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
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.
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.