Keep Your Head Above Water Edition
S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Welcome to Mom and Dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday November 13th. Keep your head above water Ed.. I’m Dan Coats. I’m a writer and editor at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a family. I’m the dad of Lyra who’s 14 and Harper who’s 12. We live in Arlington Virginia.
S3: I’m Jamilah Lemieux a writer contributor to Slate’s Karen feeding parenting advice column and mother to Naima who is 6 and we reside in Los Angeles.
S2: Hi I’m Greg LaValle. I’m the director of technology at Slate. I’m the father of Nina who’s almost 7 and Hugo who is definitely 4. I live in a neighborhood in Washington D.C. called Pleasant. Welcome Greg. We’re glad to have you. Thank you for sitting in today. No problem. My pleasure. Today on the show we have a swimming lesson conundrum Should you push your child to do something that she fears because it’s for her own good.
S4: Also how do you deal with it when your kid talks to you like you’re some kind of asshole. Plus tribes and fails and recommendations. Let’s start with tribes and fails Jamilah. What do you have for us today.
S5: A triumph or a fail.
S6: I definitely have a fail fail and more fail.
S7: We have talked previously about how easy it is for my child to convince me that she is too sick to go to school. I think she has done at least two episodes of the podcasts since the new school year started because she was sick. She’s our unofficial fourth host.
S6: Yes and we got a letter from the Department of Education. I also apparently didn’t know that when you call in an absence that’s not enough. You also had to follow up with the letter. I’m like if we didn’t go to the doctor you just need a letter from me saying what I said to the guy on the phone.
S7: That seems like a waste of time. I thought we’d progressed as a society beyond that and that you could take me as my word and I say my child is sick she’s sick but we got a note.
S6: And her father is kind of freaking out about it and I have officially been called by the people the people have been called on me. It wasn’t enough for the school. It was from the board or the Department of Education and ironically enough my daughter is actually sick this week and had to miss school yesterday. And when we called her dad in the morning to let him know like the interrogation was still justified. I have been so weak on this issue so we didn’t force her to go to school yesterday. She was feverish and snotty and all that stuff but going forward she probably will be going to school fever snot all that stuff.
S8: I just want to congratulate you on setting what I believe to be an all time speed record and having the people called on you had a new home that’s like a guy.
S9: I feel like it’s a rite of passage. This happened to me with Nina like the first excuse probably school we’re like the front office woman was like Okay also make sure you email me I was like Sure. I was like really I was going to e-mail you whenever my kid is sick right. That seems ridiculous. And then three sicknesses later they were like sending letters and stuff so I wouldn’t feel too bad. I feel like this happens to a lot of people.
S7: I think so but you know it won’t happen to me again. I think I’m going to have some premade letters and just write a letter like a actual printed out you know Angela. They sent a letter they send to her dad’s house which made it infinitely worse because I’m the one responsible for it and I’m not the one who got the letter and it was like Who are you supposed to send a physical letter to them.
S10: On paper I am apparently where I am postcard and this postage is cheaper. Yeah that’s a good idea.
S6: I just want to like not not have to mail the letter I just have to send it to school with her but I typed it by calling and saying hey you know Naomi didn’t just decide to go to Starbucks today when I dropped her off. She is with me. She is ill. That that you know that that kind of did it. I didn’t realize that they needed more.
S10: That’s a great combination of the bureaucracy tripping you up. And also she wasn’t sick right.
S5: Yeah but she for anyone who may be listening.
S6: She was sick as far as she told me and so my only real crime here is believing in my child.
S10: Yeah you’re right. Absolutely. So in a way I dare you. It’s a triumph. Yeah Greg you’ve been on the program once before you shared a triumph back then about when you took your toddler cross-country. What do you have for us today trying for a fail.
S11: I wanted to fail this time it was way too uplifting last time but and I tried to look for fails that are not like those ones where you actually talking about doing something you’re proud of but then talk about how it felt like a genuine I wouldn’t know anything I guess. So Hugo is he just stubborn for Nina was not nearly as stubborn but I’m learning that like 4 year olds can be more stubborn than I expected and it exhibits itself in every single way. So if you want to dress like you can’t be sure that you picked out it has to be a different shirt and if you want to get him in pants it has to be shorts Detroit’s it has to be pants all the time no matter what it is and it comes out a lot of dinner time and it’s not that he is you know needs to gain weight or is a bad eater you’ll eat different kinds of protein as long as it’s not the one that you suggested and so I started this thing a few months ago where I would say like hey look if you eat that bite of chicken I’m going to be so. Angry like it’s gonna make me really. I just don’t please don’t eat it. And then because he can define me in another way because I don’t want him to eat it he would eat it right. And so this goes on for months. And people would come over it like I would tell him not to eat the food and he would eat the food because he wanted to defy what I want. I want him to not eat that anybody. I got totally works like that huge like you know reverse psychology crazy game that I was playing and people would come over and they would watch this happen and if you like really weird it at the dinner table I’m like yo don’t you dare touch that macaroni and cheese my friend and I got like eating up and they would all say this is going to backfire and guess what. Guess what started happening like last weekend when I was out of town and just the two kids and I was like you know don’t eat don’t you dare eat that bagel and cream cheese I just put the cream cheese on it it would make me so mad if you ate the bagel and he just like landed on the floor and was like OK Oh no.
S9: So now I have like checkmate. Yeah. Oh man. No. And he’s been like reversing himself on me a couple times a week. I still try occasionally he does it and now he knows that he can play the game in the other direction.
S10: So I have a question and I think it was a good idea to what extent was his initial going along with it sincere belief that you actually didn’t want him to eat the food in front of him and how much was it him enjoying the game that you had created.
S11: It was definitely all the game. OK. This thing started in the bath and you’d refuse to like wash his body and I’d be like don’t get the bath water dirty the way to get the bath water dirty is if you start washing yourself with this washcloth that has soap on it and he would start doing it because it would get the water dirty. It was something I didn’t want it. And then man it has progressed into this massive reverse psychology failure.
S4: I don’t even know if this is a fail like you got him to eat what you don’t even need for like a month. So now you just gotta try some other technique.
