The “Hey… How Are You?” Edition

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S1: Just to give you a heads up, one of us is bound to say something not suitable for little ears.

S2: Welcome to mom and dad are fighting. Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, January six, the Hey, How Are You, ED.? I’m Dr. Rosen. I post the Best Advice Show, a very short podcast in which I feature your best advice. I live in Detroit with my family. My daughter Noah is four, and my son, Amy is one

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S3: and Jamilah Lemieux, a writer, a contributor to Slate Care and Feeding Parenting Column, and mom to Naima, who is eight and we live in Los Angeles, California. I’m Elizabeth Newcamp.

S1: I write the homeschool and family travel blog Dutch Dutch Goose. I’m the mom to three Littles Henry, who’s nine. Oliver Kois, seven. And Teddy, who’s five. And we live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

S2: And today’s show, we ponder the perfect way for a stepmom to greet her non affectionate stepdaughter, consider aspect her stepdaughter’s boundaries and still make her feel welcome. Then what do you do when you’re non medically complex child wishes? She spent more time at the doctor because she sees her siblings getting lots of extra toys and attention. And on Slate Plus, we are emerging from this holiday season into the never ending month of January. Craving normalcy But do we even know what that is anymore? Find out about how the three of us are handling the transition. Before we get started doling out advice, we wanted to share a letter from a 17 year old listener who had some thoughts about our Snoopy phone episode.

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S1: Dear mom and dad, I’m 17, and I recently listened to the Snoopy phone edition again and I have some thoughts. I am perhaps surprisingly definitely a proponent of parents checking their kids’ phones if they feel it’s necessary, but on two conditions. Firstly, your child and anyone who text them has the right to know you’re looking at their phone and not just in an abstract sense. Kids like adults tell each other things over text that are meant to stay between them. Kids come out to each other over text, complain about their teacher over texts and divulge secrets over text. Every teenager deserves to know that their best friend’s parents and by extension, possibly their own, is also going to read those texts. Secondly, and perhaps less importantly, motivation matters. I feel the mother in this letter is not acting out of concern for her daughter, but rather a desire to be in the know and maybe get some juicy gossip as a lover of juicy gossip. I totally understand this, but a desire to be in the know is not a reason for a parent to read their kid’s texts. As juicy as the gossip is, and as much as I would like to read the letter writers daughter’s text with this boy too, I think she should leave it alone. Also, never tell her daughter she did this because the child will become very door slam.

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S2: That’s an amazing letter from what sounds like an incredible person. I love the 17 year old. Thanks for writing it.

S3: I love you. You’re amazing. You’re such a great writer and you’re on. You’re on the right side, dammit. You understand that like sometimes the parents got to do what we got to do. We’re not trying to ruin your lives. You just want to keep you safe. So thank you for understanding that and I like these conditions. I think these are fair, and I as a parent can agree to them. I’m not going to look at the phone just to be petty, to see what you said about me. Or, you know, if there’s some juicy gossip or some tea going on that she may be privy to, I’m going to look at the phone because I think I need to, and the child should know that at any time I might look at your phone. So perfect. You solve the problem.

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S1: Agreed. Perfect.

S2: Yeah, that’s this latter seems like a plant written by one of you two, but I think it’s actually real. This is impressive. Thank you to our actual 17 year old listener for writing in. And if you want to go back and listen to the original letter and our advice will include a link in the show notes. OK, let’s get on with the show, and we know you’ve been dying to know if we’re starting out twenty twenty two with a triumph or fail. Let’s find out. Hopefully, it isn’t an omen for the year to come. Elizabeth, what have you got?

