We Are Both Right

Our Two Cents: Advice for a Mom Who Needs Some Rest

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Do your kids have a different bedtime in the summertime? ©hoefi/stock.xchng

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

I’m tired. Oh so tired. It’s summer obviously, and to my kids and my husband, among other things, that means everyone gets to stay up later. Lovely! Fabulous! Except it isn’t so much and I’m the mean one.

I love my kids (ages 7 and 10) and I’m glad they are home all day (I’m a stay-at-home mom), but I need a break. It used to be I got it at 9 p.m. after they had all gone to bed. Now they are both convinced that since they don’t need to wake up in the morning they can stay up as late as they like.

They have the backing of my husband who is glad to spend some “real time” with them. He works until 7:30 p.m. or so and usually doesn’t get home until after 8. During the school year he would only see them for an hour or so, now they have the whole evening together. And that’s great. But I am with them all day and I need some time for myself. Not to mention, I’m not really crazy about them sleeping in until 10 or 11 every morning.

I need a break, but how do I get it without being the scrooge who stole summer?

–ZZZZZZZZ

Amanda: Easy. You take it.

It sounds to me like you don’t begrudge your husband time with his kids. So give it to him. At 9 p.m., or whatever time it is you choose, announce that mom is done for the day. And mean it. Head into your room and go to sleep, catch up on your DVR viewing in the family room, go out for a drink with a friend. But whatever you do, don’t be a mom. Don’t unload the dishes, don’t make a snack for your daughter, don’t take the dog for a walk. Take your break and let the rest of your family fend for themselves.

Sound mean? Hardly. It’s just for a few hours every night and it’s not like you can’t put your “mom” hat back on in an instant if you need (or want to). Explain to everyone what you just told us. That you are working long, hard days and while you love your family very, very much, you need a break at the end of the day, a chance to unwind. And who knows, you may decide that you want to join dad and the kids in playing Monopoly or watching a movie or whatever it is they are doing until the wee small hours of the morning.

The one thing I would be firm on is the morning wake up time. It is summer, so I do give my kids a bit of a break in terms of not turning on the alarm clock. But I make them get up by 10 a.m. the latest and if they choose to sleep in that long, they don’t get to watch television until after dinner. It’s easy to whittle away the long summer days, but I know I don’t want my kids sitting on the couch or in bed all day, I’m afraid it will mess up their internal clocks too much. And if by chance we do have something to do that requires an early wake-up in the morning, I do make them go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Good luck! Enjoy your not-mommy time.

Suzanne: Ah, the curse of summer. Everyone is so happy to be footloose and fancy-free but at the same time you get robbed of any me-time you might have carved out during the rest of the year.

If you can’t get the family’s understanding that you are home but off-duty, then maybe you should find an evening summer course — tennis, book club, or yoga — that gives you some “scheduled” time away. Or, suggest to your husband that he take the kids to the ball field or playground after dinner, and tucker them out so they come home ready to climb into bed.

As for them sleeping in, why don’t you consider those extra hours a chance to fit in some bonus time for yourself? Read a book, do your nails, sit outside with your coffee. Take a slow start to your day and you could find yourself in sync with the rest of the crew, ready to enjoy a late summer evening together.

Just look at it this way — it’s really only for a few weeks. Soon enough you will be shopping for marble notebooks and glue sticks, and then it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming.

******************************

What is your advice to our poor, tired mom? (Whisper, I think she might be asleep.) Do your kids have a different bedtime in the summer?

And if you need advice x 2, send us a note at advice@wearebothright.com.

Bring Back the Reality in Youth Sports

Whatever happened to sometimes you win, sometimes you lose? ©Sarah DeVries/stock.xchng

Sports are life.

And I don’t mean that in an obsessed, narrowly-focused way, if that’s what you were thinking.

It’s not that life is all about sports. It’s just that sports are very much like life.

When you play sports, you have a goal in mind. You practice and work toward that goal because that’s where you want to be.

And sports aren’t always fair — just like life. Sometimes the teams are not well-matched. Sometimes an official’s call doesn’t go your way. Sometimes you just lose. And get over it. And move on. And go back at it again the next day.

