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Which Super Hero Wears What Underwear?

If you  have kids at home who love super heroes, beware. These guys are kinda weird – the super heroes, not the kids. They’re supposed to be above and beyond normal beings. Stronger, better, smarter. You’re probably wondering what’s the difference between that and moms, right? Well, the difference is they have secrets that Moms don’t. Some pretty surprising, if not a little . . . strange.

How do I know all this? It started with a very straight forward quiz that my daughter saw online, “Which Super Hero are you?” It sounded innocent enough so when she begged me to take the quiz, I thought nothing of it. A few minutes later, she was done and announced proudly which of the million unrealistic characters with impeccable hair and flawless skin she was. I was a little surprised to hear that she was akin to Batman, given that she’s a girl. But let’s not be gender-funny and stereotype our daughters into thinking they can’t be Batman if they want to. Whatever.

“Mom, why don’t you take the quiz?” she asked

“Okay. Ask me the questions” And that’s when it started to go all weird. After a few normal questions, like “Are you strong?”, “Do you like fighting?”, came this, “Do you wear thongs?”, followed by “Do you wear push up bras?”

I didn’t think this was too appropriate for kids. But that’s not the weirdest thing about this quiz. No, what’s really comical is that if you answer “Yes” to both questions, you are akin to Wonder-Woman, which is a total joke given that her costume consists of larger than life panties. And – I can’t know for sure, but these boobs don’t look real to me. Or if they are, there really is no need to push them up. Now, here’s the interesting fact: if you answer “Yes” to thong and “No” to push up bras, you end up being like Superman. Superman wears thongs. And it must be true, because it’s on a quiz on the internet.

FYI, Batman isn’t into that S&M stuff. He wears no push up bra, and no thong. Just plain ol’ whiteys. Well, now you know.

Speaking of gender stereotype, why is it that the quiz asks about push up bras and thongs, and not about whether you wear butt enhancing cuts, or package busting pouches? Oh yes, it’s a real thing. Go check out underwear for men websites if you don’t believe me .

Anyway, all this is BS, we all know super heroes aren’t real. Plus, I gotta go. Gotta spin three times in a telephone booth so I can be all dressed and dolled up for the day. And to the nasty voices who are thinking, “I know that Nadege-woman, she never looks as neat and well put as WonderWoman”, I say this: When is the last time you saw a telephone booth, huh? So cut me some slacks!

Who would have thought?

 

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Elsa Ruined My Life

If I ever have to answer the question, “What changed your life in the past few years, I definitely know what to say, “Elsa!” Followed by, “change is the understatement of the year”. Elsa and her gang have turned my life upside down. When I share my frustrated comment with other moms, some go, “Oh, yes, I know. My daughter likes Frozen too”

Likes? LIKES! No, ladies, this has nothing to do with liking, or loving. It has to do with complete, utter obsession.

So if your daughter gets addicted, recognize the signs, and get help before it’s too late, like it is for us. The advanced warnings of a HyperFrozenmadmaniatis (not even dramatic enough)  are:

1.  You’ve seen the movie so many times that you know all the lines by heart.

2. Point 1. in at least one foreign language.

3. You’ve seen Frozen on ice, on fire, under water and in space.

4. Your daughter owns three Elsa dresses, the shoes, the jewelry, the wig, the crown, and just put an offer on a castle.

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5. Your house is full of plastic Elsas of all sizes.

6. You’ve decorated your queen’s bedroom with Elsa’s posters, Elsa’s bed sheets, Elsa’s cushions, and a big, giant Olaf guarding the bedroom. And just so you know, Olaf looks very creepy in the middle of the night with his scary grin, like he’s going to swallow you. If I meet him in a dark alley, I won’t be giving him warm hugs.

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7. Your dog has been renamed Kristoff – must have to do with the smell.

8. You’ve intentionally scratched the CD, totally by accident! Because if you hear someone telling you to “Let It Go” once more, you’re gonna give them what they’re asking for.

9. You own more Elsa books than you can possibly imagine. Even Disney doesn’t know there are that many.

10. You’ve heard a rumor that there’s a sequel coming out, so you need to remortgage the house to get the new outfits, toys and houses.

Finally, if every single conversation in your house has turned into an excerpt of Frozen, you’re cursed. Like whenever there’s an argument brewing between two people, and your daughter mumbles, “Let the storm rage on”. Or if you ask her to put a jacket on to go to school and she blurts out, “The cold never bothered me anyway”, you’re doomed. The only option is to move to another planet. I’m seriously considering that plan.

