I know Alec Baldwin has had some parenting problems with his own daughter, but I never expected him to cause much of an issue for me. But that changed last weekend when, in search of some holiday-themed escapism, I took a carload of kids to check out his latest role as the voice of "North", aka Santa Claus, in DreamWorks new release, Rise of the Guardians.
For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of this computer-animated fantasy, it's the story of a partnership forged to save the world, much like the Justice League or the Avengers. But instead of traditional superheroes fighting crime, the film features familiar childhood characters like E. Aster Bunnymund (an Easter Bunny from Down Under), the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Jack Frost, and their intrepid Red Suited (and, in the film, tattooed) leader, North, joining forces to prevent Pitch (the Boogeyman) from engulfing the world in darkness.
I will not get in to any more plot specifics here. Nor will I attempt to review the film in any way. I will though offer one piece of critical advice. Don't take a kid teetering on the edge of the "I believe in Santa" cliff. Because seeing this film has pushed my daughter right over.
At our house, the shine came off the Easter Bunny long ago when my middle son, probably eight or nine at the time, found a receipt for faux grass and Cadbury eggs treats at the bottom of a Walgreens bag on Easter morning. Exhausted from egg hiding, I didn't have the heart or energy to lie to him. I quickly spilled the (jelly) beans. No, son, the pastel M&Ms and Skittles you look forward to every year are not stuffed into those cheap plastic eggs by a floppy eared rabbit. Instead, it's always been just your dad and me sweating out the proper ratio of foil wrapped bunnies to marshmallow Peeps that you find carefully arranged in your basket.
It's actually kind of shocking the Tooth Fairy ruse lasted as long as it did at our place. Because regardless of whether the bagged bicuspid was placed under a pillow, on top of a pillow or even taped to the freaking door with a powerfully worded note to the Matriarch of Molars, my husband I were pathologically unable to promptly remove the goods and leave the requisite payment.For some generous reason though, our kids cut us a lot of slack on this one. They willingly believed (or pretended to believe that) the Tooth Fairy assigned to our house was regularly held up at the home of some kid who had lost both front teeth in a freak hockey accident. Or that she had fallen victim to the fairy flu that had plagued Tinkerbell and Cinderella's godmother earlier in the week.
But we eventually ran out of excuses. And they ran out of the desire to excuse us. And we all agreed that nothing needed to be placed under pillows anymore. Just yank out the incisor and call mom or dad. The financial exchange, at our house at least, could take place in broad daylight.Jack Frost, to my kids, is just a song lyric that follows chestnuts roasting on an open fire. And I'm not sure Sandman or the Boogeyman has ever been mentioned in our home.
But Santa was something different. Because while my youngest, a logical type, had wrestled with the plausibility of an overweight bearded man fitting down our chimney, with a sack full of toys no less, she'd held on to her belief. She even told me not long ago that Santa must be real because, given the mess we'd made of the whole Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy thing, it was absolutely impossible that her Dad and I could pull Christmas off without him. It was a very sweet--though simultaneously insulting -- thing to say.
But the Santa myth went up in a cloud of fairy dust while watching "Rise of the Guardians". To her, the movie was the equivalent of remaking Spinal Tap with Mick Jagger playing the lead singer instead of the guy from Laverne and Shirley. It was just too weird a mixing of fact and fiction. If, she reasoned, Santa is actually in cahoots with the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and this Sandman guy she'd never heard of, he, alas, must be a legend, as well.
But don't worry. I am not too sad. And neither is she. The holidays and presents, she realizes, will go on without elves, flying reindeer or a ho-ho-ho.
And it's nice to have her believe -- in this stage of her life at least -- that the only "Guardians" she really needs are her hard working, but ever flawed, parents.comments powered by Disqus
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 Verona resident Melissa Wardy 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.
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.