So when it comes to kids playing sports, I’m all for it. For exactly these reasons. I want my children to be focused, dedicated, good losers and great winners — in whatever they choose to do in life.

You know my type, right? The parent who stands on the sidelines at a child’s game and jumps around like the Super Bowl is on the line. Crazed and chest-pounding when the kid scores a goal.

Yeah. Crazy.

Except that’s not quite me. (I’m more of the pacing, photo-snapping type.)

But as much as those parents get a bad rap about sending youth sports in the wrong direction, I kind of identify with them. At least more than with the new-age sports parent who thinks that everyone should win and the kids shouldn’t even know that the idea of keeping score exists. Because that’s what I’m seeing more of every week when we walk out onto a field.

My son’s eight now, five years into the world of youth sports. You would think by now we could all (kids included) face the reality that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But no. Parents get upset when a child comes off the diamond crying because a ball went through his legs. Parents tell kids that the game was tied, even and (especially when) it was as lopsided as the “mercy rule” would let it get.

I just don’t go for that. When a child cries because she is disappointed in her performance (and believe me, it’s not because anyone put pressure on her), acknowledge that you understand she wanted to do better because she knows she can (which is why she’s disappointed in herself to begin with). And that if she goes back out there and tries again, and keeps practicing, she’ll make it happen next time. Don’t stand there and cry with her and say this is too much pressure and tell the coach that your baby needs to go home now.

Remember how your toddler would fall down and wait for your reaction to know what his would be? Same thing. You get hysterical, and give in (and up) and so will he.

Children can gain a lot from sports. Physical stamina. Focus. The value of teamwork. A huge sense of accomplishment. Persistence. An orientation to adversity.

That’s all real stuff. Things that will come up throughout their lives. And sure, no three-year-old needs to be face-to-face with adversity every Saturday morning, but a little can’t hurt.

My son started playing soccer at three years old because he asked me every day when he could be on a team. There was no coercion to get him down there every week. And the coaches had great drills that allowed the kids to have fun and learn skills within their short spans of attention. So when he started coming off the field during their “games” waving his fingers every time a goal was scored, I knew he was into it.

One time he ran up to the coach and tugged his shirt and proudly held up a full hand of stubby fingers, jumping and saying “Five. We have five goals.” And the coach bent down and said, “I know, I know. But we don’t keep score.”  Hmmm? My son was puzzled, but after a few more times, I explained to him that for now, everyone was just playing for fun and to learn the game, so we didn’t have to count the goals every time they went in. When he was bigger, we would start keeping score.

And? He kept doing it, out of sheer excitement. And I’m still waiting until the day when we can truly keep score. Out in the open. Because as of third grade, there are still parents pretending like “everyone wins.” And as long as they all get trophies at the end of the year (which is fine and good) there are no losers. When does the reality kick in? And how do you turn that on in two, three, or even five years, when all along you have been teaching the kids that winning doesn’t matter.

The answer is that the drive to win and an understanding of winning and losing comes from within the kids. So why are we denying them that natural feeling when it’s coming about sooner than some of us are ready for?

For my son, it was three. Others might get it at five. But I know for a fact that when these kids learn how to count, they know what a score means. They know if they got more or the other team did.

And just because we’re standing on the sidelines telling them that winning is not important, they still feel it. It’s inherent. We all want to win. At whatever we do. Otherwise what’s the point of working at it? The satisfaction of winning once and a while is a taste of success, something that makes you want it more. And if we take that away from our kids, then they’ll never know what it is to compete.

So what exactly are we teaching our kids when winning becomes a non-issue? That being competitive is in poor taste? We’re teaching them not to care, that’s what. We are dampening their drive and taking away from the lesson of working hard for what you want.

Life isn’t about going out there, lobbing a ball around, and if you catch it, you catch it. And if you don’t, oh well, everyone wins anyway. Think about a child who grows up with everything being fair. He’ll be out there as an account executive someday missing a quota, telling his boss that  it shouldn’t matter that he was the lowest performer, because he tried really hard.

That’s not to say we need to focus only on winning. Good sportsmanship, win or lose, is absolutely important. Trying your best and being supportive of teammates are essential lessons in youth sports.

