Every parent has his or her "something"; that secret, little vice that gives them a welcome diversion from everyday life. Fortunately, my break from reality is legal, involves "reality TV," and is surreptitiously smuggled home in a grocery bag. I am hopeless gossip magazine addict. To me Star and US Weekly are a whole lot more than just OK!; I think they're pretty darn fabulous. While some might say this hobby is the epitome of lowbrow, I prefer to think of it as putting an "Enquiring" mind to work. Just last month the University of Chicago hosted an academic conference on Jersey Shore; I guess I'm not the only one who's heard of a Homer beyond Simpson that finds celebrity culture engaging.
But even if you're one of those high-minded types who never reads this stuff, you are probably familiar with last week's big cover stories. Jessica Simpson isn't just getting a bit zaftig (again)--she's due sometime early 2012. And Kim Kardashian, 72 days after a spectacularly televised 10 million dollar wedding, is filing for divorce. And the biggest shocker of the week (especially if you are an 11-year-old girl)? A 20-year-old woman has filed a suit claiming that her infant son is the product of a 30-second bathroom tryst with teen idol Justin Bieber. It brings a whole new meaning to that "Baby" song of his, no?
For gossip junkies like me last week was like Christmas in July (or at least November). But it did give me a "stop and think" as a parent.
Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be pop stars. Because I think watching your child's most private moments played out across the end-aisle displays at Copps would be absolutely heartbreaking.
I'm sure Mrs. Simpson got a thrill the first time she heard her daughter sing at church and probably encouraged her to develop her vocal skills. But one divorce, several failed romances and countless pairs of publicly strutted Daisy Dukes later, I wonder if her mom wishes she'd stayed true to her gospel roots. I can't imagine it is fun to see your daughter referred to as "sexual napalm" in the media.
Mrs. Kardashian (or should I say Jenner?) seems to revel in her daughter's fame and excess. She is huge part of urging us to Keep up with the Kardashians, yet says, "It's a tough time for Kim and everybody involved," (referring to Kim's failed marriage). Maybe if she hadn't encouraged her daughter to exploit her private life for the camera, things may have turned out differently.
And all this hoopla must be very painful for Mrs. Bieber. She was a teenage, single mom herself and raised her super star son in low income housing in Ontario. Sure the pop star's so-called baby mama may very well be proven a liar via DNA. But it's still got to be rough on Justin's mom knowing this woman's baby may be subject to the same financial struggles she and her son weathered early in his life.I'm by no means saying that parents shouldn't let their kids follow their dreams. But I am saying that following them onto the stage of a local theater production might be a better option than onto the front page of Perez Hilton.
With excellent programs like Playtime Productions, now celebrating it's 25th year of quality theater for children, by children, your kid can get all the benefits that come from being on stage without all the pain of being a stage mom. Or if your kid wants to sing, let 'em join Madison Youth Choirs. It is possible to learn all about the beauty of choral music without turning your child into the next Rebecca Black. Think of all the You Tube ridicule that girl got--I don't know how her parents slept at night.
I am sure I will continue to be sickly fascinated by the trials and tribulations of the airbrushed faces I see across those glossy covers and Internet sites. But I will try to be a little more sensitive to the fact that these people are somebody's babies.
And I will be really glad they are not mine. Parenthood is hard enough without the paparazzi.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.