S1: I allowed over Christmas some things to come into the house, which are now like additional burdens to me, but particularly Oliver asked for a worm bin for Christmas, which he has at his home school program. And it is an indoor composting option where you have these worms and a spin and you feed it your food scraps and they eat about a pound of food a day if you have enough worms. We’ve kind of toyed with actually having a worm bin in Florida because you could keep it outside year round. We’ll hear you cannot. They would have to be inside. So he asked for this and a live cat. So we were like, OK. Worm bin, it is. So the bin arrives and I don’t open it because it’s like perfect in this box. And I thought, OK, great, I’ll just wrap it up. Like, who has time to check everything in the box? So I give it to him. He’s so excited. He wants to put it right together. Jeff opens it up and it is smashed like the bin is smashed. We cannot use it. So we go online and we like return it there like great. Now, thankfully, the worms do not ship in the same box, but. I knew he would want the worm, so I had ordered the worm, so I’m trying to get in touch with the worm company like, hey, ah, our been a smashed, it’s coming and due to supply chain issues like we can’t get it for a few days and what shows up the next day, thousands of worms. And because they heard that our worm bin had smashed, they threw in some extra worms. But you know, the nicest thing, except that I don’t have a bin to put these in. So now I’m like on the phone with the worm company. This is Uncle Jim’s worm farm, and they are the nicest people ever. They’re like telling me how to turn a Tupperware bit like a giant. What would you call them? Rubbermaid been into a temporary worm farm and the kids are like dumping worms out in the worms are crawling around my kitchen. Hey, Mike, this is a nightmare. So I get it all. All figured out. And yesterday, the real worm bin arrived. So I’ve been basically just trying to keep them alive. They were like, Don’t give them any real food. Just use this little worm food. Just try to keep them alive till the worm bit comes. I’m like, OK, now I have to move the dirt with like a thousand worms and them into this worm bin and my kids love worms. And I don’t mind them, but I’m not like the sensation of them. Crawling on my hands is like too much. So I like gloves on and I’m trying to, you know, move them. And the kids are like picking them up and look at them like they’re all now in my kitchen. They’re eating food. They’re all very happy. But I have a thousand like over a thousand.

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S2: Is it really like a thousand? Oh, yes.

S1: Oh God, thousands of worms in this dirt they are today. They ate all of our. They’re eating all of our breakfast scraps like all the fruit peels and everything from breakfast and turning them into good soil for my plants. I’m excited about that. I’m being greener, but I have a thousand worms in my house. I also have to tell you that my parents know about the same child, a robotic cat like one of the ones for old people. So. So I came

S3: this way they make robotic casserole.

S1: Oh yes. Yes, this sort of just they make these robotic cats and they’re designed for nursing homes to hold. And they they open and close their eyes and responds to your petting and they meow. He open it and he was like, This is better than a real cat. I don’t have to feed it. I don’t have to clean up after it, and I can still hear it, you know, meowing all over the house, it does have an off switch. But yes, this is how Christmas at the Newcamp worms.

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S2: We got a fish and a lot of new family and a robotic cat.

S3: Wow. I like had such a fear of worms when I was little like first grade. My bully use worms to torment me. Like he knew that was my thought. But like I like when I was a kid, I would cry like I would freak out and it rained. I mean, maybe it didn’t a maybe just rains in normal places like not Southern California, but like I remember there regularly being worms to terrify me and like

S1: Griffith is not an activity for you.

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S3: My nightmare come alive and activity

S1: for

S3: me. Oh my God.

S1: Jeff did find one on the floor and he was like, No, it’s going to come to get us. And I’m like, No, they live out there on a different place, like it’ll die before I gets upstairs. The worm bin is very pretty, though I will say that it’s very cute and nobody will ever have to know there’s worms in it, except for me. And now all of you.

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S2: But I would like to see, I

S3: would say that we

S2: can

S1: that it’ll make you think when you go to other people’s homes because it looks kind of like a coffee table.

S3: I’ve got no

S2: Jamilah. How about you? Any new pets?

S3: No, no new pets. Thankfully, my try out for today is that I made a pot of greens this morning. I’ve already made them. It is this sort of small victory that I’m measuring the quality of my life by these days because COVID is taking everything from me. Once again, it took our holiday trip. We were supposed to go to Chicago and we didn’t. So I had to like decide if I like which half of the family would be upset with me of the family. That’s like, you should not take this trip or the family that’s like, we really want to see you. And so I I had to choose that that branch to whip on the family tree, I guess, to disappoint and make sad. And yes, and now I made. This is what I do. This is my joy in this world now. What kind of grief? So it’s like a mixture. I got them from Trader Joe’s. And, you know, I feel like this is some sort of like a black woman. I don’t know. I mean, I know things will have to be hard for us like that. And like, I know I should have gone somewhere to some small market or somewhere and got them all individually and like from the section where they’re not in a bag. But no, no, they put them in a nice bag labeled for my convenience as the southern greens blend from Trader Joe’s. So what I did is, like I, I took a some onions and some drippings from turkey. Legs that I made last week and I said, take the onions and that and then I use that to, I didn’t like fully soften them, but I guess often that means a little bit. And then I added the grains so well, then I kind of stir fry that for a couple of minutes. And then I added some chicken stock, some seasonings, a turkey leg bone and a little leftover turkey meat, and simmered that for a while until it got nice and soft and super yummy is nice. That sounds great, greens. You know, it’s funny. I grew up

