S1: The following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Oh, hello, I didn’t see you there. Welcome to a very special live mom and dad are fighting here at Slate Dotcom. I’m Dan Coifs. I’m an editor at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family. And I’m the dad of Lyra, who is 15, and Harpur, who’s 13. They’re currently upstairs in our house in Arlington, Virginia.
S3: And Jamilah Lemieux, I am a writer contributor to Slate’s Karen Feting Parenting column, host of Slate’s Absolute Bestest, Most Terrible Show in the world. The kids are asleep and moms who Nyima, who is seven. And we reside in Los Angeles, California. She’s in the other room, but she’s mad at me so she might not come out out of spite because I had told her that it would be keeping kids. I’m Elizabeth, new camp. I write the homeschooling family travel blog text at school. I’m the mom to three little Henry who’s eight.
S4: Oliver who’s six. Teddy who’s four. They are theoretically in bed, hopefully asleep. I don’t know, just taking care of it. So we’ll see. We live in Navarre, Florida, and for once there is not a single hurricane headed our way.
S1: Truly amazing. Well, a real October miracle. So we’re very excited by the live show. I know that’s a nice thing that the Atlantic Storm Systems did for this live show. We’re very happy to be doing this live show for you. Happy that all of you can see our faces. Happy that we can answer your questions live and on the air. And that’s what we need from you on this live show. We need questions to answer. And even better than that, if you send in a question, if you post it in our in the chat and this very here live cast, we have the wonderful, fabulous, incomparable, the one and only Shasha Leonhard with us to read those questions. Say Hi, Shasha.
S5: Hi. How’s it going? Who’s that on your shoulder there? I said, this is my own son, Gus. My parents. Yeah. And apparently I read questions for this podcast thanks to a popular demand.
S1: Yes. So we’re very excited to have a real live celebrity on the show tonight. It was I mean, it’s one thing to have Abby Wambach. She’s five, but we got fucking Shasha Leonhard. So we really want your questions and you really want to hear them read and dulcet tones. We’re going to start the show off while we’re waiting for your questions with, as always, some triumphs and fails. Djamila, you are the one who has the most experience with Slate live, thanks to your incredible weekly show. So you want to go first with a triumph or a fail?
S6: Sure. I think I’m also the reigning fail queen, so I shan’t disappoint. This week I have a fail. I think I have raised a child who is too socially aware for her own good. I didn’t think that was possible, but I do believe that we are now the parody that Fox News describes. And this is the future that liberals want for your children. So I was teasing my daughter about something Nyima seven the other day. I can’t remember what it was I want to write down. I was driving something pretty innocuous and she said, Well, I can’t tell if you’re joking or if you’re telling the truth and words have power. It was some like straight up playful ribbing, like I was just kidding with her. Like we were having fun, I thought. And just in the middle of it, she says, I’m not sure if you’re telling the truth or not because words have power. And so now I’m afraid to make jokes with my kids like cancer culture has arrived at my house. I wasn’t prepared for it. I want to mention this while we’re here. I posted this on Facebook and that basically I don’t go there and Instagram and Twitter. I got my first ever email from Nyima. I’m going to call this a double fail because my first email from my child, my beautiful child to whom I gave life, the subject was, Can I have this toy? And the body of the email was the link to a toy that she wants on Amazon.com. There was nothing else. Hi, Mommy. Now I love you, Mommy. Is there a little you know, there’s no niceties, no pleasantries whatsoever. Just can I have this toy and a link to the toy? No debate, no argument on behalf of her having the toy, just the expectation that it should arrive at her house. And yet I can’t even tell her a joke. Did you reply to our you know, now she said to you yesterday, I do her like I do everybody else. You just got to wait.
S1: So I feel like she was like what she understands what emotion means to her generation. Right? It’s like Aliya’s mom talks to us a lot about how she hates emailing because she just can’t be casual about it. She can’t do an email unless it includes like, dear whoever. And then three paragraphs. That includes one paragraph of like, how are you? The weather is great and I love Maggie, whereas we’re comfortable just be like, Hey, Maggie, please look at this. Let us know what you think. But then kids, right. Kids should theoretically be using email, like texting or just yelling at a friend. There should be nothing other than the most important part of the message which is binding this thing.
S6: That’s pretty much what it was. At least she started with a can you buy me this toy? And I honestly think it wasn’t will you bother me? This toy? It was. Can you like do you have the money for this? Because if you do, then surely there’s no reason that I can’t have it and I can expect to see it in two to three prime days. That’s my child. That’s what I believe.
S1: Kids measure time in prime days. Now, those are good two good fails. However, I really think that you are that has really already basically a master of a abimael for her generation. She’s got it nailed down. Elizabeth, what about you trying for fame?
S4: I have a triumph. We spent the weekend in a tree house in the Mecca of hopefull Alabama and the tree house, like in the middle of nowhere, just like this field in Alabama. And there was a pond and grass. And normally I am like a meticulous itinerary maker and planner. Of course, there’s not much to plan in hopefull. So I did nothing. I just like grab some toys from the house, brought them with us. We went to this tree house. It was like the best trip. Like the kids just ran around on this field. We sat up in the tree house, we went fishing. We, you know, good news. There were no snakes, but there were plenty of bugs for the kids to find all that kind of stuff. But it was, I think, a success because it’s like nice that our family is sort of anough sometimes, like, we don’t need all this stuff. Nobody got sick of each other. Everybody had a great time. So the change of scenery was like a perfect refresh. We didn’t go anywhere fancy or do anything big. We literally just like found this tree house. I mean, it’s like an Alabama tree house. It was nothing fancy. And we just had a great time and the kids ran around perfect.
S1: Could you explain to those of us who don’t understand why you would live in a tree house, what was in the tree house where their toilets in the tree house?
S4: Oh, yeah, it is. I would like to go camping like it had a toilet and a shower. Yeah. And the tree house had like a lot, but it was built up in the tree. Now I will say the first night I did wake up in the middle of the night because I thought there was like a squirrel or something running across the floor. But upon reflection and waking everyone else up, I think it was light coming through. There was a like a beveled glass door in this tree house. I think maybe light from the twinkle lights outside was coming through. But I was convinced it was coming to get us all no kitchen or anything chandelier.
