The Graduation-ish 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 Mama Dandified Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, May 21st. The graduation ish edition. I’m Dan Place. I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family and the dad of Lyra, who’s fifteen, and a Harper who’s 12. We are currently holed up in Arlington, Virginia.

S3: I’m Jamilah Lemieux. I’m a writer, cultural critic and communications consultant as well as mom to Nyima, who is seven. And we live in Los Angeles, California.

S4: I’m Elizabeth New. Can’t I write the Homeschool and Family Travel Blog? That’s such news. And the mom of three boys, Henry eight, all of her six and Teddy, three. And I’m in the bar Florida forever. Probably not for now. This week we’re answering a listener question from a mom who’s graduating senior. Put the kibosh on any kind of at home celebration.

S2: If you’ve got a graduating senior, they might want to listen to our first segment with you. We’re also answering a question from a mom who wants to change her son’s name, especially since his name sounds like an extremely rude word, a level eight rude word. So maybe. Definitely. Have your graduating senior. Listen to that. If they want to hear a very rude word, as always, we have tried and fails and recommendations. Jameela. Let’s start with tribes and fails. And let’s start with you. Do you ever try and fail for us this week? Oh, yes.

S5: I have a breaking news trial that just happened in the last two hours. And no, it’s not a car purchase that went awry. We’re still working. I was still working on it. We’re moving. We’re moving. So I made some brownies that a couple of my friends, the crisis, who have a Instagram live show called Guarantying with the Crystals made on their show that there’s no flowers like peanut butter, you know, peanut butter cookie recipe that we all made growing up. It’s kind of similar in composition to that. It’s very easy to make despite it being very easy to make. I did make mistake because it’s either Black Sea and water or an egg, and I put both. But nevertheless, they came out OK. And I sent some to NamUs Dad’s house so she could share them with her little brother. And I got a text from him. Name was Little Brother is five. I’m on a group chat with NamUs Tablet and her brother’s tablet and it says, OK, so for context, nine was right. Is a child. A few words when it comes to me. He politely tolerates me. He’s always been, for the most part, kind, and baby said him. And you know, we’ve gone places together. But ultimately, I do think that he associates me with taking his sister away, you know, at times. So like when I have her, he doesn’t. So I totally get it. So I just do my best to be warm and friendly anyway. So he sends me the sweetest text that says I love the brownies. It’s really, really good food. Really, really good food.

S1: So the way even to a little man’s heart is through his stomach.

S5: It is. I smile so big like it made my day. So it is the most delightful tags from the cutest, sweetest little boy. And it made my day. That’s to be outdone name. I did have to respond, of course. And I said, I’m glad you liked this. Sweet. I’ll made them for you any time as the name. And I don’t know to whom she’s speaking. Are you going to thank me too? And then she’s got some sort of little cat gift that says like a boss. And then Reanna clapping and chewing gum on the couch of, like, Jimmy Campbell and then an audio message.

S6: So great right there, Brownie’s. Keep those tracks going. All kinds of learning to run me off my relationships from family to family.

S1: Great job.

S7: I kept bringing everyone together.

S1: All right. Excellent. Triumph, Toomelah. Elizabeth, what about you? Try and for fail.

S7: Fail be three year olds. Teddy is just being three and I have had enough. Then recent thing that I think is really getting to me is that whenever I accuse him of something or point out something that he has done, he just says basically like, no, you did it. But with like, specificity. So I say, like, Teddy, you made a mess. And he’s like, no, you threw your clothes on the floor. And I’m like, Teddy, are you like you, Pete? Not on the toilet. He’s like, no, you were playing around and Pete all over the bathroom. Like, no. So he’s decided that should I then engage any further, he’s just gonna burn it down. So just like rage, tipping over chairs, throwing things. And then he just looks and says the virus did it and just go out.

S8: And I am just like, honestly, you know, I know this is like we’re in it.

S7: He’s like three and a half where it kind of. Final stages of three. We’ve just had too much time in a house together. And I have two other children who have their own issues. And I don’t have time. So I’m 100 percent to blame for this because I’m just like, do you want your iPod? Do you want to just like Susan’s iPod in my closet? Like in this back corner? I don’t know why, but I’m like, do you want to take your iPod and go to the closet? Because that would be preferable to me. And he’s like, Yeah, thanks. And then he just takes it goes away. So, of course, the behavior is continuing. So I decided last night that I had had enough and that instead that when he did this, he was just going to hold my hand until he could get his act together. And this is the worst thing ever. Now, I’m strapped of my own accord. I’m like strapped to this kid that just is blaming me for everything and throwing everything. I’m just over it. But anyway, I have to just ride it out because I don’t know what else to do as well.

S9: Handcuffed yourself to a bomb like that.

S7: It was the worst decision. I mean, he really hates it, but he also like spending time with me. So it’s kind of like perfect because he does calm down. But yes, now I, like, have this kid, like, I have made him be with me. But he also is trying to just destroy me and blame me for everything. But I mean, ultimately, the virus is to blame.

S1: So, yeah, I think this is a real fail on the part of the virus. Yeah. Skiing all over her.

S8: You know what? No. You peed all over the map.

S1: Yeah.

S5: The virus has to be tied. His nickname, like for life, like when he plays high school football and he like catches an interception or whatever. It’s like I write the virus.

S7: I’m going to bring it back around and call him.

