When Raquel Noriega set out to plan a birthday bash for her 2-year-old daughter, Ava, she faced a slight dilemma. Most of the venues she previously scouted didn’t accommodate the needs of children with autism. Ava is on the autism spectrum and, like many children, loud music, flashing lights, and vast crowds are just a few of the factors that affect her level of comfort. Most of these things are almost impossible to avoid at popular kids’ venues.
But instead of feeling discouraged, Raquel was determined to throw her daughter an enjoyable party. She discovered Pixie Dust, a New York venue that customizes activities based on your child’s specific needs. She decided to go beyond renting the space for a few hours and purchased the location to further enhance the services available to special-needs children and their families.
At Pixie Dust, parents can be selective with surrounding noise and lights. Menus are tailored for food sensitivities, and gender-neutral gathering options are available. Children can also participate in a series of sensory activities alongside trained and specialized Pixie Dust staff.
Raquel’s amazing initiative is proof that any parent can find a way to turn a challenge into a success to benefit their kids along with many others.
Moms can’t help but brag about our kids, right? It’s in our blood. If we didn’t love our kids so much, most likely, we would eat our young like some animals do. And truly, is there any mother who can say she doesn’t brag about her kiddo? No, and if she says she doesn’t, she’s lying. It’s one of the great privileges after giving birth — ranting and raving about your progeny. To us, our own children are the world, and the rest of the planets simply circulate around them. Here are seven brags moms make about their kids that may or may not be true but are always true to that proud mama, no matter what the audience or critics might say. Wink.
1. He’s the Cutest
If you didn’t think your kid was the cutest, you most likely would have high-tailed it out of motherhood after the first few exhausting days of infancy. Of course, your kid is cute, but to you, he’s the cutest. Ever. Infinity! Other moms, however, might debate that their children are the “cutest.” Apparently, it’s a popular award!
2. She’s the Best in a Sport
Truly, the best in a sport is most likely proven by a Super Bowl or the Olympics, but since we’re not being sticklers here, a mom will brag her kid is the best in a sport, and most likely, that kid is pretty darn great, indeed!
3. He’s the Smartest Kid I’ve Met
Kids today are smart because our generation of parents (while a bit too hover-y) puts quite an emphasis on education, plus, sadly, education has become so geared toward tests that kids are pushed way too hard, too soon. The fact is no matter what a kid’s actual IQ score is, every single mom tells the world, “My kid is so smart. My kid is the smartest!” Most likely, the kid is intelligent, but also, even more likely, the mom can’t help but be impressed with what her child knows simply because anything a child does can be viewed as golden to a mom. It’s a subjective brag.
4. She Potty-Trained So Quickly
When moms brag about this, they make it sound like their kids literally threw off a diaper or pull-up and started holding their urine through the night at 1.5 years old. This is one brag though that’s probably incredibly true. If potty-training felt fast to you, it was.
5. Modeling Agencies Are Always Asking About Him!
Chances are, your friend or acquaintance’s child is an adorable one if modeling agencies are randomly asking about him or her. But of course, there are also a lot of scam agencies and people looking to make a quick buck. Either way, let’s admit it, moms: when someone uses the word “modeling” plus our child, it’s flattering!
6. She’s the Best Sleeper. Ever.
Which mother DOESN’T want to be the proud mother of the big award “Best Sleeper Ever”? None of us! All of us want good sleepers, yet only some of us are lucky. If this child were to participate in a sleep contest, would said child win? Who knows, but most likely, that mom is not lying. A good sleeper is a good sleeper!
7. Everyone Loves My Kid
Everyone loves my kid, she says. Well, it would be sad to actually try to start naming people whodon’t love the child of said mother and bragger, but most likely, the child is loved. Does everyone love the child? Who knows? In my opinion, there is always someone who is going to not like you! Still, having a child who is well-liked does certainly put a mom’s fears at ease knowing her kiddo has plenty of friends and love.
“I could never,” the stranger in line in front of me at Target exclaimed with her hand clenched against her chest.
Moments earlier, she overheard me on the phone asking my 10-year-old son how many tubes of sunscreen he went through last Summer and if he needed a new fan this year. She asked where we were headed, which, based on the overflowing nature of my shopping cart, I understood. I laughed, telling her it wasn’t “we” — it was “he.” He was going to sleepaway camp for the Summer and I wastrying to get a head start on packing. That, of course, led to questions about how long and where and why. To which I answered, seven weeks, five hours away, and because we love him and want him to experience all that camp has to offer.