But in the end, having a measurable goal, whether you get there or not, is part of the game.

************
What’s your take on youth sports? Having seen her fair share of over-the-top sports parents, Amanda keeps her cheering (and herself) on the sidelines at all times.

The Word’s Most Reluctant Sports Parent

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Even in a crowd, I'm easy to pick out at games -- I'm the one with my hands over my eyes. ©code1name /stock.xchng

Depending on your perspective, I’m either the best sports parent or the worst.

My kids have both been playing sports for a while now — both kids started soccer when they were three. My son played lacrosse and still plays basketball and baseball and my daughter plays lacrosse and softball.

When my kids are in action, I sit quietly in the stands, watching the game. I never know the score, don’t know how much time is left or what inning it is. I do cheer, but not too often and it’s usually a “good try!” after someone has made a mistake. I never, ever, coach my child (not that I would know what to say) other than to shout, “I know you can do it!” I clap after any good play, no matter which team made it.

I believe that competition is good for kids. I’m not a parent that thinks all games should end in a zero-zero tie, nor do I think that score shouldn’t be kept. I do. But I do believe that too much emphasis is put on the competitive and “being the best” aspects of games way too early. My son started Little League when he was 7. The boys on his team and those he competed against were his age and a year older. It was a coach-pitch division. On the first day of practice I was horrified to hear a couple of parents discussing the vitamin supplements they were giving their kids and how the sessions with the personal athletic trainers were going. For elementary school children.

My son played lacrosse when he was 8. I had to stop going to the games because I couldn’t deal with the parents who were so passionate about the game, they couldn’t control themselves. Like the father who constantly harangued his son during play, giving him directions that often contrasted with what the coaches were saying. Or the other dad who ran on to the field during a break in the game to scream in the face of his third grader, telling him that he was going to have to “walk the expletive home” if he didn’t stop making “stupid plays.”

Fun times.

I realize that parents like this are not the rule, they are the exception. But they exist and they concern me. Whatever happened to playing sports for the fun of it? Certainly there is a competitive element — an important part of the game for sure — but is it naive of me to think that the main reason kids want to play sports in the first place is to have a good time?

I sign my kids up for organized competitive team sports because they ask to. In joining and playing on a team, I hope they learn some important life and social lessons in leadership, teamwork, discipline and what to do when things don’t quite go their way, whether it’s a bad call or a bad day. I hope they get some exercise and get fit in the process. I hope they learn to both win and lose well, with dignity and grace.

I’m glad that my kids have confidence to play sports — the thought of standing up to bat or shooting a basket from the foul line terrifies me. That they have not only the courage, but the ability to do it, makes me very proud.

But above all else, win or lose, I want them to be happy. And to be kids.

Suzanne doesn’t quite paint her face with the colors of her kid’s teams, but she’s definitely more ardent about sports then I am. Still, I’d trust her to coach my kids any time.

Round Two: Brother vs. Sister with Mommy in the Middle

Are you a referee for your kids? Or do you let them solve sibling fights on their own? ©Julia Freeman-Woolpert/stock.xchng

I can hear my children right now in the family room and the pitch is rising by the minute. Do I really need to go down there again?

It could be that the little one is “accidentally” kicking her brother as he lays on the floor watching the baseball game.

Or maybe he’s back to tormenting her about the fly that got in before and how it’s going to eat them alive.

Whatever it is, I’m now listening to a high pitched scream. Now a cry. And some whimpering. Yep, it’s time to kick it into high gear and swoop in.

“She hit me,” says the one holding his head. “He was taking my toy,” she whines. “She wrote on my cards.” And on it goes.

Sibling rivalry? I don’t know if that’s exactly the right term. It’s not about competing against each other, like in school or sports. It’s a battle that tends to erupt between siblings who have to share the same space. And if you have more than one child, it probably needs no further explanation.

But the question at hand is whether or not a parent should intervene.

There’s something to be said for duking it out and solving your own problems. That’s the way I was raised, with one of my mom’s famous lines being: “I’m not your referee.” So my younger sister and brother and I usually had to figure out our own disputes, sometimes in hand to hand combat, but most of the time by talking it out.

Except that I’m having a hard time just letting them go at it, without jumping in to — well, referee.