S1: The virus kills hundreds of thousands. Karma is the virus. He’s water. He’s sure he sees the newspaper every day. Yeah. Yeah. I will get my four hail this week is that I’ve just completely and absolutely stopped reading any emails from teachers like Monday morning. We got, I assume, very thoughtful messages from Harper science teacher Harper, Spanish teacher Lyras math teacher and Harper’s English teacher. And I just archived them all. I sent them straight to archive and Gmail didn’t even open them. And all these teachers are working so hard and they are doing their best. And I just hope that some parent somewhere is reading their emails and appreciating them. Teachers, I love you. I appreciate you, but I’m not reading your e-mails anymore. I’m sorry, but hopefully someone’s reading them right.

S5: That is so many people.

S1: Yes, they. Oh, yes. Well, that’s. You see perhaps why this is the situation has arisen. They’re just very conscientious, I think, in part because they’re very conscientious teachers, of course, but also their country, because there is like a subset of the Harlington parent population that has been on them for weeks, like, what is my child doing this week? What are they learning? Well, you make sure that we’re getting everything out of this education, whereas we don’t feel like that at all. The school year is over as far as we’re concerned.

S5: So you’re trying to keep them alive for eight hours?

S1: Right. That’s basically it. And our kids are actually doing some homework, which is great, but it’s completely self driven. And, you know, we’re not checking out. There are no grades at this point. Their grades are set in stone. So I am so glad that these teachers are this committed. I feel sadly bad for them because I do think a lot of it is sort of like theater for the subset of parents who demand this kind of thing. Yeah. By like, I’m just reading them anymore. And I definitely feel like a real frisson of like, wow, this is like I could not be more neglectful of my child’s education. Yeah, but that’s just where we’re at.

S7: I’m confused why it’s a failure though, because, like, it’s a success for what you need to do and you’re handling the stuff with your kid.

S1: Yes. I feel bad that they’re putting in this effort. Like, when I do my job and I send things out into the world, I want people to pay attention to them and for the work I have done to be respected. I’m definitely not respecting the work that these teachers are putting in. Right.

S5: Are these individualized e-mails?

S1: No. If they were like, dear dad, I would only like Skinner.

S9: Dan, you know, these are the e-mails that they sent out to all the students in there.

S5: You know, seventh grade English class, the grades are already set in stone. So what the lesson that your kids are learning is that if the homework doesn’t count towards your grade, it doesn’t matter.

S9: I mean, they definitely knew that.

S7: I think they’re just learning it’s OK to say I don’t mean a forum for me.

S8: I may look like a Bazzani. No, I mean, I think we could all use a lesson in that.

S1: Elizabeth, we purvey information. I don’t think we want to give our listeners any ideas.

S8: But, you know, I think you can give someone permission to turn it off for a bit.

S1: And listeners who do not have permission has heard this podcast off. By law, you are required to listen to any and and patronize our advertisers. All right, let’s move on to the business. Hey, why don’t you sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter? It is the best place to hear about all our parenting content as it comes out, including this very podcast. Karen feting with Jameela and other Karen feeding stars and much, much more. Plus, it’s just an e-mail from me every week. Although for the last month it’s banned from other people, but it’s been even better when it’s not banned for me. So anyway, sign up at Slate dot com slash parenting e-mail. Also join us on Facebook. Just search for slate parenting on that very platform. It is a really fun and active community. Lots of great questions, lots of great answers, lots of inspiring debates. Lots of people getting banned if they’re rude. Actually, not that many people. But anyways, it’s very under control and very friendly. We like it a lot. Join up. Plus on Facebook, every Tuesday at 11:00 Eastern, we have a live Karyn feeding show with the one and only Nicole Cliffe. She is extremely good at taking her questions, giving you really useful, funny answers and also having impeccable hair.

S9: Catch it live every Tuesday at 11:00 on Slate’s Facebook page. We’ll also put it up on the Slate parenting page. And you can find previous episodes on Slate’s YouTube page. Finally here, mom and dad are fighting. We really want your feedback. So for the last couple of months, we’ve had a family friendly segment called Everyone is Fighting Now. We want to know if you like the segment. Do you listen to it? Do you listen to it with your kids? If so, what would you like to hear on the segment next? Or do you hate the segment? By all means, let us know about that, too. We’ll have a very quick survey in our show notes and we’ll also post it to the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

S1: All right, on to this week’s first listener question. It’s been read by the one, the only Shash Aliénor.

S10: Dear mom and dad are fighting. My son is graduating from high school this week. It’s been a long, hard road for him and for us the past four years with mental health challenges, multiple school changes and academic roller coaster. I’m incredibly proud of him. He’s overcome a lot to succeed. Of course, we’re all sad. He doesn’t get to walk across the lawn and get handed his diploma in front of his grandparents and us and his friends. But he’s taking the cancellation of graduation very badly and flat out refuses to replace it with anything else. Meanwhile, I want to commemorate his accomplishment as a family. But whenever I mentioned an idea, something simple, like a catered lunch for the family and zooming with his friends, something silly, like having a local could play pomp and circumstance on the trumpet outside our house. He rejects it. No way. I don’t want to do anything. His grandparents sent him a big congratulations banner and his four bid me from displaying it outside. I know he’s disappointed, but I think he’ll regret it in the long run if he doesn’t celebrate his graduation at all. And I think everyone in the family, including his younger siblings who have gone through the ringer along with him and are so proud of him to deserve the chance to honor him and all he’s done. How do I balance my desire to salute my son with his refusal to be saluted?

