How To Be A Better Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, Or Friend To A Child

Dr. Corinne Masur 

Recently, the New York Times Parenting Blog posted on the topic of how to be a better aunt (see link below).  What an interesting topic!  And I have a few ideas of my own for aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends of young children.

Some people are naturals when it comes to forming relationships with young children – and some people are not.  Some people know how to engage a child easily – and some people feel hurt when they ask a young child, “how was school today?” and the child just stares blankly at them or runs away.

Here are a few tips for those who want to be closer to their nieces, nephews, grandchildren or children of friends and just can’t seem to bridge the age gap:

1. Visit.  Visit often. Do not rely on the phone or video chats to make a relationship work with a child.

2. When you visit, get down on the floor with the child.  Whatever they are doing, join them.  Make observations about what they’re doing.  Compliment them in some way – for example, you can say “Wow!  That is a BIG lego car you’re building!” Children, especially those six and under, live in the moment.  Questions about something they are NOT doing at the moment (school, sports teams, etc.) won’t go anywhere, but discussion of what they are doing right now may.

3. Time with the child is a good investment. Each time you visit, spend at least 10 or 15 minutes focused just on the child,  Just this small amount of time will start to build the relationship you have been wanting with the child.

4. When you visit you can sometimes bring a project or an idea for a project.  Find out from the parents what the child’s interests are and clear the project with the parents first.  Do you want to make cupcakes? Would you like to build this lego spaceship with me? Do you want to do a puzzle together? Doing something together on a regular basis will build your relationship with the child and your feeling of closeness with them.

5. If you know that a parent is not feeling well or is extra busy at the moment, offer to step in for an hour or two.  This will build your relationship with the child and the parent will be eternally grateful!

6. Gifts are good – but they are not the best way to actually deepen a relationship.  All children love gifts – but many aunts and uncles and grandparents have felt disappointment when a child does not thank them or seem grateful for a gift. Moreover, as thoughtful as the gift may be, outside of the context of an already established relationship, they will probably not work to make a relationship happen.

7. Take the child on adventures. Once you feel you have a relationship with the child, after having done some projects together, with the permission of the parents, take the child on some adventures.  For young children, keep it simple: a visit to a particularly fun park, lunch in a restaurant, tea at a hotel or a trip to the zoo for a few hours is a good way to start.  If you have multiple nieces, nephews, grandchildren or young friends, try to take each child, one at a time, for an outing,  The parents will love you, and the child, if they feel comfortable with you, will feel special. For an older child, a movie or a play is fun, but even better is doing something where the two of you can talk and experience something together.

Relationships are precious and the more children in your life, the better! If relating to young children is not your forte, try some of these ideas and read more below:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/parenting/how-to-be-a-better-aunt-uncle.html

Reflections On A Hard Year, Part 5: A Mother Reflects On Her Own Sorrow

The hardest part of the pandemic for me has been tolerating the deep sorrow that accompanies illness and mortality while simultaneously protecting my children from this very feeling within myself. 

Although I am one of the lucky parents – I did not contract COVID and was vaccinated in early 2020 – there was illness and death all around me.  The first months of the pandemic were hard — my uncle, who I grew up adoring (and feeling adored by) died suddenly from COVID. I remember one day in early April 2020 my mother called to tell me that he was feeling ill.  Three days later he died in a nearby hospital.  Luckily, his doctor was a family friend and allowed my aunt (his wife of fifty-five years) to be by his side as he took his last labored breath. 

My heart felt broken.  

Days later my family gathered on Zoom for his funeral and shiva.  I sat in my own home, on our family couch. I was surrounded by my husband and my two boys, my youngest, sitting on my lap, wrapping his little fingers inside my palm.  And, even though there were familiar faces and voices on my screen – my cousins, aunts, parents, and sibling – I felt very alone in my grief. So many parts of these rituals were missing – hugs with my family, communal vibrations of song that soothe when many voices join together in a single space, and of course, the presence of my family elders ushering us (the younger generation) through loss.  

All of a sudden everything and everyone around me felt fragile and I could no longer take anything for granted.  I stayed awake at night wondering how I would raise our two young boys if my husband (a physician who treated COVID patients) became ill and died? And what would happen to my dear boys if I died?

Without a government that took the pandemic seriously, how would I keep my boys safe even if I did manage to survive? And, in my most terrifying moments, the only thing I could think about was how George Floyd’s last words spoke every boy’s deepest source of security – “mama.”  

