The Quiet as a Mouse Edition

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S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, June 3rd. Be quiet as a mouse, Ed.. I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding Parenting column, and mom to Nyima, who is eight. And we live in L.A..

S2: I’m Elizabeth, New Hampshire. I write the Home School and Family Travel Blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to Three Littles, Henry who’s nine, Oliver who’s seven, and Teddy who’s four. And we live in Colorado Springs.

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S3: And I am Isaac Butler. I am a writer and the co-host of Slate’s working podcast, The Father of Iris, age six. And we all live in Brooklyn, New York.

S1: Thank you for joining us again. This is great to have you

S3: on the show. Always a pleasure to be here.

S1: Today, we’re going to be counseling a family who’s got new downstairs neighbors and not even twenty four hours after moving in. These new neighbors have already sent a potentially passive aggressive note about their little boys noise level, what to do, what to do. Then we’ll be answering a question about a little girl who wants to quit soccer. Her parents have her sitting on the bench for a few games. But is that the best way to teach a kid about commitment? And on Slate plus, we’ll be debating if this slower pace of life will stick around after the pandemic or if we’re going to be signing our kids up for all of the activities to make up for lost time. But first, triumphs and fails. Isaac, what do you have for us on your triumphant, hopefully return to the show?

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S3: I have a triumph, I think, but it is not a solo triumph by any means, which is that, you know, vaccination rates are going pretty well here in New York City and covid rates are going down. And we have sort of in a safer way is we feel comfortable with given that Iris is six and can’t get vaccinated, we’re we’re like starting to do normal life stuff again, you know, like we took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We went to a masked party in a friend’s back yard and had pizza and she jumped on a trampoline and stuff like that. And it just feels totally great. It feels so fucking good. And it is a real triumph to be able to do all of that stuff. I feel like a collective one that I hope our listeners are beginning to experience or will experience soon.

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S1: Absolutely. I feel a little bit of triumph every day that I’m able to see somebody outside of my home, especially with a mask on.

S3: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I say this recording, you know, within an 18 inch by 18 inches space in my bedroom, speaking into this microphone that is hung off a piece of furniture on a boom stand. You know, it’s nice to get out.

S1: It is very nice to get out. I absolutely understand.

S2: It’s nice to be back kind of real world and getting the kids back out to totally.

S3: And, you know, it’s been gradual because, again, it’s like she can’t get vaccinated so she can still get sick. And, you know, we were so emphatic about wearing a mask everywhere, which was a good thing. But there’s a little bit of germophobia that’s that’s resulted, you know, because of that. And so, you know, negotiating how to ease back in in a way that’s going to make all three of us comfortable has been a process, but it’s been working out.

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S1: That is great to hear. Isaac, what about you, Elizabeth? Triumph or fail?

S2: So I have a triumph. We have fully moved into our house for the most part. The movers came on Friday and it was like total chaos and just boxes coming into the house and trying to find like a way to feel settled because we’ve basically been out of the house for over a month now, living in kind of different hotels and traveling here and being with my parents a little bit. So when I was setting up the kids rooms, like I have a tendency to just like manage everything like this goes here, put this here. But since they’re a little bit older and I wanted them to really feel some ownership over this house, and so I put out like, you know, their furniture was kind of set what was going into the room. But like we put out all the pictures and all the books as we were unpacking and gave them little bags and let them, like, go go shopping within our stuff to set up their rooms. And they made some really like surprising fun decisions, like Henry chose a bunch of like more artistic prints or art that we have around the house to put in his room. And, you know, as opposed to something like the the more Kitto prints that we had had in the past. And they chose, like, really fun books to stock their own shelves. And it was just a nice way to let them take some ownership, like without the chaos of, like, us all trying to go to a store or shop online like that, instant gratification. And I don’t know, it’s just really fun, like watching them set up and then choosing where to hang things and all of that. So we had a good time kind of setting up a little store and and and letting them get settled. So their rooms are kind of all set up. And then the rest of the house is still a bit of a disaster. But I think they’re feeling settled. And that was kind of the goal.

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S1: Your ability to make literally anything a fun family activity is unmatched.

S2: Well, thanks. You know, I think sometimes when we’re when we’re moving around and there’s so much chaos, I’m trying to think like, well, how can I? How can I make this be fun and who doesn’t love shopping, right? But you have to be OK with the crazy decisions, you know, like when your kid wants the framed print that or the, you know, that painting that usually goes in the living room. I had to be like, OK, cool, right?

S1: I was going to say no one claimed your wedding photo for the for their nightstand. There were any other awkward selections that put you in a weird position?

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S2: No, but I mean, you know, I gave me a real glimpse at which children are the most narcissistic like which took all the pictures of themselves put in their room. I know, to kind of other things.