S11: I think it is important to decide how much of this is about you and how much of this is about your senior, because obviously, like, you’ve invested a lot and your family has invested a lot. And graduation is not just about the senior. It’s also about, you know, you and your family. But it sounds like to me that the senior really doesn’t want to celebrate or deal with this right now. And I think kind of given the climate that that’s OK. I a few weeks ago, I recommended the book The Rabbit Listened, and I just really come back to that, that this senior is dealing with something and saying to you, like, I don’t want to deal with this right now. And I think it’s OK to just kind of listen and let them have that time, like because the graduation is delayed. You can celebrate this at anytime. So you’re not missing some graduation ceremony that’s happening. If in a month he decides he’s ready to celebrate it, you can celebrate it. Then if, you know, he heads off to school or whatever is next and he wants to celebrate it. At that point or the celebration, is this heading off to do this? I think that’s OK, too. I just really think that when your child is communicating with you that they are struggling and that they are going through this. It is important that you listen and that your actions, you know, mirror that you’re listening, that you hear that this is something that’s difficult. That being said, I also do see that it’s like a family celebration and people want to celebrate him. And I think continuing to say we are excited for you and we want to celebrate this. And as a result, I’m going to have this dinner or I’m going to do this thing. And this doesn’t necessarily have to be about you, but it’s going to be about this moment that the whole family got through. And I would like you to partake in that. I think that is a way to honor maybe what you need, maybe you and your partner or whoever else your parents need to, you know, ordering a special dinner for yourself. I don’t know, something to celebrate that you got through this because you’re at the point that you’re ready to celebrate this and he’s just not. So I don’t know. I think it’s it’s a time in which there’s so much to process and forcing someone to do something that they don’t want because you’re scared that later down the line they will wish they had celebrated it. I feel like at that moment you can celebrate it. We’re not on anybody else’s timeline right now just to type and hang in there and just try to let him know that you’re there. This is clearly something very difficult. So the best thing you can do is to listen and and be ready to move through those stages with him.

S5: But I don’t know. Jamelia, why do you think? I agree with essentially what you said, Elizabeth. But I also just want to add, I’d imagine that this is a bigger deal, perhaps for your son than it is for a lot of kids that are missing their graduations this year because it sounds like his wasn’t necessarily guaranteed, you know, or that it could have easily perhaps taken an extra year or a nontraditional route. So not having that moment may mean something to him, a bit more profound than perhaps you considered, or if not, that. I think it’s possible that having a zoom celebration of some sort would, as opposed to giving him an opportunity to celebrate, would get forced him to confront the fact that he not able to celebrate in the way that he’d wanted to. And so with that, what are the things that do bring your son Joy? You know, like what might make him feel good? And even if it doesn’t necessarily directly connect to a graduation or feel like a traditional graduation celebration, it could be a present. It could be a video gaming system or, you know, a plane tickets to somewhere that he wants to go when he’s able to do that or a book or something, just something that is not about the price, but that it has some significance to him. Right. That it will make him happy. The sort of thing that you would want to receive on his birthday or on any bad day. My first instinct was to say you could still mark this occasion as a family with a dinner without making it a big deal. But I also would not want for him to be upset by that and to feel that he wasn’t hurt when he asked you not to replace the traditional celebration with anything else at all. And so if you want to have a private moment with the other members of the family, siblings and grandparents who helped to support you during this, if it’s an email thread with the grandparents, just saying it on the call. Thank you for all your help and sending them a card, marking the moment if it’s giving the other siblings a big hug and reflecting on how proud we are and presents him perhaps just with cards that express those sentiments as opposed to making it a physical moment that he has to deal with. I think that may go a long way in terms of both affirming your need to celebrate the moment and his request not to the written idea.

S11: And you just said that. I think that’s so like timeless.

S5: Yeah. And something he can look back on later when, you know, he’s distant from the pain of the loss and perhaps then process the weight of the accomplishment.

S1: I am excited to strongly disagree with both of you. I think the senior can suck it up. I think that he’s very disappointed, as is nearly every senior in America.

S9: I also think that to completely reject out of hand any acknowledgement of your accomplishment and your family’s sincere desire to celebrate this with you, I think that it’s not unreasonable to ask this kid to get over it a little bit. You know, it was interesting to me what what you said, Elizabeth, about, well, how much of this is for you and how much of it is for him. As you said, graduations in general are not only for the graduates. Right. If if he was on that lawn, if coronavirus had never happened and he was on that lawn, that wouldn’t just be for him. That would be for the grandparents and the parents and everyone who came there and who had accomplished this along with him as well. And so I think that dividing it strictly in that way doesn’t quite track for me, or rather, I think that it’s okay for you to understand. Letter writer, that this is about you in a way, but that also that is not disqualifying. Just because it is for you does not mean, I think that it is wrong for you to ask for it from your senior. I think that if you’re smart, which I’m sure you are, you will steer away from the stuff that is going to read is particularly corny to a graduating high school senior. The stuff that attempts to ape or model or replicate the trappings of a traditional graduation, like the trumpet player playing pomp and circumstance outside or some kind of fake graduation ceremony in your house where like, you know, you give him a pretend diploma or something. And I think that Jameela and Elizabeth are right, that what you should be searching for are things that he will find meaningful and that will make him happy. But I do think that if the question is, do you go along with his desire to just completely ignore it and pretend it’s not happening at all, or do you push him a little bit and say this is about all of us in the family? And I do think we should have some kind of formal recognition in our home with our family of what you have done? I think it’s OK to push a little bit. And I think that if this graduating senior has been through all the things that this letter suggests he has been through. I think that he hopefully has also learned and achieved the kind of emotional maturity that will allow him in the end to say, yes, I understand that this is important to you and so we can do some kind of small thing. And I know this isn’t that different from the advice you guys are giving, which was to find a small thing that is meaningful to everyone. But I just wanted to validate to some extent this letter writers feelings that I do think it’s okay in a case like this to respect the way your son is feeling and to communicate to him that you respect how he’s feeling while also standing up for how you feel and how the other people in the family feel and pushing a little bit on that front.

