Suburban Appropriation Edition

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

S2: Welcome to Mom and Dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday September 26. The suburban appropriation edition. I’m Rebecca Lavoy a journalist and host of the podcast crime writers on I live in New Hampshire and my kids are Henry who’s 18. Teddy who’s 16 and a half and I have a stepdaughter Lily who is 19.

S3: I’m Jamilah Lemieux. I’m a writer and a contributor to Slate’s weekly Parenting column. Karen feeding and mom to Naima who is 6 and we live in Inglewood California. Hi this is Amy Scott. I am a middle school teacher and contributor to Slate’s ask a teacher column and I am mom to Arlo and Patrick who just turned 5 today on the show. We’ve got a question from a parent wondering if she should say something about the inappropriate appropriation going on in her community.

S4: Spoiler alert I’m guessing we’re gonna say yes. Not sure that we’ll find out.

S2: Plus a question about addressing body image when raising kids in a culture that’s perhaps a little more comfortable dissing fat people. And on Slate Plus how to deal with teachers when red flags around test scores homework or whatever crop up this early in the school year. If you want to hear that conversation join us on Slate Plus at Slate dot com slash mom and dad. Plus now onto the show to kick things off. We’ve got triumphs and fails Jamilah Lemieux. Do you have a triumph or a fail this week.

S5: I have a triumph this week. For those who are keeping score let me know how many I’ve gotten thus far because I think I’m bad kind of low so my daughter has school picture day on the 2nd of October which is like next week. I don’t know where September went. I misplaced it because it’s gonna be October and I am currently in New York. I am moving to L.A. for real for real for real. On Monday I’ve been shit talking about that all summer and I just happen to take a look at the school calendar because her dad hadn’t mentioned it which I’m not surprised by. You know he’s not usually the one flag school picture day. I noticed that picture day was coming up. I’m like oh my gosh it’s happening while I’m there so do I try to wait for this. You know briefed it time that I’ll be in California to take her dress shopping. I’m like No that’s going to be too stressful. I need to pick out something you know on my own here. And I managed to buy a dress on my own with no input from her that she really liked. She sent me five thumbs up emojis nice indicating her approval and it’s not that I don’t I don’t have a problem picking out my daughter’s clothes she likes you know I understand her sense of style. She tends to like the things that I you know I like for her. But when it comes to something like picture day she has this thing where she just needs to downvote anything I come up with. Right.

S6: The last few years it’s been like now just because I said that I thought it was pretty and so that I was able to do it in one shot. I’m very happy about it also could just be that she misses me that much because we spent most of the summer apart that she would just like OK Mommy you buy me a dress I’ll take you but either way triumph for me huge triumph five emojis that’s a lot that’s a lot.

S4: All right. AMY SCOTT triumph or a fail. What do you got for us.

S7: I have a triumph that started as a fail of course. And so I dropped the boys ad before school care at seven between seven and some 15. I go to teach all day I come back I pick them up at 4:00 we’re home by 415 for 30 and we are all exhausted. And so when they you know inevitably ask to watch TV I always plan to say either. Let’s wait until after dinner or you know OK but only 45 minutes and then I say yes. And and you know two hours go by. And I mean we’re all just exhausted like completely wiped out. And and it’s not even like I don’t even make them watch TV together. You know Arlo has Down syndrome so he’s developmentally different and he comes to me who has ah up which is his way of saying Garfield. And so and I say you won’t watch Garfield. And he says Yeah. Pew pew and computer. And so I sent him in my room and he watches Garfield on the computer which is a funny little show but it’s literally the only thing he watches.

S8: And then Patrick goes in the living room and he watches like garbage on YouTube like it this is not educational. This is not like you know family bonding screen time. It’s just I mean I think last time I was on the podcast I talked about the hobby kids which was like candy to watch it but this it’s gotten even worse.

S9: Like he’s watching this family’s YouTube channel now that is terror.

S10: It’s scripted it’s terribly scripted.

S7: It’s the most wooden acting you’ve ever heard. I can’t even be in the room when he’s watching it because it bothers me so bad. So I’m like either cooking dinner or doing a puzzle or reading my book or something. So it’s not a good situation.

S8: And I’ll oftentimes I’ll have a difficulty getting them to the table for dinner. And Patrick’s usually starving by the time he gets home so he eats from the time he walks in the door to the time he goes to bed. Arlo he just wants to watch Garfield.

S7: So yesterday I decided that we were all gonna sit at the table together. We’re all going to eat dinner together. And so I cajoled Patrick into coming to the table and then I went and I said to Arlo you know we’re gonna stop now we’re gonna go eat eat dinner. And he pitches a giant fit throws himself on the floor like wailing and you know I’m so tired from I’m a single mom and so I’m so tired that oftentimes you know I just feel like saying we’ll fine you don’t want to eat the lovingly heated up Birdseye dinner that I made for you then fine. Like just go watch Garfield but I is the lesson that I keep learning and forgetting is that the best thing to do with a tantrum is to write it out just. I just was like You know I I know you’re upset because you want to be watching Garfield and periodically I’d say your dinner’s on the table whenever you want to eat it.

S11: And sure enough like eight minutes in he like stands up wipes his nose on his shirt. He comes to the table and like eats dinner with us. And I was like Right Why do I keep forgetting this just like it’s OK to have a tantrum. You can even set up a tantrum you know like you know it’s coming. You can set it up and then you just wait and they’ll come out of it when they come out of it as long as I freak out. So that was my triumph. That is huge. That’s very good.

S4: I mean I think you’re gonna forget every time. It’s very triggering and there’s nothing wrong there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging in the moment that my kid is being annoying and I’m triggered by that.

