S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Welcome to Mom and Dad Fighting Fleet Parenting podcast for Thursday, November 21st. The Woops A Baby Edition. I’m Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate. Karen Feting Parenting column and mom. Tonight, Emma, who is sick and we reside in Los Angeles, California.
S3: Time Dan Kleiss. I’m a writer and editor at Slate and the author of How to Be a Family. I’m the parent of Lyra, 14, and Harper, who is twelve. And we live in Arlington, Virginia. I’m Elizabeth New Camp. I write the family travel and homeschool blog at that school and a mom to three boys, Henry 7, Oliver 5 and Teddy, 3.
S2: My husband’s in the Air Force, so we are currently calling Navar, Florida home. Thank you for joining us, Elizabeth. Thanks for having me on the show. We’ve got a question about making friends with other parents at your kid’s school. And one from a mom wondering if she should tell her son that he was unplanned. How do you even broach the subject? Should you broach the subject? Wait. Did other people actually plan their children? Plus, we have Triumph’s and fails and recommendations. Dan, why don’t you go first? Do you have for us this week a triumph or a fail?
S4: I have a fail. However, I maintain it is not my fault. So it’s a blameless fail, in my opinion. So I just got back into Washington, D.C. earlier today after a sort of whirlwind 24 hour trip with my kids.
S5: We took them out of school yesterday and took them up to New York for a family event and then brought them back. And it was something that we thought was worth taking them out of school for.
S6: And we you know, we made we talked about it and made that decision and did it. And they both are doing very well in school. And we wanted to reward them and their good grades with some kind of exciting thing. So we did this event and we had sort of all planned out like we knew when we were going to pick them up and we knew that they were going to miss school. But that one benefit of this is that we were taking the Amtrak up to New York City would have tons of time to do their homework. So, you know, because the homework is online, you can see what your homework is. You can get it. You know, even if you’re on an Amtrak train or in a hotel, you have hours when you’re just like captive in this space and you can finish your homework. And we figured, well, they’ll be grateful to us for this exciting thing we’re doing. And we’ll be able to convince them to just sit at the table in the cafe car and just do it. And they were absolutely willing to do their homework. But of course, we did not think to contend with the power of educational technology to fuck up everything that you want your kids to do. So all of lyra’s homework is online and Lyra has to do it all on her school supplied computer, which because of an additional level of security on the computer, for fear that otherwise Russian hackers will break into Virginia schoolers school computer. You cannot connect with Wi-Fi on the road. It is impossible to do it. It won’t connect to Wi-Fi, any Wi-Fi where there’s like a log in screen like I am drunk or in a hotel and won’t allow you to tether to a hotspot. That’s not allowed. You can only connect to a direct Wi-Fi network like at your home or at school.
S7: So literally defeating the purpose of giving kids, grabbing them laptops that can be taken anywhere, right?
S6: Exactly. So Lyra couldn’t do any homework at all. She just couldn’t do any. So she was just like fucked, as were we when we were like, well, what are you going to do instead of your homework? She’s like, I’m gonna stare at my phone. Longtime listeners will remember that this is my forever bugaboo. But that edtech, rather than making everything easier, rather than making education more portable, just makes everything more difficult.
S8: So like I know that we are not going to go back to the days of, you know, just giving kids worksheets that they can slip into a folder and take with them wherever they go. There are ways where in theory it is great that from wherever a kid is, they can access what their assignments are theoretically. But when you create all these hurdles, the like twenty five different apps that kids have to use, the 17 different log ends that no one can remember. The different teachers using different programs because none of them like canvas as much as others like canvas or some of them prefer Google Docs. And you never know where the homework ends. Like all of this stuff creates this insane like spaghetti system that no one can figure out. And that sets up these roadblocks to kids actually eating their shit done all the time.
S6: And the end result of this particular set of roadblocks, which are nonsensical, is that kids who have to be away from school just can’t do their homework. And the hotel or on the plane or in Starbucks or whatever. And look, I know that many people’s response to this will be we’ll just don’t take your kid out of school, Dan.. But like, this stuff is important and there are plenty of times that kids miss school that aren’t because their parents are scofflaw. Like we are like there is a funeral or a hospital stay or a college visit or any number of totally legitimate reasons why parents need their kids to not be in school for a couple of days.
S7: You know, I’m an enthusiast of keeping kids out of school. Why? So I’ve got to sell me on truancy.
S9: Does she have access, though, to like teachers emails or anything like that?
S6: Yeah, but teachers are overloaded with e-mail all the time. And the stated assumption when you email a teacher is that it’s unlikely that they will have time to get back to you during school hours. And you should expect that they’ll get back to you within maybe 24 hours or so.
S8: And even e-mailing teachers often isn’t useful because it’s not like the assignment is just something that they can email you. It’s a module on a program that’s only accessible through your school computer because that’s the computer that’s authorized to access this particular variety of online educational software. Just emailing the teacher usually does not solve the problem.
S10: It’s so interesting. I mean, so we are obviously big proponents of traveling and that’s part of the reason I homeschool it so that we can kind of do it from wherever. But I guess I assume there’d be more flexibility in the system.
S4: I think that they believe that there’s flexibility in the system. But then there are so many people creating things for this system with our hands on the system that it just ends up creating a bunch of roadblocks. And so you end up with a system that restricts all your classwork and doesn’t work in many of the places that a human being might go in the year 2019. So that’s my fail. But I maintain that it’s the fault of society, not me.
S11: It is the path of society.
S12: And you all may have seen there was a pitcher that went viral recently of a little boy who was doing his homework at what looked to be like a cell phone store because he did not have home internet and the employees were kind enough to let him regularly come into this store, you know, and do his homework because he was required to have this access. There are schools where that’s simply not an issue and all the kids have home Internet. And then there’s schools that actually will provide home Internet for those that wouldn’t have had it otherwise so that they can do these assignments. But yes, we’ve created a system that just simply doesn’t always work. And that’s why both homework and attendance should be outlawed. Elizabeth, please, do you have a drive or feel?
S9: It’s as though I have a triumph. We are doing our kind of Christmas clean out of toys.
S13: The boys are at ages in which we move through toys pretty quickly. And one of the things I like to do before, toys from grandparents and all of that start making their way back into the house is do a big kind of de-cluttering, a reorganization of the whole space, the playroom space. So we got together. I sat down with the boys. We decided we were gonna go through all of the toys and decide kind of what was broken. It was gonna be thrown out and what was still in good shape that we could donate to places. And so we went through the playroom now because we’re home. I have kind of one of the largest rooms in the house as the playroom. So it’s a monumental task. But we went through everything. We changed up kind of the whole flow. And then the kids and I took the toys to Ronald McDonald House and we found a couple there were a bunch of stuffed animals. We found a place called stuffed animals for emergencies and made sure they were all clean and drop those off. And then we also threw away all the little toys that you just don’t want and that were cluttering up sort of everything and got things reorganized. And one of the benefits is now they they had some say in the new organization of things. So we have kind of this whole new Lego area because more of them are into the Legos now. But also, they’re back kind of playing in the playroom where things had gotten kind of stale and people weren’t as excited. Now new toys are sitting out there, space for things that will be coming in. So I feel lighter. And also our house feels a little bit cleaner before it gets crazy for the holidays.