S5: I’m excited to strongly rebut. Yes, under most circumstances, that would be entirely fair. Take on it because of the mental health challenges about which we don’t we don’t know exactly what they are. So there’s a whole spectrum of issues. There could have been, you know, including some that are completely manageable, with great ease and don’t cause interruptions of daily life now. But perhaps we’re a challenger. Earlier in his high school career. But if this is somebody who deals with, say, anxiety or deals with depression that isn’t treated with medication, you know, and this moment could impact his well-being in the short term or his state of mind beyond just that’s not what I wanted. And so I’m pissed or I’m annoyed. You know, like it. If this is something and then another child, you know, and if they know that this is something that won’t be a tremendous offense or a trigger to him, because they say if this is a young man who suffers from anxiety issues and something that’s triggering to him and this feeling that he’s not been hurt. Right. And so that sets off an outsize reaction as opposed to a child who dealt with trauma related to an incident that happened. And in no way, shape or form would this moment really intersect with that or bring up anything for him. Right. Those are two very different circumstances. So I think with regard to that, that’s what gives me pause and saying just go for it. So I think that, again, I think there’s something to be said for hearing him as hard as it would be for me to respect those wishes, especially somebody who loves to throw celebrations for Nyima. And I do understand an audience of the rest will be only getting to celebrate, which is why I do think that there is that ball of baby bear porridge. That’s just right, perhaps. And Elizabeth’s original suggestion, which is to have the dinner and perhaps you can send it to the grandparents to that. They’re also having a special dinner that night. And that doesn’t have to be a lot of, you know, no decorations, no big speeches. We’re just we’re raising a glass to you. We’re very proud of you. You know, we’re thankful that we came together as a family and we were able to support you through this. And we hope that you’re very proud of yourself despite the circumstances and literally aspiring to that sort of brevity and leaving it there. I think could be one way of serving all masters without making him feel upset.

S11: That sounds perfect to me. I just feel like sometimes as the parent, it’s your job to say I want this thing and I want to celebrate this. But it’s not right for my child and I it sucks. But like, I just can really relate, I think, to being in a place where I’m not ready, like I haven’t processed the trauma or the grief and then being forced to show up at something and act like I am excited or happy about this. And I just think a gift that you can give to your child to say, I know this is hard and that you don’t want to do this right now. And I’m not going to put you in a situation where you have to pretend that you love this or you’re happy about this. And that’s my gift to you as your parents, that we don’t have to do this right now. And when you are ready. I want to do this with you. And I think, Dan, you’re suggesting like that there’s communication that needs to be involved. And I think that’s absolutely true. I do think that the conversation has to be had like, hey, we want to celebrate you because it’s also a celebration of us. And when you are ready, we are going to be here for you. And I. I mean, Jamila, you said the thing about writing letters. I’m like, that’s so perfect. Like, hey, we ordered your favorite food. And even if that goes unsaid, like, you love this thing and we’re gonna do this and we wrote these letters, and when you are ready for them or even just holding em until he says they’re ready, like you can harness that excitement that you have now into something that he can have when he’s ready, because eventually I do think he will be ready. At some point he’ll be ready or you’ll be in it. We’ll be in a place or we can celebrate with friends because maybe that’s what he’s, like, really mourning. But I just wonder if you haven’t, like, thrown salt in the wound by saying, like, we need to celebrate this now when although it is about you, it’s also like his loss of this moment or whatever that expectation in his head was, you know, the end of the day, it feels like we’re all kind of on the same page that like everybody like everybody is disappointed and we’re trying to make it better. I just think it’s important to make sure he feels heard and listened to and to also say like it’s OK to feel this way.

S9: I love the idea of thinking a bit of if you do delay or if you do decide not to do something now, of thinking of it as a gift that you are giving the child, maybe in lieu of an actual physical gift that you have to buy home and spend a lot of money on. So we all had a lot to say about this, but we also thought it would be worth asking some actual high school seniors what they think of this. Maybe they would view it a little more from this graduating seniors perspective. Maybe they would have a totally different opinion from us. So we asked a couple of seniors we knew to call in and give their advice to this letter writer and to their son. Let’s hear what they have to say.

S12: Hi, I’m Mackenzie. I’m from Sonoi, Georgia. So I think the advice I have for other seniors, what I’ve learned throughout this is that it’s a place for you not to be like, okay, right now it sucks. We’ve we’ve lost a lot. And I mean, it’s something that most. People have gotten and that we don’t have because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, which sucks. And like I understand the people trying to be reassuring and they can’t feel better. But, like, what’s what’s gotten to me? People here like this will be a good story someday. Sunday. Well, right now, that’s what we’re living. And we don’t we’re not thinking know Sunday. One thing, though, right now. What we’re going through right now. So, like, it’s such a weird time to be a senior and going through this really big change in life. You have to give yourself a chance to grieve because, I mean, I still do. But you also have to. Find a way to occupy your mind. So you’re not always thinking about it. It is a loss for like parents and, you know, the people that have shaped your lives, too, because, you know, they’ve watched you grow up and it’s something that they want to see. You do like who doesn’t want to walk across the stage? There’s very few people who don’t. And it’s like who doesn’t want to see their kid? And that’s the child they’ve watched grow into this person. Do that. So you think I understand parents being like it’s a loss for you, too, and it’s something you you can agree to? I think wanting to do something about it is it’s a good idea. But it’s like also we’re all different and we all we’re all coping different and we’re all like we all have different relationships with high school and different ways that we felt about this graduation and like what leading up to that meant. I think it just depends on you, and I think it’s a conversation like. You’re the family on almost have to have to acknowledge it in the little ways, like it doesn’t have to be grand. Just acknowledge the achievements and the little ways. Maybe that’ll help parents and kids who have losses like I helped out with. Helpful. So. Good bye.