Maybe it’s their age gap. Five years means a mismatched fight. Not that my son would intentionally hurt his sister, but if she gets going, I know he’ll be victim to a sneak attack. And my kids aren’t overly physical otherwise. But some days, they really manage to bring out the worst in each other.

And it’s times like those when my parental instinct kicks in — the one that tells me to do whatever necessary to stop whatever it is that’s hurting a child of mine (even if it’s another child of mine).

So I tend to get in the middle — a lot. My objectives are 1. stop the fighting and 2. sit them down to talk out the issues. They have to see each other’s side of the story and under my jurisdiction come up with a satisfactory resolution. Sometimes that’s enough time for them to cool off, other times they just wait for me to leave before starting up again.

Am I getting in the way of normal development, or do you think it really is a parent’s job to manage sibling infighting?

************
Hey Amanda, when you’re done with that blood pressure cuff, can I borrow it? And do you want to trade a kid each while we’re at it — mix things up a bit?

Our Two Cents: The Not-So-Scary Movie That Scared a Friend Away

When it comes to scary movies, ask (mom) first, then press play. ©Jason Smith/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne:

Two weeks ago my 10-year-old son Jack and his friend Frank were playing at our house. While I don’t know Frank’s parents super-well, he’s been at our house at least six or seven times and my son at theirs as well.

They asked to watch the movie “Transformers” which is rated PG-13. My son has seen the movie quite a few times (we own it on DVD) and Frank said he had seen it before. The two were acting out scenes and quoting dialogue from the movie, so I went ahead and let them watch it. Normally I’d ask the other parent about letting a child see a PG-13 movie, but since Frank seemed so well-versed in it, I didn’t really give it a second thought.

I wasn’t home when Frank’s dad picked him up (my husband was), and nothing was said about what the boys watched. A few days later I got a call from Frank’s mom who was very upset that the boys had watched a PG-13 movie. I apologized right away, but pointed out that Frank said he had already seen it and it didn’t appear to have scared him. The mom angrily responded that it wasn’t the point, that she would have appreciated a phone call. I said I was sorry once more and we hung up. Ever since then, Frank has not been able to come over to our house, nor have their been any invitations for Jack to come to his. At school, Frank told Jack that his mom was mad at me and that he wasn’t allowed to play with my son anymore.

I’m so upset about this, but part of me wonders if the mom is overreacting. Should I call back and apologize once again? I don’t think I need to, but Jack misses his friend.

–Unrated

Amanda: I’ve come to find that in parenting, everyone’s got an “issue” (or seven). At least one thing that gets under their skin and irritates and annoys and drives them crazy whenever they are simply a witness or experience it directly. (For me, it’s parents who don’t watch their kids closely on playgrounds. It just makes me irrationally angry. Also? Moonsand.)

I think you’ve stumbled on to Frank’s mom’s issue. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a point — as you admit yourself, probably should have called her before the boys hit “play” on your DVD player. But you didn’t and she was bothered by it, you had a conversation and you apologized. And apparently, your apology wasn’t accepted.

Normally I’d say to let it go, but keeping in mind that there are two children involved who did nothing wrong and are paying the consequences, I’d give it one more shot. Give her a call, write a note, shoot off an e-mail, once again admitting your mistake and saying how sorry you are. Don’t mention what Frank told Jack, don’t try to justify your actions by pointing out that Frank’s already seen the movie. For all you know, the movie causes Frank to have nightmares or maybe he behaves poorly after viewing it. Maybe she’s not a fan of him acting out the script. Whatever her reason, the decision is hers to make, not yours and she has every right to make and stand by it.

Suzanne: For the sake of your son’s friendship, you might have to fall on your sword this time. (Or better make that a foam light sabre, since we’re aiming to take violence out of the equation in this case.) Give it another go and make a call.

It’s unlikely that she’s so mad that she won’t pick up, so when you get her on the phone start right off by saying: “I’m so sorry that I upset you and Frank and I’d like to be able to do something to assure you that we won’t have any mix-ups like that again. Most of the time I don’t put much stock in ratings only because I’ve had friends who didn’t approve of some G-rated movies because of anti-religious undertones so I always ask a parent before they watch any TV or movies. In this case, Frank seemed to know so much about the movie that I assumed he had been allowed to see it previously. Of course, I should not have assumed. I just hope that we can find a way to make this work for their sake.”

