S1: Slate Plus members, it’s survey time, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate. Slate podcasts and Slate. Plus it’ll only take a few minutes. You can find it at Slate.com slash survey.
S2: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.
S3: Welcome to Mom and Dad Fighting Place Parenting podcast for Thursday, March 5th. The all time edition. I’m Jimmy Little Amir, a writer, critic, Blade Parent Reading Parenting column and Moms Nyima, who is fit for just a few more weeks. And we’re based in Los Angeles, California.
S4: I’m Dan Coates. I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family and the dad of Lyra, who’s 14, and Harper, who’s 12 and seven twelfths. Can we live in Arlington, Virginia? I’m Emily Ferrante. I’m a writer, artist and educator. I’m a mother, too. Oscar was eleven. Ivan was nine. We live in New Orleans, Louisiana.
S3: Thank you for joining the family today on the show. We have a question from a listener who works with kids but doesn’t have any of her own yet. And she’s concerned that working with kids and then coming home to more kids may be too much to handle.
S5: We also have a question from a mom who’s become a bit of a germaphobe after her. I had to be hospitalized. What’s the line between and sharing your child’s safety and being overprotected? Plus, triumphs and fails and recommendations, as always. Let’s start with you, Dan.. Do you have a triumph or fail for us this week?
S6: I have a fail this week. A big old classic fail.
S7: Yeah, absolutely no excuse for this fail. I am ashamed. So Harper’s birthday is in August. She turned 12 this past August.
S6: August was a busy time. We had vacations. There’s a lot of work stuff going on. A lot of her friends weren’t around. And so we just didn’t get it together to do a birthday party. And she wanted a birthday party. But also when we started telling her, well, on this date, you know, these seven kids couldn’t make it because they’re all at camp or on vacation. She was like, all right, I get it. We don’t have to do a birthday party. But I still want a birthday party at some point. So we said, OK, we’ve blown it. And having a birthday party for you on your 12th birthday. But here’s what we’ll do. We’ll have a 12 and a half birthday party. We’ll do it six months after your August birthday in February. It’ll be super fun. It’ll be unique and funny and everyone will be available. So everyone’s around in February.
S8: And she said, fine, fine, we can do that. So then February comes around, just a really busy month, just a lot going on with work and holidays.
S6: Like, you know, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day are both in February. I think there’s a big day. Those are big days. Yeah. You just got to do a lot of planning around them. And we’re pretty busy.
S9: And, you know, we just didn’t get it together to do a birthday party for Harper.
S7: So then we schedule one for March. We scheduled laser tag for March. And at this point, Harper is like, what the fuck is wrong with you guys?
S10: Why not? It’s cashflows, simple birthday party for one of your two children.
S6: And he’d like we’re really sorry. Suspend the laser tag place was booked and we didn’t have the email addresses for a lot of your friends. So we sent out an invitation for this laser tag party. Will be super fun says join us for Harper’s Twelve and Seven Twelfths Birthday Party.
S10: And Harper last night said, Why did you do that? It’s so embarrassing. It was like all my friends are like, what does it mean? You’re 12 and seven twelve Spirit Day party. Why do you just say it was my birthday? Like a normal person birthday. That’s what I said. But she was unconvinced. So our fail is that we were unable to actually just do a birthday party, Erica’s birthday, and instead are doing it over a half year later. In a way that’s embarrassing to her.
S11: That is great. Thank you. That is the fail when it’s also funny and too. It’s just that she’s not yet that irreverent. Like she’s past the youthful irreverence of any day. Could be my birthday. It’s magic. Whatever. I get a party. Sure. And like thinking of her friends, judging her for having this super late birthday party been really? It’s a very early party. If you think about it, you do have an actual birthday this calendar year, right?
S6: That’s an early party for your 13th birthday. It’s just that we didn’t give you a 12th birthday party at all.
S12: Facts matter, right? Isn’t that what we’re trying to set? Like 7:12 is not a half.
S13: Yeah. As a journalist, it would be, in fact, a violation of my ethical principles to say it’s a birthday.
S11: It’s not. But see, she’s a girl. And I just feel like she’s going to be held to a higher standard. Like if Elizabeth Warren was trying to celebrate her 7th, 12th birthday as opposed to Joe Biden.
S14: Everybody would probably just be like all up in arms about it.
S15: But like, if Bono was like, hey, 7:12, birthdays, narrative I like, that makes a very personal tangent. Emily, do you have a triumph for fear of death this week? I have a triumph.
S16: Oh, good for Christmas. I made my son’s cookbooks just a three ring binder with like three recipes in it because cookbooks and recipes from the Internet are really complicated. And they. I have like all these details and stories and there’s kind of hard to navigate. So I took recipes that they like and like put them in like a nice future font and made them look nice and took a picture when I had made them in the past, just three pages, each of recipes I liked. So this past week, Ivan, my nine year old, made this amazing chicken tagine with green olives and reasons and I made couscous. And then he made vanilla ice cream for dessert with his ice cream maker. So my triumph was in dealing with the fact that my kids want to cook and then they get books that have all these recipes in them. And it takes so much of my time and there’s so many fails. And I like watered it down to one recipe at a time and then I can add a new one once they finish those. So it was a rare good idea. That worked out well. Now I have homework to do because you have to make another one this week. But yeah, that was my triumph for the week.
S6: That definitely seems like the kind of idea that would be great in theory and that in practice would be maddening. I’m very, very impressed with your child. He’s 9 and he made a chicken, Jean.
S17: I mean, it’s not that complicated. You know, like but to look it up on the Internet, it’s like, Emily, I haven’t cooked in six months.
S7: You need like preserved lemons and shit on the Internet.
S12: Honestly, with a preserved lemon thing, we cheat. We just scan a lemon and throw it in there. We didn’t do it. True to the Moroccan original recipe, but he’s 9.
S18: Emily, what I want you to understand is that I have not cooked an entire meal from scratch since at least July.
S11: I’m not kidding. This is my greatest failure as a parent.
S18: So your child at 9 has already been a better parent to you in 2020 than I’ve been to my own daughter. So this is a super triumph.
S19: I bet your kids celebrated your birthday on time to. Like some parents I know. This is the trap of talking about a triumph because it’s a.
