like what to do with each other can instantly dive into like Harper has played this game during car rides with boys who she had to share a car with and they have successfully played this game across the back seat and had a great time doing it. It’s like if they instantly fall into it and get it and I would I would definitely second this recommendation. There’s also the the board game version had bands where there’s actually like little things that you there’s cards that you pull out and then you put them into actual physical headbands that you wear and these all of course are derived from what Ali’s family has forever called the toilet paper game in which you just write the name of a thing on a piece a long strip of toilet paper and then tie it around someone’s head like a like a samurai headband so you can play it even if you don’t have to buy the app but the app is great for just kids to like kill 10 minutes with her for you to kill 10 minutes with them yes I would definitely second that recommendation.

S8: That is our show.

S26: Thank you so much for listening. If you have a question you’d like to ask us on the air once again leaves a message for 2 4 2 5 5 7 8 3 3. Email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com and of course please join us on Facebook just search for sleep parenting on Facebook dot com.

S27: Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by just Jupiter for Jamilah Lemieux and Rebecca Lavoy. I’m Dan Quayle. Thanks for listening.

S17: Hello. Slate Plus listeners thank you so much for being members of Slate Plus Slate’s membership program. Your support helps us do all the things that we do just as well as we did them before.

S8: But sitting in fancier chairs and eating fancier food that’s not true actually pays people’s salaries and stuff so we always do a bonus segment for you guys. Each episode and this week I have been thinking a lot about parenting books because plug alert my book is coming out next week.

S28: You know it’s a memoir and that is journalism and blah blah blah but basically you know it’s a parenting book and I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting books that I have read and that have meant a lot to me during my parenting life. So I asked my two co-hosts to come here with a parenting book that has meant a lot to them in their lives and going gonna talk about them.

S15: But I will start this conversation by talking about a book that I have no idea if you two have ever heard of or read but which has been incredibly crucial to the way I think about not only parenting but writing about parenting and thinking about parenting and and now podcasting about parenting including it’s a book called Madeleine’s world.

S28: And it came out in 1997 by a writer named Brian Hall. Brian Hall is mostly a novelist. He’s written a couple of novels that I that did fairly well in the United States one called Pisarski and one about Lewis and Clark.

S15: But this is a non-fiction book and it’s pitched as a biography of his daughter Madeline from birth to her third birthday and it’s written with the same kind of care and attention that any biographer or reporter would give the subject of their biography.

S14: But it focuses incredibly narrowly on the first three years of this human being’s life. This human being who he spent every day with and you would think maybe that a book like this that it would become like boring to read about some other person’s kid for you know 200 pages or whatever but it’s not it’s not at all because Brian Hall brings this incredible eye for detail and this sense of wonder to these first three years three years that he acknowledges are full of hardship and difficulty but are also these insanely crazy three years where your kid goes from being like nothing to being a nearly fully functional human being.

S24: And the way he tracks the learning and development that happens is just really really great. And it was a great reminder I mean reading it of how like in those years your kid is learning all these things that it never even dawned on you before you were a parent that kids even had to learn like kids have to learn how to jump they aren’t born just knowing how to jump in the air. And so your kid will spend a week just being like I’m going to jump and then they just stand there looking like they’re pooping their pants while they try to jump and they can’t even get off the ground. And then one day they get it and they jump and they’re so happy and just like those first three years are just full of moments like that. And as a parent I lived them and enjoyed them and loved them. And then like ninety nine percent of them fell out of my brain and Madeline’s world this book by Brian Hall is a great reminder of a bunch of these things and just more generally about the incredible sweep of development that happens over those three years.

S15: And the thing that was sort of most important about this book to me is that the book is great because of Brian Hall. Paying attention paying attention to his kids like close attention even to the boring parts. And I’m not going to say that I’m great at that all the time. But the book is an object lesson in the real value of doing that you know and that’s really hard. A lot of time is parroting just sort of like floats by in a blur. It’s like when you’re like driving long distance and you’re on fuckin Interstate 80 going across Kansas or whatever and all of a sudden you’re like Oh I’ve been driving for twenty five minutes and I have no idea what has just happened I’ve just like it’s just been a blur like parenting is like that sometimes and those are often the worst times in parenting. It’s just like flying by. And this book is just like a great reminder and lesson to pay attention.

S17: I really love this book and I I just think everyone should read it. It’s not a sort of traditional parenting guide it’s just a very literary thoughtful book about what it is like to be a parent. I really love it.

S9: That sounds lovely. Like I actually want to read that now. I never want to read parenting books. Sorry.

S8: I mean they’re far enough away from your 0 3 3 that I’ll probably like revisiting a whole new world.

S10: I do remember one of my favorite things that toddlers do that I hear both of my kids doing spontaneously and it’s hard to know if they’re doing it because they got positive reinforcement the first time they did it and people think it’s cute or because it’s just like a real instinct is like I’m being in retail stores with my kids and they would walk under the speaker that was playing music and just immediately stop and start dancing and place like dance where they just bounce up and down against like this sort of like no they can’t stop themselves and then you laugh at it you’re like Oh my God that’s so cute and then they keep doing it and you wonder how much of it at that point is like I’m trying to please you and then just like meeting to dance at Target like so badly. But yes babies are the best they really are.

