lillibet: (Default)
While I was in Northern Ireland this summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

Last year, Alice had a bit of a crisis. She told me that she didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up. This was news to me--the last time I'd checked in, granted a few years ago, she'd wanted to be a ballerina/astronaut/chef. But now she didn't know.

When I was six years old there was a special on TV called "Really Rosie". Based on various stories by Maurice Sendak, set to music by Carole King, it was the story of a girl named Rosie keeping the kids on her block entertained on a boring summer day by convincing them all to be in her movie. I loved that show. I convinced my parents to buy me the album, which included a bunch of songs not in the show. I knew every word, I acted them out in front of the mirror, I was Rosie. The following year my elementary school did "Really Rosie" as our annual pageant and I was the only first-grader recruited for a speaking role, as the Narrator.

The first time this came up, I told her that nine is a great time to not know, that there are many more things to do in the world than she can really fathom at this point, and it's hard to choose when you're a smart kid who's interested in a lot of different things, and it's completely ok not to be sure. "OK, Mama, thanks," she said.

When I was eight years old I decided that what the world needed was a modern adaptation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," so I wrote one. I reserved the hall at our church and recruited everyone in my third grade class to be in it and my mom to provide punch and cookies. We had a single performance, to a standing ovation of our parents. When it was over my mother asked what my next project would be and I said "Directing is too much work! I'm not going to do it again until I'm...nineteen!"

The second time this came up, a few weeks later, I tried to explain the timeline for making this decision: a sense of whether and what kind of college by junior year of high school, a major a couple of years later, whether or not to go to grad school in that field or something else a couple of years after that... "OK, Mama, thanks," she said.

When I was nineteen I somehow ended up directing "A Little Night Music" for the Tech Random Music Ensemble at MIT. That was the second of four fledgling theatre groups I was involved in, at four different schools, during my college years. When I graduated I had this idea about going out to Minneapolis and trying to become a stage manager, but never really figured out how I would do that. By the time I was 25 I was tired of theatre, tired of Boston, tired of a lot of things about my life, so I moved out to California and didn't do theatre for ten years.

The third time this came up, a few weeks later, I finally figured out that this was a real crisis, so it was a longer conversation and I asked more questions until I finally understood what was bothering her: not that she didn't know what she wants to be, but that she didn't know how to answer grown-ups when they ask her what she wants to be. OH! I explained that it's not a test--what they are really asking is what they might talk to her about. I suggested that she reframe the question in her own mind to "What are you really interested in at the moment?" Instantly she said "Interior design."

When it looked as though I might not be able to conceive, I felt a deep need to create something. Jason and I had talked for years about doing a show together and other opportunities emerged that led to the creation of Theatre@First. And then Alice was born. When she was four years old, we introduced her to "Really Rosie" and at dinner one evening she asked me if I knew who Really Rosie was. I told her yes, that when I was six years old I wanted to be Really Rosie. And as I said that I realized that's exactly who I am.

Six months later, Alice wants to be a fashion designer. We'll see.
lillibet: (Default)
Things (friends' comments, a video posted, a blog post) have been bringing up this subject at least weekly for the past month or more, so I thought I'd post about it and solicit others' thoughts on the subject.

What music would you play for your little kids?

Alice loves music. She sings morning, noon and night, gleefully makes up her own silly songs about the events of her day and loves to sing along with us anytime. She's doing very well in her music class and has started moving beyond her assigned pieces to improvising her own variations on what she's been learning. She loves to dance--one of the rules around here is that she can play the godawful electronic pop tune on her glowing butterfly wand only if she dances along to it. Every night she goes to sleep listening to one of the albums on the iPod plugged into the speakers in her room.

She's got a variety of music on there--classical, folk, "Here Comes Science" from They Might Be Giants and Schoolhouse Rock and The Barenaked Ladies' "Snacktime" and all of the Music Together CDs and "Peter and the Wolf" and various other things. But we don't give her pop music, per se, and we don't listen to it with her. She has no idea who Katy Perry is (unlike the 5 year old niece of a friend, who requested the current movie as her birthday party) or who Justin Bieber might be (unlike the 7 year old foster daughter of another friend, who was caught kissing his picture on my friend's iPad recently) nor has she ever to my knowledge heard anything by Adele (who's "Rolling in the Deep" is stuck in the head of another friend's 7 or 8 year old). I think she once saw a photo of Lady Gaga (whose "Bad Romance" was being sung by six year olds in the back seat of another friend's car recently) and asked about her, but she wouldn't know any of her music.