 

 

 

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Kids And Political Correctness – Part Two

The first part of this post talked about messages in kids’ books, and how some of them end up being lost, or even worse, our children take away the opposite of what was intended.

For example, princess stories probably imply that beauty comes from the inside in the form of kindness, but the message received from little girls (at least mine) is that beauty matters. Not too good a concept to hang on to for too long.

Another interesting thing about these stories, is that a girl (princess) only exists through marriage. Before she gets married, she doesn’t have any level of independence. She is a prisoner, in a posh jail, but jail nonetheless. Her so-called friends, step-parents, enemies, are all out to get her and she is defenseless. Until Prince Charming comes and saves the day! And by the way, he is also, always very handsome, because he too is kind. If only you could get that beauty comes from the inside, it would all make sense!

Equally disturbing is the fact that if you are a princess, you get married, and that’s that! There are exceptions, but not many, so by and large, wedlock seems to be the rule.

I am not a feminist, but that’s not a good message for my daughter who now answers to the question, “What do you want to do when you are a grown-up?”

“I want to marry a prince”

I am not trying to raise a gold digger. So I launch into a desperate attempt to set the record straight.

“It’s more important that you think about your college education, you are better alone than with the wrong person, you can stand on your own two feet, have a job, your own life, blahdiblahdiblah”

“Nooooo. I want to marry a prince!”

Ooookay, moving on . . .

Honestly, I don’t even know what should be in these books. Yesterday, I was reading one about a prince who marries a girl he thinks is a princess. But it turns out, she isn’t, she was only pretending. And guess what the prince says when he finds out? “I don’t care that you are not a princess, I love you for who you are” YEAH, RIGHT! Have you not watched any reality TV show lately? Of course, he cares! And he should. Because not for nothing, the fake princess has been lying to him, implying that he was vain and only interested in status. So not exactly the healthiest start of a relationship. Plus, I don’t want my daughter to think that she too, can marry a prince, even though she is no royalty. You can’t, baby, you just can’t. It’s not the way the world works.

Another recurring theme in all these stories is that stepmothers are evil. Well, yeah, that part has some truth. Glad there are some realistic life moments in these otherwise utopic stories. Mind you, they are called fairy tales, so maybe the hint is in the name . . .

Finally, I am wondering, why is there always a parent (or two) who dies in these books? What is it teaching our kids? Coping with loss? Understanding mortality? Cherish your family, they might not be around for as long as you think?

I have a suggestion to make to writers of these fairy-tales: if you are going to be all serious and grown-up, why not drop the doom and gloom about parents and concentrate on sending more realistic messages about self- worth (i.e., don’t need a prince to stand on my own two feet). If you really, really need to kill someone in order to have a good story, how about sending the evil stepmom “swimming with the fishes”. At least, we could then talk about what comes around goes around, karma’s a b#^* and all that.

Thankfully, some children’s authors have decided it was never too early to learn about real life. So recently, I have been reading some very interesting books to my daughter. A lot of it is flying over her head, but the multiple layers of morals do not escape my scrutiny! Some messages are really positive, like being smart will keep you out of trouble, being kind always pays off eventually, world domination is not about physical power but wittiness and understanding your environment – Yes! I read that in a kids’ book! Some messages are more practical, like, you can bulls$@t your way through life as long as you can keep it up, the best form of defense is attack, revenge is a dish best served cold. And the inevitable, an eye for an eye!

I just wished these guys’ next book would be a fairy tale.  No more princess feeling desperate in her ivory tower, hoping for a handsome prince to free her from the evil stepmom. That girl will kick butts, crush the stepmom, send the prince to get himself a real job and simply hold the world in the palm of her hand. Way to go, princess!

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Kids And Political Correctness – Part One

As we are trying to prepare our kids to face the real world, the literature we expose them to is sometimes sending confusing messages. My daughter’s favorite stories always involve a beautiful, nice and kind princess marrying a handsome, cool prince, thus escaping the evil of a stepmom. But what is this teaching her?

Beauty matters. Ouch! Really? Are all princesses beautiful? Erm . . . No, but nobody wants to read a story about an ugly lady, no matter how kind she is.

I know it’s not the message! In fact, I am pretty sure the moral of these stories is quite the opposite: when you are nice and kind, you are beautiful outside, no matter what you really look like. But it’s a second degree thing, a little hard to explain to five year olds.

My daughter’s take on the whole princess business is more along the lines of: if you are pretty, you are more likeable, regardless of whether you are nice or not. And if you are ugly, well, people can’t seem to see pass that and it really doesn’t matter whether you are nice or not. Disturbing thought. . .

