13 posts categorized "Age-appropriate"

Throwback Thursday: Extracurricular Activities

September 19, 2013

As we settle into our school-years, some of us settle into a schedule of extracurricular activities.  Today's Throwback Thursday recounts past conversations on extracurriculars:

And some open threads:

And - finally - what do you do while waiting?

Skateboard for a Preschooler: Yay or Nay?

September 01, 2013

My almost-four year-old has been pining over skateboards of late. "I really want a skateboard..." And "I can't wait to get a skateboard for my birthday." It is a tiny bit surprising since we don't have too many friends who skateboard. Nonetheless, it's something we're considering. Mamas and papas: do you have thoughts or experience to share? Make, model and sizing tips?

Working Mama Guilt: Asking too much of the kids?

October 29, 2012

Last week, I reached a tipping point where too much was too much.  Posted on my Facebook page:

Just when my mama guilt was at 200% for too much travel & work in the past two weeks, I shared with a colleague, who told me that two decades of all work, no home resulted in a broken marriage, estranged children, and much loneliness. Signal to recalibrate. Worse: when my daughter came home just now, she said, "Mom! I never see you anymore."

The reality is that I work.  Have to.  The reality is that the hours can be long and late.  Have to.  The reality is that I have to ask my kids to step up and help me.  Have to.  Aged 12 and almost-9, I have been asking them to ready themselves in the morning when their dad and I have to leave super early.  They feed themselves breakfast, get themselves dressed, and get themselves to school.  In the afternoons, sometimes my older child can be home alone from 3 to 6pm.  And, sometimes, I will leave instructions on how to heat up dinner, maybe a casserole that needs to be warmed for an hour.  And in the largest request for my children to be independent: I asked them to come home from school alone, to fix their after-school snacks, to get homework done, and to get themselves to their after-school lesson (2.3 miles away, via bike, via well-known safe route), then to get themselves back home again.

To be sure, these are pretty tall orders, espcially for our pre-teens.  Also to be sure, I would have come up with alternatives if I could think of any (ask a neighbor for a ride? Tried two who couldn't.  Get a cab? Cost - and - would it was just as (un-)safe? Reschedule? Couldn't finagle that either).  Whenever possible, we do plan for homework groups or calling on neighbors to try to fill in where we cannot.  As we all know, it takes a village.

As the product of two working parents, the oldest of three, I was left alone with my siblings a lot.  From a young age, I cooked, cleaned, helped shuttle to after-school activities, in addition to my own homework load and my own after-school activities.  I also helped care for a younger cousin (or two) often.  I am sensitive to the loneliness that can stem from being alone after-school for too long.  I am sensitive to asking for too much from our youngsters from such a young age.

Then again: Can it be all-together avoided?  Is it all-together bad to ask them to contribute in this way, taking ownership over self and activities, playing large part in meeting family needs (like preparing dinner)?

A mother's mortality; how much do we tell our kids?

July 24, 2012

Today I went, with my three boys, to my obstetrician's office. We weren't there for fun. I was undergoing a LEEP procedure to shock off some shockingly bad cells from my cervix. After one bad pap smear prior to becoming pregnant with Everett, the more-common-than-I-ever-knew-at-22 cervical "pre-cancer" had returned.

Dr. Kehoe was reassuring and spirit-cheering. She'd told me that I had nothing to worry about, really; we'd get rid of the bad cells and I'd still have a mostly-intact cervix and an ability to birth babies. I said something to Everett, who's now 10, about the aim of the appointment several weeks ago when I went in for the biopsy procedure. This time, though I skimmed over it (I think I might have said exactly, "cut some bad cells out of me so I'll be healthy") I didn't give as much information.

"Why do you seem so worried?" asked Everett as we locked the door on our way out of the house.

"I don't think it's going to be very much fun," I said. "It's going to be very un-fun."

But at its core what I'm worried about is the very real exposure to my own mortality. As sole caregiver to my boys for the next year -- and, as I sometimes worry, the only one so equipped to love them in the particular way they seem to need -- the idea of them having to live without me is too stark to face, for me, or them.

Continue reading "A mother's mortality; how much do we tell our kids?" »

Time's new cover: extended breastfeeding

May 11, 2012

Everyone's talking about it, so why don't we?  What do you think of Time's new cover?  Are you an extended breastfeeder?  What does this image say to you?  

Hunger Games: have you read/seen it? Have your kids?

April 20, 2012

When our 11.5-year old daughter was picking out a new book at the store a few months ago, she snatched up The Hunger Games.  More often, I feel like I want to tell them what to read.  Less often, I feel like I want to tell them what NOT to read.