S1: That is wonderful. Well, congratulations on getting settled. That is a triumph all itself, and I’m glad that the kids are having fun participating in moving into your new place. I have a triumph this week as well. I think I may have mentioned that my mother is in town for about a month. I asked her to come. I guess maybe I invited her almost two months ago. I was just like, look, I can’t do this anymore. I need some help. The school thing was a complete disaster for me. I just did not have the capacity to work and supervise Mama while she was in virtual class. And some kids are really good at self-management for that stuff. And my child will be doing anything, but she’ll have other tabs open. She’ll be drawing. She’ll just be spaced out like she needs someone there to keep an eye on her. And the teacher was doing the best she could, but it kind of fell on the adult who is in the house, who is me. And I was usually trying to hide in the closet and like, make a podcast. So anyway, I asked my mother to come, but then right when she’s getting ready to come, we decide to send her back to in-person school like all the parents were vaccinated. Things just kind of changed a little bit. There are only a handful of kids from her class going back. She ends up in person school. And so I didn’t I was kind of like, you know, I mean, it’s great having grandma here. But, you know, the thing that we really needed, like, we didn’t actually, you know, like I didn’t have to bring her here this long. I just kind of moved everybody’s schedule around for this or whatever. And so then Nyima ended up staying here a couple of days and doing school with my mother watching and like for the first time in the entire school year. And every day since then, she has played roadblocks with her classmates. Naima has like completely rejected all. And still she got into the physical classroom like she was not doing any sort of social interaction with the other kids. Like I’d say, why don’t you talk to them during lunch? Why don’t you play games with them during breaks? I don’t like the games they’re playing. I don’t want to talk to them. And like somehow just a few days of like having grandma here holding her hand through class and keeping her focused. She’s like exchanging phone numbers with kids like she has bonded with her classmates. So that is, I guess, the combination of returning to in-person school where there’s like three of them in the class. And then this the triumph is that my daughter is like socializing with kids again. So as Isaac was saying, this slowly reopening world as a whole lot of triumph for us. All right. About now.

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S2: That’s awesome. And your mom is her favorite. So she just needed that boost.

S1: That is true. She is the like favorite person in the entire world. She went to her dad’s house for a couple of days and then she came back here last night and I went downstairs to get her and she gave me a hug and oh, hi, Mommy. And, you know, very chipper. And like, when she gets up to the apartment, she falls in my mother’s arms as if she’d just gotten back from, like, sailing across the world, you know, like by herself. It was so dramatic. And like, she likes that back for a minute. And they talked and then she just fell into her arms again, like she just couldn’t believe that she was really there. So, yeah, she she’s doing great with her favorite person. So really, my triumph was bringing my mother to California. That’s all I had to do to make this kid happy.

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S3: You asked for what you need, you know, and and it worked. It’s amazing.

S1: And absolutely worked. I’m very grateful. Before we get into anything else, let’s handle some business. Hey, if you haven’t already, what are you doing? Subscribe to the show. It won’t cost you anything. And the episode will appear in your podcast app every Thursday. Slate’s parenting newsletter is the best place to be notified about all of our parenting content, including mom and dad are fighting care and feeding and so much more. It’s also a very lovely email in your inbox each week from Danquah. Sign up at Slate that come back parenting email. Finally, check us out on Facebook. Just search for Slate’s parenting. Now let’s hear our first listener question being read by the fabulous Shasha Lanard.

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S4: Hi, mom and dad, we have two boys aged five and one, they don’t walk, they jump or run, they pretend to be ninjas, they have no off button. And yes, they can be loud when they play. I let my kids be kids and raise them Dutch style, which is my home country. We moved into a condo three weeks ago. It’s a two floor house divided into four units. We are on the top floor. Two units are owned by lovely, quiet single ladies in their 40s and the downstairs neighbors are of the boomer generation and have no kids. When moving in, we knocked on all doors and introduced ourselves, but the downstairs neighbors weren’t home for several weeks. Then one late afternoon we heard noises downstairs and realized that the neighbors were home. My husband and I agreed to go downstairs to introduce ourselves the next morning before we could. My husband went for a bike ride in the morning and when he came back home, our downstairs neighbor opened the front door and said with no introduction or niceties. So you must be the new upstairs neighbors. You have kids, I imagine a little boy now. We love kids, but. Followed by him complaining about our kids. He then proceeded to ask questions such as, do you have carpets and rugs? Where are they? This was less than 24 hours after they came home and he was visibly bothered by his new little neighbors. My husband didn’t even know how to react. He tried to be polite, excused himself from the conversation and came home in utter disbelief. Two hours later, we left our apartment and we found a bottle of wine with a note that read Welcome to the Cloister. We will be leaving for a couple of weeks so your child can be a child as much as he desires best to both of you. How do I react? I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot, but I also would love to make it clear that they’ve crossed a boundary and I do not appreciate their passive aggressiveness. P.S., I would love to rub it in that I’m actually pregnant with baby number three and this is the new normal because the chaos will not die down anytime soon.

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S1: So, Elizabeth, I love to hear from you first mom of three, and also make mention of the fact that this letter comes from someone that you know.

