Monthly Archives: January 2013

Kids’ Birthdays: Whatever Happened to Cake and Ice Cream?

If parents want to hire a party-planner, caterer, petting zoo, and bounce house for their one-year-old’s birthday party, that’s their business.

But spare me the braggadocio.

Just wait until he or she turns thirteen or fifteen, demands a hotel ballroom, Justin Bieber, or a trip to Disney World, for themselves and an entourage of eight mall-rat, text-messaging friends. Cake and ice cream will start sounding better and better.

A recent Good Morning America story contrasts the low-key celebration planned for Prince George’s first birthday with the high-ticket bashes becoming commonplace in the United States – where status-seeking parents are more likely to drop a few thousand bucks on a kids’ birthday party than provide a stay-at-home mom.–abc-news-parenting.html

It pays to get a grip – no, a firm handle – on kids’ birthday parties from the beginning. I’m not suggesting parents go down to the mill and grind their own cake flour.

I am suggesting celebrating your child’s life with a degree of restraint.

Why?  Because bigger and more expensive doesn’t make it better. Focusing on quality is where it’s at.

And just a personal note to all the mothers: I know it’s so much fun to plan the birthday party by yourself, Mom. But back off. It’s not your birthday. Ego attachment just isn’t that, que’est-ce que c’est, attractive.

For children over age four, remember that it’s  their birthday.

So help them plan their party.

Not so they can squeeze every last cent from your wallet, but so they actually gain

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Daughter’s Sleepover Disaster Leaves Mother Asking, “Was I a Bad Mom?”

A post on a moms’ social networking site really triggered my empathy genes the other day. Katie’s daughter and her sleepover guest had taken too many privileges too late at night.  Things happened that shouldn’t have, and now the mother wanted to know, “Was I a Bad Mom?” for losing her temper.

My kids also experienced sleepovers that devolved into weirdness, and on more than one occasion. Once my seven year-old daughter came home the morning after a sleepover – one she had begged and pleaded to go to – and told me the parents had let them watch “Dirty Dancing.”  I was livid.  But then the mom gave me a great pair of pruning shears Continue reading

Shame on You, Lance Armstrong

Sixth-grade field day happened in June, closer to the Fourth of July than Memorial Day, and we wore our shorts and sneakers out on the large, grassy field that comprised about three-fourths of our playground. The smaller part, next to the two-story brick building, had blacktop for playing hopscotch and four-square and getting hit in the head with a dodge ball.

We’d practiced for the big event. Kennedy had recently launched the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, and suddenly kids whose only exercise had been copying the foot work on American Bandstand were counting sit-ups.

For the 300 yard run-walk we had to make three laps around the field. I took an early lead and was soon ahead by half a lap. I couldn’t broad jump worth a darn and wasn’t any good Continue reading

The Very Important Task of Making Children Real

She blew into my “school room” on a nonexistent breeze, a fairy child with whisper-soft hair and waif-like limbs that stayed in a kind of constant, flowy, motion. In an instant, Layla had found my paper stash and began folding and Scotch taping a lined sheet into intricate shapes. Tape and fold, on and on. I asked her to sit down, and in grand style she presented me with her creation, which she called a flower.

Six-and-a-half year-old Layla’s parents had enlisted my services as a multi-sensory structured language tutor, a very rewarding career I had for about ten years. I worked both Continue reading

Why We Have a Generation of Narcissists: My Response

There’s a Current Events and Hot Topics conversation happening right now on CafeMom pertaining to a Fox News article about why we have a generation of narcissists. The writer puts forth his ideas. Here I’m giving you mine. If you disagree, fine. But it’s what I witnessed from my window on the world during a certain time in our nation’s educational history, and I know my view is shared by many.

For those of you who missed the 1980s and early ’90s, it all started back then. Roughly, from the moment Bill Clinton took office. Not that it really had anything to do with him. Education reform happens regardless of who’s in office.

The biggest and wealthiest of the world’s corporate leaders knew we were headed for globalization. They needed globalization for increased profits. After all, they knew jobs Continue reading