Archive for April, 2010

Twilight Revelations

Monday, April 26th, 2010

My daughter, like me, is an avid reader. So it wasn’t a big surprise that after finishing the Harry Potter series (for the fifth time), she moved onto Twilight. She begrudgingly took the book after ignoring my endorsement– any suggestion from me is obviously tainted by uncool mom germs. Then something very surprising happened: I, her mother, was actually right. She liked it.

Keep in mind, my daughter is 13 going on 35. One minute she’s the little girl I remember pushing in the swing, the next she’s the burgeoning teen who doesn’t want to talk about anything. I’m grateful that Twilight is a topic she will talk about enthusiastically. What’s even better though, is that Twilight has taught me things about my daughter that I didn’t even realize or just plain forgot.

For instance, I learned that my former tomboy of a daughter has a strong romantic streak I didn’t know was there, but it’s tempered by an unwavering practicality that runs on my mother’s side. She and I agree that a big part of the appeal of Twilight is the adrenaline and blush of your first high school romance. Still, she can imagine herself in Bella’s shoes without becoming or acting like the clumsy, love-struck heroine who makes some really bad choices. What my daughter can’t image is putting off college plans or ditching school for a boy, even one like Edward, the near-perfect vampire love interest of the series. In fact, my daughter doesn’t see Edward as perfect as Bella and half the teenage population does. Turns out she’s Team Jacob (a fan of the goofy, fun-loving werewolf also in love with Bella). This tells me that, much to my surprise, my daughter is far more mature than I was at her age—and not necessarily in a bad way. At 13, I was far more susceptible to these types of intense romance stories. Back then, I would have ditched school for Shaun Cassidy in a heartbeat. As much as we have in common, she’s her own person. I can see now more than ever her own unique independent personality.  Just because I read or interpret something one way, it doesn’t mean my daughter will. She’s at the age where she is forming her own opinions and learning how to express them and I’m reminded to nurture that in her.

Some parents prefer to not let their kids read the Twilight books and I respect that. But Twilight taught me that when it comes down to the important stuff in life, my daughter gets her morals and values  from my husband and I—not a book or a TV shows or some kid on the school bus. I’ve learned that I can trust her to come to me with questions or topics–be it sex, werewolves or even death–if she wants to. I need to be there for her and answer her queries as honestly, appropriately and respectfully as possible. But you want to know the really novel lesson that Twilight taught me about my daughter? As much as she leads me to believe otherwise, she actually needs and listens to her mother. Sometimes.

Pushing the Envelope

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

My teen daughter is a big fan of Glee. She’s one of the millions of young viewers who’ve caught the singing bug and enjoy the musical frivolity that is the latest TV sensation. Just so we’re clear, aside from musical numbers, Glee isn’t anything like High School Musical. Compared to HSM, Glee is rough edges, dark comedy and, quite frankly, lots of sex. Or more accurately, lots of conversations on the subject and sometimes suggestive songs and actions. That’s not to say HSM is wholesome and good and Glee is raunchy and inappropriate. It’s not that simple. Parents need to gauge their own comfort level before they just hand over the remote. Glee captures the tumultuous high school years, relishing that awkward stage when kids begin to figure out who they are and what they want out of life. In the debut season of Glee alone, a character declared his homosexuality, a cheerleader got pregnant and a teacher’s marriage broke up. The show pushes the envelope in ways that could easily make many parents and kids uncomfortable. While the musical numbers incorporate lots of fantasy elements, the consequences of the character’s actions are what ring true. The writers deftly weave comedy and caring with a few sharp jabs at society and give these events real context. While this might be too much for some viewers, so far, it’s been a lot easier for me to talk with my daughter about the events in Glee than to try to explain to her why the star of the squeaky clean HSM appeared in the nude on the internet.

PBS Kids Celebrates Earth Day

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Set your TiVos – This Thursday, April 22, PBS KIDS will host “Share the Earth Day” as 15 different series present eco-friendly, earth science and outdoor exploration-themed episodes. Families can join favorite characters from CURIOUS GEORGE, SESAME STREET, SUPER WHY! and more as they learn about solar power, pollution, water conservation, biospheres and saving the rainforest. 2010 marks PBS KIDS’ largest “Share the Earth Day” event.

PBS Kids Share the Earth

‘PBS KIDS Share the Earth Day’ encourages kids to explore earth science as part of their daily lives, from backyard adventures with Sid the Science Kid to cooking using  solar energy with Curious George,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President of Children’s Media, PBS. “PBS KIDS is a leader in science learning, with the most comprehensive, dedicated content and resources on TV, on-line and in classrooms.”

Continuing the Earth Day learning on digital platforms, PBSKIDSGO.org/video will feature the online premiere of WORDGIRL’s “Earth Day Girl” episode, as well as a themed channel of Earth Day episodes. Beginning today, PBSKIDSGO.org will launch new content on EekoWorld, an interactive website designed to introduce children to the basics of ecosystems, conservation and pollution, and on April 5th, PBSKIDSGO.ORG/designsquad/contest will feature the launch of the 2010 Trash to Treasure competition which challenges kids to recycle, reuse and reengineer everyday items into new inventions. PBSKIDS.org will feature more than 20 environment and nature games, as well as an Earth Day specific playlist at PBSKIDS.org/video.

PBSPARENTS.org will feature tips for making recyclable crafts, throwing an eco-friendly birthday party and supporting children’s interest in nature. The site will also host an Expert Q&A with Kimberly Brenneman, education advisor for SID THE SCIENCE KID. PBSTEACHERS.org will host a webinar on April 5, titled “Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day,” exploring environmental curriculum and its impact on student preparedness for green jobs.

Looking at Autism From the Pages of a Family Album

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

My Dad’s in Heaven with Nixon
Showtime

Summers in South Hampton, tennis and golf clubs and a big apartment in Manhattan seems like a charmed life, but as Tom Murray’s poignant documentary “My Dad’s in Heaven with Nixon” reveals, it was anything but. Murray’s youngest brother, Christopher, suffered oxygen deprivation at birth and was diagnosed with Autism later in life. At the time, however, no one was sure how to treat him and it was repeatedly suggested that he be institutionalized and forgotten about. This timely film airs on Showtime during Autism Awareness month. Through interviews, home movies and personal recollections, Murray creates an evocative, bittersweet memoir of the unraveling of a family. The irony here is that Christopher, through the devotion, drive and understanding and support of his mother and siblings, eventually thrives as an independent adult and even becomes a sought after New York artist. It is the suspected bi-polar depression of father and patriarch Thomas Murray II that causes the family to falter. Although somewhat disjointed and often off-topic, the documentary resonates as a validation for special needs parents and as a touching memoir of a dysfunctional family.

5-Minute Marvels Encourages Kids & Parents To Draw A Little Every Day

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

We’ve seen quite a few tweets and blogs about a site called 5-Minute Marvels which encourages parents and kids to draw together each night. Here is what our friends at Wired had to say:

5-Minute Marvels is a site based on a simple idea: parents and kids should each take a crack at drawing every night before bed. You can draw comic characters (that’s how the site got started) but cars, Star Wars figures, or whatever your subject is fine, just get drawing. The goal is to have fun – not to achieve perfection – and to encourage people to draw with their kids. The site has attracted the pens of parents and kids from all over, but also notable artists Jim McCann, Ross Campbell, David Lopez, Colleen Coover and others.wired.com, 5-Minute Marvels Encourages Kids & Parents To Draw A Little Every Day, Apr 2010

Click here to visit 5-Minute Marvels >