S20: Only so interesting when something works out well and B, it’s threaded with other failures, like it’s threaded with all of the failures of the cookbooks I bought that I thought were good or the times the recipes burned or the time I gave away an ice cream maker. And Ivan talked about it for like five years till I got him a new one for his birthday. So every triumph has all of these failures that have filtered up and made it what it is today.
S13: But good news is my philosophy of triumphing and failing as a parent is that you’ve got to be like a quarterback. You have a short memory, right? The fáil’s just gonna wash right off you. They never happened. They never, ever tasted the triumphs. You just fucking brag about for months.
S18: We can all be the Al Bundy of plecaþi when it comes to parenting. Does not matter what’s happened between now and 1980. He must played in the 70s. But what matters is that we did make that game winning touchdown that one time. OK. So I have you know, I was gonna come out with the fail because, you know, I’ve racked up some in the two weeks since the last time we spoke. But I think I’m gonna instead present a tryout. First of all, my daughter Nyima starting gymnastics classes. She’s really excited about it at a rec center very close to her school. She’s gonna do it once a week regardless of whichever parent is picking her up that day. She’s going to have one of us there to sit and watch her in gymnastics. And the original plan was the dad and I were both gonna go for her first class, but it happened to fall on the day of Elizabeth Warren’s rally in East L.A.. And for those of you who’ve been listening for a while, you know, I’ve mentioned that I’ve been a surrogate for the campaign and this is the last rally before Super Tuesday. I asked Naima, hey, we’ve been invited to come to this rally. You’d get to meet the candidate. You don’t have to go. I know it’s your first gymnastics class and you’re very excited about that. But I also know that, you know, she’s excited, enthusiastic about my support of the campaign. And this isn’t the first time that I’ve supported one and included her in, you know, my work. And so what do you want to do?
S14: And she said she wanted to come with me. And so when I put it to her dad, he gave me a very, very thoughtful response about wanting the village to center her talents and her work and her dreams to and to see us making sacrifices on her behalf. And so he understood that she was enthusiastic about, you know, going to the event and the campaign. But he also, you know, wanted to make sure that we were nurturing something that she was enthusiastic about. That was entirely for her, which is gymnastics. So then I felt terrible. But I gave it some thought. And I talked to a couple of friends and I decided to take my team into the event. I’m very glad that she did, regardless of how everything shakes out. And we are recording this on Super Tuesday. So Jamelia from the future kind of feels like she knows how to turn out. But either way, I feel like I made the right call in bringing her there and she was a little cranky and a little overwhelmed by all the people. But she did have a very nice time meeting Elizabeth Warren. She very excited for me to send a picture of her and Elizabeth to her teacher this morning. And so I’m glad that I did that. And that’s a memory that I want her to treasure for the rest of her life. And I want her to think about seeing a woman who is capable and competent and brilliant, who is running for office, and that she got to, you know, do a pinky promise with her that she would vote in the future. And that’s cool. So I’m not going to beat myself up for her missing her first day of gymnastics antibody, her very cute unit, hard for when she does go as the dad of a twelve and seven twelve year old.
S8: I just can’t tell you you have got plenty of gymnastics classes to take her to in the future.
S10: You are never gonna be like, man, I wish we’d made that one gym class.
S15: That’s what I think. That was exactly how I felt. It’s not the Olympic trials, it’s that there’ll be plenty of other opportunities. And she also maybe we need a copy of your cookbook, Emily, because I’ve won the party recently. And as I said, I haven’t cooked in six months. Verrill So it’s not that it’s been used, but it is out of the box. And we’ve looked at it and we’ve looked at recipes on the app. So like any day now I’m gonna cook and she’s very excited about that. We had miso soup at Chinese Restaurant the other day and she said, Oh, can you make this tomorrow? I said, well, that’s not exactly how cooking works and that no, I’m not going to just magically know how to make miso soup tomorrow, but we can do this.
S13: So I look forward to next week’s triumph.
S21: When you make miso soup or fail when you’re inside, a pot explodes one or the other, just like hot water and miso soup. Yeah, I think you take it. Thank you, Scott. Let’s drop in. Chef knowledge left and right. How much easier than I thought?
S12: I mean, not really. I don’t really know. I’ve never made that. We entered a time page.
S18: Is that not an allegory for parenting? But one page at a time. All right.
S5: So before we get in to our listener questions, let’s handle some business. Slate’s parenting newsletter is the best place to be notified about all of our parenting of. In fact, is the only place to be notified about all of our parenting kinds, it which includes mom and dad are fighting care and feeding and much more. And it’s also an email in your inbox every week from the Dan qua-. So all you have to do is sign up at Slate that combat flash parenting email and you can keep up with everything that we have going on and how we’re failing our children.
S15: You can also check us out on Facebook where I’ve violated a big rule tweak literally while the show is being recorded without me. I was feeling emo about when I was bummed out to not be able to do the show that weekend too. I was deeply missing my child because I was at town and so I was like, Hey, Facebook group where we have a rule where you can’t share pictures of your kid. You wanted the pictures of my kid and I posted pictures of my name and the Facebook group. I’m so sorry. I definitely affected tend to kick me out.
S22: Actually, I was twelve and seven twelfths because I was touching that pot on the stove and just wondering, like, what’s going to happen here.
S15: To be fair, I had forgotten I’d forgotten that that was a rule. But like within minutes I remembered. And then I commented, oh, wait, there’s a reason there’s no kid pitches in here. We’re probably not supposed to do this. And then I went back to the rules and confirmed that Gabe liked Mike.
S23: I know that. This is why I say, Rich, tell you the truth. It’s okay.
S11: I thought the BMI where that was in my head, Gabe would not have that. That’s me. So, yes, I left the pitchers out there. Q People were very nice about it. Thank you. I appreciate it.
S5: Okay, on to the questions. The first one is being read by be one and only Sasha Leonhard.