S11: It’s weird to have positive reinforcement be like getting me angry.
S10: I know I just but I just mean like nothing has changed from two months ago. He still doesn’t wanna eat the shit you give him. It’s just that for a month he did so like he’s winning currently as everyone knows parenting is about you winning. So you just need to find the next technique.
S7: First of all I love manipulation. So thank you for sharing that story. That was awesome. I like taking children. It is a favorite pastime and incredibly effective at times.
S3: What if you suggested that the food you wanted him to eat was too delicious to share it with him like Oh no no you don’t want any of this. BRADFORD You know this broccoli is just too you know. Why don’t you just had that you know just eat that she’s like oh no you’re not going to like I don’t know. Like maybe just like it’s something you’re trying to sneak from him like when you sneak and eat cookies or ice cream behind his back like treating the things you want him to eat like with that same kind of like oh shoot. You weren’t supposed to see me eating this.
S10: Get out of here sit him at the table with an empty plate and be like my food. It’s great. I’m glad you’re not gonna get any of it.
S11: We have gotten better about just leaving this stuff. It was like I don’t want that I don’t want that and I want that. OK. Leave the plate empty and about 10 minutes into the meal. He’s like Can I have some of the peas. And you’re like OK. And that’s been that’s been kind of working.
S10: But then you got to get it in his mouth which is a whole different ballgame. I know that no one actually wants to make meal time and endless psychological battle. It’s like an interrogation scene out of law and order or something but like nevertheless that’s what it often is. And so to the extent that I have been able to create games out of that event whether it’s a half serious game like the one that you invented or who knows what. Like I’ve actually found that playing with your food to some extent is actually a much more useful way to get a little kids to eat than like getting in an argument about it every week. All right. I have a triumph this week. The triumph is that my kids finally do their own laundry. Wow. Parents of little kids here in the room with me are very excited. Parents of older kids who are listening are like how old are your kids. But whatever doesn’t matter all right at the beginning the school year we told our kids that starting now every weekend you have to do your own laundry. That is your responsibility. That’s one of your jobs in the house. I took them downstairs to the laundry room I gave them lessons. You know I explained some clothes you need to wash on cold you can’t wash on hot. You have to hang bras up to dry. You can’t just throw them in the dryer. You know there’s all kinds of rules about what you can and can’t do. You can just throw all that on match socks and a bin because what kind of slob would do that. But so it worked. The kids now do it every weekend. They find some time. Usually when we’re like watching Buffy or doing some other kind of inside activity and they get their laundry done every weekend with minimal hassling we usually have to remind them once or twice but we have to remind them you know to to put on clothes at all.
S4: So I feel like that’s not any different. And they haven’t wrecked any of the clothes and each one day they have a bunch of clean clothes that are. I mean usually wadded up on the floor of their room. But still I didn’t have to do anything about it. I didn’t have to do the laundry.
S12: The only problem with this is that what once was an occasional Dad’s T-shirt borrowing habit has turned into a wholesale Dad’s T-shirt theft habit. Now they just steal a shirt and they wear it and then they wash it themselves and then they leave it on their floor or put it in their dresser. And I never see it again but whatever that is a small price to pay.
S11: Are they available to steal my T-shirts. My wife is asking OK.
S12: She just wants you to get rid of her horrible T-shirt the T-shirt. That’s all I have. And there is nothing cuter than a kid wearing your T-shirt. I have to say so I usually let it slide except with the very very best T-shirts.
S6: I wish that kids that were capable of doing chores like that were more readily available for hire. I mean this is the first I’ve lived in my kind of a big apartment building that big round and I guess there’s like 20 units or so.
S7: And I typically have had just like a neighbor or two you know my building and like so there’s all these kids I want to be like Hey do you want some money until I come do some of the stuff I don’t want to do around my house. But I know that you can’t do that because it’s not you know the 50s anymore. Why can’t you do that. I don’t know. I just don’t feel comfortable like until I’m like I’d feel like I have to know that parents welfare most them a little boys they run around and they play and they kind of you know seem a little googly eyeing at my daughter but for the most part you know they don’t necessarily seem pressed to include her in their games is that yet but like I’ve got all these moving boxes you know piled up and I’m like man would be really nice till I give these kids a couple bucks to break down the boxes or you know. And so I think about their being like teenage girls out there doing laundry. I’m like Yes please come do my laundry now do this.
S8: Jamila you gave excellent advice in today’s Karen feeding column to an apartment dweller who wanted to know how she could help a neighbor. And your advice was get to know the neighbor introduce yourself have a coffee you have open and available children ready to work for pennies on the dollar. All you have to do is sit for one fucking coffee with her.
S7: You’ve got to make it. I may try that. I may try that I could certainly use a little bit more child labor until my child is old enough to do it on her own.
S13: That’s a big step it’s a big it’s a big day and a family when you can finally make your kids do child labor.
S11: How did you do transition from you doing the laundry to them doing the laundry.
S4: Like I just said we’re not going to do your laundry any better. It’s now your job. I mean it helps isn’t like a fade out now. I mean it helps.
S12: I mean I’ve I am ashamed to say it helps that they have very few chores so they understand that they’ve gotten out of chores for much longer. That I think many kids that they know so instituting this chore as a minor addition to the very few chores they already had. They sort of just shrugged and said All right I guess I guess it’s time. I guess the gravy train is over.
S11: I have this memory of my mother betting we couldn’t reach the dial on the washing machine and as soon as she saw that we could being like done up.
S4: So our psychology spans generations Oh yeah naturally. All right let’s talk some business before we move on to these listener questions.
S12: We are excited to let you know once again that we are going to be doing a mom and dad are fighting live show in Miami Florida at the Miami Book Fair on November 20 3rd Jamila and I will be joined by Pamela Paul the editor of The New York Times Book Review and the author of How to Raise a Reader and add a man’s back. The author of Go the Fuck to Sleep and fuck. Now there are two of you. This is a absolutely free show. Bring the kid. Hire someone else’s kid and bring them or just hire a babysitter to look after your kids. Any way you cut it. We cannot wait to meet you. Our Florida listeners please stop by and say hello and laugh with us and add a man’s back in panel Paul. Also apparently Jamal is taking me to the club.