S2: Yes. Yes. I do actually know who wrote this letter. And congratulations on the new baby. I’m very excited about that. I guess I feel like overall in this situation, like, yes, the letter and the interaction maybe feels like very passive aggressive. But the overall thing that you want is harmony in this building. Like you guys are all going to have to live together. I’m just a big fan of the like, kill them with kindness. I think I would probably have the kids draw them a nice picture and write a little note saying, you know, like, thanks for the welcome. We know our kids are are really rambunctious. We’re obviously doing what we can, but kids will be kids kind of thing. You are going to have to make some accommodations for, you know, for other people living in this building and you having children. But I also think that it’s OK to to have the kids be kids and try to be polite to them, like as long as they’re not like, you know, jumping on the floor in a way that is inappropriate, like, you know, where those lines are and making sure that they learn to live in this situation as well, like they have to understand that they’re part of this community. But I think also like if during reason, like during daytime hours, your kids are being kids and your baby is crying and those sort of things, that that’s life and there’s nothing you can do about that. But I think resist the urge to, like, go pick a fight with these people, even if their initial reaction to you was not the kindest. I think the best path forward is for you to be kind. I mean, if it were me, I’d probably make a big show of every time I’m coming into the building to being like kids, you know, other people live here. Even if then once the door shut, we didn’t do anything else. But I would have this, like, performative aspect, you know, to say kind of like I understand that I live in this community. What do you guys think?

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S3: Yeah, I mean, I feel like part of living in an apartment building and raising kids in an apartment building is being considerate to your neighbors and teaching them how to do that. And that’s true even if you’re Dutch and have sons. And so, you know, like the downstairs neighbors were obviously themselves inconsiderate about it, a little rude, a little weirdly passive aggressive, sort of like weird preemptive strike before the kids have done anything to be like, well, they better not make any noise. So like like they’re the downstairs neighbors of the reason why this has started off on a bad foot. But it doesn’t have to continue on a on a bad foot. And their interest in not having really loud noise all the time directly above them is a legitimate one, just like a neighbor who played a loud stereo all the time. You wouldn’t necessarily want that while your kids are going to bed, you know. And so I think it’s about trying to figure out what the reasonable accommodations are here. Elizabeth, you listed a whole bunch of them, like there’s a difference between making noise during the day and making noise at night, for example. Or you might want to put down rugs because it’ll make your downstairs neighbors lives easier. And you might have found a really nice one. But I have a feeling, given this interaction, that this is probably going to come to a head at some point. They may, in fact, have an unreasonable expectation of silence. And if that’s the case, you know, if you’ve tried to accommodate them in a few ways, you can politely but firmly say, like, hey, these are the things we’re doing, but there’s not much more we can do about it and that they have to make their peace with it.

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S1: I think that’s very fair, Isaac. And I think letter writer, you have to understand that four of these people, by default, you are a nightmare. You are the worst possible neighbors that a pair of bombers do not dream of, especially when they’ve been in a building with two forty something women without children. This is a worst case scenario for them, and that’s OK. And that doesn’t mean something is wrong with your family or that your kids are bad. It just means that this is not an ideal situation for anyone involved. Right. Like you would prefer to live above people that could let your kids make noise all hours of the night or however you see fit. These people would prefer to live beneath people that are quiet and don’t have a bunch of children running around. Of course, you should and will going forward take some steps to be mindful of your neighbors. But also like, don’t forget how annoying this must be for them and that it’s OK for them to be annoyed. Isn’t that OK for them to be jerks? It’s not OK for them to be mean to you all. They absolutely should be understanding of your situation, too. But put yourself in their shoes and try to, I guess, proceed with some empathy. I wouldn’t want to live beneath you either. That isn’t, you know, I mean, you you got you got three kids, girl,

S2: even people with kids. Yes.

S1: I don’t want to live beneath me. Like I you know, I try to keep NamUs Steps quiet. But, you know, I as someone who was I was the child of a single mom. They’re just two girls now, just me and her in the house. And I had a neighbor downstairs that constantly complained about me stopping. So I get it. It’s not hard to make noise. And maybe you have creaky floors, too, but. Yeah, it has to start to live beneath you.

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S3: Yeah, I mean, like I have an upstairs neighbor who who who passes and smoke cigars and that’s a nightmare. I mean, I like him. He’s a nice guy. I’m not going to tell him to stop. You know, it’s fine. It is just part of the like living with other people in an apartment building problem. It’s just it’s always going to be an issue and figuring out how to negotiate it, you know, with kindness, but without sacrificing too much of your children’s well-being or killing their spirit or whatever. Like, that’s that’s a complicated thing. But it’s not impossible. Like, it can be done. Absolutely. Although also, you know, Damn Coifs is not here. But he did explain in his book the The Polder Consensus Model of figuring out problems. So I wonder if the solution is to get the entire congressional district that this person lives in together to negotiate an ideal children’s volume level using a consensus model, and then everyone will just abide by that. Elizabeth, you you lived in the Netherlands. What do you think of my solution?

S2: I think the thing in the Netherlands is that everyone would just air their grievances right there. Right. Like, as the the adults said, basically, like, I don’t like this living situation. You would be like, well, it is what it is. And then everyone would walk away feeling like they aired their grievance. But I think to the Netherlands is like values, children being children. So although everybody lives on top of each other and in this kind of tight, you know, houses built into the same building, there’s a lot of noise. And everyone just kind of accepts that so long as that noise doesn’t continue in the evening. But they call it like the sounds of life, like they say, oh, I like this building. There’s lots of sounds of life. They don’t expect their living place to be quiet.

