What The Young Can Teach The Old About Social Media

I have spent the past week with tons of tweens and also with my parents and in-laws. It was dance recital time and our lives were filled with sequins and feathers and smiles and a few tears. But also with technology.

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Seven years ago when we started this dance recital thing, our bag was filled with bobby pins, hairspray and coloring books and parents taking quick pictures of their girls before the big show. Now it’s iPads and iPods and the girls taking selfies with their friends and even Facetiming with other friends to show off their costumes.

 

And in the background and the audience are the grandparents – now taking pictures with their own iPhones and iPads and digital cameras…excited to post pictures on their own Facebook pages.

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Eloise joined the social media world six months ago – and I consider it a process for all of us. As a parent, I thought I would be the teacher – monitoring her use, telling her to be nice, watching out for weirdos…but in truth, she has made me more accountable for my own behavior online.

 

I wrote this article several months back on my blog and am now crazy thrilled that it’s on The Washington Post. THE WASHINGTON POST!

 

What has your tween taught you this week? Mine has taught me what a pique is.

 

 

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School’s Out For Summer!

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase.

 

The girls are officially out of school for the summer. Astrid ended last Friday and the big girls got out on Tuesday.

 

Typically I take and post their first day of school and last day of school pictures. Typically the growth is noticeable, but this year the changes are less physical in my opinion(I mean Eloise grew about 6″ but she still looks the same to me). This year what I did notice were the academic changes. Well maybe the biggest change is that after seven years of taking pictures in the same spot – we moved houses and have to find the perfect school picture taking place. OMG!

 

Eloise, now in Middle School, spent time in her room doing homework and projects with friends on Facetime – her advanced Algebra and history classes were more intense and she tackled the challenge while learning amazing organizational and study skills.

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(someone is not happy..not naming names)

Esther started fourth grade needing a lot of help with math and working through large projects – but by the end of year became very independent and creative with her projects, writing, and work. I’ve never seen a year where she blossomed like this. I attribute some to maturity and some to having truly just an amazing teacher.

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Astrid started kindergarten not wanting to start kindergarten. She wanted to hang with mom forever and didn’t think being in a classroom would be her jam. But she’s now reading – early chapter books, doing math that astounds me, knows every country and continent in The World, and is learning Latin. But most of all she now loves school and is excited for first grade. Yet she didn’t grow out of one outfit(or pair of shoes) the entire year. Okay – maybe her plaid jumper got a bit shorter.

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Summer will be a mixed bag for us. I like some scheduled activities and some weeks of complete freedom. But whether the kids are heading to camp or just hanging at the pool – I still think it’s important to mix some learning into the beautiful long days of summer.

 

So in just over a week our Summer Learning Adventure begins when Esther starts Brain Chase! Believe me – she is counting down the days. However – she leaves the day before (I KNOW!) for sleepaway camp and will be gone for 13 days(I KNOW!). So now she is super freaked out because she is afraid she will miss out on the clues and adventures. But I have reassured her – and I need to reassure all of you – that it’s okay to have plans this summer – camps, vacations, weeks by the pool – and STILL participate in Brain Chase. You can always catch up on work missed(you just cannot work ahead!

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By registering for Brain Chase, your student is committing to do about five hours of focused online academic work each week for five weeks. Because the curriculum is web-based, he or she can complete the work whenever, wherever, and in whatever order he or she prefers.

What’s so great about Brain Chase is that it is an online challenge, so you’ll need a high-speed Internet connection anywhere. It will work on the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari web browsers. You will be able to complete math, language and reading assignments on tablets. (For the writing assignments, it’s recommended to have a desktop or laptop available.) To add to your vacation flexibility!
Brain Chase understands falling behind – the summer can be busy. Brain Chase allows students to catch up on missed work from previous weeks (although they won’t be allowed to work ahead).

 

You can learn more about the flexibility of the program through this post on the Brain Chase blog.

 

What I love about Brain Chase is that it is not THE Summer activity – it is just another cool adventure to add to our Summer of fun! Brain Chase is the perfect way to supplement the summer’s outdoor fun with positive, educational screen time – it’s not too late to sign up, and it’s flexible enough to fit any schedule. You can add it to your kids’ existing plans to round out their summer fun.

 

What fun plans do you have lined up for Summer? Let the adventures begin!

 

This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase but all words and opinions are my own.

 

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Parenting Right Now

I want to freeze time. But they say it just keeps getting better.

 

I want them to grow up. But they say that I’ll miss my babies.

 

I want them to stay little. But they say I can’t hold on forever.

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So I will just enjoy today. Today we have an almost six year old, a ten year old, and a half-way through the year to being a 13 year old…so we will keep calling her 12 for as long as we can.

 

No one in our house is a teenager, no one needs a curfew, no one needs their butt wiped or their sandwiches made. They can cook. They can clean. They can put away their own laundry. They can read their own bedtime stories. They can load the dishwasher. They are starting to enjoy coffee. They can dress themselves. They can do much of their own homework. They shower independently. They know how to brush their own teeth and hair. And do ponytails. They can eat things without me cutting the food into little pieces. They can go hours without snacks. They don’t make me carry sippy cups for them. They can entertain themselves. They now teach me things. They like movies that I like. I like music that they like. They can feed the cats. They make me laugh. THEY GET MY JOKES! They can debate logically. They have dear friends. They cry about bigger things than a boo-boo. They can catch a ball and throw it with aim. They can almost beat me in a race. They can tie their own shoes. They still mostly prefer hanging with family than with friends. But the almost 13 is for sure leaving more.

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But they cannot drive yet and are dependent on our transportation. They need the food we cook and the clothing we buy. They are not old enough for well paying jobs. They still need us – a lot. But not in the way it was. The way before they were all almost six. I barely remember the lifting, and wiping, and running after, and nose picking, and diaper pail filling, or mouth wiping, or bathing, or doing all of the chores myself. The laundry, cooking, cleaning up. I barely remember having to be outside with them when they were outside. To watch, to play with, to just make sure they were okay. Now I’m outside because I want to be – because I want to try to win back my glory of tether-ball champion or beat the middle one in a race and the little one in a jump-rope battle, to plan and plant a garden together. To teach them how to mow the grass.

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Now we find ourselves in a different room from them much of them time – they want their own space – but want to know that we are there in case. But not because they need us for everything. I sometimes spend time embarrassing them with my dance moves to Uptown Funk. They share cool YouTube videos with me. We laugh together at the latest Jimmy Fallon clips. We watch PG-13(yes, even the five year old) movies because they are GOOD. We order grown-up food and I haven’t made nuggets or noodles at home in a very long time. Their tastes are maturing..and mine are trying to stay young for them. But not too young as they don’t want me wearing their clothing. But they are starting to steal mine.

