The Odd Girl Out Edition

Listen to this episode

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 Friday Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, January 23rd. The Drawer Out Edition. I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer, cultural critic, and Momsen IIMA, who’s sick. And we live in Los Angeles, California.

S3: I’m Dan Quayle. I’m a writer at Slate and author of How to Be a Family. And I’m the dad of Lyra, who’s 14. Harper, who’s 12. Arlington, Virginia. I’m Elizabeth New. Can’t I write the Family Travel and Homeschool blog. Dutch DXP and the mom of three boys. Eddring Seven. Oliver, five. And Teddy, three. My husband’s in the airport, so we’re currently calling Navar, Florida home.

S2: We’re glad to have you back. Elizabeth, I speak on behalf of myself and then clock.

S4: I’m so excited to be here. Welcome back. So have you seen any frozen iguanas fall off of a tree just yet? I have not seen any. I’ve gone as far from the tree, but I was surprised at the headline.

S5: We’re finishing up kind of our first year in Florida, though, a surprising weather announcement for me.

S6: It is fun when people in warm weather climates have to deal with their one day every three years of cold weather. I have a very vivid memory of a time when I was on a work trip with Aliyah to Palm Springs. And it was raining, which is something that Palm Springs is now used to. And so on the local news, we were watching it in the hotel. The lead story on local news was a shot of the rain and then crawl along the bottom said warning rain causes puddles.

S7: Well, I’m definitely colder just having lived here for a year. I feel colder even though in the Netherlands this would have been like summer. I would have switched to my lighter jacket. But here, Jamelia, like you, I’m in full out coat, all of my things because, you know, I got to use them.

S8: Yes. And you have to use them. That’s very frustrating. I had someone ask me. She could have my fur coat because she didn’t think I needed it anymore. And it was actually a fair request. I’m probably not going to honor it, but it’s totally fair.

S9: I know you’re using it. This falls under that. You used it. Now once a year, you get to keep it.

S10: Exactly. I use it. I use it. Thank you. I love being enabled. All right. So stay on the show. We have two listener questions. The first from a mom of three boys who’s sick of people asking her if she wants a girl, because maybe she does kind of want a girl. Actually, she wants a girl quite a bit. So is this a rude question or just one that just sits a little bit too close to home? We also have a question from a mom who needs a script on guns. How do you ask if someone has a gun in their home without making it ackward? Plus, as always, we’ve got triumphs and fails and recommendation. Daniel, start with you. Do you have a triumph or fail this week?

S11: I have a triumph this week. It is a very basic triumph, but it’s one that I am really proud of because 10 years ago, maybe it would have seemed unthinkable to me. And the triumph is that we just had a very nice three day weekend. I still remember the times not so long ago when a three day weekend in February when it’s cold outside would have been like something we dreaded. We would spend weeks before the three day weekend trying to figure out how it would not be a nightmare to just be stuck in the house for three days with our horrible selves and her horrible children. But because of the combination of our kids being older and them having friends and us finally having friends and activities and also just us being generally better at settling down and focusing and being with them in ways we just had a nice weekend, you know, it was good first and still struggling to imagine, even though I’m sure it’s inevitable, my child becoming so loathsome that I would prefer to go to work than to spend time with.

S12: And yet another day is coming.

S11: Yeah, but it’s not even that you prefer to go to work. Sometimes it’s that there’s so much work that it stretches into the course and then you can’t do that work because you have a child who not unreasonably wants to do things with you. Yeah. And so Polly and I think have both done a pretty good job in the last few years of de-stressing our jobs in ways that allow us to have a little bit more of a weekend. Yeah, and we used to that. I said three day weekend. Yeah, but that’s been an important part of like our career non paths in the last two years has been like making that happen and I think that helped too. But so like this weekend I had a friend over for a little bit and Myra had a project and we played some games and we watch some TV and we did a service project on Monday. And I think what really helped is that we all had together time and we also all had alone time. But, you know, it was like Monday night and the kids were finally in bed. And Ali and I were sitting by the fire and I was like, oh, you know what? Sometimes we’re pretty okay at this and I’m happy and my kids are happy. A lot of the time. And so that was nice because of just how unthinkable that future was in, you know, 2010.

S5: Dan, every weekend at my house is a three day weekend cause I’m home now. Yeah. Them all the time. Every night. Every week is a seven day week. Every four. Every week there’s a seven day weekend. Yeah. For me, Jeff gets to go to work and come home.

S8: But I’m sure it feels just as relaxing as a weekend, right? Is that what working moms say to you? Like, must be so nice to just stay at home all day. Do you get that?

S5: Yes, I get that a lot. I think they think I have like all of this free time, but I have like no free time. And my coworkers are terrible. Like, they eat my lunch. They come at me when I’m in the bathroom.

S11: Like, it’s, you know, not a lot of office decorum in your place.

S5: No. It’s funny, because I do remember a time when I was working and I like dream of some of those moments. So I think it’s the whole, you know, grass is always greener. But I completely understand like we have a routine of how we get through each day. And so a weekend is just an extension of that in which Jeff is also home. So it does feel like a holiday because I have an additional adult. Well, how did you get through this? When do you have a triumph or fail on me? I have a fail. So my oldest child, Henry, who’s seven, have massive anxiety for which we see someone about that. But I just completely failed to take that into account. Over the weekend, we like to listen to a podcast in the car we had listen to while in the world for like the 30th time. And I was like, nope, we’re listening to This American Life, which we have listened to before. The episode that came on was about rabies.

S13: Here’s the other thing is this whole long, drawn out story about this raccoon attacking this woman in this isolated driveway. Now, I should have turned it off. The moment they said rabies, but I didn’t. I should have turned it off when they started beating the raccoon with a tire iron and it wasn’t dying. But I still didn’t. I should have turned it off when the lady is getting terrible advice from the local health department about not needing a shot for three days.