S1: And yet this tree house, twenty seven diamond chandelier in this area.
S4: So it was like I mean it’s like camping, it’s not like the backyard tree house, but it was still just the idea of it being up in the tree. Right. Is enough for the kids to have fun. You clearly bought it too, because you were convinced that squirrels were I mean, yeah, it’s a cabin in a tree. There are going to be animals there.
S6: It’s the latter situation. Is it like a wrangler? Like are you like climbing. Oh, no. Like stuff with the tree.
S4: Take our things up and no, it’s like regular stairs and like hammocks hanging underneath. And I wasn’t sure what the situation was going to be. So I made each child pack their own and a small bag because I thought I’m not hauling some huge bag of ladders. I think so, yes. They we carried them up the stairs and then inside the tree house, there’s ladders to the because the banks are all like up in the rafters and attached to the side of the walls. Yeah.
S6: Very nice. Sounds like a chance for this. And I’m just coming out with Alvin and the Chipmunks for some reason. And I don’t know why you can’t go on Instagram right now.
S1: I mean, I would feel naturally at home in a tree house, Alvin and the Chipmunks, but I’m definitely getting Keebler Elves vibes off this myself. All right. So I have a fail this week, and it’s a long running fail, one that I maybe even mentioned a year or two ago when it was in its nascent stages, back when Rebecca and her son were dealing with driver’s licensing woes. The fail is that I now have a fifteen and a half year old, which is the age at which you can start like driving. You can start taking driver’s ed. You can in Virginia at fifteen and a half, you can get your learner’s permit. You can start practice driving with your parents and start working your way towards a full driver’s license. And my feel is that I have a kid who just absolutely. One hundred percent refuses to even consider wanting to drive for any reason. Lyra is convinced that the instant she got behind the wheel of any vehicle of any kind, she would, I don’t know, like drive it into a tree and burst into flames or drive off a cliff like Thelma Louise or be sucked up by aliens and explode. I don’t know. She’s just she has gotten it in her head that the only possible result of her being behind the wheel of a car is death and destruction. And so she’s just like, no, fuck, no, I’m not doing this. I’m not I have zero interest in driving. I don’t want to do this thing. And you can’t make me. And whereas Holly and I have our childhood experiences to fall back on and we were both very eager drivers, we both were like, you know, as soon as I can get a learner’s permit, I’m getting it. I’m studying for that test. And I both went for our driver’s test on our sixteenth birthdays, even though that was December twenty seventh in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So there was like three feet of snow on the ground and I was just like maneuvering between snow banks, but I didn’t care. I was getting that license. And so we just can’t relate at all to this kid who was determined that she has zero interest and in being able to drive or get around town. And we’ve we’ve tried like all the different techniques of like trying to get her into it, including the classic, like, that’s fine. But once you’re sixteen, if there’s some place you need to get that’s on you, we can’t keep driving you everywhere. But she, like, just instantly defang that. She’s like, OK, that’s cool. I just want go anywhere.
S6: You know, I want to be mad at this, and I’m not I’m just I kind of, you know, as somebody who tried to convince her child that she was allergic to bicycle’s so that you would never buy one so that she would never get hit by a car on a bike. The idea of my teenager not ever wanting to drive doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. Also, maybe Lyra died in a car accident the past life. And you might want to just give her some space around this and just take her where she needs to go. She’s going where to go.
S1: My sense is that I ran a past. Life was like an Amazon warrior and they don’t have access to cars.
S4: I’m not sure you can make someone drive, though, or learn to drive. So of course we can’t. That’s the fucking thing. Yeah, but you don’t have a lot. She just has to live out the whole thing and but maybe she gets friends who drive her out. Like, I feel like this is her problem. I know. I know. It feels like a while. But also just like it’s not your problem.
S6: But it’s going to be sad about, you know what I just thought about me at 60. I probably shouldn’t scare you at this, but like me at 16, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to drive my parents like my mother doesn’t know how to drive. So there was no car in the household. My father drove and taught me how to drive. I didn’t have access to a car. I couldn’t take my friends anywhere like I was the designated drinker.
S1: So I think about my daughter is going to be the designated drinker and her group of friends because she didn’t even bother to learn how to drive.
S4: I mean, but the flip side of this is maybe she would be a terrible driver like that would be worse. Like what if she was a terrible driver but wanted to drive all the time?
S6: Well, then she should learn to become a better driver through the training offered to her by the state of Virginia. Do they have driver video games? Is there a way she can do this at home or it’s a little bit less high stakes like do they for Nintendo with. Yeah, well, the problem is that that game is really, you know, dependent on running into other people, throwing bombs at them.
S1: If you drive off a cliff, there’s no harm. So I don’t know that that is like the drivers, Ed, that she needs. And also, I actually see that playing Mario Kart with us has led her to believe that that’s what driving is. And I guess if you think of it that way, that is pretty intimidating, like at any moment. Yeah, like a turtle could throw a bomb at you while you’re speeding around a corner and that’s it. You blew your blown up.
S6: It actually happens in L.A. that I would not be shocked if someone threw a turtle at my car every day, thousands of Los Angeles drivers are injured by flying turtles.
S1: All right. That’s my failure, right? That in the end, it’s her problem, except for it’s her problem. That’s my problem because I don’t recognize it like a child of mine who does not want to drive, even though I know cars are bad for the world, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Like this is a rite of passage. And I’ve been basically fine with Liara, not caring about any of the other rites of passages. But this one really bugs me and I can’t get over it. And I know I’m just going to just be a pain in her ass forever and drive her crazy and we will drive each other crazy.
S4: And that’s why it’s a good faith, because it’s your fail.
S1: Now, that’s my bill, to be fair.
S6: It’s also driving all crazy. And you drive her.
S1: That’s right. My dad. I got to get to crazy. Can you drive me there? All right. We have some audience questions from you, our beloved listeners and viewers. And we have the great Shasha here to read them.
S5: The first question is from, I don’t know, Shasha, tell us the first question is from Chris and he asks, what advice can I offer my son, 20, who has a potential girlfriend at work who keeps wavering between hot and cold?
S1: Great question. A sort of adult child question. Who wants to take this one formula?