S6: That’s very good. That’s a great and enraging triumph for Elizabeth. That’s all. That’s right.
S14: You know, I like to keep things kind of kind of neat. So that is a is a win for me, too. It’s really my obsessive natures. You know, coming down to the children. But we don’t eat a bunch of things.
S15: So we we feel good about in related news. I recently found a Harper’s soccer cleats from seven seasons ago and threw them in the garbage.
S7: But you found them both. But you found them. Well, I have.
S12: I have a feel that is loosely related to Elizabeth’s triumph. So I’m going out of town partially because Dan and I are going on a field trip and as soon as I get back from that. I am going to Chicago for about a week for Thanksgiving holiday. And so I have to pack and all that stuff and I’m going to be out of the house for a while. And I just got all my stuff delivered from the move a few weeks ago. And I call myself being, you know, on top of things because it didn’t really get too much unpacking then last week. So I booked a couple of folks from TaskRabbit to come today, one who is at my place right now building furniture like bookshelves and toybox and stuff like that. And then the second who had also scheduled to come the same time, which was a fail on my part, would be doing organizing, you know, all my clothes and shoes or for the most part unpacked. And I just need some help kind of getting them in order and getting the kitchen together, because, like, I’m not the best one in deciding where the spices should go. And I’m willing to admit that at this point in my life. And so I’m like, great, I can have them there. You know, she can stay all day organizing and he’ll build the furniture and then she could put the books in the bookshelf. It’ll be great. And then when I come back from the holiday, I’ll be stepping into a home that is, you know, for the most part in in order and magazine ready.
S16: A magazine ready home.
S17: Yes. A almost magazine ready home. You know, because then I need to book another taskrabbits come to a deep clean and then I could make a little bit.
S12: But for the most part, you know, we won’t be in boxes anymore. And I completely forgot that I am the co-host of a podcast called Mom and Dad are fighting that.
S7: That requires me to be here in studio at the same time every single week. And so I had to reconvene with the organizer who obviously needed me to be around at least a little bit more than I could be today. So my apartment will not be magazine ready until at some point in December when I returned from my travels.
S8: Just remember, on Wednesdays, Wednesdays are off limits.
S12: And so I booked her for the next Wednesday that we record the show. But I’ve scheduled it’s a happened afterwards. OK. Before we move on to some listener questions, let’s take care of some business. This is your final reminder that we will be at the Miami Book Fair on Saturday, November 23rd for a special live edition of Mom and Dad Are Fighting. Dan and I will be joined by Pamela Paul from The New York Times Book Review and author of How to Raise a Reader. And Adam Mansbach, author of Go the Fuck to Sleep and Fuck. Now there are two of you. This is a free show. You can bring your kids. I’m always excited to meet other people’s kids, especially. Mine is far, far away. Oh, you can hire a babysitter. But either way, we are very excited to meet our Florida listeners and we’re even more excited about the official after party club name to be announced. But it’s going down. I’ve been talking about this for months. I have a dress and you all do not know what you are in store for. I don’t know if you’ve ever partied with Diddy or Drake before, but they haven’t partied with me.
S4: Jimmy told me that I have to pack club clothes and then I googled club clothes.
S18: So I got back to look for it.
S7: I’m very excited about that. I’m even more excited about what a Google image search club closed would turn. I know what I’m gonna be doing on the plane later.
S11: The live edition of Mom and Dad are fighting is going down this Saturday, November 23rd at Miami Dade College. For tickets and information, go to Slate that com backslash live. Slate’s parenting newsletter is the best place to be notified of all of our parents and content, even though we don’t let you know about our club parties. You had to follow Dan on Twitter for that. You can keep up with mom and dad are fighting care and feeding and so much more via our newsletter. It is a personal email from Dan every week. Sign up right now at Slate that come back backslash parenting email. Also, check us out on Facebook. Search for slate parenting. It’s a really fun community and it’s well, moderated, so you don’t have to worry about anyone making you feel too bad about yourself. On Slate Plus today, we’re gonna be talking about a favorite amusement parks or if you are amusement park it versus I am how you can avoid going to them with your family. Here’s a quick sneak peek.
S19: You went on what is literally the worst ride at every amusement park because copyright is the worst one. Yes. Why would they even make it? I don’t know. Some idea.
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S20: Dear mom and dad are fighting. I was surprised by my pregnancy with my first child nearly 10 years ago and was miserable about the news. For the first several months I sobbed hysterically every day. In retrospect, my distress was less about the prospect of motherhood and more about the prospect of being trapped in my terrible marriage. At that time, three years in, I was unexpectedly thrilled with motherhood. I had an easy pregnancy, easy labor and easy baby who 8 and slept like a champ. Being a mom gave my life a sense of direction and purpose that I hadn’t had before, and my husband really stepped up for me and our son for a time. Our daughter was born almost five years later, this time after a mostly planned pregnancy. And unfortunately, during that pregnancy and her infancy, the marriage really deteriorated. We are now divorced and I have the kids about 95 percent of the time. My ex-husband has some mental health problems that cause him to be quite volatile. And I know from experience he is capable of saying and doing some pretty harsh things calculated to cut deeply. I have seen him display this behavior towards our son as well. I am concerned that one day he will lose his temper with our son and reveal to him that his conception was not planned and that I was unhappy about being pregnant. Is there any way I can get ahead of this by telling my son in a positive way that while he was not planned, he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. What, if anything, do I say about my feelings about being pregnant? I have several friends whose parents have always made no bones about the fact that they were accidents and their reactions are mixed. Some are burdened by the knowledge and others don’t seem to care or find it a little funny. Is it ever appropriate for a child to have this information about their origins? And if so, what’s the best way to present it? Thank you.
S4: I would like to address this letter writer first.
S21: If you all don’t mind, Cheverton. Come as this thing on M.
S4: Don’t tell your kid that they’re an accident. There’s absolutely no reason why at any point in the normal course of conversation you need to bring up to your child at any age whether or not he or she was planned or unplanned. I just don’t imagine any circumstance under which that is information that a child needs or wants to know. Now, the stated fear in the letter, which I think we all should discuss, is that at some point be volatile, ex-husband might might use this as an attack. I would like to talk about this ex-husband more generally and about what we all think about him and how she might handle the situation broadly. But I would nevertheless say it is not your job to in the process of thinking of hypothetical bad things that your ex spouse might do to yourself. Do slightly less bad versions of those bad things to your kids.
S7: Dana, I have to respond next, because I am a 2 percenter.