S12: But yeah I mean it is true that sometimes you just have to write it out in a very good way of putting it. I’m very impressed. Good job. Thank you. I have a fail. It just has to do with the fact that like I’ve completely forgot about all my kids personality isn’t communicated something in a really bad and callous way that I did not mean to communicate. So one of our dogs have two dogs and one of them cannot catch a break. She’s just been going through like a couple of years of just like weird illnesses and she’s only like 10 but she appears like a 20 year old dog she’s just like very horribly sad looking and we found out this week we got some not so great news that this persistent leg issue she has is probably a bone tumor which is just all bad news like in every possible way. And I you know told my older son who was away at college I you know send him attacks and I just FII Friday’s not doing great. She might have a bone tumor but she’s not due to have another X-ray for a few weeks and I know you’re coming home then. So like you know I will let you know if anything else happens before then but I am pretty sure she’s still going to be around like by the time you get here and he was like okay great thanks letting me know. So he’s that kid right pragmatic get the information. Thank you for telling me. Keep me in the loop yada yada. And so right after I finish texting him my younger son walked in the door from work and I just repeated what I said to his brother forgetting that he is in fact a different person and is super attached and sentiments both around the animals and he just burst into tears and was like that’s terrible news and why would you just say it like it was like Oh shit.

S4: Because in my mind like I was I was thinking like I was just like OK I’m going to be efficient and not have to because I’m upset you know not have to like yeah I totally blew it. And then I had to like say OK we pause and rewind and go back and I gave you the contacts and we can talk about like what some of the potentials are but he’s so like the egg. I mean he looks like a giant man. You know he has a job now he’s working like three works a week in addition to go to school he’s driving and I succumb to the illusion that I could in fact be cavalier about that terminal health issues that our dog seems to have and that was a huge fail that I had to walk back like the White House trying to walk back that memo it just sent to Nancy Pelosi when it was meant for Republicans. But anyway it was not good. It was really not good. I’m sorry. Oh thank you. Thank you. Well Brady was our first. I mean she’s been around for a while but she’s definitely she for dog can’t catch a break. It’s one of those dogs where you’re like I actually the other morning I woke up and I thought she had died because she was just sleeping soundly. And my first thought was literally like Well way to go. Because it just would it wouldn’t be unexpected. You know what I mean.

S13: Yeah. Yeah. We have a relationship with our mortality is a little bit more casual. Dog.

S14: All right let’s do some business Slate’s parenting newsletter is the best place to be notified about all of our parenting content including Mom and Dad are fighting care and feeding. Ask a teacher and much more. Sign up at Slate dot com slash parenting e-mail by the way one other tip I can give you is check out this week’s edition of How to the podcast from Slate. It features Dan Kois and his family talking about their worldwide family adventure so check that out the podcast is called How to. And as always if you have a question you want us to answer on the podcast. Leave us a voice message at 4 2 4 2 5 5 7 8 3 3. Or you can email us at mom and dad at Slate AECOM and your question might get read by the amazing Sasha Leonor. Also check out our Facebook group. Just search for Slate parenting on Facebook. It’s a super fun community and we moderate it so it doesn’t get out of control. In Slate Plus today we’re taking advantage of the fact that we’ve got a teacher here a real life teacher. We’re going to be talking about this particularly tricky time in our kids academic years when test scores start to roll in etc. and what to do about it when those red flags get raised to hear segments like that and to get ad free podcasts sign up for our membership program. It’s called Slate Plus and it’s a great way to support us for just 35 dollars for your first year. You can help cover the cost of producing Mom and Dad are fighting and your other favorite Slate shows and of course you’ll get extended ad free versions of this show and other great slate shows and a ton of other benefits. So if you want to support mom and dad are fighting. Go to Slate dot com slash mom and dad plus to join Slate Plus today. OK. Let’s go back to the show. All right it’s time for our first listener question. This question was sent in by email to Mom and Dad at Slate dot com and is being read for us by Sasha our Hi Mom and Dad.

S15: Last year my family and I moved to a small suburban town. The community is upper middle class and nearly all white one of the most popular community activities for elementary school children is Indian Guides and Indian princesses. I was a bit horrified at the name but I like that there is an activity designed for fathers and their children. The program has been around since the 1920s the creation of a St. Lewis YMCA director and in an Ojibwe Tribe member named Joe Friday a quote attributed to Friday encapsulates the program’s ties to American Indian themes. Quote The Indian father raises his son. He teaches his son to hunt to track to fish to walk softly and silently in the forest. To know the meaning and purpose of life and all that he must know while the white man allows the mother to raise his son. End quote the YMCA dropped the Indian theme in 2002 and renamed the program adventure guides. But my town has held out for another 17 years. I tried to look past the name but the first event of the year involves gluing feathers and glitter to ponchos and then wearing them in a parade along with the chiefs in full village people head dresses. They do a few more events over the year including marching in a Memorial Day parade. Also with the chiefs in head dresses marching alongside war vets there is an overnight camping event as well the children do not learn about native American culture at all. Lots of families participate in this program and my husband wants to meet more dads in the community. Is there a way to preserve the tradition of father child activity but get the community to drop the cultural appropriation. Thanks.

S7: Oh I will go first.

S9: I think this is I mean the answer obviously is yes you need to do something about it. I mean this is kind of horrifying. And I guess I live in sort of a progressive bubble but whenever I hear about these things I’m like you guys have not gotten rid of this yet. Like it’s like when I don’t know when people you know show up someplace in blackface and I’m like How have you not gotten this memo yet. This is it’s crazy that it’s gone on this long. It’s offensive. It’s stereotypical and it’s just not a healthy approach to what they’re trying to do with this program. In addition the whole Indian princesses thing. I hate that because it’s sexist. I mean there’s just so many problems with this.

S10: But you said last year you moved to this community and that’s I think the hard part is because you don’t have the connections or the sway to make this kind of declaration or this kind of sweeping change. I think that you’re going to have to say you’re going gonna have to enroll some other people in this quest.