I knew nothing of the book, aside from the fact that 3 of my daughters closer friends had already read it and loved it.  "She looooooved this book", my daughter oozed.  Well, ok.  Fine by me.  I know her friends and their families and, though you can't judge a book by its cover, I felt affirmed that the book was fine/acceptable just based on that.  I skimmed the back cover and thought it was curious my daughter was drawn to a fantasy-like, darker book.  I actually was glad to have her branching out of her typical genre of Lauren Myracle's The Winnie Series.

When we got home, she devoured the book in a day.  She did the same the next day.  She begged for the second and third books in the series (buy, not borrow, since there were about 154 holds on each at the library).  We bought them.  She reads them over and over and over again, and then she reads them again.

When we talked about the content, I was surprised I didn't make myself know more: teens forced to kill themselves.  Wow, really?  OK.  Starting to question myself, I started to read the book, but I haven't gotten past page 20.  So, I went to Common Sense Media and read their book review on The Hunger Games

A few weeks ago, The Hunger Games Movie came out.  It is rated PG13, and our daughter is 11.  Well, she's 11 and a half.  Her friends went to see it with their parents on opening night.  Some friends have seen it again since.  Knowing the content of the book, knowing the movie rating, and knowing that seeing things is different than reading things, our daughter has agreed with our decision that she won't be seeing it until she's 13 (she's looking forward to her birthday)!

I have had mama friends who have read the book(s) (in one night, even), and I am curious to hear everyone's thoughts: have you read it? seen it?  has your son/daughter read it? seen it?

Cell Phone Usage: setting boundaries

February 12, 2012

Children in households across America roll their eyes when their parents say: "when I was your age, I never had a cell phone...", an introduction to a tyrade about how cell phone usage is a privilege, yadda, yadda, yadda.  (If you haven't already, perhaps it's worth visiting the post: "Kids & Cell Phones: yes? no? when? how?")

Our middle-schooler  has been using a cell phone since she started coming home alone afterschool last fall.  When no one else is home, she will go into the drawer where it is kept, retrieve the cell phone, and text us to let us know she is home.  She does not take the phone to school.  She is not allowed to use her phone to text/call friends during the week.

Continue reading "Cell Phone Usage: setting boundaries" »

When a teacher is asked "Are you gay?"

October 09, 2010

A student teacher, enrolled in the Lewis & Clark masters program in education and placed at a school in the Beaverton School District, was asked by a fourth-grade student questions about his sexual orientation.  Soon after, the student teacher was dismissed by the School.  It seems that the school bases its grounds on the fact that the conversation happened between teacher and a fourth-grader, a nine year-old.  Is it too early to discuss marriage and sexual orientation with fourth-graders?  If so, when is the right time?  If the teacher were straight, discussing his partnership or female fiancée, would the result have been the same?  If your child asked the teacher questions along these lines, how would you prefer he answered?

The oldest child: Too much responsibility?

February 06, 2010

My heart hurts, and my stomach: a few minutes ago, I yelled at Everett. He's seven-and-a-half, and as his dad has been away for the past two weeks doing Army duty -- he'll be away again later this month, and then, in May, he'll be mobilized to serve in Iraq for more than a year -- I'm asking the oldest boy to be far more responsible than I probably should. I know how this goes; I, too, am the oldest child of a large family, and distinctly remember feeling so infused with the responsibility of my first-born role, before I even started kindergarten I'd have nightmares in which I was the only one who could save my whole family from a house fire, an out-of-control car.

I'd been struggling with Monroe, who had dumped a quarter-cup of vanilla into the cookies, and was wailing when I wouldn't let him swipe enormous finger-fulls of butter, maple syrup, and oh, that vanilla. He was holding his arm and crying, "owe, owe, OWE!" -- I'd "hurt" him by holding his arm back from the bowl after five illicit tastes. Everett could help, I knew it: he's great with his little brother and I often look to him to fill in with patience when I've lost it.

But Everett was deep in a farm game on the iPod, and wasn't having any of this man-of-the-house baloney. I ordered him off, or else; he ran upstairs in tears. There I was: spreading my ill-patience around to the rest of the family instead of healing it. I took my breaths, set Monroe in front of the left-behind iPod, and went to apologize. But, honestly, my apology wasn't that great. I had to tell him, look, kid: when I am losing my temper and need your help, there's no one else. You have to be my go-to guy. For years.