S22: I didn’t necessarily want to have the you were an accident conversation with my daughter at the point when in which I did. But she’d started to connect some dots and had had a conversation with her dad that we hadn’t really had a chance to talk about. You know, one on one first. You know, I figured that we at some point would need to kind of collaborate, decide what’s gonna be the origin story and how are we going to present it. My daughter was conceived essentially during a breakup and I found out that I was expecting some short time later decided to keep the pregnancy. I was, you know, wanting the relationship to resume and believe that it could and should. And her father felt otherwise. But it was, you know, willing to be an active and engaged co-parent. And we did therapy, you know, and I want to talk about reconciliation. And he wanted to talk about how we could work together to two parents separately right around the time that we broke up. So within weeks of me becoming pregnant, he connected with a woman who he would become engaged to during my pregnancy. And my daughter was present for their wedding when she was about two or three months old. So she’s had a stepmother that she’s known her entire life, you know. I mean, as much as I wanted to just say, you know, Daddy was my boyfriend. And then we broke up and you were born.
S7: And, you know, he meets G-G like these things just kind of you know, it was clear and I get that those are particularly wild circumstances, especially considering how well everybody gets along and how easily we’ve been able to parent as a trio for the past six years. But I think that having to keep a secret like that from your child can be a bit burdensome.
S23: I I don’t think that she should be chasing an opportunity to volunteer this story, but I think that because of what her son knows about his father already and how he’s treated his mother and and how he’s behaved in front of him and towards him, that if the subject of pregnancy were to come up, I wouldn’t necessarily make it a point of saying, well, you know, we didn’t plan for you, but that I was very scared. I’ll be honest about the fact that I was scared. And, you know, it was a difficult time and it’s an emotional time. And that’s something that we don’t, you know, often talk about. Speaking to our kids about. Right.
S7: Like pregnancy itself, good, bad or otherwise, you could be planned down to, you know, the day that your parents made love or you know, that they went to a doctor to, you know, have an insemination. And yet that time that you were, you know, in your mother’s womb was challenging for her. Right. In certain ways that we don’t often talk about, we don’t talk about it with our kids. And so that not saying like, hey, you need to feel guilty, because for nine months I loved you around. My ankles are swollen. And I had, you know, pre-eclampsia and I wasn’t myself and I couldn’t do the things I like to do. But just that it’s this uniquely emotionally complicated time in a woman’s life. And I think it’s fair that part of the origin story is sharing that, you know, it could be a dark and miserable period that results in this wonderful thing.
S23: So no matter how hard my pregnancy was, no matter how scared I was, no matter how bad things were with your father, I wanted you right. I looked forward to you. And you don’t have to be completely honest about that. But you know or I was happy to have you since you’ve been here. You have been the light of my life. And I just kind of my take on it. What do you think, Elizabeth?
S13: Yes. In my visceral reaction to the question was sort of similar to Dan’s, that there is no circumstance in which you should tell a child that they were not planned. And I came at that from the kind of idea that it’s hard for a child to kind of separate the ideas of planned and wanted and loved and that your ultimate goal as a parent is to make sure that your child feels loved. And I think that’s kind of what you’re talking about, is that as long as when you tell the origin story, the part that. Comes out is that sort of whatever happened before this? You are loved and you are part of this family and that, you know, anything that happened before that is kind of irrelevant to that fact.
S10: Right. I also personally with parenting on big topics like this, like to have the kids come to me to ask the questions. I think that if it’s something that’s bothering them, we have a relationship in which they can ask me these sorts of things. And then I try to answer them honestly. But in simple information and let them ask further questions so that we only go as far as they are able. So from the perspective of like, should you tell them? I guess I come down at like no for this listener if her ex-husband says these things and then that becomes part of the conversation and needs to be addressed, then I sort of said, OK, well, let’s think about it. If that happens, what you need to do. Jamila, I’m sort of on the same page as you where as long as you are showing them that they are loved and appreciated and highlight what a wonderful thing this turned out to be focusing on the positive.
S9: You can create this context that the feelings of anxiety during pregnancy are normal, that all these things that happened during pregnancy are completely normal and don’t shape your relationship with the child.
S10: I think letting them set the pace. My concern is that if she addresses this as sort of, hey, I want to tell you how. You know, miserable, I was at the beginning that it it makes it a thing that it might not be a thing otherwise. And, you know, I think I wonder if like for your daughter, it’s not a thing because that’s your story. Right. Like she grew up that she was in the wedding, too. All these things that happen. It just wasn’t a big deal.
S4: It doesn’t feel weird to her in a way that’s maybe different for taking a kid at 10 and springing this on them because you’re afraid that they might get it sprung on them in some other way. And, you know, 10 years old is, I think, maybe right on the edge of starting to be able to understand some of the finer distinctions between planned and wanted and loved, as Elizabeth said. I think that younger than that, if you spring it on a candidate is really hard to make those points. And it is funny because I do think I’m a I’m generally a be extremely honest with kids kind of person that I feel like I’ve probably had conversations with my kids that were significantly beyond their level of comprehension. But I really did have this visceral reaction on this particular issue. On the question of were you wanted? I feel like I. I think that my philosophy is that parents should just be rosy and lie until the is like 14. Like I I and I don’t know why. Like, I don’t I don’t it’s that’s probably not the right way to think. And that’s probably unhealthy on multiple fronts. But like on this base question of did I want you? I think if you’re gonna if that is a question your kid asks, I sort of just thinking answers should just be yes. Yes, I wanted to. My pregnancy was difficult. It didn’t matter. I wanted you. I had a lot of emotional concerns at the time. It didn’t matter. I want to do. And now I have you and I love you. Like I just sort of have this instinct that that’s what the response should be.
S12: Yeah. So I think we’re largely on the same page in regards that last part, Dan.. You know, and and I also really loved how you said that, Elizabeth, that, you know, not always being able to make the distinction between planned, wanted and loved when you’re younger was I plan is a different question then was I wanted.
S7: Right. And in theory that the pregnancy continued and under a whole lot of circumstances does point to being wanted despite being unplanned. I think that. And I’m not saying this, advocating for, you know, to just procreate with reckless abandon and just let the chips fall where they may. And also acknowledging that I took a huge gamble choosing to continue a pregnancy with an ex-boyfriend because, you know, despite what I believed, I knew about his character. That story has ended quite differently for a lot of a lot of people. And it was still a traumatic one. But that I want us to, as a society, de-stigmatize unplanned pregnancies.
S24: I mean, they’re not so stigmatized that they’ve slowed down. Right. But it’s how we talk about them during and after, or rather, I should say, it’s not always about how we talk about them during and after because it depends on the person.
S7: And are they class, mobile or what do we think of them? You know, independent of this pregnancy and you know, how active is the father? But like we’re we’re not talking about a person. We’re talking about hypotheticals.
S17: We we still make it seem in twenty nineteen that an unplanned pregnancy is just beyond the pale when the data implies that there’s a whole lot more unplanned pregnancies, you know, than there are ones that were planned. And those aren’t necessarily always the ones that make it to term, but that, you know, this isn’t some niche phenomena. Right. This isn’t just something that young people or poor people or educated people or wealthy people are doing. This is something that everybody is doing. Like what? The baby abounds. You know, and I think that if we were more comfortable talking about that than a kid wouldn’t necessarily feel bad for being unplanned. Does something bad about being unplanned. Right. Like it could be. I didn’t plan to buy a lottery ticket and I did and I won. And now my whole life is better and different now.