S6: Tell your son you better leave that girl alone and keep your job. She’s waving a hot and cold that is more like a potential girlfriend to me. Sounds like a potential termination. Only 20 dating someone you work with is complicated when you’ve been working a long time and you’re used to having social interactions with your colleagues. And imagine a 20 year old at the very at the most has been in the workforce for three or four years. If she’s not clear that she’s interested in him, I would move on, be friends to him to be polite, be kind to her. And if she is interested in pursuing him romantically, she can do that.
S4: I agree completely.
S1: I’m just curious what and maybe the I mean, this is a great opportunity we have on this live show. We don’t usually have this on the regular show. But if the question to ask her or maybe follow up, what is this job? So it’s one thing if you’re working in an office or if you have a supervisory position, but if you’re like a lifeguard, the whole purpose of being a lifeguard is to make out with your co-workers like that’s basically your job.
S6: And so there’s not way that that’s true.
S4: That’s like girlfriend. We’re not like if they want to go make out or something, fine. But they’re. I thought the question was more like about getting into a relationship with this person.
S1: Well, I mean, a 20. That’s just never a good idea at all. So I guess. Yeah, I guess I agree with you guys. All right.
S5: We got another question Shasha hit on this question is from Mayar. How do you keep an 11 month old baby distracted long enough to change your diaper and or clothes?
S1: I think there’s a second half to that question, too. How bad is it to let her hold my phone for a minute when toys don’t hold her attention? Sasha, thank you. The question is, we got an 11 month old baby got to change the diaper. You’ve got to change the clothes. Babies hate that. They wiggle, they wriggle. They jiggle like a bowl full of jelly. Can you just let them have your phone? The answer is obviously yes.
S4: You let them down from your phone. No, no, no, no. Then they put it in their mouth and then your phone will stop working. That’s why you’re obviously in a Ziploc bag. I think you should. Yeah, you should. It’s not that. It’s that they’re slobber gets into the mic. I’m speaking from experience here. The slobber gets into the microphone and then your phone will stop working. So I think you have to give them something like a phone they want because they can’t have. So you’ve got to give them something else that they shouldn’t have but that you’re offering to them because it’s a safer choice. So, like, you know, the diaper cam. No, I have another diaper, but I find if you just had something like random from the diaper station, they don’t want the toy. They they know that you’re trying to fool them with that. They want something that they otherwise couldn’t get. We used to keep it thing of those like puffs next to the diaper changing station. And it feels a little weird because it’s like you’re putting things in while you’re changing stuff that came out. But if you just give them something to eat now, I’m sure this has caused all of my children will probably have all kinds of weird associations with food now, but it worked really well. They ate they had a little snack. Why they laid still. It’s great.
S1: My feeling is that diaper changing and clothes changing eleven months old is so difficult. There would have been times when I would have willingly sacrificed a phone to just like get that shit done. So if the only thing that works is giving your kid the phone, put some tape over the microphone or the speaker or whatever, put it in a baggie, but give them the file. You got to do what you got to do because kids, the ugliest kids make changing diapers or putting on clothes just like such a, like, literal shit show. Anything you can do to get out of it in my in my estimation, is worth it.
S7: But one of those good silicone cases on your phones where it’s harder at least for the girl to reach the mouthpiece, whatever it takes, as long as it’s not something they can hurt themselves with, they’ll be fine.
S1: All right. Before we get to our next question, we’ve had several requests from people in the audience, including people who are who are my neighbors to know what are we drinking this evening? I myself am drinking a longboard lager. I’m drinking this instead of what I was going to drink, which was a Paloma, because I had a specific request from Rosie to drink something without ice. She was like, Dan, ISIS to clinking and clanking in your glass and it messes up the podcast reporting. So drink a beer. So I’m drinking a beer, but I may actually just occasionally be like, oh oops.
S4: She said I could have ice though. Are you fucking kidding me? I am having a jaspan and I know I, I recorded myself drinking pre show and asked her if the ice is a problem and she said because I don’t swivel my glass around and I keep it away from the mic that I was entitled to some ice. So the problem is not just my drink behavior. Yeah, you have bad on air during it here.
S6: The problem is Elisabeth willingness to like I’ve never been that prepared for anything in my life that she was like, I want to see if I can have like ice in my car. I couldn’t, but I bet I could if I try. That’s amazing. You and family do it. You’re like, let’s do a test run.
S4: It did. I enter an audio recording? Yeah, sure.
S6: Amazing to me. What do you think? I am drinking out of the entire cup, apparently, like I’ve never had like a I have almost a perfect ring of lipstick, so I’ve grabbed it from a different angle every time that I’m drinking a some kind of wine peach wine spritzer situation. And then I poured a bunch of rosé on top of it so it would taste like real wine. I have like lots of cocktails, but I was rushing and I saw the big wine cup and I was like, put wine in it. So that’s what I did. So unintentional cocktail situation. Really, it’s about the wallpaper.
S1: Don’t even worry about a lot of stuff in that glass, but it blends nicely with the wallpaper behind it, which I think is maybe your secret goal with that drink.
S7: Thank you. So I did pick a drink to match the wallpaper because I was going I usually drink brown liquor, but that would not have looked as nice.
S1: All right. We got another question from the crowd.
S5: Shasha hided, Craig would like to know what are good video games to play with five year olds. He played the Mario Kart and also watch this play. Mario sixty four and Zelda, my personal favorite shot.
S1: We may come back to you for a couple of answers to this one, because I think that you might actually be the biggest gamer among the panelists here. My suggestion would be, you know, my kids are a little older, so I haven’t played a lot of video games on our current switch system with them. The what’s the Zelda game? That is a breath of the wild, but is like the Cuvier goofier Zelda game, Link’s Awakening. So, you know Dan Link’s Awakening. That’s correct. A five year old, I think, would enjoy exploring that world and you probably would play it with them. But I think that they would get a kick out of it. And then, I mean, the obvious answer to me is smash brothers, super smash brothers. Any five year old would just enjoy the hell out of the total chaos and insanity of that game.