S9: No, I turned it off somewhere after that during the funeral scene. I turned it off after she got the bad advice. But before we hear that she’s OK, I turned it off and then just tried to pretend it didn’t happen. It gets worse. Then we have this like long, drawn out conversation about rabies. We like Google, everything you need to know about it. And I think, you know what would make this better? I should go get a book. So I maybe I don’t know. So I go and I get Bear Grylls survival camp book. The tagline is literally. Could you avoid deadly diseases and fight back against man eating beasts? And you know what? I give it to him. Like, what is wrong with me? So it’s basically 100 illustrative pages of what could go wrong in any situation. So now what I have done is like given him things to be worried about that he shouldn’t. For example, in one of the illustrated pages illustrated, Bear Grylls is climbing inside a camel to hide from a sandstorm. This is something that my child did not believe he should be nervous about. And now is so my therapist should be very happy because I have guaranteed like years more therapy. Yeah, this is something we’re working through together.

S6: And then on top of everything else, he’s gonna be nailed by a frozen iguana. Yeah.

S7: Yeah. And now they’re frozen iguanas. Yeah. Something else we didn’t know we needed to be scared of.

S11: That is a truly amazing fail as thing.

S5: I mean it’s like a colossal fail. You know, one day someone will be trapped with him and be thankful. That’s right.

S11: Very sure that he controls Kabul, too. Obvious answer. Just you wait.

S14: What about you, Jimmy, on triumph or Fail this week, as usual, fail. I actually I’m going to start keeping score in my notes that so I don’t have a feel every week, but it just so happens I have fail every week. So today I have a feel. I didn’t mention this earlier, but Dan and I are actually sitting in the same room looking at each other. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. This doesn’t happen often and it was not supposed to happen today. I was here for an event in Washington, D.C. and I originally thought, OK, I have something to do in D.C. on a Tuesday. I should stay until Wednesday evening so we can do the podcast in real life. I’d be great. But I also wanted to spend the entire long weekend on the East Coast. So I was like, well, I can’t be gone for five days, you know? So I’ll just go right back on Wednesday morning and do the podcast from L.A.. But despite the fact that I, A, live in California, B, have lived there now for a few months, c, have traveled back and forth between New York and California for at least two years on a regular basis. I can’t keep the time zones together. Time zones. They’re so confusing. In fact, I don’t even know the proper name for the California one.

S12: I always say California time, Pacific Pacific that like really specific knowledge.

S11: It also pertains to other else besides California.

S14: I know, but it just sounds too exotic for California. Either way, obviously I struggle with time and time zones and maybe basic English and I book a flight that would get me back to L.A. at 10:30 in the morning, which is the exact time that I began recording this podcast from the local studio. So this morning as I woke up.

S15: On time for my flight, I figure that out. Luckily, get on the next flight.

S16: The airport is about 15 minutes from here and the hotel is literally around the corner.

S14: So I prize came here much earlier and tried to hang out the slide office, but I was dealing with the fact that my child is completely on Mars right now. Hopefully next week, with his father’s permission, I’m going to tell you the best story I could ever possibly tell on this show. So this is a commercial for next week’s episode.

S11: Fail has occurred. But you do not feel at liberty to explain the fail to us because it belongs to your ex-husband, your ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriends, and apologize. I truly hope that he gives you dispensation to tell the story because I really want to hear it.

S16: The only reason I now wish that we had been married in the past is because I would feel like, well, he is my ex husband. I’m sure it took half of some of his things. I’m taking this story. Right.

S11: And I would just put the story right now, as opposed to waiting for my California common law means that all his stories are yours if you were once legally married. Yes, correct.

S14: All right. Let’s do some business. Well, we still have some to do. Slade’s parenting newsletter. It’s the best place to be notified about all of our great parenting content, including mom and dad are fighting, care, feeding and much, much more. It’s a personal e-mail from Dan. Every week he writes it by hand. Actually, Dan, it went to the restaurant when I first came into the office. And so I was looking for him. Man gets a peek by his desk and everyone else has a MacBook. And Dan has a quill, a typewriter and calligraphy pens. And he writes the newsletter by hand.

S11: I also have a staff of assistants who I dictate my words to. Also, you don’t write yourself. Now they scribble them down on the walls.

S14: Yeah, I see. Well, you can get that from Dan and his team of interns every single week. If you sign up at Slate, dot com backslash, parenting email, also check us out on Facebook. Just search for slate parenting on Facebook. It’s a fun community moderated mostly by Dan who kicks somebody out the other day. And I wonder if it’s on my behalf. I wanted to ask, but I also felt bad about what I’d said.

S17: So I was like, I’m going to bring this. We win those arguments. But for the most part, it’s a safe space for you. It’s 100 percent safe space. Just make sure that if you insult somebody, it’s not one of us.

S14: And there’s a lot of great conversations in there about the care and feeding column and mom and dad fighting. We have been talking about Dan’s book. If you’ve got questions or things that maybe you want to hear on the show, you can share them with us on Facebook. So please come find us there. All right. So this week, our first listener question is going to be read as usual by the one and only Shasha lanard.

S18: Dear mom and dad, I I’m the mother of three children, ages 6, 3 and 6 months. All my children are boys. They are the best. My husband and I absolutely love being their parents. When I was pregnant with our youngest child and in public with my kids, people’s eyes would light up when they would ask, Are you having a girl? And then their faces would fall. When I told them that we were thrilled to be expecting a son. My whole parenting life is filled with these experiences. I have had people go out of their way to approach me in a grocery store, to tell me to cherish my sons because they will leave me when they are grown. I’ve heard people state that my child who loves princesses and dresses does so because I so desperately want a girl and encourage this behavior. I usually respond by firmly stating how lucky I am to have such amazing children and cutting off any additional conversation. The bigger issue that is nagging at me is that these comments are getting to me. I’m a proud feminist who is committed to raising feminist, empathetic boys. I have devoted my career to helping vulnerable women and children. I would be lying if I didn’t dream of having a daughter to share these experiences with and have that mother daughter relationship. When I scrub P off the bathroom wall seven times a day or break up another loud bout of roughhousing, I think of those comments and how my life would be more complete if I had a daughter. My rational brain knows this isn’t true. The reality of raising a child of any gender is far from any parent’s fantasy. My heart tells me otherwise. How do I let this sense of disappointment go? Deal with the pitiful comments and just enjoy what I’m lucky to have. Sincerely, the odd girl out.