That’s when she made her comment. I decided it wasn’t worth any more discussion — I had my reasons and didn’t need to explain them to a stranger — but it did get me thinking. Why do we ship our children away for the Summer?
Both my husband and I went away to camp when we were kids, me for four weeks each Summer and him for eight. Ask us, or really any other kid who did so, and they’ll probably tell you those were the happiest days of their childhoods. We can still sing the songs, tell color war stories until your ears fall off, recall first crushes . . . and first kisses, and remember the distinct smell of the dining hall and the slimy bottoms of the lakes.
What we didn’t realize at the time was everything else we learned. We learned independence. We learned to care for ourselves. Yes, there were counselors there overseeing everything, but we really did learn how to handle so much on our own. Without parents there, we learned to make new friends. We put ourselves out there and tried new activities and new foods. We learned a bit about ourselves without even realizing it.
These are the lessons I want my sons to learn — once both are old enough to go (my youngest is still too young). Being away from home is a time to learn about yourself outside of the comforts and security of home. It’s a time to learn to bask in the uncertainty of what comes next or who will be sleeping in the bed next to you. In this age of connectivity, where there’s always a phone, computer, or tablet in sight, it’s a forced break from that. My son’s camp does not allow any electronics and I couldn’t be more grateful. Camp is a time to re-create the carefree days of childhood that my kids’ grandparents — and even their great-grandparents — experienced all those years ago. As city dwellers, it’s also a chance for my kids to experience nature — not at a museum or a park surrounded by buildings, but nature in its natural state.
And, let’s be frank here: it’s always a great break for us, the parents. The hustle and bustle of the school year is exhausting. And by the time the Summer rolls around, we could all use a break from each other. Yes, I spend half my day scrolling through the photos the camp posts for any sign that my child is happy, sad, or really just clean! But the time apart proves that absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Last year, my oldest went off to camp for the first time. He didn’t know a soul. He sat on the bus with a boy he had met a few minutes earlier and a few days later I got a letter from him that he was loving it. He had already gone camping, canoeing, and water skiing — three things he’d never done in his life. He was playing street hockey and tennis and eating s’mores each night. And the kid I had to drag out of bed each morning for school had joined a Polar Bear club where they jump in the lake first thing every morning. In the matter of three days, he was already making memories. Five weeks later, he was begging us to extend his Summer to the full seven weeks away. We told him we thought he’d had enough for his first Summer, but would gladly do it for the next. Right now, he’s counting down the days on his calendar.
In shipping my kid away for the Summer, I’m giving him something special, whether he knows it or not right now. Just a few weeks ago, we were having one of our frequent arguments about something trivial. He suddenly blurted out that the reason I send him to camp is to “get rid of him for the Summer.” And while in that moment it may have rung true, I told him that wasn’t the case at all — that camp is hardly punishment; it’s a privilege and he’s very lucky to be able to go, that I would never spend the money I do on a camp if it was punishment.
So while the woman in line at Target may never understand why we send our kid to camp, I can think of a thousand reasons. But the best reason is that we’re doing it for him. There’s a saying the campers like to say: “We live 10 months for two.” I can’t think of a better sentiment.
So many first-time parents truly believe — and bless their little hearts — that they will discover the secret to parenting without losing themselves. There must be a fountain of youth or a tree of knowledge somewhere that can unlock the ability to raise children and also maintain that ephemeral essence of what makes us human. Unique, special, even cool.
All parents think they were cool at one point, if not at the time, then certainly in retrospect. I used to go to concerts that involved neither The Muppets nor furries on ice skates. At one point I used to have conversations that included complete sentences. There was even a time when I was up to date with the current youth vernacular.
Sadly, this is no longer the case.
I don’t know “YOLO” from “FOMO” (though I do know what a Rolo is and it’s delicious!). I hear cryptic words and phrases all the time. I’m certainly not “on fleek” enough for anyone to say them to my face, but still I feel compelled to understand them. You know, from an anthropological standpoint.
One of my favorite new phrases is “Netflix and chill.” As in, “Hey girl, I’ve had a great time tonight, so why don’t we go back to your place and watch some Netflix and chill?” *hint hint wink wink nudge nudge*
“Netflix and chill” is synonymous with heavy petting, necking, or hooking up, depending on your generation. In other words, if your 14-year-old daughter tells you she and her boyfriend are planning to stay in and watch Netflix and chill, you probably want to accidentally forget something in her room at least every three minutes.
Accidentally forget is parenting vernacular. But we parents also deserve to have a good time. We like letting loose, having fun, and making out. And we’ve earned the right to coin a few new idioms of our own. They may not be as catchy as “Netflix and chill,” but they’re functional, practical, and just a little awkward, which is exactly the way parents like them. Here are seven parent-friendly equivalents that we can all use and enjoy.