S9: Elizabeth, I I just think it’s so hard for a kid. And again, we’re talking about ten year old here, so it’s hard to know what they know. But until you really understand like conception and that it can be planned, I think it’s a really hard thing to ask a child to separate the unplanned from UN wanted if if any child, mine, anyone else, you know, said to me I was unwanted. I think I might suggest you might have been unplanned, but you’re not unwanted because I. I just think that that is kind of the worst feeling that a child could have. And as a parent, that is what I think. I spend the most time on with the kids. I am most worried about them knowing that they are part of this group and that they are wanted. And that extends to friends we have around us and friends, children. And to say you are wanted in and you know, you’re not always a joy in the sense of you’re throwing things on the floor, but you are a joy to have here, because I think there’s so many things in the world that that tell them that they’re not enough and that that they are, you know, different in this way and that this doesn’t have to be one of those. At the end of the day, I think to as you’re older, having this conversation then can be kind of funny or there’s a Thanksgiving dinner in which my sister and I were arguing about which one of us was unplanned because we are five years apart. And my father sort of threw his hands on the table and said, you were both on the planet. But it it at this age, that is hysterical to me because I know I’m part of this family. I know that that has nothing to do with how much I’m loved. My sister knows that, too. And we were taking cheap shots at us. I just worry that at 10:00, that’s a that’s a lot to ask a child to do.
S15: Can we briefly talk about this ex-husband? You like it? It seems very clear to me that the letter writer ought to say something to the ex-husband, not about this particular issue, because you don’t want to put the idea into his head that this is a mean thing you can say to the kid in a moment of anger. But I do think that if you are like living in constant fear that your ex-husband is going to say something to hurt your kid.
S4: I think and and this is not exactly within the scope of the letter and it’s totally possible as letter writer is taking a bunch of steps to try and deal with this. But I do think you need to be talking to your ex about how important it is to you that that kid does not become part in the middle of this, does not become the object of hurtful comments that are inspired by conflict between you two or by conflict between the facts and the son.
S8: And if he really is emotionally or verbally abusive in that way, I mean, I think that 95 percent has got to be 100 percent. Right?
S25: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I when I read this, I thought the ex-husband is kind of a whole issue in and of itself. And how are these mental health issues being addressed both as co-parents and with the children?
S26: I think sometimes.
S24: You know, the reason that there is ninety five versus 100 percent is a matter of what the court has determined, and we’ve definitely gotten a number of letters, particularly to care and feeding from parents. Often mothers. That said, if it were up to me, I’d like to keep my ex completely away, but he was awarded time and so we have to honor that. But yes, then I do agree. He’s he’s scary in a lot of ways. And there’s certainly a lot that we don’t know about him and how they spend this 5 percent of the time together. And you know, how he typically communicates with his ex. And if that’s, you know, a matter of him being medicated versus not being medicated or, you know, if he’s having a good day or a bad day or if he’s consistently volatile and verbally abusive.
S7: But definitely don’t want to put the battering is backed by suggesting, you know, you better never tell him that right now. But I agree that if you are capable of having a conversation with him about the importance of putting aside your personal issues, no matter how valid they may be, and presenting some semblance of a united front or being respectful of one another and, you know, being respectful of him does not mean not talking to her child about how fucked up he is. Right. It did.
S26: But it’s still you know, it’s not saying I hate him, he’s a piece of shit. But, you know, your father has these issues and here is how they’ve manifested in our relationship. You know, at the point in which she’s ready to have that conversation with her son. And here’s the impact that they’ve had, you know, on our family. But overall, I think we are all in agreeance that, no, this isn’t a conversation that you need to just start with your kid. However, if he ask questions that lead you into this direction or to have this line of conversation that you make a point of establishing and repeating over and over again that he is loved, that he was embraced warmly, that you were happy to have him and that, you know, he is one of the best things that’s ever happened to you. And nothing can change that. Good luck, letter writer. Good luck to you. Good luck to you here. OK.
S20: Letter number two, dear mom and dad are fighting. I’m a longtime listener of your podcast and decided today is the day to write to you and ask about something that has been bothering me for quite some time. My husband and I are both introverts, as is our oldest child, who is almost seven years old since my older daughter started preschool. It has been my goal to get out of our shells and be more social in hopes that we could find a few families we click with both for my mental health and for my kids to have a social network. We’ve had some success in preschool and met four great families who we clicked with well, both the parents and the kids. Unfortunately, a couple of them have moved across country. I can’t say the same about our experience in elementary school so far in regards to making new friends. It has been so hard to find moms or families. We click with where the interest in getting to know each other is mutual. I try to be friendly and initiate small talk with moms at school pickup and drop off when I feel particularly brave. It’s hard work for this introvert mom who is not super chatty, upbeat and cool like some of the moms I witnessed daily at these drop offs. How as a parent do you go about making new friends, specifically other parents? Thanks. Frozen in Seattle.
S5: So I have been saving this letter for a couple of weeks for this episode, particularly because as a little background, our family met Elizabeth and her family in the Netherlands when we lived there, when we were doing the trip for the book and wished they had lived there for a couple of years at that point. And we were amazed by the number of friends that they had surrounded themselves in this community and a place where specifically we had a lot of difficulty making friends. And since then, they’ve moved to Florida. We landed in Florida to visit them like two months ago. And we’re once again amazed at the number of friends that they seem to have surrounded themselves with there. After only having been there a short amount of time and because Elizabeth’s husband is in the Air Force, I really wanted to have her on this show to answer this question, to talk about how, Elizabeth. Do you go about making new friends in every new place you live, every like three damn years?
S27: Yeah. So I I first want to say it’s hard.
S9: It’s hard. It’s it’s not easy to do. And even the cool mom she’s seeing are these people with friends have put in the work and I still get scared and those like butterflies in my stomach when we are at a new playground somewhere or when we are having to go to our first storytime or school drop off whatever it is, I still get scared. So I think have heart just because it feels hard. It is hard, but it pays off. I feel like this writer is acing the meeting friends game like she is going to the right places, she is starting small talk and then she is never taking the next step where you make friends. And that is the part where you never leave a conversation without a phone number, an email or future plans. And I know that sounds really hard and scary. I’m an extrovert, but it’s still hard and scary because the idea of rejection is still there. But I will tell you what, I can’t even remember getting rejected. I’m sure people have been like, you’re crazy, particularly at the Dutch playground’s. I mean, I was approaching these women speaking Dutch to each other and asking them for things that I was rejected. I don’t remember any of those. I only remember the friends that I have. That said, you know, yes, I’ll meet you there. A friend of mine from Colorado Springs says she remembers me literally walking up to her. This stroller strides and saying, basically, we are going to be friends. I’m new. Give me your email and we will hang out. I like to think it was more put together, but I can’t really put it past myself that that isn’t exactly what I said. I feel like she’s waiting a lot for people to come to her and take that next step. I think a lot of people, especially if you’ve been in a place for a long time, are sitting with enough friends. And so they’re not necessarily like on the hunt for a new friend, but everyone is always. I find again willing to say yes, have you out for coffee? I think the other thing is that nothing endears. A friend like needing help and asking for help is something that is very difficult for a lot of people. I as a military spouse, like when we get somewhere, I dont have an emergency contact, so I have to find someone to ask to be that person. And a lot of times that is like the first neighbor that has said hi to her or the one we met at the park. But that is seriously it’s such a bridge to making friends, because when you have asked someone to do something for you and they agree, then usually you bring them a coffee or something because you feel so overwhelmed and then they do something for you. And that is the building block of friends. I also think that one of the things you can do to stop feeling so lonely is hang onto the friends that you had, even if they’ve moved. When I moved someplace, I make a lot of like I call them friends of the road friends that I have here. Their friendships are incredibly important for the place that I am, but I may not take them with me to the next place, and they don’t want to take me either.