S24: Dear mom and dad, I’m childfree, but a speech therapist and lactation consultant, I was wondering if you could give insight into the experience of working with children and then having your own. While I truly love kids. The thought of working so intensely with them all day and then coming home to my own scares the shit out of me. The tediousness of Barrentine scares me, knowing every terrifying random way that children can become sick or injured scares me. The realities of having black children in this world scares me. I know that no one is ever really ready, but can no one speak to my particular fears? My original solution was just to wait. But after trying to donate my eggs to a university last year, I found out that I have a low ovarian reserve for my age. I’ll be twenty nine this year. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
S25: Hey, this is a really interesting question that actually came in through that Facebook group and spurred a lot of thoughtful responses. I’m not a person who has in my life worked with kids a lot. You know what? I had kids. I hadn’t really had any experience with kids since I was a kid. So I wanted to maybe use this chance to ask some questions to my two co-hosts who both do have a lot of experience in this arena. So let’s start with Emily. Emily, you’re a teacher’s assistant. You work with kids during the day and then you do indeed come home to your own kids at the end of the day. Have you found that to be oppressive or have you found it to be useful in the work that you do?
S20: It has been more useful than oppressive. I don’t think it’s oppressive because children are people. If you work all day with regular people. You’re not like, oh, no, I have to go out with my regular people, friends. I think it’s a totally different animal. I mean, children are needy and their noses run and they say weird things. But your children are very different than children, I think. So for me, there is a divide between the professional and the personal. Sometimes I need a 10 minute buffer. And when I started working full time, I thought, when I do this, I’m going to have to institute like a 10 minute window when I get home. And sometimes I use it like sometimes I’ll be like, I’m taking a 10 and I’ll go to my room and I’ll look at garbage on my phone or I’ll sleep or something like that. And then I’m like, No, I’m personal person. But being a parent has helped my work with children. Working with children has helped my parenting.
S25: How about you, Jamila? You have been a teacher. You’ve worked in camps. You had a career of working with kids for a long time before you became a writer. Did that give you any pause when you discovered that you were going to be a parent and when you started thinking about what that might mean, that you had all this experience in the childcare world and that you might have a life where you’re sort of toggling back and forth between the two.
S11: So I realized during my brief stint as a teacher that I like children more than I enjoy working with children professionally.
S26: My degree is in acting. So me becoming a teacher really had a lot to do with sharing my parents that I wasn’t going to be 40 and unable to take myself to the doctor because I was between gigs.
S11: Classic Actor’s Day job. Classic actors daythat right.
S26: And so obviously my life ended up taking some twists and turns, and I didn’t pursue either of those things super long.
S27: But I will say that me thinking that I could do it had a lot to do, which is always loving children and always having a strong maternal instinct and wanting to be a big sibling and not having been one and always. Being the big kid, it looked after a little kids, and so I’ll say now that actually being a parent, I think that one so much of what I got from my time in education and, you know, in working in after school programs and day camps has been helpful.
S26: And children were not newbies to me in the way that they’ve been to so many parents that I know, especially those of us who were either the youngest sibling or did not have siblings at all. And too, I’m overwhelmed by children in groups of more than two, maybe three in ways that I was in when I was younger. And part of that could just be me being a bit out of practice and also having a different relationship to these kids, because I don’t have a professional responsibility to them, but I have this deep connection to them when I’m around because I’m a mother and because typically if I’m around kids, they have some connection to my child. So to the letter writer, I would say and there’s a lot to this letter that fear of having black children, which I can totally empathize and understand. Being a lactation consultant, which means you’re going birth related work, I would imagine that as somebody who’s training to be a Dula, you’re keenly aware of some of the challenges surrounding women in this country and Blacktown in particular around maternal health. And so knowing that you have a low ovarian reserve for your age and being almost 30, that’s a lot of potentially frightening information for somebody who’s still ambivalent about becoming a parent to have to process all at once.
S27: And I would say, yes, parenting can be tedious, but it is also much like teaching or working as a speech therapist, deeply rewarding. You have to want it. And I think that if it’s the fear of being overwhelmed by the number of children in your life, then perhaps the decision is which one speaks more deeply to my spirit, a desire to be a parent or a desire to continue on as the speech therapist? Right. Because even being a lactation consultant would mean having a lot of exposure and experience to babies. But once your own child is the baby, that then you’re having two very different groups of children in your life. Right. I would just say you have a lot of soul searching to do. You know, I mean, most teachers are women and a good percentage of them, if that the majority of them are mothers or become mothers at some point during their teaching careers. And, you know, I’ve known a lot of children of teachers and I’ve known a lot of teachers with children, and they all seem to have a connection to education that is really valuable. I think that the insight that you would have as somebody who does birth work and who works with children that have I.P.S and specific sets it needs around education could be incredibly helpful to any child and in particular to a black child who is uniquely vulnerable in certain ways when it comes to health and education. So being a parent is a crazy journey, right?
S28: But like it’s one that most of us have some level of enthusiasm and passion for.
S13: But again, it’s something that you have to deeply want the sort of panoply of fears that this letter writer is putting out there. As you say, Jamila, there’s a real range of them. And one thing that really struck me when we had kids and when I talked to other people about the difference between the way you think about having kids before you have them and what it’s actually like to have them once they’re in your life. In my experience, the more specific your fear is before you have kids, the less likely it is to be the thing that actually is the problem causer or the thing that worries or upsets are obsessed as you once you actually have the kids, which is to say everyone worries about the terrifying or horrible things that can happen to their children the way they can get sick or injured. That will never stop obsessing any parent. But that also doesn’t really stop anyone from loving their children or being perfectly happy in parenthood. That’s part of the cocktail. That is parenthood. But something as specific as, you know, I work all day with kids and I worry that when I get home, I won’t want to be with my kids because I’ll be sick of kids. Like that’s so particular concern. I would bet money that when and if you do actually have children, if you are still working with kids, that’s not going to be the last thing that you worry about. That’s gonna be the last thing on your mind. Your concerns about your children will have so much more to do with who they are, your relationship with them than with this concern that you’re having right now. This should not be the thing that drives your decision making.