S14: That’s a tough one. Dan, what do you think?

S11: So I want to talk about the second half of this question first. Sort of the harder half. Write your regrets and your worries about not having a daughter. I don’t think that those regrets or worries really have anything to do with people making asshole comments to you. I think that these are your feelings and I think that you’re entitled to those feelings. It is totally okay to sometimes privately mourn the versions of your life that you don’t have that you once envisioned and don’t have for for any reason. A great time to do that is when you’re scrubbing P off the wall, but it can happen any time. It’s really totally natural to think about these things.

S6: And I want to urge you, letter writer, to beat yourself up less about having these occasional fleeting thoughts. I don’t get the impression that these thoughts alter or change in any way the love and care that you give to your sons. I don’t think they have any real effect on your family life or the way they feel loved her cared for. And so until such time as these thoughts are becoming like intrusive or overwhelming you, I think that you should let yourself off the hook about it, like occasionally feeling that it’s OK to just think every once in a while. Oh, you know what? I have two girls. It would have been really fun to have a boy like you, this boy thing with if it worked out that way. But that doesn’t mean that I love my girls any less. But I would like to hear what the rest of you have to say, especially perhaps the one of us with three boys.

S7: Yeah. I mean, I basically could have written this letter. Having three boys. I wanted to tell the letter writer.

S19: This is completely normal. This is something I feel like my friends and I have discussions about. Dan, I agree with everything you said. I think it is good to sit with those kind of feelings a little bit and acknowledge that feelings are not good or bad or right or wrong. They’re just like your feelings. When I have these thoughts, though, I often think about what that means for my expectations of a child like I am mourning not having a girl because we don’t go do X or I see other moms and daughters doing these things together. And I think, well, my expectation is that if I had a girl, she would have liked to do these things or she would have done these things with me. And when you start to think about it that way, you start to realize like, well, no, I could have had a girl and she could have been totally into the same things that, you know, this particular boy or whatever is that I have one of my three.

S7: And from that, I tried to fill I do want to call like a void because like she says, I am completely in love with my family and the way it looks. I love being a mom of three boys, but I find that I can say, OK, well, this mom and daughter go do these things together. Well, my oldest child loves going to tea with me. He loves like sitting and just having tea and enjoying conversation and like bringing a book to read while we do it. And I try to just think like, well, this is amazing. And because he’s a little boy, we get like a lot of attention. When he does that, he gets kind of doted on. You know, in a way that like we’ll be somewhere when we travel. That’s the one thing him and I try to go do together. And it’ll be all these moms and daughters. And I’m there with my oldest child, much like the letter writer, my middle child. His favorite color is pink and purple. He’s in2 just all kinds of, I think stereotypically girl stuff.

S13: And that is completely him. And I just try to be appreciative of that and the fun things I get to do. I think the other thing you got to do on the flipside is that I invited a bunch of girls over to my house like little girls that are friends of other moms. I was like, well, I’ll have them over. My husband had the boys away doing something and it was complete chaos in a whole new way. I was like, Oh, I can’t really used to being a boy mom like pee on the walls. One thing, but like everyone crying about feelings and sort of all kinds of other stereotypical things happened. And I was like, OK. I’m pretty happy in this spot.

S19: I think the thing about the letter, though, that just kind of makes me angry.

S13: I think as a mom of three boys is this first part where people are always commenting on my family structure because I homeschool. I have the three boys out with me all the time. And I cannot think of a time in which I was at a store or somewhere. And someone did not say to me like, oh, they’re all gonna leave you when they get married or it’s insane how say crazy like it’s weird or like.

S9: Are you having one more so you can have a girl and they’re saying this in front of my children.

S13: I don’t want my children to ever think that they are not enough because of something that they literally had no part in. So then I was wondering, like, was it just a boy thing? I wanted to ask, like, if you get comments, I did call my friends of three girls. All said that they get the comment, oh, your poor husband or just wait till they’re older. You’re never gonna be able to afford this.

S16: Yes, I definitely have had folks when I was pregnant with name, her dad and I broke up right before we found out that I was expecting. So even though he’s always been present as my co-parent, we never parenthood as a couple. And so that means that during the pregnancy, I was already a single parent and I had a taxi driver, you know, ask me if I was married. And I said no. He said, I just don’t understand you Americans and why you just have children. Like it’s just no big deal. I mean, that wasn’t the only person, you know, during that period that this most vulnerable time in a woman’s life. There’s no point during motherhood where people don’t feel comfortable saying really invasive, judgmental things about your parenting and your family structure. And I know.

S20: Bother’s get a lot of that, mothers take the brunt of it, right? Others don’t get any of that. Usually when you’re talking, Soledad, about his parenting, it’s often from a place of admiration. Right. Lecture about why fathers get is oh, look at you.

S21: Yeah, you’re doing you’re doing it. Yeah. Look at you. Daddy. Daycare. Now it’s great. Daddy daycare.

S16: One thing I am sure I was probably guilty of doing this as a much younger person. And I try to be a lot more mindful about these things. Now is when somebody has a boy, you know, and a girl saying, oh, you’ve got a perfect set right in implying that there’s something wrong with having, you know, all children of one gender or that, you know, you’re somehow missing something if you didn’t have a child of your own gender.

S7: When I was calling my friends, the people that have a boy and a girl did tell me that they are just told, like, what a perfect family. And when we lived in the Netherlands. Now, if you have a boy or girl they call the king’s price, and it is definitely there’s an actual there’s a name for. Yeah. There’s an actual name for it. They’ll say the king’s prize.

S14: I won and I used to be a boy. I always wanted a boy and a girl. And if I was one child it would be a boy. And there’s a part of me that still deeply wants a boy. But lately I’ve been thinking like I’d really love to raise a second girl. I’d be really happy with that.

