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10 Best of COVID-19 Film Festival for Families

10 Best of COVID-19 Film Festival for Families

Our 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families includes movies that entertain parents and expand the kids’ world. That’s the E.C.Knox standard.

(And Disney need not apply.)

When venturing beyond the Disney/Minions/blockbuster realm, movies get more nuanced and profound. They’re frequently calmer and quieter, which might not cater to our current, fast-paced, frenetic society.

But in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve all got time to slow down and let our attention spans adapt, right? That might be most important for our kids.

The following are a top-ten in our personal “COVID-19 Film Festival”. And even if kids say “this is old-fashioned”, nine times out of ten they’re catatonic when a screen is illuminated, anyway, amiright?

So go ahead: stretch their limits and encourage them to see classics that deal with more mature topics that aren’t Disney-fied and simplified.

Consider it part of their cultural expansion during this hell of online learning and homeschooling.

Our 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families should actually count as “online learning”.

You’re welcome.

The Black Stallion (full review)

is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence. Further – you can cash in on the equally interesting sequel, The Black Stallion Returns. Watch on Amazon and Hoopla through your local library. WATCH THE TRAILER.

A Dog’s Purpose (full review)

What particularly moved me was the provocative questions the movie inspired: thoughts about reincarnation, mortality, kindness and mindfulness that are beautifully posed for young viewers. Watch on Amazon and Netflix.

The Little Prince (Full Review)

In short – your soul will be filled, the kids might lose focus, but screw ’em – they have the TV on, don’t they? And it’ll make them better little people. Watch on Amazon and Netflix.

The Red Balloon

A classic French tale with rapturous views of Paris in the 1960’s. Very little dialogue (luckily…since young kids won’t be interested in scanning subtitles over French speakers). But the simple relationship story of a little boy and his new favorite pet is universal (not to mention the heart-break of bullying) will be thought-provoking for your kiddos. A must-see. Watch here.

Coraline

One of the few animated movies I wanted to include. Just quirky and bizarre enough with lots of child-appropriate darkness. Remind your kids that Disney isn’t the end-all/be-all for animation. Watch here and on Netflix.

Heidi

This isn’t the Shirley Temple version, don’t you worry. So you won’t suffer from saccharine perspective of a hard life in the 19th century Alps (pre-Swiss bank accounts and highest global standard of living.) If you’ve never actually read the book (for reals: who has?) you’ll be surprised at some of the twists and turns of this movie. It’s also an excellent bit of exposure to “life in different eras and locales” for the kiddos. Watch on Amazon and Hoopla.

Matilda

This version of the classic Roald Dahl children’s story is hilariously quirky (directed by Danny Devito, after all). It lacks some of the actual darkness of the book, but it’s still just off-beat enough your kids will see “oh, that’s a fun way of telling a kids’ story.” Buy on Amazon or stream on Netflix.

Sound of Music

You know it’s been too long since you watched this with your own family on Thanksgiving. It’s long, it has Nazis, it might not seem like pre-school viewing. But didn’t you watch it in preschool? Exactly. It’s a classic. Re-familiarize yourself with the most classic of American movie musicals. Stream on Amazon.

Babe

In that charming way that foreign movies just don’t feel, well…American, Babe is heart-warming and adorable without feeling nauseatingly sappy. Once again, it opens your mind and heart with just the right amount of cheeky humor to delight the parents. Find it here and all the other places you should google. 🙂

Chicken Run

Why not show your kids the hilarity of stop-motion animation? It’s an entirely different art form that brings such different expression to stories and characters. And Chicken Run sends enough jokes over the kids’ heads to make you howl. Everyone can learn more from chickens. Stream on Amazon.

Yellow Submarine

Go ahead. Take your kids on a 1960’s head trip. It’s incomprehensible to the non-imbibers of edibles, but the incomprehensibility is also full of dated hilarity. Go ahead. Take the kids on a yellow submarine head trip. They’ll look at you like your crazy, but also it’ll make them the coolest kids on the playground…or at least serve their cool factor amongst the intelligent elite at college.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The lesser-known of the 1960’s family classics like Mary Poppins, this is still a classic movie musical that you won’t hate and the kids will this is cool. Just indulge your inner child, again, and go along for the ride. Hollywood movie musicals at their 1960’s best. Stream on Amazon, free on Hoopla, or on Netflix.

And some honorable, self-evident choices that are must-sees in life:

Please add to our list! We need to grow beyond 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families.

10 Sustainable Products to Fight COVID-19

10 Sustainable Products to Fight COVID-19

Now’s a great time to work on consuming sustainable products to fight COVID-19.

It’s hard to draw a direct line between our instant-gratification/disposable society and the cause of COVID-19. (And yet, is it?)

However, it’s not hard to see that altering our sense of consumer entitlement will help us out of this pandemic.

There are several choices we can make, as a society, that simultaneously reduces our impact on the environment, saves us money, AND fights COVID-19. (And might help with online learning and homeschooling. Ugh.)

Everyone one of the following products is meant to reduce trips to the infected outer world.

Win-win-win, eh?