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So I want to freeze time here. This in-between needing me for daily living and needing me to pick them up past curfew at a party. I want to freeze time here where we can talk politics and world news yet they are not old enough to vote. I want to freeze time here where I don’t have to watch cartoons but the movie we watch together isn’t full of sex and guts and stuff and I get all “mom” embarrassed about. I want to freeze time here because we can leave them home by themselves without a babysitter or we can take them with us and know that there will be no tantrums to be had or nap times to rush home to.  I want to freeze time here where every night we are home together as a family and it’s not exhausting – it’s all enjoyable – and they are HERE..and not there. I like not having to worry about the there yet. And I like that when I sit down on the couch to rest a moment – that no one will be asking me to get up yet again for a snack.

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I will never say that parenting is easy – because that can change moment by moment, hour by hour, year by year. But I will say that parenting right now is beautiful and I’m truly loving every moment of these golden in-between years.

 

And I worry about my wish to freeze time here, because everything does seem to just keep getting better.

 

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Parenting By Improvisation #GoodandHonest #Motts

This is a sponsored post by The Motherhood and Mott’s and their Good & Honest Campaign.

 

My own mother thinks that I’ve lost my mind. Ask my dad, and he’ll agree with her. I never thought we would be one of “those” families that spends every free moment that we have…well, not being free at all. During the school day I’m running errands for my kids – picking up equipment, forms, ingredients for baked goods and snacks, and then after school I’m driving them absolutely everywhere.

 

Last Saturday I spent exactly seven hours and 19 minutes in my car driving three kids here and there and everywhere. My car has become a giant receptacle of dirty clothes, uniforms, school work, snack wrappers, grocery bags, instruments, ballet shoes, and books that I read while I sit and wait and catch my breath.

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So my parents think that I’ve lost my mind for letting such a schedule happen. For having a to-do list a mile long written on small pieces of paper in my mess of a purse. For not saying no, you cannot run track this year.

 

Yet somehow – in this chaos of a life, this mess of a car, the mixed up brain that forgets so many things – well, we’re happy. Yes, we are happy between school pick-up and ballet drop-off, and that vocal concert, and the practicing of piano, and the track meet, and the dance recital, and the volunteering at the school AGAIN for eight hours this week.

 

And like everything from this childhood that I am witnessing – it will not last. In six years one will leave for college..and then another two years later..and in 12 years…gone. I can dedicate these 12 years to this. To this busy that middle school and high school brings. A different busy from six years ago when it was pushing someone on a swing and cleaning up breakfast dishes and wiping butts. At least this new busy gives me minutes here and there to read a book while I sit in a car, or check Facebook, or leave a kid at home while I run the others somewhere, or allow me to stop for groceries by myself sometimes.

 

And I don’t feel like my kids are running my life by all of us now choosing to be this busy. In someways we love it. And honestly, I think a busy kid has less downtime to get into trouble. Trust me – I know this from my own experience. So I can either embrace and maybe laugh at the crazy that we call our life, I can complain about it, or I can stop it if I feel that it’s wrong. But it’s not. It feels just so crazy right, right now.

 

What our new and crazy schedule has also taught me is to just let things go and improvise. We used to sit at the table together almost every night for dinner. Now, dinner is mainly on the go and I need to just click away and ignore all of the posts and research about how dinner together as a family most nights is so important. We did that for 12 years…so now it’s time for picnics in the car or on the dance studio lobby floor. And I’m calling it still pretty darn good as we are still together and hey, no dishes!

 

It feels good to just focus on what feels right for our family as we create our own memories and schedules and know that with balancing life, we are really just doing the best we can.

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I love that Mott’s is giving all of us parents a break with their new Good & Honest Campaign. And can I just say that Mott’s Snack & Go Applesauce packets have been a lifesaver for easy and healthy snacks on the run for us!

Let’s be honest. Moms and dads work hard to be the best parents they can be. But they’re not afraid to admit that everything doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes we have to fudge it a little bit and just go with the flow. Even if that means straying a bit from the Parenting 101 Manual.

Spending quality time with kids is important, whether it’s doing homework, working on a fun project, reading or simply laughing at things that no one else could possibly understand. These are the very moments that create long-lasting memories, but sometimes in the balance of life, we falter and recognize that we can’t always be perfect.

The Good and Honest campaign is truly meant to uplift parents and acknowledge we improvise along the way. We celebrate and support those who are doing the best they can every day for their kids.

Now I’d love to here about your Good & Honest parenting moments – do you cut bedtime stories short by leaving out a few words…only pretend to listen to your child practice the piano…’forget’ to pack a lunch just to save some time in the morning? Fess up!

 

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Mott’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. 
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Parent And Teacher #BullsIDidIt with Genesis Archery

As parents, we are the first and most important teachers to our own children. We are responsible not only for their safety, health, and comfort – but also to make sure they learn to put their own dang things away and say “thank you” and “please” and to not eat off the floor at Target.

 

We also try to teach them things that are in our own arsenal of talents – whether it be cooking, painting, soccer, baseball, writing, bowling, or poker. Some kids are receptive to learning from their parents – they love for their parents to show them how to bake or how to ski or how to drive a car. But some kids would rather their parents stay a few sidewalk squares behind them or basically stop telling them what to do.

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a great teacher to my kids. I think I let our personal relationship cloud the good I try to do with instruction, my patience runs thin, and my expectations maybe too high. And maybe, just maybe, my kids have a harder time learning skills from me or their dad than they do from a stranger or an expert. Maybe my kids just don’t listen to me anymore. Because they are tweens and they are smarter than I am. Right?

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So when I told the girls they had an archery lesson with a professional, while they were nervous to meet someone new, and show their skills to a stranger, I think they were excited to go to the next level in the sport. I don’t shoot – but Jed does – and he has enjoyed teaching them. But I think we all realized that for their love to continue, they needed to either join a club or have lessons that did not come from a parent.

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We headed to A1 Archery and met Dana for their lesson. They thought she was the coolest person on Earth because she is a mom, a marathon runner, an instructor, and competes professionally at the sport.

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And within just minutes, Dana had the girls shooting better than ever. She took the skills they already knew and just tweaked them a bit and boom – “bullseyes” all over the place. Their confidence soared and now they want to shoot more. I would love to see them join a team or club – but am not sure that will ever be their personality. What I would love to do though is start an archery club at their school to get more kids into this fun sport.

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In the meantime though, I think the girls now get to show Jed a few new things to improve his shooting. And now that Astrid has her own bow – well she has some amazing older sister teachers to give her some pointers.

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And for now I’ll just continue to stand back, smile, and watch my kids continue to learn.

 

Disclosure: I’m working with Genesis to promote their #BullsIDidIt program, but all words and opinions are my own.

 

To find out more about Genesis and the #BullsIDidIt program – check them out their website and on their Facebook page.

