Produced by Gary Drevitch
Interview Opp: Dr. Greene Helps Deliver Healthy Green Babies this September
Ironically, the good doctor actually has one of the better pediatric sites around . . .
Hop over to Grandparents.com – right now –
to see the embedded video of Fellow, Tiny, and Little Guy in our "Home
Video 101" series.
Footage compiled by Freelance Dad himself.
ON NEWSSTANDS NOW
At the end of the recent kindergarten graduation at Big City Elementary (can't beat it with a stick) Tiny's teacher sent her home with a CD of favorite classroom songs from the past year. The disk is chock full of Tom Chapin, Pete Seeger, Carole King, and, inexplicably . . . Michael Jackson's "Beat It." And so which one is Tiny Girl's favorite song, and which has she already played about six dozen times? You guessed it.
"Daddy," she asked us the other day, "can you imagine if S.T. [her
crush] and me had a play date? And we listened to Michael Jackson 'Beat
It'? And then, the real Michael Jackson came in? Can you imagine it?"
BUNK BEDS: NOW MORE DANGEROUS THAN SHARKS
A comprehensive new study found that nearly 36,000 children and adolescents are treated for bunk bed-related injuries in the nation’s emergency rooms each year. . . Almost 573,000 kids from infants to age 21 suffered injuries significant enough to warrant a visit to the ER between 1990 and 2005, according to an investigation by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. . . Nearly half of the injuries occurred in children under 6, but there also was a surprising jump in accidents among 18- to 21-year-olds, who were more than twice as likely to be hurt as kids ages 14 to 17.
"Surprising"? Um, hello? They were drunk at the time!
Credit to MSNBC, though, for getting parents to read through a dozen bejeezus-spooking paragraphs before revealing this reassuring nugget: "[D]eaths appeared very rare, perhaps a half dozen during the 16-year study."
Because you've downloaded music by Jonas Brothers or the cast of High School Musical from iTunes in the past, we thought you'd like to know about the new soundtrack for the Disney Channel original movie Camp Rock . . .
Damn you, Tiny Girl. . .
ON NEWSSTANDS, ONLINE, AND IN BOOKSTORES NOW
We've been away from HQ for a while - too long, really - but we've been busy. You can find fresh content from Freelance Dad, aka Gary Drevitch, in the latest issue of Time Out New York Kids, where we explain why "Dads Don't Do Playdates," and online at Grandparents.com, where we encourage Nanas and Poppies to "Celebrate At-Home Dads."* Also, our latest Smithsonian/HarperCollins children's book, Presidents FYI, is on sale, as of today, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and better booksellers everywhere.
* [When you exit this site, please open your e-mail program, and send a mass message telling all the grandparents in your life that they should visit grandparents.com - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and then every day for the rest of their lives . . . because as much as the grands love Casablanca references, they'll love grandparents.com even more.
Chronically late or truant students in Dallas are wearing electronic monitors so school officials can make sure they're on the way to class when they're supposed to be. According to the Times, the experimental program has been a big success, at least at Bryan Adams High School.
This just in: Fellow and the rest of his school chess team were crowned as champions at last weekend's National Elementary chess tournament in Pittsburgh. Admittedly, their title came in the Grades K-3 Under-800 division, a relatively low level of competition. And, we confess, the three points Fellow earned in his seven games (two wins, plus one more by forfeit) didn't technically count toward the squad's victory, as only the top four scores on a team count toward their official standings. But don't think for a second that any of that diminishes our pride.
The WWE is launching a new magazine for its tragically credulous young fans, called WWE for Kids! and readers can expect to find more than pictures of their favorite wrestlers to put inside their school lockers.
In fact, according to WWE vice president and publishing director Bob Lee, the magazine's content will range from "fitness to nutrition to geography to esteem building." While we can only shudder to think of the nutrition advice the group's artificially bulked-up stars might offer — maybe sprinkle some Creatine on your Cocoa Puffs? — we're truly fascinated to discover what lessons in geography the Undertaker and Triple H have to share.
WE'LL STICK WITH DAME JUDI DENCH'S RECORDING OF WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
We recently received a review copy of the least necessary children's CD we've heard in a long while: Gwynneth Paltrow's recording of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle's classic picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
To answer your questions, in order:
- Yes, it is quite short.
- They fill it out by having her read three of the sequels as well (Polar Bear, Polar Bear; Panda Bear, Panda Bear; Baby Bear, Baby Bear — everything but Burly Bear, Burly Bear . . .)