It is misleading to say that the pandemic is solely responsible for the slow tear that pervaded my veil of security. In the months prior to the emergence of COVID in the US, my life had already been uprooted by illness. In fact, I spent most of the fall of 2019 caring for important people in my life who were ill.  In October of 2019, I stayed with a close friend and helped with her two daughters as she endured treatment for stage IV lung cancer.  And then, in the final days of 2019, my father was diagnosed with Leukemia and I underwent surgery, donating my bone marrow to him to increase his chances of survival.  

By the time the pandemic hit, I was exhausted and needed time for reflection.  In a normal year I would have used the spring to sort out the feelings that came with the previous fall.  On my hours off from work and while my kids were at school, I would have enjoyed visits with my dad and taken long runs by the river. I would have met friends for tea and shared my experience, emerging from the interaction feeling grounded and full. Now, my whole world shrunk down to the few rooms of my home – with my kids at home for school and my husband working at the hospital I could no longer leave the house to hold my dad’s hand nor to go running by myself.  Suddenly, it was no longer safe to meet friends in person and as a therapist I often did not want to set up one more Zoom session even if it was for the purpose of talking to friends. I found myself crying in the shower so that no one would hear me, especially my children.   

As a daughter of a severely depressed mother, I have worked hard to hide my sorrow from my children.  I don’t mean I never let them see me sad or upset.  Rather, I’ve tried hard to protect them from the deep sorrow many daughters of depressed mothers inherit – the feeling that we are undeserving of goodness and are responsible to make our mothers better so that we may have the goodness we see others enjoy.  Over the years, I’ve buoyed myself with my professional work and beautiful experiences that remind me I am worthy of joy (such as fun family vacations).  And, I’ve healed the broken part of me through many deep relationships – my therapist, mentors, friends, and especially my husband who understand this part of me and support my many endeavors to live fully, with strength and joy. Together, we have been able to give our boys the things that my mother could not give me – a deep sense of hope, agency in the world, and freedom to be children. Now, without my traditional ways of recuperating – usually out of my children’s sight – how would I manage not to slip into my own depression?  How would I protect them from my own fears and sorrow – stirred by so much illness and death (not to mention protect them from very real threat of COVID)?

I wish I could say that over the last 15 months I rallied by establishing a daily practice of yoga, baking bread, and used the extra time at home to “Marie Kondo” my closets (as I witnessed so many others do in the many articles I read online at 3 am).  But, I did not.  My children are still home for remote school and they are unvaccinated. I had to find ways to allow myself to feel what I was feeling.  And I did.  I found a way to stay close to the rhythms of my sorrow and move through them, this time along side my children rather than outside their view.  

Over this pandemic time of sadness, I have come to realize that I do not have to hide my sorrow from my children in order to protect them.  In fact, I have recognized that in order to prepare them for life as it really is, I have to allow them to know about sorrow and sadness. And I have decided that we can now talk, as a family, about how some parts of life are naturally hard and sad and that giving ourselves care and comfort in these hard times is essential.

Before it was safe to have a babysitter, I would run around the baseball field, tracking my miles, while my boys played catch and cheered me on to run one more lap. Now, both of my boys look forward to beginning the week when they have “extra movie time,” while I meet with my therapist online.  They know that I often need to cry when I learn that their grandpa was re-admitted to the hospital and they see me moving through the pain by baking him his favorite date-nut bread for when he returns home.  Additionally, they accompany me on visits with my friends in the park, developing their own loving relationships with them.  

I am still tired.  I still look forward to the time when my kids can return to school. I need more time to myself and they need to feel independent and have time with their teachers and friends. In the meantime, I am doing the unthinkable – I am healing myself along side my children.  Without burdening them with my sorrow, I have let them see how I find my resiliency in the face of hardship. I am hopeful we will all emerge stronger and my boys, if they ever lose their own sense of inner strength, will know they can always find their way back.

Reflections On a Hard Year, Part 3: A Mother of Three Describes Her Year

2,085 Father Hugging Son Illustrations & Clip Art

The last year of Covid was scary for our family.  At the beginning of the pandemic my husband worked on the frontline for three months straight without any break. With the tons of patients he was taking care of, I felt sure he would get Covid. I thought, “He’s not in the best of health and what if he dies?”  It felt inevitable that something terrible would happen.  This freaked me out and I went into survival mode. 

Also, I wanted to protect our kids as much as possible – but I couldn’t stop asking myself what I would do if our kids had to grow up without their father. 

