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
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
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.