And now the ball is in her court once again. She’ll either have had time to rethink the situation and understand that you didn’t intend to overstep her and allow the boys to resume their friendship.

Or she won’t. In which case you made your best effort.

Like Amanda said, a child’s parent always has the last word — even if it does come across as overreacting to anyone else involved. After all, she’s the one who probably had to sleep on the last inch of bed if Frank awoke at 2 a.m. after being at your house. And that explains a lot.

In either case, you will know you made your best effort and never intended to be hurtful in the first place. Be sure to update your son and maybe come up with a few other “safe” viewing choices for the next time a friend comes over.

*********************************************

What’s your view on kids watching movies out of their age range? Was Unrated wrong?

If you’ve got a question that needs two opinions (or just want to know what movies we’re watching these days), send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com.

And the Debate on Vaccinations Continues…

Say the word vaccination in a roomful of parents and you better be ready for an onslaught of opinions. Because it doesn’t matter what approach you take to childhood vaccinations — whether avoiding them altogether, staggering the schedule, or going along with national recommendations — someone is likely to disagree with you.

Just the other day, I had an interesting conversation with a new dad on the topic. He is debating the pros and cons of having his children vaccinated according to government guidelines and knew that the often-quoted study linking vaccinations to autism had been debunked. Still it wasn’t comforting enough, because we both knew about other cases of children suffering brain damage and a variety of developmental setbacks immediately following a set of vaccinations.

And then he pointed me to this link — which I can’t help but consider sensationalist in some respects. But then again, who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?

It’s enough to make you second-guess yourself. And then guess again. Which is what I did a few months after my second child was born. I had just walked into the waiting room where my son was taking swimming lessons, and no sooner did I place the car seat carrier at my feet than I heard from two other moms in the room — whom I had never met before.

Completely unsolicited, and with the oddest timing, the first came right out and told me that she hoped I wasn’t getting my baby vaccinated according to schedule. The second chimed in with the litany of developmental delays her own child had experienced and which she attributed to a set of vaccinations the child had received.

I thanked them, saying of course I was cautious in everything I chose for my children, and would take that all into consideration. Inside, I was shaking. Not scared, not mad. Just questioning myself and the decisions I had made.

Ultimately, we went ahead and S. received her full set of vaccinations. I staggered a few so that she would get no more than two at a time, but otherwise, she had everything her pediatrician recommended.

When I talked to Amanda about it later, we discovered that we had each done our fair share of research on the subject, and then some with each additional child. The more we knew, the more questions we had. And even though the oldest children had done just fine, it didn’t stave off the worrying about how the younger ones would be.

You also come to realize that there are risks on all sides of the story. With mandatory vaccinations, there’s always some degree of sacrificing the well-being of an unlucky few for the benefit of many. Then again, it’s only because there’s still a majority of children who get vaccinated that allows unvaccinated children to benefit from herd immunity. Otherwise parents might be back to worrying about children dying of diseases like polio instead.

So there’s certainly a lot for parents to think about when it comes to vaccinations. What was your approach?

When it Comes to the Past, Honesty is the Best Policy

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How honest will you be with your kids about your past? ©ubik2010/stock.xchng

My friend Tracy loves (LOVES) to tell a story about one New Year’s Eve night when we were in high school. I don’t know how it came about, but along with our group of friends, the chip and the dip, and Dick Clark on television, there was an assortment of wine coolers and her mother was O.K. with it.

My friends, who for the most part not only towed the “good kid” line but probably knitted it themselves, were surprisingly thrilled about this turn of events, happy to kick back and do the wrong thing for once (even if it was under parental supervision).

I wasn’t.

It was illegal. We shouldn’t be doing this. Tracy’s mom could get in trouble. My parents would kill me.

I look back now and laugh (and roll my eyes) at my goody-two-shoeness (I think there were eight wine coolers total for six kids plus the aforementioned grown up), but  I do remember being completely panicked in that moment, my sense of what was right completely at odds with what my friends were doing.