And then there were the day to day deprivations: my husband would come home after a 15+ hour day but the kids and I couldn’t even hug him. Before we got to see him every night he had to perform a routine of entering through the garage, disrobing and taking a shower; it was only then that we could get close to him.  My kids and husband did “bubble hugs” (hugging the air) if we happened to see him outside before he got to do his disinfection process. 

And he and I slept in separate bedrooms for months because God forbid if we both got Covid – who would take care of the kids? 

My husband felt like a hero to me and to my children and I felt so guilty that after serving so selflessly each day, he had to be treated like an alien in his own home. But we knew it was necessary.  He even had his own designated sofa in our family room that we coined the “nether couch” that only he was allowed to lie on. I felt so isolated and lonely.  Both of my parents are physicians and yet they were unable to relate to what we were going through; they generally regard us as superhuman and basically thought we would be fine. Those first couple of months were truly the scariest moments because of the large possibility that I could lose my husband. We did not know the contagion risk and the true mortality numbers amongst health care workers at that point. I have gotten through a lot of adversity with him by my side but what would I do without him?  I often cried myself to sleep.  

I tell my husband everything and we have an honest relationship – but with all that he was going through I couldn’t and didn’t want to add to his burden. I thought that telling him about my fears of his getting Covid and dying would just be too much for him.  We stayed up most nights so that he could unload the days’ events. I listened patiently but I think I cried more than he did as he recounted his stories.  I felt his helplessness during those early days when the treatment for Covid was not standardized yet.  

I also worried about the kids and how my anxiety about my husband getting sick was being projected onto them.  Thank goodness we had a trampoline; they spent a lot of time on that trampoline! I’m also glad that the kids had each other.  But during this year not everything was scary – we got closer as a family, lived life a lot more simply, cooked a lot more and celebrated birthdays at home. Surprisingly, each child remarked that this birthday was their best ever.  

We took things a day at a time and we were able to relax a little more when the incidence of Covid slowed over the summer. Thankfully, the prospect of the vaccine was becoming more real through the Fall My husband was able to get vaccinated the first day the vaccine was offered – December 18th – because of his priority designation. As a physician, I was able to be vaccinated about a month later, and fortunately our parents were able to as well. This enabled us to feel more comfortable gathering and being close with one another.  I’m grateful for our good health and the fact that we made it through this scary time safely. Now we are planning our return to “normal” and we have travel plans to look forward to. Thankfully life in the hospital has improved steadily and the strain has lessened considerably on my husband, myself and my children.  

Post-Pandemic Separation Anxiety

Dr. Corinne Masur

More people are getting vaccinated, spring is coming, and little by little we may be able to get out more than we have been.

This is a good thing, right?

Well, it IS a good thing, as long as we continue to use precautions like mask wearing and social distancing and hand washing. This spring more children may actually get to go to school and daycare and this summer children may get to go to camp and families may actually be able to go on vacation.

BUT we need to be prepared for some increased separation anxiety for some children – and even for some adults.

We have gotten used to hunkering down at home and spending more time there than ever before.  And as hard as it has been, as claustrophobic as it might have felt at times, as much as we all yearned for the freedom to be able to go where we wanted, it is possible that some of us will find it difficult to go back out into the world to do the things we think we want to do.

Even now, trips which used to be mundane can feel like a big deal.  For those of you who have worked at home, have you tried visiting the office yet?  Have you tried driving to places you used to go routinely which you haven’t been to in months?  It can feel strange to do these things; it can be anxiety provoking.

So, assume that your children will feel some of these feelings of strangeness when they try to do things they haven’t done in months.  They may be excited – but they may also have trepidations; they may be hesitant; they may ask questions like, “is it safe?” or “will my friends recognize me?”

The best advice we can give, given that none of us have been through anything like this before, is the following:

      – Prepare your children for what is coming.  If they are going back to daycare or school in person – or back to church or synagogue or music lessons or play dates, start talking about it a few days in advance.  Tell them what it will be like.  Tell them that they might have worries or questions and that they are welcome to talk with you about it. Tell them how you expect them to behave and remind them of what is required in these situations.

     – Take it slowly.  Do not assume that everyone will be on board right away with doing things they have not done for a year.

     – Expect some last minute demonstrations of anxiety.  Before doing something that they have not done before or something they have not done in a long time, it is not unusual for a child to develop a stomachache or a headache or to feel ill in some other way. This is their body talking and saying what they cannot say with words, “I’m afraid to do this!”  Remember, children do not develop these symptoms on purpose.