While I work on controlling my temper, I also have this weighty question hanging heavy in the air like the scent of caramelizing vanilla: how do I temper the duty burden I'm sure to be yoking on Everett's shoulders for years to come? Where do I strike the balance between the trust and reliability I know he's earned, on one hand; and his very real needs for emotional development on the other? Have others here juggled this, whether because of being a single parent, or having a partner who frequently travels, or works very long hours? I'd love to hear your stories.

[And oh yes: the cookies turned out great. Way too much vanilla was just right.]

When she says: "I'll email you"

September 23, 2008

Previously on urbanMamas, we've talked just a little about internet safety, our kids and mature media, or YouTube as a learning tool.  Not sure what came over us this weekend, but we went ahead and set up our 8-year old with her very own email account: first name [dot] last name [at] gmail [dot] com.  Not too creative, I know.  We let her know she can use the email for communicating with our extended family, who is scattered everywhere, geographically.  We know she has other friends who have had email for a little while, but we know that the majority of her peers don't have email accounts yet.  Our intent is for her to use it strictly for family, and she needs to ask us before getting onto the computer.  We also intend to check her email for her and keep track of her password.

I would love to hear other parents' thoughts about this: when would you/will you let your child have his/her own email account?  What would be some of the parameters you would set for usage?  Have you encountered this in your household yet?

Heading to the restroom, SOLO

June 26, 2008

If you're a mama with a little boy or if you're a papa with a little girl, how and when would/did you let them go to the bathroom on their own?  When our daughters were brought on a playdate with a friend and his papa, we wondered, "would Jason take them into the men's room?  Or let them potty on their own?"  Shannon emails:

I’m the mama of two kids, ages 7 and 3, and we have just started swim lessons again at our local pool.  Up until now, I have been bringing my son (the 7-year old) in the locker room with me despite the inane sign that tells me children 5 and up must use the same gender locker room or a family changing room.  There was no way my 5-year old was in any way ready to go in the men’s room by himself and it’s virtually impossible to get a family room (plus floor is generally wet and icky).  So now that he is 7, my husband suggested that maybe he is old enough to venture into the men’s room and change by himself while I tend to my daughter in the ladies room.  At first I was really reluctant and worried (there are myriad scenarios that fly through my head), but I thought we’d give it a try.  We designated a spot for him to wait for his sister and me, we talked about strangers and where to go for help (the front desk) if he needed it.

So I was wondering at what age do other mamas let their sons go in the men’s room on their own and how they felt about it?

For what age is Treasure Island?

April 23, 2008

The urbanMamas community is always such a wealth of support and perspective.  Shari emails:

I'm thinking about taking some or all of my kids to the Oregon Children's Theater/Captain Bogg & Salty showing of Treasure Island. But it has been so long since I read the book, I can't remember for what ages it would be appropriate. Is anyone familiar enough with the book or the show to make a recommendation? My children are ages 5 and 5 (boys) and 8 (girl).

Sunday Comics Ain't Always G Rated

March 24, 2008

I know that I've talked to many a mamas about no longer listening to NPR after the kids reach a certain age, but do we also have to censor the Sunday comics?  Teresa emailed us recently:

Call me crazy, but now that my 2nd grader can read, I am finding myself concerned with, of all things, the Sunday comics. I know, I know, we all remember french toast and pouring over Charlie Brown and his kite antics and Calvin and Hobbs shooting a cannon through the snowman. But, last fall, after my husband had gotten in the habit of reading the Sunday comics to my 4 yr. old and 7 yr. old sons, I took a look at what is actually in there. Mark Trail is lovely and Dennis the Menace is still up to his old tricks. But I didn't like the strip that showed a teenager in high school class fantasizing about his teacher draped over her desk, half-naked in a darkly lit room with a bright light trained on her curves. That really was in the Oregonian's Sunday comics, I think it was fall 2007. I thought to myself, "You're overreacting. It's just the comics. Let it go."

Until this Sunday's comics, March 2. "Pearls Before Swine" has a son, a zebra no less, plastering "Girls Gone Wacky" videos, with voluptuous bikini clad lasses on the covers, all over the outside of his house and yard. The zebra dad says, "My son's a perv."

I know my young sons absolutely do not need an introduction to strippers and video porn. (Heck, a drive in the car past strip clubs and adult stores can take care of that.) So why the heck does it need to be in our Sunday Oregonian's bastian of Sunday morning entertainment; the Sunday comics? Anyone else take the time to look past Family Circle and see what's in there sometimes? It ain't always Rated G. What do you think about the Sunday comics for your kids who can read or for those even younger? (The comic pictures described here were quite vivid and telling.)