I don't recall this being a decision we made. Each of us listens to music fairly sporadically. When I'm alone in the car I listen to NPR until I get weary of bad news and then I hit search until I hear something fun, but I turn it off when Alice is riding with me, because I'd rather talk with her and teach her how to look around herself as we drive. When we're on longer trips we often put in one of her CDs. A few times we've turned on the radio and let her choose what to listen to, but she's never seemed that interested. One time as I was scanning for something good, she said she liked a rap song's beat, but I explained that I don't like the words they're saying and we moved on to something else.

With it coming up so frequently that young kids her age are aware of and into popular music, it's making me think about this. I guess I always figured that she's learn about pop music from her friends, in middle school. Or maybe kindergarten now. Are we depriving Alice of a degree of cultural literacy, or over-protecting her, or simply shielding ourselves from annoying bubblegum and awkward questions?

Thoughts?
lillibet: (Default)
When people compliment me on our parenting, I often say that Alice is an amazing person and we do our best to simply encourage that and stay out of her way. Case in point:

As she reaches for a compact fluorescent lightbulb left at eye-level in the living room...

Daddy: No, Alice, that's not a good thing for you to play with.

Alice: Well, Daddy, maybe you should put it away so I won't see it and want to play with it.
lillibet: (Default)
When people compliment me on our parenting, I often say that Alice is an amazing person and we do our best to simply encourage that and stay out of her way. Case in point:

As she reaches for a compact fluorescent lightbulb left at eye-level in the living room...

Daddy: No, Alice, that's not a good thing for you to play with.

Alice: Well, Daddy, maybe you should put it away so I won't see it and want to play with it.
lillibet: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] roozle for this interesting article about raising kids to be trustworthy with Paul Ekman, the basis for the concept of the tv show Lie to Me, and his adult daughter. I think it's relevant for parents, but also for people who think about how families shape children and about the role of honesty in relationships of all kinds.

For fans of Lie to Me, here is Paul Ekman's blog about the scientific basis for what happens on the show.
lillibet: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] roozle for this interesting article about raising kids to be trustworthy with Paul Ekman, the basis for the concept of the tv show Lie to Me, and his adult daughter. I think it's relevant for parents, but also for people who think about how families shape children and about the role of honesty in relationships of all kinds.

For fans of Lie to Me, here is Paul Ekman's blog about the scientific basis for what happens on the show.
lillibet: (Default)
Parent Hacks usually focuses on more logistical solutions, but today's post is about how she responded to having her car broken into and found ways to turn a terrible moment into what sounds like a really good one. I think it's a great read for parents, but a good one for a lot of people.
lillibet: (Default)
Parent Hacks usually focuses on more logistical solutions, but today's post is about how she responded to having her car broken into and found ways to turn a terrible moment into what sounds like a really good one. I think it's a great read for parents, but a good one for a lot of people.

For Alice

Oct. 22nd, 2010 08:42 am
lillibet: (Default)
From http://www.jonathancarroll.com/blog1/2010/10/carrollblog_1022_3.html

Please Bring Strange Things
by Ursula K. LeGuin

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.

For Alice

Oct. 22nd, 2010 08:42 am
lillibet: (Default)
From http://www.jonathancarroll.com/blog1/2010/10/carrollblog_1022_3.html

Please Bring Strange Things
by Ursula K. LeGuin

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.
lillibet: (Default)
talking about my 40th birthday party...

Daddy: That was when you were almost two.

Alice: I think I was still one.

Daddy: Yes, but you were almost two.

Mommy: On my birthday you're always almost-the-next-age, because when it's my birthday it's only two weeks until your birthday. When you're a grown-up girl, I expect we'll celebrate our birthdays together by going out for a nice lunch.

Alice: But I want to have a party!

Mommy: You can always have a party, but when you're a grown-up girl, I expect you'll want to have a party with just your friends.

Alice: But I think I will invite you to my party. And Daddy. (reaching out a hand to each of us) You can always come to any of my parties.

Daddy: Thank you, Alice!

Mommy: Thank you, sweetie. But don't worry, we won't hold you to that.
lillibet: (Default)
talking about my 40th birthday party...

Daddy: That was when you were almost two.

Alice: I think I was still one.

Daddy: Yes, but you were almost two.

Mommy: On my birthday you're always almost-the-next-age, because when it's my birthday it's only two weeks until your birthday. When you're a grown-up girl, I expect we'll celebrate our birthdays together by going out for a nice lunch.

Alice: But I want to have a party!

Mommy: You can always have a party, but when you're a grown-up girl, I expect you'll want to have a party with just your friends.

Alice: But I think I will invite you to my party. And Daddy. (reaching out a hand to each of us) You can always come to any of my parties.