S7: I mean, honestly, once I had one boy and then it was like I found out we’re having second. I’m like, this is great when we you know, we’re having the third. I was like, if this is a boy like cost savings on clothes, like, I already know what I’m doing. Thousands of dollars, thousands of dollars. And just like there are some real beauties of having three of the same sex and just being into the roughhousing. And yes, like they all pee on the floor. That is just the reality of my life.

S14: I wanted the letter writer to feel a little bit better because girls, though they are not, you know, apt to pee on the floor beyond a certain age or they aren’t typically typically as into the bathroom humor and some of the gross stuff that little boys are associated with. You still come across a lot of pee, a lot of poop, a lot of ickiness, a different kind of bikinis, the nakedness that will begin.

S11: And we’ll change everyone’s life at one point, because, I mean, I don’t want to tell you what’s on the floor of my kids bathroom.

S5: Oh, yeah, that’s true. So we’re just getting it out of the way early.

S14: Yes. My daughter the other day asked me to come in the bathroom and keep her company because she was having a hard time getting it out. Yeah. You know what? So maybe you just don’t have to go. She’s like, no, it’s kind of out. And then I realized that the smell hit me in that moment. I was like, oh, it is almost out. And I sat there as long as I possibly could. And I kept thinking, I’m smelling someone else’s shit, like I’m not in the public bathroom. I’m in my home. There’s nothing I can do.

S11: Long story short, parenting is gross no matter what parenting is.

S7: Yeah, absolutely. I think that was sort of my takeaway is. But one stop commenting on other people’s families. Yes. Yes. If you don’t have anything nice to say in this situation, don’t say anything at all. Right.

S11: And I don’t even say the things that you maybe you think are nice. No, because probably they’re not. Yes.

S9: Even when people tell me like it must be difficult or something, because sometimes it is like I’m wrangling three boys at the store. It is clearly difficult. I don’t really need you telling me that it’s difficult because that just makes me feel like it looks difficult. Right.

S11: Also, goal is for it to be difficult, but for other people not. Yeah.

S16: We love to tell people how hard it is to be a parent while we’re watching them struggle to be a parent.

S6: Here’s one other suggestion. If as time goes on and your boys get older and you still feel this feeling that you’ve been feeling that you wish that there was a girl in your life who, you know, had some responsibility for or had those opportunities with, you could consider, you know, volunteering for a Big Sisters program. Right. There are a lot of programs out there that will happily match you with a girl who would love to have an older woman in her lap to talk her through things and to be with. And that also would maybe have the added benefit of putting a girl in your boy’s life, which is never a bad thing for a bunch of boys stuck in a house with boys to be reminded that there are non boy human beings in the world. And so that’s something to think about it and explore, too, as time goes on.

S7: Yeah. Dan, I wrote that down too. I actually wrote like, if this is a persistent thought, it may be that you need to have a conversation about like are you done as a family? There is adoption, there is foster care. There is becoming a big sister. There are all these other ways to fill that place in your heart. There’s nothing wrong with being honest with yourself about what you need or what your expectations were and then taking action to have your reality meet your expectations.

S16: One more thing I want to add, I’ll put on my will be Goldberg in Ghost Hat. I actually do have on a big head wrap, so I am sure Sam is going to ask Dan later, like, what were you interviewing, Erica? I do about one thing that my people, the blacks do. And this is common in a lot of communities. It’s very common in the LGBT community as well. Chosen family. Right. So like you may find a volunteer situation. You may have a friend who has a daughter and this little one becomes like your play niece, write your play cousin. You know, I’ve been adapting relatives in my whole life, play brothers and play cousins and play, you know, godchildren that are, you know, just from someone who was a former student of mine who became a little sister figure. And so now I’ve got a younger sister figure and the little girl in my life. So find your girls. Thank you so much. Letter writer and all the best to you listeners, if you would like for us to perhaps read one of your letters on air. Send us a question to mom and dad at Slate that come. All right. Letter number two, hile.

S18: My oldest kid is the age when he is going to start going on playdates to houses where we don’t know the parents. I to ask any parents whether they have a gun in the house before letting him go over. And I’m not okay with him blowing at a home that has a gun. This is an important question, but a little awkward to bring up out of nowhere. Do you have a script that can be used to ask in a matter of fact and not awkward way before you answer.

S16: Who else grew up with guns around? My father was a police detective, so even though I lived with my mother, he was in the house maybe three to five days a week. I remember the ritual of him taking off his holster and all the other guns. My father always carried a lot of guns. He still carries a lot of guns and putting them above the refrigerator and never thinking under any circumstances. OK. Let me check this out. It didn’t make them less scary, but I guess I still feel like, oh, guns were around, you know. Did you all have guns around?

S6: I never had guns around. No, there were never guns in my house.

S7: I didn’t grow up with guns in my house. But then I married someone in the military. And guns became a part of our life, not at our home, but certainly in a lot of people’s homes. We know. And as part of work, I think that combined with this fact that every few years I have to make a whole batch of new friends means that I have done this a lot. It is definitely a conversation that I have with people whom my children are going over their homes to play. And I do have this like story that actually makes me anxious even to talk about since we’ve been here. My oldest, Henry, was invited to go over to a friend’s house. The co-worker’s daughter and Henry had played together at a few work events, and they invited Henry to come over and play.

S19: And the co-worker was at his parents house and a super complicated. So my husband asked like, Hey, Henry, he’s been invited to play. He really likes this kid. Can we, like, drop him off? We were on our way from somewhere at this person’s house, and I was like, nope, that’s just not something we do. If you want to have this play date. You have to go with. And Jeff was just like, this is a silly rule. I was just like, hey, this is the role we have. I’m kind of in charge of this section of life. This is what we’ve done. It makes Henry more comfortable.

S7: Jeff and Henry end up going over there. And while Henry is playing in the house, Jeff is hanging out with his co-worker. He comes running back into the room and says, we were just playing over there and there is a gun under the pillow that. Yes. Yes. Thankfully, listen, these two children did everything right. Didn’t touch it. Gotten adults everything. It is such a reminder of why I have these conversations both with my children and with people whose homes he’s going to be in. I totally understand. Like our conversation with Henry, of course, is about not being in people’s rooms, not going through things like their children and. And these are things that children do like. I’ve certainly had kids at my house and all of a sudden they’re in the master bedroom doing, you know, who knows what.