S14: We are just here at the same time experiencing the same thing. Our friendship is incredibly valuable there. But I try to keep those friends of the heart that I have made along the road to be those people to help me carry my emotional burden of life until I have made someone here. And I think that then takes the stakes off of how much you need a friend. So if you have someone that you’re calling and checking in with about the hardships of for me, motherhood or or whatever your daily grind is, then you don’t necessarily need that from the friend that you’re just need to meet up with and chat about having a friend or coffee and that take some of the burden off of that.
S9: So I guess I come down to like I want you to give yourself a pep talk, cry in the car. I’ve done both put on a huge smile and then be like today I’m going to learn one name, get a phone number, I get an email address and set up a set up a date with someone, even if it feels like it’s gonna kill me.
S5: That is all extremely good advice. I especially like how systematic you sometimes need to be about these things. I mean, it’s worth it to not view it as different from like I’m you know, I’m at a conference for my job and I need to come out of this conference with 6 business cards for people who eventually could hire me for something. You have personal obligations as you have professional obligations and as you need to nurture your career, you need to nurture your emotional life in your friendships. And there’s like tasks involved in doing that. I’m really interested, Elizabeth, in the extent to which the fact that your military means that the places you’re landing tend to be filled with people who might also need friends who are newer to those places, who who are a little bit in the same boat as you. Do you find that to be the case?
S14: Yeah, we’ve moved a lot when I lived in California, actually lived on base. So everybody was in the exact same boat as me. And that was like friend making gold like just to like everyone friendly because we’re all in the same boat. When I moved to Delft, there was no one. We were not there on a military base. We were sent there to live a civilian life. I had to make friends. I had to make friends with people that didn’t speak English necessarily. I made expat friends by I think one woman was sitting at. This is my Canadian friend was sitting at a coffee shop and I heard her speak English and pulled my chair up, just like, hey, do you understand when anyone around here is saying that same woman later met us and said, oh, there’s something you need to meet?
S15: I met her before she just walked up to me at a coffee shop. Speaking.
S27: It’s so true. It’s so true.
S14: And there I didn’t actually make Dutch friends, which was like a huge success. And that took me a long time and a lot of hard work. It started again by just asking. I needed favors. I didn’t know what people were supposed to bring in their lunch to school. I didn’t know what any of these things meant and just having to ask for help. And eventually, I guess I endeared myself to them or they realized I wasn’t going anywhere and just felt like we could invite her out. But here actually in Florida, there’s a big base here, but things are pretty spread out. So I have made friends, some of whom are military, but I have made them all sort of in this organic way. Meeting them at at coffee shops, meeting them at the library at all the places we go. I’m homeschooling here, which I’ve never done before. So I basically was like friends was the number one on my list. Like, if I’m going to be home with these kids all day, I better have a whole bunch of moms that I can have playdates with. Have people to, you know, help me watch the kids while if I need to go to the doctor or something like that. So I think but at this point, too, I’ve moved five or six times. So also now it is ingrained. I have noticed also that my middle child Oliver is incredibly shy and even he can make friends with. He is the introvert in our family and he can make friends with almost anyone, I think, because we we move a lot and we all know we just have to do it.
S9: And the more times you do it and it’s successful, I think, you know, you stop remembering that there were times when people said no. And because the times when people say yes blossom into such sweet friendships.
S5: The reason I asked about that particular issue is because one of the great successes we’ve had in making friends was when we first moved to Arlington and back in 2009. And we really needed friends and we didn’t know anyone here. And we ended up people who live in Arlington will now will laugh as soon as they hear the story. But we needed a pre-school for our kids and we called like 20 preschools and were like, hey, we can we enroll our children?
S4: And they all just laughed at us and said, well, feel free to put them on that three year waiting list. And the only pre-school we found that had any spaces available was a preschool that had just opened.
S8: And so that preschool that had just opened was filled with desperate people like us who had just moved to Arlington from somewhere else. And so every parent there was in the exact same boat as us and needed friends. And we made a bunch of friends at that preschool who we still have to this day. And our initial relationship was based entirely on desperation. It was like nothing but that. But this is just a roundabout way of saying this letter writer like this is this may sound and feel so mercenary to you, but like, if there is a new kid in your child’s classroom who just moved to Seattle from somewhere else. Fuckin call that mom on the phone tomorrow and be like, do you want to have coffee? Because that is a desperate person who needs a friend and you can be that friend.
S7: Yes. I have literally nothing to offer because we are new in town and I am lonely and I don’t even name. I went to a daycare center for three years that was very much a community in and of itself. So there were you know, there was an emphasis on forging relationships with one another. And I was lucky enough to know one or two families when we started. And that was pretty much enough to just kind of, you know, make some bonds. And I’ll admit I didn’t get as close to some folks there as I may have liked to, but we stayed in touch with each other even when the kids graduated and went their separate ways for elementary school. There were still like this really solid core of like, hey, you know what’s going on, you guys at school? Here’s the drama with this principal and, you know, and going to each other’s birthday parties and stuff. And so that was great. And here now that we’re in California, I think something I deal with it, the other two schools, too.
S28: But it just still kind of worked out OK because of the nature of the school communities was I always have a hard time kind of gauging like unless somebody immediately jumps out to me as like, OK. That’s my that’s my type of person. We’re gonna be good friends because of, you know, maybe they have like blue hair or they’re dressed a little bit more bohemian or there’s just something that comes off as like a different than, you know, the close your eyes and picture a parent, you know, a pitcher up here in this community. And, you know, those of us who just kind of seem like natural outliers tend to gravitate toward each other. And I have a college classmate whose daughter attends NamUs School, which has been cool. But like I went to a parent teacher night and I oftentimes feel like I’m a lot younger than the other parents, which is. Always true. I went to that last school where I some debris was older, but I think the word I was looking for is like maybe like mature or or that they dressed like adults, you know, and maybe they have a 9 to 5 or, you know, some sort of family friendly vehicle or something just signals, you know, adult hood and parenting in ways that I don’t think I, you know, at first glance do. And, you know, and oftentimes there were a lot of parents that were, you know, significantly older or they were married. And I was single and in the streets or they were, you know, single, but didn’t have, you know, a co-parent at all. So we can really bond on that level either. I don’t know. I just I feel like a square peg surrounded by round holes, which is a terrible analogy for other parents.