Beauty is subjective, it’s in the eye of the one who looks and all that. But when you are five, this is simply not true: if you have big feet, with bunions (like Cinderella’s sisters), you could be Miss World and still ugly! Conversely, long hair and stunning dresses are the definition of beautiful, no matter what the rest of you looks like – unless you have big feet with bunions, and your dress can’t hide them . . .

I want to believe that the readers for whom these stories are intended (i.e. not forty something mothers with too much time in their hands to write posts about princess stories) know better than I give them credit for, and that they understand, beauty comes from the inside.

In order to make sure, I conducted a little survey and asked my three kids,

“Guys, if you could be a beautiful princess or prince who’s mean, or an ugly princess (prince) who’s super nice, which would you choose?”

The boys: “Mom, this is so lame! Who cares?”

The girl: “I would be beautiful.

–          But the beautiful one is mean.

–          Yeah, but she’s beautiful.

–          Maybe, but isn’t it more important to be nice?

–          Erm… No”

So there you have it. Message not received at all!

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The Culture of Cruelty

Do you know who the sandman is? The Sandman is a mythical character who brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children while they sleep at night. Yes, you read that right: “good dreams” is in the same sentence as “sprinkling sand in children’s eyes”. Apparently, the sandman comes from Europe. Of course, he does…

Well, let me tell you this: I am from France. And I have never heard of the sandman! And boy am I glad too! I mean, seriously, throwing sand in kids’ eyes? Are you kidding me?? It’s horrible!! And calling it “sprinkling” instead of “throwing” does not make it any cuter!

And what the heck is magic sand? Sand does not scratch your cornea? Here in the US, magic sand is the one that never dries and stays together. So sprinkle that in your eyes, sandman, and tell me how you sleep!

I don’t understand why this … person, character, whatever you want to call it (the one who throws sand in kids’ eyes) is supposed to come from Europe. I will admit that in my home country, we have some horrible nursery rhymes about animals being stolen, or people “disappearing”. And although not much is left to the imagination, and there is rarely a happy ending, at least, the horrible news is often delivered with a cheerful tune. Like when Madame Michelle loses her cat, and the neighbor admits that he kidnapped little kitty and wants a ransom. Madame Michelle offers a kiss for payment and he tells her to bugger off, he will sell her cat (true, real nursery… I apologize on behalf of France…). Mister Lustucru, the neighbor then sings to her, “Hey Madame Michelle, I will sell your cat for a bunny. Lalalalala, lalalala deridera et tralalala!!” I mean, you feel sorry for the cat, but you can only love the song with such a happy melody! (side note: if you happen to live next to someone called Mr Lustucru, start packing, the hint is in the name…)

But the sandman is at a whole new level of horror: Imagine a monster, made out of sand, crawling in your room and throwing sand in your eyes… Did you ever get any sand in your eyes? Or even just dust? Man! It really, really hurts!! I don’t think anyone falls asleep after they get sand in their eyes. They scream, for sure. They cry as well. But sleep?! Not in the sandman’s wildest dreams… And EVEN IF, after all the screaming and crying, kids eventually fall asleep from complete exhaustion, do you really think they will have good dreams? Right after a shapeless, scary monster came in their room out of nowhere and threw a bag of sand at their face? They won’t sleep properly for the next fifty years…

Whoever created the sandman must have had something against the beach, kids, or kids on the beach, I am not sure. Just writing about “him” makes my eyes itch…

I asked my kids to draw the sandsandmanman without googling it, and this is what they came up with…. I did say, “Can you draw what comes to your head when I say the word, “Sandman” and make it scary, please so my blog makes some sense”. I did not realize it might have been opposite day – which became a lot clearer after asking the kids to do their homework, be quiet, and get ready for bed. But in any case, I am not being fooled by the smiley face, the cute little hat and the casual-cool-dude attitude. So don’t bother selling me your good dreams, sandman, coz I ain’t buying any…

 

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Books for kids are surreal…

I love reading books to my kids. Especially when they are little. Often, there are some cute talking animals, kids and parents who do fun stuff. And at the end of it all, a positive lesson is taught in a subtle way.  After all, books can be a replacement for parent guidance when we get lazy, fail miserably, or run out of ideas on how to handle a situation, can they not?

I, for sure, have been using books in order to convey messages that fell into deaf ears when coming out of my mouth. For example, I surrendered potty training to a bear, living in a blue house, with bunch of weird, sock-looking animals. At first, I got a little annoyed that my kids would listen to a fake bear they did not even know, rather than their loving mom (“You will NOT move from that potty until it’s full!!!). But you have to be practical, whatever works, right?