S7: Yes. So please listeners if you’re interested in joining us and would like to purchase the bottle. I think we’re going to have table service available. I’m going to be lit DME on Twitter and I’ll send you my paypal information.
S4: If this actually happens it will be a really great way to see me very uncomfortable. This is four o’clock p.m. Saturday November twenty third Miami Dade College once again Saturday November twenty third Miami Dade College 4:00 p.m. For tickets and information go to sleep.
S8: Dot com slash live business no to sign up for Slate’s parenting newsletter.
S13: It is free it is fun. It is a letter for me every Thursday. Last week I was sick on Thursday and I didn’t send out the email and my inbox was flooded with desperate emails from people who usually get the newsletter saying My life was incomplete without the stupid bullshit you usually send me. Thursday afternoon had like four or thirty p.m. I won’t happen again. Sign up right now. Plus you find out about all the parenting stuff Slate does. Mom and Dad are fighting episodes care and feeding columns everything else. Sign up at Slate dot com slash parenting email business number three. Check us out on Facebook. Just search for Slate parenting on Facebook. It is a really fun community. Sometimes we draw our questions from that community for the show but always we are weighing in to talk about the episodes. To answer your questions and for Jamila to receive abuse from people who love frozen Oh my God. Like.
S5: I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate that but I saw one comment. I was like I’m good. See you next month.
S8: Facebook likes Italy and lots of adult Disney fans apparently and the Facebook channel and Slate Plus a day we’ll be talking about micro dates and other ways that parents can make time for personal relationships. Whether you are years deep in the marriage or still in the dating pool.
S6: Here’s a quick sneak peek of what you’ll hear if you have Slate Plus if you aren’t intentional about saying I’m not going to let this happen to me I’m not going to become a sad middle aged shell of the person I once was.
S12: It will happen to you to hear segments like that and to get ad free podcasts sign up for Slate Plus At Slate’s membership program is a great way to support all the journalism we do for just 35 bucks for your first year you can help cover the cost of producing debt or fighting and other lesser Slate podcasts and of course in return you will get extended ad free versions of this show and other Slate podcasts add a bunch of other great benefits so support mom and air fighting support Slate support our journalism go to Slate dot com slash mom and dad plus and join Slate Plus today.
S8: That was business number four. That’s all the business onward we’ve got to listener questions this episode. This first one was emailed to us if you’d like to e-mail us your question and I haven’t read it by the one and only chalet and ARD send it to Mom and Dad at Slate dot com. As it happens this question is being read by the one and only socially and our dear mom and dad are fighting.
S14: I have a question about trusting your 3 year old. We signed our daughter up for a weekly swim class this fall with her two best friends. She was really excited to go but also a little apprehensive. She’s very shy and likes to take things slow. The first class was touch and go but OK we stayed in the pool for half a time and managed to do most of the things the instructor asked. The second class started out fantastically. She did all the activities super well and was happy and proud of herself for doing them. But then her head accidentally went under the water. She was shocked and scared. The next class she refused to go screaming on the side of the road as we tried to get in the car. The following couple classes we managed to go and they went OK but not great during the week. She would talk about not liking swim class and I finally said OK. Let’s not go. The whole point is swimming was a fun activity and if it’s not fun then why are we doing it. She clearly doesn’t enjoy the experience and I want to trust that. But part of me feels like I should be encouraging her to get past this fear I think if she were a bit older I would try for longer but she’s still so young. I appreciate your thoughts. Treading water.
S11: I have a lot of thoughts on this question only because Hugo and Nina are both in swim class right now and have been for the last two months with varying results. You know as I alluded to earlier you know Hugo responds really well to tricks.
S9: So there’s a lot of like him sitting at the side refusing to get in the pool and me saying I’d be so angry if you went up to your feet and I’d be so angry if you went up to your knees and if he’s angry if you actually got in and swam and that worked.
S10: We’re really unveiling your watch. Parenting has been so great.
S15: Good. Good thing your kid.
S10: He’s like like what I play basketball. Yeah. I have literally one move and the post it’s a fadeaway. And as soon as I figure that out I’m fucked. That’s it. Yes. Over.
S11: Well. So this has had varying results. The first class you went right in and then a couple of classes he did. And then one class he just sat on my lap the whole time and didn’t get in at all. And the instructors had come over and try to physically throw him in the pool like do that thing where they pick him up and throw him in the pool. I having had experiences that are not great with swimming in my life and I’m not a strong swimmer. I won’t drown. That’s only because I’ve almost done it twice. I’m not a very strong swimmer at all. And I think I had a pretty bad swim experience as a kid. So I think my advice on this one is that three years old is pretty young and I wouldn’t push it too much because what the worst scenario is that they swear off swimming for life with Isaac which I think I probably did from about age 7 until I was in college and someone was like we’re going to go jump off an overpass into a reservoir.
S9: And I was like I have to do that. You know like that’s that’s the kind of swimming I was into is like you know but. And I was like you guys will save me.
S11: You know just in case things go right now. Sure. So like generally I think Sammy is a really important life skill just for safety and just generally being able to do a lot of different things. And I wouldn’t want to scare them off too early. I think if it was Nina and she was refusing to do it maybe she’s doing something else and just doesn’t want to get in there. There are things I would look out for are the instructors are changing. That can be tough for the kids. So like if it’s not the same person every time they don’t actually have a routine at the pool like a meeting at the same time those two friends always showing up can you text with the parents of those friends to make sure they’re going to be there. And can they get into it as a thing to do together so that it’s not just like them in the pool and there’s a bunch of like support around it being the same every time is the other thing that I would recommend. Hugo seems to have been a lot better if we can get consistency and his one friend in the class showing up because he sees him getting a pool and then he wants to do it too. And then also having the same teacher every time and don’t let them throw them in the pool.
