Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Reading

As we prepared for Christmas, C had been reading Three Wise Women, by Mary Hoffman. 
Then, at my family gift exchange, where last year I received car slippers that had working headlights, and were 2 sizes too big, this year the Christmas Angel took pity on me and my brother's girlfriend drew my name.  She gave me this book:


Have you read it?  One review: 
It is tempting to say that The Red Tent is what the Bible would be like if it had been written by women...
It's keeping me company on this cold winter night, along with my cozy car slippers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That Smell.

In the past week, Miss C has made a few requests:

Tuesday: "For Christmas, I want Jesus, the kind that won't break."

Thursday: "For Christmas, I want to celebrate chanukah, so we can eat those pancakes, and light things."

The Menorah trumps the Advent Wreath by a ratio of 2:1.  It's simple math.  More lighting things equals better.  Add in a non-breakable Jesus and you've got yourself a good time. 

C has yet to say, "For Christmas I want a Red Rider BB gun with a compass and a thing which tells time."  But, I credit myself with nothing because it's only a matter of time before she catches on that most kids ask for goods other than non-breakable nativity figures and new religion for Christmas.  Tick tock.

In the spirit of the season, today we went to the mall, and at the end of a very short errand, dropped into a toy store where C played with some Papo figurines, and also some rabbits that wear clothes and live in a house.  Whenever we're in a shop, bookstore, anywhere with toys for sale, she quickly drops to the floor and begins to play.  Today was no different, except that this store was packed.  So crowded that Miss C eventually dropped the well-dressed rabbits and began to observe all the adults around her.  She watched people pull things off shelves, take them up to the cashier, pay money for them, and then walk out.  She turned to me with her mouth ajar, and said, "Is this the kind of place where you buy things?"  Apparently, she thought this mall place was more like a museum of play, where you come in, visit the rabbits, eat a soft pretzel, and go home.

We bid the rabbits good eve, headed out into the snow, and as the blast of air hit us, C asked, "So, what was that smell in there?"  And since I couldn't quite explain that it was Yankee Candle mixed with Perfume Hut mixed with Auntie Anne mixed with Abercrombie cologne, I told her that malls have a lot of different smells in them.

"That mall," she concluded, "wears too much perfume." 

Ambient aroma: simplified.

Brand-Smart Child

“I want a hamburger” becomes “I want a Happy Meal.” “Can I get a new doll?” becomes “I need the Twilight Barbie.” Don’t look now, but preschoolers know their labels. Even 3-year-olds recognize kid-brand logos and products, according to recent research." 
Has your kid recited a commercial to you yet?  In order to get you to buy IT?

This super brief article from Working Mother explains how we can grow a consumer savvy kid amidst targeted advertising.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teeny Tiny Dancer

Two stories:

1.   Back in September, I signed Miss C up for a weekly dance class for 3 year olds.  The class is held within walking distance of our home, at a neighborhood recreation center that hosts all sorts of programs for kids.  Several parents had recommended this class, and when C asked to go, I said, "Sure." 

I read over the program description before the first class, and then we headed over to the rec center. Miss C was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.  We entered the gymnasium turned dance class and were swept into a flood of pink tutus, pink leotards, and pink tights.  C immediately took off her sneakers and socks and began running laps around the gym, barefoot.  Standard procedure.

During the 40 minute class, I sat in the hallway with a book, and intermittently talked with a few other parents.  From these sources, I learned that pink is the standard ballet color.  And that the teacher prefers all pink attire.  And no barrettes, just pink rubber bands. Because how can you head-butt your opponent ballerina if you're wearing metal hair accessories?  It just makes sense.

Since the teacher prefers pink, but does not require it, and since it was a class for 3 year olds and not auditions for the Moscow Ballet, I saw no need to run out and buy all pink gear.  I did dig into our pile of hand-me-downs and found a blue leotard and some red tights.  And old white tap shoes.  So, Miss C shows up each week looking like a 4th of July explosion.  Proudest American dancer in the U. S. of A.

On the third week of class, C and I went into the public restroom for a quick visit.  She was still in a stall, and I was washing my hands when the dance instructor came over to wash her hands.  We said hello, and then she headed out, while I leaned against the wall to wait for C.  It was loud, with toilets flushing and water running and the hand dryers blasting, so when another mother, also waiting for her child, leaned toward me and commented, it took me a few minutes to process what she said.  Or, maybe I heard her perfectly but just went into immediate denial.
She had her hand to her mouth to indicate the confidential nature of her comment (you know, the kind you make to strangers in public bathrooms) and said, "Is it just me, or is it strange that all the instructors are overweight?"

At that moment, both our girls exited their stalls and I ushered C to the sink and began doing all sorts of things for her that she can do for herself.  Like turning on the faucets, pumping the soap.  And then dance class began and I dug my nose into my book.

I didn't read because I was so distracted.  Did I hear her correctly?  Is this what dance culture is about?  I was disturbed by both her comment and my silence.  The mother sat across from me in the hallway, and as I avoided eye contact with her, I imagined going over to ask her, "Did you say it was strange that the dance teachers are overweight?  Or did you say it's strange that they are over eight?"