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S1: there when

S3: I grew up. Yes, so like, I did not enjoy grains of any sort like I could tolerate spinach for collard kale, any of that. I didn’t start eating until I was a grown woman, like at a college roommate who taught me how to serve my greens. And it completely with liquid aminos. And they completely changed my thoughts on them because I’d only had them the traditional way. My mom was not making the best brains in the world, you know? And so now that I know how to make them a few ways like this is my first like, I made them for new years and then they were really good. And so I tried it again. This is only my second time making it this way. I usually do just kind of like, stir fry it, I guess you can say, like, I just cook it that way. This is my first time like adding stock and letting it simmer. It’s really good and I’m obsessed with. I think I mentioned this before, but like the turkey parts, so I’m constantly cooking or like just poultry part because we had four new years and so I have leftover duck carcass and duck fat and like, that’s going to be a duck soup. And I’ve got, you know, use the turkey fat and bone for the turkey, for the greens. But cooking with my drippings has made everything so good.

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S1: Makes the best broth. We try to use ours the bones to for the broth. And it just is so much richer than anything you can get in the store.

S2: Well, that sounds delicious.

S1: Zak, how about you?

S2: OK, so I’ll do a little triumph in the in the wake of the the month that we’ve spent at home together with Tony. It was a 22 day quarantine. You know, our haunting ended like the day before the CDC changed their guidelines and we made the most of it. It was pretty cozy. I mean, very exhausting and monotonous and tedious and fun. But the triumph here is that my wife had a lot of time off work and took it, took a lot of time off work. Her clinic was closed for some time, so we were both home and we were very explicit and giving each other a sleep in every other day. So that’s why I’ve been sleeping poorly. Even my four year old now, she’s been like getting up randomly in the middle of the night too. And so because neither of us had to be at work in the morning, it was like one of us was on duty and we’re very clear about it, which we hadn’t been up to this point because usually we have to be somewhere in the morning. So it was like one of us got to like sleep till 9:00 every other day, and that was

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S1: life changing, decadent.

S2: I bet even though we were, like, still up many, several times throughout the night, just being able to sit in bed and just like zone out and there’s something. Don’t tell my wife I’m saying this, but like just something about like hearing her downstairs, dealing with the kids in the morning. I’m just I’m just laying back and I can feel bad about that because I did it the following day. But just getting a little bit of that was like our vacation, you know, like the six a.m. to nine p.m. sleep and every other day, that was our that was our Christmas break. And it was a small triumph.

S3: That’s a huge

S1: parenting triumph and relationship triumph. Like who thought the greatest gift you could be given were those couple of hours in the morning?

S3: Yeah, it’s morning hours. Yeah, I’ve been lucky that since my mom has been here, her name, our early risers and I am not. They allow for, you know, they’re OK with it. They’ve got good things that they do and they’re happy together like so I’ve had a little bit of a break so I can speak to the scraping until nine is a reset.

S1: Those are the best sleeping hours, right? I’m also like, I can stay up all night. There is something about, yeah, a lot of like 6:30 to nine. So good. I swear I sleep. It just feels so

S3: much better when you can look at a clock and the clock and you have more like a significant impact that you’re not like, Oh, I’ve got 30 minutes. I feel like, Oh, I’ve got three more hours.

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S1: Yes.

S2: Let’s all just go take a nap. Put this on pause for a minute. OK, now it’s time for our first listener question. It’s being read as always by the amazing Sasha Leonhard.

S4: Hey, mom and dad, I just got married and now I’m lucky enough to be the bonus mom to an almost 16 year old daughter. She and I have a great and positive relationship. I just continue to have this weird thing about how am I supposed to greet her every time my husband comes home or vice versa? We hug and we kiss and we say hello. And whenever she’s sitting there, I feel like there’s something I should do to acknowledge her. But she’s not a very touchy feely person. She doesn’t really hug, and she prefers that I don’t touch her. And we’ve kind of discussed that, but I can’t help but feel like I’m kind of leaving her out and not acknowledging that I’m happy to see her any ideas on how to greet her in her day in and day out life. Thanks for your time. Love the show! Lovey dovey step mom.

