watch how you hold that crayon!

Thank goodness for The New York Times. Until this morning, I thought my two-year-old’s fist-style grasp of her jumbo crayon was exactly as it should be. Now I know that I need to get her pediatric occupational therapy RIGHT NOW in order to save her a preschool year filled with shame and degradation.

Usually the Gray Lady serves up over-the-top parenting trends with at least some eye-rolling. But this morning’s story Watch How You Hold That Crayon is long on the crazymaking and short on reality.

I’m not belittling occupational therapists or their usefulness. Far from it: my five-year-old has made great strides in his speech therapy this year. He used to say the word “really” like this: “weawy.” Now he says “weally.” Why, he’s half the Elmer Fudd he was in September.

But I waited until he was five, and was pretty clearly not going to lose the baby talk on his own, before I even considered having him assessed. This article profiles a father who got private OT for his three-year-old because his crayon grip was exactly that of a THREE-YEAR-OLD, and the nursery schools to which he was applying might hold that against him.  Here was the father’s rationalization:

The hottest question when we socialized at our country house this summer was not what country club do you belong to, but who is your child’s O.T. back in the city. And how can I get an appointment?

OK, retch, but he really sad part is, this father may not be wrong.  Maybe Bam-Bam wouldn’t get into a New York City nursery school with his hamfisted crayon technique. If that’s true, though, then that kid (and all of our kids) has larger problems, since the way he’s being raised is completely screwed up.

The one voice of sanity in the article comes from Anthony DiCarlo, a longtime elementary school principal. Here’s his take on the problem:

…in the last five years, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of kids who don’t have the strength in their hands to wield a scissors or do arts and crafts projects, which in turn prepares them for writing…. I’m all for academic rigor, but these days I tell parents that letting their child mold clay, play in the sand or build with Play-Doh builds important school-readiness skills, too.

More Play-Doh time. That’s something almost any parent should be able to fund handsomely.

and now, for something completely different: participating Mommy

Among my greatest dislikes are being cold, wearing shoes that are too tight, and looking like an idiot.  Two days ago, I took on all of these turn-offs at once and did something I was pretty sure I was going to hate: I downhill skied for the very first time.

My husband has taken our 7 year old son, and this year our 5 year old as well, up on the mountain without me several times over the last three years. I was happy to see them go without me, really.  My parents didn’t know how to ski,  so I just never did it either, and it seemed way too late now to be taking it on. I mean, Natasha Richardson wasn’t doing giant slaloms or anything, and she DIED. Even if I wore a helmet, a compound fracture seemed eminently likely for a fraidy-lady like me. 

But I have been reflecting on the message this sends to my boys: they and Daddy go off and do cool athletic stuff; Mommy and baby Maggie stay home.  This is not something I want my kids growing up thinking is the way of the world.

“Tell me I’m going to love this,” I begged David. “Because I do not want to go.”

“Makin’ memories,” he said sagely. “No matter what happens, you’ll be makin’ memories.”

And so, bright and early on Sunday morning we left Maggie with my in-laws and drove to the ski resort at the top of their mountain. My heart pounded as David showed me how to strap on the vise-like boots. I was giddy as we took the 45 second chair lift to the top of the bunny slope. When we got to the top, the boys yelled “Bye Mom!” and flew down the bunny slope at top speed. Without poles. The adrenaline rush I got from watching that was probably enough thrill for the day, but now it was my turn.

“We’re going to work our way across the hill sideways,” David said. “Keep your toes pointed in. Nice and sl–“

I didn’t hear anything he said after that because now I was also flying down the hill, also at top speed.

My skis were in charge. My mind was in slo-mo. Oh my God, I thought. This is it. I’m going to lose a limb.

“Snowplow! SNOWPLOW!!” David was yelling behind me, and I knew that that would be a helpful suggestion, providing I knew what “snowplow” meant.

I was barreling toward the boys now, who were watching me with jaws agape, and I think I prayed a little bit, and then I was at the bottom and I came to a stop and found, to my surprise, that I was all in one piece, and that I had not fallen. Then I whooped and hollered like a Canadian ice dancer.

I mastered the bunny slope that day. Connor and I fell off the chair lift at one point but were no worse for the wear. And we’re going back this weekend. My God, I ENJOYED it. I am so proud of me.

please don’t go out Mommy!

I am hardly a social butterfly, but I do entitle myself to an evening out now and again. Whenever I do, even if I carve out extra Harry Potter read-aloud time first, I can be sure that my seven-year-old will be in high dudgeon, mumbling to himself “why does she have to go out EVERY NIGHT?” and holding back the tears.

Last night, though, he was totally copacetic with the idea. I tousled his hair, got a “purple kiss and purple hug” from Maggie, and was free to be out the door as soon as I said goodbye to their five-year-old brother.

Not in the toy room. Not in the bathroom.

I found him in his bedroom. Under the covers. Sobbing.

MOMMY: Shea! What’s the matter?

SEAMUS: I weally don’t want you to weave.

MOMMY: Honey, I’ll be home soon.

SEAMUS: But what if I need you?

MOMMY: Daddy will be here.

SEAMUS: But what if I need YOU?

MOMMY: Why would you need only me?

SEAMUS: What if I make you something?

MOMMY: How can you make me something if you’re in your bed?

SEAMUS: What if I get up, and get out of bed when Daddy’s not wooking, and get paper, and dwaw a valentine for you, and you’re not here when I’m done? WHAT THEN?

What then, indeed. Well played, Seamus. I had no choice but to change tactics and distract via tickle torture before sneaking out.

Home at 9:30 p.m. No valentine emergencies while I was gone, thank goodness.

Max and Ruby: can we talk?

Right now my daughter’s favorite show is Max and Ruby. Yes, I find it unwatchable, but so is Ni Hao, Kai-Lan! and she watches that almost every day too. I mean, no one’s head gets blown off, and I don’t have to sit and watch it *with* her, so who cares?

But when I mentioned Max and Ruby last week, in a post not really about them, I was intrigued to find that these two adorable bunnies were what people wanted to discuss.

It all started when Wendi said that Ruby scares her. Wendi is a funny woman (click above for her blog) but I think she was being serious.

Then Mollie said that Wendi made her “laugh out loud” but concurred: “Ruby is one seriously unlikable character.”

I myself have always hate Ruby’s weird voice. I also hate that she never just loses her shit and screams her head off at her pest of a little brother. But I’m telling you, there is a hatred of Max and Ruby out there that goes much further. I googled “Ruby from Max and Ruby is annoying” and discovered a treasure trove of ill will.

Over on a blog called The Baughers, one commenter says, “If I was Max I would kick Ruby’s teeth in.”

Another goes further, into almost totally unfounded rumor-mongering: “I wonder sometimes if Ruby is really Max’s unwed teenage mother.”

It’s not all aimed at Ruby, either. Max says like one word an episode (over and over) and for some people, that’s even worse. I read one comment online saying that “Max needs a good kick in the ass.” Another admitted that in her darker moments “Max makes me want to stab him.”

My friend AJ has a larger heart. She left a comment here saying she thinks Max is misunderstood, “a savant whose bizarre screwups are always genius in the end.” I can live with that, although after seeing the depth of animosity towards these two bunnies on the internet, I will probably DVR Maggie some good old Miffy instead. (Cute bunny without the annoying voice.) Even when Max and Ruby are not in heavy rotation in my household, though, there will be one question keeping me up at night:

Where the hell are their parents?