S8: I feel very torn about this question and I’m amazed actually at the extent to which my youth swimming experience mirrors yours. Greg I also really didn’t like swim lessons when I was a kid and I think it was a huge pain in my parents ass about it and cried and whined and didn’t want to go and then they eventually gave up on it and I didn’t really learn to swim so I was like 13 or 14 and even then I wasn’t very good and that I went to college and it was not that I wanted to jump off a bridge near a reservoir because that’s crazy. But it was that I my college required you to pass a swim test to graduate. And I did not take that so I’m just a little last week of senior year and it was very touch and go as to whether I was gonna pass that same test and graduate college I could survive but maybe not as long as the swim test required you to survive you know. But I did and I now I’m an okay swimmer. I also have never particularly felt comfortable in the water in a way that I see and other people and envy and other people in my wife for example who grew up going to a pool who was a lifeguard in high school who was a competitive swimmer all those years on a swim team and who now is just like a fish in the water and has passed that on thank God to our kids. They did not inherit my fear of it. And so I feel torn because I do think that having bad swim lesson experiences turn me off of swimming but I also think that the net result for my life was worse than it would have been if my parents had just buckled their seat belts and Ben like Phuket. Dan you have to go. We are not letting you not go until you learn how to swim. You have to become comfortable in the water. You don’t have a choice you have to do it. If they they instead they gave up and I got away with like not having to swim for like 10 years and I don’t know that that’s a better solution necessarily. And so I agree that three is young. I agree that things like ritual and and consistency are really important. I really agree that having a friend who also comes along can really help a lot.
S12: But like you know when we lived in the Netherlands every kid in the Netherlands learns to swim when they are three no matter what. Because in your town in the Netherlands there’s always a canal without a railing on it. You just fall into. So just everyone learns it’s just something everyone does. And whether your kid hates it or loves it you make them do it because it’s important. And this sort of feels like one of those situations to me but then it’s not my kid screaming on the side of the road. Jamila what do you think.
S7: You know I. I had parents that didn’t really force me to do too many things they didn’t enjoy or take an immediate interest in. So like I wish that you know I’m parents for me like a taekwondo class when I was in my dad my daughter’s age and I would just sit on the floor until it was time to go. And after a few weeks the instructor just said hey you know mom dad she just really she doesn’t want to do this you should take her out and I got to take like clown class or some shit you know instead. Which is great. But I you know I wished it I knew taekwondo at this point in my life right. I don’t need the clowning right.
S6: I don’t I didn’t need to be taught to clown but you know and swimming was something that for whatever reason I picked it up along the way. You know like there were there was camp at the YMCA. There was a pool at my elementary school that was typically not in service and I think I eventually learned and like middle school during like the summer program swimming in particular not just like saying you should encourage your child to stick with something despite them not really liking it if it has practical application to their life. But like you know not knowing how to swim it’s just so dangerous.
S15: You know my college also had a program like that strangely enough because I was a theater major. We didn’t have that requirement but the majority of the school had to you know pass the swim path. And just looking at your way out of the water I guess they’re like You’re not going to go to for it to go swimming. So that’s it. These were our major and I of take the fucking check. We did it and it’s so weird I think what makes it even sadder is that like I went to Howard in DC the requirement for us was created you know many years ago because so many African-Americans drown because we don’t have access to swimming programs and pools like members of other communities often have and just have a kind of a distaste for swimming for a number of reasons so it’s you hear tragedies every summer about somebodies kid being too close to the water and not knowing what they were doing. I agree also that three is very young and which you don’t want to do is create trauma around water. But I would basically do with the two of you all said and you know see is it about who is in the class this week who’s teaching it is there a lack of consistency here. You know is there something that we can create maybe there’s another stone class elsewhere that you may like better and worst case scenario perhaps revisiting this at 5:00 you know.
S16: Because I think one thing you should also consider is that three year olds are articulate but cannot explain everything you know that they’re feeling in the way that they’ll be able to do you or that they’ll be closer to being able to do that in a couple of years. So if somebody is having some anxiety or issues around water it would be ideal that they could explain to you you know on some level where that comes from but I wouldn’t let this go for good even if you end up deciding that right now isn’t the time.
S12: This isn’t something to just let go and hope that they pick it up along the way or that they you know they take a swim class in high school and I’ll be well I think that’s a really good point about this is not the same advice as we would necessarily give if this was a question about maybe any other activity right if you’ve got a 3 year old who’s not in a piano lessons I don’t give a shit take your kid out of piano lessons swimming does seem different to me that seems more important it seems potentially life saving and it seems something that’s going to dramatically improve a person’s quality of life for their entire life.
S4: I mean it almost feels like my kid doesn’t like their walking lessons and I don’t want them to learn how to walk like I like to. It’s almost on that level to me that quit CPR lessons you have to learn so you got a song everyone learns CPR at age 3. That’s just the way it is in this family. All right. I hope that was helpful to you treading water. Thanks for reaching out. If you would like us to be potentially helpful to you as well. Email us at mom and dad at Slate dot com. That is where we got this next question which is once again read by the one the only the inimitable the incredible Charlie and our dear mom and dad are fighting.
S14: What advice do you have for dealing with kids when they respond disrespectfully. When I asked my daughter who’s seven questions sometimes she responds really rudely and in a very unkind way. How do you respond to that in the moment.
S6: Thanks so much. Well I certainly have no shortage of experience in dealing with a sassy little girl who is at times very quick to respond in a disrespectful manner when she’s asked to do something she doesn’t want to do or interrupted in some way. It’s difficult and you’re gonna find that there you’re going to have to try out a lot of different ways of communicating your disappointment and the appropriateness of language with your child and really coming to understand what their communication style is and how they’re able to receive this information. I think the biggest thing is making sure that you one keep your cool you know disrespectful language is not an invitation for yelling. You’re not going to get the the result that you’d like from that. You’re not going to do anything but perhaps create more tension and drama in a situation that doesn’t need it. And to that you don’t stoop to your child’s level unless it is appropriate. So there are times where you know a kid can say a little taunting comment and you can say well that’s why you know you don’t know how to tie your shoe.
S17: Don’t. That’s why you don’t hide it. But it depends on your kid.
