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?" Mistakenly believing she was referring to school supply shopping, one of my favorite consumer events of the year, I excitedly told her we could stop by the office supply store right after we picked up some much-needed milk and cereal.
But I soon found that three-ring binders, glue sticks and colored pencils were not the purchases my 12-year-old was looking forward to making. Instead, she told me, "No, Mom. I'm talking about the kind of back-to-school shopping where we go to the mall and buy new clothes and stuff like that before the first day of school."
Now, it's not that I am not happy to buy my daughter new clothes when she needs them, and even occasionally when she doesn't. What I'm not "buying," though, is the media-driven idea that my kid somehow has to acquire a new wardrobe in order to enter the seventh grade.
I don't care how many brats she eats at our Labor Day cookout, it's not likely she will be a substantially different size come September 2, the first day of school. And all those t-shirts and shorts she wore all summer long will probably still come in pretty handy during the early weeks of class, which historically have been scorchers. So I had to break the news to her, we are not the Madtown Kardashians. So she might as well get used to the indignity of being seen in the same clothes she wore last year as a sixth-grader.
This back-to-school shopping mania doesn't seem to be just a K-12 phenomenon. It's taken hold of the college crowd, too, where instead of clothes, it's household items that must be conspicuously consumed. Just this past week, I made the fated mistake of heading to Target the same day as UW student move-in. I couldn't believe some of the things these kids and their parents were buying for college apartments: framed "art," cafe curtains and string lights. When I went to school it was one set of XL twin sheets and maybe a shower caddy.
But I couldn't take my eyes, or ears, off the spectacle. Trust me, there is very little more entertaining than listening to a father argue with his 20-year-old son over the merits of a purchasing a contemporary vs. faux Oriental rug.
Of course, I realize it's the retailers that are fueling the frenzy. This year, Walmart increased the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30 % to 75,000. And Target inexplicably features both swim suits and pajamas, neither which are regularly worn to school last I checked, under the back-to-school banner on its website.
In the end, though, I ended up caving in, just a little bit, to the consumer pressure. My daughter will be wearing a new outfit on the first day of school. And come to think of it I probably have to buy her some new sneakers, too. But it won't be because she's convinced me of the merits of the back-to-school marketing push. It will just be because she can no longer slip her heels into the backs of her old ones.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.