S5: Thanks, Mackenzie. I love teenage girls so much.

S1: I got the hair smart. I like that particular advice about Mars. The thing that drives them crazy is when people are like, what a good story I’ll have to tell someday, man. I bet I would say that to any high school senior I met. So now I know not to do that. We also got some advice from a senior named India.

S13: Hello, my name is India. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. As a senior, I was also supposed to graduate this week. My grandparents were supposed to fly in from the U.K. and I’d see them and be out with my friends, just celebrating instead, like the entirety of the course of 2020. And like you. I’m also stuck at home. My advice to my fellow senior is try your best to face it till you make it. Honestly, I don’t always want to celebrate as well, but my parents, siblings and grandparents still they look forward to this time, too. So all you and I can do is show up with a smile, knowing that will love these photos and memories and say 20 years that’s I’ve been doing. So start from maybe Zouma friends just to say hi. Perhaps put your grandparents banner up for them. They won’t. Your disappointments, but it will make them happy. My advice to his mom is because you consider celebrating without celebrating. Maybe have a nice dinner. Fidelman graduation. If your son does try to connect with a friend or celebrate. Try not to make a big deal out of it because he doesn’t want that. This hasn’t been fun for any of us. But still, congratulations. You finished high school and at the end of the day, that’s an accomplishment worth smiling about. We are all thinking of you and your family and our entire class of 2020 will celebrate together as soon as it’s safe. We’ll have the best Iranians ever. Thank you.

S1: That’s going to be some monster reunion’s this class.

S5: That’s I am just. Can I just say, oh, my God. They’re gonna be ridiculous. Like, why? It’s that time of months. I’m just a little emotional. So I teared up a little bit like teenage girls are. I I’m really sitting here like I can’t wait tonight as a teenager, which is the worst thing anyone has ever said in their life. It makes zero sense. But I’m just so like overcome by how thoughtful and articulate and kind and reasonable they can be. And then I know that there’s a there’s a dark side. I know it. I know it well. But wow. That just. I’m sorry that that touched my spirit like that.

S11: I know. So I also am like recovering from some tears here over just like that compassion towards both like her fellow senior and and the mom. I thought, yeah.

S1: What thoughtful advice I’m offered is covering from tears about how India agreed with me. You’re telling me that it’s true. Finally, we have some advice from Jackson.

S14: Hi, I’m Jackson and I’m a graduating senior at Niceville High School. Yes. The people here are nice. We get that question a lot. But the question for today’s contests, this is a tough situation because it’s unprecedented. And a lot of it is a grieving process because no one expected this. And so we’re not quite sure how to deal with it because it’s a new type of grieving process to the parents who sent in this message. I think it’s awesome that you’re trying to celebrate your son and make sure that he feels celebrated. And I think that that’s a great thing. But I think that it also might be coming across as like on his end, that you don’t fully understand what he’s feeling, because I know that that’s not your intention at all. But when people are feeling bad like this, I think that trying to. Cheer them up in certain ways can be good. And in other ways it can the person can feel not heard. The main thing would be to make sure that your son feels like he’s heard and that he has some space to grieve so that not only can you and your family celebrate in the way that you guys deserve, but he can join in celebration as well when he’s in a state of mind where he can actually celebrate.

S9: That is also extremely good advice for Jackson, who agrees with you guys. Yes, I do think this is a really hard question. I think Jamila’s response that, you know, your child and you know in your heart, the right way to handle it is definitely true. And if you decide to push. I trust that you will do it in a way that will not be triggering if you decide not to push. You can think of it, as Elizabeth suggested, as a gift that you are giving. And we really want to hear what happened. So please do check back in with us and let us know. And please do not congratulate your son for us, because that would obviously anger him. But graduation’s to you and your family for all of his accomplishments and yours.

S5: Jackson, your great, too. I gushed over the girls.

S9: Also, we have exciting news. The three of us have been replaced as host of the show with NZ, India and Jackson listeners. If you would like us to weigh in on your problems or questions, please send them our way. E-mail us at mom and dad at Slate dot com. So let’s move on now to our second listener question. Once again is being read by the fabulous socially and hard.

S15: OK, this has been a question I have stewed over for at least three years. Should I legally change my child’s name? His name is Jack Hunt. If you say it out loud, it sounds like cunt. My last name is not Hunt. It’s Williams. I was never married to his dad. His dad has never been in the picture. Back then, I was too docile to object to the name. These days I’m kind of jealous that his name gets the credit for the amazing kid I made. We picked a new name about a year and a half ago. Lincoln Jack Williams got the paperwork ready, but for whatever reasons, I just didn’t get around to doing the paperwork. My son is nine now and we still speak about doing it. I am on the fence about it because honestly, I don’t want a judge to tell me no and have wasted that money. Also, what if he regrets doing it later, does changing a child’s name go on their permanent legal record? But that make him look bad on paper? Would he be a sketchy nine year old fugitive?

