(Still busy working at Daddies Board Shop so I haven’t written anything for a while. This ran before but I’m running it again because… I felt like it.) 
mammalingo:

BABIES AND TODDLERS TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE THINKING
Vanity Fair runs its version of “The Proust Questionnaire” every month. By answering, participants often reveal a great deal about their true nature. Because I’ve wanted to better understand babies and toddlers for some time, I’ve asked a one-year-old, two-year-old and three-year-old to answer questions from the survey.
ONE-YEAR-OLD:
What is your current state of mind?
My mouth is killing me.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I just want my mouth to stop hurting.
What is it that you most dislike?
Teething. Have you ever witnessed a shark attack? That’s what’s happening. A shark attack… in my mouth. Please, excuse me a moment. [Jams fist in mouth.]
What do you most value in your friends?
I don’t have any friends.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have two. My mother’s breasts.
On what occasion do you lie?
Horizontally? I like to be nice and comfy when I nurse.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
It’s a toss up between my dad, my mom, and the cute kid in the mirror.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d like to get the walking thing down.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Watch this! [Waves bye-bye.] 
TWO-YEAR-OLD:
What is your current state of mind?
I’m not taking a nap.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Pushing all of the buttons in the elevator.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Diapers. I can’t even begin to tell you how many I go through a day.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their toys.
What is your most treasured possession?
All of them. They are all mine.
On what occasion do you lie?
I don’t know if this is a lie – but let’s just say I don’t exactly drop everything the moment I soil myself.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Why do you ask about changing myself? Do you smell something?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t know about my greatest achievement, but I’ll tell you what I did not just do. I did NOT just poop. 
THREE-YEAR-OLD:
What is your greatest fear?
Dogs, the dark, the orange cup, weird noises, getting shots, fireworks, babysitters, broken crackers, closed doors, and getting sucked down the bathtub drain.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
A need for privacy.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
It’s a tossup between patience, self-control, and good hygiene.
On what occasion do you lie?
I don’t need a special occasion to lie.
What is your favorite occupation?
Dinosaur doctor.
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to reach high-up things.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
I once drew a beautiful picture all over our sofa. If you look closely, you can still see it.

(Still busy working at Daddies Board Shop so I haven’t written anything for a while. This ran before but I’m running it again because… I felt like it.) 

mammalingo:

BABIES AND TODDLERS TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE THINKING

Vanity Fair runs its version of “The Proust Questionnaire” every month. By answering, participants often reveal a great deal about their true nature. Because I’ve wanted to better understand babies and toddlers for some time, I’ve asked a one-year-old, two-year-old and three-year-old to answer questions from the survey.

ONE-YEAR-OLD:

What is your current state of mind?

My mouth is killing me.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I just want my mouth to stop hurting.

What is it that you most dislike?

Teething. Have you ever witnessed a shark attack? That’s what’s happening. A shark attack… in my mouth. Please, excuse me a moment. [Jams fist in mouth.]

What do you most value in your friends?

I don’t have any friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

I have two. My mother’s breasts.

On what occasion do you lie?

Horizontally? I like to be nice and comfy when I nurse.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

It’s a toss up between my dad, my mom, and the cute kid in the mirror.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to get the walking thing down.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Watch this! [Waves bye-bye.] 

TWO-YEAR-OLD:

What is your current state of mind?

I’m not taking a nap.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Pushing all of the buttons in the elevator.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Diapers. I can’t even begin to tell you how many I go through a day.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their toys.

What is your most treasured possession?

All of them. They are all mine.

On what occasion do you lie?

I don’t know if this is a lie – but let’s just say I don’t exactly drop everything the moment I soil myself.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Why do you ask about changing myself? Do you smell something?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I don’t know about my greatest achievement, but I’ll tell you what I did not just do. I did NOT just poop. 

THREE-YEAR-OLD:

What is your greatest fear?

Dogs, the dark, the orange cup, weird noises, getting shots, fireworks, babysitters, broken crackers, closed doors, and getting sucked down the bathtub drain.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A need for privacy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

It’s a tossup between patience, self-control, and good hygiene.

On what occasion do you lie?

I don’t need a special occasion to lie.

What is your favorite occupation?

Dinosaur doctor.

What talent would you most like to have?

I’d like to reach high-up things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I once drew a beautiful picture all over our sofa. If you look closely, you can still see it.

We Can’t Cover Our Kids in Protective Plastic

(I’ve been working quite a bit at a newish job and I’ll post soon with details about what I’m doing. But, in the meantime, I miss my blog. And I don’t like when it sits empty. It gathers cobwebs. I wrote this essay and it ran in the New York Times (Motherlode) a few years ago. Here it is again. I’m reposting because I thought of it recently. It’s easy to write about letting my kids fail but it’s another thing entirely to watch when it happens. It’s hard, folks.) 

Previous generations took better care of their stuff than most of us do now. They sprayed sofas with Scotchgard, threw plastic slipcovers on chairs, and stayed out of their dining rooms except on Thanksgiving. Or if the boss was coming to dinner.

Not us. We live in our houses. We let our kids play where they want in our homes. We don’t worry about spills on our rugs. We’re not afraid of high heels nicking our floors. And, does anyone have the boss to dinner anymore?

But our kids?  We worry about them. A lot. And when I say we, I mean me.

I can’t cover them in protective plastic … because, you know, of the Bisphenol A. But I lather my children in sunscreen. Outfit them in helmets. And wake up in the middle of the night worried that I might have missed the deadline for soccer signup. And, believe me, there’s a deadline. Where I live, if you want your kid to play soccer in the fall, you have to sign up in the spring. Heaven for-freaking-bid you move to my town in the summer.