S4: So imagine all the way yet my five year old really likes the Lego Harry Potter game as well, and there’s a whole series of those Lego ones, if there’s one of the stories that they’re familiar with. And I think he likes it because the story is familiar, because we’re reading Harry Potter, but also he can accomplish quite a bit of it, even on his own. And we can play with him or his brothers can play with him. So those Lego ones have been like kind of right in the in the age zone for our seven and five year old.
S1: Djamila, got any suggestions?
S6: Nope, I don’t even know how to play video games myself.
S1: Good thing we got to feel better on Shasha. What do you have for us for a four or five year old man?
S5: When I was five, I was playing Yoshi’s Island. That was a big one. My brother, who is three years younger than me, it was like a package deal. I would play it and he would sit and watch. So my parents were really happy about that and it’s great. I would recommend side scroller games. There’s like little navigation to be done and you just kind of have to just follow straight down the screen. And that’s probably good for a five year old with little spatial awareness skills.
S1: That’s a great idea. Like something like a breath of the Wild is like there’s so much they’re open or be overwhelming for a five year old. But something where you just understand I’m supposed to go right. And I jump over things when they come at me like that seems very doable for most five year olds. Joshua, what are you drinking?
S5: I am drinking a twenty eighteen coton and Gus is drinking water.
S1: That is delicious. My goodness. You’re significantly classier than the rest of us. All right. We have another question in the chat from Matt.
S5: If you don’t have enough wi fi to go around the whole family, how do you decide between zoom school and work meetings and between mom and dad who might actually be fighting over this?
S1: This is our one. The obvious first answer is upgrade your fucking wi fi. But I guess depending on how many kids you have, if you have, like Amy, Connie Barrett, number of kids there, you may overwhelm any wi fi that you have going anywhere from any wi fi. So, I mean, the the first answer I would give is there’s almost no work call that has to be a zoo unless you are the call leader and you’re supposed to be sharing your screen with twenty five people in your company. Any work call you’re supposed to be doing, even if it’s on Zoome, you can just do over the phone. That’s over the cell network and on taxing the wi fi. So I would tend to prioritize the kid’s school stuff over your work stuff. Also if you prioritize your work stuff and the kids get to their school, they’re just going to be up in your grill the whole time. You’re trying to do your work call anyway and then you’re screwed. What do you guys think?
S4: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a really hard choice, so I yeah, I mean, I guess my instinct is like get out of planner and see where everyone’s things are and who has, you know, I would have like some kind of chart off on the wall and figure out figure this out. But I think it is really hard. I think, though, it’s possible you’re in some kind of work situation where, like, you have to be on this call.
S8: If that at the end of the day, like if you’re going to lose your job because you’re not on this call, then that has to be the priority. But otherwise, I agree. You can probably call it in or talk to your boss or whoever about what the situation is. I think people hopefully are being more flexible now or at least understand the situation like that. We’re all using, you know, the same amount of Internet to try to do everything over the computer.
S7: Yeah, I hope this is just like a fun club. I mean, it’s not fun at all, but I hope this is a thought starter question and that’s something you’re actually going through. But if you are, I mean, I agree. Like, there’s definitely a conversation that needs to be had with the school or schools or teachers or teachers know there are some schools where a hotspot can be made available because the student doesn’t have strong Internet at home where they may be willing to, say, provide a school device if you’re struggling to get online from a home device. Like Dan said, most Zoome calls you can absolutely do as a phone call as opposed to doing a video call. And I would say as far as the between the mom and dad that might actually be fighting over this, I think the person who is least likely to accidentally trip and fall and land into an affair needs to leave and perhaps access the Wi-Fi at a local fast food restaurant parking lot or in a coffee shop. And I’m not kidding, you know, I mean, I was kidding about the affair part, but I mean, I have certainly had to take my laptop and go somewhere in the past. Right. I think we’ve all had, especially if you’ve been on the Internet as long as all of us have been and you may have had to sit outside of somewhere that had Wi-Fi to access their Wi-Fi without purchasing anything, without being able to go inside or whatever it is, you’re going to have to find some better Wi-Fi. And if it’s between mom and dad and who gets the Wi-Fi and who doesn’t, you also might need to think about whose job is most urgent, whose needs to be protected most. But again, I think the conversation I agree with my colleague that conversations with teachers and supervisors need to be had because the situation needs to be addressed. And for you all to learn and to work, you need better wi fi and I think both of those institutions to support you in getting better wi fi.
S1: All right, great answers. We’ve got another question Catherine asks.
S9: We have tried to raise our two and a half year old daughter without traditional gender norms, colors, princesses, etc. She’s decided on her own that purple and pink are her favorite colors, which is great. My mother in law has taken this newfound preference for a purple and pink as an excuse to start doing her fake makeup, jewelry, et cetera, with her because she likes it. How do I diplomatically ask her not to without hurting her feelings, or am I thinking too much about it?
S7: You know, I won’t say you’re thinking too much. I’m just going to say you’re thinking the wrong things. This is very similar to your thoughts are wrong. OK, this is very similar to a question that we receive that care and feeding a few weeks ago with the family that was set of parents are trying to raise their child gender neutral and the child, quote unquote or to where know excuse me, they did not say that they wanted the child to identify as gender neutral, but they would dress them and gender her and gender neutral clothing and expose her to what they described to be gender neutral toys and activities. And they were disturbed that she was taking a liking to pink and puppy dresses and they were bothered by that. And I feel like what I’m hearing here is a negative connotation being assigned to things that are coded as traditionally feminine. And I don’t know if that’s what you’re intending to do. But so often what we talk about or what we describe to be gender neutral clothing or gender neutral toys are things that are typically marketed toward boys. Right. Like or that would be coded as masculine. There’s nothing wrong with femininity. Right. Or what we describe as femininity. The problem is the idea that somebody who identifies as a woman is thought and some but by many people to have to behave in a certain way. Right. That used to be a girl. You must stress this like only girls can wear pink. Only girls can play with dolls. Girls must play with dolls. Girls must wear pink. None of those things are true. But there’s nothing wrong with a girl loving pink and purple. There’s nothing wrong with the boy loving it either. But I wonder if this were your girl taking an interest in things that were coded as masculine. Would you be as bothered as you are by the idea of a child that you wanted to embrace the gender neutral take on the world, finding things that are relating to her assigned gender to be OK? This doesn’t mean she won’t be progressive, doesn’t mean she won’t be feminist. That doesn’t mean that she’s going to spend her life as a damsel in distress waiting for her prince to come and rescue her. This doesn’t mean that she’s going to suffer from internalized misogyny.