S16: People who have been there longer like Have you talked about. Have you talked to other people about this are other people in agreement. Have you found people who are like yes it is equally as horrifying to me as it is to you. And you’re going to have to get them to do the talking the ones who have lived there longer and have more connections more sway with the community. And that’s the only way I can see it changing. I don’t think people listen to you since you’ve been there for a year. But definitely definitely do something about it because these these things need to change and the sooner the better.

S17: This just seems so extreme to me.

S4: I mean first of all it’s a lot wrong with it. Aside from the cultural appropriation is also a lot of hetero normative bullshit going on with this event. You know I always get really kind of triggered by sort of like events designed for dads to like be given some sort of exalted role for just I don’t know showing up and doing some shame with your kids like it bothers me. It really does and also the the quote attributed to Joe Friday encapsulating the program’s ties to the American Indian themes sucks as quotes go No it really does it’s not. It’s not a tradition I would hang my hat on or something I’d be proud to extol. You know I understand the pressure of not speaking up a lot as Amy said you’re new to the community. It is amazing to me. It would be amazing to find out you were the only person who feels this way and is horrified and one way you can couch it at this if you get people together and who are seem willing to talk about it is would you be comfortable if a photo of you at your family’s participating in this event where the lead photo unlike the NBC Nightly News and there was like a bunch of talking heads talking about how awful you all are because you are if you’re sharing this event and that is exactly something that could happen photos getting posted to social media.

S12: I mean this is the kind of thing that like you know could make news in some way were to continue along this vein. And were you know our society to continue to become more and more aware of how inappropriate appropriation is.

S4: This has got to stop. If your town has a Facebook discussion group or forum that might be a good place to raise the question post something like does anyone else have a problem with us. I would like to convene a conversation about it get some signatures on a petition show up do not let your husband and kids participate in this event. Don’t do it. It is millions of other ways he can meet other dads and other people in the community does not have to be this Don’t participate absolutely speak up. There’s everything about this is wrong. That’s my opinion. What about you Jamilah.

S18: You know I agree with you both and I don’t have to too much to add but I will say I where I disagree is I don’t think this is a matter of people not knowing better at this point you know because we hear that so often I say how how could you still not know this. In 2019 we typically hear that when somebody has been caught and the excuses I didn’t know better I honestly believe that the vast majority of adults that participate in any sort of blackface you know putting on quote unquote Indian clothes wearing tribal makeup you know anything of the sort. They know that what they’re doing offends and harms people of color people that actually belong to those cultures and they don’t care what they have decided is that it’s not either it’s. I simply don’t care or it’s not that big a deal you guys in their hard right maybe offended.

S19: You’re wrong to be offended so it’s not that I may not have any malicious intent intent. I don’t hate you I don’t. I don’t think less of you in my mind. But I think this is a really silly thing to be offended about and it’s rare that we’re in a position to tell someone else what they can and can’t be offended by. Right. It just simply being offended is a personal experience. And this when it comes to cultural appropriation which is a very nice way of describing what they’re doing because it’s like you’re you’re running a victory lap around the people who you destroyed in order to have this land isn’t right.

S6: This parade of racism this bazaar of genocide I you know I think that a lot of people considering how long this program has been long have been around. Sorry have decided for themselves that it’s not a big deal and because there isn’t a local Indigenous people population hundred so ten times a today there isn’t a large local Indigenous population putting pressure on them to change this. And so this change is going to have to come from within. And I think that what this mother and this family are experiencing is an experience that white people across the country have had historically and we’ll have to have by the droves if we’re going to truly see changes when it when it comes to racism and bigotry. You know that you’ll have to stand up when there are no people of color you know looking at you and making you feel uncomfortable feeling like you have to act right or that are aren’t there to fight the fight you know with you or I or you know for themselves that you have to stand up in our absence sign on our behalf you know and with that I think that I love the suggestions about putting the question to people like how would you feel if this were the lead photo on the NBC Nightly News. How would you feel if one of your children were to be running for office someday or were in office. You know think of Justin Trudeau who we thought was one of the good guys.

S20: And it’s like oh hi. Actually it’s not just that I did blackface. I did it so many times. I can’t tell you how many times I did it right. I didn’t know that popular just seems like a lot of work. There’s so many other racism that just seem a little bit sexier you know I didn’t think that that was the thing that so many young white folks were doing. But apparently you know it’s.

S21: It is. Right. But that you know this could have tremendous ramifications for your family and for your kids.

S6: And it’s flat out wrong. And if you would like to learn about the history of the people that you know claims to be paying on March 2 and saying that they were better at raising sons than the white man then then share some stories with them tell the true story of the woman who came to be known as Pocahontas. Talk about those quote unquote Indian princesses being raped right by white men and killed and forced into a lot of things that you would not want for your children that you want to call Indian boys and Indian princesses in this moment.

S19: You know you need a propaganda campaign. I think you need to present some information that would make people uncomfortable.

S22: And you know if folks aren’t willing to find other ways to to play their hetero normative you know mommy and daughter this and daddy said that or whatever you know then you may have to find other people in the community with whom to share space maybe you can create an alternate program you know like as Rebecca said there’s certainly somebody else who is offended by this maybe it starts with three families and expands to eight you know and over time you’ve got a competing set of activities for families to participate in and this thing you know goes the way of the dinosaur.

S13: Mm hmm.