S20: So I work with French teachers and the French have a very different approach to working even with really small children. I’m generalizing here and maybe getting into deep water, but from all of the French colleagues I’ve had, loving children or even liking children is not a requirement of working with small children. It’s a profession. And you approach it almost like a scientist and you study brain development and you build frameworks in which children can thrive and grow and have their very first professional relationship. So what maybe would happen is you see that the feelings you have for the children you work with are just very it’s a whole different animal than the feelings and approach you have to being at home. Before I had kids and even now I will say I don’t particularly like children. I don’t dislike them. I just there’s people and some I like and some I don’t like and some I like a lot. And at school when I’m working, it just fair is kind of what I go for. Fair, warm, compassionate, organized. And then at home is where, you know, the emotions of engaging with my children happen. And they’re two really different things in my world. The the tedium, everything is tedious if you do it every day. So like if you go to a rave every day, it’s gonna get tedious, you know? So there’s parts of parenting are tedious, but parts of everything are tedious when they’re routine. So there are other parts that are amazing and weird.
S26: I think that’s a really interesting and probably the most common perspective on teaching, right, is that it’s work. And so most folks that do that work approach it as they would any other work, that it doesn’t always come from a deep, abiding love for children or education.
S29: Marcella, then here is my skill set. Here’s an opportunity. Here’s the thing I think would be good work to do for any number of reasons that aren’t necessarily driven by love. But for me, I’ve always thought of teaching is something that you should love and that because I did not love it. It’s why I ultimately felt like it could not remain in that space, because kids really need somebody who cares in their heart in a way. Then that’s not to say that you can’t. You know, if you take your job seriously, you’re gonna want to do well. And so doing it well as a speech therapist means that the children who come into your office, who have these particular challenges or that, you know, kids that you go work with in their classroom, that you address those challenges and you do it with care, compassion and knowing how to do the work.
S27: But you’re right, it does not always have to be a matter of passion.
S30: And you can have the passion at home for the kids and not necessarily have it at work in the same way I am and have passion for the job and the importance of the job and the things about the job that you like her enjoy without necessarily feeling like the job revolves entirely around your close emotional connection to every single one of those children. I think that’s what seems like it might be exhausting and might be worrisome to a letter writer like this, that you build all these relationships at school and then you add on to that these even more intense relationships at home and you feel like you never have sort of like an emotional moment off. I mean, not even to speak about. You never have a moment where someone’s not shouting at you and you may not be able to solve that latter one. I do think that thinking of the job of teaching as being passionate about the work that you do and about what you teach these children and the way you care for them, but not necessarily feeling like the relationship with those children has to even really resemble in any way your relationship with your kids. And I think that’s an important distinction that you’ve made anyway.
S26: I think that it’s a distinction that for a lot of black folks, black women in particular, find it in perhaps black men as well. It could be a barrier to entry for the field for a number of black men is that we do have this feeling, this sense of responsibility to our kids and to children in general in a way that I don’t think is common of everyone. And so being a black woman who’s working particularly with kids who have challenges then and who’s working with mothers who have challenges with something, you know, like breastfeeding, I can imagine how emotionally connected she is to the kids and the families that she’s dealing with. And I understand why and I understand how difficult it may be to separate yourself. And sometimes those boundaries are necessary. And so it’s not about saying I’m letting go of this concept of I am of this village. And here is my responsibility to the village. And again, it’s not just the connection that we have with black children. It’s when we are in classrooms. We feel that these are our babies and we have to love them and protect them from the world around us and prepare them for that world as best as we can.
S27: And we have to protect those mothers and love them and make sure that their babies can eat when and where and we care. It’s not science. It’s spirit work. It’s culture work in so many ways. And that I would suggest to you, Facebook friend, that you speak to perhaps some black female teachers who are a bit older, maybe in their 40s and 50s or 60s, who are parents, maybe some other lactation consultants or birth workers who have children about how they’ve managed to or if they’ve managed to balance in a healthy way the love and care that they have for the families and kids that they deal with professionally and their own children. That’s a good idea. So thank you so much for sharing that and for engaging. I love when we get questions from folks who are not yet parents, regardless of the decision you make long term that you’re engaging with parenting comment and listening to what parents and people who are raising children are talking about, I think says a lot. Do you notice that, Dan? Like, I feel really grateful when we get engagement both here and in care and feeding from non-parents. So thank you all. Shouts All the non parents who listen and read and engage with us online.
S30: We have always been amazed at the incredible percentage of our listeners who are child free. It’s way more than you would think they were. It’s something north of 30 percent.
S29: Yeah, that’s really fun. Thanks. Thank you. And on behalf of those of us who are parents, you know, aside from just those of us who are hosting this show, I think that being heard and thought about and considered and our children being heard and thought about and considered by people who are around us but aren’t doing the same role in their lives is really important. So thank you for reaching out, listener. And if you have a question for us, parents or not, please feel free to send us an email at mom and dad at Slate that com or you can do what this listener did and post your question in Slate’s parenting Facebook group. All right. On to our next question, which is again being read by Shasha Leonhard.
S24: Dear mom and dad are fighting. I am a new mom to a 6 month old when our son was 4 months old right before Christmas. He got sick with a respiratory infection and ended up in the hospital for four nights. One in the pediatric ICU. It was, of course, a very difficult and scary experience, especially since it was the first time he had ever been sick. Prior to him getting sick, we were comfortable taking him out with us almost everywhere we went after him getting sick. It’s been really difficult for me and my husband to recalibrate what we are comfortable with and to get on the same page with this. And there is an added factor that my mother in law has now become more outspoken, that we should be extremely cautious. I could write a whole letter on that alone. I am struggling with the type of parent I want to be. I have always wanted to give my future kids room to explore and not be too protective so they can learn, even if that means a few scraped knees. My husband is a much more careful person by nature before having kids. I have always known that the area we would disagree most would be how protective to be of our kids. Though he has always assured me he shared my values of not being overly protective. Before the hospital it felt like we were generally on the same page. Now, while we have both shifted on the spectrum to be more cautious, he’s gone farther in that direction than me. For example, he prefers that we don’t take our baby to the grocery store or to medium sized get togethers with friends, at least during cold and flu season, because you never know who might be sick. But this has been really hard on me. Honestly, I just want my son with me. I want my friends to get to see him. And I want to enjoy time together as a full family. It means that on days where I don’t work and I watch the baby, I can’t knock out errands like getting groceries, which is frustrating and logistically challenging. And other times we are essentially paying a nanny so I can get groceries, which seems unnecessary. How do we decide what is the right amount of precaution to take versus needing to live our life and wanting our son to experience the world? How do I navigate differences on this between my husband or myself? Thanks, mom, who doesn’t want to be a germophobe?
