My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks. She hasn't expressed much interest in Facebook (she swears it's "over," likely because I am a reasonably heavy user and just about everything I do, according to her, is "over") and doing the 140-character thing hasn't quite grabbed her either. But man, is she is a big, big fan of Instagram. Or what's better known around our house as the "Selfie Site."
My daughter snaps, and often posts, pictures of herself eating breakfast, experimenting with new hairstyles and shopping with friends on Monroe Street (it's a group "selfie," she says -- I guess such a thing exists). I really don't know what one girl could possibly plan to do with so many self-portraits. It's kind of like living with a smaller, blonder, Frida Kahlo all the time, although with slightly thinner eyebrows and without the monkeys. In my daughter's "work," these elements have been replaced with our overweight gray cat.
But I think I have found another place where my daughter's digital dalliances can find a home, and it takes place on Wednesday, May 7, this year. Inspired by such projects as Isthmus' My Madison Day, UW-Madison's UW Right Now and Day in a Life by TIME for Kids, the Madison Children's Museum is inviting all area kids, parents, teachers and friends to join together next Wednesday to take part in a Day in a Kid's Life. On this single day, kids, and those who have kids in their lives, can participate by posting photos, text and video using the #DayinaKidsLife hashtag on social media or via email at DayInAKidsLife@gmail.com. The museum will then upload all tagged and emailed items and weave them together into a narrative fabric for display ate dayinakidslife.com.
According to the folks at Madison Children's Museum, this undertaking is part of the museum's KidShare program, the culture and digital media project that aims to make the Children's Museum into a highly accessible living repository of children's knowledge, wisdom and culture. The goal for the project is to ensure that the gorgeous building on North Hamilton Street is seen not just as a destination for hands-on learning, but also a place for collecting, presenting and preserving children's stories.
And I guess I'd never really thought about my daughter's Instagram indulgences in quite this way. Sure, I may occasionally snap a few shots at birthday parties, graduations and religious celebrations, but those pictures are really expressing what I see as important and noteworthy in their lives, not necessarily what my kids were feeling or wishing to express at a particular moment in time. I guess those selfies, which I long considered a hopefully harmless self-obsession, really can be considered my daughter's visual diary. And it's a diary, since I "follow" her, which I have permission to view.
As Frida Kahlo once said, "I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you." And as I see time passing on every day -- I know turning 12 will flip to turning 21 in the blink of an eye -- I will be thankful to always have my daughter's "portraits" archived online at the Madison Children's Museum.
Even if it's an iPod she's using instead of a paintbrush.comments powered by Disqus
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.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
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.