Daddy: Thank you, Alice!

Mommy: Thank you, sweetie. But don't worry, we won't hold you to that.
lillibet: (Default)
One of the challenges for us as parents is helping Alice to figure out how to effectively ask for what she wants.

Read more... )

Raising a kid who will ask for what she wants in a pleasant voice, saying "please" and "thank you" seems like such a small thing, but if I accomplish it, I think it will be a huge success.
lillibet: (Default)
One of the challenges for us as parents is helping Alice to figure out how to effectively ask for what she wants.

Read more... )

Raising a kid who will ask for what she wants in a pleasant voice, saying "please" and "thank you" seems like such a small thing, but if I accomplish it, I think it will be a huge success.
lillibet: (Default)
Because of timing tonight, we didn't get dinner. We gave her a big cup of healthy snacks that she devoured in the car on the way to the circus and we figured that she would fill up on all the circus junk that is the birthright of every child and we would make do.

They don't have concessions working the audience, but at intermission we went out and bought hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and chocolate. I asked if Alice wanted a sno-cone or apple juice and she picked the juice. Back at our seats, Alice had two bites of cotton candy--she obviously thought it was interesting, but not worth eating much of. She said no, thank you to the popcorn, had one bite of hot dog, and then asked if she could have the power bar that Jason had brought. After that she ate a handful of Nestle's Crunch bits. When we got home and heated up some food for her, she poked at the pasta, but devoured the vegetables.

I have a lot of food and weight issues from the way I was raised and I am simultaneously praying that Alice got Jason's metabolism, not mine, and trying very hard not to carve out for her the ruts I have struggled with all my life. We follow, in a very vague sense, Ellen Satter's recommendations--we put healthy food in front of her, encourage her to try everything, and then let her eat whatever she wants of it. Sweets are mildly regulated, but generally available and she enjoys them, but not as much as she loves broccoli or watermelon.

So it seems to be working.

Of course, that means that I ate most of the junk food. But hey, how often do I go to the circus?
lillibet: (Default)
Because of timing tonight, we didn't get dinner. We gave her a big cup of healthy snacks that she devoured in the car on the way to the circus and we figured that she would fill up on all the circus junk that is the birthright of every child and we would make do.

They don't have concessions working the audience, but at intermission we went out and bought hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and chocolate. I asked if Alice wanted a sno-cone or apple juice and she picked the juice. Back at our seats, Alice had two bites of cotton candy--she obviously thought it was interesting, but not worth eating much of. She said no, thank you to the popcorn, had one bite of hot dog, and then asked if she could have the power bar that Jason had brought. After that she ate a handful of Nestle's Crunch bits. When we got home and heated up some food for her, she poked at the pasta, but devoured the vegetables.

I have a lot of food and weight issues from the way I was raised and I am simultaneously praying that Alice got Jason's metabolism, not mine, and trying very hard not to carve out for her the ruts I have struggled with all my life. We follow, in a very vague sense, Ellen Satter's recommendations--we put healthy food in front of her, encourage her to try everything, and then let her eat whatever she wants of it. Sweets are mildly regulated, but generally available and she enjoys them, but not as much as she loves broccoli or watermelon.

So it seems to be working.

Of course, that means that I ate most of the junk food. But hey, how often do I go to the circus?
lillibet: (Default)
I'm curious what other parents think of this post. Our solution has been that Alice doesn't have to eat what she doesn't like at dinner and then she has a before-bed snack of yogurt mixed with oatmeal and fruit, so she won't go to bed hungry, which drastically affects the ease of bedtime. And, mostly Alice will find something on her dinner plate to eat if she's hungry and if it's not a hungry day, very little is acceptable. And she does eat so many things that it hasn't been a big deal. But forewarned is half the octopus, so I think about strategies.

I understand the theory behind what these folks are trying, but in the family I know who did this, the alternative was for the kids to nuke themselves a hot dog and the outcome was two teenagers who really didn't eat anything but hotdogs.
lillibet: (Default)
I'm curious what other parents think of this post. Our solution has been that Alice doesn't have to eat what she doesn't like at dinner and then she has a before-bed snack of yogurt mixed with oatmeal and fruit, so she won't go to bed hungry, which drastically affects the ease of bedtime. And, mostly Alice will find something on her dinner plate to eat if she's hungry and if it's not a hungry day, very little is acceptable. And she does eat so many things that it hasn't been a big deal. But forewarned is half the octopus, so I think about strategies.

I understand the theory behind what these folks are trying, but in the family I know who did this, the alternative was for the kids to nuke themselves a hot dog and the outcome was two teenagers who really didn't eat anything but hotdogs.

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