And adults, take it easy on yourselves as well. You may feel anxious when your children start back to school full time or go for sleepovers at relatives’ or friends’ houses.  You are used to having them close by. And again, as difficult as it may have been at times, it may have become so familiar that it feels strange to have them away from you. You may feel relief…and you may also feel nervous.  Give yourself time to get used to your children doing more on their own away from the house – and reassure yourself that ALL of you need to learn how to be more independent again.

Weaning from Electronic Entertainment

Dr. Corinne Masur

The vaccine is here, our new President is compiling guidelines for school re-openings, spring is coming and parents are thinking: “How are we going to get our children off their devices???”
Yes, it is true.  Life outside the house is going to resume.  We don’t know when exactly and we don’t know how exactly, but we can all see that it is going to start happening over the next several months and into the summer.
But children have also been using their devices more than ever.  Parents have found it life saving to allow more movie and video game and YouTube time.  Especially parents who work.
Kids have found that they can amuse themselves during the long periods of enforced home time if they have a device at the ready and they can also socialize with friends via these same devices.
Parents who always said they would not give their child a smartphone before age (fill in your number) did so earlier than expected.  Parents who had strict rules about screen time relaxed them.  Some parents (read: most parents) even encouraged children to watch while they worked, cleaned the house, made meals, talked to a partner or a friend or took a minute for themselves.
So HOW do parents get kids away from these devices once we can go out more, do more, see more people (even if still utilizing some safety protocols)?
I have one main suggestion.  It will not be easy.  You may say you don’t have the energy or the time or the mental strength.  But I truly think it is the best way:
Do NOT lecture, threaten or cajole.  Instead, plan things that do not require a screen.  Do not say that is why you are planning these activities or you will get heavy pushback, I guarantee you.  But plan a hike, a walk by the river, a race, a bike ride, a baking contest, a bread making session, an art project then an art show (at home).  If you didn’t do Zoom sessions before, do them now – schedule a family Zoom with relatives you haven’t been able to see.
Tell your kids that to get ready to go back to school it’s time to get used to doing more things, to get in shape physically, to go outside the house more.  
Going back into spaces outside the home may actually cause some initial anxiety – among children AND adults.  Seeing more than one or two people at a time may feel overwhelming at first.
So prepare by renewing your efforts to set up some Zoom play dates and some Zoom dinners with family friends.  Set a time limit that your children must participate depending on their age.  For small children 2 – 4, five to fifteen minutes may be all they can manage.  For 5 – 10 year olds, tell them they must stay on for 10 – 20 minutes, depending on their ability. And for teens, at least 15 – 20 minutes can be the minimum.
We ALL need to start getting used to seeing people and going out and we ALL need to get off our devices.  Set a good example for your children.  When you spend time with them taking a walk or a hike or a bike ride or playing a game, turn OFF your phone and do not check it. We adults need to wean ourselves from constant device use as well!!!!

The Value of Negative Experience

Image Credit: Mel Kadel

Dr. Corinne Masur

Stacey Abrams tells the story of having been the Valedictorian of her high school class and, as result, being invited to the Governor’s mansion for a reception (as all valedictorians were in Georgia at that time).  When she and her parents arrived at the gates of the mansion the guard turned them away.  He said they did not belong there.  He refused to look at the list of valedictorians. It was not until Stacey’s father insisted that the guard checked the list and begrudgingly admitted them.  Twenty-four years later, Stacey Abrams decided she wanted to run for the office of governor of Georgia so that she could control those gates.

A young adult patient of mine told me a story that is similar in some ways.  In seventh grade she did very poorly in her Latin class.  The school had her tested and the psychologist who performed the evaluation told her that she would never be able to learn a language due to a learning disability.  When this young woman went to college, she made it a point to take Spanish every semester and to do several study abroad programs in Spanish speaking countries.  After she graduated from college, she got a better job than she had expected, based partly on the fact that she was now bilingual!

Some negative experiences, some experiences of criticism or humiliation or deprivation or limitation can actually provide the motivation for some children and teenagers to achieve. Such experiences can be formative in regard to how children develop, in determining who they decide they want to be and what they decide they want to do. Being told “no”, being told “you may not do this” or “you cannot do this” can lead some children to decide that they CAN and they WILL.  The anger and the hurt these children experience can be channeled into a powerful drive to prove those who said “no” wrong!

As parents most of us carry the burden of feeling we need to smooth our children’s way, of protecting them from hardship or pain. And of course, it IS the job of parents to keep our children alive and to maximize their chances of healthy development.

But is it healthy for children to always experience a smooth path?  To never meet with a failure or a “no”?

