Tag Archives: parenting

The Post and the Lemonade Stand

18 Sep

(Warning: might have some spoilers, regarding the film The Post. But not really big ones, because the story itself is history, so it´s like saying “the Titanic sinks”.)

True storytelling isn´t just about the story you follow consciously. It´s also (or even more so) about the stories that you undergo unnoticed and that stay behind on a deeper level. I came across a beautiful example of this when yesterday I watched The Post, a film Spìelberg made last year about The Washinton Post trying to publish the Pentagon Papers.

The messages of the film are very clear: the government should not obstruct the freedom of the press, and women can run a business.

To clarify that second message, we have the lovely Meryl Streep playing the part of Katharine Graham, the woman who took over the Washington Post after her husband died. We can see her struggle as she tries to become the leader no one expects her to be. The indefensible statement by Samuel Johnson that she quotes (*) to give her daughter an idea of what she was up against, gives us but a glimpse of the internal and extrenal obstacles she had to overcome.

The first message, the one concerning the freedom of the press, is also conveyed in a very explicit way. For the thicker ones among us, there´s even someone at the end of the film saying loud and clear, and with tears in her eyes:

“The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill their essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

Message received, loud and clear.

This morning I wasn´t thinking about the film anymore. I was pondering over some other issue, that had to do with parenting. How can we teach girls to go for what they want? How can we teach them to stop asking for things in the hope someone will give it to them (and getting frustrated when that doesn´t happen), but on the contrary take active, concrete steps towards the fulfilment of their dreams?

And that´s when a few scenes of the film came back to my mind. But they didn´t have Meryl Streep in it. They weren´t about Katharine Graham overcoming her fears of being a weak leader. It was about something I had noticed but hadn´t given much importance to up until then.

When the journalists get together at Ben Bradlee´s house to work through the Top Secret Pentagon Papers that are lying spread all over Bradlee´s living room floor, Bradlee´s daughter is outside the house selling lemonade at a self-made lemonade stand. While everybody is hastily rummaging through the stacks of paper and frantically typing away to get an article together in time, this little girl offers them drinks and cashes the money. And later, when everyone has gone home and Bradlee is left alone in the kitchen with his wife, she shows him the money his daughter made that day.

It´s just a detail in the film, it hardly takes up any space. But it´s such a great message: girls can set up a business and make money. They can, just as well as men. And they shouldn´t be embarrassed about it.

What a charming symbol that lemonade stand is!

Message received. Slowly and subtly, but deeply imprinted.

 

Pin by Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza on Cezanne and his ...

 

(*) “Sir, a woman´s preaching is like a dog´s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

The Grumpy Mom Syndrome

23 Oct

Is exactly what it sounds like.

Diagnosis: when you make a joke and your child says:

“See, mum, you can be funny when you want to!”

 

 

 

Migraine and Yet a Beautiful Day

27 Aug

 

7.30h and I wake up with a migraine. Immediately I send a whatsapp to the group of friends/co-parents:

Migraine! Can anyone take care of Elena today, please?

and I put my daughter in front of the tv to watch The Last Unicorn.

By the end of the film, Irene has told me she´ll be taking Elena out for lunch to eat pizza with her son. And Olga says she´ll take care of her for the rest of the day and that she can even stay the night.

Fernando and Teresa say they can take her out on an excursion with their sons, but I tell them : thank you so much, but I´ve already got it covered.

So at 12:00h Irene comes to pick up my daughter, and at 16:30h she passes my house again to pick up a mermaid doll and drop off a pizza for me (which I didn´t even ask for). Then she takes Elena to Olga.

At 18:30h Isabel comes over for a short chat and brightens up my mood with her warm and energising stories. She leaves at 19:30h.

Half an hour later Olga passes by my house with Elena, her daughter Anastasia, and a dog she´s taking care of. She´s come to pick up my dog to take him for a walk, and she won´t take no for an answer. I walk with them until the orangetree fields, and there she sends me back home. Forty minutes later she brings back the dog, and takes my daughter to her house where she will stay the night.

Okay, I have migraines.

But I have the best friends in the world.