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S3: It is just about calibrating, like what is a reasonable expectation here for all parties and then trying to reach that, which can be hard if there’s a lot of passive aggression and ill will right off the bat. Yeah.

S2: Do you guys feel like the bottle of wine is a kindness or a passive aggressive? Like I a little bit wonder if they felt bad about the conversation that they had with her husband or the way that her husband reacted. And so the wine was a it was kind of a way to make up for that.

S3: That is actually how I read it. I read it as them being like, oh, we fucked that up. That did not go well. Let’s make a self-deprecating joke about how we don’t want to allow their kids to do anything. Do you know what I mean? Like, it felt a bit like textbook people who have trouble saying I’m sorry. And so like like what their apologies look like because they did not actually say I’m sorry. Right. But they, like, came close to acknowledging that they were being a little crazy. And so that’s how it read to me.

S1: I agree.

S2: Yeah. And then the letter writer is so angry she’s taking it as, like, condescending. But I actually think, you know, usually a bottle of wine is a is a is an I’m sorry,

S3: unless they’re really rich. I mean, that would be like, oh, that’s a real rich person’s way to say, fuck, yeah, I’m going to be like here is an eighty seven show to some problem. Go fuck yourself.

S1: Yeah exactly. Exactly. But hopefully I’m a semi. Well we, I don’t know because they do have this other place to go to because I was going to say look, they’re so rich they can get another apartment. But we do know that they did essentially do that at least for a few weeks. So who knows? But I agree. I think that was a nice gesture. They realized that they were not the most pleasant and it was a natural reaction to this very bad news. And I say this as someone who has like I know that when people when I sat next to you on an airplane, when I had a six month old, that was bad news. It’s OK, right? It doesn’t mean that we didn’t belong there, you know, so don’t feel bad about it. But, you know, they were blindsided with some bad news and they didn’t handle it well. And hopefully they’re going to just smooth things over and maybe stay gone all summer. Thank you so much for your letter. We love updates. And since you know, Elizabeth, it should be very easy for you to get one to us. So we want to hear how this turns out, what happens when they come back home from their vacation. On onto our second listener question, read once again by the marvelous Shasha Lanard.

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S4: Hi. I’m looking for a little advice and hopefully some solidarity. I have a four year old daughter who is very smart, even more strong willed and also extremely sensitive. This morning, she decided that she no longer like playing soccer and did not want to go to her game. We are halfway through her first season and have three games left. I told her that was not an option and. We’re going to keep going to soccer because we made a commitment to the team, if she didn’t want to do soccer next season, that’s fine. But we are finishing the games that we have left this year. After much protesting, crying and screaming, we made a deal that she would go to the game, but I wouldn’t force her to play. I was hoping she would change her mind when we were there, but of course she didn’t. And we spent the entire hour watching other kids play, which is just how I want to spend my Saturday. I made her sit with the team and apologize to the coach for not playing and told her we were going to the next two games. I want to teach her to keep her commitments. My husband feels she is acting like this lesson is not sinking in, but she’s for I don’t really expect her to understand it at this point, but I hope our actions teach her something in the long run. What should I do?

S1: What do you think, Isaac?

S3: Oh, boy, Vei, I feel this letter writers pain, you know, I feel like I was I was just there two years ago. That balance between, you know, keeping the peace and acknowledging what your child is saying they need on one side because you don’t want to make a miserable, but then also teaching them the right life lesson and modeling the right behavior or whatever. It is just constant and it’s not going to go away any time soon. We’re going through this right now with Iris and practising her guitar every night. You know, and this is also made more complex by her only being for you can’t have a really in-depth conversation about what’s going on and why she’s turned against soccer. And you can’t really work it out on that on that kind of reasonable level. And also, as you yourself know, the odds that she’s like going to in a very literal way, understand the lesson you’re trying to teach her here are probably pretty slim. So I don’t mean to punt as the advice giver here because I feel your pain, but I actually think either decision is fine. I really do. I think you can can not go to the other games. You can go to the other games. The reason why I would lean towards the second is that you’ve told your daughter that that’s what you’re going to do. So, you know, you want to make it clear that if you tell her that something’s going to happen or there’s going to be a consequence, that it’s really going to happen. But beyond that, I think it’s kind of fine. It’s not like if you give in on this one thing, she’s never going to hold a commitment again, you know what I mean? Why am I being too wishy washy? What do you all think?