S5: OK, so, no, it won’t. I mean, yes, there is a proverbial permanent record of your child existing that’s connected to his Social Security number and password. Perhaps if he has it, but it’s not going to make him look bad on paper. There are lots of people who have name changes. And typically, the sketchy name changes are completed by adults on behalf of themselves. There are a lot of kids that go through divorce. The family has regretted that. There is a lot of reasons that people change a child’s name early life. I actually had a legal name change at 17 when I was born. I had my mother’s last name and it’s a long story, but I have my father’s last name now, which is essentially how it always should have been. We meant to get to it and then they didn’t get to it. And I was gonna go off to school and this was the last opportunity to do it for free because or for low costs. I think we only have to pay for whatever the filing fee is for. A minor is pretty cheap as opposed to an adult who wants to change their name. So if this is something that your child is going to want to do with, you know, at any point, this is the best time to do it because, one, he’ll be used to this new name. And two, it will likely, depending on where you live. Be cheaper also. I said Jack out loud. A bunch of times and never landed on cunt. Jack. Jack. Jack. I mean, I guess it’s there, but you have to really be working for it. I feel, you know, but I think that the reasons for changing his name are certainly there based on the relationship or lack thereof with his father. And I think it’s awesome that you’re giving him your last name because you are his parents. And even if his father was to return to the picture for nine years, you have been the solo parent and you absolutely both deserve to have him honored with your family name. And a judge should have no reasons to tell you. I mean, again, I don’t know where you live. So let me not assume that there aren’t laws in certain parts of the country that make this more difficult than they were in Illinois where I had my name changed. I also added a second part to my first name just because it was free.

S9: You might as well get your money’s worth.

S5: I got my money’s worth. Give yourself as many names as possible. Yes. I have two other sisters whose names both start with an A and my dad wanted to give me a name, but my mother really likes Dumela. And so I added a name and thought that when I got to college, I was going to go by this new name, which is a Sallie. And so my first name is Jimmy Life and Assali. Even though I almost never use both of them together for years, my parents couldn’t pull again. They would like to use Sallie as my middle name. And I was like, no, I still have my old little name. And so my initials are jail. J i. L. So no one in college called me Assali because I had a bunch of friends from back home, so they were calling me Jamila’s. So it was ridiculous for me to introduce myself by a new name. But people did call me jail. So to this day my nickname is jail. I did this to myself.

S1: Jail. Mede virus.

S5: Yes. Jail. The virus. Exactly. But Lincoln JECT Williams is a very cool name. I don’t know if this is really the name or if you’re just using a pseudonym, but it’s a very nice name. And I think that you will have absolutely no problem getting this name change for your son. And no, it isn’t a question. It just make sure you save a digital copy and a hard copy of the name change paperwork. It’s unlikely because he doesn’t have like an I.D. and again, you may have a password, cyber negative and have a driver’s license or a state I.D. yet, but when he’s filling out paperwork, if he ever comes across a situation where he has to present his birth certificate, such as when he is getting a passport, you’re definitely going to need the name change paperwork on hand. So just make sure you hold on to it and keep it readily accessible and it’s going to be all good. You are going to both be very happy about it.

S11: What do you think of all the practical advice? Yeah, I also really thought, like, if the only reason you feel like you shouldn’t do this is because the judge might reject it. I just I don’t think there’s that much to worry about. I do believe that in a lot of states, you will have to at least notify the father or serve some kind of paperwork on them. So that is something to think about and prepare yourself for. But I would think unless the dad, like, shows up in court and challenges it, that it’s really unlikely that a judge is going to say that you shouldn’t do this. And it sounds like it’s something that you and your son have talked about and he’s on board with, too. I mean, of course, that’s the other thing is that at 9:00. Making sure that this is something he wants and it sounds like from the letter it is that, you know, I would think a judge would ask him also. But these all seem like really good reasons. And I think we’ve talked about names before and they’re so like they hold like some power. And so if you feel like that was not assigned correctly in the first place, like making you guys a family unit, then I think you should feel free to go and have it changed. And yeah, I think don’t worry about any kind of record. It’s one more piece of paper to kind of keep track, I’m sure. But that’s not a reason. Do not do something.

S9: You’re right, Elizabeth. That in most jurisdictions you’re going to have to reach out to the father, you know, even if that parent is uninvolved. The most judges require not only that you inform the other parent, but that you have consent from the other parent for it to be uncontested, for them to just sort of waive it through. If the father, for some reason really objected to it and wants to make that case in court, then it’s up to the judgment of the judge in 99 percent of cases I’ve ever heard of, even if the other parent objects, if that parent has not been involved in the child’s life, the judge won’t give a shit about their objection. And we’ll go ahead and say, yes, it’s fine to change your name. I would, in making your argument, focus on what I think is the I think you guys agree is the most important part of this decision and name change, which is you wanting the child’s name to reflect their relationship with you and your relationship as a family unit. Not that their name sounds like Kont, which it really doesn’t that much. However, your e-mail did make me wonder if this was actually a prank sent by the same kids who in middle school would always call Pizza Hut to order a pizza for Mike Hunt, which happened all the time, assuming this is correct. I just don’t think that needs to be a keystone of your argument. I don’t think that that is convincing or even that important in the eyes of a judge or really, honestly in real life. But I do think that what I bet are the real reasons that you actually want to change this name. I do think those are legitimate and are going to be meaningful to a judge. And it’s very unlikely that a judge is going to turn this down like kids names change all the time. As Jameelah said, it’s often because of adoption or marriage or something else. No one ever Batson, I had last year like changing your kid’s name to Moonflower, her ex age 12 or something insane. I think it’ll be totally fine. So you should go ahead and do it and say hello and give our love to young Lincoln Jack Williams or whenever his name ends up to be. If you have a question for us, please e-mail us at Mom and Dad at Slate dot com. All right, we’ve reached the point on the show where we all choose some kind of item to recommend to the listeners. I like to call this part of the show. Recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you have for us?