 

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5 Lessons My Tween Has Taught Me About Social Media

“Mom, don’t take that picture!” she yells as she covers her head with her blanket. The morning is cool, dark and quiet, and her stern tone changes this serene moment immediately. But it was too late for her, as I had already snapped a picture of the scene. “I hope you didn’t take that!” she continues “And if you did, don’t post it on Instagram or Facebook!”

 

I’m hurt and surprised by her harsh words, yet at the same time I get what she means and why she said them.

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

What I saw, as I looked over my coffee and across the room, was a beautiful scene of father and daughter together working on her algebra homework. I saw a family moment to freeze in time – a time to remember when she was in middle school and needed some help on a few equations. I wanted to remember these early mornings of school and homework and “tweendom” that will fade into just another blip of one of the ages of childhood.

 

Yet what she saw was only herself – with early morning bedhead, and wearing old pajamas. She saw her sleepy eyes and her dad’s messed up hair. She saw herself sitting too closely to her dad while during the day she likes to give off that teenage vibe that she happily keeps her parents at a comfortable distance of coolness and independence. She wants to let people know that she typically brushes her hair and wears skinny jeans.

 

I get that.

 

I recently untagged myself from a photo that a friend posted on Facebook. He messaged me asking why I untagged myself, as what he saw was a photo full of happy memories with an old group of friends from nearly 30 years ago. What I saw was me, an 18 year old who was horribly unhappy and unhealthy on the inside, and has spent years trying to delete any pictures that were taken from that time. His tagging me brought that girl front and center and I could not hit delete, delete, delete fast enough.

 

So I get that what I view as a beautiful family moment, she can view as a moment of ugly morning hair. And a few years ago, as her mother I would’ve posted it without her knowledge or opinion. A few years ago she was not on social media. I’m also pretty sure almost every “Mommy Blogger” has at one time or another written a post about what is “our” story versus what is “their” story as our children have gotten older. Because while posting pictures of your toddler playing in the mud is all fun games, well posting pictures of your tween with her friends is off limits.

 

But this really has nothing to do with what is my story of motherhood versus their story of being my child. This has to do with how I now feel a new responsibility for what I share because my daughter is now on social media.

 

After begging for an Instagram account for over ONE MILLION YEARS(her account of the situation, it was actually just a few months), because EVERYONE in the whole world is on Instagram besides her, I opened an account for her on her 12th birthday. Honestly, I’m still not comfortable with the whole thing even though our parental controls are probably better than Target’s IT firewalls, but we decided this would be an easy way for her to enjoy her first steps into social media under our careful watch before the crap really hits the fan and her access explodes as she gets older. Believe me, I want to move my family to a yurt in Siberia when I think about Snapchat, cyber bullying, and hell even Tinder.

 

What I did not expect from letting her have an Instagram account though, was that she would teach me a lesson or two about my own social media behavior.

 

This is what my daughter being on social media has taught me about living life online…

1. Think before you post. What goes online stays online. You are leaving a permanent record out there for everyone to see and Google. Is this a post or picture that you want to remember forever? Having my daughter on social media has made me really stop before I post anywhere and the responsibility that it truly holds.

 

2. It’s not just about you. Sure, you loved the picture, but is it something that will hurt your friend or a family member? Ask permission. While yes, I own the stories about my motherhood – they are not mine alone. I now take time to discuss posts and pictures with my kids and if they don’t like something – I don’t post it or talk about it. Mutual respect belongs front and center both on and off social media.

 

3.  Know who your friends are. My personal Facebook page has become a ‘mess’ of people. A few years back I started friending anyone who requested to be my friend if we had a few mutual friends in common. But now, I really wonder who most of these people are. As I now have to approve who follows my daughter’s Instagram account – it’s really made me go back into my accounts and make a stronger line between what I post personally and what I want to keep on my professional pages, and I’m cleaning up my accounts.

 

4. Post because it’s important to you, not because of “Like Currency.” We all get caught up in how “viral” a post or picture goes. Admit it, you do. You might be 45 years old but having 50 likes on a Facebook post sure feels better than having two. Sometimes we never leave the angst and emotional turmoil of puberty, amiright? So having this exact discussion with my daughter – telling her to post pictures she loves on Instagram because she loves them, not because they will be popular, has helped me with what I share and how I don’t need to waste so much time finding the right filter so people will like my picture more. I’ve always found that the posts and pictures that resonate the most are the ones that tell my truth anyway. The rest doesn’t matter.

 

5. Put your phone down. Does every moment really need to be captured? Live in the moment. When my daughter first joined Instagram, she was on her phone ALL THE TIME. And I saw myself in her. Was I really doing this too? Was the picture I just took more important than the moment that I just spent with my kids. Sure, social media is fun and exciting, but the person sitting right in front of me is even more important. Don’t let social media manage your time. Manage your time on social media. This has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from watching my own daughter start her own journey online.

 

Just like everything with parenting – we all learn together as we go and they grow. She will make mistakes just like we will make mistakes, but watching her explore social media over the past two months has taught me a lot as a parent as I reflect on my own behavior online. Sometimes I watch her with great delight as she improves her photography skills, but then I go into her “friend approval” list and cringe over the people who have found her account.

 

Parenting – it’s wonder mixed with a healthy amount of worry. Yet currently as we dip our toes into the shallow end of the social media pool – it’s honestly worry mixed with a healthy amount of wonder.

 

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Why We Love Archery

One of the most beautiful, amazing, yet sometimes heartbreaking part of parenting is watching your child find their way as we(as parents) try HARD to resist the urge to (gently) push them into activities, but instead sitting back and letting them find their way. Will they play football like you did? Will they excel in math? Love tennis and have your killer serve? Sing professionally like your grandmother?

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It’s hard to know where their love and passions will land. I do know that by three years old, Eloise wanted nothing to do with team sports. She hated being chased, feeling like she could let other people down, and felt pressured not only by herself, but from others. So she found “loner” activities like reading, dance, piano, swimming, and skiing (oh and crazy math skills).  She was drawn to activities where she could practice without an audience and work on skills that she needed to improve…alone.

 

When she went to sleep-away camp a few summers ago, I wondered what activities she would brave – track and field, drama, sailing, art? I was surprised(happily) when she returned and told us that she signed up for archery – and shot all week for a few hours a day. AND LOVED IT! And talked about it constantly. Her dad, excited to have someone to shoot with, went out and bought both Eloise and Esther each a Genesis bow.

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And weekly the three of them would head to the indoor range to shoot and hang-out and then go out to lunch or for a treat. Jed was thrilled to have an activity to share with his daughters, and they were thrilled to have an activity that was fun and new!

 

And then we put a target in our backyard so it’s even more convenient to shoot. I love watching my family enjoying archery together and work to continue to improve their accuracy. I hope that they continue to shoot as it’s such a great family sport.