S6: She likes pink and purple and she’s a little girl. And that’s completely fine. That’s totally OK.
S4: I feel like part of it, too, though, is about the behavior of the mother in law and like her taking this. I totally agree with you about, I think the purpose of teaching people to be gender neutral, in a sense, is to let us all have choices. And sometimes we’re going to make choices that are in line with a particular stereotype. And I think that’s fine. But is this mother in law like overstepping that? I guess I feel like as long as what you’re presenting other times is not always the, you know, praise for prepping or how you look or anything like that, then it’s totally fine. And this is something that they’re doing with your mother in law. And it’s fun if she enjoys it. Right. It’s about giving her the opportunity. Like if this is the activity that you do with your mother in law or with your grandma. Right. And you love that, then that in and of itself might be OK to do. That’s what your grandmother is sharing with you. And I agree with Jamila in the fact that, like, if she enjoys it, then you should let her do it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
S8: And it sounds like you’re probably presenting lots of images of really fierce women as well. It’s not all about just the be a damsel in distress and and look pretty and read these princess stories. Right. Like you’re giving her a bigger picture of that. So I think if it’s something she is enjoying now, if it’s like something that she starts to not enjoy and your mother in law is doing it anyway, that’s a whole different thing, I think.
S1: Right. We don’t know the answer to that. We don’t know really how the kid is feeling about. Yeah, I mean, she’s a little caveat that it’s really hard to get a child that age to do anything that she has absolutely zero interest in. And most likely the kid is responding to like attention and particular care given to her by her grandmother in these moments. I relate to this question a little bit because I do think that they’re. For some parents of girls, it can be really frustrating to see them sort of sucked into a certain mode of gender presentation that feels so overwhelming in our culture. And I don’t think it necessarily has to do with thinking that pink and purple are bad or the girly things are bad so much as it so often feels like it’s the only real option for self presentation that American culture gives little girls. And so a lot of parents, us included, when our kids were little pushed against that, not necessarily because we had any problem with it, if it was in the end what she truly wanted. But because it felt like everyone around her who wasn’t us was pushing this particular mode of expression on her, and that drove us a little bit crazy. So I definitely relate to that. What I would say, though, is that I think. The Djamila is right that you should it is OK to step back and not make a bunch of assumptions about what this means for who your child is now or is eventually going to be. And if this thing is a thing that she shares with her grandmother, it also potentially has the benefit of sort of taking this particular mode of play off of your plate. This doesn’t have to be the thing that you have to do with your daughter anymore. This is the thing that she does with grandma. She does fun, pretend princess, playful grandma. She does her hair endlessly with grandma. And you can leave all that shit aside if that’s not your thing and you can find other things to do with her.
S4: I think that’s great advice. Even if she wants to engage in not you can say like, oh, that’s something fun. Like let’s say that to do with Indian. Also, you actually have a child that, like, loves makeup and playing with makeup and is also like a superstrong like Harper is not any of the things that I think this person is worrying about.
S1: I’m going to have a live report from Harper softball game that she left for while I started recording this. I just received a text from Olia that Harper had a double on a full count with the bases loaded and drove two runs in Djamila. I’m sorry you were going to say something about this question. It wasn’t just me bragging about my daughter.
S6: I don’t know any of those things mean, but they sound very congratulations to Harper. I just like. Yeah, I mean, hi, I am actually a princess in real life and I am hard core, you know, like, there’s so many ways to be a girly girl.
S7: I understand what you’re saying, Dan, about like it can be overwhelming or just kind of disconcerting that there’s one presentation that is pitched or, you know, or for many years that was pitched toward young American girls. And this is how girls should behave and what they should be interested in. And, you know, and to see your child kind of fall in line with that can be jarring. And I can imagine that being the same experience if you are raising boys. Right. If they only want to nerf guns and violence and really aggressive play. But I think that the difference on some level with some of these stereotypically feminine things that like unless we’re talking about identifying as a damsel in distress or a mean girl or somebody who’s wholly consumed by how she looks to the point of being superficial and vapid, that traditionally feminine stuff isn’t necessarily as bad for girls that times in the way that, you know, traditionally masculine things can be.
S6: And I also think that we are like really comfortable with watching girls explore things that are typically coded as male. We’re not as comfortable with allowing boys to explore those things. This is a longstanding feminist argument, right? That like when women appear to fit the stereotype of womanhood or femininity, that doesn’t mean that that their identity is entirely anti feminist or by definition, anti form is right. There’s a lot of ways to be a person. And, you know, if she wants to be a pink and purple, you know, wearing frilly dress girl, again, like if you’re saying this is somebody who completely refuses to learn sight words or engage with reading because she’s like, I only play with dolls, you know, if she’s saying I’m not interested in anything, that begs me to have some level of autonomy or self motivation that I’m just sitting around just waiting for the world to happen to me, then that’s different. But, you know, let her grandma listen. I am the queen of that’s for that house where things that Nyima does with my mother that I’m not interested in, you know, slime and Plato and things like that, I’m very sensitive to smell. So they’re banned from my house. Those are daddy’s house things. A lot worse than most science projects are daddy’s house things. It’s really fine. That’s a grandma’s house. That’s fine. But the thing the difference being flying was my my child’s definitive thing.
S7: Right? So it was very easy for me to have fun because it wasn’t taking over her life. You know, if I were to say no Barbie dolls, they’d be a different conversation. So if the pink and the purple and the fluffy is so much a part of who she is, that you can’t just leave it at grandma’s house. Think about ways to bend it a little bit. That may work for you. All right. I like pink and purple sneakers, you know, and tracksuits, then wearing pink and purple to go play basketball and exposing her to other things. You know, let her see that there are girls that subvert gender in so many ways. Like it’s not about, you know, you can be a girly girl or masculine girl is fine, like they’re girls. The check off all of those boxes. And, you know, it’d be really cool. Like we we talked about this when Abby Wambach was on the show.