S6: Depends on your kid. You know your eyes on the kid. Some kids can handle sarcasm. Some kids can you know give it and give it. You know with equal ease. But children are so sensitive and they also don’t quite understand the gravity of what comes out of their mouth. You know. So to them it may not feel disrespectful it could just be simply saying I don’t want to wear this stupid shirt you bought the shirt is stupid. I am telling you something. You know this is very plain and simple. You have poor taste in shirts.
S15: You’ve presented me with an unfortunate option for you no school today and I don’t want to wear a stupid shirt. I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m not trying to undermine your authority as a parent.
S7: I’m seven. The shirt is stupid. The end. Can we watch you know Teletubbies are frozen.
S6: You have to tell them there is a way in which we speak to people we love. There is a way that we speak to adults. There there’s things we have to think about when we’re talking to other human beings. Period. You know that we want to be kind we want to be clear we want to be honest about our feelings and we have to figure out ways to do that without hurting someone’s feelings or insulting them.
S8: I think that’s all really good advice. I want to focus on one thing that you mentioned there which is the ways in which how we respond to this creates not only kind of feedback loop but a kind of model for our kids and how they talk to us. I know a lot of parents who are very very very good at responding to any disrespect from their kids or to an ugly comment or something mean with a very calm. That’s not the way that we speak to people in this family and I’d like you to try again in a more polite way. I often don’t have it in me to do that right. I have a much more visceral response when my kids say something awful to me. It never really dawned on me what I was before I had kids. The extent to which like my own kids could hurt my feelings I thought I was crazy I thought well they’re just kids. How could they hurt my feelings. But in fact they do it all the time and I respond viscerally and so I often have to really stop and think to myself about how I’m going to respond to something and am I going to respond to this the way I would respond if I was talking to an adult who understands the different ways that we use sarcasm. How is it different from how I would understand if I was online. How do I respond this different that I would respond with if I was with one of my friends who knows me and knows the sort of different levels at which I communicate. Or how do I want to respond to a kid who doesn’t exactly as you say know the gravity of what they said and is looking to me at all times to see well how do I relate to another person a person I love and my family. What do you think.
S11: I think we have experienced similar things. It is very easy to just be like what you just say to me which is definitely not the right the right thing because all it does is get him to repeat it. Browder usually with one strategy that my wife started doing and I really like is that when either the kid says something rude like even just a quick comeback or like they left Hugo loves this word disgusting like shirts are disgusting I taught them repugnant the other week because I was sick of him saying that and but don’t call anything repugnant.
S4: You said I sure hate that.
S11: So we say you know close your eyes pretend I’m your teacher and try again and they like they respect their teachers way more than us. Oh that’s totally yeah. It’s been like a really helpful strategy just like you know first started was like Would you say that to miss whatever. But then I’ll just be like yeah like but you make them role play like I’m your teacher. Try that again. Like why would you say that if you were in class or if your teacher tried to hand you a jacket and would you call the jacket disgusting and they every time you like Oh cut it never say eye to miss cartoon. Yes. So I think that that’s been that’s been helpful. Like find another adult in their life that they respect and try to give them a role play what they just said to you that adult like imagine a teacher standing in this kitchen and handing you this cheese stick. That is the wrong color right.
S9: I know it’s a white cheddar cheese they’re probably actually somehow better for you.
S6: Let’s try again string which is a breed of cheese we don’t quite right as the string cheese come from. I love that I love.
S10: Close your eyes and imagine you’re talking to your teacher or whoever to your grandma to Oh yeah. Yeah. I really like checkout lady at the grocery store. Nice shirt right. Yeah right. No you’re not.
S3: So it’s sort of like Yeah I’ve become very sensitive to this lately. The approval seeking that kids are doing with their teachers with maybe friends parents or other adults who don’t love them unconditionally. You know who they don’t take to love them unconditionally. Or grandma who’s just a soft place to land you know. So it’s we we love them the most and we pour the most into them and at times we get you know the least from them in terms of like kindness and respect but I think that even at 7 you can start to explain that I love your approach to that I’m gonna try that because you know we haven’t done the roleplaying. I’ve said like you wouldn’t speak to you know I can go down a list of people you know and it’s usually it’s typically Mom and Dad and sometimes not even the stepmother. You know it’s like these two I will give you my butt to kiss and everybody else I’m going to tighten up a little bit.
S6: So just the reminder of like you know not saying I want to make you feel guilty and didn’t I throw you a birthday party or you know but as I’ve reminded my daughter it usually goes like this. I may have told this story podcast before and I apologize to everyone. If you’ve had to hear it twice and I apologize to everyone who’s going to hear it for a first time but I am you know I’ll make a small sign with my hand kind of like the okay sign which has been ruined forever by the White Nationalist Movement. You know it shows you how small that little circle is between your point your finger and your thumb not I’ll name.
S18: What’s this small Chastain a vagina. And I said Who is the one person in this world. Who expelled you from a hole that far. And that’s me. So it’s not always about laying that guilt that much guilt on her but also just like hey nobody loves you like we do and we’re gonna always love you and that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to cast our love back in our faces by treating us with this sort of you know meanness my strong feeling is that you should tell that story every episode actually.
S8: Here’s the one thing I think the last thing I’d like to add to this which is that I think this question the answer the question is different with young kids and with older kids and it’s different in a way I didn’t expect at all with young kids. I think there it totally makes sense. Basically every time they respond in a way like this to do some mild correction to remind them this is not the way we speak to people we love. Close your eyes and would you speak this way your teacher et cetera et cetera et cetera. When you have a tween or teen. I never understood until I had tweens and teens. You just gotta eat a lot of shit when you’re the parent of a teen and tween because the like the hormones raging through their bodies turn them into such oppositional monsters that if you like picked a fight or tried to correct or dealt with every single time they’re rude to you you would you wouldn’t have time for a job like you would have time or nothing else in your life and and you just have to sort of grit your teeth a lot and be like this is adolescent rage speaking I know that she still loves me. You just gotta let it go. And I find myself like swallowing my response so much with my kids who are by. I like on the on the scale very well-behaved teenagers and tweens but are still assholes to be all the time because that’s that age. That’s why I was that’s why all of us were under or that age perfectly nice people now gigantic assholes when we were 13 and and the extent to which as a parent of an older kid you just have to take it is painful but almost always necessary I find.
