christmas list larger

I used to think my husband was the most impossible person in the world to buy for. But no, it’s my eleven-year-old son.

Because it’s one thing when you don’t really give a toss whether you have stuff to open on Christmas morning or not. But my middle child cares. He cares deeply. He is a pile-measurer of the highest order. He just can’t be bothered to come up with anything he wants.

When you’re young and carefree and sure that Santa knows your innermost thoughts, this might be a more reasonable stance to take. But when you’re old enough to know better, just tell your mother what you want already. I’ve been harping on this for a few years, with increasingly diminishing returns. But after repeated haranguing, my son did take about fifteen seconds to create this list:

middle's list

Note the “any” postscript after “Xbox games” and “LEGO set,” prompted by his mother’s saying, “Which Xbox games? What LEGO set?” I then pointed out that “any” might lead to Santa bringing something he 1) doesn’t want or 2) has already. Result: shrug.

That evening, I spent ten minutes in a fruitless internet search for a comic book hero named Flush, without success. I finally reached out to a Comic Con-attending Facebook friend. “Where can I find comics featuring The Flush?” I asked. He pinged me back: “Uh… do you mean The FLASH?”

D’oh. That’s what happens when your child is so half-assed with your list he doesn’t even print neatly.

My second-grader, on the other hand, has her act together, and required zero prompting to present me this masterpiece to mail to the North Pole:

youngest list

Plenty of options, thoughtfully categorized for ease of shopping. When I suggested that some prioritization might be in order, friendly smiley faces were added next to the most-desired items. Then she decorated the whole thing and drew a Christmas wreath on the bottom, because she cares enough to send the very best. Now THAT’S a Christmas list! It required, on her part, more than one percent of the time that Santa will spend shopping shipping and wrapping. Santa’s good to those who decorate.

Do you have to wheedle your children into providing lists? Do you just give them coal?

talking to our kids about Paris: because we have to

My second-grader found out about what happened in Paris because I messed up: I left the TV on in my bedroom last Sunday while I took a shower. Five minutes later, I come out with towel-turbaned hair to find her sitting there watching the cable news churn. “Mostly it sounds like ‘blah-blah’ to me,” Maggie […]

continue reading…

Finding the Optimal Push

I’m proud to have an essay published in this month’s New York Family magazine on finding what sports psychologist Larry Lauer calls “the optimal push”: pushing your kids just hard enough to have them reach their full potential. It’s easier said than done, of course, and I certainly don’t have the answers. When I compare […]

continue reading…

breaking my comfortable silence

When the murders in Charleston occurred almost two weeks ago, anyone with a brain in their head did a lot of soul-searching. A lot of bloggers, speakers– people with online platforms, whatever they call themselves– put their own soul-searching out there, and challenged others to do the same. One of my favorite thinkers, Brené Brown, said […]

continue reading…

The Songs That Made Me

This month Rolling Stone has been asking recording artists for lists of the Music That Made Them. Nancy Davis Kho of the blog Midlife Mixtape: For the Years Between Being Hip and Breaking One asked some of her friends if we might contribute our own lists of the songs that made US, super-cool mom bloggers that we […]

continue reading…

I thought my kids had outgrown LEGOs. I was wrong.

Once upon a time, my two sons– like most children their ages– were truly LEGO-obsessed. Once upon a time, their Christmas lists were all LEGO. Their birthday parties were LEGO-themed. I, who am no baker, even made a LEGO cake. I probably didn’t need to point out the “not a baker” part, based on the photo. But […]

continue reading…

join Listen To Your Mother: NYC at Barnes & Noble on Friday May 8th!

            If you’re in the NYC area, please join me this Friday night at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble (82nd and Broadway) for a free reading and signing event to celebrate the new anthology LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER, as part of The Museum of Motherhood’s “Art of Motherhood” […]

continue reading…

momcation: achieving the escape velocity required

No matter which Real Housewives variation one might watch– and I’ve watched, uh, a few– most of the dramatic action within any given city’s season involves talking about “just getting away with the girls” shopping to get away with the girls getting away with the girls I suppose no one has ever watched Real Housewives for its firm […]

continue reading…

It’s Publication Day for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!

Last week I went to a staged reading of a play with a plot that pretty much hinged on the would-you-believe? notion of a CONFERENCE. For MOMMY BLOGGERS. Cause, like, why would they need a conference? What would those silly women have to talk about? Six years ago, I met Ann Imig at a blogging conference. […]

continue reading…

Dear Amelia Bedelia: what the hell is the matter with you?

My first-grader was recently given the assignment of writing to her favorite fictional character. She picked Amelia Bedelia. While “favorite” may be a stretch– as you will soon see– I thought my seven-year-old’s questions were excellent and deserved a larger forum. So here it is: an Open Letter to Amelia Bedelia. Dear Amelea bdelea wiy […]

continue reading…

how far should you push your kid? finding the “optimal push”

I recently watched HBO’s documentary State of Play: Trophy Kids, directed by Peter Berg, creator of the TV series Friday Night Lights. (Since I still have my What Would Tami Taylor Do? bumper sticker on my car, I think Peter Berg has  modern parenting agita nailed.) Trophy Kids follows four youngsters with have undeniable talents in their respective sports, but […]

continue reading…

what is the one best opportunity in your life? (and why aren’t you pursuing it?)

Like most mothers I know, I am also my household’s COO, overseeing everything from who needs new basketball sneakers to where that plug is for that thing. And like most mothers I know, the permission slips and medical forms and airline cost-comparisons and overdue taxes expand to fill all space available, everything I can give them, […]

continue reading…

is it okay to have a “Santa Whisperer” at Christmas?

Is a “Santa Whisperer” a necessary evil at Christmas? You know, someone who knows exactly what you want and then tells your husband, lest you get a PajamaGram? I know all too well about that, by the way. I suppose that’s not the sort of thing that could happen twice; I am lucky enough to have […]

continue reading…

on rushing and gratitude

Today a very wholehearted friend of mine posted this on Facebook and made my head explode:   Remember, if you are criticizing, you are not being grateful. If you are blaming, you are not being grateful. If you are complaining, you are not being grateful. If you are feeling tension, you are not being grateful. […]

continue reading…