S6: But like girls sports, I think is a really great women’s sports is a really great way to expose kids to women that do not meet traditional feminine norms. And those who do right, like some that are their presentation and their mannerisms are super high for them and their athletes. And then you have some that are not high five. And they’re all. So women athletes, and they’re all together and they’re playing and your child just needs to know they have options, that’s really good advice.
S1: And we’re going to take one more audience question. Shasha, hit it.
S5: This question is from Stacey. My kids are seven, five and three, and my husband works long hours now from home. How do you get through the monotonous aspects of parenting? Sometimes I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, feed the kids, do the dishes, pick up the house, wash the laundry, avoid putting away laundry, repeat. The pandemic is only amplifying this feeling.
S1: Excellent classic in our performance on that question, delivering a lot of pathos. Thank you, Shasha. Let’s give her a hand. Thank you. That’s like the defining question of the year. Twenty twenty for a lot of parents, right? There’s there’s I feel like my twenty twenty and that of every parent I know has been evenly split between total panic in the moments where your plans are falling apart, where your work is falling apart, where you think you’re sick or your kids are sick or someone you love is sick and total monotony. When the day to day grind never changes and you never get out of your house and do anything. And it just feels like overwhelming. And so, I mean, the first thing I’d say to Stacey is. You’re not alone in this, this is basically how everyone feels right now, the housework related drudgery aspect of it is how everyone has felt about housework since the dawn of time. So you’re definitely not alone in this. And it’s hard to sort of jam in advice that is going to change this situation for you other than for me, at least, to just say to do your best, to let the things go that you don’t actually need to do and to change the things that you do and give yourself something else. And each day that feels in some way different than what you’re doing on a day to day basis, even if it’s something as stupid and simple as taking a walk or doing yoga or escaping your children in the house for a while or reading a book or using your vibrator or whatever, I don’t care. Like find something that is not the day to day ritual and like use that and get the hell out of there for 10 minutes, whether it’s physically or mentally out of that space. What do you guys have to say?
S4: I think you’re right. And just like lowering your expectations and really taking a look at the things that are really like the stuff that just you really don’t want to do in is really the worst. And how do you offload that or how do you offload other stuff so that that’s not so bad? And if that means like the laundry is the problem and it’s the putting away of the laundry, then change up with nobody’s coming to your house. Do you like piles somewhere where people get their clothes? Like, I’m serious. There are ways to just take away the things that are the worst things. And whatever you have to do to do that, do it.
S8: And I think also prioritize the things that are most important to you. And if that means sitting down and saying, like Dan said, every day, I need to take a walk or every day my husband’s not home, I need an hour of quiet time and the kids are going to watch an hour of TV or the kids are going to do this thing that above and beyond what we were already doing that you would otherwise feel bad about and then just don’t feel bad about it, whatever that is, even if it’s like I’m going to sit and text for 20 minutes and the kids are going to play on the iPad, or I’m going to ignore them and say I need 20 minutes, that is all OK. And I think that’s what you have to do now. And I personally take a lot of lessons like nobody’s coming to my house. So the things that I used to be worried about the house, I’m just not worried about as much.
S7: I really have very little add. But, you know, with you guys that taking that time, that’s just for you. That may feel selfish. That may literally be like you may be closing the door on a kid who’s still talking and just saying, like, I’ll be back in twenty minutes and I’ll deal with it then. Taking their time to know it’s a pleasure yourself to have a drink, to read a couple of chapters from a juicy book, also making sure that you’re extending the same to your children. Right. So it’s like, you know, that you have to snatch that time where all bets are off and the rules of good parenting. Maybe they don’t apply here. And then, of course, it doesn’t mean that you’re putting your kids in danger or neglecting them that, like you at your best self, might not take that twenty minutes at four o’clock in the afternoon on a Saturday under normal circumstances. Right. You might not you might be able to wait until the kids are asleep. So to have a personal moment right now, you just might have to take it at four o’clock in the afternoon to get through the rest of the day. That’s fine. But understand, if your kids are also under the same sort of maybe not the same sort of stress that they’re suffering from these changes as we all are, they are suffering from or I should say they’re not suffering from, but they are reacting to what you’re putting out there, seeing the anxiety and the frustration and the confusion and their parents, and that’s making things harder for them. So, you know, if you would have naturally turned off the screen at a certain time because it’s the right time to time to scream, it’s OK to give them a little bit more screen time. That can give you some time. Have your solo moment. Right. But it’s also extending some grace to them because you’re you know that you’re going through it, too.
S6: Like none of us are happy. This is terrible. Everything sucks. You’re not alone. Everyone is failing at this and we’re not failing, I should say, I have to stop saying that. As Nyima says, words have power. We are succeeding because we are still here.
S1: We are making it, we are winning, words matter, everyone has taught us, even if not anything else, longtime listeners will recall that my family for three years just retrieved all their socks from a big bin in the basement and no one ever was harmed as a result of that. And your family could do that, too. I hope this is helpful to you. Thank you all for these amazing questions. It was really fun to answer them live and on the air if we didn’t get your question. We’re really sorry if you’re tuning into this half hour News Stream to really sorry, but good news, you can still send us that question and we can still consider it on a future show. Email us at mom and Dad. It’s Dotcom posted in the Slate Parenting Facebook group. Who knows, we could pick it for a future show. Shasha could read it, although Guss Baby won’t be on the screen while she does. All right, before we wrap up, we can do some lightning round recommendations. Fast recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you got.
S4: I am recommending Serabee Frisbee. It goes really far. It’s easy for the kids to catch. We’ve just had a great time with ours. Don’t bother with the triangle on it. Like acts like a boomerang and it’s been a nightmare. But the two circle lines have been amazing. So the Frisbee wow.
S1: Throwback from when I was 12 and a Roby’s were invented and everyone was like, they’ve changed the game. Jamila, what do you have?
S6: You want a juicy book, the two to read while you’re hiding from your kids, the meaning of Mariah Carey. This is somebody who knows how to be a celebrity. OK, let’s ask the celebrity in the world, Mariah Carey, literally a princess on earth. To Michaela Angela Davis, who co-authored the book with Mariah Carey. And she is my mentor who essentially put me in the game as a writer and did so much for me early in my career. And so I’m so happy that she’s having this moment. Such a great book, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Lots of fun, lots of fun to read and a lot of heartbreak and context as to why she is the most fascinating celebrity perhaps in the world.