S22: But all that to say, I emphasize with the letter writer and as outgoing as I can be trying to introduce myself to new people as it’s terribly scary propositions. I’m very grateful to the two of you, especially Elizabeth, for all your insight.
S27: I feel like, though, you’re you’re looking for something so specific.
S29: And since we move around a lot to one of the things is that I I feel no like. I guess commitment to this person being like forever, if that makes sense. Like a lot of people that I have not expected to be my forever friends are my forever friends and that sometimes it’s enough to just have someone else to, like, complain about the attendance policy with. Do you know what I mean? Like just anyone from the school, even if they are kind of the more square. I can’t remember if you were the square peg or the round.
S30: She was talking about square pegs, though. That’s a real. Yes.
S29: That is why should it be okay to find a square peg and B you know, you can be friends with a square peg and and it’ll work out and you’ll find that there’s a lot of interesting things that can bring to that friendship, even if it’s only that you’re both in trouble about attendance or that you’re both. You know, those sort of things.
S4: I agree. And I would just put it differently, which is that I think you’re being too picky. I just think as a guy who looks like the textbook definition of a boring dad, I nevertheless think that it is totally worth it to make casual friendships with people who do not necessarily seem cool because they’re either because they’re not cool.
S7: It’s that I think it’s less about me deeming them not cool enough or interesting enough for me as I feel like they’re going to look at, you know, our non-traditional family and my non-traditional self and be like me.
S4: I think give him a chance. I think most people will be happy to have a friend as well.
S8: And it’s after sort of the first month or so of making that casual friendship that you then can say, I know this a little bit better. I see how they’re responding to me and my family. I see how I’m responding to them. Then you can make the decision. Is this someone I want to try and deepen this relationship with, or is this a great person to have a drink with once every five months and complain about the teacher?
S7: But like I absolutely I absolutely agree. Okay. I so easily feel an emotional obligation to people and not even a connection. Just this sense of obligation like, okay, well, now that we’re friends, I have to just like be their friend and you know. And if they don’t like me, well, they would be okay with us doing this thing that I honestly I don’t want much more than a couple of playdates, a birthday party attendance and you know that one drink every five months. So I will. I will attempt to engage with the parents in my community and report back in letter writer.
S25: I want you to get one email address. Okay. One email address. Yeah, that’s all you need.
S7: Okay. I’m going to work on that. Give me until after Thanksgiving and I am going to somehow connect with one parent, one plus one. We will check up on you. We’re gonna. Yeah, exactly. Because at this point, I think I’m going to take Nyima back to New York for her birthday party this year because I know that I’m up for the emotional roller coaster of like, well, we don’t know these people well enough. So are they gonna even come? But not the worst thing. All right. Best of luck to you, letter writer. Hope you find a whole bunch of friends. Keep us posted.
S24: And again, thank you so much for writing in. And if you would like to send us a question or conflict and have us fix it for you, send an email to mom and dad at Slate that come again. Mom and dad at Slate that come okay. Before we get out of here, it’s time for recommendations where we share something that we think is great, either for personal use, family use for the kids, etc.. I guess those are the only categories of engagement you could have with something, but you get the point. What do you have for us, Elizabeth?
S29: Okay, so I have something that’s free and run by the government. I know it’s actually the National Park Service runs something called the Junior Ranger program. And this is where kids can earn badges. It’s know free educational fun. You can actually go do it at a national park. All the national parks, national historic sites, national monuments, which I guarantee there is one near. You have these you go and you get this packet of activities for they have ones for different ages. You complete the activity and then you turn it in for a badge. But if there’s not one near you or you don’t like the outdoors or leaving your house, you can actually do them online, which we love to do. So we print them. You either take pictures of them and email it into the address or mail it in and then your child gets the mail back with this little badge. And they’re on topics like junior cave scientists. There’s one for NASA. There’s a junior snow ranger, one about fishing. My kids adore these. They are wonderful to bring on trips to just kind of focus on a particular topic that they’re interested in. It’s a variety of activities that require you to maybe look stuff up online. Some are word searches, some are just fun, like learning about habitat programs. But it’s really great. My kids love getting the mail. I feel accomplished because we’ve done some kind of fun educational activity and I always. No way. Just for like doing in a restaurant or on a train or something like that. So that’s my recommendation. The National Park Service Junior Ranger badges. Very cool.
S6: We’ll put a link up on the show page as well.
S7: Thank you. So, Dan, what do you have?
S16: My recommendation is very simple. Is based on a nighttime ritual that Harper and I have developed every single night before she goes to bed. My recommendation is creating a secret handshake with your kid.
S31: Get Dan. Why is that my recommendation? I swear to God. Are you serious? Is that also right? Why is this today? Yes. I swear on everything I believe in.
S15: Amazing. Wow. Well, let’s do it. Let’s do it. I knew this in creating a secret handshake with your kid is great. Because?
S7: Because it allows you to have something that just belongs to you. And then you have multiple children. You should have one for each child, even though a family handshake could be cool, too. But the idea that just one parent, one child, one thing no one else in the world has, this makes them feel very special.
S16: Yeah, I love it. I love doing that secret handshake I have with Harper. Blatter doesn’t give a shit so we don’t have one. But Harbor like thrives on this little tiny ritual that we do every single night. And it’s very meaningful to her. And I find it very endearing. And I also like the idea of a family handshake. The closest we came to that was when Harper went to a middle school in sixth grade and Lyra was there as an 8th grader. We told them both that when they see each other in the hall, they are both required to make a little like K with their hands o two. So like as a way of saying Ţicău, it’s gonna be my mom. And Harper reported the Liora even did that one. So that was very exciting.
S17: That is that is as sweet as they get.
S7: It’s so funny because just now like we have a shared dock that we use for each episode and I was going to make a little note signals underneath my name for this part because I want to make sure that they didn’t forget part. And I was like, no, I don’t wanna write the shared duck, but literally I wish I had written it because then I’d have my proof.
S30: OK. This this recommendation, Jameela, is our secret handshake. This is our share ache. And you don’t have to come up with something else. This is it. You did a great job. This it.
S7: This is it. I just want to add one thing. My daughter and I, we had one year ago and we didn’t really keep up with it. She was so small that it was kind of hard for her to remember how to execute it each time. I guess I was maybe like when she was 3 or 4 that we had tried to come up with that. I remember when Jimmy Fallon’s mother passed away his first episode back on The Tonight Show. He told story of being with her, you know, by her bedside when she was preparing to transition and that there was a signal that they’ve had throughout his life where while holding hands, one of them would squeeze the other’s hand three times. And that was their way of silently saying, I love you, and that his mother gave him, you know, one last three squeeze. She gave their signal one last time before she passed away. And I ugly cried, of course, after hearing negs is such a beautiful and, you know, sad story.