Is it best to try to protect children from every possible insult or danger?

I think not.  And furthermore, I believe this mind set leads to our fear/belief that the current pandemic and the limitations it has imposed will stunt our children’s educational, emotional and social development.

Life provides all sorts of experiences – for most of us these include success AND failure and everything in between.  We learn from our successes and perhaps we learn even more from our failures, our mistakes and the rejections and limitations we experience.  And we can be motivated by any of these experiences, not just the positive ones. 

Recently a post, supposedly by a superintendent of schools, went around on social media. She or he said:

“One of my biggest fears for the children when they return … is that in our determination to “catch them up,” …we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era … It is necessary to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they “should be.” … They did not miss the test prep. They did not miss the worksheets. They did not miss the reading groups. They did not miss the homework … Resist the pressure from whatever ‘powers that be’ who are in a hurry to “fix” kids and make up for the “lost” time. The time was not lost, it was invested in surviving an historic period of time in their lives—in our lives. The children do not need to be fixed. They are not broken”.

These are wise words. Our children will be different because of the pandemic, but they will have learned things during this time. They may not be as versed in the school subjects that they might have mastered had it not been for the pandemic, but they WILL have better tech skills (video games, and social media); they will better know how to navigate the internet, they will be well versed in connecting with others via online platforms, they will know how to occupy themselves better. Moreover, they will have experienced frustration and boredom and disappointment – and they will have survived. They will know that they can endure difficult times and heart-breaking disappointments and losses.

The children and the adults who are fortunate enough to live through this pandemic will not only have been limited and deprived and frustrated, they will also have been inspired in ways that we can only imagine right now.

Who knows how many children and teenagers and young adults will have been motivated to go into medicine, nursing, epidemiology, game and social platform design?

Who knows how many will say a resounding NO to the pandemic and find ways to fight or prevent future events of this kind?

Who knows how many friendships and social gathering will be created out of the sheer joy of freedom that is felt after the vaccine has been distributed and children are freer again to experience the social world?

None of us know the answers to these questions – but I am quite sure there will be many, many people motivated to make the world a more connected and safer place once this pandemic is over, just as Stacy Abrams was motivated to run for governor and my young patient was motivated to learn Spanish well enough to be considered bilingual!

Listen here for more on this topic:

https://www.npr.org/2021/01/07/954479010/listen-again-school-of-life

Local Love: The Franklin Institute

You don’t have to be a Philly local to benefit from The Franklin Institute right now. The Franklin Institute is sharing all kinds of fun online science videos this winter!

One of our contributors, Wendy, and her kids aged 2 and 5 years experimented with the Tinker Tuesday that was posted today. The project which used watercolors and salt was is a great way introduce ideas like hygroscopicity, absorption, and texture. While results varied based on approach, a fun time was had by all!

Winning and Losing

Dr. Corinne Masur

Today is a good day to talk to your kids about winning and losing. The subjects of sportsmanship, humility and grace come to mind – as well as braggadocio, sore losing and bitterness.

Whatever side of the electoral battle you were on, you and your children will be having strong feelings today – and this week – and perhaps for months to come.

So what do we say to our children? And at what age are they ready to have this conversation?

Well, really children of any age, starting around 3 know about winning and losing – and they can talk about the feelings that come when they experience each. Of course, depending on your child’s age, you will speak about this differently.

But the place to start is to remind your child – whatever age they are – that how they and your family feel at this moment is not the way that everyone feels. Some people are extremely happy and relieved today and some people are extremely disappointed and upset today. And you can remind them that it is normal to feel happy when you win and upset when you lose.

HOWEVER – and this is where the more nuanced part of the discussion comes in – it is important, however you feel, to be aware that other people might feel differently than you do and to treat them and their feelings with respect.

Good sportsmanship is something that kids who play sports should be learning. You can provide this as an example: after a game, your team shakes hands with the other team to indicate that you both played a good game and that there are no hard feelings left over from the competition.

The losers can feel upset but still lose graciously. This is a concept that can be introduced to a 3 year old and also to a 16 year old.

And the winners can feel happy and joyous but they can also behave graciously by telling their competitors that they played a good game. Children can be reminded that bragging about winning is not the way to go, even though inside it feels so good to win.

You can tell your children the story of “burying the hatchet”. When Native American tribes had disputes or wars with each other, when it was over, they literally buried a hatchet in the ground to symbolize the end of the disagreement.

This is a way to handle winning and losing too. After someone has won or lost, it is time to bury the hatchet, to accept the defeat or the victory and to move back to getting along.