But also? When you buy them, maybe DON’T go to Amazon (despite embedded links herein).

Try your local retailers or your hardware store.

BARS OF SOAP

You KNOW you don’t actually need to get a plastic bottle for gel soap. Using a bar of soap with your favorite washcloth or loofah or poofy thing is EXACTLY THE SAME. Pretend it’s olden-times. Save a buck. Be as chemically-based, hipstery, or French milled bougie as you wanna be. As a bonus – go LOCAL! The bars last longer, cost less, and serve the same purpose. And when you’re at the end of the bar, you can make your own bars just like your ancestors during the depression!

No more paper towels! Instead: reusable cloths!

Reusable cleaning cloths like this bamboo version or this. These mean no more paper towels. And how amazing is that? No more runs on the Target shelves. They last for many months and are made of natural celluloid, saving trees and money and trips to the store.

No more Swiffer. Instead: simple MOP!

Okay, so it *might* require a bucket, but is it really that big a deal? Same effort, perhaps a tiny bit more water. Folks: we are in pandemic. Plus – you KNOW you have the time to mop. However – a compromise with less waste are these microfiber mops (or turbo mops) with at least washable, reusable pads.


No more Swiffer Dusters: Now: old school dusters

Use an old-fashioned one that can be re-used ad nauseum. Go ahead and do some role-playing as the maid with an old school ostrich feather duster (or a new-school one). Or at LEAST re-use your Swiffer dusters. Here: I’ve made a video demonstrating the complexity of cleaning a swiffer duster. (Argh – swiffer makes me so mad with their disposability. It’s a RUSE, folks! They just want you to buy more unnecessary crap!!!)

No more sponges Instead: well…sponges.

Ultimately, dish sponges aren’t the worst things on the planet, nor do we dispose of them too frequently (do we?) But there are still better alternatives for longer-lasting and less plastic. Like the cotton “unsponges” to the left…or this DIY project upcycling produce bags…or a bunch of rags, folks – you know…like your grandparents used their entire lives?!? Also, natural loofah options are super bougie and worth bragging about on social media to make yourself look a bit more committed to sustainability than your neighbor.

No more dryer sheets. Instead: Dryer Balls

Y’all are totally doing this by now, right? Linen dryer balls are re-usable and don’t gunk up your dryers. Add a couple drops of essential oils to be, well…extra. (And smell super fancy).

No more Purell Now you can DIY sanitizer

Just get you some cheap aloe vera and some VODKA!!! (or cheap 99.9% rubbing alcohol) and make your own! Cut down on the constant purchasing of Purell bottles, refill your little bottles, etc. So much less waste and indubitably better for your hands and the environment, not to mention PRICE GAUGING.

No more need to give more cash to the big cleaning companies like P&G. Instead, make your own sanitizer and cut down on all those disposable mini-bottles of sanitizer.

NO: Sandwich bags And now: Stashers

There are actually tons of alternatives to the disposable sandwich bags of days gone by. Might you need to do a little cleaning and rinsing and drying? Get over it. It’s a pandemic.

best diaper bag for dads
best diaper bag for parents – and sustainable to fight covid-19

DIAPER BAGS

Why not a shameless plug, here? Sustainable? Yes (it’s quality and won’t fall apart and you can use it for years after diapering days are over and you won’t be embarrassed by it and choose to trash it). Stylish? Obvi. Fights COVID-19? I mean…have you SEEN the instant access to wet wipes?

Out with the Saran Wrap……………….. And in with the Beeswax

Talk about the epitome of single-use plastics. No more saran wrap, folks. It’s necessary and wasteful and definitely kills turtles looking for a jellyfish snack. If you still really want to support mega-corporations, at LEAST use Glad or Ziploc containers. But really – beeswax is sustainable and keeps food fresher.

Enough with the mechanical pencils just use #2’s!

Seriously – do we really need to have plastic pencils that get trashed? Like when our little kids discover the intense OCD joy of clicked, extract all the lead, and then you’re too lazy to shove all those fragile lead sticks back into the environmentally unfriendly plastic tubes? Yeah – get you a #2 and a fabulous sharpener like this or this. Put the kids to work sharpening, listen to them complain, and then start to sound like your grandmother when you lecture about how good they have it and that “It’s a pandemic, you little entitled shits!”

We are a consumer society. And thank goodness for delivery. Try to shop local, check out the hardware stores (it’s a magical place) and get these sustainable product to fight covid-19. (Can we call it CV19, yet? So much easier.)

COVID-19 Film Festival: The Little Prince

COVID-19 Film Festival: The Little Prince

4 Bears (out of 5) for COVID-19 Film Festival Selection: The Little Prince

This addition to the COVID-19 Film Festival review is a little snobby, but in short – your soul will be filled, the kids might lose focus, but screw ’em – they have the TV on, don’t they? And it’ll make them better little people.

The Little Prince (available on Netflix) is a unique take on the children’s classic, The Little Prince, simultaneously re-telling the tale while reflecting the messages of the book through a modern story of an unexpected friendship between a little girl and an old man.

