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
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.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.