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I also won’t lie and say that Eloise started shooting just randomly – I do believe her love for the Hunger Games books and movies certainly had something to do with her interest. I think that’s amazing. In fact the sport has seen HUGE growth over the past few years – with many schools now starting clubs and promoting the sport. And you’ll find that most youth programs use the Genesis Bow System as Genesis has created innovative and easy-to-master bow and arrow products that help kids of every age, size and skill level experience the hands-on thrill of shooting, training and competing to win. As part of its Bulls I Did It! Program, Genesis strives to help parents release the hero within their child by letting them discover their natural talents and unlock their unique potential through archery.

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Specifically the Genesis™ bow has an adjustable draw length so kids can’t outgrow it. Plus it’s easy to shoot, perfect for schools and clubs and can be used by the whole family (also comes in Mini Genesis™ version). The company’s newest feature is Build-a-Bow, which lets you create a custom look. In addition, Genesis sponsors competitions and public demonstrations across the country, and inspires parents and kids to live an archery lifestyle together.

 

And now we are surprising Astrid with a Mini Genesis bow for Christmas so she can start shooting too. I can’t wait to watch her out in the backyard with her sisters.

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Maybe the next step is to get me involved.

 

If you are looking for a great gift for your sons or daughters – you might mention archery to them as it’s making such a huge resurgence.

 

Let us know if you have any questions about getting started as my girls would love to help!

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I’m working with Genesis to promote their #BullsIDidIt program – which we as a family are so excited about. But all words and opinions are my own.

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She’s Just A Child

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month. I’ve written it. I’ve deleted it. I’ve written it again. I’ve edited it. I’ve cried. I’ve yelled. I’ve been sad. I’ve been protective. I’ve been angry. I’ve tried to forget that I even started this post.

 

After I let it sit again – and by “it” I mean the encounter as well as my heart, I almost decided just to walk away and let this go. But I think that maybe it’s something that people should hear.

 

So I’m hitting publish right now. And I’m vowing not to walk away from this issue and be silent. I’m doing this for our daughters.

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Dear Mom At The Gap,

 

She noticed you too. She did. My daughter did. My child. She heard you. She heard every word that you said. She saw the look on your face as you said it. And you hurt her.

 

And instead of being excited about a new jacket that I offered to buy for her for her birthday, she told me that she didn’t want it and asked if she could just wait for me outside of the store while I finished with my return. I asked to go with her, but she told me to just stay in the store and finish as she was fine.

 

I watched her through the store window. Her head down as she sat holding hands with her little sister. I kept my eyes closely on her as I stood in line. Wanting to be near her and explain what just happened. Because she’s a child. A child.

 

I thought about grabbing the jacket she loved again and buying it for her anyway as a surprise. But would it always remind her of what she heard. What you said.

 

Let me tell you a little bit about my child. My child that I’ve known for nearly 12 years. The child that you hurt – with your 10 second observation and shaming words.

 

My beautiful child was born a preemie. Weeks early in an emergency delivery, she was born tiny yet perfect in every single way to me. Her limbs were thin – without time in the womb to develop the beautiful baby-squish we all expect. She instead was angular, fragile, and fine. And even as she grew as a toddler and into grade school, her frame was always slight with beautiful and almost magical wispy limbs. Yet she grew tall.

 

You don’t have to look much further than her dad or to me to see where her body structure came from – we both have thinner frames, small bones if you will, and are tall.

 

My child is an incredible student. She’s grades ahead in math, was reading at a tenth grade level by first grade, and always finishes in the top during the school spelling bee. She also loves music and is a gifted pianist though you would never know as she only plays for herself(or for us if she thinks we aren’t listening).

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My child cares deeply for others – watching her sisters, insisting on taking turns, never going first, and volunteering on the school community service club.

 

My child is quiet and doesn’t like to be the center of attention. She encourages others to take the spotlight and is an incredible cheerleader.

 

And my child is a beautiful dancer. She’s been taking dance for nearly eight years at a studio that embraces all children who truly love the sport.

 

Yet sometimes my child comes home from dance sad. Because she feels different. Looks different. She’s turning 12 soon – hormones raging, middle school angst starting, uncertain about life as she starts to define who she is, what she loves, etc. You remember the time of uncertainty, right? Sometimes she comes home from dance in tears because her legs look different or she can’t make them do what she should be able to do. Her legs are so long and thin that they truly do not come together. Do not touch. Do not work in many ballet positions. She is frustrated, yet doesn’t give up.

 

And I have those talks with her that all mothers do – that she’s beautiful and perfect and brilliant just the way she is. That her body is just the way it’s suppose to be. I tell her stories about my own adolescence and my thin legs, and about her grandmother getting teased in middle school when she was told it looked like she was “walking on toothpicks.” We giggle at how absurd life can be. And for awhile she forgets that she feels she looks different or “wrong” compared to others.

 

You see, my child is 11 -almost 12, with no signs of puberty anywhere except for the fact that she’s grown about seven inches in the past year while barely gaining an ounce of weight. She’s become almost as tall as I am – yet with the waist of a five year old, no fat cells to speak off, no hips, no breasts, and no other indication that she’s becoming a woman soon.

 

And I can give you the benefit of the doubt with your statement that perhaps because of her height – that you mistook her for someone maybe 16 or 17 – but that doesn’t excuse what you said. What you thought. What she heard.

 

Because she is not you. She is not even me. She is an individual who deserves better. To not be “skinny shamed” if you must when you said to your daughter “My god, look at how skinny that girl is – she’s obviously sick and anorexic and needs help.”

 

You have no right to judge another person. A child. How dare you decide you have the right to shame anyone because of their body or mind or by how they look. Why as a society do we continue to belittle and judge other women because of their looks and their shapes. Why do we continue to feed this industry that is intent on making us all want to be perfect – whatever that means. And as mothers, I expect better of all of us.

 

So my daughter, my child, fled the store with her baby sister to get away from you, when just moments ago she was happy and looking in the mirror at her reflection – wearing a jacket that she fell in love with. She’s gotten so tall this year that she can now wear ladies tops, and this was our first trip into a store to try something on in that department. She’s had a hard year – growing tall so quickly – do you remember that weird stage when clothing didn’t fit right. Everything was either too short or too long or too small or too big – that year or so as you transitioned from girls department to juniors? Yeah, that’s where she is. And this is happening while she already feels somewhat uncomfortable with her thin legs and height. It’s a hard road to travel with these pre-adolescent girls. How we find these moments of joy between the moments of uncertainty. And you, you just made it a little tougher for her.

 

After my child walked out of the store, I approached you and told you that I heard you and that SHE heard you and that you had no right to do that my child nor to your child. I told you that my daughter was 11 – and about the inches she’s grown, and the puberty not starting. But I shouldn’t have to do all of that explaining, because you should never body shame a child, or anyone. And you kind of apologized with a quick “I had no idea she was not a teen.” – but I need you to know that it’s no excuse. I need you to know that when I walked out of the store and took my child in my arms and talked about what happened, and that she’s incredible, and I explained what anorexic means – that even though she smiled when I suggested a Starbucks so we could just move-on with her day – that this encounter will most likely stick in her mind forever. You still remember things like this from middle school, right?