S16: My Bauder picked up my vibrator and turned it on.

S9: Yeah, exactly. Like things happen so often.

S19: This just really drove home for me. The idea that this is a conversation that I have to have no matter how anxious it makes me. I know like the like official advice is probably have this conversation in person. I find it incredibly awkward. So I almost always do it by text or email. I know as you get older, this becomes maybe more complicated. But my general rule is that like first play dates are first interactions. I’m there. I don’t usually let my kids go to someone’s house that I don’t know or that we haven’t met or had a conversation with. So I already have a sense of these people. Then I send an e-mail or a text and I use phrases like Henry’s never been to your house before. I just wanted to make sure that we touched base on a few things. And then I choose something benign. So I will either talk about food like, you know, Henry doesn’t drink any soda, he just drinks milk and water. I ask, is there anything he should be bringing with him for this playdate? I might also ask about if it’s Oliver going over Oliver’s terrified about dogs. So I will say, like, do you have any pets in the house so that I can prepare? You know, Oliver for that. And then I say this is just something I ask all the time. I’m sorry if it’s awkward, but I wanted to check if there’s any firearms in your house. And if so, are they locked up now? The letter writer sort of says like, I don’t want him playing at any house with a gun. My rule is more that I want to touch base with someone in a nonjudgmental way. I want to know if you have a firearm in the house and I want to know what you do to store that gun owners. I’m going to speak in general. The ones I know take good care of their firearms. They are locking them up, particularly if they have children in the house. But sometimes you forget you’ve done something. Your routine has changed. The reminder of like, hey, do you have this firearm in your home and does it lock up? I think it’s just a mind jogger to say like. Oh, yeah, we do. And to think like, let’s make sure it’s locked up. You know, I have never had anyone respond or be rude about it. Maybe I’m incredibly lucky.

S14: Are most of the families that you’re having play dates with other military families?

S7: I mean, it’s a mixed homeschool families or military families. A lot of them tell me that they have guns and that they’re locked up. I always make sure no matter what they tell me. I say thank you. Thanks so much for letting me know. You know, that makes me feel more comfortable. And the goal of all this is to make us feel comfortable. Mm hmm. I had been thinking about too, like, what do you do if you feel uncomfortable or if someone gave you an uncomfortable answer? And I feel like then I would probably just ask that say I would be more comfortable if we met at a park or at my house. I don’t really care whether you own a gun or not. I care that you want to make me feel comfortable in the same way that I would want to make you feel comfortable if you came to my house. Right. Like I wouldn’t hesitate to ask about a booster seat. Right. Do you have the appropriate car seat to transport my child? And what can I do to make that the right way so that we can do this?

S14: I think it’s a fair thing to have anxiety about. Right. I mean, there are hundreds of kids who die every year because of gun related accidents, because somebody left a gun out specifically. I think you also have a perfect out from now on. I’m to tell people my friend had this thing happen where her kid was. Yeah, totally. No, that’s my excuse for now.

S13: Well, when I was thinking about telling the story, that’s kind of what I was gonna say is you can absolutely use this as an example, like, hey, my friend, had this happen and I just want to make sure that doesn’t happen, you know, to your child or mine. The only thing I think to kind of stay away from is any kind of judgment in the email, because I think that’s what makes it awkward when you’re dealing with something that makes you anxious, just say it like I will say, this is super awkward for me. Yeah, you know, but I just have that’s one of the things I have to do. I have to ask. And I think if I met someone who thought all this was weird and didn’t want to be my friend, then that’s okay.

S16: I agree. And as I say, I think there are certain things where it’s OK to say, you know it. This is a sign because it’s more than just, you know, say this person is like, hey, I’ve been shooting since I was a teenager and I’m license and I’m responsible and I keep my stuff like that. And I’m just so bothered at the implication that might be a sign that this person is kind of a jerk. Right. So having frequent contact with them in this way may not be ideal either way.

S19: And there’s that out to kind of saying like we don’t have guns in the house. And so my child is not familiar with what to do. Even though we have talked to him about that. We have come up with a plan which clearly I’m so thankful worked. When it comes up, I explain to them, like why I don’t like a lot of gun play. He plays guns at other people’s home with Nerf guns and water, guns and all kinds of things. And I just explained to them that those sort of things are fine, but that at the end of the day, pointing a gun at someone is like threatening their life. And so if the play takes that kind of turn, I’m uncomfortable with it. And here’s why. Because, you know, life is valuable. And I think explaining that has given them kind of, you know, Henry has an anxiety problem. So he is taken to this, you know, very well. But the other two, too, I think. No. Like, if you see a gun, don’t touch it. You need to come get an adult. Don’t let your friend touch it. If your friend’s touching it, you need to get out of there. Like those sort of things are important to talk to your child about, even if it scares you to talk to them about it.

S14: You know what? I think as a listening to you talk. I’m hearing so much of what I got from the letter writer, which is like we have to feel okay setting boundaries for our kids. You know, like we don’t have to apologize for not wanting them to play gun games. Yeah. You know, I’ve decided that this is what my family does. This is what my child requires to be in your care. And if you’re not okay with that, that’s fine. You know, the kids can play at school if they have a relationship that would put them in a situation together, well, they’ll still see each other. That’s great. But maybe we’re not gonna be, you know, every other weekend played a crew and that’s totally fine.

S7: I think that’s a great analogy. This is a choice that we’ve made. And that’s just who we are.

S16: That’s who we are. So letter writer and think you’ve got a couple of great suggestions for how to speak to that concern when you talk to parents and please feel confident in asking those questions and in making this decision about whether your child is safe in someone’s home based on the information you get from that conversation. We would like to try and solve all of your life problems as well when that your life forms for save. But the ones that are directly related to your parenting, if you’re interested in having us read one of your letters on air, send us an email to mom and dad at Slate that come before we get out of here. Let’s do some recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you have for us this week?