S1: That’s like the perfect book for that last letter writer to be dipping into a chapter every day to, like, escape from the current situation.
S4: I’m of what I see in my house and idea do that. We call it quiet reading time. I’m like, Mom’s doing quiet reading time. Grab a book.
S1: Yeah, get copies for every person in your house. Everyone reads the Mariah Carey book. I recommend it for all for the very high viewer who asks what’s on my heart. And this is a daily Tar Heel hat that is a student newspaper at the University of North Carolina, my alma mater. So my first recommendation is support student journalism. A lot of and The Washington Post had a great piece a couple of weeks ago about how student journalists are breaking some of the biggest stories of the last few years of the covid and the Trump era student. Journalists at the Daily Tar Heel broke stories, a story after story about the silent Sam debacle and the way the USC administration handled that. They’re breaking stories about covid on campus and they’re young people doing incredible work and they’re worth supporting. You can always find the student newspaper at your alma mater or at a local college and send them some cash because they fucking need it. My other recommendation is for a movie that’s coming to Amazon Prime this weekend. It’s what the Constitution means to me. It’s Heidi Shrek’s off Broadway and Broadway show about her experience as a teenager, talking about and debating the Constitution in rural Washington in a very conservative community in rural Washington, and her and her late life realization that the Constitution doesn’t offer as much to all the people she loves, including herself, as she once thought it would. It’s a really remarkable piece of theatre, turned into a remarkable movie. We watch it with both our kids this week. They both, I think, got a lot out of it, a lot to think about and a lot to laugh about and a little bit of crying, too. It’s very powerful. Really, really good. I could recommend it more highly.
S10: All right. That is our show. Thank you all for joining us. One more time. You got a question? Email sent mom and dad at Playboy.com posted to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. You’ll find that by searching for parenting on Facebook dot com if you’re a new listener, hey, please subscribe to our podcast. Fields phone is blowing up with people who want to know how can we hear more of this podcast? Hunter Garai, just look for Mom and dad are fighting wherever you get your podcast while you’re there. Rate reviews helps people find the show. Finally, if you enjoy it tonight, tune in next week, Thursday for Jamelia Show The Kids Are Asleep, 10:00 pm Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Don’t Miss Mom. Dad are Fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson, a massive thank you to Faith Smith and Britt Boy who’s going through those questions and making this magical show happen without them, none of this will be possible. Extra special apologies to Britt if I mispronounced her name. Extra special tripple. Thanks, Chatelain. Are the inevitable. The fabulous. Oh, well, thanks to God, the world’s greatest for you. I can’t believe that was my time. Dan, thanks so much for joining us.
S1: Now, everyone, freeze on your screens. Hello, sleepless listeners, thank you so much for joining us and as always, thank you for your membership, which is the food and drink that keeps us alive in these dark days. As you know, you’ve been listening to our live show this week, but we wanted to make sure that you are Slate plus members who pay dearly for the privilege. Still had a plus segment to call your own. It’s going to be a good one. We have on the horn with us today Slate’s Greg Lavallee with us. Greg, first of all, did I pronounce your last name right? You did. And it just I just realized I’ve never said it out loud. I’ve only typed it one thousand times. Greg is the director of technology at Slate. He’s also a really good writer. And he wrote a fantastic piece for us called Why I’m Teaching My Kids That Computers Are Dumb Machines. It’s a little lesson from someone who works with computers all the time and how to talk and think about your kids, be interacting with computers every day for like eight hours a day. It’s a really good piece. We’ll link to it on the show notes. And we wanted to bring them on to talk about it, because this really intersects with a lot of stuff that all the parents we hear from are really concerned about right now. And I think everyone is struggling not only with the idea that our kids are intersecting with machines all the time as opposed to humans, but also with the various problems that that causes us. So maybe let’s start with what inspired you to write this piece and what problems were your kids having that made you start to change the way you were thinking about how you talked about computers with them?
S11: First things Shook’s. Yeah, and I think I was watching the kids start virtual school and notice that they had new anxieties and. They weren’t about the subject matter, like they were worried about rushing to log in in time or waking up because they forgot to log out and wanted to go log out of the system because the teacher told them it was important to log on every day. Sorry. This is great. We love it. It’s still happening. So, anyway, you know, when you’re when you’re looking over, you kind of want your kid to be worried about the subject matter. And instead, it’s it’s like they’re worried that they click the wrong thing or a window opens and then suddenly they’re lost. And one of the weirdest anxieties I found was, was that they have to transition between the teacher there with most of the day and a special. So this spot is supposed to go do specials. And if they don’t get the transition right, they’re lost like they have to go find the join button from their first class and interrupt their teacher so they feel bad about doing that and popping in. But like when I compared it to actual school, physical school used to just line up and go to another class. And now it’s like everyone suddenly dissipates and they are potential that you’re just you have no idea what’s happening for 20 minutes.
S1: All your classmates are gone up to you to figure out how to find them again because they’re lost in space somewhere.
S11: And all it takes is like one click. And there’s all these, like, anxieties around that. And so, like, Dan, what that was doing was I was seeing them get worried about clicking the wrong thing. So now they’re like treating the computer like this fragile egg and that if one wrong click and they’re going to lose their class for the rest of the day and everybody else is going to experience something and they’ll get SOMO or whatever. So that was when I started trying to like reintroduce them to the technology and say you need to mess with this thing and then learn how to get back to what you meant to do, like learn about and learn about the back button. Learn that most of the problems that you create, you’re creating yourself in the computer is pretty stupid. And you can usually figure out how to get back to what what you needed to do if you just keep clicking stuff right. So they are clicking a lot. But I have I have like I do feel like they are they are now way less anxious after the sort of you know, the other day the five year old figured out that he could press the tab key and like, make this little box go round the whole interface of Microsoft teams. And he’s like, watch the box move. And I was like, if you press enter, it’ll do something. When you when you did so, then he figured out how he could turn off the camera or the highlight somebody else’s face and all that stuff. And I’m at least entertained. And I do feel like they are they are less anxious about touching this thing and not nothing is fragile.