S22: And I immediately started doing that with my daughter. And so we for years, especially after maybe she’s had a tantrum, I’ve raised my voice or, you know, we may not be in the best of moods.
S7: We’ll be holding hands and one of us will squeeze the other person’s hand three times to say, I love you. And so I just absolutely love. Then I think it’s such a sweet thing that everybody can adapt. But last night, we just kind of randomly started making up handshakes again and we went through a whole lot of them. We’re still workshopping. But I looked up and it’s like we’ve spent like forty minutes just having fun, making up handshakes and just she was so excited about it. And so, yes, I was excited to share that with you all. Some glad that it was a good recommendation because now you can say two out of two. Mom and dad are fighting host agree that you and your kids, you have a handshake.
S15: I think that that three squeeze is very sweet. And it’s also great because if she ever meets Jimmy Fallon, they’ll have that in common.
S7: Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
S32: And that is our show. If you have a question that you’d like for us to ask on air, leave us the message. Old school style 4 2 4 2, 5, 5, 7, 8, 3, 3. Or send us an email at Mom and dad at slate.com.
S33: Also, don’t forget to join us on Facebook by searching Slate Parent, Teen Mom and Dad Are Fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson for Dan Kois and Elizabeth New Camp. I’m Jimmy. Will you?
S28: Hey, Slate Plus listeners. Today we are diving into amusement parks. Everybody’s familiar with you, the likes of Disney World, Universal Studios or Six Flags. But what about Peppa Pig World or Dollywood? What if you want to teach your children how to be completely disrespectful or just really can’t be love him or hate him? Amusement parks can be kind of hard to avoid when you’ve got a little person. Dan, Elisabeth, where do you guys stand on the matter?
S25: As I was preparing for this, I was making a list of all the things I liked and. Like about music parks that it turns out all the things I don’t like is a much larger list. But so stay with me. But we go to them all the time, like I have probably been to more amusement parks than most people. So I hate crowds. And so I also don’t like roller coasters and only my husband likes roller coasters out of all the boys. Literally a test pilot. It should be noted. He’s literally just fine. Yeah. I mean. Yeah.
S9: I don’t really like typical amusement park food, but saying all that. I believe that a amusement park is kind of this high density cultural experience. And I really enjoy that. I like the thematic elements of amusement parks that kind of lets you like escape to another world, which is so much what I like about traveling and why we travel a lot. And then there’s also like this shared bonding with your family that I really enjoy. And again, that’s something we also get from traveling. But I was thinking about all the kind of like weird amusement parks that we’ve been to in hopes of coming up with one that maybe Jameela would like.
S27: So we although maybe you should tell us what you don’t like about them.
S15: Yeah, I’d like to hear that. Then we’ll give you some recommendations.
S7: Yeah. OK. So to be fair, I have a traumatic childhood in Music Park. Sorry that I’m about to share with you all. I’ve literally not told a single soul on earth that this is members only slight possible Sambor. Right. Why don’t you tell those people who don’t pay for it? And I don’t know if y’all use your slate price memberships like people use like Netflix and Hulu. But this is exclusive content right here. So think of it. You’ve signed an NDA, you just don’t know it. You didn’t read the terms and conditions. OK, so picture pitcher in Chicago, 1998, 8th grade graduation trip. We go to Six Flags. Great America. Other kids got to go to like Springfield, even though I don’t know why. Going to state capitals was to be like exciting our friend for eighth graders. Or, you know, Disneyland or something a lot cooler. But my school was only comfortable taking kids about forty five minutes of that city. And so I’ve never been an amusement park person. I think this is my first time in Six Flags. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat, don’t like super scary movies, and I don’t like scary rides. And so one of my best girlfriends and I get on some kind of I don’t want to say teacup ish, but yes, something kind of like those teacup rides, right.
S34: Where there’s maybe two people and one little circular thing that’s kind of hooded and you’re spinning around in circles and you’re moving around a large kind of circular track, but you’re also spinning in circles where you are. So this wasn’t like in the baby section for, say, this wasn’t like a kid’s ride, but it also is not anywhere near, you know, back, man.
S7: The roller coaster, you know, any of these really scary, you know, big, huge, loopy loop ass roller coasters that they have at this place. Right. But not a baby. Right. So this is my first time getting on something like this. And it was a lot faster, I think, than everyone anticipated.
S31: And so my friend who’s with me is kind of like screaming. Right. And so she’s kind of scared and I’m kind of scared. And but the way she’s screaming is funny. Some also laughing hysterically. Right. Like, I can’t help it. I’m scared. I’m laughing. There’s too much going on. I at 13 years old, pissed on myself. Oh, damn roller skates. And it wasn’t out of fear as much as it was. I couldn’t stop laughing. It just makes so much sense.
S12: Much too much. So I managed to get to the restroom. I think I had a jacket tied around my waist, discarded my underwear, you know, washed my pants. Look at on jeans. Like, luckily, you couldn’t really see anything. And just prayed that I didn’t smell like piss for the whole day.
S7: And so I have had a vendetta against amusement parks ever since then. It’s been 21 years and amusement parks can go to hell. That said, I have been to Disney World once with my daughter. It was a very, very short work trip. Oh, you’re doing some sponsor content for the magazine I was working for at the time. So she was, too.
S12: We didn’t have to do all the scary rides and we didn’t have to wait in lines, which was cool. But I can’t say I know what I would like.
S7: You know, usually I’m looking for a bar or or a really good meal or a great gift shop, something that has nothing to do with, you know, the main reason that you go to amusement parks.
S27: But I think now more amusement parks are actually geared at that. Everywhere in Disney World, now you can get a drink. So thank God.
S15: Own alone. I have to say, as the most amazing story I’ve ever heard is also amazing that you and your very first trip to any amusement park, great America. Also the amusement park of my childhood.
S19: You went on what is literally the worst ride at every amusement park because up ride is the worst one. Yes, it’s. Why would they even make it? I don’t know. Some idiot. But definitely the words tried and you did it first and then piss yourself, that’s amazing. But so I don’t have a great argument for why you should love the parks, because amusement parks are not for adults.
S8: The whole point of amusement parks and the reason that I like them. I mean, I’m interested in. As was says the sort of cultural understanding that comes from them. I’m interested in ride design, which I find a pretty sort of like fascinating science. And and I like the idea of the characters I like. I can go to Harry Potter world and whatever, like that’s fun ish. But the reason that I like amusement parks is that in a whole life in which your kids mostly correctly feel like you’re doing stuff that the family wants to do, that they get like dragged along on, that you’re taking them to Yellowstone because you want to go to Yellowstone and they get dragged along on to you to like see bison in Yellowstone or you’re making them go to school because it’s important for you to you that they go to school or because you’re making them sit down for dinner with you, because that’s important to you. Amusement parks are the one thing that you do with kids where it is absolutely impossible for anyone to mistake it as anything other than completely for children. It is everything is child sized, everything is child amed. Everything is fun. There is music and light and color everywhere. The rides are clearly for kids and adults are there as a gift to children to give them this one day where we do everything for you.