Eventually I caved, agreeing to try the sweet, fizzy “hard stuff” but when I brought the bottle to my lips, I couldn’t go through with it. I balked, firmly putting it on the table and saying “no” in what I can imagine was a tone that invoked the height of sanctimony and memories of Nancy Reagan.

(That Tracy is still puts up with me astounds me.)

It wouldn’t be until two years later when I would eventually try my first underage alcoholic drink, courtesy of (gasp!) Suzanne (my most responsible friend) who introduced me to the wonder that is grocery store wine.

So there it is. My sordid backstory. In my next blog I’ll tell you about the time I returned a library book a week late.

When the day comes when my kids ask about drugs and alcohol and the pressures that come with being a teen, I will be honest. Easy for me to say. It’s easy to tell the truth about your past when you don’t have one. Still, everyone has transgressions. And whether it’s underage drinking, cheating on a homework assignment, failing your driver’s test (twice!), I think it’s important to share them with your kids.

I think (and hope) that talking with them often and honestly will only keep the lines of communication open. Whenever my kids get into trouble or are having an issue with someone or something, I try to relay a tale from my own youth. We talk about why I made a certain decision and what the outcome was. Was there something I could have done better? Do I have any regrets? I think on many levels, conversations like this humanize me, and hopefully show them as you grow up, the decisions get harder, especially when there are many different influencing factors — doing what’s right vs. doing what’s socially acceptable.

And there was a good lesson in my turning down the drink that New Year’s Eve. My friends, although they rolled my eyes at my refusal, were still my friends the next day. (And in the case of Tracy, 20 years later.)

I don’t know. Maybe I better leave this part of parenting to my husband. As a teen on a Friday night you could regularly find him in the bleachers behind his school partying with his friends. He even brought his own six pack.

Of Yoo-Hoo.

Sigh.

What do you think? Will you be (or have you already been) honest with your kids about your life as a young person?

Suzanne and I have similar backgrounds — if she had been at that party, she wouldn’t have had a wine cooler either, but still, she’s decided that not sharing her past details with her kids is the way to go.

Hoping My Kids Learn from My Experience (or Lack Thereof)

Is it do as I say or do as I did when it comes to your teens? © Cole Lundstrom / stock.xchng

Sure, I would like for my children to learn from my youthful transgressions so that their teen years are lived without regret. In fact, I would be even happier if they copied my experience down to a T.

That would mean that the biggest fight we’ll have is when they come in late after (soberly) driving home a few friends who had too much to drink –which is about as far as both my husband and I can go in sharing our wild and crazy acts of teenage rebellion with them.

(OK, there might be a few other things, but nothing of consequence. PM me if you really need to know.)

Because the truth is that I have no plans to come clean to my kids about every little (and for the most part I mean really little) misstep I might have taken as a teen.

What good would it do? Yeah, I might feel relieved. They might even think I’m cool and human, if only for a second. But then it will amount to nothing else but permission for them to do the very same thing.

Hopefully, the outcome of any limits they push will be as uneventful as in my experience, but if not? I would feel like I gave them permission to go ahead and try whatever it was.

I would much rather tell them that we would  be disappointed if they made the wrong choices or put themselves in danger — just like being scared-straight by my parents worked for me on the big stuff, like using drugs.

I also have no shame in pulling out other people’s sad stories to make my point.  Along with locks of hair and baby pictures, my son’s baby book includes a newspaper article about a local car accident that killed an otherwise responsible teenager because he made a bad choice one night. While there’s no shortage of these stories, I was compelled to save this one for future reference — like maybe to be wrapped around L.’s learner’s permit. He will absolutely question my sanity, especially when he sees the date of the article and wonders why I was worrying about this before he could even walk, but maybe that will make him stop and think.

Most of all, I hope that the honest discussions we have now are going to make a difference in how our children make decisions on their own. This is part of the reason why we don’t feel the need to shield our school-age son from real-life events, like the drug problems in our schools or the syringes which have been found in parks at local ball fields. He needs to know about the tough situations and choices that he will face in just a few short years.

