Mom, I’m going to make you a deal…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a nine-year-old says “Mom, I’m going to make you a deal,” Mom’s end of the stick will be the short one.

“Mom, I’m going to make you a deal,” Connor said to me in the kitchen this morning. “If I don’t have to go to baseball today, I’ll go next week.”

I wouldn’t have had a problem with this if he hadn’t said the same thing last week. And if there wasn’t a one hundred percent chance that deal or no deal, he’d be saying the same thing to me next week.

“Why should I take that deal, Connor?” I asked. “What’s in it for me?”

“Two reasons. One, I don’t want to go to baseball. And two… because… I’ll… go next week,” he said, clearly having not sufficiently planned ahead for what would dazzle me behind Door Number Two.

Here’s what my son doesn’t really get: the person who really doesn’t want to go to baseball practice? Is me. Sitting around on the soggy grass of Central Park watching my child engage with others for two hours on a Wednesday afternoon is two hours I didn’t spend at the library writing. But I plan my afterschool hours shuttling my children from activity to activity because that is what mothers do, because life is easier for a nine-year-old boy who knows how to passably throw and catch a ball, and because my kids like all their activities JUST FINE once they are actually participating in them.

Mind you, I am by no means a Crazy Sports Mom. Parenting in New York City is over the top in many arenas, but one where it is totally laid back is kids playing sports. None of my mom friends who live in the city build their lives around their children’s traveling soccer and hockey teams the way some of my friends outside the city do. In fact, one of the reasons I want to stay a city mom is because I don’t want to move somewhere where sports are more all-encompassing. I’m comfortable with the amount of sports my kids play. However, it’s a lot less than a lot of other kids play, so when Wednesday rolls around and the wheeling and dealing begins, I don’t have it. They’re going to practice.

But. When my kid tells me that he would much much rather stay home and do nothing,

and when I consider what I could be getting done at home if I weren’t enabling his doing what he keeps telling me he doesn’t want to do,

sometimes I wonder if the better mom wouldn’t take that deal.

How about you? Do you ever have to overcome your children’s vociferous protestations that they don’t want to do the activities you build your life around their doing? If they complained enough, would you tune in and drop out?


Now for a real deal: the winner of last week’s giveaway copy of Dan Zevin’s new book DAN GETS A MINIVAN is Leigh Ann from Genie in a Blog, where “you only get one wish and it has to be reasonable.” Mama words to live by! Congrats Leigh Ann. And thanks to all who commented– I think UNBROKEN will be next on my reading list, once I conquer the current tower on my nightstand once and for all.

(image from Classic Show Biz)

two new books I love: one for parents, one for kids (and a giveaway)

I’ve found a new kindred spirit in the parenting world.

And he’s a dad.

Dan Zevin’s Dan Gets a Minivan hit bookstores this week, and its publishers would like me to tell you it’s the perfect Fathers Day gift. It is. But read it yourself first, because really, this book is for YOU, lover of funny and thought-provoking writing.

Here are a few things Dan Zevin and I have in common:

  • we both love our minivans. No really. If you really think you’re too cool to drive a car with satellite TV, six zones of air conditioning, and trunk space big enough for an armchair, then Dan Zevin and I laugh at you.
  • we have both put in our time at the Criminal Court Building in New York City, “located in a neighborhood of Manhattan that has never known the light of the sun.”
  • we both stink at tennis.
  • we have both enjoyed raising our kids in New York City. And have both the-opposite-of-enjoyed that. Zevin’s since moved his family to the suburbs, and is very happy about that. Food for thought.
Oh sure, there’s a few small differences. Woody Allen was the oft-quoted sage in his house growing up. In my house, it was Erma Bombeck. But I get the feeling that if Zevin and I were pushing adjacent swings at the playground, we’d be fast friends– and that is probably the reason I enjoyed his book so very much.

What’s that you say? Is there another book that I am not the specific target audience for and yet laughed my tuchis off while reading?

Why, yes!

My No, No, No Day by Rebecca Patterson tells the tale of young Bella’s very bad day. Ballet is too itchy! Toothpaste is too minty! It’s like Alexander’s horrible day of yore, only funnier, mostly due to Patterson’s priceless illustrations of what being four and very angry looks like. All three of my kids adored this book, and when my daughter brought it to preschool, the two teachers stopped what they were doing immediately to laugh at a story they know all too well. This book is one you’ll love as much as your child.

And now the giveaway! I have a free copy of Dan Gets a Minivan for one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is comment below with the name of the last book you read that you really loved. Winner will be chosen on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Happy reading!

I received complimentary copies of Dan Gets a Minivan and My No, No, No Day from the publishers for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Things My 4-Year-Old Has Interrupted My Shower To Ask Me Just This Week

Some things just can’t wait. These are the urgent questions my daughter has flung wide the shower door to ask me in the past week:

1) Can you live to be a million?

2) Is Fresca good for kids?

3) Is my doll’s name “Mih-kenna”? Or “Muh-kenna”?