 

Somehow dammit – as mothers we need to stop the vicious circle of judging and shaming – and start figuring out how to better send messages of health and self-acceptance and love. And I know that’s hard to do – with increased societal pressures and plastic surgery Groupons in our inbox daily. But I truly believe it can be done and if we all just take a simple first step as mothers and women and just stop being so damn hard on one another.

 

Tracy

 

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My Kids Saw The Mockingjay Movie

In a follow-up to one of my best and most judged parenting decision – letting my nine year old read The Hunger Games Trilogy – and taking her to the movie – I’ve now taken my current nine year old to see the new Mockingjay movie.

 

Not only did I take my two oldest to see Mockingjay – but I took them to the Thursday night premiere of the new Mockingjay movie. Like with thousands of teenagers and twenty-ish year olds. Thank goodness that premieres now start at 9pm as there is no way this old lady could handle a midnight movie.

 

Eloise read the Hunger Games books when she was in third grade, and she saw each movie as it came out.

 

Esther also read the Hunger Games books at the end of third grade, and then we rented each movie as she finished each book. Our agreement was that she could attend the premiere of Mockingjay if she finished the last book also.

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Reading Mockingjay was a bit painful for Esther – as I think it was for many of us. Hailed as the most *meh* of the series for sure, it was not a thrill-read like the first two books. And the end is just sort of a bummer.

 

So I guess going into the movie, I should’ve expected less than the first two. If I had expected less than maybe we would’ve enjoyed Mockingjay more. Because I have to say that Mockingjay part one was very slow. And kind of boring. And lacking of action. But knowing the book – part two should be very action packed.

 

I will also say that the Mockingjay movie was not so great for my kids to watch. While The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were full of not only strategy, action, and the actual games  – they were also full of human relationships, strong teenage characters, and suspenseful moments of cheering for someone. The sets were beautiful, the story was easy to follow, and it was pure entertainment while staying pretty true to the books and still dealing with the government crap going down.

 

Mockingjay part one was almost all government politics and positioning and propaganda – which truthfully went way over my kids’ heads. It was a great set-up for part two, but made for a pretty boring movie. In fact, when the movie ended – typically at a big premiere in a packed theater there are cheers. Instead we all kind of looked around and just said “Wow, that’s it?” Like awkward total movie end silence and checking phones.

 

Also – while there is of course killing in the first two movies, they showed less of the actual violence in those. In Mockingjay, there are a few pretty intense scenes of death when Katniss visits some Districts that the Capitol has attacked. Those were some pretty hard scenes for kids to watch. Or for me to watch really.

 

All in all I think my kids had fun going to a movie premiere for the cool experience, and of course seeing Katniss because they love her, but I think they felt the movie wasn’t that awesome compared to the first two Hunger Games movies.

 

Have you see it? What did you think?

 

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My Tween

She turns 12 in about a week.

 

And she likes listening to Taylor Swift and wearing Converse.

 

She likes to hang with her friends.

 

And reading mature books.

 

And watching PG-13 movies.

 

Earrings and infinity scarves.

 

Skinny jeans and henna tattoos.

 

Begging for instagram and double piercings.

 

But she has littles sisters.

 

So she still plays with dolls.

 

And watching Doc McStuffins.

 

And plays with Play-Doh.

 

Makes littles breakfast.

 

Helps her get dressed.

 

And rides trains with her.

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Even when it’s the most uncool thing to do.

 

Because when you have a little sister.

 

You are already cool.

 

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Ready For Middle School

I took a pair of jeans back to American Eagle last week. I decided to try a light gray wash in the hi-rise jeggings, but the color just wasn’t right for me. I’ve never taken a return to AEO before. In fact, I’ve never stepped foot in an AEO before. I’ve always ordered online in the comfort of my old lady home. And while I’m happy to say that their clothes fit me well, I’m not happy to report that perhaps…perhaps I’m not really the demographic they are marketing to.

 

Because do you know what I bought in exchange for my jeans? An outfit for my middle school daughter.

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An outfit for my middle school daughter.

 

Like as in my daughter started middle school last week and can now shop at clothing stores that sell women’s clothing. Like they fit her and everything.

 

And now everything has changed. And will continue to change and I cannot stop it. How can my baby that weighed less than five pounds be five foot three at 11 and in middle school. How can she borrow my new jacket that I just bought for ME, and wear my UGGs, and start digging through my earrings for something to match her new outfit. All of a sudden I realize why moms start shopping at Chico’s and J.Jill – it’s so their tween daughters will not want to borrow their clothing.

 

So do I turn in all of the jeggings for mom-jeans? Do my cardigans become sensible? My dresses less revealing? My earrings boring? Just because she’s growing up doesn’t mean that I have to, right?

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As someone who has worked hard to be the hip-mom(but not too hip because awkward), my world is changing faster than I can possibly keep up as my kids keeping growing up seemingly behind my back because there’s just no way they can be this old.

 

This summer brought a huge change in her friends. Back to school night revealed hundreds of 11 and 12 year olds who grew height and boobs during the incredibly short 82 days since we last met. Changes in hair and face shape, changes in walk and talk. Mainly in girls mind you, as the boys still seem small and cute and silly, and now it all makes sense why we start dating older men.

 

The mothers huddle together and whisper about periods starting as we recount our preteen years and wish they too will be 14 before they have to worry. And yet we know they are whispering to each other too – their secrets and news and changes.

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I love middle school. While so many wish away these in-between years, I say “bring them on hard” because these are the years that really matter. The years of finding more independence, making more decisions, of learning good study habits, finding out who you are and what you really like, focusing on an activity – or two, making those friends that might just be with you forever, because if they can weather 13 with you – well they will weather 43 even better than you can imagine.

 

These are the years you can still easily find comfort and advice at home and your parents are still relatively smart and your younger siblings not so embarrasing. These are the years that you still need a ride everywhere and yet you gain the indepence to ride your bike where you need to go by yourself. And these are the years you learn even more responsibility – about home, school, friends, social media, money, and time – and as you learn these lessons your landing is still soft in my arms and home.

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And these are the years that you surpass your parents in height, in math, and in pop culture knowledge, and pretty soon you have more secrets of your own that you share with friends more than you share with me.

 

And that’s just fine – and the way it’s suppose to be. Just don’t borrow my boots and leggings without my permission, and I promise I won’t shop where you shop anymore, or bug you all the time or crash your slumber party with my own period stories. Because I HAVE MANY STORIES.

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And remember just one more thing – I am here. Always I am here for you. I’ll be sitting here sipping tea in my cardigan and mom jeans.