Yes, I’m part of the generation of parents that doesn’t worry about scratches on the furniture, just on our kids. We’ve become a nation of risk-averse, safety-obsessed, Purell-loving freaks. In his book Under Pressure, Carl Honoré describes the modern child as “raised in captivity, cooped up indoors and ferried between appointments in the back seat of a car.” And, he doesn’t mean it as a compliment.

Now, I do have to point out that I don’t ferry my kids – ages 6, 3 and 9  months – around in the back seat of my car. (But that’s only because I drive a minivan.) And I do know it’s wrong to bubble-wrap my kids’ journey through childhood. But it’s still hard to know when to let go – when to take off the training wheels or stop cutting the grapes. But I am trying.

Just this morning, I dropped off my 6-year-old at the gate of his elementary school instead of walking him right up to the door. (Somebody call Free-Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy!) Sure, I waited in my car until I could see him disappear into the school. But it’s a start. Because, you see, I’m trying hard to relax. (Yes, that’s an oxymoron. Yes, I am an oxymoron.) I’m trying to relax because not only would it make life easier for me, but also because I know it would be better for my three young children as well.

The New York Times Magazine published a fascinating story, “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” by Paul Tough. In a terribly paraphrased nutshell, failure is part of the secret sauce in the “science of good character.”

How do I interpret this? It means that I need to let my children fall – and not always on rubber padding. If means that even if I could concoct a potion so that nothing bad could ever happen to them, I wouldn’t do it. Life is messy. Life can be more than messy: bad things happen. But our job as parents isn’t to stop them all from happening. Because we can’t. Instead, we can try to make our kids feel loved, valued and secure.  So, if we’re lucky, when our children do fall or if things fall apart around them, they’ll get back up.

My own childhood – probably like yours – wasn’t perfect. My mother developed bipolar disorder when I was a kid. She was sick – sometimes very sick and sometimes requiring hospitalization – from the time I was 11 until long after I graduated from college. But, through everything, my family remained exceptionally close. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. It was, at times, the worst. (Of course, I must add that I’m extremely fortunate because she got better. Not only did she survive, she thrived. Yes, she made it after all. Cue Mary Richards tossing her hat in the air.) But, in hindsight, her illness tested my – as well as my father’s, my sister’s and, of course, my mother’s – resiliency.  Some of the best parts about me – whatever they may be – are that way because of what we went through.

I need to let my children discover their own best parts – and it doesn’t count when I point those out. (“Look at that pretty drawing! You are such a wonderful artist!”) I also pray that they’ll develop rich senses of self and inner strength. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can do for them. It’s not even something I can help them do while holding their hands.

As Mr. Tough wrote in The New York Times Magazine, “We all know — on some level, at least — that what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can.”

My mother co-wrote the play “The Adventures of Mottel,” which was an adaptation of an unfinished novel by the Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem.  I am reminded of the play’s last line when I think about what I wish for my own children: “If you carry your own lantern, you can make your way through the dark.”

This past summer, I went to a night at a local, Portland bar to see a show organized by friends of friends. “Blumesday" is a live reading and a celebration of all things Judy Blume held annually in Portland and Los Angeles.
They had me at Judy Blume. 
The performances were all inspired by favorite Judy Blume books in some way or another. And they were hilarious and touching and brought back SO MANY MEMORIES. 
If you can finish this sentence “We must… We must….” then you would have loved it too. 
Since the show, I’ve become friendly with the Blumesday producers and asked them what I could do to help them promote their brilliant project. It turns out that they are now inviting everyone to submit their own memorabilia, ephemera and juvenilia. 
Specifically, they are looking for Blume-inspired:• diary entries• photographs• vintage edition book covers• 3 ring binder art/doodles/scrawlings, poetry, etc
and
• any little thing  that conveys Judy Blume or the awkward/intense late childhood through adolescent phase that Blume so lovingly details
I think this is important and want to repeat it. 
They are looking for things that “convey the awkward and intense late childhood through adolescent phase.” 
That’s what was so good about the show! It was part nostalgia! Part Judy Blume love! And part SHARED AWKWARD EXPERIENCES!
Is there anything better than that? I mean, I don’t know about you but I didn’t go through an awkward stage. I went through awkward stages. Plural.
So, if you want to be a part of Blumesday, go to their Blumesday Facebook page. Even if you don’t submit,  share the link with your friends. And do it by the end of September. 

This past summer, I went to a night at a local, Portland bar to see a show organized by friends of friends. “Blumesday" is a live reading and a celebration of all things Judy Blume held annually in Portland and Los Angeles.

They had me at Judy Blume. 

The performances were all inspired by favorite Judy Blume books in some way or another. And they were hilarious and touching and brought back SO MANY MEMORIES. 

If you can finish this sentence “We must… We must….” then you would have loved it too. 

Since the show, I’ve become friendly with the Blumesday producers and asked them what I could do to help them promote their brilliant project. It turns out that they are now inviting everyone to submit their own memorabilia, ephemera and juvenilia. 

Specifically, they are looking for Blume-inspired:
• diary entries
• photographs
• vintage edition book covers
• 3 ring binder art/doodles/scrawlings, poetry, etc

and

• any little thing  that conveys Judy Blume or the awkward/intense late childhood through adolescent phase that Blume so lovingly details

I think this is important and want to repeat it.

They are looking for things that “convey the awkward and intense late childhood through adolescent phase.”

That’s what was so good about the show! It was part nostalgia! Part Judy Blume love! And part SHARED AWKWARD EXPERIENCES!

Is there anything better than that? I mean, I don’t know about you but I didn’t go through an awkward stage. I went through awkward stages. Plural.

So, if you want to be a part of Blumesday, go to their Blumesday Facebook page. Even if you don’t submit,  share the link with your friends. And do it by the end of September.