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Zen Mama Wannabe » Parenting
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Should Older Boys Be Allowed in Women’s Restrooms?

What’s HE doing in here??

I cringed as I felt the hostility directed toward my son and me.  As our turn came up and I directed my children into the now vacant stalls, I wondered if I should address the middle-aged sourpuss whose only fault was perhaps saying her thoughts out loud.  It was a split second decision and I chickened out went about our business and left without trying to enlighten her in any way.

I resented that lady’s comment and her tone – and how without thinking she embarrassed my son and irritated me – at the same time, I get her point.  It is a bit unnerving to see older boys (past the age of 5, let’s say) in the women’s restroom.  Little boys seem oblivious to it all, but older ones appear out of place. There is a bit of awkwardness that we all experience and I understand why that woman felt an intruder had entered

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Being Smart vs Working Hard


We just figured out Blue’s Clues

We just figured out Blue’s Clues

We just figured out Blue’s Clues

Because we’re really smart!

The dad ran over and shut off the TV when he heard the popular jingle and gave his 3-year old daughter HIS version of the song:

We just figured out Blue’s Clues  —  Because we worked so hard!

“No no, Daddy,” his daughter exclaimed reproachfully.  “That isn’t how it goes!”

Well, it should be, as far as he’s concerned.  Of course, when he recounted the story to us, an auditorium packed full of parents, we all chucked – but his view has stuck with me ever since.

You see, popular wisdom of late has been that you tell kids they are smart.  A Columbia University survey says over 85% of parents feel that way.  After all, we want to build them up, not tear them down.  But this dad’s contention, as well as many other experts in …

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Helping Our Kids Choose

RemoteWhen do you switch over from TELLING kids to do (or not do) something to having them make the decision for themselves?  Obviously it varies based on their ages and the topic at hand, but ultimately, isn’t that what we are going for?  To have our children CHOOSE:  to read a book instead of play a video game, to skip dessert because they are already full, to step in and help someone without being asked, to use their good manners on a daily basis no matter where they are, etc.

A friend was telling me about the new system she has implemented after being inspired by the book Lighting Their Fires. Every day her children are “screen-time” free, they get a star on a chart.  The stars add up and they are able to earn a reward (right now it’s a trip to Michael’s to pick out some sort of art/craft project – a recommendation from the book to …

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Aren’t You Glad?

Our food order got screwed up. It happens, right? We all got what we ordered except for my son – who received grilled cheese instead of the kids’ cheese pizza he had requested. Yes, it happens to all of us at one time or another. And like the famous saying about life, “it isn’t what happens to you, it is how you HANDLE it that counts.”

As soon as the food was delivered, my son immediately spoke up. He politely informed the waitress that he had ordered the cheese pizza. She agreed he had, apologized, and went back to the kitchen. Time ticked by. My husband got grumpy. We started feeding my son some of our French fries (ironic because I had told him he would have to order fruit or vegetables as his side, not the beloved steak fries. I had assured him we would share some of our fries with him, but had NO idea it would end …

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Time to Paint

Two minutes to cover the table in newspaper.  1 minute to get paints, brushes, and paper out of the art drawer.  30 seconds to get old oversized t-shirts on my daughter and myself.  Altogether less than 5 minutes to make my daughter’s wish for a fun afternoon come true.  So why was this the first time I had pulled the paints out in years??!

When my son was little, I did the whole painting thing – like most first time Moms do – only outside of course.  But somewhere along the way, we went through a hectic phase (maybe due to their ages – I don’t remember) and also moved where to it wasn’t so weather-perfect all the time, and that’s when I must have decided painting could be an AT school activity.

My son’s preschool art portfolio is FILLED with wonderful paintings that he did at preschool.  Big, lovely, abstract works that fill the whole sheet of paper.  My …

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Sticks and Stones

I know it happens.  I have read about it.  I have heard about it.  It’s normal.  Typical.  A part of childrearing.  No big deal.  Yeah right.  Until you hear your darling child scream at you in that horrible mean tone, “I HATE YOU!   I.  HATE.  YOU!”

How can your wonderfully delightful child, who brings you so much joy, turn into a demon child in less than two minutes?  How can such horrible words be thrown out with such venom?  As if he or she is speaking the truth (although you know it is not true, because of course they don’t REALLY hate you – or at least you are pretty sure).  Ouch!

These words were directed at my husband last night.  HE was the bad guy.  I confess I was relived.  I know my turn will come.  But it was the first time either of us have ever heard them – and they are not easy words to hear.  …

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6 Pieces of Sisterly Advice

If you had a little sister, what pearls of wisdom would you insist on sharing with her?  There is Mom – Daughter advice of course (we all have been at least one part in that equation) but that is a bit different than what I am talking about here.  Imagine having (if you don’t in “real life” as my daughter always calls it) a younger sibling who could benefit from hearing what you have discovered by going ahead on this journey called life.  If you could share 5 (or 6) things that you’ve learned….what would they be?

Singer Alanis Morissette has a song about how she recommends “walking around naked in your living room” and “biting off more than you can chew” to anyone.  Perhaps her list is a bit more tongue in cheek, but it got me thinking of what MY list might look like.  Here is what this Zen Mama Wannabe’s sisterly advice would be:

  • If possible, get

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Money for Chores?

Do your kids do certain jobs around the house (ok – yes, I am talking about the “c” word – CHORES) without getting paid for them?  Do you feel there are some things your children should just contribute (another “c” word) to the family or the household without having a carrot of some sort waved in front of them? 

I am feeling it is time to set up SOME sort of allowance system.  I previously wrote about financial expert Suze Orman’s opinion on allowances.  Her way is a bit “out of the box” but very interesting – and certainly makes some sense. 

A lot of parents I know tie allowances into chores – you do your chores, you get your allowance each week.  But most money experts say DON’T DO IT.  As Jean Chatzky, financial editor of the Today show and daily radio host on Oprah & Friends, said when asked if you should tie the allowance to good …

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Where is the Parenting Manual for times like this?!

Ever been at a crowded department store on the weekend, heard a loud CRASH, and then realized it was YOUR child that broke the thing now in tiny pieces all over the floor? 

We were heading out of the Housewares Department after standing in a long line to buy a much-needed griddle when my son spots the tiny snow globe ornaments personalized with names on them.  Hundreds of names listed on this turnstile display (except his – still a little too unique, or his sister’s – still so popular it is always sold-out) but all of sudden he calls out, “Mom, Mom – I found it!”  It was his teacher’s first name and he said he wanted to get it for her as a gift. 

So sweet to be thinking of her – and not himself, so nice to want to get a little something for her out of the blue….what a nice “give.”  The whole ornament (snow globe and …

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Help with Sibling Bickering

Do your kids bicker with the intensity of a presidential debate?  Do you feel your head about to explode as their voices get louder and their tone gets rougher?  What do you do to combat the family battles played out frequently on a daily basis and keep the peace in your household?

This is one area this Zen Mama Wannabe feels at such a loss with.  The sounds of my dear sweet children bickering with each other back and forth can give me a pounding headache in three second flat.  I shudder at the unkind words that come out of their little mouths – the hostility and contempt that flares up in my sweet darlings from seemingly out of nowhere.  It grates on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard and I want to squash it down immediately (which means I jump in sometimes when I perhaps shouldn’t).  I am discovering the hard way that I have no patience for …

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