S19: OK. So this is like an incredibly nerdy recommendation. But we do something called a book of centuries and it’s like basically a book that’s a blank timeline. We write in this book important dates that we are studying or encountering or that are happening to our family. So we’ve been doing this for a while. So we start with the kids birthdays, grandma grandpa’s birthday. Then like as we traveled places and. Discovered, you know, went to this forum. We put the date of that in and it’s like a living document. And the kids can cut out things and put in it, draw pictures of different historical events. But it has really, I think, given them a sense of where they are in the world and also a sense of like things that happened at the same time. And I was singing about this because there’s like a thing I don’t know. I’ve seen it going around Facebook that talks about Martin Luther King and Frank and Barbara Walters all being born in the same year.

S7: Mm hmm. And I’m thinking, gosh, we have so many of those kind of light moments that happen because of this book. Like, we will open it to write something. And the kids are excited about putting different things in it. But just things like my kids think it’s super funny that my husband is older than Epcot.

S9: That’s right. Yeah. Because like when we went to Disney, we put the dates of all the parks in there. We discovered that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day. So just things like that that I think put into perspective where you fit in to this larger picture. This is so cool.

S13: Wait, so is this a book that’s designed for you to do this so you can totally just take a notebook right now and start the beginning? Mine runs from 5000 B.C. to 5000. 80. It’s like comes from Charlotte Mason home-schooling. But I just find it like a wonderful thing that I think, gosh, if I had had this book, so much of history in school would have been easier.

S9: And I think it’s fun because for us it does tend to be like more historical in museums.

S7: But like if you’re really into movies or music or visiting, I don’t know, squished penny places like you could put all of those in this book, you can put whatever you want. And my kids draw little doodles of things and cut out things that we found and paste them in there. And now everything is kind of in relation to their grandparents and their great grandparents and us. And how many years before that? And you can put stuff in the future. So if they read like an article that says, oh, and this year we expect to have this, we put it in our book. And then when we, you know, get there, we’ll see that like in this year, we thought this is what’s gonna happen.

S6: I don’t know, Sir Henry, I have a visual representation of when the earth will be inundated. Yes, exactly.

S9: Exactly as you are coming around to maybe a poor idea. I my just now. But I I do think it really gives you a place of where you are in time. In time.

S6: I think this is great. I love this idea. I love everything about it. I especially love how you can use it to make it clear to your children that while your husband is older than Epcot, you are not.

S5: I am not. That’s true.

S14: Although you were born in what my daughter calls the 19th Heinz. Heinz, it’s where old stuff comes from. Dan, what do you have for us this week?

S6: I’m gonna recommend a couple of games that are called exploding kittens. And you’ve got crabs. They’re both games created by a cartoonist named Matthew and Ben. He’s the creator of the Web comic Oatmeal, if you know that comic. You may already know these games, but if not, you probably know that the games are snarky and full of puns and a little bit nerdy the way that that web comic is. I’m recommending them not because I love playing them so much. I’ve done that at other times with other games. I think they’re fine. The designs are funny. I like how clever they are and how imaginative they are. But I do think that as games, their gameplay gets a little uninteresting for me, an adult after a while. But I’m recommending them because these, I think are perfect games for tweens and teens and big groups to play with each other. I think those are not always easy to find. And so when you have a big assemblage of like, you know, 7, 13 year olds in your house and you want to find something for them to do, that isn’t just like playing a video game or texting each other silently like what these games are great for that they are forever hilarious and interesting to that exact age group. They seem just a little bit subversive in kids that age, just totally love them like universally. So once again, they’re called exploding kittens and you’ve got crabs. They’re great for a big group of tweens to play while the adults are safely in another room drinking beer.

S22: Yeah, our local library actually has things that you can check out. I just noticed exploding kittens on the shelf and had no idea what it was. But they have a whole series of games that you can bring home and play and take back.

S6: Yes, many public libraries have a big section. That’s a great way to try out a game to see if you like it before you blow the cash on it.

S16: Sounds like lots of fun. Well, I am recommending facilitating time between your children and your childless friends, which is something that you probably do from time to time. If you have childless friends who’ve taken a really strong interest in hanging around your kids or perhaps they live really close. And so they were part of your daily or weekly routine either way. And somehow that just didn’t stop when your life became something completely different. But for those of you all that had children under, say, four or five in and are still very, very far away from getting. Back to or creating a normal that in any way, shape or form resembles the one that you once knew. It can be easy for both parties to drop the ball in terms of maintaining the friendship. And that’s a conversation that I had with one of my girlfriends actually just last night. Hi, Chiara, I’m giving you a shout out. So if you didn’t listen to the show, then I’ll know it. We talked about feeling disconnected, you know, at times and how certain women friends can pull away, you know, and distance themselves. And not always women friends is friends pull away from parents because they think you don’t have time for them or, you know, you have acted as if you don’t have time for them. But when you can and do facilitate time with those folks. I think some of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had with my child have been watching her, you know, tell jokes to one of my lifelong friends playing a game with one of my other buddies. And I think it’s great and fulfilling for my friends. Hopefully they haven’t complained about it yet. Not just a matter of pulling them in to do some babysitting or, you know, come to the house and hang out with Nyima while I, you know, do some sort of task.

S7: But like, can you give an example of like how to facilitate? Because I love this idea, but I find it difficult to, like, invite these people into my chaos.

S16: You know, it can be difficult. I’ll admit, when my daughter was younger, there were a number of times where in theory we had time to entertain company. I didn’t want to deal with what came of that. Right, son. Like, I don’t want them to see how we live. Right now, it’s a mess. I have to wait until next week and somebody comes and cleans up. But if your space isn’t up to hosting, which is oftentimes the most comfortable way to have kids and friends together, because if it’s not quite working, you know, it’s low stakes. They can just go home, you know, and sometimes the kids can play by themselves where the adults have a little bit of time. But at home, you can play games with them. You know, if you got kids that are old enough to play on our old maid or heads up. Right. Or even the super little kid games. Right. Candyland. I’m getting on the floor and getting on their hands and knees and just playing with your kids. You know, it’s not always a matter of, okay, we have to have a big activity. We’re going to a theme park or going to the movies or going to the museum, you know, but just that we’re doing regular stuff together and you’re getting to do that. Was a kid.