S3: So as the mom to a daughter who has a step mom, I know that things can be somewhat complicated, I think, for everyone to navigate. When you have that set up right, that there’s the parent and the step parent and the child, and maybe, you know, with these people being of the same gender right mother daughter stuff it gets, it can get a little dicey. I don’t know if that’s the situation here. You all have like full time custody to your stepdaughter or is because you actually say you’re the bonus mom to a six year old daughter. So that might be it. I don’t know what her relationship to her mother is, but it is likely a factor to some extent when it comes to her hesitancy here. It could be that that’s just not how she interacts with people in her life, that she’s just never been a touchy feely sort of person, as you say. And that’s just not who she is. And she didn’t grow up cuddling her parents or wanting to be that kind of little girl. And that’s followed her through teenage hood. It could be that she’s missing her mother or that she, you know, has. In the past, had somebody else who played this role and that person is no longer here, and so now she’s trying to grapple with you being there. But I think. Looking for that kind of physical thing to be happening so soon is just not realistic, like you have to build with somebody to get to a point where you want to kiss or hug them at the end of a long day, like, I understand it, it may be awkward. And perhaps you and your husband could have the kiss and hello when your daughter goes to the bathroom or something. You know what I mean? Like, maybe you just come in the house and just say hi. As opposed to making a grand physical gesture towards him, which highlights the fact that you don’t have one for her, nor should you, because she’s a not touchy feely teenager who doesn’t know you like that yet, or if she does know you like that, you know you just got married. I don’t know. How long have you? You think a lot of you should have thought of, man? How long have you been in this girl’s life? I know you just got married, but like, did you just come to her because you could have been dating for 10 years? You know, and not known her at all. Or you could have been around for quite some time and just jump broom. But either way, you can’t force something that’s not there. You know, I think that bringing down the spectacle with that and just like, say, you can still have that moment with him when you get when whomever gets home. I just don’t think he needs to be like right there in plain sight of her, because again, that kind of does maybe put a spotlight on the fact that it seems something should happen between you and I, but it’s not happening. But, you know, if you’re like, no, it would just be too weird for me to come in and not do that, then just, you know, warmly tell her that you’re happy to see her and ask her how her day was. You know, I think as long as you’re engaging her in this process of coming home and dealing with everybody, it’s not like you’re just stepping over her. You’re just not giving her a hug and a kiss, because that’s just not how the two of you all do of each other. And that’s OK.

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S1: It sounds like she is a very like personal like touch is her love language. And I can completely understand how maybe from her view, like if she was somewhere and someone who she was in a relationship with got a, you know, big hug and and she didn’t get one, she would feel very left out. But I think what this letter writer needs to do is put herself in the place of her, you know, almost 16 year old stepdaughter and and say she has set this boundary, which is that she doesn’t like to be touched. Respecting a boundary is a way to show love. I think also, if you can figure out, you know, I’m a huge fan of the love languages in dealing with my children. And so if you can figure out what her love language is, that will speak so much more than giving your love language to someone who has told you that’s not their love language. So I’m just thinking like, if it’s where, you know, if she’s a words of affirmation person, try to say something really nice to her every time she comes in or compliments something she’s wearing or something she did. You can show her love that way. If she is like a gifts person, try to make sure that you have, you know, a her favorite kind of tea or her fit, you know, whatever that is, her favorite snacks and offer when you get home. Hey, if she’s coming home, can I fix you something like whatever those ways to make her feel loved? I don’t necessarily know that this greeting is is the problem. Like, if you are feeling like that relationship is distant, I think Jamilah advice is, yeah, it should be kind of dissent. This is something new. Whether you’ve been together for a long time this now we’re married and you’re here. And however, often that is is new and it’s going to take some time to figure it out. But I guess I just don’t feel like you have to do the same thing to her that you would do to someone else who loves to be. Just because you love to hug and to be touchy doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what she needs. So I would just try to figure out what what it is that you can tell when you do really makes her feel loved. Is it acts of service, whatever that is and and try to do that. Otherwise, I think like if you’re in a room and two people who know each other really well, give each other a hug and are all excited, then they say, you know, like, Oh, I’m so glad you’re here. At least I don’t feel like slighted. You know, I think just making sure you’re acknowledging her and not just walking in the door faster, like, Oh honey, I’m so glad to see you. Oh, yeah, you’re here too, right? It doesn’t sound like you’re that kind of person. So I just think you’ve put a lot of stock in this very small thing when what you can really be doing is figuring out, like, how do I invest in this person and show her my love in a way that she receives it? Not necessarily in the way that I give it? I don’t know.

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S2: 100 percent. Yeah, I was going to say both of those things that you two said it much better than I could. So I think in summary, earn her trust and, you know, kind of evolve the relationship and learn her love language. It’s the love languages are a key to amazing, uh, growing relationships. And I mean, it could be love between some. As simple as you bring in the question you brought to us to your stepdaughter. And just like talking about it and and being vulnerable and being like, you know, I love, you know, I love, I love affection, but like, you know, what are you thinking about all this? I want I want our relationship to be great and comfortable. How could I make it more comfortable for you?

S1: Yeah, I like the idea of asking her, like, she’s 16. I think it’s OK to be a little awkward and be like, Hey, I perceived this as an awkward situation. When I come home, what can I do to make you feel included? You know, and she may say, I feel like I’m 16. Leave me alone feeling good.

