Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Parenting: The December/January Issue

Oh, bliss. All our mail has been forwarded for the past two months to Connellsville, but finally, finally I’ve perused the new Parenting and am ready for this month’s commentary. Maybe it’s because I’m still just so very tired, but the abundance of you-go-girl-with-your-fab-mama-self tone and the excessive exclamation points annoyed me more than usual this time. Let’s get right down to it.

In “Picky-eater Pleasers,” we’re advised on how to handle taking a picky kid out to a holiday party. One piece of advice was to feed the kid before leaving the house and then not freak out if the kid eats only carbs or cookies at the party. But what would she eat, if she’s already eaten a meal? Another meal? Nonsense. But I’ll reserve my commentary for the final tip:

“Bring a food ‘present’ to the shindig to share. If your kid is super picky or if he has food allergies, bring a gift of his favorite dish. (Be sure to get him to wrap it up with a bow.) Give it to your host, then mention that your child would love to share it with everyone.”

COMMENTARY: I won’t get into food allergies, since to me that seems like a different thing altogether. But I imagine Lucia and myself in this situation, perhaps three years from now, perhaps four, wrapping up a casserole dish of mac and cheese or a platter of buttered toast or a large ceramic bowl of sliced grapes and bringing this “gift” to a party. I imagine the nudge-nudge tone of my voice as I “mention that [my] child would love to share it with everyone.” I imagine the faux-enthusiasm of the host’s voice as she makes exaggerated attempts to incorporate buttered toast into the party spread. Maybe because I’m just tired; but this all just makes me weary and annoyed. If Lucia will eat only buttered toast, then I shall bring her a personal baggie of buttered toast for her own enjoyment. I simply don’t see the need to inflict it on the larger world.

I always like articles about saving money, as I’m a big saver myself. But teaching my preschooler to be a “money whiz” isn’t something I’ve really considered, until I read “Raise a Money Whiz,” which suggests it’s never too early to teach kids about responsible spending. But this tip made me actually guffaw:

“The Talking ATM. Lesson: Money comes out because it’s gone in. To kids, a cash machine may seem an endless gusher of moolah. To give yours a more nuanced view, Heckman [a preschool education expert] suggests that you talk her through each visit. Say something like ‘I’m coming to get the money that I’ve saved. I worked to make it, and then put it in the bank to keep it safe, and now we’re going to get some out to buy what we need.’”

COMMENTARY: I imagined myself droning these words to Lucia and put myself to sleep. Snooooze. Snooooze. Please. Is this any way to talk to an antsy, energetic preschooler? I think a kid might be more interested in learning to say an outdated word like “moolah,” or some such trivia. Here—I’ll try it, in Parenting’s style: “Moolah is another word for money. We can also call it dough, bucks, and bread. These words are called slang, which is a usage of words in commonly accepted but nonstandard ways. Slang tends to be generational, temporary, timely, and colloquial. Also, when your father and I were gambling in Reno once before you were born we called quarters ‘skins,’ just because it made us laugh.”

And finally, Parenting’s end page, “Top Ten,” which is usually too ridiculous even for COMMENTARY. This month’s was a top-ten of names of board games, with descriptions that draw from readers’ apparent “real lives.” For example: “5. Risk. You have a kid. She has a skateboard. ‘Nuff said.” “8. Go Fish. Been there, done that after your toddler dropped your glasses in the toilet.” They were all silly things like that. But then there was number 7, which for some reason was quadruple the size of the other text on the page:

“7. Scrabble. You can’t make a word using only the letters Q, G, R, W, and X? Well, you lose, because your kindergartner can.”

COMMENTARY: This was worded so aggressively as to be offputting, and it’s just so strange. It’s the only one that actually riffs on the game as a game, not as a word—no one was actually playing Trivial Pursuit, Twister, or Go Fish, but in this one, the parent and child seem to be engaged in what appears to be a nontraditional game of Scrabble. “Well, you lose”? What? I had to read this several times before I realized it meant a kindergartner would put silly letters on the board to make a “word”—not that the kindergartner was smarter than the parent. It just seemed so…mean. Then again, I’m tired.

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