S10: I believe deeply in the connection that adults of a community, any community should have to the children of that community. Right. Like the neighbor’s kids are important to me.

S22: It’s so good for the kids to like the more adults you can put in a child’s life, the better.

S11: Yeah. Practical recommendation I would make on this front. This is something we used to do a lot when our kids were the right age, for it is. Just invite a childfree friend along with you to the playground. Yeah. If you’re going to the playground anyway, tell your childfree friend hey, buy two coffees and meet us at the playground if you will. Sit with them and talk a little, but they will also just naturally end up gravitating toward the swing or whatever, and they will get some time with your kid doing kid things in a basically like not that odorous, mostly fun way. Yeah.

S16: I love it. And I guess the cold weather equivalent of that would be a museum. Right. Because the adults, you know, hang back and walk and the kids can play with whatever kid friendly stuff they have there. Looking at art and stuff, it’s a very easy way to build a bond. I look at my I have an older sibling and many of her friends have children that are much older than mine. And I look at her relationship with their now 17, 18, you know, 20 year old children and that she’s truly an on figure and son who loves them and sends them stuff when they’re off at college, broke and struggling and celebrates all their wins. And I think it’s great to have that kind of village surrounding a child and your friends will benefit from it, too.

S7: Yeah, I love it so much. I have to like old friends in Atlanta that I do this with like that I’ve known forever and it felt so seamless. But recently I’ve actually met a couple of women here that don’t have children and have felt really like the barrier to that. So I love this. I’m definitely in it. Just like invite them as soon as it gets warm, invite them to the playground and have a coffee. I just love us so much.

S23: Well, Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us again. That is our show for the week listeners. If you have a question that you want to hear on air, please leave us a message. 4, 2, 4, 2, 5, 5, 7, 8, 3, 3. Or send us an email at mom and dad.

S3: It’s late Slate.com and join us on Facebook by searching for slate parenting. Mom and Dad Are Fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson for Dan Quayle and Elizabeth New Camp.

S10: I’m Jamilah Lemieux, Hallowes Slate Plus listeners. We decided to take a break from giving you advice in order to play a game. Perhaps we’ve run out of advice. Perhaps the jig is now up and we’re gonna play games every week. Who knows? We’ll have to come next week to find out. But today, we’re definitely playing a game. And we are playing. One of my favorite games. Would you rather. And if you aren’t familiar with, would you rather. It’s very simple. One person posing two scenarios and the other players have to pick which of the two scenarios they’d rather do. So I’m going to go first.

S24: Dan and Elizabeth, would you rather a be stuck in the house on a three day weekend? Because of snow or be be stuck in a nice hotel.

S10: For a week because of rain, which means that you can be inside of the hotel, but you can’t get out of the hotel. You can’t go home. You cannot go home.

S11: Can I ask a question about this? Are my kids at the hotel?

S12: No, that’s different.

S14: OK, let’s make this a little bit more high. Three snow days in the house with your wife.

S24: Or stuck in a nice hotel. Not legs, not basic. Nice hotel because of terrible weather for an entire week with the kids.

S11: Oh, well, that’s easy. I’m in the studies of my wife. The harder question is three slow days at home with your kids or a whole week at a hotel by yourself without you has to stay at the hotel.

S15: You’re going to happen now.

S14: It’s like a monsoon outside. So you can’t leave the hotel. You can’t get to the airport, you’re trapped.

S24: So would you rather do three days in a snow storm track with the kids in your own home or a week trapped with the kids in a hotel?

S22: Can I have to say, I’ve had versions of both of these happen and I’m incredibly resourceful with things to do. So I’m going to go with hotel because food and all of that can be brought to me. Mm hmm. And I am endlessly good at coming up with games. We can play in the hotel now. Not all of them are hotel sanctioned, but like ballroom’s can basically be used for anything. I got to do is walk down there, make sure. No is it. There’s usually like things that roll that carry the chairs. It’s like gym class and the necessities are being brought to me. I can be like, you know, the minister of fun and whimsy for days.

S11: I am extremely, um, resourceful. And I’m not the minister of fun and whimsy. I’m the minister of getting grouchy as shit after like 18 hours. So I’m just gonna go for the lesser amount of time. I do the three day study.

S25: I’m going to give you one more option on the same premise. Three days snowstorm, kids, fully sized refrigerator, Wi-Fi week, hotel food, kids, no internet, pleasant weather outside.

S14: But you can’t leave the area. You can get outside. But the weather is really bad back home.

S7: So you can’t leave no internet, but no internet. Whoever has the Internet, that’s where I am.

S11: Actually, the hotel sounds way better. Yeah, because then I don’t have to get an argument later about the internet.

S14: But you wouldn’t die. Not being able to work for a week then.

S20: I know. Who’s to say what it would be like when I got back, but I would survive. You survive it. Survive? What about you, Elizabeth? You’re staying with the hotel.

S7: If the home has Internet, I need some Internet. I think both look for connection to the outside world and for my children. So you’re back. So you’re going to be back in a dorm. So you’re in the house.

S11: In the house now, despite the rain of frozen iguana. Zero.

S19: Yes, I am. I’m sticking with the Internet.

S11: All right. My parenting, would you rather is along a somewhat similar theme? Mm hmm. We talk a lot about screen time for our kids. But this question is about screen time for everyone in your family. Would you rather ban all Internet use by everyone in your house or allow unlimited Internet use? But it must be communal, like the family must be gathered around the laptop the way that old timey families gathered around the radio.

S14: Mm hmm. I mean, that’s pretty easy because we actually do gather around the laptop because I can’t find the cord for the TV. So we’ve been watching the paper, every streaming service and we’ve just been watching them.

S11: I’ve had this also me again, like if you’re doing work now. Is right there. If you’re looking at the news name as they’re all Internet use, must be communal bandit. Bhanot, you’re out.

