Just a few weeks back, the New York Times ran a story that posed, what seemed to me, a pretty innocuous question: Could the modern minivan ever be recast as cool ? Yet, in the course of two days, the article received over 200 strongly worded comments on-line. Sure, I totally understand why public breast-feeding, "Tiger mothering" and attachment parenting might be controversial in some circles. But driving a minivan? Is this really a major philosophical divide among parents?
My brief personal journey to van ownership commenced in the spring of 2002. Up until that time my family had grown quite attached to the used Subaru wagon we had purchased the very week we moved to Wisconsin, some four years earlier. The car was sporty, outdoorsy and serious of purpose - some of the qualities I admired most in my new Madison neighbors. And, to be honest, so many of them drove the exact same dark green model I was pretty sure Legacy ownership must have been written into the Regent Neighborhood Association by-laws.
But in my 38th week of pregnancy with child number three, it dawned on my husband and I that perhaps we should check if a third car seat could be strapped safely across the back. Always up for a challenge, he got to work and with the grace and ferocity of an Australian crocodile hunter managed to wrestle the trio into the back seat. Sure, it took a full 30 minutes, but he had won"until we tried to close the doors. It wasn't going to happen. Yet another watershed moment in parenting had been reached; we were going minivan. And we were going to have to go quickly"I was starting to have Braxton Hicks contractions.
The next morning we headed over to the car dealership where, for the first time in my life, I squeezed behind the driver's seat of a minivan. It felt great for many practical, rational reasons: lots of room, automatic sliding doors, and a five star crash test rating. But it also felt good emotionally. I was ready to embrace everything van ownership might say about my "personal brand." I was about to be a mom of three.
I was safe and responsible and not ashamed to admit I wanted room in the back for diapers, wipes and a double stroller. I wasn't worried about losing my last shred of "cool"; just a bit worried about losing the car in the parking lot of Target. My gosh, there are a lot of silver Odysseys out there. Three weeks later, driving comfortably home from the hospital with all three strapped in, two in plush captain's chairs, I knew it was the start of a beautiful relationship.
But alas, the van went down like the Titanic in the winter of 2008. She fell victim to the iceberg that had amassed in the apron of our driveway. Lazy shoveling is not without consequence. We didn't replace her with another van but instead a Honda Pilot. After all, we were done with strollers and down to just one car seat. The kids were getting older and could easily get in and out of the car by themselves. It was time to embark on a new kind of Odyssey. And perhaps time to give sporty another chance.
Do you think your ride says something important about you as a parent? Care to join in the authoring of the minivan manifesto?comments powered by Disqus
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders " 10 boys and six girls " enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
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.