S4: Yeah. You know it’s funny I was thinking about what I just said about the imagine it shows up on the nightly news or whatever. Like to me that it’s like I realize I could come across as me saying like imagine you got caught. Right. And that’s not what I meant so much as and you’re right at that. It’s like there right there is this tendency and I live in a mostly white community and my son actually wrote about this in one of his college essays of like white people think it’s like if there’s no beat buddy of color around you can’t be racist which is like. So the problem. I mean it’s like a huge part of the problem. And that’s what it’s absolutely what this is. And just because there’s no one around to speak up for it does not mean it’s right. It’s in fact wrong. And when I think I when I say something like imagine it being on the nightly news like that is what could happen because it is in fact wrong. Like it’s not about you trying to hide your racism it’s about the fact that you’re doing something wrong and other people could easily say you’re doing this wrong thing. And if that’s what it takes to get you to see it through a different lens other than your own stupid myopic racist hetero normative dis quote unquote traditions I don’t know. I it’s this kind of stuff really gets gets me. I mean I think I talked to the podcast about like speaking up about the Native American bullshit at the summer camp I tended like nobody nobody else was saying anything which is it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. I mean that’s kind of what it comes down to right.

S23: Absolutely. So it has to be the one you know because they’re certainly there. There may be other people that are feeling that way. They didn’t have the courage you started the conversation by sending this letter. There may be other families that listen to this podcast in your town hopefully so you know keep their momentum going.

S4: Absolutely. All right.

S15: Well our second question this week also came in by email and it’s also being read by the luminous Shashi Leonor to your mom and dad are fighting my 8 year old daughter is by all of her teacher’s accounts a talented ballet and jazz dancer and she is very serious about it. I didn’t know an 8 year old could be so serious. We live in rural France and we do what we can to keep her away from the American crazed body conscious beauty standards. She’s a heavy child and by heavy I mean she’s at the top of her ages average height and weight category and stacked with muscle that she uses daily in her dance practice I’m very conscious of reinforcing to my daughter in a both offhand and direct way that she’s amazing and her body is a gift and it is hers and no one has any business commenting on it including her family. I also talk positively about my body and its abilities frequently avoiding any. I feel so fat. Comments and the like. She thinks it’s funny that she’s heavy and that we struggled to pick her up when we want to. My instinct is that she is proud of her body. A feeling that is no doubt reinforced by her great success as a dancer and turn my French husband. He was very overweight when he was a child and now he is athletic and muscular. He is not so secretly panicked that she is going to be overweight and suffer the bullying he did when he was young. He is kind but he does tell her things like she has a belly I don’t know what’s going to happen with her body type but I suspect she is going to lean out as she dances and grows and if she doesn’t I hope she feels comfortable with who she is and if she doesn’t she can decide if she wants to do something about it or she can learn to be comfortable with it. There is no right body type all bodies are beautiful. This is the message I try to reinforce. Of course I am concerned that his influence is going to make her have eating issues. I addressed this with him when it comes up and he too knows that he just needs to shut his mouth. But even with sealed lips kids feel shit and that shit has repercussions since I can’t control anyone’s behavior but my own her father’s her classmates that comes up. What can I do to arm her with the tools that she’ll need to combat body commentary and see it for the bullshit that it is. And what am I missing in my own point of view that I could be doing better with. Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness.

S4: Oh thank you for your time and thoughtfulness in writing such a layered and nuanced question. Jamila do you want to take this one first.

S23: Sure. So as a child who struggled with weight starting around maybe your daughter’s age and continued to struggle tremendously through adulthood I didn’t really get control until I was maybe twenty five or so. I’m talking eating disorders body dysmorphia which is continued through both of which continue through adulthood but really beginning that loathing of my body and being at war with my body yet you know eight nine ten. I’m so impressed by how you have approached the issue thus far Mom that you are affirmative and clear and you know you’re not calling her pleasantly plump or telling her that she’s got a pretty face or you know just telling her that she’ll lean out or are you doing anything that would suggest that anything is wrong with her body. Nor did my mother I’m being clear but I don’t think that she was as thoughtful or intentional and yeah that is there was a very beautifully nuanced letter.

S24: I think that and this is something I struggle with myself for someone who you know my former partner was heavier when he was younger. We both you know for the most part have a heavy focus on each side of our families. And my daughter who is athletic and typically on the leaner side at this point I anytime I see her cheeks getting chubbier again are a little belly poking out I’m afraid you know I’m trigger and I can’t help but to think back of there wasn’t as much bullying for me as there were for girls. There were seriously heavier and I will be honest in saying that I was not never as heavy as I felt right but that you know whether you’re slightly heavy or you’re tremendously overweight if you feel big and you don’t love the body. And while feeling big and the world is telling you the big is not the thing to be that is so can be so traumatizing and balancing my wanting my child and all other children to just have healthy self-esteem and to know that everybody is beautiful and not to engage in fat shaming or anything like it while also wanting to protect her and your child and everyone else’s kid from the bullying from feeling uncomfortable you know with who they are.

S23: I wish that parents of skinny kids you know which is something I’ve done thus far. We’re talking to their children about fat phobia right and talking to them about the bullying and the you know very easy to make you know almost innocent comments about other people’s bodies or maybe you’re not calling your chubby friend fat but your calling you know somebody that you don’t like fat in their presence right.

S6: And you see her face gets sad and you say oh no not you you’re beautiful you know we’re not talking about you we’re talking about them.

S24: You know I think you’re doing great so far. You know I think that you are conscientious enough of where your husband is struggling and maybe in some of the ways that I have and not keeping a guard over his mouth perhaps in the way that he should and what she may face with other children and you’ve got her active in dance right which means that her body is already a source of pride and accomplishment for her you know which is important as long as she loves dancing. So I’d say keep doing what you’re doing.

S22: I would lean in harder on the husband and say you know there’s nothing that you can say negative about being fat that’s going to make her have a healthy relationship to her body. And if what you want for her most is to have a healthy relationship with her body and to remain in you know good shape and to take good care of herself the things that you have been saying and you may be on the verge of saying could be ultimately quite damaging to that. So let’s affirm her let’s keep her active.