Today, I fervently hope that our nation can do this – and that all of our children can learn something about how to win and how to lose with grace.

Election Time Reading

Source: The New York Times

Wondering how to talk about the election with your children? The Thoughtful Parenting Team enjoyed this article from The New York Times:

How to Talk About the Election With Your Kids

As always, we’d love to hear from you and to know what you think. Have other resources that support you in figuring out how to guide your children through this quadrennial stressor? We want to hear about it!

So Woke?!? I’m So Woke, I’m Tired

Another humorous posts by Tejal Toprani Misra who is a psychotherapist in part-time private practice and a most-time stay at home mom. She lives in California with her spouse and two young sons.

“Why is your hand on your penis?” This is a question I ask my four-year-old at least once a day. In the active effort to be a forward-thinking, progressive parent I have to beat back my urge to say “Get your hand off your penis!!!” Growing up in a conservative South Asian family, touching yourself anywhere south of your neck would lead to shaming. Now as a parent I get to make the choice to reframe that question and proceed to psychoanalyze my four year old till I am up half the night. This is not where my effort to be a “woke” parent stops. It’s only the beginning. As a mom to second generation, Indian American, four, and one-year old boys (that’s a mouthful) I have also taken on the responsibility of educating them about their cultural background like I am Alex Trebek on Hindu Jeopardy. I’m not pioneering this endeavor by any means but I wish there was some camp I could send them to where they would come back with part immigrant hustle and part American entitlement. I’m envious of other ethnic backgrounds whose migration story to America started more than a 100 years ago so there is more of a flow chart to follow. Something like “if child A does not know about Hindu gods then have child A read book B.” As far as I know, this magical road map doesn’t exist for South Asians, or for anyone else, and if it does then please send it to me at the email below. I will be forever grateful. 

In this continued effort to raise “woke” kids I’ve added more to my plate. After learning that children start noticing race and gender as early three. I’ve been reading books to them on race and diversity since they were fetuses. We sent them to a school in the diverse city of Philadelphia with children of various backgrounds. I teach them daily that love makes a family and families come in all shapes, colors, sizes and make ups. And then in the spring of 2020 the glaring cracks in our racial justice system came closer to the forefront of our minds. Now I am reading about “when to talk about racial injustice?” Is it okay to tell them why there are so many helicopters flying over our previous home in Philadelphia? The answer for us was ultimately yes – but who knows if it was the right one. I do not say any of this in jest. I just have no idea how to navigate this territory. 

Recently the only people I have seen have been neighbors and somehow my professional degree put me at the top of the pedestal in regard to“how to talk to children about matters of race”. I don’t know how this happened but somehow it did. Or wait.  Maybe it didn’t have to do with my professional degree? This topic is a sensitive one and the sensitivity level changes based on the pigmentation of your skin. This puts people of color in a difficult position.  How is it that I/we are supposed to talk about this and how come we are suddenly supposed to be experts? None of us know the “right” way to discuss race but if we don’t discuss it, we will never know. 

Oh, and did I mention that we’re in a global pandemic and the world has stopped moving?  Well yes there is that too. To add insult to injury (shout out to my Mom for her famous line) we’re in a pandemic. We were blessed enough in my family to have one very compliant mask wearer and I told myself that by the time the younger one turns two in December this will all be over, right? Wrong. Now we will have to get my food dumping, bowl wearing on head toddler to wear a mask. If only there was some way to keep it on like a car seat. The silver lining to having a one year old is that he will never remember the pandemic, however I will have the joy of having it seared into my brain matter forever. 

I would love to drop the rope on being a “woke” parent but I also try my hardest to have the content my sons take in depict religious equality, racial equality AND gender equality. For me that means taking on the assignment of changing the pronouns in their books from “he” to “she.” I don’t even know if that’s doing anything but I’m doing it anyway. I try to have them watch content that passes the Bechdel and Latif test.  I also read them books on feminism and if something they’re watching seems off then I stop what I’m doing to interrupt and explain. I ask my boys to help me in the kitchen and clean up after themselves so one day their partners don’t say “Indian husbands don’t do anything around the house.” 

We also carry Costco (my four-year-old’s happy place) sized boxes of chips and water bottles in our car to give to unhoused people we see. This is my attempt at teaching our children that there are people in this world with less than us and to hopefully reduce any future douche baggery on their parts. I don’t mention all this to say I’m amazing but I’m definitely exhausted. The question is, am I a woke parent yet?

Who knows.