S2: Yeah, I remember what it was like to be a teenager and have adults like genuinely asking me, like what I thought and what I needed. And it’s so helpful. Like, the 16 year old is not a kid anymore, and she can. She can tell you what she wants or doesn’t want. So, you know, nurture, nurture that that relationship with her through whatever, she feels comfortable with whatever language that is. So lovey dovey step mom, we hope this helps everyone else if you have a parenting question. Drop us a line. Email us at Mom and dad at Slate.com. There is no question too big or too small with confidence having solved that last dilemma. We move on to question number two. Take it away, Sasha.

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S4: Dear mom and dad, I have three year old twins, one of the twins, C, spent 2020 in and out of the hospital, getting tests and procedures done a lot. Then she ended up having brain surgery in March and has had a lot of procedures that have preceded and followed that. She’s also in physical therapy. We have two older boys and they both have speech therapy. The other twin, A. is in fact the only one that hasn’t needed speech or physical therapy, or MRI’s, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The list goes on. Now, we don’t usually make a big deal about these things, but occasionally the medically complex twin has been given things by the Children’s Hospital that her twin understands quite well. She got for going to the doctor. In hindsight, I probably should have refused these things and asked in advance that they not be brought in without telling me. But hindsight is 2020 right? We are now in the position that often says she has the hiccups and needs to see the doctor or simply forces a cough or says she has an injury and that she needs to see the doctor. This is happening at least daily. I have no idea what to do here. The massive amounts of doctors appointments and procedures has actually traumatized her, and her twin sister is begging for it. I know she really just wants the attention her twin gets, but even special one on one time hasn’t made a difference. What do you all think? How do I fill whatever bucket that she has that needs filling? And how do I do it without causing the same problem in her siblings because they see me spending special time or taking her or whatever that they don’t get to do help? Catch 22, mom.

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S1: So, first of all, catch 22, mom. Take a deep breath. You are an amazing mom. You are doing like extra parenting above and beyond what like a lot of parents are called to do or have to do. And so I hope that first, instead of beating yourself up and feeling like I have to get all of this perfect that you can just take a deep breath and be like, We’re all here and I’m managing everything and that is OK. Like, your kids are all going to be fine emotionally about this, right? You have to worry about the medical stuff. I totally get that I really want to recommend, even though there are only three therapy there. It is very common to have siblings of medically complex children in therapy. We have had similar issues with all of Henry’s medical things, and then Oliver has speech therapy and and physical therapy. And so we have had them at times in therapy, designed specifically for siblings of medical complex kids that’s been play therapy for the younger ones. And it is a great way to bring someone onto your team to help deal with all of this. You may also need therapy for the purpose of nothing other than I have to do this extra parenting, which is having a child that’s having brain surgery, having a child that’s in these other therapies, and then having a child at home that doesn’t need any of those medical things. And there are therapists who do just that. So I’m going to recommend that both for you and for your kids. It really does help. It is not. These are the kind of things do that you can go for a month or two and then sit it out and then go back. Like all of these therapists understand that there’s not a lot of extra time for these, these therapies and sessions. And so they are they can kind of be broken down in these chunks. The other thing that we have done is that I have just told myself that essentially what each kid needs is not always equal and fair, and that is OK. And that is something in life. We have done this every time Henry goes for infusions, you know, is in the hospital, that’s exactly at the children’s hospitals provide lots of wonderful gifts, and I feel like that is a small thing he gets while he’s do it, you know, while he’s in this procedure and to take that away from him, just because I’m worried that one of his brothers may get jealous. We just talk about it. I I say all the time, it must be very frustrating. You know to you, Oliver to you, Teddy, that Henry comes home with new Legos or that you were with a friend because all of us had to be at the hospital. I think that the more you can make that part of this conversation, the better, I think. Ask your friends for help in providing this special time. And and this would be an issue. I think, yes, this is specific to this medical need. But we also see this a lot with a child who is like gifted at a particular sport or piano, and we’re always there, you know, supporting those needs. I don’t think it’s that unique in that not all children need the same things at the same time. There will be a time when this other child needs you way more and you will be putting the other kids on the back burner. So I think, you know, continue to do the one on one time, continue to just talk about it and acknowledge, especially when they’re saying, I want to go to the doctor, say, I, you know, one asking to go to the doctor is serious. We go when there’s a serious problem. Your sister had a serious problem. You know, however you want to handle that. But I think saying what I hear when you say that is that you’re feeling jealous and I completely get it. You’re absolutely right. You know, you’re from your perspective. We go with your sister and we go to this place and we come back with toys. And I understand to a three year old how that makes them feel jealous. But I just think this is a really good life lesson. It’s OK. She has to learn it at three. But her likely this is a fact of her life. Like this scenario? This medical situation may not resolve itself. And so she will always be the twin to a medically complex child, and that is something you have to start dealing with now. So I say, except the toys, it’s OK that it’s not equal and, you know, continue to to love all of your children in the way that they need loved in the in the ways that you can.