S25: We’ll teach her healthy eating habits and we will accept and love this child whether she grows to be a size to a size over a size 22 but anything in the realm of fat shaming is you’re not going to get the result that you want for your child whether she ends up being quite slim but has a lifelong anxiety and you know perhaps eating disorder related to it or if she does not meet the standards which he finds to be appropriate and always feels that she somehow failed her father. So I think you’re approaching it the right way. Just try to get him on board with your approach.

S13: Mm hmm.

S10: What do you think Amy I am yeah I know the question was about like what can you do. But I want to second Jamal’s motion of like continue to tell the dad to shut the fuck up.

S8: I mean this is it is my family never any messages about body and food and I developed a full fledged eating disorder and no body bad body thoughts all the all the the whole business. And that was fully from cultural societal messages that I got. But it got way worse when I went to Italy for a year between high school and college and people people that I did not know. Like my teachers the first month of school or you know just random adults would tell me that I was fat and I needed to lose weight and I was not. I mean I don’t want to. I want to qualify but like I wasn’t that heavy. But I gained twenty five pounds in a year because specifically because they were telling me to lose weight and whatever goes on in a teenager’s mind that like says Fuck you you can’t do it and I’m not gonna do it you tell me. You know I you know went the other way but to be getting that from your own family has to be compounding the issue even if she doesn’t seem to react to it right now. And she you say she thinks it’s funny. I it’s it’s getting in there. So please continue to tell your husband to shut it. And I want a second stimulus. I think you mentioned this about how the fat shaming just absolutely makes things worse. You might have seen Bill Marr’s bullshit about let’s bring fat shaming back recently and James Corden is wonderful response I highly recommend you look it up on YouTube if you haven’t seen it and he says you know we shame ourselves all the time we don’t need it from you it’s not going to work it’s not gonna do what you think it’s gonna do stop. So what can you do.

S26: I would say to cultivate a some social media feeds for her some entertainment feeds for her that include body diversity and fat positivity body positivity. There are a lot of people on Instagram that you can follow. There are amazing fat dancers that you can find videos of. Show her those. Show her how amazing these people are. Just keep that in front of her. Like all the different bodies that can dance because I too am someone who danced until I was about 16 or 17 and I think the only reason I stopped was because I was concerned about that I didn’t have a dancer’s body. So I and to this day like Dancing brings me great joy and I rarely do it. And I’m so sad about that. So please continue to have her pursue dance and show her that anybody can dance and that if it’s something that makes her happy that she should do it no matter what.

S12: So that’s all good. I want to add a layer to this because I am a person who has been fat and thin and right now I’m kind of like I definitely put myself squarely in the fat camp right now. And I have kids who have been thin fat thin fat and fat as kids get when they grow.

S4: Henry went through the phase that we call or we sort of called later. I mean it set a sound contextually terrible consider when I’m about to say but you’re sort of our family nickname was he coined it was the meatball phase because he was basically he looked like a meatball It was adorable Teddy has gone through the growing out and up out and up out an up thing it just a thing that kids do.

S12: And I have seen friends of mine who are fit and healthy you know talk about trying to avoid their kids getting fat. And the question that I always want to ask is like so what. Like so what if they do it’s always couched as a healthy eating issue or a health issue. And a lot of research shows that a lot of that stuff also is not true that you know for people with certain body types being really thin is actually not healthier or better. You know I think that we as parents tend to unfortunately perpetrate this idea of like who a person is is directly tied to what their body looks like. And as somebody who has been both thin and fit and fat I can tell you I am qualitatively exactly the same person that I was when I was super thin. And if I’m ever thin again I will be qualitatively the exact same person I am now that I’m heavier than I want to be a lot of something that I see a lot with these conversations and you know it might be happening with this dad who knows is that it’s not overtly concerned for their kids health or well-being or fear of being bullied. There is some sort of shame or embarrassment to like having a fat kid that it reflects on you somehow that it makes you look like you’re not doing your job keeping your kid to like the norms of society. That is what is at the root of a lot of this stuff because you don’t know that your kid is going to get bullied until your kid is out in the world and gets bullied. You don’t actually know that’s going to happen. You’d be amazed at the you know potentially what would have been the likely targets of bullying in your own grade school and junior high and high school experience that it’s completely different game now like kids now tend to be like way more accepting way more open way just more open to conversations about difference they’ve experienced a completely different kind of curriculum than we have around that stuff they might not be but they might be and I almost think that like training your kid to prevent bullying is also not a great approach. Like your daughter sounds wonderful. She sounds happy. She sounds confident. Put a period on it and there what she looks like does not reflect on you. It does not reflect on your French husband. Definitely tell him to shut the fuck up about this whole belly thing it’s not helping anyone and it’s not helping the relationship between the two of you because instead of just telling him hey you need to not get the fuck off you feel like you had to write to us to ask this very wonderfully phrased and nuance question but he’s causing harm he’s actually causing harm and he needs to stop it and we all need to stop judging other parents based on whether or not their kids are fat and judging ourselves based on whether or not our kids are fat. Some kids are fat then they get thin again and then they get fat again. It does not change who they are. It does not necessarily make them less healthy or less good people and we’re not going to change anything in this conversation until we get ourselves there. So I think that’s what we have to put the most work when it comes to this stuff.

S8: Yes and can I add a P.S. introduce her to Lizzie Oh hell yeah.

S19: That’s so great. It’s funny because Lizzie was one of the people came to mind.