S8: Mom who doesn’t want to be a germaphobe? You are right to not want to be a germaphobe. The life you are describing right now, the life that your husband is trying to get you to live with your 6 month old sounds no fun at all. Restricting your whole life that way isn’t your idea of a happy family life. It makes things harder for you emotionally. It makes things harder for you practically makes things harder viewed financially. If you’re hiring nannies just so you can go to the grocery store and spend money, it needs to change because you will be happier and your child will be happier too. I mean, that’s the very simple answer, I think. But I’m very curious what my co-hosts think. Emily, what do you think?
S31: It’s right in the fine of mom who doesn’t want to be a germaphobe. Then don’t be because a fear can be a healthy trigger. Like, Oh, you should pay attention to that. You should pay attention to germs. Okay. So then ration kicks in and you think, OK, so what do I do to protect my child from germs and be reasonable? But the first part of the questions are struggling with my identity and the type of parent I want to be with. What type of parent do you want to hang out with? You don’t want to hang out with a parent who bubble wraps their child and he knows dousing them in hand sanitizer. I think you know what kind of parent you want to be because you stated that. I understand that the experience of going to the hospital with a 4 month old must have been terrifying to acknowledge that. But there’s life. There is the reason we’re here. There’s interaction. There’s when I took my I hope I don’t get blowback for this, but, you know, I took my baby in a baby Bjorn to Mardi Gras parades. You know, I mean, it’s disgusting. And I have two sturdy, healthy kids with healthy, I think, biology. So I think I think you have to figure out how to thread the needle and not give in to fear for fear sake. You know, do your research, talk to your medical people. I agree with you. Also, this seems to be more of a like a marital discussion. You want your son with you and your son probably wants to be with you and you share biology that will help build immunity. Yeah, live your life. There’s a lot of great stuff to engage with. Wait till this child is playing with other kids. Kids are disgusting. Absolutely disgusting, I think. I mean, this is my own theory. I should look it up sometime. But a lovey. The thing that they chew on, that they drop, that they share. And I think that’s supposed to be their bacteria bundle. If your child is always in some kind of sanitized bubble, I have to believe that it’s not great for their immune system.
S13: Yes, the research backs up the restricting your child’s bacterial exposure to only what’s inside your house is not that healthy. It’s not as healthy as them being out in the world and varied environments to build the human microbiome and improve their immune system. But so, Jameela, I mean, first of all, do you agree that it’s worth trying to get over this germophobia? And if so, how do you have that conversation with the husband who seems like petrified?
S26: I think it is to some extent, as well as the mother in law. Said that could be a letter all itself. So it sounds like mother in law, maybe much like my old. Mother and I know that I have shades of my mom’s extreme risk aversion within me too. But one thing that I never really demurred from was taking my child places where she didn’t necessarily belong as a baby’s such as to work with me every day for two months when she was an infant. I also think it’s important that in trying to find a middle ground of some sort, that you are sensitive to a legitimate sense of anxiety that your husband and his mother and in particular your husband raises is more about him than his mom. But we know who’s in his ear saying these things and, you know, God forbid and hopefully not. But you kind of imply this, that maybe she’s even made it clear that she knows better than you do about this thing. Right. You know, I have a friend who she and her husband lost a baby just before he turned a year old due to one of those illnesses that just sort of happens.
S29: And that, you know, another way, those stories were having great insurance and access to great doctors and doing the right things and going to the hospital just didn’t fix it. Perhaps your husband heard one of those stories. And I know how hearing a story like that while having an infant can just rock you to your core and just scare you and shake you up. And we’re in the middle of a not just flu season, but we’re dealing with a deadly new, confusing flu that came from somewhere else.
S28: There’s a lot of misinformation being spread and this is how paranoia grows. And I think it’s important that you.
S26: Try to help him re learn, has enjoy life as the family where you all are able to take your child to the grocery store and to a party here and there without discounting the value that fear can hold for parents and that there is an important to being precautious this thing like, yeah, we’re going to this get together with folks that we know and we feel like this is a safe and controlled environment we like. Yes, there’ll be people. Yes, somebody will have a cold. It happens.
S32: But we’re also going to wash our hands constantly and we’re going to make sure that everyone who touches the baby washes their hands. Right. As someone who took my kid a whole lot of places earlier in her life. I was really good about that. You know, she got a little bit older. I wasn’t quite as good as making sure that somebody Aly’s pulled out hand sanitizer. And when I didn’t know really until this year was that hand sanitizer isn’t really sufficient. You know, when I’m gonna hand you my baby, you need to go wash your hands. Right. And so if you say what are the things that we can do to protect our child while we’re still able to function normally in the world? And there may be times, words like, look, it’s flu season. There’s a lot going on. It’s OK that this weekend we did our groceries on Amazon, you know, fresh or whatever. I don’t know where groceries come from anymore because I stopped cooking. But a little bit of fear is good. You all can good cop, bad cop this, but you just have to find a middle ground. I don’t think it’s a matter of just being like, okay, next year we’re going to Mardi Gras. We’re gonna have the baby out there because that’s not who he is. And that’s fine.
S8: You know, there’s always that’s who she is either, right. She said how she is feeling a little more nervous in the wake of this hospitalization. But I do think that right now. It’s not that they’re living with fear or that fear is functioning in any appropriate way in their family. He is being ruled by fear. To the extent that it’s making her life as a parent like miserable, it is making her not the kind of family she wants her family to be. And I do think when you have that kind of problem, address it like pretty clearly and in a way, sure, that is respectful of his fear. But that also lets him know that that fear cannot be the only determining factor in how she, as a mother, lives her life and how they, as a family, live their life. And I mean, one way to ease into that conversation is to talk science, a visa, a guy who responds to science. Right. There is a ton of research you can point to about that. Another way is to talk to your doctor, to take that kid to the pediatrician and make sure your husband is there for that appointment where you talk about, well, as a result of this illness, that he had it for months.
S13: Do you feel nervous about going out into the world? Should we know anything about his immune system? What do you recommend as a doctor? This is a great case where what a doctor is going to tell your husband might be more useful in what you have to say to your husband. But I also think that you need to make an emotional appeal that I am not happy.
