Thursday, June 25, 2009

On Boredom and Parenting

For the record, I don't think James has ever admitted being bored while parenting but here's a column I wrote awhile ago for the Ashland Daily Tidings that I thought might resonate.

On Boredom and Raising Children

By Jennifer Margulis

I got a blithe email from a friend today saying she was having a fantastic time this holiday season with her two children at home on vacation. When I mentioned to another friend who has three kids that I, on the other hand, was going crazy with my munchkins, she looked at me as blankly as if I were speaking Chinese.

“Yeah,” she said, her voice full of faux sympathy, “I had the feeling you were having problems.”

It was clear from her condescending tone that she and her brood were in perfect harmony, that kids in general do not drive one crazy, and that she found it impossible to imagine being in a similar state of frustration and boredom.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way but why is there such a stigma attached to admitting that sometimes parenting leaves you so bored you feel like your brain is drying up? If your experience as a parent is or was all candy cane sweet and apple pie homey, read no further (why would you?) but I am hereby opening the door to my parenting closet and telling this truth: I get bored sometimes (shh, it’s a secret).

“Mommy, let’s play Bad Guys!” My 4-year-old son suggests while his older sisters are at school and we’re spending the day together. Bad Guys is his favorite game. He’s the Bad Guy. I’m the Good Guy. He does bad things. I die. I come back to life. He decides to turn to a life of good and then we are both good guys and we root out the bad guys and … force them to be good (or kill them). That’s the game. My son can play it for hours, in many iterations on the same general theme. My son’s 4- and 5-year-old friends can also play it for hours. I am 38 and I can play it for about five minutes. Then, as I run away from the Bad Guy at my heels, I start picking up toys off the floor, finding that tidying the house is actually a rewarding activity when compared to Bad Guys.

So then we decide to play Chutes and Ladders … for about ten hours. Since Etani’s newly four, he makes up his own rules to this game. His rules involve zooming his piece around the board like a racecar or hopping it over all the squares like a bunny, never going down a chute, and winning, usually all in the first spin. It’s so much fun to play Chutes and Ladders “My Way” and involves so much uproarious giggling—from both of us—that we have to do it over and over.

I’m so bored I find myself noticing there are only two boys on the board who aren’t white, and both of them are doing something naughty. There is one African-American girl planting tomatoes who gets to climb a ladder. Is this game contributing to racist notions in the United States? Why are so many more black women going to college than black men? What am I doing to fight global oppression?

“Mommy!” Etani cries, interrupting the first thought process I’ve had all morning: “Your turn!”

I suggest we go for a walk. He rides his bicycle and I trot beside him. We’re outside, the air is cold and clear, my son is adorable, the sky is blue, I’m grateful to be alive and be with my child. Later a friend tells me she drove by us and I looked like a glowing and proud mother helping poochie on his bicycle. She’s pregnant with her first baby and she just found out it’s a boy.

“Mommy! I know what!” Etani hollers. “Let’s play Bad Guys and I chase you on my bicycle. Okay?”

I don’t tell Abby the whole truth. She’ll find out soon enough.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rally in Medford, Oregon this Thursday to Support Health Care Reform

Mothers Voices For Health Care Reform (Fathers' too!)

Thursday, June 25, 5 - 6 p.m.
Vogel Plaza
Main & Central
Downtown Medford

A rally to show support for health care reform that will give all parents peace of mind. We support Obama's goal of providing QUALITY AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.

Wear red on Thursday in heartfelt support of health care reform.

Write to the public officials in your state. In Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has become an eloquent spokesperson in favor of reform.

Senator Ron Wyden, also a democrat, has NOT signed on to the idea of a public health insurance plan. We need to tell him to get on board the Obama train and to stop being silent. Representative Greg Walden, a Republican, also has not committed to any of the principals of health care reform.

Please send personal letters about the importance of health care reform to Senator Wyden at:

Senator Ron Wyden
310 West 6th Street
Room 118
Medford, OR 97501

To fight the big business interests involved in this debate, we all need to speak up about our support for change. Polls this week by non-partisan polling groups show that 72-83% of Americans support a reform of our nation's current health care system.

For more information, call HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA NOW at 541-772-4029.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Reason to Have a Second Child

This news story in the Oregonian really touched us.

A 14-year-old boy, Baltazar Delgado, woke up in the middle of the night to find his house on fire in Keizer, Oregon. The first thing he did was go into his sisters' room to help them. Though his 10-year-old sister was already awake, his 6-year-old sister was still sleeping in the top bunk. He woke her up and carried her through the smoke and fumes and out of the burning house.

This is what siblings are for: to protect each other, be together, and save each other's lives.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Green Baby Expo in Chico, California

This event looks like it would be great fun for moms, dads, and babies. If anyone goes, let us know. It's sort of last minute, but we're toying with the idea of being there!

Green Baby Expo

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Russia Gives Money, Awards for Big Families

The AP and other news sources around the country (we heard about it on NPR) reported a few days ago that Medvedev had invited moms and dads of large families to the Kremlin to honor them with money and kudos.

Apparently Russia is facing the "threat" of a huge population decline and Medvedev wants his people to go forth and multiply.

The award is called the "Medal of Parental Glory."

I'm not sure a massive decline in homo sapiens is really so much a problem--perhaps it's a solution--if you take a longer view of what's going on with global warming and environmental devastation caused by people but it does seem rather warm and fuzzy that large families are being honored.

Our favorite part of what Medvedev said is that the award should be given to both parents, not just the mothers.

We need more international recognition of the importance of fathers in parenting. Right on Russia.

Now, do you think that family with the 16 children could be convinced to park their cars and bicycle?