S15: Tell me your recommendation Rebecca.

S13: Well mine is a parenting book disguised as a relationship book. It’s I it’s actually I believe this may have been. We can go back in the archives and check my very first recommendation ever on Mom and Dad are fighting back when I was a guest host was one of my first or second ones. It’s a book by Melissa Orlov. It’s called The ADHD Effect on Marriage and it is ostensibly Well it is on its face actually not just ostensibly a book about being in a partnership where one or both people have ADHD and how to communicate and how to overcome conflict and all of the like inevitable pitfalls that come up what it actually is is a completely essential Handbook for Living with anyone with ADHD especially I think kids because I think about the practical advice in this book and you know how we are taught to navigate adult relationships in books like this is what you’re basically doing is like seeing the other person in the partnership as a human being right and like understanding that they’re different than you and understanding that what they mean when they don’t switch the laundry is this and not that not that they hate you and all that. And the way that it’s framed to me always worked so much better when I was considering the different ways that my son who has ADHD was frustrating to me. And that you know it wasn’t that he wouldn’t or that he hated me or that he liked being yelled at or that whatever but that it was like he was different and he can’t and seeing the words in this context and by the way full disclosure I bought this book for my husband because I am super ADHD and when Teddy was going through like his early diagnosis and stuff I thought it would be helpful for him. We both ended up reading it and talking about it all the time in the context of parenting. So it’s called The ADHD Effect on Marriage. It’s by Melissa Orlov it has a terrible subtitle understand and rebuild your relationship in six steps. I don’t don’t worry about the steps it isn’t one of these books where you can literally just open it up to any page and you’ll find something useful for dealing with the ADHD child or adults in your life. But mostly the child I really love this book.

S25: I like that mine was very where we were in years is very practical and that’s of course a very different kind of parenting book but one that when it’s done right is as you say it’s like this repository of wisdom and you can dip into it anywhere at any time and find something that you can then put to like immediate practical use.

S7: I have to say that I like Rebecca I’m not someone who has a library full of parenting books. I didn’t read anyone I was pregnant. You know people gave me the what to expect and all that you know standard issue guides and I just didn’t want anything to do with that. And I was hesitant for a really long time. I don’t know why. I think part of it is that there’s so many parenting books that just seem to speak to experiences that are unlike mine you know and so they’re often talking about having a partner in the house where we’re co parenting from two different households. So I only want to read the book that’s written from that perspective. They’re oftentimes talking about conflicts and things that we’re not dealing with some like whatever I’ll just figure this out on my own for the most part. You know she’s alive. She’s cool.

S6: She’s here. So I’ve flown by the seat of my pants to some extent but one book that I found really helpful. How to talk a little kids will listen. By Joanna Fabre and Julie King my CO parents and I really attempts to discipline in ways that are affirmative as opposed to a panel.

S23: And you know we don’t spank or engage in other forms of corporal punishment.

S19: We are raising what we see so far to be a very headstrong outspoken independent child with a razor sharp tongue to say the least.

S29: And so there are there have been moments where conversations have been difficult.

S23: You know we don’t want to yell we don’t want to scream We don’t want to berate her nor do we want her wallowing in guilt. So when she’s made some sort of you know small or big mistake and I felt that this book did a really good job there’s two editions of it I believe that the how to talk to little kids listen is for kids like two to seven and then there’s one how to talk to so that kids will listen for older children. How much is that really practical ways to redirect you know your frustration or your anger or your confusion when your child is laying out having a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store for the third time that we go or refusing to eat or having an issue with a sibling and speaking to them in language that they’ll understand because they are speaking a very different language than we are even when they’re highly verbal.

S7: You know and and have extensive vocabularies there are you know I’ve heard my daughter say things that were incredibly sophisticated and and been impressed by them but then had to realize that she had no idea what just came out of her mouth. Right. And there were times where she said something very that sounded very simple but it was actually incredibly wise and insightful you know. But but she is not entirely fluent in the language of adulthood. I am not entirely fluent in the language of 6 year olds but. But this book has been really helpful in helping us to bridge that communications gap.

S15: That’s a great recommendation. You’re absolutely right that I think a lot of people share your antipathy toward the idea of parenting books because they don’t reflect their experience or just because you can have one bad experience with the parenting book.

S17: Often it’s what to expect when you’re expecting that is just like so luxury her it instantly makes you feel like shit for something you’ve done that like the idea of subjecting yourself to that willingly. It’s like beyond the pale why would you do that why would I read a book written by someone who thinks I’m an asshole. And so that makes them more valuable to me when I find a book that does actually speak to something that’s useful for me or necessary to me or something that is beautiful to me about parenting because they sometimes seem few and far between. Thank you guys for sharing those books. I hope listeners found something useful in that as well. And thank you listeners for being members of Slate Plus Slate’s membership program. Once again we really appreciate all that you do for the magazine and the work that we do.

S15: We will talk to you next week by.