S19: Have you. How do you and your wife employ guilt tripping with the girls. I think about you know as a teenager that was the point where and it’s funny because we know we’ve laughed about it over the years but there are times where my mother would cry you know because of how I spoke to her I just had these very traumatic moments and it turned out that she was bullshitting you know like she just wanted me to feel guilty about how I was acting and she was putting on a show which I respect and admire somebody who likes shenanigans but at the time it was a bit more effective than her simply saying I don’t like how you’re talking.
S8: That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had to. And the moments where my kids have said or done something truly awful that truly made me feel like shit I’m not actually that good at masking my feelings and they see it and know it and usually respond immediately and I haven’t had to fake it that like I don’t think I really have used that that often only because it’s been a technique that I’ve used but like by accident because there have been times you know maybe once a month one kid will say something that’s just so awful to me or to my wife that it actually makes us like like makes our jaws dropped and makes us look legitimately upset maybe makes us cry and and they were like recognize oh I guess I maybe I was one step too far.
S19: That’s great though. You know I think so many parents of older children and smaller children feel a need to put on you know a stiff upper lip or just you know to perform what responsible mature adult thing and parenting looks like. So you’re not going to see me you know you won’t see a crack in the fact that I’m disappointed I can say I’m disappoint I’m angry and say I’m angry but like sad or vulnerable you know like we don’t necessarily want to be that way with our kids.
S8: I think it’s important that they see us and that’s what we do and we do sort of keep up that facade when the comments are like the usual teenage bullshit. And that’s it’s like that level of comment that’s had to be what we train ourselves not to respond to because it’s too much. You would literally just be a mess. All right. I hope this is helpful. Thank you so much for writing in. Good luck with your disrespectful shit talking 7 year old. Don’t worry it’s only gonna get worse. Let’s move on to the part of the show where we each choose an item in our lives that we like or enjoy and offer a kind of recommendation to share with other people. We call this segment recommendations.
S11: Greg what do you have I’m not log rolling for myself but I am not a toy that a friend of mine makes. So an arranged mine is like one of those people who like went to Clown School and juggles and then now he is making a thing called the Shashi bow and it’s like a puzzle. And it’s for a.. Yeah. Shashi Sheba right. Yeah it does sound slightly Sneezy and um it’s like a magnetic game. It’s really great for the car. It’s pretty good for kids like the 3 year old to 4 loves it. All we have to do you know who likes it too so I would say like in that range but it’s basically like a puzzle geodesic puzzle game and you can make you know you can make this thing into like a star you can make it into a cube. We have two at home. You can combine them into other things. The kids love them and they keep playing with them in the car a lot which is good because you just sort of keep in the car. It’s small it’s hard for them to break and it sticks together and makes all these fun shapes. I don’t know. He was like You should check this thing out. And as soon as I played with it I was like I need these for my children. And so I got to and like now we give them as gifts and we traveled to summary brought one for the front to revisit it so hopefully we can put a link in the show notes. But I recommend this trashy book.
S4: It’s spelled s h a s h i. Oh I’m looking at it now and I would describe it as psychedelic. Magna titles that don’t fall apart and in fact are just connected so that you don’t lose them.
S11: Yeah it’s like a less frustrating Rubik’s Cube. Yeah with magnets it looks cool.
S8: I like it. Very cool. Good recommendation Jamila what about you.
S19: So as I’ve mentioned many times I am new to California. I live in the greater Los Angeles area and I grew up in Chicago spent my adulthood in Washington D.C. and New York. So I have relatively limited experience with going to malls. It was a thing that we did on occasion when I was a kid. You know here and there in college you know very rarely living in New York of all places.
S3: And so I would like to recommend going to the mall because now that I live in the mall I’d say one of the most suburban it’s not a suburb but it’s suburban ish in ways that I’m not used to.
S6: And there are all these malls and L.A. is also kind of boring and not the most walkable city. So like if somebody who likes to meander and walk around and you know like shop a lot of places I don’t just want to go to one store if I need something I’m either gonna do that online or I want to you know like go to a lot of stores and they’ve got these big structures where all the stores are like inside or they’re like all next to each other on these like you know they call them strip malls and it is amazing. I. It is such a great distraction for my child. Even though of course it comes with the whole now want to know something from here because something will be here but it is just a wonderment. I’m like wow thank God we didn’t have that like when I was a teenager I didn’t do that. I would’ve never graduated high. I’d be working at the Orange Julius because what a magical place. There’s so much sometimes I don’t even buy anything. I’m just happy to be in the presence of all this capitalism and people in color than you know it’s. But I don’t know. Like is this a unique experience that I am like truly delighted by mall and I know their parents are like how old I was that I’m in a liberal news media bubble police state is much less variance you’ve ever to skyrocket. This is I mean because I am astounded by it like especially you know it’s a great place to go with my daughter if it’s just kind of like I don’t really have an activity per day or we need some towels. You know we can have dinner there we can you know get a little thing they’ve got a place you can sit and play if you go by yourself. Like I guess I live in California so I’m smack to say you know Gallo we’d go to the mall and just wow there’s stuff we say I’m trying on stuff with sequins I don’t have anywhere to go. You know what I mean but it’s just there.
S4: Malls are sort of canceled in middle America but they’re alive and well in California.
S8: They’re they do great. There’s so many. There’s a lot of them. Hi. I’m so delighted by you just now discovering malls.
S17: I can’t even express the creative wait I get a car I actually bring some shit home from the mall. That’s going to be what you’re in California without a car. I know I am. I’ve only been here for. I’ve only been here for a month. To be fair I’ve only lived here month and I have not driven in 12 years.
S6: So if there are anyone who’s interested in you know if you want to be a supporter of care and feeding and you’re a car dealership or brand and now is the time to get in. Because I will ride very hard for you because I have to purchase a car for the first time as a real adult. And it’s terrifying and daunting. And again I haven’t driven in a really long time.
S4: There are auto malls perhaps Beverly Hills he has got to be a sponsor of next week’s care.