 

 

 

The Bad Parenting Prerogative

30 Apr

All my daughter has done today is watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the only time she´s been out of the house, is when I took her to the supermarket. There we bought popcorn, which we had for dinner.

 

In my world, that counts as some pretty bad parenting: no museum visits, no theatre plays, no park, no nutricious three-course meals.

Of course I am not raising my child solely on ninja turtles and popcorn. But today was just one of those days, you know, where you use 15 minute naps to muster up the energy for half an hour of administrative chores.

 

And you know what, I think that´s totally okay. We don´t need to be Super Parents all the time.

 

Besides, on the bright side:

* she spontaneously asked for a tomato after all that popcorn

* she has undoubtedly picked up a lot of (American) English today – and is there anything cuter than a Spanish five-year-old who knows the word “dude”?

 

 

 

Peace Day

31 Jan

 

Last Friday they celebrated Peace Day at my daughter´s Kindergarten. All the children had to come to school wearing a white shirt.

One little boy showed up that day in a colourfully striped T-shirt. Because his father had forgotten about the white shirt assignment, or simply couldn´t be bothered, I don´t know.

I imagine the teacher seeing that boy walking into the classroom in his multicoloured shirt, amid a sea of white. I imagine her raising one eyebrow and sighing. I imagine her thinking what she´d like to tell the dad, like, for real.

But – it was Peace Day. So, you know, what can you do?

 

 

 

Stuff vs Stories

25 Jun

At the end of the school year, my daughter brought home a folder with all the things she did on the school project, which was about pirates. Apparently this subject was chosen democratically, by means of a poll held among all 126 toddlers of the Primera de Infantíl. The poll was included in the folder and showed the various options as well as the votes each option received from the 3-year-old electors.

They could choose between:

*fairy tale characters

* vehicles

* the circus

* toys

* pirates

As you can see in the picture below, pirates celebrated a landslide victory that day, followed by the circus and fairy tale characters. No doubt a memorable party followed in Neverland. And the big losers were: toys.

Isn´t that remarkable? We live in a time where children are absolutely overloaded with toys in any shape and colour, where they get toys on every possible occasion, where we live under the impression that, to make our child happy we have to give them something material, and to stimulate their development they need educational toys specifically devised to meet their needs at that specific age.

Of course every child pressed with his nose against the shopping window of the Disney store will dictate to you an exhaustive list of things he wants to have.

But if we give children a free choice, if we ask them what they really want, toys apparently are the last thing on their mind.

They want adventures.

They want stories.

And I know this wasn´t in the poll, but I bet their favourite storytellers are the people they love.

poll

Horizontal Parenting

15 Jun

What you need:

* one tired parent, in shorts and a tank top

* one bored child

* a set of face paint crayons

Procedure:

The parent hands the crayons to the child with the instructions to use the parent as canvas.

Then the parent lies down on the sofa, and the child starts colouring.

Note: you will have to wash the colouring off afterwards (or not?), but at least you can rest for a few minutes while keeping your child entertained with a creative and educational activity.

Religion

9 Jun

At my daughter´s Kindergarten, there´s one hour a week where the class is split up into two groups: those who take religion and those who take an ethics-class. Since my husband is a typical Spanish Catholic, we have our daughter signed up for religion. One of her best friends, Dani, takes ethics.

This is the conversation we had at the breakfast table this morning.

Daughter: “I don´t like religion.”

Me: “Why not?”

Daughter: “Because then Dani is not with me.”

And I thought: wow, what a grand lesson she has already learned.

Religion is no fun when it divides people.

Yoga

31 May

Mothers and daughters, lying next to each other
on the floor of a sports centre
are usually refugees, fleeing from
earthquakes, floods, war

We´re both on our backs, looking at each other
on the wooden floor of the old gym
we too are on the run: time is on our heels
turning moments into memories
in the blink of an eye

So we look at each other
and we don´t blink

Premature Melancholy

9 May

There´s a father at the park
with the legs of a basketball player
that children are drawn to like
monkeys to a tree

Clenched around his legs and
shrieking with laughter
they await his giant steps

And I know:
these children will grow up
this man will grow old
but I will always see him
with toddlers around his legs