S8: With living our life this way. And if I’m not happy. Something needs to change. I think that that needs to be part of this appeal. Absolutely.
S20: Fear is fine as a spark, but then it has to direct somewhere. If it just circles in circles. It becomes toxic. So I think it’s like when my son is stressing out about a test. Little stress is good because that’s why you sit down and study. But it becomes extra. So you have the work and then you have the results and then the stress becomes the removeable element. And fear in this case, I think is the. OK. So you’re afraid both of you are to varying degrees, concerned or afraid. So I would like you said go to the doctor, go to the science and I would chart it.
S13: Fear is a directive is a really good way to think about it. Right. You want your fear to lead you to a sustainable family practice. Never letting your kids leave the house is clearly not sustainable long term. Right. That you can’t live that way forever. So the fear should lead you to a set of practices that help you make your family both safe enough for both of you, but also social enough for you. And honestly, eventually him like he’s going to get over this at some point and want to find ways to get that kid out of the house as well. So thinking of fear as a directive that leads you to the practices that help your family be happy has a much better way of thinking of it. That as fear stopping you from doing things.
S26: We are all standing. Good wishes to you for healing this situation in your household as well as for the continued health of your baby. And please keep us posted on what happens next. If you are interested in having us, consider one of your parenting quandaries. Please send us an e-mail at mom and dad at Slate that come before we get out of here. We’re gonna do some recommendations. Emily, what do you have for us this week?
S12: OK. So I have a product called Cowboy Magic. I’m not a medical person and this is not a human product. But everything I could read online said it was fine. It was fine to use on humans. So we went to a ranch in Texas.
S12: So in October, we went to this horse ranch and the wonderful woman who is hosting us suggested for my son’s long fine, but thick hair that tended to, you know, sort of coil and then dread to comb it out with cowboy magic because he does not like to have his hair combed. But he’s really a test with long hair.
S8: So it’s a horse hair dye, Stangler.
S12: So it’s a constant. I have the bottle right here so I could read it. Cowboy Magic Concentrated de Tangalooma and Shine D Tangled Hair. Instantly. I didn’t read anything toxic about it online, but you know, to each his own research. But I tried it this week and it was amazing. I mean, he had these these knots, but little cowboy magic and a comb. It looked like one of the Nelson twins. You were with Nelson. Do you know what that long straight. Blown out? Yeah. Then he washed it and it looked normal again. But it was magic. So how that man gave him a glassy tangle of the sort that you’ve always wished it was, the work load was just decreased. The crying was eliminated in the bottle. Says it smells good, too. It does not smell bad. Yeah.
S10: Horsehair de Tingler Boy Magic on Amazon advertises that a product as great for pets and humans.
S26: Emily, I was gonna say I’m so glad to be the least dangerous person on the show for once, but I thought about mane and tail shampoo which was originally created for horses, and someone did what you did and had the courage to put it on a human’s hair and discovered that it worked quite well. There’s a formula that’s marketed toward humans and they marketed towards pets still. So you may be onto something.
S22: I love it. Fantastic recommendation. I absolutely love it. I’m honestly desperate, so I’m gonna try try lot.
S13: I recommend recommending this week I totally adorable little game for families called Love Letter is a very cute game that Hollier actually gave me for Valentine’s Day was very sweet. It’s just a little card game. You can play with up to four people to four people. And it moves very fast. It’s funny and charming. It takes like 15 minutes to play one game of it. The idea of it. I mean, the idea is not that important. But you’re trying to get a love letter to the princess. But you might only be able to get the letter to someone near the princess, a countess or a prince or someone else. And the person who can get their love letter closest to the princess wins the round. But basically, it’s just like a very simple compare and discard a card game that is really easy to pick up and fun for kids and adults like we have played it a bunch times in the family. Even Lyra, who almost always says no to games, has like weirdly gotten attached to this one. So it’s become a real hit in our house. It’s called Love Letter. It’s cheap and fun. I recommended. Jamila, what are you. What do you recommend?
S18: Well, first down, I just want to say, is this game going to terrify and traumatize my child?
S8: It is not. I think in this game explodes in any way. No peace from this game will hit her in the face or enter her ears or nasal cavity. So she should be all right.
S34: Bomb blast sticks. She kept saying this is key bomb blast. Then they just keep bomb blasting. Bomb blast sticks is available at the goodwill on laughing.
S15: I left it there last week, so somebody hasn’t scooped it up. You can go get it. I’m sure they’re only selling it for a couple of bucks. The very letter does not boom blast in any way. OK, so I am recommending a book that’s not actually out yet, but I’m super excited to have pre-ordered it even though my child has now aged out. And I’m at that point, I guess. Both of you all can relate to this. When you look up and your kid can read and like some of those beautifully illustrated children’s books that they required you to read to them or that they enjoyed reading to you aren’t necessarily appropriate anymore. We’ve got chapter books and books that don’t have pictures, but I missed these beautiful pictures.
S29: Andrea Pippin, who wrote one of my absolute favorite books for name. I Love My Hair, has a new book coming out called Who Will You Be? It helps kids to understand the idea of what? People in the community do and where they’ll fit in the world. And so the meditation there is my child, my little one, who will you be when you’re grown? There’s loving kindness in your eyes like your daddy’s in boldness, in your hearts, like your grandmas. Will you be like them? I think it’s super sweet. And it’s this child looking at her baby and wondering, will you be like, grandpa? Will you be like Grandma? Will you be like daddy? Super beautiful. It’s called Who Will You Be? By Andrea pippin’s. It comes out April 7th is available for pre-order now, and it’s for kids between the ages 3 and 6.
S35: So by the times comes out, Nyima will be seven point 0 0 1 years old and thusly too old for it. But I’m thinking about giving it for her anyway. That’s our show for this week.
S36: Thank you so much for listening. Emily, thank you for joining us once more. If you have a question that you’d like to hear on air, please email at mom and dad at Slate.com. Join us on Facebook.
S37: Just certainly parenting mom and dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie, Delfin began and Emily. I’m Jamila.
