The Kiddy Pool: Pink, Blue, and Shades of Gray

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. For weeks now, we’ve been preparing my daughter for the impending arrival of her sibling (circa June, though I optimistically like to tell people late May). We talk about things that babies do and potential names for her little brother or sister. This time around, we’re hoping to find out the baby’s sex, in part to help prepare my daughter with the official name … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Loving Nature and Our Neighbors

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. Our local library is developing a new outdoor playspace for children; their goal is to integrate the design of the play space into the natural landscape. It's already one of my daughter's favorite places to play indoors (thanks to a lot of books and a delightful children's librarian); outdoors, there's a duck pond surrounded by sloping hills, a flowerbed, and a small … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: But Wait…There’s More: The Twelve Days of Christmas

When I was a child, part of my mother’s Christmas decorations included a figurine of a sleeping Santa, slumped against a signpost reading “December 26.” I remember the exhilarating anticipation of Christmas morning as a child, but I understand now, as an adult, how even the most fun and meaningful holidays can wear us out. By the time we reach December 25, it seems like we’ve been inundated by ads counting down our “shopping days.” Even the way we conduct our Advent calendar makes it … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: The Elf on the Shelf

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. If you haven’t yet heard of The Elf on the Shelf, look out. Quite likely there is a small, plush elf surveying your every move and reporting it back to the big guy at the North Pole. That’s the basic premise behind the product, which sells online for $29.95 for the story and accompanying elf. Children are instructed to name their elves, thus activating the elfish … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Why I Prefer a Troublesome Santa

I came across an 1838 painting called Saint Nicholas by Robert Walter Weir in this month’s Smithsonian magazine. Let’s just say it’s not the image of Santa Claus that most of us conjure today. The painting shows a trickster character, elfish with a mischievous (almost malicious) expression and clothes that honor the Old Dutch inhabitants of Weir’s native New York. Of course, Weir’s depiction is largely overshadowed by the earlier work of Clement C. Moore, whose “A Visit from Saint … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Reading Matters

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. My husband and I, both college English teachers with humanities PhDs, prayed for a child who would love books. We tried to come up with few expectations for our child’s preferences, but, honestly, in our household, a child who doesn’t like to read would seem a little strange. And at least the first time around, we’re lucky: This kid adores stories, nonfiction … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: "Thank You, God" — TV Put into Perspective

It finally happened: Our 10-year-old, cathode-ray television, complete with VHS player, broke. To be fair, the VHS player stopped working a couple of years ago, but you could still make out about half the picture even with the static. We decided it was time for a little pre-Thanksgiving shopping, in spite of all of the enticing Black Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday ads. We thought it might be nice to actually see the Thanksgiving Day parade and even read the scores of football games. So all … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: 20 Kids and Counting

Last week, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar announced that they are expecting their 20th child. This reality-TV couple bases its family-planning philosophy on a conservative Christian movement called “Quiverfull.” Taken from part of Psalm 127 that compares a man with many children to a warrior with a sheath full of arrows, the “Quiverfull” movement resists any form of birth control and encourages couples to be fruitful and multiply. Both this news and the movement that promotes the … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Digital Natives

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. The November edition of Wired features the Muppets Bunsen and Beaker (always a good start), but what piqued my interest was a one-page article tucked into the middle of the magazine. “Why Johnny Can’t Search,” by Clive Thompson, plays with the decades-old questions about why kids can’t do things that seem really basic to their education (Johnny can’t read or … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Happy Dress-Up Day!

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture. Playing dress-up is practically a daily activity at our house. It’s not uncommon for my toddler to grab a sequined purse, slip on her sparkly red shoes, don dada’s reflective orange running hat and tell me she’s off to work. I still haven’t figured out where she works. We are now, of course, approaching that momentous holiday when playing dress-up becomes a … [Read more...]


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