S23: I thought of you know hanging pictures in her room of women of diverse body types so not just bigger women you know put some thinner women up there to some shorter women because you don’t know how tall she’s going to be. And you know. And women who look similar and body types to her now. Right. So I get the impression you’re not describing somebody who looks that she I don’t see her as being the eight year old parallel to Elizabeth but maybe say oh I don’t know. I’m trying not to say Ashley Graham but maybe let’s say Ashley Graham Rae words like you know the sort of bigness there will certainly be praise and a lot of circles because she’s got an hourglass figure and she’s drop dead gorgeous but you know and others would be considered the fat girl. Right. But you know I think it’s important that she sees these things visually on a regular basis and so if she doesn’t take an interest in social media or if you prefer not to have her on Instagram filing those accounts Gabby fresh is another one she’s a plus size fashion blogger and designer who’s done all these great brand collaborations and she’s just amazing and she has this the best attitude about body and beauty. But if you put those things up in her wall she sees them every day she sees them when she comes home feeling a little weird about something she heard at school about how people are supposed to look. She sees them when she hears a fat joke on a television show. It’s constantly there.

S12: Yeah. Did you guys see the movie book smart. I did. It’s like life so wonderful. Oh my God it’s so wonderful on so many levels but one of the things about it that’s so wonderful is that one of the stars the movie beanie Feldstein is probably an actress that you know in any other movie that was not as smart and not as cool would be cast as like quote the overweight kid right. And there is literally the moon mentioned or yes there’s there’s just no mention of her size and her body type there’s no mention of it in the movie. She’s a great actress she plays her part. It’s like not acknowledged in any way it is sort of the paragon of how we should be like the way that this is portrayed in this movie. And I really recommend that anybody who hasn’t sees it checks it out because it’s like exactly what I kind of wish the kind of lens that more of us would have and what those of us who absolutely should fucking know better who’ve been through it ourselves like if we start having the lens that like everybody has the same worth you know no matter what size pants they wear or whatever. But awfully if you can just go an awfully long way. I really I really think so and I think that what you said Jamila too about like the teacher thing kids like to step up and realize that body shaming isn’t okay. That’s really important too. It really is. All right. Well now is the time in the show where we make a recommendation of any kind. And the segment is called recommendations. It’s very literal. I’m wondering Jamilah Lemieux Do you have a recommendation for us this week.

S18: I do. And I just ask that if our children go to school together in California near. I don’t say anything that might identify the school but you know there’s a little who looks just like me and if they go school together this advice is not for use for everyone else.

S25: So I don’t know if you are targeted stands like I am but I have always deeply loves target parties because I was a kid it was like kind of a big deal to get to go to Target because they didn’t have them in major cities you know at that point they were out in the suburbs and my mom wasn’t a driver so like we’d go you know on occasion my dad or like you know a family friend we do like a mall there or something. But for the most part target was a tree. And then there was like seven weeks or eight weeks that I worked there right after I graduated college I went through their entire management training program because I needed a summer job and then I had like quit and moved to New York. So I apologize to target. This is me trying to get it paid very well. And I need a job and I was gonna be I’m about homeless. So here’s my reparations for you target. I’m going to advertise something that you are doing right now that I really love and they’re celebrating 20 years of their collaborations with.

S27: High end designers and they’ve got so many like from Isaac Mizrahi and Jason Wu and Lilly Pulitzer and so they’ve got like a special capsule collection going on right now where you can go and get some of those pieces that you bought perhaps over the past 20 years 20 years of design for all is what they’re calling it they’ve got Hunter’s stuff they’ve got so much really really cute stuff and if you like me are our corny enough to like wearing matching or coordinating clothes with their children.

S20: Hi.

S27: I’m so glad I found some Target gift cards I was packing up the apartment because my daughter and I now have matching Lilly Pulitzer jumpsuits and pink and green dresses which are my sorority colors so we’re super cheesy in that way. And I got her really really really adorable dress for picture day which is why I don’t want any of her classmates parents to go take advantage of this stuff just wait until after the second and then you can go buy a dress. But it’s very cute. I don’t want there to be any twins is there but they’ve got miscellany and it’s just they’ve got lots of fun stuff and it’s very affordable Of course.

S4: And yeah that’s awesome. Good recommendation. AMY SCOTT What have you got.

S16: I’m going to recommend a book or audio book called Why We sleep by Matthew Walker It has a subtitle like unlocking the power of sleep and dreams or something it’s kind of cheesy but it is a very scientific very readable or listenable book. Fascinating. I mean it’s just all about what sleep does for us mentally emotionally physically academically spiritually and what lack of sleep does for us in those same realms.

S10: And it is just so it’s just so interesting and so powerful.

S16: And I want to recommend it to parents especially those like me who have been sleep deprived for like five years. My kids just sort of started sleeping in April of this year and like I said they just turned five and still most nights Arlo will visit me at 3 3 30 in the morning and oftentimes I don’t go back to sleep.

S8: So it gave me such compassion for myself and my struggles like if you’re struggling physically emotionally mentally any in any way in terms of motivation or anything like that if you have been sleep deprived because of your children or because of your anxious mind like that’s part of my tune too. But for any reason if you have not been sleeping this will make you feel like it’s not my fault. It is. Sleep is like magic. It’s like food. You need it probably more than anything else and you should give yourself a break because you haven’t had it and it’s just made your life really really hard. And the second part to my recommendation is that if you download audiobooks either I get mine from the library usually. I usually have one audio book of my phone for the kids. Patrick is into it. Now you listen to like James and the Giant Peach and Homer Price and things like that but it means that I can’t listen to my audiobooks as much as I want to because we’re usually listening to his. So in the time after I dropped them at school and go to work or from work to picking them up I listened to my own but I was like I was listening to what’s the big little lies and it’s like really really long book.

S7: And I was like There’s no way I’m going to get through this until you know. But by the time it’s due at the library and it like disappears into the ether off my phone. And so I just I realized that I had known this before but you could listen at one point five one point two five or one point five speed if you want to. And most books you it’s you still get all of it. Like you can understand all of it at one point five speed. I read it as a little bit you know rapid but it’s it it’ll get you through the book a lot faster especially when your time alone is limited. So again it’s called Why We sleep by Matthew Walker and if you get the audio book listen to it at one point five you’ll still be fine.