S3: We could only like if the Compton Lexus dealership is listening please. My Dems are open.
S4: I’m delighted that you love malls. I also found malls lifesavers. When our kids were little. In fact when we lived in New York we were lucky enough to have a car while we lived there and we would often drive upstate to the Palisades Mall near fantastic mall in the Hudson Valley.
S12: And just like hanging out there for a day with our kids because there are a million things to do and in winter when we were stuck in a tiny apartment we we were often at a loss and we would kill whole days at that mall and not buy anything except for like lunch at P.F. Chang’s. It was great.
S7: This is definitely a cry for help and I miss New York so bad I can’t sleep at night. Help me God. Sigh Jimmy I’m going up for a place that has a Build-A-Bear and anti and what have I done in my life.
S4: I have two recommendations today two games.
S8: One is for little kids one is for bigger kids one for little kids is called boom blast sticks it was introduced to us by our friends Mike and Acadia that sticks with an ex because it’s extreme it’s for a little our kids it’s canister full of these little springy plastic triangles and you pinch them closed and then stack them one on one top of each other but at some point one of them springs undone and blam all the little triangles fly everywhere like Peg you in the face and stuff it’s great everyone screams everyone cracks up kids love it every single time it’s delightful.
S4: Good for ages 4 to 9 any younger than that and your child will definitely swallow the little triangle that is not a legal recommendation to the makers of boom blast sticks and is not legally binding. Mom and Dad are finding is not liable for any swallowing it does occur.
S12: The game for older kids is called tell Australians I was introduced to us by our friends Claire and Dave. I would describe tell Australians basically as Pictionary plus telephone so you have these little notepads. You get a phrase and then you draw it as best you can. And like 30 seconds and then you pass it to the next person in the circle and they guess what you drew. And then they pass it to the next person and they try and draw. They think that they guessed and then they pass it to the next person and then they guess what it is at the last person Drew and it just gets more and more degraded and stupid and funnier and funnier. The more a riot gets great game everyone loves it. Ages 11 and up will put links to these as well as to all these other recommendations for Greg’s friends game that he gets 10 percent of every sale of four malls on our page and or an edge.
S4: Yeah. Yeah. That’s our show. If you have a question you’d like us to answer on the air leave us a message at 4 2 5 2 5 5 7 8 3 3. No one does that anymore. They just email us at mom and dad it’s Slate dot com because they love Chacha. Join us on Facebook just search for Slate parenting their mom dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Belson ver Jamilah and Greg. I’m Dan Coates thanks for listening.
S12: Hello Slate Plus listeners thank you so much for being members of Slate’s membership program Slate Plus you support all the work that we do both journalistically and path cast Stickley. And we’re really happy to have you along with us for our bonus episode. Today we are going to talk about this interesting issue raised by a New York Times parenting piece near Times parenting is the great parenting section over the times. It includes their newsletter it’s run by the great ex Slate star Jessica Grose. They had a piece about the different ways that in this example two parent couples find ways to connect and do date nights that aren’t necessarily date nights because finding time to date when you have kids can be a struggle. If you’re trying to go out you got to find a babysitter you’ve got to coordinate schedules you’ve got to pay them all to have a bit of time with your partner or in the case of non partner parents just with a date. So they had all these different ideas like for example micro dates 10 to 15 minute conversations where you turn off your phone and don’t talk about anything having to do with your kids with that person or capitalizing on the hours after the kids bedtimes to connect over things that are inappropriate like horror movies. So between the three of us hosts today we have a wide range of relationship experiences. So I’m curious how you guys make time for dating. Jamila do you want to start.
S7: Well it’s probably easiest for me of the three of us because I’m co parenting and my daughter divides her time pretty much evenly between my house and her dad’s house. So when she’s not there game on you know and it’s like having two very very different lives you know I’m active on a few dating apps and you know when I’m not a mother I’m not a mother. You know I’ll just say that.
S16: And so it’s interesting because of all the vitriol and the sometimes display sympathy that single parents single mothers in particular tend to get when there doesn’t seem to be a recognition of is that I have more space to be myself and be who I was before I was a mother than the average married mother. However I you know part of the reason I was enthusiastic about this topic is that I whenever I can I want to step up to the pulpit and encourage other single parents you know whether you have an equitable division of time and labor when it comes to raising your child or if you’re doing it you know practically you’re all alone that you prioritize dating if that is something and sex you know to be clear if that’s something that you’re interested in having in your life and that being a parent you know regardless of your relationship or marital status does not should not you know require you to turn off that part of your identity. And I think that a whole lot of other folks single moms in particular would be happier if they recognized that and didn’t feel that part of their lives had simply died because now their mom you know their dad. And that means existing in the world differently than it did before they had children.
S13: I do think it’s interesting how the extent to which this time is piece completely allied sex as any possible part of a quote unquote date night like I do think that that is a thing that it’s not just connectedness and dating. Whether your partner or not partner that tends to evaporate in the sort of squall of parenting especially with little kids. Right. It’s sex that is the thing that often falls out of people’s lives at that at that particular juncture. And it did strike me insanely hard to talk about all these different ways of connecting many of which are not at all about what for many people is the natural end point of a date whether your partner or not.
S12: So I don’t want to focus on that too much but I do think it was like curious and like a 15 minute micro date where you sit with a single beer with your spouse while the kid happens to be in another room. I think it is great to have that 15 minute conversation with your partner. But I also don’t think that’s a date and not just because it’s unlikely to end in sex but just because to me it doesn’t feel like it’s immersive enough or that with that kind of ticking clock you ever can feel as Jamila says a little bit like the person you were before you had kids. That seems like a shame.
