I'm a trusting soul at heart when it comes to the media. I'm the woman that reads the cover of the National Enquirer in the grocery line and wants to believe, each and every week, that Jennifer Aniston is finally pregnant with her long-desired child. Or that Britney Spears may have actually found true love at last. But of course, I know in my heart of hearts, that what I am reading isn't actually "news" but more likely a little hopefully harmless piece of fiction created to entertain folks like me as we place our carrots on the checkout conveyor belt.
Sometimes, I succumb and bring one of the gossip rags home -- it's hard to resist a good bathroom-length article on Duchess Kate Middleton's pregnancy woes. But if one of my kids gets a hold of the weekly and asks if the latest on Justin Bieber's alleged drug use is true, I anounce this kind of "media" must be taken with a grain of salt. Sure, there might be a tidbit of actual fact here and there, but for the most part every one who reads this stuff knows it's a bunch of half-truths and, at times, no truth at all. I point out to them that the star being showcased is never actually interviewed in the article, but instead the "reporter" relies on "trusted sources" and unnamed "close friends." Things are different, I tell them, when it comes to more respected forms of journalism.
But with this past week's Lance Armstrong doping confession and Manti Te'O fake girl friend controversy, I am feeling the need to tell my kids the skepticism I have encouraged them to employ when leafing through Tiger Beat should also be extended to the mainstream media, as well. Especially, it seems, when it comes to sports stars.
My kids aren't big biking enthusiasts, but it pained me nonetheless to tell them that all those stories they read in Sports Illustrated for Kids about Armstrong -- one of the biggest sports legends of our time -- were a pack of lies. And my oldest, a huge college football fan, couldn't help feel anything but blindsided when he discovered the touching stories he heard on ESPN about Te'O's "girlfriend's" recovery from a serious car accident only to discover she had leukemia, were nothing but an elaborate not-exactly-in April Fool's joke.
SI for Kids and ESPN, while hardly bastions of hard-hitting investigative journalism, aren't exactly US Weekly, either. But I guess I need to consider warning my kids not to believe blindly what they see or hear, regardless of sources. I should probably advise them to keep their guard up at all times, and to remind them that if a story sounds too good to be true, whether it be a dope-free seven Tour de France wins or a college football star's "Love Story"-esque romance, it probably is.
But the Pollyanna in me will probably continue to encourage them to keep on believing that genuine inspirational stories, while perhaps rare, can still happen. It seems a lot less fun to parent in a world where I need to advise my kids to cast doubt on everything. I don't want them to start to question if 2012's "Sports Illustrated Sports Kid of the Year" Cayden Long, is actually in a wheel chair. Or if Kerri Strug was faking her sprained ankle when she painfully stuck that landing back in 1996. Or if the Russians might have actually thrown the "Miracle on Ice" game in that hockey movie they love so much.
I want them to still feel that it's ok to get caught up in the emotion of a great story, even if you risk ending up disappointed.
And I'm still holding out hope that maybe this time, Jennifer Aniston, really truly might be pregnant with twins.comments powered by Disqus
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
I was greeted at the door by Tom Moen, who has served as executive director of what he likes to call "Madison's best kept secret", for the past 39 of the center's 47 years. Located in the middle of the subsidized Truax Park apartment complex, EMCC, with its vast array of offerings for kids, seniors and everyone in between, is unquestionably the heart of the neighborhood.
Madison's Kashmira Sheth has written four award-winning novels for middle grade and teen readers, and a popular chapter book for six- to nine-year-olds, but right now her picture books are what she's excited to talk about.
A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming.
We rarely included a stop at the Central Library as part of our regular outing. For those of you who've been in Madison for a while, I'm sure you'd agree that the old building was pretty run down. Not to mention, dark, cavernous and depressing. Libraries, at their best, should be portals to discovery, right?
My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."
Yes, the 2004 classic comedy Mean Girls is an absolutely delightful movie. But it's definitely not the smartest mother/daughter viewing as your child is about to enter her inaugural year of middle school.
Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.