4) What is the most far, California or the whole world?

5) Mommy, what are pussies?

My replies:

1) no;

2) no;

3) Mih-kenna, but you can say Muh-kenna if you want to;

4) well, Maggie, it depends on– never mind. California. Now CLOSE THE DOOR;

5) WHAT?

Now, maybe my mind went to the gutter a little too quickly. But keep in mind that when my four-year-old daughter asked me that last question, I was naked. Also keep in mind that a preschooler can interrupt her mother in the shower pretty much every day and she will still stare at her mother’s pubic hair like she has never seen it before.

So in the context of the moment, let’s just say I was a little perturbed.

MOMMY: Maggie, what are– what?

MAGGIE: Pussies. What are they?

MOMMY: (drawing a blank, vamping desperately) What do you mean?

MAGGIE: (sighing heavily) Like pussy cats. What are they? Dogs?

Now I was really lost.

MOMMY: What do you mean? They’re cats.

MAGGIE: They’re pussies. So… are they dogs?

MOMMY: …You just said they were pussy cats.

MAGGIE: But they’re not cats if they’re pussy cats.

I have never had a conversation in which I was more at sea. Or wet, since the water was still running.

MOMMY: Close the door, Maggie. I’ll tell you when I get out.

I did not. By the time I rinsed out the conditioner Maggie had (much to my relief) gone back to playing with McKenna, which is what she does pretty much whenever I’m not in the shower. But I’m already dreading the question that awaits me tomorrow morning. I have a feeling we didn’t really settle the pussy cat issue.

What’s the most urgent question you’ve ever been asked while in the shower?


and you thought giving up sushi was a sacrifice

First chardonnay and sushi were declared off limits to mothers-to-be; now they’re coming for your smartphones.

new study published this spring in Scientific Reports suggests that in utero cellular telephone radiation may result in neurobehavioral disorders in children so exposed. Yale scientists put cell phones making uninterrupted, muted calls atop cages of pregnant mice, and found that when born, the baby mice exposed to the cell phone activity showed dyfunction in their brain circuitry similar to humans with ADHD.

Of course, no study is without its limits. According to the Yale Alumni Magazine,

Lead researcher Hugh S. Taylor stresses that the study was conducted on mice, so how it applies to humans is unknown. For one thing, mice “don’t have ADHD.”

Good point, Dr. Taylor. How exactly does one measure hyperactivity in a small rodent that, even if completely typical, enjoys spending all its waking hours running on a round treadmill to nowhere?

And let’s be honest: if you’re a pregnant woman talking on your cell phone between 15 and 24 hours a day– the amounts of time used in the study– you and your child will probably have plenty of other pressing issues caused by your extreme sleep deprivation.

Still, there has been a documented increase in diagnoses of ADHD in the last decade. That may be due to a growing awareness of the disorder. It might be due to an increase in misdiagnoses, depending on who you believe. It might be a little bit of both. But something’s causing something.

And this study suggests it might be the mom’s cell phone use at fault. I am usually way resistant to these sorts of guilt trips, but whether or not this study turns out to have any weight, there are some easy fixes here for all of us:

– keep your cell phone off your nightstand.

– if you’re pregnant, keep your phone “as far away from your abdomen as possible.”

– which might mean buying yourself one of these.

– or else just hanging up.

Do you take any precautions with your cell phone use, for your kids or for yourself? Do you think about it at all? Would this study change anything for you? 


four Time Magazine covers that would sell far better than the “breastfeeding is creepy” one

The entirely-fabricated-by-the-press Mommy Wars are newly aflame with this week’s Time Magazine cover: a picture of a 4-year-old standing on a chair so that he might stand comfortably and eye the camera while suckling his sexy mother.

(as if you haven't already seen it one hundred million times)

Are You Mom Enough?”the cover blares, and I’m not sure what they mean by that. Am I Mom Enough to get my hair and makeup professionally done before I breastfeed standing up? Nope, and I think I can live with that.

This picture has nothing to do with what it’s actually like to breastfeed a child of any age; nor does it accurately represent what it’s like to see a mother actually breastfeeding in public (all the skin you’ll see then is a bit of wrinkly stomach flab under a T-shirt pulled up from the BOTTOM).

“It’s a Hot Mom/Young Son meme used as an illustration for a scare story,” said my friend Christen Clifford, herself a fierce advocate for breastfeeding as long as you darn well feel like it. I think she nailed it on the head, and that means we should all just ignore it– but instead we’ll be talking about it all this Mothers Day weekend, valuing shock value over honest discussion of women’s lives.

Clearly, Time did this to sell a few magazines, and sadly, they probably will. But I’m not buying a copy, and neither should anyone who really cares about mothers’ issues.

If Time wants our eyeballs and our dollars, here’s a few cover questions I think could really move some copies:





Those I’d buy. You don’t have to trick me into being interested with a ridiculous photo, either. On those questions, most of us mothers are already pretty engaged.

Anything you’d add to that list? Will you buy this week’s Time?