- She does Spanish versions, too. It's still pretty thin for a CD.
- Yes, audiobooks of classic picture books do lose a lot in the translation, seeing as how, you know, the pictures are all gone.
- Her readings are infused with a heavy note of self-satisfaction.
- Sure, if you like that kind of thing.
AWKWARD QUESTIONS OUR DAUGHTER ASKS AS WE SHOP IN THE DRUG STORE
"Daddy, isn't that she shampoo you use? So why is there a girl's picture on it?"*
* [Hey, we've been using Finesse since high school and we ain't changing now . . . ]
NEW YORK CITY: WHERE EVERY CHILD IS IN THE 98th PERCENTILE — NO MATTER WHAT THE TESTS SAY
The results are in for New York City kids applying to Gifted and Talented public-school programs for 2008-09. Tiny's scores on the OLSAT and BSRA tests administered to kids this spring landed her in the top percentile range, virtually guaranteeing her acceptance into a program somewhere in the neighborhood. A year ago, however, when we applied for a kindergarten spot, her surprisingly low score kept her out of the running. Disappointed as we were, we accepted the score and moved on, grateful that her local, or "catchment" school offered her an outstanding kindergarten program. But apparently we're pikers, because many parents whose children land below the golden 95th percentile refuse to take their results sitting down, as per this e-mail from one school's parent coordinator, recently forwarded to us:
Many parents received results from the G&T testing that seem very far off from what they had expected. I have been speaking to parent coordinators at several schools and they report the same thing. I have spoken to our family advocate, DJ Sheppard and Director of Placement, Marty Barr, to find out how parents can have their child's score report reviewed. DJ Sheppard is referring parents to ... InsideSchools for that information.
InsideSchools, a site that is getting better all the time, does indeed have a G&T Q&A, featuring this eminently diplomatic advice about how to handle unexpectedly low test results:
My child's score doesn't make any sense. How can I review his test?
There are many reasons your child might not have done as well as you expected or hoped. First, the two tests assess different skills. A kid who does well recognizing shapes and numbers on the BSRA may not do as well on the OLSAT, which tests comprehension and reasoning, and vice versa. Also, your son or daughter might just have had a lousy day or been confused by the testing conditions. Remember, he's only 4 or 5! You can request to review your child's test. Mail your request, explaining the reason you want to see your child's test, to the Office of Accountability, G&T Test Administration, 52 Chambers St. Room 309, New York, NY 10007.
THEIR CUSTOMERS HOPE ALL THAT TALK ABOUT THE UNEXAMINED LIFE NOT BEING WORTH LIVING IS JUST A RUMOR
Flexpetz, which rents dogs on a per-diem or longer basis to people paying membership fees of $279.95 or more a month, is doing a booming business in New York and LA.
APPARENTLY, FREELANCE DAD'S FAVORITE DATING STRATEGY WOULDN'T CUT IT IN THE MODERN WORLD
A recent Sunday Times "Modern Love" piece told how a indie rock band member (some searching reveals that he's in Nada Surf,
not surprisingly a band we've always liked) courted a single writer by
inviting her over to watch 1970s kid TV like "The Electric Company" and
"Free to Be ... You and Me." Enticing as this offbeat, youthful
approach was initially, though, the gal began to wonder, as she asks in
her headline, "Was I on a Date or Baby-Sitting?" Things soon ended,
badly, putting a chill in our spine and causing us to hold Freelance Mom even closer to us than before.
THANK YOU, ADULT ED!
Freelance Dad, aka Gary Drevitch, had a great time speaking at the May edition of Adult Education
at Union Hall in Brooklyn the other day. The crowd was fantastic, our
drink was free, and we credit hosts Charles Star and Carrie McLaren for
both. We also enjoyed hearing the other speakers on the bill, and
urge you to visit them on the Web as well: Pamela Paul, author of Parenting, Inc., who recently debunked the baby-sign language movement over on Babble; Daniel Radosh, author of Rapture Ready!, who has been blogging about the underworld of Christian culture on his own site; and Susan Gregory Thomas, who often speaks about the issues raised in her book, Buy, Buy Baby.
