Someone should really (actually, I'm sure many have) question a few of my back-to-school parenting decisions.
I've continued, for instance, to allow my younger kids to stay up past 10 p.m. even though their middle school bus schedule requires them to be out the door, teeth brushed and all, at 7 in the morning. And I am so over school supply shopping that I plan to just give my high school son some cash, drop him off at Office Depot, and tell him he is old enough to navigate the world of graphing calculators, composition books and number two pencils on his own. I know I am running the risk that lunch at Milios' and an iTunes gift card end up making a cameo appearance on the "approved" list of MMSD school supplies, but it's a risk I am willing to take in the name of parental errand reduction.
The maternal choice I regret most, though, over the past couple of weeks was persuading my 11-year-old daughter to let me choose the movie we'd watch during our regular mother-daughter "chick flick" night. She was angling for an encore performance of either Teen Beach Movie or Pitch Perfect. But I couldn't bear the thought of another go round of the not-quite-Annette-and-Frankie Disney Channel musical. And the "Cup Song" wore out it's welcome at our house months ago as far as I'm concerned.
Instead, I convinced her to watch a cherished film from my pre-parenting days. It's a movie that showcases my favorite non-Sarah Palin Tina Fey performance and has a killer soundtrack heavy on female artists. It's a film that makes me hopeful that the incredibly talented Lindsay Lohan can perhaps, someday, get her life and career back on track.
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. Because while the film's storyline takes place during the lead character's high school years, I am worried that less theatrical versions of the movie's bickering, backstabbing and girl-on-girl bullying begin to rear their ugly heads in grades 6 through 8.
My boys, one entering 11th grade, the other 13 and starting his "senior" year of middle school, appear to have made it through the tween/early teen years without any major social crises. Both made terrific friends early on in elementary school and still pal around, drama free, with the same buddies today. If there was ever a fight or fall out, I am unaware of it.
But at least according to the Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 bestseller Queen Bees and Wannabes (the book that inspired the movie), these next few years may very likely be an emotional minefield for my youngest. She'll need to learn to manage the potential heartbreak of shifting friendships as young ladies from four different elementary schools are thrust together.
She'll be forced to recognize the subtle differences between close friendships and exclusive cliques. She'll need to make sure some of the slumber party chitchat she so enjoys indulging in doesn't swerve off course and head toward ugly gossip. And now, with the advent of texting, Facebook and Instagram it seems it's become way too easy to share, or should I say over share, in ways that can permanently damage relationships.
I still though plan to remain hopeful, and hopefully not naive, that the next three years can be filled with positive social experiences, as well -- she seems to hang with a really terrific crowd of supportive friends right now. And just like I hate to give in to the old adage "boys will be boys" whenever my male children make a fairly reckless decision, I also refuse to believe that girls of this age always mean to be mean. I just need to take the time and be tuned in enough to prep my daughter on how to handle the inevitable social ups and downs that are likely headed her way.
But just the same, friends, when I mention I am considering a mother/daughter screening of another classic "alpha girl" movie of my youth, feel free to question my decision. Because while teenage girls are much more likely these days to be named Emma, Taylor, or Olivia, we are definitely not ready for Heathers.comments powered by Disqus
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
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.