2.   NYT critic Alastair Macaulay reviewed a recent performance of the Nutcracker by singling out a dancer for being overweight.  He wrote:
Jennifer Wringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many.
Macaulay has been roasted since writing this, and he's responded by pointing out that no one minded when he called a male dancer overweight: 
Fat, apparently, is not so much a feminist issue as a sexist one.
In this interview, Jennifer Ringer responds.  (The actual interview begins at 2:53):


Perhaps I don't know enough about the world of dance, but I must say that at this point, I'm feeling a little more open toward Fencing for Four Year Olds.  Or perhaps, Gladiator Preschoolers.  Something with a little heart, where all the instructors are hopefully, over eight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not Awesome

Oh Reality TV...do you remember MTV's Real World?
Where there were some likable people?  Along with Puck?
And we got to watch them, in Trumanville style, form bonds and argue, and hock loogies?
(HMG) – David Rainey, much better known as Puck, the rebellious star of MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco” was badly injured after a car accident in Southern California last week and remains hospi
I've been away from reality TV for some time now, except for that episode of Hoarders I watched with Dave a few weeks back just to let him know that a few used teacups lying about?  At least they're not 4 month old rotting pumpkins. 

Anyway, here's a show about how important it is to have the perfect body and face on your wedding day.   Perfection as defined by the re-imaged and computer created model.

On this show, women compete to win the prize of plastic surgery in order to fulfill the dream of the perfect wedding.
According to the show's description:
contestants who are voted off risk walking away with nothing and losing their chance to be the perfect bride.
Because, you only get one chance to be the perfect bride!  And if you screw up, none of those life-long vows you mutter will matter one iota.

Can you imagine if they recruited the women for this show, and then instead of filming them fight each other for 4 months, surprised them with a Self Love Boot Camp?  And they all won? 

A girl can dream.

(Thanks to Ariel for sending this on.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A is for Awesome

Someone turned 4 last month, and since July she has been asking for an ant farm.

This request began one morning when C woke up and told me, "I just dreamed about an ant.  I want an ant, I want to have my very own ant."

That day, and throughout the next week, every time C saw an ant she dropped to the ground, plastered her cheek to the pavement, and declared that this just might be her ant.  She would wiggle along the ground, lifting her cheek only occasionally, and follow the crooked line of the ant, telling me that she should bring this one home "and take her to bed and snuggle her and love her and eat pancakes with her."

While I'm all for extending the love in our home, I'm not in favor of tucking Miss C into bed with a dozen ants each night.  This really, really, upset her, and she took it to be a "no" along the lines of refusing her food and water, because bringing an ant home, she informed me, was not something she wanted.  It was something she needed. And the ant needed it too, couldn't I tell by just watching how quickly they scurried away from her fingers as they tried to give tiny little ant hugs?

About a week after The Ant Dream, I was pulling C around our neighborhood in a wagon, and she suddenly began shouting, "AN ANT!  AN ANT!  MY ANT!"  She had been doing this, ant spotting, as though finding an ant on the ground in mid-July might be akin to spotting a giraffe wandering the horizon of our backyard.  A rare treat.  So, I didn't turn around, but said, "Mm-hmm," and kept pulling.  Her cries grew more insistent and frenzied, but the wagon was heavy and I had momentum on my side.  Starting up a wagon pull from scratch requires a lot more than continuous motion provides, so I wasn't about to sacrifice the roll we had going for an ant, even her ant.  So, she bailed, leapt out of the moving vehicle and darted toward the middle of the road where she assumed the plastered position. Next to this:
 
Now that's an ant I can handle.  I will admit that I didn't let her take the ant right away.  I thought maybe some other ant-addicted kid had dropped it and would be scouring the streets, moaning and weeping for the beloved single antennae creature.  We stopped by the ant area later in the day, and the ant was still there, waiting patiently, with some tire tread marks over it.  She scooped it up, brought her ant home, bathed it, cuddled it, and fed it pancakes the next morning.  And every night, I'd tuck her in, next to the snuggly plastic ant.

As November approached, the Mr. and I knew that we'd be getting C an ant farm so she could bring real live ants of the world into our home.  (Or, as a friend suggested, we could have just sprinkled sugar along our countertops and let the magic happen.  Cheaper, I suppose.)  We ordered the ant farm, but it came sans ants.  Being late fall, there was nary an ant in sight, so we placed an ant order and waited.  ( I do not recommend having your kid open an ant farm on their birthday only to tell them, 'The ants will arrive in 5-8 business days.')

5 business days later, it was a balmy Saturday afternoon and C and I were outside chalking when the mailwoman arrived.  (When I write that word, mailwoman, Blogger underlines it in red, as a mistake or misspell, but not when I write 'mailman.'  So how does one call their female postal employee?)  Our mail carrier, deliverer of letters and all things wonderful, as well as holder of bills and other unpleasant surprises, cautiously approached our house.  I assured her that The Beast was inside, our Boxer who would viciously kill you with slobber and love were he given any opportunity.  She smiled a rather distrusting smile, the kind that you give to people who think their pets are just fine despite any evidence to the contrary, like the Turner and Hooch type things hanging from his mouth.  And she deposited not one, but two packages into our mailbox.  We opened the big package and it was a beautiful book from my friend Katie.

The book is an alphabet tour of amazing women.  A is for Ameila Earhart, B is for Babe Didrikson Zaharias, C for Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, D for Dolores Huerta.  The biographies are one page apiece with beautiful mixed-media illustrations.  I love this book because I get to learn about living women I probably should have heard of, but have not, such as Maya Lin, who designed the Vitenam Veterans Memorial.

Of Nawal El Sadaawi the text reads,
When Nawal was born in Egypt, the births of boys were celebrated but the births of girls were mourned.
It goes on to quote her beautiful writing,
 "Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies."
C and I sat there, chalk aside, reading the book and looking at the pictures.  After a long while, we got up and opened the second, smaller package, pulling out the vial of ants.
And the ants?  They're just fine