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S2: So I guess I’m curious why she wants to quit, because with four year olds, it seems to me like the answer could be as much as like they thought they were going to play iPad instead. Right. Or like somebody said something to them that they didn’t like, like an easy fix or they don’t like the uniform or their socks. So asking first, like establishing what the issue is. I also think it is OK to to not push the commitment thing. Like, to me, a commitment is more about what happens to the teammates and the coach if you don’t show up, not showing up and phoning it in. And so this lesson of like we just show up and we sit there, I don’t know is the lesson that that you necessarily want to teach your four year old. Like what you’ve told her is basically you tried something new and maybe let’s say you’ve established that she like honestly hates they hate soccer. Right. But that now says if you try something new and you hate it, you have to go anyway. And I think it really discourages this idea of trying things new and finding things that we don’t like and also excusing ourselves from from doing things that we don’t like or that we don’t find pleasure in that our pleasure activities. I think the lesson here is, is teaching how to exit those things. Right. So absolutely. One, talk to the coach, because if you make this child go and now you are having the coach supervise them sitting there, but they don’t want to play like you’ve put that burden on somebody else instead of on yourself. And I think to talk about like, what are the ramifications like if you don’t go, is there a chance that they can’t play? They have to forfeit like that situation for commitment is very different. If that’s the case, then yes, we have to show up, because if we don’t go, these other children don’t get to play. Right. That is the type of commitment we’re trying to teach. But if you’re one of twenty kids on this team and you being there, not being there makes zero difference. I think it’s OK to say, all right, we are going to go together, tell the coach that we are not going to play anymore. And this is why and this is how we exit in a in a way that makes sure that kind of all those things that we were committed to are covered, like, did we have any other responsibilities? Do we need to turn them uniforms back in, like whatever those are doing those and closing that chapter. I just find that, like, I grew up in, like a we are committed to this and we’re going to do this. And I feel like I still face some of those ramifications and like, do I really want to try this? Because what if I don’t like it? And then I’m committed to this, you know, long term thing or even as adults like exiting not work responsibilities, but exiting these leisure activities or friendships or things like that, because we’ve somehow made this commitment. I think it’s OK to teach your kid like you didn’t like this. You tried. Thanks. Here’s how to get out of this in the right way. But also there for so you know, four year olds are notoriously stubborn. And by the time you hear this, they may have decided that soccer is their most favorite thing in the whole wide world.

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S1: I agree with so much of that a. Elizabeth, I I also am a little bothered by the idea of teaching a kid to like, hey, if you try something new and you find that you don’t like it, you just have to keep doing it. And that’s what happens when you that’s what you get for trying. So next time, don’t take an interest in something if you don’t want to risk not liking it. You know, I am also curious to know, like, what sort of conversations were you having about soccer after the first four games? Right. Like, was it that she was just kind of tolerating it? Did she go from enthusiastic to passive to I really don’t like this. As Elizabeth said, four year olds taste and manners and ideas change super quickly. So she could have a change of heart after one really fun game. But I think that one, you should do a little bit more of a check in to see like what she’s been feeling about soccer all along, because it could have been that she never liked it and for some reason didn’t feel like she could tell you that, you know, like, yeah, she might have she might have reached her boiling point like this could have been just too much. Or it’s like I just cannot keep this charade up any longer. I’m done with this sport. And four is old enough to know that something is really not enjoyable to you. You know, I mean, I don’t think that you have this vested interest in encouraging her to continue soccer because it’s this important family tradition or something that you are really passionate about. But just that this was something she was doing and she doesn’t really seem to like it. So I would say I guess I haven’t answered the question. I’m like, I’m hearing everything that everyone said. One, do not make her go to the games and watch. That sucks for everybody. You’re just punishing yourself. And it doesn’t really make much of a point as much as it just kind of ruins everyone Saturday. But I would say, you know, agree to her that you’ll if she’s unclear when you talk to her about it, like if she gives you a very passionate like I’ve never liked it. And this is why and I’m clear, you know, let it go. Move on, cut your losses. You know, if she shows a glimmer of, you know, maybe I was just kind of having a crappy day or I had a crappy experience in soccer, you know, maybe there’s one person there who said something to her the last time she, you know, before all this happened. And that’s what set her off but gets to the root of her being with soccer and proceed from there. But I think it’s totally fine to let her walk away from the team. They will make it without her. They’ll be fine,

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S3: but it’s also fine that it’s just two more weeks, like it’s two more weeks. Who cares? Just go for two more weeks. Like, I mean, it’s not like she’s going to enroll her in soccer next semester either way or whatever. Like, I don’t actually understand why it’s such a big deal to go for two weeks. But I have another question, which is why are they playing games for like what what soccer is this? Because, like, Iris did soccer. I’m going to put that in heavy quotes because their soccer was like, we’re stacking these cones because the mayor told us we had to build buildings. And then it was like, oh, no, there are cannonballs coming to knock down the buildings. And then they would kick the balls into the cones. And then isn’t that what soccer is when you’re four? I’m a little confused. It may be that this soccer program sucks. That’s the that’s the other thing.

S2: It’s too much for a four year old. Right. Like like who wants to stand around on the field and, like, hope the ball comes or that other thing that happens, which is just like the the huddle of children around the ball. Right. Like, that’s not fun either.

S3: Yeah. I had a friend who was like because we were he was his kid was also in this soccer thing with us. And he was like, I want to go to this other one because they’re like scrimmaging more. And I was like, they’re three and a half now. Like like they don’t need to scrimmage at three and a half. They just need to, like, run around some cones, get some energy out, never touch the ball with your hands.

