The McDonald’s mom story isn’t about free-range parenting at all. It’s about everything else.

playground

The case of Debra Harrell, the South Carolina mom who was arrested for letting her nine-year-old play at the park while she worked at McDonald’s, has been widely discussed as a free-range-children issue. Shouldn’t a nine-year-old be allowed to play in the park, free-range advocates ask. Has our bubble-wrapped society gone too far?

But, guess what? It’s not a free-range issue. This is a class issue. This story is all about class and social welfare and feminism. It’s an example of how society fails to provide basic protections for women and children and then turns around and paints mothers as criminals. [Read more...]

Is it still called being a picky eater if she only eats gourmet foods?

“I don’t like macaroni and cheese anymore,” she said out of the blue one morning, putting down her spoon after three bites of cereal because it was getting soggy.

Right then. So let’s break this down. Things my five-year-old daughter won’t eat:

Kraft Dinner Kraft Dinner

Image source: Getty Images

Any pizza that isn’t cheese pizza. Actually, no, she won’t eat that either. Pepperoni pizza

Image source: Getty Images

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So I tried something I read on the internet and nearly set my house on fire last night

for making toast

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Wait! I’m not even talking about diagnosing terminal illnesses, magical weight-loss tips, conspiracy theories or anything that aims to debunk established scientific truths. We already know that stuff is crazy.

I’m talking about those lists of helpful tips you see everywhere: 18 Ways To Save Time In the Kitchen; 23 Easy Hacks to Change Your Life; or, my favourite, 48 Tricks Every Parent Should Know. And I should know better! I mean, I already wrote 13 Parenting Tips That Can Bite Me  and the so-called useful advice that has come out since then has been crying out for a sequel. Have you seen the baby sleeper with the built-in mop?! Yes, let’s clothe our infants in mops to maximize the amount of dust and dirt that will cling to them when they crawl across the floor. That’s brilliant.

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We forgot about this when we were wishing for summer

We’re almost a week into summer vacation now and I’m already bent over and gasping for breath. This sucker is the marathon of school vacations and I’m going to have to start pacing myself. I seem to have forgotten exactly how this works and maybe you have too.

1. The kids are home all the time! Unless they’re in camp in which case summer vacation becomes the single biggest financial drain of your year. Hurray! No, but seriously. There’s a two-year-old clinging to my back as I type this, a five-year-old whining about popcicles and an eight-year-old who seems to be in some sort of mind meld-like trance with a video game. In order to get them out of here, I have to go with them.

sitting on curb

 Image credit: Getty Images.

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In defence of kindergarten graduation and trophies for everyone

In defense of kindergarten graduations and trophies for everyone

Image credit: Bill Watson.

Tomorrow is Irene’s graduation from senior kindergarten and I am stoked. Yep, full disclosure: I think it’s sweet.

I still remember my own SK graduation, construction-paper caps, orange “drink” in little Dixie cups and all. It felt like a big deal to me. I was proud and excited to move on to grade one. Grade one is a big change for little kids as the emphasis shifts from play-based learning to more and more desk time. A little ceremony helps to make it feel more special than scary.

But man, do some people ever disagree with me. The anti-mollycoddling movement is alive and well. Their voice is represented in blog and facebook posts around the world. (But The Huffington Post comment section is where they seem to truly come alive.)

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Watch out for my kid, a**hole! 5 easy rules for not running over children with your car

5 easy rules for not running over children with your car

I live in the city of Toronto with three young children. I am a driver and I am a pedestrian. I don’t really cycle. But I am a pedestrian first. We all are. If I were to run for mayor of this city, “Pedestrians first,” would be my slogan. (Though it’s probably easier to buy crack in the “Subways, subways, subways.”)

Unfortunately, many of the drivers in this city (and other cities, too, I’d imagine) do not share my love of pedestrianism. They do not, in fact, seem to care about the safety and well-being of my children at all. Perhaps they do not have children of their own. Perhaps they’ve just returned from a decades-long expedition to the antarctic and have never encountered children at all in their entire adult lives. I don’t know.

So I put together a few simple rules to help them avoid running over kids with their cars. Because that’s really freaking annoying when you’re already late for work.

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Stuff I’m Digging: Minitrade.ca

Stuff I'm Digging: Minitrade.ca

Parenting: It’s 50% caring for your children and 50% sorting through their stuff. Am I right or what?

Clothes are the worst. From the precious newborn onsies you oohed and aahed over to the suit your little guy wore to your sister’s wedding, from favourite t-shirts to sparkly slippers, every item has a story. My closets are overflowing with stories.

And god help you if you ever think you might have more than one child. Your weekends become a never-ending parade of packing and unpacking and you convince yourself that shuffling giant Rubbermaid containers into and out of storage is just as good as going to the gym anyway. And still, there are heaps and piles and mounds of clothes as far as the eye can see.

But one day, my friend, you will finally be done. You will know you are ready to stop having kids because an uncontrollable urge to GET THIS PRECIOUS SHIT OUT OF HERE will spew six years-worth of boy’s clothing all over your dining room table. You can almost taste the freedom.

But what do you do with it all? Your sister’s co-worker’s cousin needs boys clothes, apparently. You could probably make a cool $20 on Kijiji, eventually, and it would only take ten hours of your time. But, really, you just want it out of your house, like, yesterday. Donating the lot of it to the local thrift store has usually been the best bet.

Until now. Minitrade.ca is an amazing new online consignment store for kids and I love everything about it. You send them your gently used, like-new kids clothes (they pay the shipping) and you get paid 20% of the resell price in either cash or store credit. So, clear out your closets and pick up some new summer duds for your kids in one fell swoop. How cool is that?

School’s out. Let’s go to the movies. (Mega giveaway)

Words and Pictures giveaway

I wanted to celebrate the end of the school year with a big movie night at my house. Everybody can come over and we’ll have a huge pajama party. Pizza, popcorn, prosecco and Mean Girls  on repeat. Whaddya say?

On second thought, that sounds like a lot of work.

New plan! I’ll just give out all kinds of free passes to an early screening of a brand new rom-com that’s happening in your very own city. Words and Pictures stars Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche as two quirky high school teachers (one’s a writer, the other’s an artist — get it?) who are pitted against each other in a school-wide war. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess they end up falling for each other. Here’s the trailer:

Screenings are happening on Wednesday, June 25 at 7:00pm in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. I have two double passes for each city to give away. If you want one, just leave the name of your city in a comment and I’ll email your pass. (Make sure you leave an email address too.) First come, first serve.

Aaaand GO!