Rise of the Guardians.">
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
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.
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.