S4: My husband listens to all of his audio books at like one point five speed and he he’s often listening to like you know.

S17: In fact he actually downloaded the Muller report and he signed them like this is weird listening to it in the shower it’s got a weird anyway but it is a trick that a lot of people use. It’s a good trick.

S14: My recommendation goes back to my fail this week I if if it’s possible and if you love animals like I do.

S12: And if you have kids who are devastated by the loss of pets like I do I would like to recommend always having two dogs instead in your home because kind of going along the lines of like the heir and the spare. It is nice to not imagine at a time when you are facing the imminent perhaps demise of one of your animals that you will not have a giant animal shaped hole in your household because if you are an animal lover and a dog lover and if your kids are really attached to your pets that complete absence of animal can be really really tough. And I’ve experienced it both ways in my parenting I’ve had both you know more than one pet and just one. And when you have just one and it dies I think it’s like 10 times worse. So if you can swing it and you are a dog person you have a dog. Consider perhaps picking up a spare just to make things a little easier. I’m not saying it’s for everyone but it’s worked so far for my family is that crazy am I being like nuts suggesting that. No not at all.

S19: I think I’m thinking about having a spare kid. Honestly what if she doesn’t like me that much.

S28: She’s an adult then what am I going to do on Mother’s Day. Excellent point.

S29: All right. That’s our show. If you have a question you want to ask us on the podcast. Leave us a message at 4 2 4 2 5 5 7 8 3 3. Or email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com and join us on Facebook just search for Slate parenting. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Jess Jupiter. I’m Rebecca Lavoy for Jamilah Lemieux and Amy Scott. We’ll talk to you next week.

S12: Hello Slate Plus listeners it’s the end of September and that means many of our kids have been in school for a few weeks now just enough time to get a couple of really crappy grades posted. If you’re the kind who occasionally checks grades this early. I made the mistake of doing so. Laura earlier this week and I noticed that my wonderful son Teddy who’s been working very hard and got an after school job and is doing everything else he supposed to be doing right now. He’s like a fifty nine and math. Like some other awful grade like in chemistry. Everything else seems fine but I’ve been wondering. So I did ask him about this is like what’s going on. Is we need to get you into tutoring or he’s like No no no no this is just one of those fluky beginning of the year things were they like do assessments and testing and like and they give you a chance to redo we which haven’t gotten the chance. Goes on and on and on. And I was just looking and I’m like I didn’t go to back to school night because my kid’s a frickin junior in high school and that just seemed stupid after a while parent teacher conferences aren’t for like another month or whatever. What do you think about dealing with those red flags this early in the year. Do teachers like it when you reach out. Do they want us to trust our kids that like everything’s fine and just fluky or are we supposed to do something. You’ve got a real life teacher here with Amy. So I thought I would just throw the question your way.

S16: It’s a great question and it’s really going to depend on the age of your kid younger they are the more the earlier you want to intervene. You know I’ve taught everything from third grade through eighth grade and if there was something concerning in third grade early in the year I would want to communicate with the parents very very early. But I think you can put it off a little bit more as they get older and I think in high school you know they do have to learn those lessons for themselves or they’re going to be independent very soon. And sometimes it’s good to get a terrible grade because it’s going to light a fire or a fire under their ass and and get them where they need to go. I love it when parents reach out to me. I mean again that’s the thing is that this last time on but I have 103 kids so it’s really hard for me to have the time to reach out to all the parents that I need to communicate with. And when parents reach out to me and they ask questions it’s very very helpful. The first question that you can ask to the teacher is how how would you like me to communicate with you. And some maybe some teachers don’t want you to communicate with much and they might tell you that but like is a phone call better is an e-mail better what you know should I. What what resources online should I be checking that that kind of thing is great to ask. I really like it when parents ask you know if their kid gets you know I’m concerned my kid has a terrible grade in your class because almost always for me it’s yes. Do you see those three missing assignments and they get those in you know and they’ll go Oh OK.

S10: It’s not often it’s not an academic issue it’s just a work habits issue or a responsibility issue. And if your kids still needs a nudge in eighth grade for those things that is totally reasonable. So that’s what I would recommend. The younger they are the earlier you wanna intervene but also ask the teacher like what is the best way to communicate what are the best way to get information. And and they should they should let you know and and but different teachers have different ways of doing things of course. So yeah that’s my recommendation.

S12: Mm hmm. What do you think about this whole idea of like I mean I know that you send us a link looking at some you know stuff about testing culture and sort of like where that is and according to my son like that’s what’s going on here is that you know this especially this time of year you did go into it just like test test test test and assessment assessment assessment assessment and it’s you know even he doesn’t care. I as you sort of talked about like scaring like he but he’s just so like turned off by the fact he knows this is rote he knows that it’s just part of like the way that the school has to be taught now.

S17: He’s not really buying it. I don’t know if I’m helping because I’m not sure I really buy it either. What are your thoughts. I don’t buy it.

S11: I mean it is maddening.

S16: This emphasis on standardized tests it’s absolutely maddening for four kids. It’s maddening for parents it’s maddening for teachers and you know it comes from this desire to hold teachers and school systems accountable for achievement and growth and it is unfortunately the cheapest way to go about that.

S10: These standardized tests but it is not good for most students.

S26: And you know I actually left a school I was at a school for seven years and I could not take it anymore. We had so many standardized tests during the year so many redundant tests. That gave me the same information as the previous one which gave me the same information that my own classroom assessments had given me like never do. Did I get information that was like wow that’s brand new information. I had no idea. And I can’t stand it. And so I moved to another school that is you know known for project based education. And I was delighted to find only four standardized tests during the year last year. And now this year there are seven.

