Sunday, June 19, 2011

Parenting: July Issue

Weren’t we just here? This issue arrived unusually close to the last, thrilling Lucia (“Baby!”) and adding an unexpected blog post to my weekend.

First, a shocker: I actually used something from this issue. Though I usually roll my eyes at the recipes in this magazine—they’re either ridiculous (make your kid’s dinner into a 3D fantasy moonscape!) or full of off-the-shelf ingredients we generally don’t use. This time, however, there was a selection of recipes using blueberries, and I—on the spur of the moment—used the recipe for blueberry compote as part of Andrew’s Father’s Day breakfast. It was pretty good, too. I could point out that compote is little more than fruit, water, lemon juice and sugar simmered to high heaven, and that one barely needs a recipe for it at all, but I’ll let my little compliment stand.

On to more pressing matters: chicken lollipops, p. 56. The imagery of a chicken lollipop is clearly disgusting, but more pertinent is the tip on how to “get the kids in on the action” of cooking and eating them:

“Show him how to skewer the chicken and let him play knight.”

COMMENTARY: I don’t have too much first-hand experience with bamboos skewers or lollipop sticks (the recommended accessories), but I know that my own small toddler, if invited to wield something, would send that chicken breast flying across the room. Ick. Waving food around: inevitable, but not something I’m going to encourage.

We turn now to “The ultimate SUMMER fun guide!” on p. 61 (not to be confused with the WINTER fun guide), full of ostensibly great summer activities for stir-crazy kids. Sprinklers, treasure hunts, etc. etc. etc. But what is with this magazine and its obsession with sending readers to local airports to watch planes take off? I’ve COMMENTED on this in a previous issue, yet here we are again:

“Imaginary Vacations. Take your tots to the closest airport where you don’t have to go through security to watch jet planes take off…”

COMMENTARY: I don’t even need to type out the rest. Just the idea of voluntarily going to an airport with a “tot” is enough to make me feel sick.

In this same article, in a section with the desperate heading “Help! The kids are destroying the house,” we’re given some craft ideas. Though it seems that these are spontaneous crafts you might whip out when your kids are wreaking havoc in the living room, you’d best have your epiphany at Michael’s, or perhaps Home Depot. The three crafts require the following: skewers, Styrofoam balls, plywood, wood glue, duck canvas (what is this??), twine, and outdoor glue. Good luck with that.

In this same article—a real doozy—we have this selection of three activities slated for “Middle of Summer…and our brains are mush.” Whoever thought these would be fun does, indeed, seem to have mush for brains. Some choice tidbits:

“Teach your tots what it means when the clouds are fluffy, wispy, or low.”
“Draw the British flag and find the country on the map.”
“Factories across the country open their doors to curious visitors…”

COMMENTARY: Cloud-gazing is lovely but best done, I think, lazily and unguided. Learning about other countries is nice but seems so…school-ish. And factory tours? This isn’t the first time Parenting has suggested this as a great activity. Am I alone here in thinking this is less than interesting? Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been on a factory tour; perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing. Perhaps a factory tour would provide impressions as lasting as the tour I took in fourth grade of a local funeral parlor, where we saw where the blood was drained out of the corpse and I nearly fainted.

Finally—and I’m spending all my time on one article, I know, but I can’t stop—there’s a new contender in the most inane and useless activity suggestion in Parenting’s history:

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Ice Cream. Put salt and ice in a gallon-size plastic bag. Put half & half, sugar, and vanilla in a sandwich-size one. Place the sealed small bag in the larger one. Seal that, then start dancing to ‘churn’ the mixture into ice cream!”

COMMENTARY: Whoa. What? Salt? Half & half? Sugar? Vanilla? How much of each, exactly? The bit ends with a link for “more specifics.” I’ll pass. I can’t imagine this working in any way, shape, or form, and it seems like a huge mess just waiting to happen. Really, Parenting? You couldn’t think of anything else to do when “It’s Pouring Out…and they’re going crazy!”?

Two more and I’m done, I promise. Here’s one more super-useful piece of advice and guidance, in an article about “The Myth of the Terrible Twos”:

“They need about 13 hours of sleep…so try to make it happen.”

COMMENTARY: Thanks for that so, so, so useful suggestion. I will try to make it happen—what a great idea! The reason Lucia’s naps are so lousy is because I hadn’t been trying!

Whew—and we come now to the last bit of this lengthy rant, a short entry I’ll just call “Stupid Headline.” I won’t even provide any COMMENTARY.

“Got a new sundress? Try a self-tanner.”

We’ll leave it at that. See you next month.


Sara said...

Okay... I consider myself pretty crafty but would have none of those things on hand. maybe the twine. And I do not know what duck canvas is either. Factory tour? Maybe for older kids, if you live in Vermont near the Ben and Jerry's factory. But isn't Parenting geared toward parents of toddlers?
And as for the ice cream--I made ice cream that way once, with a bunch of adults, and it we had to shake the bag FOREVER to make ice cream--it was exhausting. Perhaps the writer did not actually try that activity with kids.
I love commenting on your commentary. :)

Margo said...

Your point about this being a magazine for very young kids (it says it's for "the early years" and seems to go up to about age 4) is excellent and will surely make its way into future COMMENTARY. The idea of taking Lucia to a factory is just...absurd. And dangerous, esp. on her running-at-high-speed-helter-skelter days.

Sara said...

I am so glad I could contribute valuable insight to the commentary! And in rereading this, I too resent the comment about "they need 13 hours of sleep, so try to make it happen." As S decided several months ago that she is done with napping. Done. And not for my lack of trying, guaranteed.