I remember as a little girl – saving all of the ‘used-almost-to-the-bottom’ candles for the whole year to use for Hallowe’en. Our jack o’ lanterns would house a cornucopia of bright red and gold Christmas candles and a few yellow Easter ones. I would be a bit rattled that my beautiful pumpkin was getting red wax dripped all over, and then completely dejected that whenever I passed my own house (as I was doing the neighborhood candy marathon) the pumpkin would be dark. A gust of wind had just spoiled a child’s excitement at boasting artistic achievements to her friends. I’d quickly apologize and run up to grab a lighter or matches. And I can’t remember being anything other than a princess in chiffon so that + matches was clearly a bad idea…
I saw a teenage girl recently depriving herself of food, worried about how she looks and embarrassed to speak up and share her opinion to a group of other teens. This interaction caused me think about my own two daughters, ages 14 and 17, and reminded me of the importance of making sure they know they’re good enough.
She is beautiful. She doesn’t know it, not yet—but she is starting to become self-aware. When I looked into her face, she wouldn’t meet my eyes as she allocuted and apologized, in that soft voice. I absently noted that her eyebrows were growing in, heavy and awkward. The arch seemed wrong. I realized that it was something she had done herself, probably from a video on YouTube, or one of the many sites she visits on her phone and her tablet. She doesn’t have limits on her screen time, she never has.
I have two boys and very real concerns (read: I’m petrified) about their entry into the digital space. While I haven’t been one of the parents who refrained from submitting the kids’ photos or names into cyberspace, I am one of the last hold-outs for allowing them an instagram account. There’s also been a significant amount of avoidance about when they can get cell phones. After a lavish essay about why instagram is a good thing, our older child was awarded his own profile, with very strict rules and unlimited access by me. As I now venture into parenting kids who will eventually own a mobile phone, a roundup of parental control apps is in order.
The first trip we took with our daughters was to the beach, 4 hours away. As we loaded up the back of the car with suitcases, strollers, toys, and the other half of the house, we made sure to bring along several of their favorite movies.
We headed down the road to the sounds of Mickey Mouse on his newest adventure while the kids stared at the screen. The trip was non-eventful and we were grateful for the DVD player for entertaining the girls so we could concentrate on driving while also indulging in adult conversation.
My son recently turned six. He is many things, both good and bad, but an easy child is not one of them. Someone once asked me to describe him at a party and I was at a loss. I eventually settled on “complicated,” which got some laughs (he was only 2.5 at the time), but I could not find the words to sum him up using only a few basic character traits.
Labels are everywhere. Every disability you can imagine, every ability too. Every skill, every problem, everything we are—neatly named, categorized, and filed away.
Here’s one you may be unfamiliar with: Highly Sensitive. Yes, it’s an actual thing and, for us, this diagnosis…this discovery that there was a name for what we’d been experiencing—it was life-changing.
If I am being honest, my daughter came into this world pushing me away. She was independent from the moment she was born. Sure, she relied on me for food and a diaper change, but rarely for affection. I have always needed her more than she has needed me.
She is an introspective person, born an old soul. She seems to take great pleasure telling me what she thinks I am doing wrong – constantly reminding me that we MUST be taking the long route; there is DEFINITELY a closer parking spot. It feels like I am going over the speed limit. I let her brother have a piece of candy before hockey practice once and she told me, and I quote, “this is not what proper parenting looks like.”
Nearly everyone who comes to New York City makes a point of visiting Central Park. It is, quite literally, the heart of Manhattan, and any guide to NYC will direct you to explore this green oasis, which is so full of wonders, it can make you feel like a kid again.
But for those of us with actual children in tow, sometimes you just need the relative sanity of a fenced in playpark, where you can sip a coffee while the youngsters burn off some energy. For us, some of the greatest gems sprinkled throughout Central Park are the 21 different playgrounds—all 100% free, open from dawn to dusk, many of which have been renovated by the Central Park Conservancy over the last few years. As a resident of Manhattan since my children were two and three years-old, I’ve done some serious investigation of at least two-thirds of those parks and have whittled down my favourites to these five Central Park playgrounds.
How do you react to stressful situations? I will be the first to admit that my anxiety is clearly linked to my inability to effectively manage my emotions during stress. I am famous for catastrophizing and overreacting. Growing up, I was always known as the one who would freak out all the time. Today, I know that I just needed to develop my emotional intelligence. It doesn’t come naturally and it’s something I will continue to work on throughout my life, but if I can give my children these tools much earlier on in life, I hope that they won’t have to freak out as much as I did.