S5: Okay. Oh, man. So I feel a little bit like I’m in this because my kids are little. Like, if I’m trying to do anything on the computer, they assume that something good is going on. Right. And they need to be a part of it. Yeah, I think I’d rather just ban it rather just as all be cold turkey. You haven’t lived until you’re trying to play a game with your child in like a 10 year message pops up.

S14: But like there’s also somebody else who can see the phone. So it’s not just like the one thing because she’s like she doesn’t know what Tinder is. It’s one the other adult is like, oh, what are we?

S9: I know when when Henry started reading, it was like, why did I teach this kid to read? Like, now everything comes up. He’s like, why is so-and-so texting you?

S6: You know, about whatever inappropriate thing that I really love is telling me that I have a text from Mommy and maybe I’d better read it right now. She sounds mad.

S14: Naima responds to text messages because she uses her i-Pad and every parent’s phone to text yamarone or whatever. She recently got caught trying to text me, I guess from her stepmother’s i-Pad, and I was too think that it was her stepmother texting me.

S26: So it’s at night and name is in the house with a sitter while her danner’s that my rahner date and I’m at my house and I get a text on her step. Mom says Hey girl.

S14: But Nyima also for some strange reason had put all of our phone numbers in a group chat for this text. So her stepmother is also saying the text messages, it comes out. So I’m seeing her name twice, but it’s like go to bed, you know, and she signs off with, OK, bye, girls.

S5: We did have a night in the Netherlands. We were out to dinner and it appeared that my phone was calling Jeff phone on face time. And he answered. And it was the children. They had gotten their i-Pad from the room, which is connected to my. I count and call Jeff. And they were asking us to fire the babysitter. How you. While we were out. Yeah, think that’s a common request? You’ll get like, no, we’re out to date. You know, come home now and fire this babysitter. She won’t let us stay up.

S11: That is. I know. Kudos to them for their resourcefulness. I was in advocating for themselves. Exactly. Very true. Elizabeth. Here, would you rather.

S7: All right. Would you rather have your child volunteer you to be the class parents or tell about a science fair project? The morning it’s do.

S6: That’s a hard one.

S14: Well, I am very busy. When? Because I’m going to scam us out of that science fair deadline.

S26: So when the project comes in two days and everybody thinks they’re for even being able to have the strength to complete it because they had no idea I was gonna name have because I’ve come up with some ridiculous scenario now, I think I’d rather have to deal with perhaps the consequences of the project simply being late and us rushing to complete it like maybe taking the day off from school or the morning off. So when you say class pair, how often I homeschool. So I don’t know. But this last sentence, that’s a year long or a year long. I know that all of my friends complain about being the class pant by me. How often do you expect you to be there? I think I think it’s less about being there and you’re like in charge of all the class goings on.

S22: So parties and squabbles and all of that you like, make sure that everyone gets a gift for the teacher at the end of the hour like you’re organizing all that stuff.

S26: Yeah, I thought this book liaising with the parents. I thought you were like Cummings’s libeling also with the teachers.

S7: I think that, T.J., like this is what we need. And you make it happen.

S14: So like, hey, we. Yeah, we’d need toilet paper and pencils. This is not leg.

S22: We’re having this party, you know, and we can’t serve anything with sweets or peanuts or milk or any of this, but we expect to have a party.

S8: Okay. I would like to change my answer because I thought a class parent was like a volunteer who read books to the kids, which because I am not the class parent, I don’t know what they do because I don’t go inside of the classroom very often. I think that I would prefer to be the class parent because I could do such amazing things with that amount of power.

S6: I answer this question because of my hard won knowledge and just how annoying science fair projects are. How many like days upon days of research and observation, they now require kids to do for science fair projects and they’re unbelievably annoying and time consuming. So even though I have been a class parent and was driven insane by it, I would still choose being volunteered to be the class parent because it’s just bureaucracy. It’s manageable on a day to day basis, even if it’s annoying, but it won’t ruin your life for like four consecutive days. The way that an emergency science project would.

S14: Isn’t that the standard for science projects for kids is so much higher now because there’s the internet so we can see all the things that that is so.

S6: Yes, I think that has a lot to do with that, that you can now Google all these very ambitious ideas for science fair projects that other smarter children have executed perfectly, or rather that their parents have executed with them because their parents are overly ambitious about their children’s academic progress. So you end up with these like insane projects that are like, I baked a cake every day for a month, but with a different ratio of flour to baking soda and then measure them with a micrometer that my dad has to see how it differs. It’s insane the stuff that is out there. They all find it on the Internet and then like like a movie. That project, it looks great. We have cake.

S5: It’s like the purpose now is to do actual science as opposed to teach about the scientific method.

S11: And oh, it’s to be newel kids who think they’re executing the scientific method, but about things that there isn’t actually any scientific question about. Yeah. So many science projects now are less about creating a thing that does something in the moment. At the Science Fair, write more about showing the results of like law school science.

S5: Yeah. Like here I tried to actually perform this uncomplicate long. I have things and I’m twelve.

S16: Yeah, I think I’ll do like the master cleanse or something like eliminate diet in name has to measure my results. I’d be like a win win because I’ll lose 30 pounds. Right.

S6: And also lay and I will finally know what it was like for you. And you had to smell her poop all the time.

S14: Oh my god. Yeah. I didn’t consider that. Good thing. And I’m pooped. Doesn’t have smell. That’s fair point. Fair point.

S26: Elizabeth, what would you do? Did you think we were going to go for that? Would a volley we’re to be the class parent on day one. So, yeah. You’re like a natural class. I mean, it’s like so stereotypical. Yeah.

S6: So I think the thing you would get the most out of if you didn’t homeschool would be. Yeah.

S7: Being hot. Yes. I would like go in saying that I don’t want to do it. And then the minute they asked my hand would just shoot.

S15: That’s just who I am.

S14: Well I think this is a fun game. I think we should play this again. That’s good. I also would invite. Our Facebook friends to perhaps leave us some. Would you rather questions in the comments on the Post under this week’s episode of the podcast? Oh, I love that.

S11: I would love to hear what Facebook fans think about these questions and how they would answer the other questions that we be opposed by listeners.

S14: Well, that’s it for this week’s Slate Plus segment. Until next time.