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S3: I don’t really have anything to add for anyone who reads Karen feeling. You know, probably by now, I’m a big proponent of therapy, and that’s exactly what I had in mind. I think it’s a great time to start. You know, these kids are already having these other forms of therapy anyway, and they’ve got a lot to cope with. And I think. A professional will obviously be able to or ideally would be able to help you get through your little one’s mine. What Elizabeth was saying about. Yes, it’s frustrating that your sibling is coming home with Legos, but you know there’s a reason for that. And that’s not going to change the how do we cope with those feelings? I think getting some support for you as well would be ideal.

S1: I feel like a lot of time these parents will say that there’s like not really time for them to go to therapy.

S3: I think finding time for therapy is critical. You know, I understand that there are people who literally just have every possible boundary between them and sitting down with somebody for 45 minutes to an hour, once a month or once a week, you know, like. But there are also a number of ways to get therapy in your life. There are apps, there’s still a therapy. It’s easier than ever before, you know, to find somebody who can give you some support. And if you’re, you know, your little ones are not, well, I can’t imagine dealing with these sort of medical situations without having the support of therapists. And so I would strongly recommend that you if you haven’t already prioritized making time for that.

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S2: You both are right on, and Elizabeth, I know you have a lot of lived experience and wisdom around this. And I know I’ve brought this up before, but Doc McStuffins, the Disney show, I think, is so excellent and I wonder if we got we got Noah a doctor kit when she was three. And I think it helped with both normalising the medical experience and going to the doctor and stuff. But it also gave her a sense of agency wherein she could treat her stuffed animals or like treat herself with her, with her toys to her, you know, fake syringe and and stethoscope and and lab coat and stuff. So I don’t know if this would help at all, but perhaps a set of of kids doctor tools for the three year old that isn’t spending much time at the doctor, but you’re kind of bringing the doctor home to them and and kind of letting them have some kind of experience with with those tools, whatever it is, so that that might be a shot in the dark.

S1: I love that. I think it’s a great help. I love this idea of this child, as you know, it’s something that they’re not necessarily getting, but having them be an agent of this role play, even with their own tools or checking out the things like, Well, why do you need to go to the doctor? Let’s check out, you know, how is your animal feeling like using play as a way to break through that? And yeah, I think like especially at three, I didn’t really think about this like the Doc McStuffins or any of that because also some idea of what’s happening at the doctor like this, this three year old that’s not going doesn’t understand what a hospital stay is. They don’t understand what an MRI is. And nor do they really need to write like you shouldn’t traumatize the other twin just because one is having medical procedures. But I think giving them some context is a really a really good idea

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S2: and watching the show along with it, it’s on Disney Plus. This is not a plug for Disney Plus or Doc McStuffins, but it is, I guess it is a plug for Doc McStuffins.

S3: Definitely a plug for docking sessions we love.

S2: Yeah, 100 percent. We listen to that to the soundtrack a lot too.

S1: It’s quite good all the time for your checkups on the Oh, because she has a song for like

S3: there’s a whole album, right?

S1: Love it.

S2: So keep up the good work catch-22. Mom, you’re doing amazing and we hope we gave you some ideas and we would really love to hear if any of them work for you, for the rest of our listeners. You can email us at mom and dad at Slate.com with any type of parenting question you have. OK, it’s finally time for recommendations. This is where we tell you about something we are currently enjoying. Jamilah want to go first? No.

S1: Oh OK. I’ll go. Nope, I’ll

S2: go. Indeed, I do not.

S3: Actually, I’m going to recommend those green. They’re amazing because that was my recommendation, so I use it for my out. That’s OK. I would like to recommend the Trader Joe’s southern grains blend that I mentioned earlier. It is life changing. It’s so good team grains. Let’s start the year off. Well, eating our grains because eating grains is good for you, not to lose weight. Just because grains are amazing and they’re good for you.

S1: Not that you have an abundance of time in your life, but sometimes you just like publish on your newsletter, your Trader Joe’s grocery list.