S11: I am recommending an app called Seke, and it’s from I Naturaliste, and it is free and it lets you take photos of things in nature and find out what they are. I originally found this because my sense of anxiety is like really focused on poisonous spiders. And so this helps us quickly identify spiders. But we’ve also used it like for every plant in the garden and birds and worms and all kinds of stuff. It identifies it based on like, you know, pictures and gives you the name. It doesn’t give you a lot of information after that, but that, you know, you can Google it whenever. But they’ve also released a bunch of, like, fine little challenges. And so I loaded this onto like an old iPhone that we had that had a camera. And I have sent the kids out to, like, complete a challenge, which is like fine to insects, find one arachnid, find this whatever. And it’s great. And learning a little bit about nature, also finding out what’s growing on you is going to bite you.

S1: So love it like Shazam. But for the world.

S5: Yeah. For for nature. Yes. I wonder if I could use that ad to identify some of my crystals because I have a few that I bought and they got separated from their labels. And, you know, a lot of them look like so I Googled like the basic physical description of them or whatever. But I can’t always tell, you know, if it’s what it looks like to me. So I have to try it.

S11: But it’s free. So you should download it and try it. And tell us. And if not, you should submit to their thing that it should.

S7: Yes. No.

S1: I will ask users to be better identifying information on seke. All right, Jamelia, what are you recommending?

S5: OK, so I’m sure some of you are familiar with Braggs Liquid Camino’s, which are used by a lot of folks, especially people that Gen 10 has left. What are you laughing, Dan?

S1: Because you just told us about how you use these and you were so excited. I love that you’re recommending them. Again, to our listeners also in conjunction with crystals, they really provide a real picture of your current mindset. This is me.

S5: This is who I am. I am from Hyde Park, Chicago. I grew up going to the sunflower seed and bonus Santé health food stores that were three blocks away from each other and opened when everybody in the neighborhood was a hippie. Only bona santé remains. I hope that they’re doing well at this time. I should see if I can open them online. But anyway. Yes. So shout out to kids who grew up eating Tiger’s milk, carob bars and stuff like that. When I wasn’t eating like Harold’s fried chicken. But anyway, so a lot of you, all that cook vegetarian dishes or go to vegan restaurants, is that or by a lot of your groceries from health foods that are pretty familiar with Braggs, like what Amino is, which is a soy protein seasoning that is often used as a soy salt alternative is lower in sodium made from soy beans. Well, there are also coconut Camino’s very on trend, I think, with all things coconut being so popular right now. And I found a delicious one by a brand called Coconut Secret. And they have regular coconut Camino’s and they also have a coconut Camino’s garlic sauce, which is a soy free. They describe it as an Asian style seasoning sauce. I really hope this is not offensive in some way, but it is so good. And it’s made of organic coconut tree sap, organic garlic, sea salt, organic ginger and organic cayenne pepper. I don’t know why the sea salt is not organic. Perhaps there’s not a thing that can be achieved, but it’s really good and I use it to make collard greens. Last night for the very first time in my life. I saw tape collard greens in duck fat desert and call my collard greens boogie. So this is an experience that I never could have accounted for or plan or that my white colleague would be calling my collard greens Buji or that I would ever make collard greens. I grew up hating them. And so I came across some good ones not too long ago and decided that I would try to make them myself. And these were great, great. Thanks to these coconut liquid Camino’s loving coconut look. I mean, garlic sauce.

S9: That is a great recommendation. Thank you. Also, I would really like to eat some collard greens right now. I am recommending a podcast, not for families or for kids particularly is pretty much mostly for adults. But I think it’s really great and I love it. And I think that many of our listeners would like to. It’s one of my favorite parks in the world. It’s called You Must Remember This. It’s by a woman named Karina Longworth. It’s a Hollywood history podcast. She’s done amazing seasons in the past on the Manson murders, on the blacklist, on Howard Hughes and on Song of the South. And her new season is debuting this month. And it’s a little bit different. It’s an entire season about a single film executive and producer whom you maybe have never heard of, but who is responsible for some of the best movies of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Her name was Polly Platt. Without her, we would not have had broadcast news. Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment. Say anything, a bottle rocket. Even The Simpsons, in a surprising way, owe their existence to Polly Platt. She was a really unique figure. I love the Korina spending an entire season of her podcast just on her life and career and on her work. Carina’s very smart about the industry, about art and commerce, about women in the entertainment world. And I’m really looking forward to this season on the podcast. I think you have like a two.

S2: It’s called You Must Remember This, and that is our show one more time. If you have a question, please email us at mom or dad at Slate dot com. Please join us on Facebook. You can just search for Slate parenting. Mom and Dad are fighting us, produced by Rosemarie Nelson, Jamilah Lemieux and Elizabeth New Camp. I’m Dan Coifs. Please join us next week with our new co-hosts, Mackenzie, India and Jackson. Thanks, everyone. Talk to you soon.

S1: Hello, Slate plus listeners. Thank you so much for Sparty Mohammed, after finding it really, really means a lot to us to slate to the work that we do every day that you have signed up for this. And we are always happy to bring you both segments. And we’re especially happy to bring back beloved former mom or dad or Freddie. Co host Alison Benedicte here today with a wild story that involves a shower ode to a neighborhood critter and also a call to the feds. All right, Alison, take us back to the beginning. All of a sudden on slack a couple days ago, we receive a very excited message for me about what is going on in her neighborhood. What happened in the wilds of New Jersey.

