I am one of THOSE PTA moms – and Proud of It!

In the last few months I’ve read several blog posts railing against the PTA moms at various schools.  The complaints are usually the same – they’re overbearing and pushy, busy bodies trying to vie for the principal or teacher’s attention, do-gooders who get off on making the rest of the parents feel bad.  Yeah, yeah.  I get it.  At my very first Parents’ Association (PA) meeting at my daughter’s private preschool I actually raised my hand and told the PA President that I thought she was condescending and wrong when she made a derisive comment about how no one gave enough to the school and not to count on scholarship parents for anything.  That led to quite the nasty back and forth, and needless to say confirmed all my worst fears about those kinds of groups – and let’s be honest, those kinds of moms. Continue reading

My New Parenting Column – Check it out!

Advice?  Sure.  Opinions on city living and raising twins?  You know I have lots of ‘em.  And now I get to write a monthly parenting column in the Westside Independent.  Click on over to my inaugural post and leave a comment there if you agree with me that I am not crazy or if you disagree and think all us city parents are certifiable!

ARE CITY PARENTS CRAZY?

You Call This a Playdate?

Here’s the thing about the word playdate, sometimes the “play” part goes well, and sometimes, well, it just feels like a date.  An awkward, stressful, when-will-this-afternoon end date.  In the toddler years it’s usually a double date with the stranger mom or nanny in tow and then you have to make conversation, which in New York City usually centers around the awful school process, the teachers at your current school, or the kid who still isn’t potty trained or picks his nose and wipes it on other kids.

Thankfully, my daughters are almost eight years old so we are now in the drop off playdate stage.  These playdates have their own set of expectations.  I used to know what these rules were – give a snack to stave off any hunger related meltdowns, keep the playdate to an hour and a half maximum, and basically leave the girls alone with a bin full of Polly Pockets.  But, this year something changed.  This year everyone got a Wii.  And somehow, I have no idea when, the Wii went from a playdate taboo to a playdate must.

I was against the Wii as a playdate toy on principle.  Exactly what that principle was I’m not sure, but I did think that screen time is not interactive together time and isn’t that the point of a playdate?  Especially for my daughters who are identical twins, creating these one on one playdates with friends individually was something that I thought was really important.  How could playing on the Wii compete with the friendship creativity that arises from playing with their American Girl dolls and stuffed animals?  But then the inevitable happened.  We had a playdate with a girl who didn’t want to play anything.  She wasn’t shy, she just wasn’t interested in doing anything and it was making my daughter crazy trying to please and entice her into a game – any game!

Then this girl noticed the Wii sitting there on the floor winking its little yellow light at her.  At that point it was either the Wii or calling her babysitter to pick her up early.  So I struck a deal with my daughter, she could play the Wii but only if they did something active and together.  We plugged in the two Disney Dance, Dance Revolution Mats and they had the time of their lives dancing together.  And when my daughter let her friend create her own Mii at our house her friend exploded with happiness.  She couldn’t believe we would have a virtual version of her living forever on our TV.  Seriously, this was the tech  equivalent of giving someone one half of a “BFF” necklace, and it had the added bonus of implicitly saying, yes, you will come over again.

After that playdate I have allowed the Wii as long as the other parent approves too.  We’ve worked out new rules now for these playdates – they can’t be all Wii, they have to be active, and everyone has to be able to play.  And I’ve come to realize that playdates have to evolve, not just because my daughters are older but because the toys at their disposal have grown up too.  Although my poor downstairs neighbors would probably much rather my daughters and their friends stuck to playing with the dollhouse instead of dance, dance, dancing on their heads.

This post originally appeared on nycmomsblog

Flying the (Not) Family-Friendly Skies

Of all the ways your life changes when you have kids none is more drastic than the way you travel.  Gone are the days of a small carry-on with a book, an ipod and some trashy magazines.  Suddenly your carry on is like Mary Poppins carpet bag – full of snacks (both salty and sweet), stickers, markers, DVD players, DVDs, coloring books, activity books and depending on the age of your kids, diapers, change of clothes, wipes, ear drops, maybe some pajamas and even a change of clothes for yourself (yes I learned the hard way that mishaps on the plane tend to land in my lap, or down the front of my shirt).    Early on when my twin daughters were just babies we were like a small army going off to war as we marched down the jetway.  Two strollers that we could fold in 5 second flat, two car seats unlatched and ready to load, and an industrial sized diaper bag that just barely fit in the overhead.