We have even role-played peer pressure in age-appropriate ways and told him that he’s the one who has to be happy with his decisions — not his friends.  Just the other day, we had another opportunity to talk about being guilty by association. He knows that if he is with someone who does something wrong, like stealing or bullying, he will be just as guilty as the person who did the crime.

So it’s not that we want to paint this lily-white picture and hope that he and his sister just go along with it. Our intent is that they will know the tough choices that come with the territory of being a teen, and that they will have enough self-respect to make the right choices based on what they want for the future.

You think that’s pie in the sky? It worked on me and my husband, and we see it working already with our son. We’ve watched him make choices with his friends that aren’t always the most popular, but he’s got the self-confidence already to know that there’s more to life than what friends think.

And so even though we won’t be spilling our guts about our wild and crazy days (Ha.) they’ll still know that we know what we’re talking about.

If Amanda and I had gone to the same high school, we would have been inducted into the Goody-Two Shoes Society together. But I guess I still have more to hide, since she’s planning to tell all to her teens.  (And just to set the record straight, I don’t remember giving her a wine cooler. That must have been someone pushier with brown hair.)

Is Banning Circumcisions in San Francisco A Parental Rights Issue?

If you live in San Francisco, it’s possible that come November, you’ll be voting on a ballot measure that would make circumcising boy who is under 18 years old a misdemeanor crime with the penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The movement to ban the centuries-old ritual, usually done on a boy within a few days of his birth, is being led by 59-year-old Lloyd Schofield, who said of the procedure to Reuters, “It’s excruciatingly painful and permanently damaging surgery that’s forced on men when they’re at their weakest and most vulnerable.”

Circumcisions are an obligation for those who are Jewish and are very common in the Muslim faith.

But no matter how you feel about the practice, even those who are against circumcisions are questioning a constitutionality of a law that would allow the government to not only interfere with a person’s freedom of religion, but dictate what parents can and cannot do.

Still, Schofield isn’t convinced that parental rights are at play here. “Parents are guardians,” he said to the San Francisco Examiner. “They are not owners of children. It’s a felony to tattoo a child.”

I’m not going to get into my own views on circumcision, but I will say I am against this potential law, simply because I think as a parent, I should be the one who gets to decide what is in the best interest of my child. Schofield is right — I don’t own my children. But until they are adults, able to care for themselves emotionally, physically and financially, I am their guardian and I’m charged with the most important (and wonderful) task of supporting them. Loving them. Making certain decisions on their behalf. Raising them.

What do you think? Would you support any law that restricts what decisions you can make as a parent?

Watch Out For Those Wiffle Balls

Right now I’m trying to think of all the ways a child could get hurt with a wiffle ball, or even a wiffle bat for that matter.

I’m coming up blank. Any ideas?

Maybe I should check with the New York State Department of Health which recently tried to classify games like wiffle ball and dodgeball as dangerous sports. They must have had good reason to dedicate the time and effort to proposing new regulations that require youth recreational programs to have a medical professional onsite if such games are being played,  or — and here’s where it all starts to make sense — pay a fee instead.

If you take a look at this list, kids also get hurt at camp changing their clothes. Go figure. But if my son flips over the wall while playing ga-ga ball (his favorite camp activity, which is an Israeli game I knew nothing about until he started going to summer camp) might I ask the State to cover the cost of bandages for his wounds? Is that what the fees would go toward? Probably not. Because this just sounds like another way for a government body to make money.

They’ll really stretching it now though. And being mighty contradictory, if you ask me. While they’re banning sugar from schools and taking sodium out of restaurant food, they are also putting up roadblocks to kids exercising. Are we not still concerned about the national obesity epidemic?

So when you actually convince your child that running around playing tag (another risky game in question) on a hot summer day is better than sitting inside in the air conditioning playing video games, get ready to pay more.  Because if a regulation like this does ever get implemented it’s going to cost more for the camp (and ultimately for you when the fees get passed along) for them to do this. For no reason. It’s not even like paying more for fruit than potato chips because it’s a healthier choice.

Luckily the public outcry was enough to put this idea on the back burner for now. Depending on how bad the deficit gets, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ultimately becomes policy.

Do you think this is a good way to ensure our kids’ safety? Or is it just another money maker?