S29: Hello, Slate Plus listeners. So last week, Martha mathematician Katherine Johnson passed away at the age of 101 years old or 101, because every time I say one hundred and one name immediately stops me and says, you said. And so 101 years old, she passed away, which is an amazing life for those who don’t know. It was Katherine’s trajectory calculations that made it possible for the first man from the United States to land on the moon. But her accomplishments were widely overlooked by history until the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, which celebrated the contributions of Catherine and her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, who were also black women who worked as computers for NASA.
S35: When Katherine passed away, I posted a couple of pictures of my daughter Naima from last Halloween, dressed up as Katherine in the late parenting group. I violated the no kids picture role because I just wanted to share those adorable pictures with you. And it got us to thinking what other historical figures are hidden when it comes to Halloween costumes and biography. days at school? And what have been some of your favorite child costumes?
S26: Let’s go back into the archives. Then, as a veteran parent, what are some of the most adorable, most special, most meaningful costumes that your kids have put on over the years?
S8: First of all, I would like to respond to your concerns about violating the terms and conditions of the slave parenting Facebook group. As a host and an administrator, you are allowed to post as many photos of your. You are. I don’t care. I will never ban you for that. If anyone else tries to post it, though, I will delete that shit. Fourth day. So Harper never had a history day at her school because we were gone. We were on the trip during history. So she did not do that. Lyra did have History Day, and I am I still find it remarkable to this day that she for History Day dressed up as Madam C.J. Walker.
S10: So like that’s problematic. But is it? I mean, she was in fourth grade, so I feel like it’s basically fine. Well, she’s in blackface. She was obviously not in blackface. She’s just dressed in an old timey dress and talked a lot about black hair, which she doesn’t know anything about, you know, because guess what, band?
S35: Like when your kids get to have experiences, like then where the great that when they show up to school at 18 and they have their first black roommate, you know, or they have a black roommate who maybe their first close black friend or not. But either way, they’re probably not gonna ask to touch her hair or just go out and do it. So I think that’s lovely that she’s got to learn that at nine years old. That’s amazing.
S7: She really did learn a lot about black hair. And she really did love wearing an old timey dress, which was the extent of her Madam C.J. Walker costume. But she also made a bunch of stand these for her table. They’d like had like her versions of Madam C.J. Walker magazine ads advertising her product. And then she just like like brought a thing of like hand cream, but she was very excited about that. That’s a great classic biography, a costume that I think has been incorporated into almost every biography day at every school around the country. I, of course, as someone who’s knee deep right now in the third volume of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy, strongly feel that the historical figure who’s most overlooked is Thomas Craughwell, the guy who killed Thomas Moore, who managed it so that King Henry could divorce and eventually kill so many of his wives. Just a remarkable historical figure who I really think we should be highlighting more in our children’s history curricula, of course. I was going to do biography day as a grown adult. I would probably dress as the only truly important historical figure whom I strongly resemble. This is the person who I actually dress up. As for Halloween in 1998. And that person is Kenneth Starr, author of The Starr Report.
S21: Bill Clinton. I look exactly like him. You do? Oh, my God. What about you, Emily?
S38: Last night I asked my two sons. I told them about this question. Like the historical data, we don’t have that or we haven’t had that. Costumes here have kind of a different nature, different. Broadly, they do like glue, gun and whatever you find. But when I asked my sons, who do you think would be a good person to dress up as Oscar, my 11 year old said Mary Jackson, I don’t know if he meant he would dress up as Mary Jackson or just somebody should dress up as Mary Jackson. Again, problematic. But it’s so amazing and it makes me think the world is in good hands that, you know, these children know these people.
S6: I like that he has a favorite hidden figure who isn’t.
S21: Katherine Jackson. Yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah.
S38: I thought it was really cool and he was telling me all about her. So we also discussed the candy bomber. Gale How Halvorson, who was a pilot during World War 2, he flew. See 54 cargo planes to ferry supplies to Berlin after the war when everyone was starving. And then one day he was flying back into Tempelhof and he noticed there were all of these children by the barbed wire fence. And he went over and we walked over him, fly into them. He walked over and shared a piece of gum he had with them. And they they all ripped it up into tiny pieces and shared it among this group of maybe 30 children. And the ones who didn’t get a piece, they got a little piece of the wrapper to smell. And he was so moved by this interaction with these children that he started airdropping chocolates to them as he came in for his landings into Tempelhof after delivering, you know, Grown-Up necessities. And his belief was that, you know, these children need hope and they need kindness, as well as needing bread and butter. They need chocolate and a little bit of like, you know, love. And so they said, well, how do we how will we know it’s you when you’re flying in? And he said he’d sort of wave the wings of the plane at them. So they called him the candy bomber or Uncle Wiggly Wings or something like that.
S21: Oh, but I prefer the other name, but.
S38: Yeah. So he would signal to them that he was about to drop this chocolate to them. These guys pooled their resources and made these little parachutes because they don’t want to injure the children, of course. They made parachutes out of little pieces of cloth so they would drop them down. And then they had like Boy Scouts. And for each people, once they had heard about this, started mass producing these little packages for the children of Berlin after the war. It’s a really beautiful story. And this guy is my hero still.
S8: El Hal, Hal, vers age 99. Yeah. Wow. How are you, Bill?
S32: So Nyima, in addition to doing Catherine Johnson, the only one I can recall and there may have been others as we went to a daycare center that had yearly Black History Month pageants and I remember kids always dressing up, but I only remember cut name of being as a person once or not pageants. But you know, I mean performances that she was Billie Holiday, the jazz singer. And it was super adorable. And since I’ve now been given the privilege to violate the no kid posting role, I will post the picture of the Billie Holiday costume in that thread for this show on Facebook. I can’t think of any other historical lesson that she’s done. I distinctly remember being Josephine Baker once myself when I was a kid, and I have a very cute picture of it. Actually, I can post that too. It’s one of my favorite pictures just because I look so much like mama. But I also just have on like a white blouse and one of my mom’s little purses and I had just kind of on an outfit that I might wear right now and some lipsticks. I don’t necessarily know. That looks like Josephine Baker as much as I did a kid with makeup on.
S10: Right. Josephine Baker at a very specific non kid-friendly signature.
S17: Does this say I couldn’t really do a banana skirt in second grade and show up what name Nyima describes as NYPL make it, which is when you’re topless.