ADULT EDUCATION PRESENTS: BABIES & AMERICAN INDUSTRY
Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - 8 pm (doors at 7:30)
Union Hall in Park Slope
702 Union St. @ 5th Ave
Adult Education is a monthly lecture series organized by the Brooklyn-based nonprofit, Stay Free! Each month is devoted to a given theme, and 4-5 speakers will address some aspect of that theme using visual aids.
| Pamela Paul, "Baby Gear Your Mother Didn't Have"
| Daniel Radosh,"Marketing to Christian Kids or The Secret Identity of Bibleman"
| Charles Star, "A Short List of the Worst Children's Toys Ever"
| Gary Drevitch, "How Princesses and Pokemon Conquered America"
| Susan Gregory Thomas, "Barbie Goes Vertical: How the Marketing Industry Brands Infants and Toddlers"
DANIEL RADOSH is author of the new book Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and a contributing editor at The Week magazine. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Playboy, Esquire, and GQ. In the early 1990s, Radosh was a staff writer and editor at Spy magazine.
PAMELA PAUL is the author of Parenting, Inc: How We Are Sold on $800
Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers -- and What It Means for Our Children. She writes for Time magazine and the New York Times Book Review, and is the author of two previous books, Pornified and The Starter Marriage. She and her family live in Harlem.
GARY DREVITCH produces the parenting Web site freelancedad.com, contributes to magazines like Parents and Jewish Living, and writes non-fiction books for children. He is also the senior editor of
grandparents.com. A father of three, he has become part of the Pokemon problem, and now seeks its solution.
SUSAN GREGORY THOMAS is an investigative journalist and broadcaster. Formerly a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and co-host of public television's Digital Duo, she has also written for Time, the Washington Post, Glamour, and elsewhere. She has two children, seven and four years old.
CHARLES STAR is a sometimes lawyer, sometimes comic, and host of Adult Ed. But he is mostly known for his excellent cat.
From Mediabistro's Daily FishbowlNY:
Grandparents.com Signs Three Young 'Uns
Everyone's favorite site for the elderly set announced the hiring of three staffers today. New senior editor Gary Drevitch will coordinate and oversee the Expert Advice section, which includes our favorite category, "Ask a Therapist." . . . . It's great to be grand. It's also great to have a job.
IN OTHER FREELANCE DAD UPDATES
Earlier, we reported that we'd written a major feature in the second
issue of Jewish Living magazine, on the 10 Best Jewish Summer Camps.
Well, our long national nightmare is over: the piece has finally been posted on the magazine's Web site.
• Before he walked away from the home office, Freelance Dad granted an interview to Nielsen Business Media for this piece on "Freelance or Full-time: Choosing the Right Path":
“I like talking to my 18-month-old, but he doesn’t really keep up with the news,” joked Gary Drevitch, a telecommuting father of three who has contracted with such clients as Disney, McGraw-Hill and Harper-Collins. “As a freelancer, it’s nice to have a variety of different clients, if not just to have a variety of people to talk to.”
• Many of you read our reports from the second row of the New York International Children's Film Festival,
specifically the screenings of short films for kids. Children, parents,
and festival judges separately voted on their favorites from the slates
and to our great disillusionment, all three groups bypassed the
artistry of shorts like "Rain Down From Above" and "Animal Book" (click
and scroll down to select and watch both films) for the cozy
familiarity of Mo Willems' "Knuffle Bunny," which was chosen as the
best short in the entire festival by the experts and parents, and was
also the favorite film of children under 7. Look, Daddy, it's the same book we have at home! I want you to vote for THAT one!
Meanwhile, kids under 10 spit their audience prize between "Crank Balls" (not so surprisingly, since it appeared on the program cover) and the completely enchanting "Zhiharka" (see it here), for our money the best Looney Tune ever produced by Russia. Still, we'd have given the prize to "The Tide."
HOW YOU GONNA KEEP 'EM GLUED TO GRAND THEFT AUTO AFTER THEY'VE PLAYED THE SAT?
Stanley Kaplan thinks SAT prep is the killer ap for the DS. Think again, Stan.
WE'VE TOLD FELLOW THAT WE THINK HE'S READY TO GO BY HIMSELF TO
PLAYDATES AT HIS FRIEND'S HOUSE ONE BLOCK AWAY. BUT WE HAVEN'T ACTUALLY
LET HIM DO IT YET
And that, if you're wondering, is why NYC columnist and mom Lenore
Skenazy has gotten so much attention, and rightfully so, for her column-fodder stunt
of leaving her nine-year-old at Bloomingdale's with $20 and a Metrocard
and letting him figure out how to get home by himself. We don't think
Skenazy is irresponsible or a bad mother; Hell, Freelance Mom let us
walk to kindergarten by ourselves and we grew up in a tough-enough
medium-size city. But as much as we support what Skenazy did, for some
reason we can't pull the trigger on giving Fellow that kind of
independence yet ourselves. She's either brave or foolhardy, but either
way she's tougher than us. (See her defend herself to an expert crank
on the "TODAY" show here.)