Luckily for me my daughters are long past the nightmare travel age.  They wheel on their own small carry-on bags filled with but a few key possessions – a DS, an ipod, a treasured toy and a book.  But, I remember well those days when every passenger on the plane eyed us with dread as we boarded and made our way down the aisle.  You could see them secretly praying, please don’t sit near me, please, please.

Continue reading

When Having Twins Finally Pays Dividends

isa (l) soph (r)Both of my daughters did not show up on my first sonogram.  For 8 weeks I thought I was having a normal singleton pregnancy with all of the usual excitement and anticipation a first pregnancy brings.  My husband missed that first sonogram so to be nice my doctor did another one at my next appointment.  As we all stared at the throbbing lima bean on the screen the doctor pointed out the “head” and heart, and then she stopped.  “Well, what’s that?” my husband asked pointing at another blob.  “Um,” she said, “that’s another heart and another head.  You’re having twins!”  And as the blood drained from my face and my stomach fell to my toes my husband pumped his fist in the air and yelled, “Yeah, twins!”  (He later said he did this to reassure me because he had never seen me look so frightened.  I think it was a momentary celebration of feeling like he had super sperm)

Luckily I had another 5 or so months to get used the idea of having twins.   Continue reading

Wii Are Family

Rebecca Levey Wii mommii

Yes we are the last people on the planet to get a Wii.  I resisted not because I was afraid that my 7-year-old daughters would be hooked and play video games at the expense of their insane imaginations.  No, I resisted because I am a recovering addict.  I have fallen down the deep dark hole where Tetris blocks rain down on your head and I didn’t want to tempt myself again.  But, as often happens in the journey of parenthood my husband and I caved in to the incredibly urgent requests for the Wii as a seventh birthday present for my daughters.  And, we had grandparents who generously obliged.

My daughters immediately began to set up their Miis.  They are unbelievably cute and fun it’s true.  Couple that with American Idol and High School Musical 3 Sing It, and seriously I could video tape my girls performing at full blast all day.  It’s so interactive!  It’s so engaging!  It’s nothing like the video games of my past that sucked you in, dried out your eyes and invaded your dreams.  Yeah right.   The Wii may have my daughters up on their feet dance, dance revolutionizing or swinging their faux tennis racquets with gusto, but I have seen the subtler obsession begin.  One daughter wants to talk about her Miis at length, planning the new ones and creating worlds for them.  My other daughter is fixated on unlocking more sports, more exercises – anything that means “more.”

I guess I passed on the video game gene to my girls just like their brown eyes and voracious reading habit.  Though I won’t take all the blame.  My husband is a screen junkie, and makes his living in technology, so I guess my daughters were doomed from the start.  As their mom I can set boundaries and time limits so that the Wii is part of their “screen time” choices, not something in addition to the allotted TV and/or computer time on the weekends.  But, who is going to set those limits for me?  In college I had to take Tetris off of my computer ultimately or risk never getting my final papers finished.  Now, as a stay at home mom/writer I have to ignore that glowing Wii console that beckons to me as I sit at my computer.

For now I am safe – we don’t have any true old school games for the Wii, but I know that day is coming when Frogger or Ms. Pacman will present itself – or God forbid Tetris my old poison – and I will be have to be brave.  We might be a family with a weakness for gaming, but Wii can’t let that take over our lives.  (Though maybe just one game won’t hurt…)

This post originally published at nycmomsblog.com

Mother’s Day Moments To Remember

I’m in the the new issue of New York Family talking about my most memorable mother moment of the year. (or at least the one most suitable for print!) Flip to page 90 to check it out the full article as it appeared in the mag – or read my contribution below…

THIS YEAR MY SIX-YEAR-OLD daughters came to the end of their official “little kid” stage and entered the “numbered grades,” as they call first grade and up. Their evolving maturity came to light on my husband’s birthday when they planned, on their own, to buy him special coffee at Fairway and make him fresh ground coffee in the morning as a birthday surprise. It took forethought, compassion and true giving spirit—and they delighted in it. As a mom, I was so proud that for them being a “big kid” meant doing nice things for the people they love, and having the power to actually do it. —Rebecca Levey, founder of the blog beccarama.com