Thankfully, we are out of that phase, and I am tackling way harder challenges, like: sharing, being kind, empathizing. Again, I try to explain that we have to do all these things, to love and respect our friends, build a sense of community, and make this world a better place. I might as well say BLAH BLAH BLAH. But with the help of a crocodile, some dinosaurs, and a few fake kids who, unlike mine, don’t behave like spoiled brats, I get somewhere. Eventually… Maybe…

Anyway, currently, I have been working on teaching my darling daughter to adopt her fear, dare in order to achieve, accept that failure is a necessary milestone, etc… Pretty heavy for a four year old, don’t you think? Well, worry not! There is a book for that! The story is about a mother duck, who wants to teach her many kids to go in the water. So she calls them, one after the other. As expected from the kids, they all say “No” But then one jumps in, then the other, etc… Until all of them are swimming happily.

This book is so unrealistic it really annoys me. Not that the other books are any more real, with their talking squirrels, pigs building houses and elephants voting on election day, but THIS is going one step too far….

For starters, there is NO WAY, a family with five kids would manage to agree to do the same stuff at the same time AND be happy about it. NO WAY!! I have three children, they never agree on anything so I always have to resort to threats in order to get out of the house. Oh, for sure, they all walk like ducklings in a row, but that’s about the only relatable part!

That’s not the worst bit. The part that really got under my skin is this: in order to get the kids to jump in the water, mommy-duck has to convince them one by one. And the way she does it is to speak in a very calm voice, saying the same thing to each of them, to the tune of, “I know you can do it. Don’t be afraid, mommy is here. I am so proud of you, blah blah blah…” When she is on kid number five, she is still saying the same stuff, in an ever so quiet voice – I know it’s a book, you can’t tell, but I tried to read the line in an annoyed voice, and it did not agree with the picture of the smiling mom – YES, ducks can smile, apparently!

How unrealistic is that? By kid number two, any normal mom would have started to firm up the tone a little. At kid number three, there would probably be a few threats, “If you don’t get in the water, no inchworm for dessert tonight!”, or whatever dessert ducks eat…. Kids number four’s speech would probably contain a few F bombs – as in, twenty. And kid number five would get grabbed by the feathers and have his cute duckling butt kicked into the water.  NO WAY a normal mom would keep her cool. Granted, She is not a normal mom, she is a duck. But still…

I am so wound up. I never want to see that book again. From now on, we are going to stick to princess books. At least, we have no expectation to learn any life lessons. I actually don’t mean that, princess books teach you that when you are nice, you look pretty. At least I hope it’s not teaching you the other way around… WHAT?!!! Is it?

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Do aliens exist?

Well, I don’t quite know whether I believe they do or not. Up until a few weeks ago, I would have laughed at the suggestion of me asking the question. But now, I am not so sure…

Recently, I watched a movie “loosely based on a true story” which usually means that not much is true in it, other than maybe the main character’s gender might, or might not be the same as the fictional character it’s pretending to portray. So there, you have it! Only kidding!  It was not based on a true story, but there were so many striking similarities between the story line and my life, that it made me wonder: do aliens exist?

According to this non scientific, totally made up fiction, if aliens come into your life, they don’t appear one day and then disappear the next. No-no-no-no-no!!! They are here for the long haul. They observe you for years and creep in slowly but surely. The changes are subtle, until you cannot ignore the signs any longer. Well, I am at the stage where some stuff is definitely odd in my life. The parallel with the movie story is undeniable. Are aliens in my life / house / head?

One of the signs that there is an alien presence in your life is: your kids start acting strange. Well, OK! You got me there!! If that’s proof, then aliens have been “working” with us since the beginning… Even the pets are a little weird. Take our cat, for example…

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Another sign is, you lose track of chunks of time, because the little green people (by the way, they are called “the Grays”) take control of your mind momentarily. That’s definitely happening to me. And in a way, as scary as being controlled by a bunch of grays is, it is somehow reassuring that I might not be simply losing my mind… Every night, when my husband comes home and asks, “So, what did you do today?”, I truly, genuinely have no clue. So, could there be more to that story? You know…

Something else happens when grays roam free in your life: they take you in your sleep, maybe to the Mothership, to experiment and learn about you. You are not supposed to remember anything because they wipe out your memory, but our aliens are pretty lame with directions and maps so they always end up putting one of us in the wrong bed. That’s how you know something’s up… Every morning, I wake up with a kid in my bed, or the three kids with me and my husband in another bed. I mean, COME ON! Make an effort, it’s not that hard!