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S2: Yeah. Yeah. Four should be like establishing general rules of the game, like there’s a ball. There are two goals and we use our feet.

S1: It has this sound so much more stressful than it should be for anything involving a four year old, which is my reason for being like, fuck it, just run away, what, two weeks is not a long time. Like, she technically should be able to do this if this doesn’t absolutely make her miserable. But if it’s going to make you absolutely miserable to have to hear her scream about it, I still say cut your losses.

S3: This is one of the problems with disciplining kids that age is that the parents actually bear the brunt of whatever the disciplinary thing is like, the blowback, it’s always much bigger. Whatever consequences you impose actually hurt parents

S1: more literally the worse

S2: parents. It is OK to determine that. The thing you said in the heat of the moment is not the best decision. Like you shouldn’t be saddled with your bad punishment either. I just think, yes, it’s only two weeks, but it is like like I don’t know. Are these games an hour? Are they like, what is the drive like? Do you have other kids? Like all of that should be taken, taken into account, you know. But you know, if they don’t finish the season, they don’t get to go to the end of the year shindig or whatever either that is the consequence

S3: is is there regulation extra play at the end for all the time that the ref stuck to?

S1: I think this will be your last grand opening grand closing grand.

S3: It also just occurred to me that there is there is a difference in terms of teaching your child about commitment, which I do think is can be a valuable thing. But like there is a difference between whether or not your child ever asked to do soccer in the first place. If this is a thing that you signed them up for, they never committed to doing it. And so there is no lesson to be taught in forcing them to continue to do it. You thought they would like it and then you’re you’re making them do it more. If it is like just to give an example from my own life, like Iris and her playing the guitar, which he actually enjoys, she just doesn’t like the practicing part of it. She likes playing it. She likes the lesson. She likes the recitals. So it’s just figuring that part out. But she specifically asked us if we would sign her up for guitar lessons because she wanted to learn how to play. You know, and that is a different I think that is a different thing in terms of the kid and their agency and what they’re agreeing to that I think creates different obligations than if it’s something you signed them up for because you thought they’d like it.

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S2: But I also think, like four year olds can’t even commit to lunch, like they ask you for something and then you put it on their plate and they’re like, I didn’t order this like that.

S3: I don’t actually I don’t actually want this is a thing that I’ve heard many times in my life.

S2: Oh, yeah. But I agree with you. I think, like, the the agency over this, I think is the important lesson is like even if like if Iris came to you and said, I don’t I don’t like this anymore, this is no longer fun. Right. You’d have a conversation with her. And if it turned out that it was, you would together figure out where that exit point is. Right. And I guess that is what I I think the conversation at this point has to be also with the knowledge that they’re for. So, like, if, in fact, you have the conversation and the problem is soccer, like the problem is not anything else. It is the playing of the game of soccer in the way it is played at this kind of practice. I think it’s OK to say, you know, thanks for trying. And I you know, I’m sorry you didn’t like this. Here’s how we exit this in a way that doesn’t leave anyone hanging.

S1: I love that. I think letter writer, you’ve got a lot of great stuff to think about in this very crucial decision about whether this four year old will continue her professional sports career. And we look forward to hearing what you all decide. Ultimately, please feel free to send us an update. And fellow listeners, if you have a parenting conundrum that you would like for us to consider, send us a note at mom and dad at Slate dot com. Or you can do with this listener did. And you can post it to the Slate’s Parenting Group on Facebook before we get out of here. Of course, we have recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you have for us this week?

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S2: I have a simple recommendation. June 1st is the traditional like kind of start of summer reading, which we love in this house. In fact, my nine year old woke up and was like, it’s summer reading. Like, how do I log my book? So go sign your kids up for summer reading. They have them at all the libraries, but also bookstores. There’s even like old school Pizza Hut book. It is back for the summer. So go sign up for those and sign yourself up too, because it’s always good to just have some motivation to try some new some new books and and read some different things and be reading with your kids. So I’m recommending summer reading.

S1: I love that. What end book it is back. Are you kidding me? I’m signing up right now.

S2: Book it is back. I mean, it’s always been available for home schoolers, but they they are doing it for summer reading the summer too. So you read your 20 minutes a day for 20 days and you can earn a personal pan pizza just like like I don’t know, Djamila, you grew up with like that. So, you

S1: know, really one that was a very, very special part of my childhood as was sitting in. I agree.

S2: It’s like the best thing to share with the kids. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Oh, I love that. Great. Elizabeth, what do you have?

S3: I think I have a reading related one too there. They’ve been around for a long time and they’re well-known. So maybe many of our listeners will roll their eyes. But I’m going to recommend the Bob books, the early reading book sets that help your kids learn how to read. Iris knows the basics of how to read, but was is very reluctant to claim that she is a reader or knows how to read or to kind of own that because she’s not like, amazing at it yet. And I asked her teachers, you know, what can we do? Like, you know, she’ll clearly be reading something and I’ll ask her to read it out loud to me and she’ll say, I don’t know how to read. They said, get these books. And you know what? It totally worked. They come in boxed sets of twelve, you know, short books. They’re like five sentences long with really crude drawings. Each one of them is doing some sound thing, you know, short vowels, long vowels, hard consonants, whatever sight words, things like that. And they’re really fun and they’re not hard. And the kids get an immediate sense of accomplishment from them. So I highly recommend if you have like a kindergartner who’s putting reading together that you do a little extra practice with these old books.

