Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist living in Paris, extols the virtues of Seine-style parenting. According to the author, French babies sleep peacefully through the night at three months old and eat perfectly balanced meals in lieu of the constant snacking associated with American kids. Her overall take on petit Jacques vs. little Jack? Les enfants Francais appear to be better behaved than their whiny, obnoxious and over-indulged American counterparts.">
In her new book Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist living in Paris, extols the virtues of Seine-style parenting. According to the author, French babies sleep peacefully through the night at three months old and eat perfectly balanced meals in lieu of the constant snacking associated with American kids. Her overall take on petit Jacques vs. little Jack? Les enfants Francais appear to be better behaved than their whiny, obnoxious and over-indulged American counterparts.
Hmmm? So French moms stay thin on wine and cheese, get to buy their clothes in the birthplace of haute couture, AND have children that would never make a scene in the checkout aisle at a supermarket? It kind of makes me wonder if the Sorbonne offers a crash course in child rearing. But it does beg the question if one can really perfect this kind of parenting if they don't actually speak French? Or wear a beret? Or if the only "French" food their picky nine-year-old might deign to eat is the "fry"?
It was just about this same time last year when I thought about adopting another hot book-based maternal style, "Tiger-Mom-ing" . The experiment was a bit of a bust, though. I have little doubt my lack of Chinese ancestry might have part of the problem. But the bigger issue was my children's complete unwillingness to stick with a musical instrument at all, let alone practice multiple hours a day. And give up sleepovers? That was a total non-starter for my 12-year-old.
It would probably make sense for me to attempt mastering a cultural parenting stereotype that falls in line with my actual ethnicity. You know, a Jewish Mother. And although no one's written a guidebook recently, I could brush up by reading some Philip Roth.
But I just don't think I have the physical stamina necessary to channel Sophie Portnoy . Becoming "the patron saint of self-sacrifice" and "one of the outstanding producers and packagers of guilt in our time" is surprisingly exhausting. And neither of one of my sons is showing any signs of wanting to be a doctor.
I am a woman who can barely open a can of chicken soup. You can forget about me making it from scratch. Yep, I am motherhood-cliché failure even on my genetic home turf.
But all this has gotten me thinking, could there be such thing as Madison mothering? And if so, could this finally be a parenting style I might be able to master?
I've started pulling together my list of things that would set the Mad City mom apart. For example, is there anywhere else in the world, or the U.S. for that matter, where "recall" might be one of a baby's first words? Or where such a hefty percentage of parents know exactly which car seats are rated highest for old Subarus or late model Toyota Prii?
Where else but in Madison could mothers debate whether their children would have taken full advantage of the proposed Edgewater redevelopment's ice rink? Or consider home schooling not because the schools are too liberal, but because they aren't progressive enough?
I could come up with semi-truisms around baby-wearing, backyard chicken raising and Dansko clogging. After all, I have yet to go to a PTO meeting where the Swedish footwear didn't appear to be mandatory.
But I'm searching for a few more ideas to help flesh out the book -- if you have any, just send them my way. Because Isthmus Parenting: The Surprising Benefits of Raising Kids on X-number of Square Miles Surrounded by Reality has a really nice ring to it. And if Pamela Druckerman and Amy Chua can have success making all other parents feel mildly inferior, I sure want my crack at it, too.comments powered by Disqus
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
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.