S30: And I don’t even care if I don’t have fun because it doesn’t matter if I have fun. It matters if you guys have fun. And that is our gift. So that is what I like about amusement parks. It’s like the you know, like, yes, it’s the club for kids.
S9: I I find, though, that so when people ask me on on the blog about amusement parks, one of the things I find is that because it is for the kids, there is this really high expectation that everyone will have a good time and that we will do everything. And and sort of one of my tenants of good trip planning with children is to have as low expectations as possible. And that way, every positive experience feels like a ginormous win. But I think specifically when I see people going to the bigger parks at Disney or Universal, there is this expectation that we’re spending all this money and this is all for them and they are going to have fun. And then you get there and you know, someone doesn’t want to ride the ride or the, you know, magical experience isn’t as magical or they’re terrified of the character. They wanted to meet. And I think then what happens is that it becomes this terrible experience for everyone as opposed to like if you keep, Dan, your mindset of like we’re here for the kids and we’re just going to do what the kids want to do, then that’s your expectation, right? Like, if all they want to do is walk around and eat the, you know, special cinnamon bread or whatever it is, then as long as they’re doing that and having fun, it’s a win.
S28: Is there a an amusement park that has cinnamon bread because Hollywood dollar.
S30: Hollywood has amazing cinnamon bread.
S12: Yes, that’s what that’s type of content. I’m here for a meal. Yes.
S27: OK. You can go to any any amusement park in Europe. I think this is where your sweet spot is. Are these great kind of like old school rides that they’re set?
S29: They’ve built new stuff, but you don’t have to go on those. And it’s like beautiful parks with stuff to play on at this one in the Netherlands called the F telling you walk through old Grimm’s fairy tales and I mean like the old version like in which nobody survives. You walk through the hills, then you see these little dioramas and you have your, you know, local beer, local drink, whatever they’re serving there.
S9: And then they’re also like some fun rides that they’ve had since the eighteen hundreds. So that are not scary. They’re scary in a different way. But I think like that to me is really fun. The kids had a good time. We have a good time for those without the expectation management.
S35: For those listeners who rightfully believe that going to Europe and then taking her kids to an amusement park is insane. I would just recommend Dollywood, which, as Elizabeth and I already shouted, has great cinnamon bread, but also in general has actually industry recognized the best food of any amusement park in the United States. They just have a bunch of extremely good restaurants like good bye amusement park standards and pretty good by actual normal human standards, including delicious homemade cinnamon bread that’s baked there every day with like flour that they mill at a meal at the park and a bunch of like other just like good like Southern Country ish cooking. And I actually had extremely good fried okra at Dollywood. I’ve had extremely good, extremely good fried chicken at Dollywood. They just have like good chefs making good. Southern food like there, they are recognized in the industry for that Dollywood is in and of itself a uniquely crazy place, and I really loved it. Actually, fairly ironically, way more than I like most recent parks, because it has a whole set of associated cultural things about Dolly Parton and her career that I found deeply interesting in that I went and did while the kids just like rode roller coasters over and over again. But that’s a somewhat unique experience in general. I still maintain that the point of a museum part is to go there with, as Elizabeth says, no expectations other than that whatever the kids want to do, we will do it. And I will not think to myself about how that’s a stupid thing to want to do or how much money we’re spending or anything. I just give myself over to the moment and to them.
S25: So I’m going to go back to the part. We said you shouldn’t go in your heart, do it. I think they’re the amusement park is so much more a part of life as opposed to necessarily something that you like go and do for a whole day week. You know, whatever. You just find that it’s more kind of inter woven in to what you go do as a family on a weekend or on a when your kids have the half day on Wednesday that you’re just gonna go, you know, ride these couple rides together.
S14: And a lot of them still use that kind of the original. What we would know is Disney system of like e ticket rides like you buy the ticket for this particular ride. So it’s fun that you can like go and just ride the big Ferris wheel that they’re known for. So of course, we mentioned Peppa Pig World, which we did go to, and that’s in the UK and it was total bonkers. My kids were into Peppa Pig. We’re like, hey, we’re, you know, living in the Netherlands. Peppa Pig world is over in the UK. We should go. And it was this is like we went for them. There was nothing redeeming for me at all about hearing the Peppa Pig thing a million times, but my kids were over-the-moon. Like that is something they remember. They have like the pictures of them with the Peppa Pig. They weren’t even like characters with people in them.
S25: They were just like no statues that they were really into. OK, but on that same trip, we went to Digger Land, which is a another theme park in the United Kingdom. And this I would say we went for the children’s state for my husband. They just had every kind of large machine that you could ever have wanted to drive available to drive. So if you wanted to run the like scooper digger, I’m not well versed in my construction equipment, but the like scooper digger, they have them and they are like fastened to the ground so that you can’t drive them off and you can just dig in this giant pile of dirt. It is actually really fun. They had come up with little carnival games like they have attached things to the diggers and you can play a little game with them. It was crazy muddy. It was amazing.
S4: I actually do want to do that now.
S25: Yeah. So as you’re older, you can actually drive some of them around on these tracks. My children are too young to actually do the driving, but could ride with Jeff. He went over the guardrail and one of them, though. That’s why you now own a bulldozer. Yes. Yes, that’s that’s how we know about those.
S27: And I don’t know if this counts as amusement park, but in the Netherlands, there’s a place called Pony Park City where instead of rides, they just give you a pony. And the Shetland pony, it is yours for the length of your stay to to take to various things around the amusement park and do. And that was big when it involved no rides. And that was amusing for me.
S7: So wait, what was there to do at the amusement park?
S30: Since there were no pony, rescue your pony.
S25: You can. There was a pony. You can dress your pony up. You can go do rodeo things with your pony. There are trails. There’s like trail riding. You can go to the station and just feed your pony. I’m not advocating this is a good thing necessarily for these ponies, but it’s great for kids alike.
S27: It was amazing. Like, imagine taking your kids to where I’m being. Like, you want a pony? We got a pony for a weekend. My daughter goes to the stable at night.
S14: You know, you have it all day. Take it to the stables at night.
S7: I feel like my daughter would stay old next time. We can go somewhere where they have unicorns.
S27: You could buy. I never heard him put it on earlier.
S6: No reason not to bring your own horn.
S18: Exactly. Well, this is great. Have we convinced you?
S7: Yes and no. Mostly no. But I am on the Disneyland Web site begrudgingly. I opened it up to remind myself to do a little digging later and figure out when we can go.
S11: I will report back. I cannot wait. Oh, yeah.
S25: Hey, you’re. But see, I think this is. So when your bar for amusement parks is already so low, it can only be a win as long as there is no incontinence on my part.
S27: Exactly. Every day I mean the basis of all good trips.
S7: I agree. OK, well, thank you all for a very enlightening conversation about amusement parks. I am going to go somewhere in search of cinnamon bread that I can find locally without having to travel to Dollywood. And thank you for listening, Fleet Plus Describers. We will see you again next week.