Best child-training news of the month: We've got Little Guy, all of 19 months, handing us our towel as we exit the shower in the morning. It's great start to your day–makes you feel like Gene Hackman in "Superman."
YOU'RE TELLING US WE CAN'T EVEN YELL AT FELLOW WHEN WE CATCH HIM EATING A BOWL OF RICE WITH HIS HANDS? THAT'S A TOUGH SELL
Alan E. Kazdin of Yale's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic tells readers of Slate this week the secret to getting kids to stop their bad behaviors and do what you want them to. After reminding readers how poorly most adults respond to being yelled at, or talked to death, he recommends a third way:
You begin by deciding what you want the child to do, the positive opposite of whatever behavior you want to stop. The best way to get rid of unwanted behavior is to train a desirable one to replace it. So turn "I want him to stop having tantrums" into "I want him to stay calm and not to raise his voice when I say no to him."
Then you tell the child exactly what you would like him to do. Don't confuse improving his behavior with improving his moral understanding; just make clear what behavior you're looking for and when it's appropriate, and don't muddy the waters by getting into why he should do it. "When you get mad at your sister, I want you to use words or come tell me about it or just get away from her. No matter what, I want you to keep your hands to yourself."
Whenever you see the child do what you would like, or even do something that's a step in the right direction, you not only pay attention to that behavior, but you praise it in specific, effusive terms. "You were angry at me, but you just used words. You didn't hit or kick, and that's great!" Add a smile or a touch—a hug, a kiss, a pat on the shoulder. Verbal praise grows more effective when augmented via another sense.
It's just crazy enough to work . . .
METHODOLOGY NOTE OF THE MONTH
The Wall Street Journal's Science Journal reports on a study showing that our attraction to baby faces may be hard-wired in us:
"It suggests we are probably all hard-wired to respond and care for babies, to help us perpetuate the species," said Oxford child psychiatrist Alan Stein, who helped conduct the experiment. "The response to an infant face is too fast to be under conscious control."
We were not at all surprised by that conclusion, and you're probably not, either. But we were amazed by this note on the methodology of a related face-recognition study from Japan:
Yoichi Sugita at Japan's Neuroscience Research Institute raised infant monkeys for two years without ever showing them a face. Lab workers wore hoods. When faces were finally revealed to them, the monkeys could readily tell them apart, Dr. Sugita reported in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
To mark the 50th anniversary of its iconic 64-crayon box, Crayola revealed eight newly-named colors, influenced by the online suggestions of nearly 20,000 kids. And here are the winners, each of which can be found inside a limited-edition 50th birthday box:
Super Happy (yellow), Fun in the Sun (orange), Giving Tree (green), Bear Hug (brown), Awesome (dusty pink), Happy Ever After (blue), Famous (hot pink) and Best Friends (purple)
TRULY BLESSED TO HAVE BEEN BORN IN A REGION WHERE CRANIOFACIAL
DUPLICATION GETS YOU WORSHIPPED. INSTEAD OF, SAY, PITTSBURGH
In case you missed it: A little girl with two faces was recently born in a northern Indian village where she is apparently living in good health, breathing normally — she drinks milk from both mouths and closes all four eyes at the same time, her doctor says — and being worshipped as the reincarnation of Durga, the Hindu goddess of valor.
We grew up reading "The Mini Page" in our local newspaper every week, appreciating its combination of current events, patriotic trivia, and earnest but primitive illustrations. Unbeknownst to us, the page continues to be published in 500 papers across the country, but now without its founding editor, as per this press release from her syndicator:
Betty Debnam has decided to step aside from her duties as editor and publisher of The Mini Page, a children's newspaper syndicated in about 500 papers across this country, to dedicate more time to painting, writing children’s books, and researching trends and developments in education . . . Debnam also will work to develop the Debnam-Hunt Literacy Resource Center at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Her official title now becomes founding editor and editor-at-large.
As editor for 37 years (l969 to 2007), Debnam has been the guiding force of The Mini Page, which for many of the early years she wrote and illustrated . . . . Debnam will continue as editor-at-large for The Mini Page, covering stories she considers of interest to readers . . . . "The Mini Page is a legacy to Betty Debnam,” says John McMeel, president of Andrews McMeel Universal, the parent company of Universal Press. “Her vision, insight and sensibilities are still embraced by teachers and parents who want to instill an appreciation and a love of newspapers for generations to come.