The Children in the Sandbox

Over the holidays I read a novel by Jodi Picoult. I enjoyed the book, but there was one passage that bugged me. In it a mother acts as narrator, and explains that we're all supposed to say there is no real difference between boys and girls, but that that is a "polite fiction." She says all you have to do is look into any sandbox at any park, and you'll see the girls preparing food and the boys smashing things with trucks. Except that this is not in fact my experience.Look, my son Bobby loves … [Read more...]


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Why I Put My Son in Dresses

So I recently came upon an article titled My Son Wears a Dress and That's OK with Me. In it, a father explains his two-year-old son's penchant for wearing dresses like his four-year-old older sister. Every morning my four-year-old daughter, Sydney, drags a chair into her closet and plucks a dress off of the rack. I try to lean her in other directions---“Why don’t we try shorts today?”---but Sydney’s stubborn. And I think she deserves the freedom to choose what she wants to wear.My son, Asher … [Read more...]


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You Are Not Entitled to My Life

Ever since reading her post about parents being "involved" in their adult children's romantic relationships, I've been bothered by a comment blogger That Mom left in her own comment section. In that comment, she condemned the "hands off" approach as unhealthy. Note that she's not talking about young children. She's talking about young adults. She argues that parents should be involved in every area of their young adult children's lives from careers to marriages.The thing is, I remember what … [Read more...]


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It Starts at Five

Sally is five years old and will be heading off to kindergarten in the fall. She climbs trees and looks for worms in the dirt and gets bruises on her shins. She's an active and perfectly normal little girl. On a recent visit to my parents' house, Sally showed off a new dress to my mother. This dress, which has a slit up to the knee on one side, has become one of Sally's favorites. Why? Because she says it makes her look like Elsa from the movie Frozen, of course!"Grandma, look at my dress!" … [Read more...]


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What Is Real—and What Is Not

Now five years old, Sally has been working overtime trying to differentiate between "real" and "pretend." She has finally determined that fairies and magic are not real. I'm not completely sure how she determined this, but it matters a lot to her right now. This is a natural stage of development for children her age, this desire to distinguish between "real" and "pretend." Still, part of me is a bit nostalgic. I liked her fantasy world in which fairies were as real as kittens. I mean, at one … [Read more...]


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I’m Sorry

I recently had occasion to visit my state's capital building. As I walked through those halls, with their pillars and arches, two thoughts burned themselves into my brain. First, the capital building seems smaller than it did the last time I was here, ten years ago. Second, I am sorry, so very sorry. Ten years ago I was a teenager, still in high school. Did I know what I was doing? We got up early that morning, that day ten years ago, and piled into our fifteen passenger van. My dad, five or … [Read more...]


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The Valentine’s Day Disaster

I started this post several months ago, but never finished it. Given the conversation here on the blog lately about setting limits for children and saying "no," I thought I'd finish it and post it, because it seems relevant. The events in this post happened last February, right before Valentine's Day. I'm not going to finish with a lesson or moral, I'm just going to tell the story of one evening.It all started when I took four-year-old Sally and one-year-old Bobby to the dollar store after I … [Read more...]


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