 

And know that you are never alone in this big, big world. Focus on what you can – keep it small and comfortable. And if you just love yourself(because you are awesome), be kind to all, and just be yourself, well everything will be just fine.

 

Because you are so ready. So ready to fly.

 

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Straight Talk Straight Teeth

I was born with a small mouth and waaayyy too many teeth to fit in that mouth. I could not wait until I could get braces and get my teeth straightened. I had rows of teeth coming in at all angles. It was a disaster. And as soon as all three of our kids’ baby teeth started coming in -well I saw how perfect and close together they were..and I knew they took after me. Once they lost a tooth – the adult tooth would come in behind their baby teeth and pretty soon my sweet girls were sitting here with rows of teeth and teeth all over the place. I apologized immediately for giving them this trait, along with the fact that they have such an early bedtime, and then I promptly took them to the orthodontist once they were old enough. It was time for some straight talk for straight teeth.

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Eloise had a few teeth pulled and has already completed phase one of her braces and teeth straightening process – and those braces were on for just about a year. I barely recognize her as that sweet girl with the teeth – or barely even the girl last year with the braces. This is how fast kids change.

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And now this girl is spitting out molars. Seriously – she opens her mouth and a tooth comes out. She lost three last week. And the sad thing is that she just hands them to me. And I’m all like “Don’t you want to put that under your pillow?” And she gives me a ‘side-eye’ look and walks away. The first time she did this I put a note under her pillow.

 

Dear Eloise, I heard you lost a tooth and yet you didn’t leave it under your pillow for me. I’m hurt. I’m deeply hurt that you could forgot about me like this. After all we’ve been to each other. In fact, I was going to leave you like $200 for a molar. Your loss. Love, The Tooth Fairy Forever EXCEPT TO YOU.

 

The next day she handed this note over to me with a hand-written note on it. “Nice try Mom.”

 

So two days later and two more teeth later I left another note.

 

Dear Eloise, I know you’ve lost more teeth. Did you know that your friend Sara lost a tooth last week and I gave her Taylor Swift concert tickets? Right? So cool – and that’s what everyone is getting BUT YOU. Love, The Tooth Fairy Forever.

 

That morning Eloise walked downstairs and just gave me the ‘side-eye’ without even a word.

 

Sigh.

 

So after she the rest of these teeth fall out and her adult teeth are in, we will start phase two of her teeth straightening plan. She is lobbying HARD for Invisalign Teen for this phase rather than tradition wires and brackets because she feels it would look better, be easier, and she’s responsible enough to ensure she will wear them as instructed.

 

This is something we will have to decide soon.  And our orthodontist does recommended them as there are many benefits:

– It’s easier to play sports or instruments without interference as it’s removable

– Your teeth stay cleaner as brushing and flossing is easy as it’s removable and there are no food restrictions

– Invisalign Teen is just as effective as traditional wire braces

– The cost is about the same as traditional braces

And our orthodontist has alleviated my question as I wondered if Invisalign takes longer to complete than braces. This is a myth – as the length of Invisalign treatment is very comparable to braces. This is good news for Eloise. And the other good news for us is that Invisalign is covered by insurance the same as braces on our policy.

 

Head over to their site for more information on how Invisalign works. And you can also find an Invisalign dentist.

invisalign-sweepstakes

But now for the BEST NEWS! Use the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win a FREE INVISALIGN TREATMENT!

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Have you or someone you’ve known used Invisalign? And if so, what was their experience?

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts, words and opinions are mine.

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There’s No Such Thing As Normal

“Just stand like a normal person so I can get a quick picture before you leave with your friends.”

 

What’s NORMAL Mom?

 

“It’s not making faces at me and just standing still so we can be quick.”

 

Why do you want to take pictures of me anyway?

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“Because I want to remember you just like this at 11. My brain in getting mushy and old so I want pictures to remember 11.”

 

Well then you need to remember that I wasn’t normal at 11.

 

“No?”

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Because nobody is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. Normal is nothing. I’m me. Just me and for sure not normal.

 

“Really? Do you like being not-normal?”

 

Yep – it’s always good to be not normal. Maybe we should not even say normal anymore. Maybe everyone should just be weird. Because EVERYBODY IS WEIRD! I’m weird. So weird. I like being weird. I like weird friends. I like weird people. What if we just replaced the word “normal” with “weird” and then like nothing else would matter. Because you’d be all “Hey, act weird(instead of normal) and I’d be all like “No problem” – I can just stand here and I’m weird because I am weird and then everyone would laugh. Because the word “weird” is kind of weird, right?

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“You’re weird.”

 

I KNOW, right? See, now I can pose “weird” for you – because I don’t know what normal means. But weird – everybody can love being weird. Normal is nothing.

 

“So we should remove normal from all the books, all the dictionaries, all of our vocabularies?”

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I think everyone would get along better if we did. Normal makes me worry, makes me compare, makes me feel bad. Weird makes me happy and I like when people call me weird. I like people who like being weird.

 

“Sometimes I wonder why you’ve never had the girl drama at school like I did growing up, or like I hear about from my friends and their tweens lately. Why do you think you don’t or I don’t hear about it at your school?”

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Because we’re all weird mom. And we like being weird. I think people worry and feel jealous when they try to be and define normal. When it’s not their normal. I’ll never be normal because it doesn’t exist. So I don’t think anyone else is normal either. I find their weird thing. I have lots of weird things. My friends and I laugh about all of the weird things.

 

“I love you.”

 

Because I’m weird?

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“Because you’re you.”

 

So do you want just one ‘normal’ pose. Your definition of a ‘normal’ pose?

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“No because I don’t think there’s such thing as a normal pose anymore.”

 

I can stand still you know. For you.

 

“Okay.”

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But now I’ve got to dance again because I’m weird.

tweens

 

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Local St. Paul Mom Gives Her 11 Year Old An iPhone

It was reported yesterday that local St. Paul mom and blogger, Tracy Morrison, gave her 11 year old daughter an iPhone of her very own. The news broke shortly after school when Tracy’s daughter Eloise sent an email to a friend, and end of the message read “sent from my iPhone.” As all news travels in fifth grade, soon hundreds of tweens across St. Paul learned the news and shared the news of the iPhone with their own parents over dinner that night.

 

“I’m not sure what Tracy was thinking!” Said an anonymous St. Paul mom over the phone when we called for comment. “I thought we had an unwritten pact in this circle of friends that no one would have a phone until junior high. I feel like Tracy is setting a precedence and frankly it’s upsetting to our family.”

 

Hannah Johnson, a good friend of Eloise’s from dance also received an email and then an iMessage from Eloise later last evening, was quoted as saying “Eloise is lucky. Her mom is much nicer than my mom. I cannot believe she got an iPhone. I mean all I have is this iPad Mini that I can’t leave the house with.”