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S1: Very nice and super helpful. So I also have a reading related recommendation, but it’s for the grown ups. I suck at self promotion. I always have. I hate it. And if you’ve ever seen me post anything that I’ve done online, it was done with the deepest of shame. I blush in real life. Black girls blush. It’s terrible, but I do need to let people know about stuff that I’m publishing. And these things were about parenting, so I figured I should share them with you. So one, I do contribute to the care and feeding parenting column every week in the show notes this week I have my column from last week, hopefully reading all things care and feeding. There’s a wonderful roster of contributors that I’m very honored to be a part of and I recently published a piece with. Parents magazine about my daughter seeing herself in black role models and what that means to her. And one last month or actually in April on April 20th for 420, about weed and motherhood, black single motherhood in particular. And I’m proud of them. So go on to rate them if you have it. Thank you so much. If you have, we’ve got a link to them in the show notes.

S2: You should be proud of them. I love that you’re promoting this.

S1: Thank you. I know Elizabeth always shares me on so much. I really appreciate that because I really do. It’s hard for me to share. I know it’s weird, especially when you’ve had something like you’ve gone through the trouble of getting something published and it’s like, oh, I have to tell people to go read it. That part is embarrassing, but

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S3: it is so mortifying. It’s so,

S1: you know, every single time. Every single time. But nevertheless, she persisted.

S2: That’s how much you love our listeners that you’re willing to to be a little embarrassed to share these wonderful pieces. So everyone go click those links.

S1: Thank you. Thank you. And with that, that is our show. Thank you for listening. And one last time, if you have a question for us, send us an email to mom and dad is dot com or post it to the Slate Parenting Facebook group, which you can find by just searching for Slate’s parenting mom and dad. Fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson or Elizabeth New Camp and Isaac Butler and Jimmy Little Amir. Let’s keep the party going, Slate plus listeners. So why the potentially enduring aspects of the pandemic is its impact on families schedules and extracurricular activities. For a lot of families, it seems like the kids are booked in busy from when they’re big enough to walk until they’re 18 years old. And of course, the pandemic brought most extracurricular activities to a screeching halt and it completely upended our schedules. And now we are forced to re-examine how we’re spending family time. So as things start to reopen and as the world presents itself to us again and as we present ourselves to the world, Elizabeth and Isaac, how are you all approaching your schedules?

S3: My wife and I have always been fairly cautious. I feel about over scheduling her and we want to give her enough free time to process everything, to play with her friends, to go to the park or play by herself in her room if she wants to. You know, we try to do that. The big challenge is that she continually asks to do new classes and after school activities. And so having to be like, actually, we just need to pick a couple of three of these things or whatever and do them has been the challenge. So a weird thing is that prior to the pandemic Iris was in after school. So actually one of the big changes caused by the pandemic is that she’s been taking after school classes and things. She’s been now doing extracurriculars which she didn’t used to do. And so we have started trying to figure out how to balance all of this because she wants to do after school if her friends are going to do it at school. She also has classes she’s interested in. And truthfully and and I know that she also needs time by herself in time to just determine her own schedule and and have control. That’s really important. And so we are right now at the beginning of the process of figuring that out for the fall. The big difference this time is that, you know, Iris is six years old. She’s going into first grade. We’re trying to involve her in that conversation more and to ask her about what she needs and what she wants to do and have her have some impact on that conversation so that she doesn’t just feel like either. On one end, she’s roped into a bunch of stuff she didn’t want to do, or on the other hand, she’s missing out on all these different activities that she wants to try.

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S2: Yeah, I feel like we’re in a similar space because we’ve we’ve moved. And so now every time we move, the kids kind of get to, like, reinvent themselves and we kind of think about what we’re going to do. One of the advantages of home school for us is that there is all this free time, like our mornings are kind of scheduled. But then our our afternoons, like there’s there’s lots of opportunities for them to be by themselves and have that time. But the extracurriculars are really our way to to, you know, get that social interaction and some of those things, those group settings that we would, you know, that other kids get at school. I also like to be busy, like I like to do a lot of things and and have things on the schedule. And so fighting, fighting, all of that. Now, the good news is that because we have three children, it’s really easy to kind of limit it, because even if they each only choose kind of one thing at a location, plus maybe we’re doing some kind of computer course or something like that’s a full schedule then for the whole family kind of finding that balance we did enjoy during the pandemic the time we spent at home. Prior to that, we tend to fill up most weekends, like trying to travel or trying to be gone and out of the house, and one of the things that we sort of learned is that our kids really like to be here in the house, even though they’re here all week. Like there’s something fundamentally different about having the whole family. So dad home, like over the weekend, us being together and having that down time as a family. And so we have kind of said that we’re going to try to keep more of that and not over schedule like our family time or our trips and having time to, like, enjoy all of us and not necessarily in the school context, like we go to parks, but it’s like let’s go to a park and nature journal as opposed to like let’s go to a park and just play and run around and have Dad be silly with us, too, like having that kind of family time. So I’m hoping that we carry that forward and have some more of that time. But I’m personally looking forward to getting the kids back into some activities in which I am not the primary teacher.