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S3: I I probably good because I like I cook with like the same five ingredients. It’s pathetic, but yes, I

S1: would love to get that in my inbox. But like I said, you know,

S3: one day I’ll pull it together and do a list of like my fund, my fund pantry staples. I don’t think I’m the best cook. I just think I’ve landed on a few pantry staples like me. So yeah, that you just fermented Garlic from Trader Joe’s. That’s a bonus recommendation. The Fermented Garlic from Trader Joe’s is amazing. It’s so good.

S2: What do you do with it?

S3: I’ve been putting it in every day. I’ve been putting it in all my poultry and my veggies. It’s just really good.

S1: See, that’s the kind of stuff we need to know.

S2: Yes. What about you, Elizabeth?

S1: Well, over the break, we had Henry recovering from his tonsillectomy and he had some more infusions. So we were hitting the podcasts hard and so I tried out with all of the kids there. The two new podcasts from Tinker Cast who does wow in the world, who we are huge fans of, but they have two new ones. One is called How to be an Earthling, which is kind of like Kid’s environmental stewardship podcast really fun. These two aliens trying to kind of learn about how the Earth works, and it is amazing. That is definitely like Henry likes that, but the other two are super into it. And then we also tried out who went, Wow, which is a podcast about amazing people for kids, and it’s super fun and kind of all acted out. And I would say, like of the first six episodes, I think there were only two people that I had ever heard of before. So that’s super. Often, too, like they’re not just hitting your, you know, I think they’re not doing any like no American presidents, none of that, but trying to really focus on people that kids would find really cool, that are doing amazing things. Musicians, magicians like people that have fought for different things and and bringing their their lives to life on on the radio. It’s really cool. So I would definitely check out those two podcasts with your kids. Both are ones that I enjoyed listening to as well, and that’s how to be an Earthling and who when?

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S2: Wow, nice. My recommendation is for all of us who are feeling like there is just no good time for ourselves anymore, especially, you know, we’re working at home, poor parenting at home, we’re doing everything at home. Take yourself out on a solo date. Tell your partner that if this is something that that sounds like compelling, that that would help you out. Tell your partner this is what I need. And take yourself out on a date. There aren’t. I don’t know how you’re doing with COVID wherever you are. But like I’ve, I went to the movies a couple of times over break late night showings where I knew there wouldn’t be many people or any people in the screening. So I took myself out to see Licorice Pizza, the new pizza Anderson film the other night, and it was just majestic. I loved it. And it’s just an opportunity for you just to take a breath and kind of remember what life is like on the outside and just treat yourself. I think we all need it.

S3: We all need that. I am such a proponent of a sell out date. I had to do the artist’s way in college. I never finished the entire book. I’ve recently bought it and recently flopped at it again. But yeah, the artist, it was always a treat and it got me in the habit of like going out by myself and I’ve been doing it ever since.

S1: This is something I’m terrible at. Like, I well, I just always feel like I should take a kid with me, you know, like, I mean, I didn’t use prior to kids, I would go to things on my own all the time. But now it just feels like I should go do things or like, if I’m out, should I be spending, you know, I’m an extrovert. Like, should I be spending my time with other people? But I.

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S2: But what do you want, Elizabeth?

S1: Yeah, no, exactly. Exactly. I said, give it a try. Maybe not by next week, but you guys can hold me accountable.

S3: I will definitely be accountable to you. Solo time is so important and not just like, Oh, I went to target like real solo time doing something for pleasure by yourself. Even if it’s only every once in a while, it’s important.

S2: Yeah, it’s going to fill your parenting cup back up. All right, that’s it for our show. Before you go, please subscribe to the show and leave us a review on Apple or Spotify, which now has a review as wow, I didn’t know that. If you have a question for us, email us at Mom and Dad at Slate.com or post it to the Slate Parenting Facebook Group. Just search for slate parenting. This episode of Mom and Dad Are Fighting is produced by Rosemary Belson for Jamilah Lemieux and Elizabeth Newcamp. I’m Zack Rosen. Thanks for listening. All right. Plus, listeners, let’s keep it going. Jan often seems to be the longest month of the year, in part because we are coming off of the crazy holiday season that seemingly starts in October and lasts through the new year. We’re supposed to be getting back to the grind, falling back into a quote normal schedule. But the three of us are finding that harder than ever to do to even know what normal looks like anymore. No, I mean, no,

S1: I’m like struggling to hit our stride again because like school is back for a couple of my kids and then, like other of my kids, schools are doing something different with their homeschool program and all of that this. And then, you know, Jeff has his own like scheduling stuff, and it feels like I can’t. It’s not predictable, right? Because I’m just even if they say it’s predictable, it’s like, Well, I nobody knows what COVID is going to do. Nobody has acted rationally or predictably. And then I also got overwhelmed because all of a sudden I got this thing about like booking summer camps with due dates in January. And I like, How the heck am I supposed to make decisions about the long term when I can’t even make decisions about like I don’t even have, like tomorrow under control? I mean, I’m a big planner, but it just feels like since this thing started, I’m on it. Every time I make plans, it’s temporary. You know, it’s it’s maybe like I’m going to sort of plan this. But then now I’m also being asked to, like, make decisions for the summer. But if I don’t do it, then you, you lose, you know, your spot. I can’t, you know, you go to do it in in a more reasonable time of March and every summer campus is full. So that’s where I am in a state of just don’t have my life under control here or in the future.