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Hailey, Emma, Emily, Sophia, Maddie, and Eva – all classmates of Eloise, said she was like so lucky, but still had mixed emotions about Eloise being the first of their friends to get an iPhone. They were trying to be happy for her, but at the same time spent most of the evening complaining to their parents as most tween girls do about how life was so unfair for them since they only had a sad little iTouches.

 

We reached out to Emily’s parents for an interview, but they declined to comment yet mentioned something about moving Emily to a convent out East where technology was not allowed.

 

“I think it’s just totally unfair to the other parents that Tracy just went out and did this without first notifying us.” Said Emma’s mother. “I’m really disappointed in the whole thing. I mean it puts undue pressure on the rest of us parents – both financially and socially. Being a tween is already a difficult time – and now Tracy is really making our lives pure hell because of this iPhone.”

 

We sat down with Tracy last night to find out what prompted her to give her 11 year old an iPhone after stating numerous times over the past year that Eloise would not have a phone until she was in junior high. And in fact wrote in her blog in 2012 that “she’d be damned if Eloise would have a phone before she turned 12!”

 

“Well, it certainly wasn’t our plan to give Eloise a phone this early. However, as parents I think we all need to grant ourselves some flexibility with the right to change our minds. A big lesson I’ve learned about parenting is to never say never. Sure you might intend to feed your kids all organic foods – but damn Cheetos are yummy. It’s the same thing with the phone. We’ve always planned to delay this day for as long as possible, but since she turned 11 we’ve been giving her more independence in staying home alone for longer, being able to go off with her friends more, and she has more afterschool activities. She’s also proven herself as incredibly responsible. Quite honestly though, this weekend we called AT&T because they were raping us with our current rates and it turned out we could activate my old cracked iPhone 4 that was just sitting in a drawer and put her on our plan and actually SAVE $40 a month from what we were already paying because it was now a family plan. I call it a win/win.”

 

When asked how Eloise was handling her new responsibility with iPhone ownership, Tracy mentioned that Eloise understood there were many rules on usage with her new phone and she would not have it at school with her nor in her room at home, and that there were many blocks on websites and everything would be tracked carefully.

 

We tried to reach Eloise for comment, but she did not return our calls. Instead we received a text from her with just “…’sup, yo, who r u?” and then a long string of panda emojis. So we think that Eloise is enjoying her iPhone ownership very much.

 

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the kids and parents continue to react and accept the news.

 

–St. Paul Fake Planet News, Mandy Johansson reporting

 

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You’re Totes Jelly That We Met Veronica Roth LOL

Last night I spent about four hours with a few members of the local press and 1000 SCREAMING 13-18 year old girls.

 

See, this is the problem with reading YA – you end up hanging out with YA readers – and they are like 13-18 year old SCREAMING GIRLS. And oh man can those girls scream. And when 1000 of them do it at the same time, your ears bleed and you start talking in tween/teen-speak. Until your tween tells you to STOP because OMG embarrassing. Also – my future with three daughters who will be teenagers soon just flashed before my eyes.

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Eloise and I were invited, delighted, and over-the-moon excited(that’s like John Travolta’s systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic in Greased Lightning but in 2014) to see the new hit movie Divergent at a red carpet screening event at the Mall Of America last night. Not only did we get to see the movie two weeks before you all – but we also got to meet the author, Veronica Roth, and Ansel Elgort, who stars as Caleb!!!

 

We both read the trilogy during our vacation to Costa Rica – so we were well versed with the story and with our undying love for Veronica Roth. I also have a strict “No seeing a movie until you read the book” rule – so we were cool to view!

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Eloise was adorable as we waited for Ansel and Veronica to make it to our spot so we could interview them. She had tons of questions prepared. However, once Ansel made it to us, she whispered “Mom, I don’t think I can talk to him – so will you ask him my questions and introduce me.” OMG I died because she was so sweet. He signed her poster and hugged her and I got a great picture. I have to say he is ridiculously kind. He stopped and talked to all 1000 fans and took tons of selfies with them all AND he followed this old lady on THE TWITTER! Totes McGoats Y’all!

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Also, I’m old enough to be his mother.

 

Then it was our turn to chat with Veronica – WHO WROTE DIVERGENT WHEN SHE WAS A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE! What an amazing woman. Eloise did talk to her. First words to Veronica were “You are so adorable!” And she IS. Everything about her and she was so warm as she greeted us and talked about the book and movie. Eloise also asked her “What advice would you give a young writer?” and “What faction do you think you’d be in?” And then she signed Eloise’s book and poster and posed for a picture.

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And then I asked Veronica the most important question? “OMG I love your boots – where did you get them????” She got them from ASOS in case you need a pair….

 

The movie was amazing and very true to the books. If you are a ‘book purest’ you will LOVE the movie still! I suggest getting in line now for that midnight showing. I think we may go see it again when it’s released.

 

And as far as ‘Is it appropriate for those under 13?” That is your call as a parent of course. But I felt it was very tame with the serious content it had to cover. If you’ve read the book you know there is some violence/death scenes as well as some make-out type scenes. These were done very well and were very tame. There was no gore/major violence or sex scenes at all. My 11 year old is very innocent and is uncomfortable with some violent or sexual scenes in movies…but there was nothing in Divergent that bothered her. As a parent I felt very comfortable letting my tween go to this movie. And when my 9 year old finishes the book – well she will get to go too.

 

Eloise is still crazy excited about it this morning and could not wait to tell her friends at school all about it.

 

Also, she didn’t get her math homework done. Do you think a note from Veronica and Ansel will suffice???

 

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Pitch Perfect

I was excited to pick-up the movie Pitch Perfect for $10 at Target yesterday. We’ve all heard some of the songs and it seemed like a fun movie for me and my tweens to watch on a cold Sunday afternoon. But my 11 year old deemed it inappropriate for all of us after watching for about three minutes. She really questioned my judgement of letting her eight year old sister watch, having her four year old sister in the vicinity of the movie watching, and how I thought something rated PG-13 and set in at college could possibly be an appropriate movie choice for any of them.

 

So we turned the movie off, they popped in Despicable Me 2 to watch for the 250,000th time, and I did some work while I heard the three of them laughing in the family room. “Silas Ramsbottom..” Hee hee.

 

Since Eloise left me questioning my parenting, I did what every mom does in 2014 and I consulted Facebook. Is Pitch Perfect appropriate for kids ages 8-11ish? The answers ranged from “Not appropriate at any age, because awful!” to “I let my 5 year old watch it and most goes over his head.” and “Not appropriate for my kids.” also “I watched movies like that when I was little – it’s a great opportunity for conversation.” and “My 11 year old watched it and came out unscathed.” to “I loved it but won’t let my kids watch it yet.”

 

And the “It leads to great conversation” argument always cracks me up – because while Pulp Fiction and No Country For Old Men would also lead to some interesting conversation in our home – I sure as hell am not going to show those particular movies to my eight year old.