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S1: I you know, I feel like we were just in such a period of transition. And when we got here, I mean, like the pandemic starts right after we moved to across the country. So we didn’t really have, like Nyima did, one gymnastics class, literally one. You know, it’s the saddest thing. It’s like this memory that’s frozen, you know, forever. Like, remember when I have gymnastics class at one time. And so, you know, I kind of as somebody who had a very crazy personal schedule. So in addition to whatever things I dreamed up for Nyima, I was on the road a lot and I was moving around and she’s a joint because the kids so like, there’s just a lot of moving happening, period. I appreciate it to slow down. But now they were going into summer. I feel like it’s about to pick up and I think things may end up becoming worse than ever because like I’m looking at summer camps and I think we’re going to end up having to, like, send her to more than one because, like, they have camps they like in at noon and shit. So this is going to be I think this is going to be a wild schedule kind of summer for for us. The fall, I’m not so sure, but I don’t know. I think we’re just so thirsty to be outside that we probably will overcommit ourselves a little bit and then have to dial back later. But do you all think in general that this is going to be like none? And so the let’s load up our kids with extracurriculars because that’s the only way to succeed, the only way to get into a good school sort of mentality. Do you think there’s going to be a big break as far as that goes, or do you think that people are going to just kind of slowly get back to normal with with regards to that or maybe not even slowly that as soon as they can they will?

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S3: My guess is that it will revert back to normal pretty quickly, but I hope it doesn’t. I hope people take this opportunity to kind of reconsider whether jam packing every minute of their kids day with with some activity is really the best way for that kid to be spending their time. You know, I really hope that as we’re reconsidering things like work and how work works and whether you need to leave your home, whether that meeting could have been an email or whatever, you know, just like we’re re-examining that stuff, I hope we’ll do something similar with how we treat our children’s free time and allowing them to have more of it.

S2: Yeah, I think it’s so hard to think about right now because as things open up there is this like desire to get back out, like I want to do all these things because we haven’t done these things, you know, in a year. And and I wonder if we’ll see kind of an uptick and then maybe a a re assessment as we establish kind of new school schedules and new you know, there’s a lot of freedom in Isaach, like you said, like the work thing, like not the travel time and the like. That time you have in the house and the and the the sweet moments that happen when you would otherwise be kind of in and out trying to get everybody out of the house into the house, like I think I learned to appreciate how much time was taken up by the the traveling, like the preparing for activities and getting set like we had so much time because I wasn’t doing all of that and I wasn’t having to shuttle everybody in and out and pack lunches and get all these things ready, you know, lay out everybody’s stuff. And I would like to keep some of that calmness like a commerce flow in that we’re not so busy that we’re we’re neglecting those, like, sweet moments that kind of happened in those transitions because not getting somewhere, you know, needing to get somewhere is so important. So hopefully we can take back some of that time.

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S1: I feel like the pressure around activity isn’t there as much as it is a desire. Like I also think that I know personally I feel like I’m a lot better at choosing. How I want to spend my time, like, you know what I mean? Like, I, I don’t think that I’m as inclined to get us involved in something or, you know, to take us somewhere that we’re not really going to enjoy or that I don’t feel good about, you know, like that the thing that we might have just gone to out of obligation. Do you see yourself just doing the thing you really don’t want to do? Like, we don’t really don’t want to go to this festival, but so-and-so who we’re not that close to invited us. So we’re going to stop by like I think it’s going to be harder to get us to do that kind of stuff going forward.

S2: I completely agree.

S3: Yes. I think, you know, social obligation is going to be a lot harder. I mean, I’m finding it harder even now, you know, just when we’re talking about me. Right. But I think social obligation stuff is going to be that we don’t want to do. It’s going to be more difficult to convince ourselves to do it at this point.

S2: Plus, it it washed a lot of those like those secondary relationships away. Yeah. You know, like the relationships that you held on to during the pandemic were the ones that took work and took effort. Right. And that means hopefully ones you wanted to or needed to. And so I think a lot of those like secondary ones, of course, we moved to so so all of those are gone. But just like the ability to be like the neighbor from down the street that invites you to things but and you feel kind of obligated to go like a lot of that just I think went away. And so taking advantage of that, like not feeling any obligation because you haven’t really hung out with them in a year. So you don’t have to go to that festival. You don’t want to totally.

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S3: And, you know, I mean, one thing that came out of the pandemic is that we got to spend a lot of time together and we like doing so. Yeah. Like the three of us. The three of us like each other’s company most of the time and, you know, finding fun stuff to do that that’s that’s pleasurable. And I don’t feel a need necessarily to fill up every moment with a billion things when we can always figure something up.

S1: All right. Well, thank you, listeners, for your support. We hope you enjoyed this little extra taste of mom and dad are fighting. And we will talk to you again next week.