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Am I white?


I was cleaning up the kitchen and heard the kids’ grandma reading them a new book: a children’s book about Rosa Parks. There were lots of questions as the kids tried to get their heads around racial segregation.

The discussion was about Rosa Parks and how then, black people had to sit in the back of the bus and white people sat in the front. My heart soared with pride as I heard my 4-year old Jenn ask, “Am I white?”  I patted myself on the back for raising a child who knows no color and I may have started to hum Ebony and Ivory to myself.

Jenn’s grandma told her that she was white. My son interjected that she was more of a tan color, and I heard Jenn confirm, “So I’m white?” At that clarification, she crowed in delight. “That means I get to get ride in the front!” Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder immediately stopped singing in my head.

I was momentarily relieved that this exchange had happened at home and not out in public. Though fortunately, this wasn’t about skin color at all, but a better view. Similarly, she sometimes wants to ride in a wheelchair, because for a four-year old, wheelchairs get the best seats on the bus, too.

Filed under Preschool
Sep 12, 2011

Do two bad choices make a really bad choice? Or is bad just bad?


I might have hit another low yesterday evening, as far as the nutrition police are concerned. The kids and I went for dinner at our local  (and very delicious, actually) Chirping Chicken. We all got it our way:  fingers for Jake and nuggets for Jenn, fries across the board, corn on the cob and chicken soup to share. We found a table outside and watched the 5pm exodus from the playground across the street.

Our food came and I was feeling pretty good, in part because the mom sitting at the table next to ours with her 3 year old and 1 year old commented that our ages (5 and 3) seem more fun, especially for a dinner out, even at a Chirping Chicken. (Can we deny that she is right? No way.) The kids were eating; I was mentally calculating how many days until I can have a guilt-free beer, and Jenn asked me to help her spread her butter. Lazily, I first suggested that she just dip in her butter and she insisted that she needed it spread. So I helped her.

I was on the third nugget when I realized I was spreading butter on my daughter’s chicken nuggets. Gross out. Who does that? Of course, the butter came for the corn on the cob, which the kids rejected so I ate.  Jenn sees butter as a way to make everything better (Again, can we deny that she is right?) and I’m a helper so we were wiping thick globs of soft-ish butter on her nuggets. I always figure butter on corn or brocoli is a small price to pay, if the kids actually eat the vegetable, but on fried, fake-ish chicken?

Virtually all of my son’s classmates and their parents passed our table and chatted with us as they walked home from the playground. If anybody took note, I can’t imagine what they thought the yellow stuff was all over Jenn’s food. I’ll note that nobody was jumping to arrange any play dates.

The silver lining? That it was actually butter that we globbed all over her food, and not something from a big tub of margarine, because I’m pretty sure it was not until college that I eschewed margarine for real butter, and Miracle Whip for mayo… She’s so sophisticated, my daughter. And she ate almost all the nuggets, which was good enough for what it was.



Jun 22, 2011

Letter to the lady on the M7 bus yesterday


Dear Sanctimonious, Judgemental Mom,

I hope you had a nice ride uptown yesterday morning. I know that I did, and I’m quite sure that my daughter did, too.  And do you know what made the ride so nice? That for the sixteen blocks from my son’s school to my daughter’s school – maybe 10 minutes  – my daughter and I did not have to talk to one another or really even acknowledge one another. It was like we lived in the suburbs and she was buckled into her car seat while I drove, listening to NPR. Only we were on a crowded Tuesday morning bus.

I am sorry that your son (or daughter, I couldn’t tell w/ that long, stupid hair) was more interested in the shape game my daughter was playing on my iphone than the giant hard-cover book you pulled out of your bag. (Though I’ll note that my daughter initially wanted to listen in on your story until you turned it so she couldn’t see it. I have to believe that was an accident.)

I don’t owe you an explanation, but I’m generally an over-sharer, so let me justify:  though my daughter looks like she’s five, she’s actually three (we’re big people), and for some reason, we all rose at 5:34am today so everybody at our house was particularly tired; everyone – dog included – had already thrown his or her version of a tantrum before 7am, and though I didn’t know it then, by noon pick-up, my daughter had a raging fever, so she wasn’t feeling great. We were on the last leg of our kids-to-school journey and, believe me, I did the whole bus a favor by handing over my phone.

Anyhoo, she played her game, without sound, for those 10 minutes, and we both got a chance to re-set for the final slog to school. So please save the “parenting for public” – you know what I mean, when you said to your child in a tone for the entire bus, “Please pay attention to this book. We are not going to resort to that every morning on our way to school.” (Though I liked the way you gestured toward my daughter and the phone by lifting your eyebrows and angling your head in our direction. Careful with that, though – don’t want any unnecessary wrinkles!)

I remember when I was a bettter parent than everybody, too, WAY before I ever had kids. And I know that despite our best intentions, we all judge and think we make better or worse choices than everybody else. (Remember my mention of your kid’s long, stupid hair?) But like they say, we don’t know the shoes other people are walking in, so we should all shut the hell up and keep our foreheads smooth.

Let’s save our disdain for that guy who was giving his 2-year old a ginger ale on the bus. I bet we can all agree that sugary drinks on the bus before 9am are a mistake, especially ones without caffeine. Though again, maybe they overslept and had raced to the bus and that ginger ale happened to be in his bag and was the kid’s first sustenance that day. See? We just don’t know.

Looking forward to seeing you again, riding the MTA,


Filed under NYC, Preschool
Apr 13, 2011



That’s what I worry about these days, spit. Because my daughter Jenn has been putting her hands in her mouth at school lately. And while I would rather she not put her fingers in her mouth, I worry that I’m missing something as I wonder if it’s worth the three emails I have received from school about it. She’s not a thumb sucker; she just went to the dentist and had no dental issues, and we don’t really know why she’s doing it but it has only been for a couple weeks so I’m just watching.

Now this story, relayed to me at dinner last night by a friend with a 5-year old son, is WAY better than Jenn’s but it got not one email home. My friend got to learn the story at the “family conference” (Not parent-teacher, because at this school the kids are invited! Yikes. How could I badmouth my kid if he were in the conference with me?) The family conference unfolds and teacher says something about the “incident yesterday.” Of course, my friend knows nothing about said incident. Eventually it comes out that yesterday at nap time, the son busied himself not with resting but with “saliva wiping.”

My friend, to her son:  What happened? Why were you wiping saliva on him?  Was he mean to you?

Son:  Yes.

My friend:  Well what did he do?

Son:  He was bothering me.

Teacher:  Actually, he was sleeping.

I’m not sure where the story went from there because there was so much laughter at our table I couldn’t hear.

Like everything, I think it all comes down to degree. Yes I want to know if my 3.5-yo has developed a habit of putting her fingers in her mouth. And if I were being honest, I would probably admit that I still want to know every single thing that happens in her day and if I could peek in the window from 9a – 12p to watch her at preschool, I would. But I know that doesn’t do me any good (I’m already crazy enough) and I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t do her any good and ultimately, I give the school a bucket of money because I trust them so I don’t have to peek through the windows. (And that’s probably why I get three emails about fingers in her mouth.)

On the other side, my friend heard nothing about the saliva wiping – (Now that’s just fun to type – who really talks like that? It’s spit!) – and she believes she should have heard about it, maybe because it involved another kid, (the wipee). Or because it’s just a little bit grosser, a little bit more germy, and WAY funnier. I would have loved to have seen that email from the teacher.

Filed under Kindergarten, Preschool
Apr 4, 2011

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