Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Parenting: November Issue

Here I am, on hospital bedrest—with nothing but time to write my monthly COMMENTARY. As I read this month’s issue, lots of things jumped out at me, perhaps because I was an unusually captive audience. Let’s get to it.

Trouble, once again, from the cover—another celebrity-with-baby, this time Bethenny something or other, a reality TV person, with her baby. This issue also featured an interview with Gwen Stefani; a page detailing how you, dear reader, and your child can dress like Ellen Pompeo and hers; and an article by an NBA player about being a good dad. The interviews were particularly egregious. I have no idea if Bethenny or Gwen are actually vapid and senseless in their real lives, but these interviews did not do anything to make me think otherwise. Take, for instance, Gwen’s comment on her fashion troubles:

“I’ve always been attracted to Japanese kids’ clothes, but they’re so hard to shop for—the websites are always in Japanese!”

COMMENTARY: Seriously, world: Why can’t everyone just speak English? It’s so unfair for us English speakers to not understand what’s being written online by people in other countries. Forget Occupy Wall Street. Perhaps Gwen, backed by Parenting, can start a movement to switch the world over to English.

But poor Gwen; you can’t blame her for struggling through this interview when you see that she was confronted by questions like this:

“Are you like us—do you ever run into Target for a toothbrush and end up spending $157 on stuff?”

COMMENTARY: Everyone, interviewer, spends too much at Target. And everyone has at some point complained that they can’t get out of Target without spending a hundred dollars. But note that figure: When making a hyperbolic complaint, the numbers generally aren’t so…specific. $157 is just a weird number. $50, or $100, or even $150—but $157? It’s just odd. All this said, I look forward to perhaps getting my two (!) little girls something cute and trendy from Gwen’s upcoming Harajuku Mini collection at Target.

Onward: to perhaps the most irritating article to date in Parenting. It’s a bold statement, I know, especially since I’m referring to an article that’s only 133 words long. (Yes, I counted the words. I’m on hospital bedrest—what else do I have to do?) The article is grating because it is full of “wordplay.” Whoever wrote this article got a little carried away on all the “humorous” ways to employ snack-related words and phrases. The article, “Chip Off the Old Block,” concerns the alarming rise of snacking in America, and aside from the title (chip! ha!), here are the other puns ‘n’ fun:
---Generation Goldfish
---Do as I say, not as I Dorito.
---son of a Funyun!

COMMENTARY: I have to admit, I can’t quite parse “son of a Funyun!” in a way that makes any kind of sense. Here’s the context: “…[S]ome kids [snack] as often as ten times a day (son of a Funyun!).” As I read it, it could have two possible meanings. First, the writer is going for a play on “son of a gun,” as in, “Son of a gun, that kid snacks a lot.” Or, the writer might be referring to a child who snacks ten times a day as a “son of a Funyun”—as in, “Any kid who snacks that much must be descended from the Funyun.” Neither of these make any sense at all, of course. And what on earth is a Funyun? Is it like a bloomin’ onion, which I would kill for right now? Son of a Funyun, I could go for a bloomin’ onion.

Speaking of snacks, we turn now to an article called “Play With Your Food,” which suggests ways to make healthy eating fun for kids. It includes the not-surprising statistic (gleaned from an undocumented source) that “50% of kids will choose broccoli over chocolate if it has an Elmo sticker on it,” which would probably hold true for Lucia. But it also includes this little bit of brilliance:

“1. Try app-y meals. Fooducate…is a mobile app that lets you scan any food with a bar code to get a quick letter grade for how real and healthy it is.”

COMMENTARY: But…but…the healthiest foods, like fruits and vegetables, don’t have bar codes. If the point is to encourage kids to choose healthy food by letting them play with an app to select said food, then you’ve automatically eliminated the best part of the grocery store! If we’re to go along with this “game,” the cart would be full of fruit roll-ups instead of fresh fruit, and Pirate Booty instead of veggies. Seems ill thought out.

This is turning into a long post—but it sure is making the day fly by. On we go to the meat of this issue: the interview with Bethenny Frankel. There is just so much here that I don’t even know where to start. I think I’ll just go line by line with a few of the best bits.

“Bryn’s not drinking enough milk right now, but that has nothing to do with me.”
“Sometimes I accidentally give Bryn food that’s just a little too hot. … What can you do?”

COMMENTARY: Lucia ate nothing but chocolate-chip cookies for five straight days, but that has nothing to do with me, even though I bought the cookies, gave them to her when she asked for them, and didn’t cook anything else. And when I noticed that the mouse in our apartment had chewed into the package and nibbled some of the cookies, I accidentally still gave them to her. But what can you do? [NOTE: This scenario has been made up. We do have a mouse. But it does not eat Lucia’s food. And so far she’s had three cookies total in her whole life. Well, maybe just a couple more than that.]

“People think I have the perfect husband and perfect life, and it’s just not the case.”

COMMENTARY: People always think Andrew’s so great (Oh, he’s so nice! So thoughtful! So welcoming!), but it’s just not the case. People always look in from the outside and see this rosy picture without seeing the dark side: the sports-watching, the Fantasy Football fixation, the insistence that I don’t dump coffee grounds all over the rim of the trash can. Look deeper, people. Look deeper.

Next up: yet another app suggestion. (Parenting should change its name to “Suggestions for Apps.”) This one is called Swackett, and it’s designed to help us figure out what to wear each day:

“If it’s cold, the ‘peeps’ appear dressed in winter hats, coats, and boots. Check it before the fam heads outside.”

COMMENTARY: Because looking at the temperature is just so hard.

Finally, a shout-out to the Overzealous Copyeditor: Congratulations—Parenting readers are learning from you! Without your having to say a thing, OC, parent-contributors (via Facebook, surely) have adopted your over-explaining style and hypervigilance. Bask in the glow of your life’s work, right here:

“We make an indoor obstacle course. … We keep track of the times, and the best chooses a healthy snack.”

COMMENTARY: Because, son of a Funyun!, choosing something like a cookie would be so very, very wrong to encourage. Yay for the parents with raw broccoli florets at the ready.

Until next time—my very first COMMENTARY written as the mother of two kids. I’ll either have copious COMMENTARY or, zombie-like, none at all.

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