S10: So it’s like creeping into these schools that supposedly are not about testing. And I really really really think that parents are going to have to start a revolt because teachers have complained about this for so long and nobody listens to us about it. In fact at the end of last year my principal contacted me and said I heard you use this program. This particular standardized test program in your previous school what were your thoughts. And I said specifically it is terrible. The kids hated it. I didn’t get any information that I didn’t already know from it. And they adopted it anyway. So they do not listen to us. The the administration the boards the State and State Departments of Public Instruction they do not listen to us. So parents are going to have to revolt. You can opt out of testing and a lot of states some have a formal opt out process and some like you know you’d have to keep your kid out of school or you can do something called sit and stare which they would just go in and sit there for the whole testing session and not touch the test. But that’s that. That score can get recorded in some places. So it’s just you’re going to have to bring it up at the next PTA meeting or board of ed meeting. You’re gonna have to talk to other parents who feel the same way you’re gonna have to call the principal call the superintendent call the State Department of Public Instruction speak out on social media write letters or letters to your editors of the local papers contact your representatives vote for federalizing a lot of work. It’s.

S8: Organized create a coalition like in New York there’s actually a really good a really good organization called and why SJP and they are really tackling this issue. It does sound like a lot of work. And if you can join forces with the teachers great.

S10: But they are not listening to us so please please please help help us dismantle this ridiculous system because it’s not good for kids it’s not good for teachers it’s not good for parents.

S5: I have a quick question. So I am morally spiritually emotionally intellectually opposed to homework in nearly all forms.

S23: I think it is just such a cruel encroachment upon that very valuable in the day family time right. It’s one thing to have projects where you have a few weeks or to have weekend you know a bit of weekend homework not an overwhelming amount where you spend eight hours you know trying to get it done but to have you know a little person or little people running around and a job and had to do all that stuff and come home and sit down try and get homework done is miserable. So there are some and I know that there are teachers in school districts that are moving away from it thankfully. I’m curious in terms of teachers who do not require homework or homework assignments that are given but not graded.

S6: What are your thoughts on parents to say well you know I’m not gonna do it if it doesn’t count toward the grade. I don’t think that this is the best use of our time. I don’t think this is such a great enrichment activity.

S18: I’m just not I’m just refusing to do it.

S19: Like are we looked at as like raggedy parents are we you know like is the assumption that we don’t care that we’re not tragic tragic parents.

S11: See I am. I have been both teachers because I’ve been in classroom for 17 years.

S8: That’s my 18th year now and I have been both the teacher that assigned like at the beginning of my teaching career assigned stupid homework that had nothing to do with what we were doing in class and it was I just I just didn’t know any better. But all the research backs you up in that kids that you know it does not do what we want it to do which is reinforce concepts and it only marginally teaches responsibility. And I really am anti homework at this point. So I have to assume that teachers who are up on the latest research who have had experience are with you and do not look at you like any sort of like they won’t be assigning homework if they’re signing homework and and you’re not doing it. I mean I was in this situation like my you know Arlo who has Down syndrome was getting these like worksheet packets going home last year and I was like he can barely pick up a pencil like what this is not appropriate.

S26: It’s not worth my time even if he could pick up a pencil like you said we need to eat dinner we need to watch Garfield around the block we need to we need to watch Garfield say starving.

S11: And so I I just didn’t do it. I just don’t do it.

S8: And you know fortunately I have the sort of you know I mean it’s it’s preschool. So what does it matter. But I think that you can communicate that with your with the teacher if if a teacher is sending home homework. I think you can respectfully say hey you know I we have we need family time after you. You don’t necessarily have to point out all the research that says that what they’re doing is stupid but you can say like we don’t have time.

S26: We you know value our family time. She has extra curricular activities that she has to do. Like it’s not the homework unless it’s something that is urgent. It’s just it’s just not going to get done. I will tell you that I will you know help her I will read to her. I will help her read. I will you know help reinforce concepts without doing the homework. But you know as long as I know what you’re doing and in class but it’s just not possible for my family. I think you could totally communicate that with a teacher.

S13: Mm hmm. I love it. I love it.

S28: I wish I had known this years ago.

S4: My son has a job now though. So I mean I feel like he should be able to use that. I have I’m going to work excuse but a yellow nose and that’s a good excuse.

S17: I mean it is it’s a good excuse. You know it’s.

S23: I’ll I’ll admit. So like we were doing homework last year when my daughter was in kindergarten and one I knew it wasn’t going toward a great two I was aware that we were moving away so I wasn’t as pressed to impress as I may have been you know with her current school. But once I found out that the way we live in beds that we lived in bedsides it rapidly gentrifying community and the school itself was going through a period of you know its first real racial integration. And when I found out that like the white parents weren’t doing homework I was like I’m good.

S19: YELLING I yell at them I bet that they don’t get better you don’t call people on them so long as they’re getting away with it I’m siding with them. They were lovely ladies. I liked them I liked all the parents in the classroom but I noticed that you know the black what we’ve got to work twice as hard to get half as much and at this time I’m not doing the homework. If the white parents send their kids to Yep. Good for you. Wow.

S4: That’s great. I think we just all just coalesce against a couple of things against that stupid town stupid racist parade and homework. Let’s do it. Let’s let’s face it. Write a petition. Standardized testing while you’re at it and pretending that kale is as good as other kinds of greens. OK.

S19: Well actually no know why people let it go. I don’t like kale. Good. The price will go back down a bit easier and more. I don’t like it. It’s very bad. I love it. I love kale. I’m not giving it up kale is very good. It kills very good. I tried mustard greens take mustard greens. Nobody need Lester greens are better. They’re delicious.

S6: Go ahead tell Whole Foods they can put them in a campaign and I can make mustard green egg rolls and all types of stuff and we can enjoy kale at low prices always accessible always fresh or sold out again.

S4: Yet another petition that we need to start. Yes. All right guys thanks so much for joining me for Slate Plus and Slate Plus listeners. Thanks to you too.