It's been a week of acceptance. I need to accept that winter is coming and that I should start wearing socks. I need to accept that the majority of voters in Wisconsin and I don't agree on who should be representing us in the U.S. Senate. And I really need to accept the fact that my children are growing up. I see glimpses of this happening every day from an unprompted thank-you to the carpool driver, to the desire for more privacy. But nothing really prepared me for the emotional slam of current and impending teen-hood than having my two boys attend their first girl-boy parties on the same day two weekends ago.
My older son is 13, and probably has a smattering of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and school dances in his recent past that could, in a court of law, technically count as his first boy-girl affairs. But somehow this invite to an inter-gender party at someone's house felt really different, much more personal. Just a few weeks ago my son told me he didn't see the point in having a girlfriend in middle school. The fact that he might be introduced to the "point" in a neighbor's basement came on fast and furious. But he is a teen, and while I am quite bittersweet about the idea of him becoming a man, the timing for this social milestone seemed about right.
But it was the 5th-grader's party that took me much more by surprise. To be fair, it was an invitation to an end-of-season soccer celebration at a female teammate's house - innocent enough. This girl's family had actually hosted this same party for the past few seasons. But something had changed this year--you could smell it in the air from the moment you walked through the door. This year, the revelers -- boys initially at one table, girls at another -- were distinctly aware of the sexual tension-lite in the room. This was soon broken by some modern version of the proverbial hair in the inkwell--you know, some stupid boy trick, which is actually veiled (or in my son's case, not-so-veiled) flirting. And while my kid returned from the party and assured me he was "currently single" (I'd like to know when he was anything otherwise), things had definitely changed.
I can't really remember when I went to my first home-based girl-boy party. I think I was at least in high school, no? But my not-all-that-much younger sister assures me her 6th grade birthday was a co-ed affair back in 1980. Maybe kids aren't growing up faster than before; maybe I can't blame this all on reality TV. It's just something else I have to accept.
What age did you go to your first boy-girl party? What do you think is the appropriate age for your kids to go to one?comments powered by Disqus
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.