S3: So for a couple of days, we’ve been hearing that there was a sick raccoon hanging around the neighborhood like my kids would be playing outside and neighbor would text and say, your kids are out. But I saw a raccoon, the raccoons back. Be careful about the raccoon. And I had been ignoring this. And then late last week, there was a lot of commotion. I was in the office. It was my day to work. When the kids come, like running up the stairs to the attic office screaming. We found a raccoon. We’ve named him Dusty. Can we keep him? Can we keep them? And I was like, no, we definitely cannot keep this raccoon. They had Wally, who’s the youngest, who’s seven, said he had a plan like we can feed him trash and it’ll be great. And I said, absolutely not. We can keep her. I can send them outside. I didn’t leave. I just sent them back outside and said, do not touch the raccoon and tried to continue my work. But then there was like a lot of commotion outside with the neighbors. Finally, I go out. Apparently, John, my husband had called first he called the cops, which I’m not sure that’s what you’re supposed to do. Very questionable. And the cops told him to call animal control. Animal Control said we’ll be there in an hour. Do not take your eyes off the raccoon. So the neighbors are out. Everyone’s like the raccoon is in our bushes and everyone’s kind of surrounding our yard to make sure that the raccoon can’t get past them forming like a human shield. And I come out and John says, Honey, I have dinner on the stove. So you either have to wash this raccoon or finish cooking, which if you know he is a real Sophie’s Choice, says absolutely. Sophie’s Choice, too. Yeah, I choose Raccoon immediately. Everyone else is chill about this. The kids are like really into it. And then the neighbors are like, yeah, we’re watching a raccoon. But I see those beady eyes and it starts like it’s very injured. So it’s like pretty slow, but it’s coming. You know, it’s making its way out of the bushes toward me. I’m like a child shrieking, maybe not even like a child because the children are doing fine. I am like me shrieking and running. So eventually we decide it’s not working. So we switch. John comes back out. I go inside. I let whatever he was cooking burn. But he somehow captures the raccoon under a garbage can and ties the garbage can down. Then the record is trapped. We can all, like, get on with our late afternoon. The kids are kind of upset that this raccoon is trapped. This is gonna be their pet. This is going to be their pet.

S1: Can you go into a little more detail about Wally’s plan for how Dusty would live with you? Like, did he make an affirmative case, for example, that you would be cutting down on landfill use because you’d be feeding your trash to Dusty?

S3: No, it wasn’t that thought out. But he would take care of him. So one thing to know is that we are going to be in like a little lake house for a part of the summer. And they’re very excited about this because they plan to trap a rabbit. So they’ve been talking about having a rabbit for several weeks. They’re like obsessed with it. They’ve Google how to trap a rabbit. So I feel like this sort of took the place of that or this is like a dry run for them. They’re like, if we can get this raccoon and make this raccoon love us, the same will happen with the rabbit this summer. Anyway, it was exciting. We’re back inside. We tell while I take a shower. He is singing in the shower, a song that he made up. Very good song. He made up called There’s a Raccoon in the Front Yard.

S1: I believe we have a clip of that song we can play right now. Yeah.

S3: And then animal control that shows up and she lifts the garbage can and all of a sudden the raccoon is fast again and darts out. So all of our time, like actually doing a good job, trapping this record is lost. But she finally captures the raccoon. And it’s kind of a violent situation. And the kids are in their P J’s and kind of panicked and cut to the next day when I hear Wally on a zoom with his first grade class saying, did you guys know that put to sleep doesn’t really mean go to sleep? And that is the story of Dusty, the raccoon. Though animal control woman does not do not think Dusty had rabies. She thought he had distemper and cataracts to which the kids said, like, can’t he just get cataract surgery because that’s what their grandparents have now.

S1: Surely you would pay for cataract surgery for your beloved pet? Dusty Right. It’s a really good story. I’m happy that you told me a little more about their plans for making Dusty your pet. I’m also very curious about this rabbit and what will happen when you’re at this lake house. Do you believe that the experience of the raccoon has turned them off? No idea to capture and make a rabbit love them.

S3: If anything, it has heightened their excitement about capturing wild animal, and they don’t have a sense that it could end badly for the animals.

S16: Dusty? No, I think they understand. We wouldn’t call animal control and a rabbit, so. Sure. Yeah.

S3: Paws. Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam. I’m literally doing a podcast right now.

S17: Guys, I’m doing a podcast.

S1: I’ll be down in a second receiving all of this can. That’s my line. Sam and Harry go.

S3: Did you hear that one of them called the other piece of shit.

S16: Alison, this is everything I wanted out of a Slate plus segment. Thank you. We’re keeping every single minute. It’s all going. It’s going to be fine. Don’t worry.

S3: I will not let them really trap. Poor rabbit.

S1: I just don’t think they’ll ever be able to as I’m not like this. You guys could barely capture an injured distemper to blind rescue. It’s true. It was hard. Glad to know that you are on it. There you are. As usual, not answering your mail or reading your mail. And that, John, is an ark. I’m glad you’ve learned all these things about your family. As always, the Cook Benedek family is my favorite family in America. Thank you. I’ll talk to you later.

S3: Thanks. Bye, guys.

S1: All right. That’s it for Slate plus this week. Thanks so much for listening. Thanks so much for your support. Talk to you next time.