S29: They can’t see me nipple naked mommy. So now that probably wouldn’t have worked in terms of figures that I would like to see more kids trying. I am completely obsessed with Zora Neale Hurston, and even though that’s not an unfamiliar name, especially for those of us who are writers or who are big readers, she is definitely a figure that has never gotten her due in terms of how she has contributed to American literature. She was a writer. She was an anthropologist. She wrote fiction. She wrote plays. She wrote nonfiction. She was just a fascinating woman who created a life in so many ways. She raised about eight to 10 years from her age, depending on who she was talking to, and finished high school as an adult posing as a teenager because she could go back to school for free if she were a child. And I’ve recently finished a biography of her called Raft and Rainbows that was super, super fascinating. And so if you want to read about our truly complicated and brilliant and important literary figure who has been hidden, I would say Zora Neale Hurston and I think she’s certainly thone you can introduce your kids to now and then allow them to dive into her work when they get a little bit older. If I were to dress Othello myself, I would probably go for Zora. I got the opportunity to dress up as Angela Davis as an adult for a photoshoot where we recreated historical images of noteworthy black folks for Black History Month a couple of years ago. And that was very nice. I will not pretend to be fairly labeled as the daughter of Angela Davis and just the light complexion woman whose hair could be blown out into a big afro. But it was an honor to just and recreate a picture of hers. I know that’s not quite the same as saying that I would show up as Ken Starr if I were to run.
S10: I teach those kids at that point. The lesson, though.
S20: But what would that lesson be?
S7: It would be. The power of bureaucracy to drive a year’s worth of news cycles and the power of one mediocre guy to make an enormous difference in this world.
S18: He is a towering figure of mediocre white manhood. Oh yeah, man, that has changed history.
S8: I know. And he shares my exact hairline and he.
S19: Are you can. Maybe you could play him in the bio pic. That would be really. Is there one year? Now let’s remember who has been from his hardscrabble childhood.
S21: Can you imagine going to that film?
S34: Well, I think in two years when Fox News gets into full length feature.
S10: That’s right. For the Knox News, streaming needs to stock up all their dramatic features to challenge Netflix.
S34: We mean like a drunk history for kids. There actually was a show, believe of all people. Kevin Hart had a show, things called Kevin Hart’s Black History on Netflix that it just popped up us on us one day, like after watching something else that turned out to be really cute. And it was this close to a drunk history sort of approach to history, meaning that it was irreverent and silly and fun. But still like that, you’re getting the meat and potatoes of what happened to some extent. Wouldn’t that be cool, though, like that? That was something that we had like every week where kids could learn a story about a historical figure, but laughs.
S26: Oh, yeah, man. Well, this is fun. I have so many other costume ideas. Unfortunately, none of them were historical figures. I will do my best to hold on to my position on the show because I do Halloween costumes and we didn’t really get a fully go all out this year because we were new in town. A lot was happening. I think I just moved here in October, but we have done some Halloween costumes in our day. And so you all just please stay tuned because when that threat happens, I will post every costume and I can tell you that when Nyima was 3 years old, I created for her the greatest Halloween costume that any child has ever worn.
S32: And any child shall ever wear.
S8: Let’s say you’re not telling us what it is, you’re just gonna tease that.
S34: I will actually. I can tell you what it is. OK. Say what is right now? And that’s because you guys are Slate plus members that you deserve this information.
S35: Everybody else has to wait until October. So when I was in daycare, like a lot of schools that don’t do traditional Halloween, no girls, no goblins or, you know, we’re not gonna call it Halloween. We’re going to harvest festival Schuman’s and Africans in a daycare center that had the harvest festival. And so the kids, based on what level they were in, there was twos two and a half threes, fours, pre-school to pre-K, essentially one class. Have to be farm animals. Another class will have to be fruit. And the third class would be vegetables. Or maybe two classes were animals and one was food and one was vegetables and always kind of sucked to get stuck getting fruit, vegetables, especially because I don’t think we ever got to be whatever the cutest thing was like. We only got to do it once like she was a sheep. One year I had to just buy a sheep costume. It was fine, but we had to be vegetables. So actually soups, vegetables two years in a row. I was very annoyed at that. So the second year wasn’t as good as the first year, but I think it was still very creative. And if she’d actually walked in the classroom parade and not been shy, she might have done well in it. She was twenty four karat magic. She was a carrot. And I put gold paint on her carrot costume and gold makeup on her face. And the song 24 Karat Magic was all over the radio at the moment. And so it was perfect and sweet, but I could not hold a candle to the year prior, and which I made Nyima a pot of collard greens. A few ideas have popped in my head as clearly as when I was stuck with the challenge of How the fuck am I going to make a kid a vegetable for Halloween without just buying the same, you know, whatever vegetable costume they have available on Amazon that every other kid is gonna have. How do my creative. I was like, I’m gonna buy an Oscar the Grouch costume. I’m gonna cover up where it says trash and I’m going to give her a ladle. And I mean, I took a green fabric and had it coming out of the garbage can like it was rising from the pot of green and she was the pot of greens. And if that wasn’t perfectly adorable enough, after the party at the school, there was a grocery store in the plaza where we went to daycare out Little Sun People in Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn.
S11: I took her straight to the Jiffy Cornbread Aisle to pose for pictures, greens and cornbread. Yeah, yeah. Perfect combination. Best costume ever. I am still very proud of myself for that. That’s actually my triumph for the next five years.
S8: I look forward to October thirty first. Twenty twenty. When do you post that photograph to the Slate Parenting Facebook page?
S35: Absolutely fantastic. I made text it to you today just out of the kind of out of my heart because it’s really. And also her lack of awareness about being a part of greens.
S21: Oh, OK, cool. Sure, why not?
S18: But every adult we came across doubling over in tears of laughter when they saw her, it was wonderful.
S7: I really compliments my Halloween costume when I was 4, when I was a bag of leaves.
S5: Oh, see, see, we took it to the next level we concern. That’s right. Well, thank you guys for subscribing to Slate Plus. Thank you for supporting our work. And we will talk to you next week. So to Emily for being here. Thanks, Emily. Thanks for having me. Take care of yourselves and each other.
S21: As you would think.
S10: That is the spirit in which we should definitely under the Slate Plus segment.