S6: I agree. And I just say you know for the macro data that’s just something you should be doing. You know like that should not be considered dating or replacement or a supplement for dating. It’s just like how do you maintain a relationship with the person that you’ve chosen to be partner with. And you’re talking about one who lives in your home that you you know are deliberate about making sure that you take those 15 minute you know beer moments together. Absolutely. But that doesn’t fall in the category of romance right. You know in the way that saying we’re taking time to be outside of the house so we’re taking 15 minutes after the kid has gone to bed to you know to have sex or you do you know I mean and maybe it’s only if it’s him it’s because we’re tired but we’re prioritizing staying connected in that way too and I think like again regardless of relationships that is the stress of parenting and all the other things that you’re doing while you’re parenting right. Because if you know even if you had a child very young like him you know by the time you’re deeply into your parenting there are other environmental factors that are certainly stressful aging parents career you know moving you know the kid being in school all this that and that doesn’t necessarily put us in the frame of mind for romance. You know it’s like I don’t feel as sexy or as pretty as I used to do I don’t feel like putting on that dress I don’t feel like getting a haircut I just want to get through the day get some rest get some good food in my stomach and go to bed and you know if you aren’t intentional about saying I’m not going to let this happen to me I’m not going to become a sad middle aged shell of the person I once was. It will happen to you.
S11: The kids are talking about the article and mostly young. Right. So there’s six in three or two and a half and one has older kids but the part about being intentional about this kind of thing I think is the part that for me this was inspirational because my wife and I have definitely fallen into the. The kids are in school and young. She’s in school I’m at work and we come into this sort of like on off your night to put the kids to bed and read books my night to make lunches. By the time we don’t with that we’re exhausted we sit at the table and go to work for an hour and then go to sleep and I do it again every day is Wednesday. So why would you have a special day. You know it’s not it’s not. So there’s no like. And I think to me the intentionality of saying like actually when it’s a 50 minutes you’re not allowed to look at your phone and actually talk to each other. Right now we mostly reserve those 50 minute time periods for these like very intense communication sessions where we have to reveal all the things that we figured out by going to school to pick the kids up or the other one has to figure out our schedules for the next like two weeks right. I think we had an hour and a half drive this weekend alone between two places in New York to go to my high school reunion. That was like the most we’ve talked in a month and a half two months. You know something like that because you just don’t have time set aside necessarily. Some people do this thing whether they just call their spouse at lunch for a little while. That’s a great idea.
S10: I should start doing that’s what I do. Whenever I walk to get lunch at the office.
S11: I would count that into the whatever this micro dating you know yes you’re kind of having phone sex while you want to get your lunch but not on Wall Street you know at least 18 minutes for that. Right. But yes I think that would fall into the category of some sort of intentional communication that’s set up around not just you know getting all the facts across to each other about what’s happening but actually talking.
S10: I agree that it’s great to have intentional moments set aside to do that but I also read that that’s not dating. It’s not dating. And so leaving aside the sex part of things or even the romance part of things. There is also a value to like getting out in the world and being a social creature in the way that it’s often impossible to do as a parent. The story of this couple who like went to Harry Potter and the curse child for her birthday but now they don’t do that anymore. So it’s just too hard. So they just like hang out at home. That was a real bummer to me like I think it is still worth it even if it’s a hassle even though it’s a pain to get a baby sitter even though some times your kid gets the flu and they barf and you have to go home early. It is still worth it too if you can afford it get the babysitter and go out and do a thing go remind yourself that actually going to rock shows where you stand up is bad and your back hurts. Go to a movie that it turns out you didn’t like that much but like just do the stuff that involves being in the world to remind yourselves that there is a world outside the impenetrable hothouse of your own home and parenting life which I think for many people completely includes their vision of everything else.
S6: I agree and I think that like part of the reason I was so have historically been very disinterested in a lot of parent blogs particularly the mommy blogs and you know a lot of the things that are written by parents is because they’re so down on what it means to be you know I mean they’re depressing.
S15: And especially when it’s you’re talking about like upper middle class you know married mothers talking about I haven’t showered in weeks everything is so miserable I’m so tired and that’s not for me to you know laugh in the face of depression or you know or just their struggle to adapt to the complicated nature of being a head or one of the heads of a family.
S6: However one we’ve got like 12 years left to even if the world doesn’t end because of climate change and President Trump what exactly are we doing here if we’re only existing to keep things going. You know and I mean if we’re not able to create a pleasant quality of life for ourselves that isn’t just simply we’re raising responsible healthy well-adjusted people and that’s it. You know there are our hopes and dreams just don’t matter in the same way. And you know a lot of folks can apply that way of thinking to their career or perhaps to where they live or you know having a hobby or some other sort of interest. But when it comes to their love lives you know that’s just that you know a casualty of what they’ve chosen to do by becoming parents or you know or vice versa.
S15: But I think that I and everyone else deserves to have a well-rounded fulfilling life. And for me that isn’t always included you know dating a romance and I’m not going to throw that away because I’m a parent. I do. You know for some strange reason because all the statistics say that it has it’s more likely to have a negative impact on my quality of life than a positive one.
S16: But I do still want to be married you know and be partnered again and perhaps even you know have a second child like that can only exist in the way in which I’m allowed to be myself. I didn’t become you know a third rate version of me when I became name as mother she didn’t suck all the joy and determination and spirit from me. She powered it. And you know I think we have to just be really deliberate about talking about these things openly too because I think some parents are just so you know either down about it or depressed or I can’t even explain to you why they don’t hire a babysitter because they had the means to do it or they have a local grandparent who could step in and help and you know facilitate a date night but they just haven’t made it a priority and so instead of saying you know is this normal is this what everyone does they just want to go quiet and they’d rather not talk about it or just the cult of us.
S5: You know I’m here. I hear other parents complain like Oh God when was the last time I did that Oh set.
S15: Oh yes. Like somebody tweeted me that once I felt so sad and embarrassed I was like I don’t really know how to respond to that. It was like sex who has that.
S5: And I was like you take one. Would you like an answer to that. Not you apparently.
S8: All right so L.A. area Lexus dealers if you’re single mom or dad it’s a dot com.
S20: Yeah. All right.
S13: This is a really interesting article. I do think a lot of the deliberate things that these couples are doing are great. I agree with Camille that they are not the same as dating.
S8: Go out to the club. Perhaps the very club in Miami that Jamal is dragging me to but I also have a date. All right. Thank you so much Slate Plus members. We really appreciate your membership. Hope you enjoyed this one and we will talk to you next week.