1. Shave below the knee and go to Chili’s
Who says Mom and Dad can’t still be romantic . . . on short notice and a budget and a diet?
2. Disney Junior and a vasectomy
If there is one thing parents know all too well, it’s just how easy it is to become parents. And there is no better birth control than watching an episode of Caillou or Dora the Explorer.
3. Back rub and an ultimatum
Everyone loves a good barter system. You scratch my back I’ll scratch your . . . well, you get it.
4. Fold laundry and put on a pair of clean underwear
Housework and personal hygiene are the twin pillars of the parents’ mating ritual. If one partner successfully completes a difficult task, the other demonstrates willingness to reward said behavior by wearing fancy underthingies.
5. Chick flick and an ugly cry
Parents also love being reminded that they, too, were once young and exciting with dramatic lives that extended beyond sippy cups and potty training. We’re usually too tired to have lives of our own anymore, but we do revel in a good sappy story to stir up emotions and get our motors running.Thanks, Ryan Gosling.
6. Glass of wine and fall asleep early
When you’re young and first dating, having a glass of wine is sexy. It loosens inhibitions and makes everyone feel more attractive and confident. When you’re old and spend all day chasing after miniature lunatics, a glass of wine is less of an aphrodisiac and more of an Acme anvil to the head.
7. Get a babysitter and go to Target
Have you ever noticed that there are always mid-priced chain restaurants like Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Olive Garden near Target stores? That is not an accident. Target knows that no mom can resist an opportunity to shop while her husband holds her purse and without her kids performing acrobatic stunts on the cart, shelves, and unsuspecting passersby.
Growing up and having children requires humility and sacrifice. It begins with pregnancy, when moms-to-be give up their freedom, their wardrobe, their body, and at least 10 years of their youth. And all for the privilege to incubate a tiny human who becomes not-so-tiny right before bursting out of Mom’s lady bits like an alien in a horror movie. And it ends with letting go of superficial attachments like popular music and movies, celebrity gossip, and current jargon. Once you have kids you will never be cool again.
But it’s totally worth it. Most of the time.
Product Credit: On him: Citizens of Humanity blue pants, Vince black t-shirt; On her: Tory Burch top, Levi’s jeans, Iconery rings, Jennifer Fisher cuff
When I picked my son up from his first day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of “how was your day?” was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) “fine.”
Come on! It’s the first day, for crying out loud! Give me something to work with, would you, kid?
The second day, my same question was answered, “well, no one was a jerk.”
That’s good . . . I guess.
I suppose the problem is my own. That question actually sucks. Far from a conversation starter, it’s uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended, and frankly, completely boring. So as an alternative, I’ve compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt. In fact, he debated his response to question 8 for at least half an hour over the weekend. The jury’s out until he can organize a foot race.
Questions a kid will answer at the end of a long school day:
What did you eat for lunch?
Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
What games did you play at recess?
What was the funniest thing that happened today?
Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
Who made you smile today?
Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
What new fact did you learn today?
Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
What challenged you today?
If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
Did anyone push your buttons today?
Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?
What is your teacher’s most important rule?
What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?
Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
If aliens came to school and beamed up 3 kids, who do you wish they would take? Why?
What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
What rule was the hardest to follow today?
What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
Which person in your class is your exact opposite?
Which area of your school is the most fun?
Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?
Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?
Parents often struggle with whether or not they should give their kids an allowance. On the one hand, you want to teach them the importance of work ethic and the benefits of saving, but on the other, you don’t want them too focused on money too early on in life.
Thanks to one resourceful family, we can all rest easier knowing one allowance system that teaches children far more than simply the value of a dollar.
On the popular Humans of New York Facebook page, a boy explains how his $1-per-week allowance program works.
“There are four sections: spend, save, donate, and invest,” he says. Read more about how each category comes into play, and what it’s taught him about giving back, in the post above.
Do you think you’ll try this type of allowance with your kids?
After she stole our hearts with her sweet rendition of The Little Mermaid‘s “Part of Your World,” we’ve been waiting, rather impatiently, for 3-year-old Claire Ryann to wow us with another Disney tune.
It took nearly six months, but she has returned with a new take on a beautiful ballad from Disney’sTangled. With the help of her dad, the talented little girl re-creates the lantern scene (with a little help from the official Lantern Fest in Salt Lake City) for her rendition of “See the Light.”
As you watch, try not to melt into a puddle at her adorable voice. Admit it: you finally have “Let it Go” out of your head.