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S2: Yeah. I didn’t know that I’m supposed to silence accounts already. You got me freaking out about camp, thank you, camp, but I have to look into that.

S3: No campus crazy. I have to admit the only reason the Naima has ever gone to camp is because when she was in daycare, they offered camp. So that was that was like three summers in a row, maybe even four, because I think she got to do it the summer after she graduated or something. And then like when we got to California, her stepmother found camps. And like, honestly, I think had she not done that, I’m sure that when I started looking at camp, it was entirely too late, like when I was just like, OK, it’s about time for me to start thinking about camp summers coming in about three weeks. You know, her step mom was like, Hey, so we found some camps. Yeah, no. It’s time to start looking, which is completely insane. It seems like March should be the time to start looking for. Some of them do really feel love. And it’s also like, Can I plan for camp? Because I had a plan for December and I had a plan for November and I was going to travel and go places that I didn’t like? Will there be camp? Will we be shut down? Like everything just feels so like? I have so much more anxiety about making future plans like I do not make future plans anymore like I used to. You know, like, I’ve got this New York trip coming up next month and it’s like, here I go making future plans. I booked it for November. COVID Covid’s most often it going on and plus COVID. I’m just like, you know, OK, I’ll just way I’ll go top of next year. She’ll be great. No, things are worse than ever. So I’m like, Am I going to want to go to New York in a month? But like,

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S1: if you don’t make the plans, then it doesn’t like and then things are fine. It doesn’t happen because I felt like then we got this like little brief window of things were like, sort of OK. And if you hadn’t of made plans and then just cancelled up until these sort of OK window right here. And that’s what I’m worried about for summer, even though, like, it’s crazy to me because normally we have, you know, MLK Weekend is coming up. It’s a long weekend. I would almost always have plans. I have nothing. I can’t think. Of course, that’s fine now, right? Because we’re not going to go anywhere. But it’s it to me is like, I don’t even know what I’m going to do with the kids home. Like, normally I’d be like, OK, I’m planning this because I am so overwhelmed by the idea of not having anything in the future plan and everything that I do have planned likely to be canceled. But I need to make the plans anyway, because if they’re not canceled, I want to have them like it’s too much. It’s too much.

S3: Way too much.

S1: I don’t know. I don’t know.

S2: I’m kind of talking about this back to normal notion. Existentially, I was listening to, you know, Andre de Shields, he’s he’s a legendary actor. He won a Tony for his role in Haiti’s town. I was listening to him in an interview recently, and he said something that has been helping me a little bit kind of recalibrate my view of normal or lack thereof and accept the lack of it a bit more, he said. He said, Look at the environment we are currently living in. Everyone talks about being frustrated, being depressed, being concerned, being out of sorts, wanting to get back to normal when indeed normal is through with us. Normal has put its foot in our butt and said, Get out of here. And I think that’s just like a hard ass lesson to learn. But it’s true. It’s like. Just having expectations to get back to some semblance of what it was, even if we’re going to, you know, we’ll be back at camp, we’ll be back at school, I have no doubt that that will eventually happen again. But still, it’s just like, we’re not going back, we’re not going back to normal.

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S3: I think where I had gotten to a while ago was a place of peace with the discord and like. But then things started feeling like they were approaching a normal again. And now that that’s kind of been snatched, it’s like, Oh, I’ve got to get used to being in discord again, you know? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yes, Naima, what’s wrong? What’s wrong? OK, sorry. Come here. Come closer. Sorry. That’s OK.

S2: It’s OK.

S1: Anima, I get stuck.

S3: Yes. Her road. Not here to the bathroom.

S1: Oh my gosh. I’ve been there.

S2: This is a real mama bear action right now.

S3: She said. Put that in the Fales thing. Wait, did you make the bathroom? Then it’s a try. Let’s try this Netflix China.

S2: I think we should leave it there. Yeah, that’s so good that she’s producing us right now. Thank you, neighbor.

S3: Thank you, neighbor,

S2: and thanks for listening. Plus, we’ll talk to you all next week.