But the sign that definitely raises my suspicion is: when grays are in the house, they like to play tricks on you, so they move stuff around, or balance objects in ways only aliens can do. Sounds like something you only see in a movie? Well, my daughter and I did our nails yesterday, on the patio. When we were done, we went inside for a drink. When we came back out, this is how we found our bottles of nail polish…

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VERY SPOOKY!!!

 

 

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Another amazing bunch…

Last week, I was invited to Pingry to talk about my writing. I had a great time, listening to what kids write about and answering their super smart questions. I don’t think I will ever stop being wowed by how children are able to articulate their thoughts so cleverly and logically.

I gave them a writing challenge at the end of the presentation and here is my pick from the  3rd graders drawings. Once again, it is quite fascinating to witness how well they manage to capture their characters with just a few sentences. Really, they should be doing the dialogues on all my illustrations! Because YOU GUYS ROCK!!!

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Nursery rhymes can be so cruel…

I don’t understand nursery rhymes at all. All moms sing them to their children – present company being no exception. In my experience, they NEVER helped with getting a baby to sleep or calm him down. Ever! I have never heard anyone saying that they had any success using nursery rhymes as a soothing tool. Yet, we pass this tradition on, from one generation to the next. Whoever marketed nursery rhymes is a genius. I want that guy to market my books!!

Have you ever stopped and thought about what you are actually singing to your child? Everything is odd at best, cruel and scary at worst! Seriously, these songs should be rated R!

Take “Rock a Bye Baby”, for example. While you are trying to get your screaming little one to bed, you choose to sing a song that tells him something along the lines of, “When you fall asleep, I will put your bed in a tree and when it gets windy, you and your bed will fall – AHAHA! GOOD NIGHT BABY!” Are you seriously expecting your baby to sleep after hearing that?!

What about that dude who is obsessed with mowing his meadow? Is it really any wonder kids become hysterical when they hear about one man who goes and cut the grass in a meadow. With his dog. And then a friend comes along. And then another one. Babies don’t know how to count, so why do they care if the guy is mowing his meadow with twenty friends or one hundred. What a strange idea to mow a meadow in the first place anyway? See, the baby wants to ask all these questions to his mom, except he cannot speak. So he just screams.

And don’t even get me started on “Hey diddle, diddle”. I mean, seriously?! A cow cannot jump over a fence. So the moon? COME ON!!!

The interesting thing about nursery rhymes is that their cruelty knows no boundary. Take French ones for example; They are by far the most outrageous, inappropriate, not-for-kids children songs I ever came across – Granted, I don’t know any other language so my scientific research is fairly limited…

In the French version of “cute songs for babies”, somebody always gets lost, eaten, tortured, or worse… And yeah, believe me, there is worse than being lost, eaten AND tortured at the same time.

Take Madam Michelle. She lost her little kitty cat. The song is about how she looks for it. It turns out her neighbor has got the cat and will only give it back in exchange of something – whatever happened to empathy and honesty!!

A distraught Madam Michelle offers a kiss in exchange of the cat – What is this teaching our daughters, huh? Flash your eyelashes to get what you want? Men are shallow? It does not matter how you look at it, it’s a pretty dark, disillusioned view of mankind.

And to top it all, the neighbor-guy, who we can now all agree is a real meanie, does not take the deal and sell the cat to somebody else instead. Yeah!! For real!! I am not making any of this up!

So once you are done with singing this cute, catchy little tune to your child, you have taught him / her a few valuable lessons in life:

–          Stealing is OK

–          Bribing is even better

–          Hit where it hurts – Madam Michelle would probably not care about her flowers being stolen, but her cat, nononononoonono

–          Show no sympathy for anyone, feelings are for wimps

–          Don’t settle for less than you expect

–          Use your charm to get what you want

–          Be ruthless, only look after yourself

Wow, and where would you like us to send you your parent of the year crown?

I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but Madam Michelle is one of the MILD French nursery rhymes. Some are so gruesome I cannot even write about them.

I am French, I am fully aware of how weird these nursery rhymes are, and yet, guess what I do with my daughter? I search for these rhymes on youtube, so she can not only hear the cruel words, but also look at the little video that goes with it. I know where MY parent of the year crown should go…

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Writing challenge – Kent Place

Last week, I gave a little writing challenge to the Kent Place kids. I handed them an illustration and asked them to imagine a dialogue. It is a lot harder than it sounds, because the kids only have a few bubbles to create something that makes sense. there are no introductory comments, no side notes, nothing.  The results are AMAZING!! I am particularly wowed by how well they captured the essence of each character and how they are able to convey it in a few words. It was very hard to pick three from each grade (second, third and fourth) as they were all so fabulous. Here are the winners…

 

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You guys definitely knock my socks off!!!