S12: Yeah, I love the part of the piece where you encourage the kids to just, like, play with it and say, like, let’s log on outside of class time and just like see what all the buttons do and and get familiar with it. And I think that anxiety exists, like with so many adults too, like this idea, like I don’t really know what this does. And so you bring up this great point that, like, if you really screw it up, we’ll just uninstall and reinstall and we’re no worse off. And I think that’s such a great mentality. And especially with kids, like just being able to to play with the programs. But you have also come up with some really great ways as a parent to deal with these in programmer and programmer. Yeah. So I one thing I definitely wanted to talk about is what you’ve done about the logging in and logging off problem.
S11: Yeah. So I think it’s totally crazy that you have to log it out of a website every day for attendance to count. And this is also like a skill that is teaching people the opposite of what all of us do as adults. Like when was the last time you, like, logged out, like, said the computer?
S1: Yeah. You guys don’t just clock out every day when you’re done with work on a big shot clock on the wall.
S4: You just if someone didn’t turn this off, I’d just be on the zoom all the time and be walking by.
S11: So we were using this thing for this slate, the slate dotcom, the software development team builds. And we want to do this thing where you can test test the website and make sure that signing up for Slate Plus always works. So in the middle of the night, we have a computer out there that is trying to create a new slate plus membership every five minutes and then making sure that that process works. And if it doesn’t work, well, that’s revenue for us. That’s a big deal. And so it starts emailing us to tell us that people can’t send a first person. It’s an emergency and software engineers need to wake up and fix it. So I was like, that’s pretty cool. I bet I could use whatever the dev team used to build that to also log my children in and out of school every day. And I you know, I mostly manage the software engineers. I didn’t want to mess with them, but I was like, okay, I’ll just take little bits of that and try to use a. At home, and so now I have a little program at home that that does this, it’s not live yet because I had a lot of adjustments to make. I want to make sure that it varies the log in time, just slightly between eight twenty five and eight thirty to like maybe they’re late, but not every Wednesday. So I kind of work that out. And then I’m also trying to I want to work out the log of time and then I have two kids so I have to like figure out how to have it work for multiple parties. But then I already know, like a bunch of other programmer nerd dads in D.C., somebody handed out to them, too. And maybe all our kids can be mechanized logging in and out. I mean, it’s great that eventually your kids won’t have to go to school at all. They’ll just have the program that does it for them. MacGyver, the Polaroid camera.
S6: Great. You talk about Microsoft teams, which has been adjusted for school use. But I’m really surprised that like Microsoft and Zoom and all these other platforms that are being used for remote learning, because the only option we have haven’t introduced something that’s really effective and like can be used by kindergartners. Is there anything coming on that front that you’re aware of? Are you going to fix this for all the kids before the big microphone and the reds that, you know, was something that a preschool or kindergartner can actually manipulate?
S11: Yeah, I mean, I’m certainly not going to fix it. And I would kind of hope that somebody like Khan Academy or there are just a bazillion Ed Ed tech startups out there. And I’m not an expert on that landscape. I’m mostly an expert in the stuff that I’ve had to see my kids get fed. But I do think that it’s clear to me that whoever is designing these is thinking about adults first and then maybe there’s some thought to kids, but very little thought to different ages of kids. You know, when you think about children, like the difference between four and ten is nuts. And if you think about how these problems are probably presented to software engineers, it’s five presented to them as like high school, middle school, elementary school, if at all. You know, there’s no way somebody explain to them that, like, the difference between a kid entering first grade and leaving first grade is, is that they can read at the end and the buttons don’t need to have arrows anymore. And so that’s really the if you look at the interface, it’s it’s it’s just impossible. It’s it’s totally nuts.
S1: Well, it seems to me that part of the issue is that this all came upon everyone so fast. It’s like in January, Zoome was a company that was it was a product that was used by a few people for their office communications. And by April, it was a way that everyone on Earth was talking to their parents. So like no one really understood how quickly something like this would be needed. And my assumption is, if you’re the person in charge of Microsoft teams, you’re now trying to figure out, do we think six months of R&D into making a school friendly version of this only to then at the end of that six months, have everyone be back in school because there’s a vaccine that we just wasted all that time and money?
S6: You’re thinking like an American. You’re now preparing for covid twenty one and going through it.
S1: Oh, my God. Shut your mouth.
S11: No, no, no, I one of the thing to consider is that I think that DC is using a lot of software that they already had license licenses for. They didn’t get some gigantic budget for it that just dropped on them. And if they did at DC, so who knows what they do with the money. But I would say that they’re taking they’re trying to piece together the existing software they’ve already got and figure out how to apply it to a pandemic, which, you know, in this like crazy situation. And so the teams bit is now the kid, the seven year old clicked on something today in teams that suddenly said it was connecting with one drive. And then she clicked on that and it said it was connected to SharePoint. And as soon as I saw the word SharePoint, I was like, oh, no, this isn’t going to end well, because that’s just. Yeah, anyway, so I could tell that, like, clearly somebody is behind the scenes trying to be like, OK, but the kids need to draw. How do we what do we have that they can draw with? OK, they’ve got they’ve got something in SharePoint that does it. Let’s how do we how do we get that into teams. And then like none of it is designed around an educational curriculum that was like about teaching the kids first. Instead, it seems to be that they have an idea of what they want them to learn and how they want to learn it. And then they’re like, cool, let’s not forget we already have that. We can probably string together and eventually get them to submit an assignment. So, yeah, it’s it’s got to be tough. As somebody in software procurement, I pity I pity the fool who has to deal with this stuff because it is I can’t imagine trying to string together an education at home thing from nothing.
S1: Right. From the stuff that they basically had on hand to help teachers and administrators communicate with each other.
S11: Yeah. And then everybody is probably running in trying to sell you on some new software, can you imagine the number of sales calls they’re probably dealing with over at the school system?
S1: I mean, good news. They can be like, actually, we have no money. So we spend it on wipes in new desks. That’s right. That’s right. All right. The piece is called Why I’m Teaching My Kids. The computers are dumb machines. It’s a really great just really transform the way you think about my kids interaction with all these various systems. I really recommend that I read. Thank you, Greg. Thank you. My pleasure. And thank you, everyone, for being members of Slate. Plus, we’ll talk to you next week.