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I saw my first Rated R move when I was 11. We lived in a very small town and in 1980- both Little Darlings and The Blue Lagoon were released. I rode my bike to town with a few friends and we were all carrying notes from our mothers…

 

“Tracy Morrison has my permission to watch Little Darlings today at the theater. Signed, Ginny(Tracy’s Mom)”

 

When you live in a small town – the theater owners knows you, your dog, your dinnerware pattern, and your mother’s handwriting.

 

And I sat there and giggled with my friends for hours. There were no conversations in our house that were off-limits and I am sure I rode my bike home and asked my mom a few questions about both of those movies.

 

But I was also that very curious girl who asked her mom about sex when I was five, insisted on knowing about everything by the time I was seven, knew everything by the time I was nine, so by 11 – a rated R movie was nothing. I was also that girl who was reading VC Andrews at 10, Judy Blume’s Forever at nine, followed up shortly with her ‘smash-hit’ Wifey, read Are you There God It’s Me Margaret so many times by fourth grade that I had to buy a new copy as mine disintegrated, and stayed up late on weekends to watch horror movies.

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My parents didn’t say no to me when it came to books I wanted to read, movies I wanted to see, or music I wanted to listen to. My parents did many things right(with a few questionable moments), but the one I admire them for the most is letting me decide what I felt appropriate for myself.

 

Even if it meant watching The Blue Lagoon when I was 11, because wow that was a bad movie. I kind of know now why my parents didn’t go with me to the movies that day.

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And I want to say that I appreciate how everyone parents their own children, and how they decide how media is available to them.

 

But I am choosing not to censor material for mine. I mean sure I won’t be giving them a note to go see The Wolf Of Wall Street at the theater next week, but within ‘reason’ – defined by each parent differently – I say watch it, read it, love it.

 

And I’m finding that my kids are finding their own barometers for what they want to read and watch and what they are comfortable with when it comes to media.

 

Case in point – Eloise read The Fault In Our Stars a few months ago. I had recommended it to her(and know many parents who don’t think their 11 year olds are ready to read it) and several of her friends had read it, so she indulged for a weekend. The book has some pretty mature topics – death, being a teenager, grief, love, and a light touch of a sex scene.  And Eloise did not enjoy it – mainly for those heavy subjects. She told me she felt uncomfortable reading some of the parts, and also didn’t like becoming so emotionally attached to the characters who may die. It made me remember Eloise’s experience with reading and watching The Hunger Games – it was Rue’s death that hit Eloise hard. The rest of the story sat fine with her. And while I let my kids watch The Hunger Games– I completely understand why some parents don’t.

 

I’m just grateful that my kids are already starting to establish their own limits for what material and subjects they enjoy and what bothers them. That’s when it’s my job as a parent to have those conversations, appreciate what my kids are curious about, and determine together what’s appropriate.

 

I don’t want to shelter my kids and I’d rather have the important discussions at home instead of on the bus, and I’m glad that Eloise is already drawing a line on her comfort level on certain subjects. I completely respect that and hope her peers do too.

 

And if it means that we watch Despicable Me 2 on a Sunday afternoon instead of something PG-13 – I say good for my tween to enjoy cartoons for as long as she can, because the being a kid time of our lives is already much to short.  I love this girl and her sweet innocent choices that seem pretty pitch perfect to me.

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Do you set ‘rules’ for reading, media, or movies with your kids?

 

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You Is Kind. You Is Smart. You Is Important

“I don’t think I’m doing that great in math, Mom.” She said casually and without eye contact.

 

This girl is placed three years ahead of her grade in math and works like a dog. She’s one of those girls who loves school and everything about it – from the work to the social part to the teachers. She’s the girl that the teachers say each year at conference “I wish I had 30 Eloise clones each year.”

 

And I’m not sure what she is even doing in math because I no longer understand it.

 

Why don’t you ask dad to help you if there’s something you are struggling with right now. You know he loves to help with math. I mentioned back to her before she was all the way up the stairs.

 

She comes back down to talk.

 

“No thanks, I’ll figure it out. I just want you to be prepared for my grade.”

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(Her final grade)

*******

Eloise, do you mind if I share your poem on my blog? I understand if you don’t want me to  – but it’s beautiful and I believe that more people should read your words.

 

“Yeah, no. I suck at poetry.”

 

Not true – you’re a gifted writer and should share your work more.

 

“Yeah, no. My writing will never be anything special.”

 

I think it’s special.

 

“You’re my mom. It’s in your job description to like work that I do. I’d need a less biased opinion.”

tweens

Your teachers love your writing.

 

“They don’t count either, because it’s for a grade. Not for an emotion.”

 

Do you love your writing Eloise?

 

“Why does that matter?”

 

Because if you don’t believe in your writing, no one else will. Do you think you’re a good writer? Because if you do – it doesn’t matter what I think or your teachers think or what the internet thinks. It matters what you think.

 

“I don’t think my writing is good enough to show other people, no.”

 

Okay. I can tell you otherwise, but you need to really think about this, Eloise, please think about how it’s okay to put yourself and your work out there.

 

“Maybe I just don’t want to.”

 

I understand and respect that so much. I love how humble you are, Eloise. And how you don’t need others to praise you and your work. It’s one of my most favorite things about you. But you know, we don’t live on an island. Sometimes it’s good to put yourself out there and see what happens.

 

“Yeah, no. I don’t want to do that. What if people hate what I write?”

 

You can’t control what people think about you or your work, but you can control how you accept things and know in your heart that you are good enough for you.

 

“Sometimes I don’t understand you, Mom.”

 

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m here. And if you want to ever put yourself out there now – I am here and your safety net. But somehow I feel like if you took a leap you’d find you really wouldn’t even need me. Know that. Know that you are smart and talented and kind and amazing. And just don’t worry about your poem. It’s fabulous. I don’t need to share it.

 

“Mom, I’m going upstairs to read.”

 

Okay. I love you.

 

Eloise brushes by me and our arms touch briefly. She’s not a hugger, but I know by giving me the slightest touch in passing is her way of connecting, without words.

 

She climbs the steps and yells back. “I’ll think about it.”

*****

My kids are kind. The purest and not-taught sort of kind – those who hold doors for strangers, give friends the last piece of cake, watch out for others, never go first, never fight over a toy, and don’t like to read satire because it somehow hurts them to their core – they were never the selfish toddlers that I read they would be. That they were suppose to be. The toddlers that I yearned would stand up for themselves and put themselves first. Just once.

 

And how strange it seems that I’m trying to gently teach them this now. That they matter. Not just for how they serve others – but for how they serve themselves.

 

Will they ever serve themselves?

 

And I will go to my death saying those words to them – of their kindness, knowledge, and importance – but is it possible to really make someone believe that?

 

This is something they don’t tell us mothers how to do.

 

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