The entire movie has a certain Netflix-filtered-through-European-sensibility that makes it less aggressively upbeat as American animated blockbusters. There’s more silence, more profundity, more sadness, and more time.


Your kids might fidget a bit, but once they get into the story, they should stay enthralled.

This is a movie that elevates children and expands their vision and appreciation for artistic themes and story-telling, not to mention movies a bit off the conventional path. Give it a try. You won’t be wasting your time.

Our entire focus in our family film festival is to watch things that won’t make me want to tear my hair out and won’t make the kids immediately wish they were dissolving their brains watching crappy YouTube content. This one definitely foots the bill.

And while you’re at it, supplement your COVID-19 film festival viewing by buying the book. It’s also one of those that elevates us with profound stories that children understand so inherently and adults forget with age.

One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” – Anthone de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Now ain’t profound sentences like that the kind of advice we could all absorb during these COVID-19 times?

Trust – there’s lots more where that comes from in this movie. Served up by an all-start cast, at that.

Please share with us YOUR additions to some quality COVID-19 viewing!

I have Questions about COVID-19 (Like Can We Say CV19?)

I have Questions about COVID-19 (Like Can We Say CV19?)

Like you, I lie awake at night and in the morning and have so many questions about COVID-19 and its effect on the world and on my kids.

For starters – did I just make CV-19 a thing? It’s very “2CV” (see below). Please say I did that. Will you join me? Heaven forbid I put in more effort.

2CV does NOT equal CV19

Is this the end? Or the beginning?

Will my children see this as a fun, adventurous time where inept fathers masquerading as teaching assistants just yelled at them about doing their homework?

Will my kids learn ANY more in math since March 9th when they were last in school? Or will their math knowledge honestly end where I took over?

Will this be a generation of children who just have a gap in their collective and universal knowledge? Like when my kid is applying to college, will schools just wave the need to know division as a CV19 deficiency?

Will children forever be labeled as “dumb” by future generations because they just missed out on 4 months of formal training?

Will my children’s children forever refer to their parents with pity and condescension as being:

CV19 Generation. You know them…

  • Can’t socialize
  • hoard toilet paper
  • carpal tunnel in their thumbs
  • can’t do math.

Do we have to pay mortgages, now, or do we all collectively default? And if we do so, what will mortgage lenders do? Lay off all their employees…who have mortgages and need to pay their mortgages to mortgage lenders?

If we all just stop paying stuff…like – everyone…and chill out for a few weeks, could someone with economic clout (like Suze Orman) just be able to say “Okay. No touch-backs and let’s all just re-set. Together,” and then just go forward from there?

Will I be forced to eat that can of sardines inexplicably shoved in the back of my cabinet?

Will this the moment in my kids’ life that will define them forever onward? Please, Dear Gaia, don’t let anything worse happen in their lives.

All wars are about money. Oh, Jesus – what if the insecure, over-compensating white men who manage 90% of world government sand businesses find a way to parlay this into a war…for the economic stimulus alone?

Will Broadway come back? Sports heroes will be fine. But will billionaires with their overhead of mansions, boats and DisneyPlus subscriptions – will they be as equally fucked as the rest of us?

Who’s gonna pay the price for all of this? It’s never the rich and powerful, that’s for sure.

Will narcissistic influencers ever stop posting about their outfits and hair?

Why do I have to google “narcissistic” every time I use it? I won the spelling bee in 6th grade. What’s my problem?

Is EVERYONE on social media starting a relief fund and living room concert except for me? I’ve never felt so left out as I watch their highly-productive virtual lives.

Are we all in our own echo chambers of social media quarantine?

Why has no one challenged me to this push up thing? (Too late. I’ve absolved myself.)

So many questions about covid-19. Will you add to my list of worries?

COVID-19 Family Film Festival: The Black Stallion

COVID-19 Family Film Festival: The Black Stallion

receives 5 teddy bears out of 5
A 5-teddy bear review for “The Black Stallion”. This is a must-watch for families.

In brief: The Black Stallion is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence.

Further, The Black Stallion elevates our kids’ movie viewing, from mere “kids’ movies” to a piece that’s pretty close to art – given the slow pace, incredible visuals, and multiple themes running throughout.

In the recesses of my mind (perhaps when I was in first grade and our teachers thrilled us with watching a movie before holiday breaks) I vaguely remember watching The Black Stallion. So I was excited to add it to our list for our COVID-19 family film festival.

I recall it being interesting with a child protagonist and an anthropomorphized horse. I remember there being lots about survival and love between person and beast.

Having re-watched it, last night, as one of our family movies for COVID-19 viewing, all of those themes rang true. Even my kids were thrilled this was added to their COVID-19 schedule.

Unfortunately, there were some dated bits of cultural insensitivities, as well, but not so many that I’d dismiss the movie.

The beginning of the movie has some animal roughness, though I wouldn’t say cruelty. Unfortunately, the rough man tyring to tame the beast (and later who grabs the protagonist by the ear) is Arab. That was furthered with the introduction of the dated trope of the wise, elderly black man who comes in to bestow inspiration on the child. These are the only two people of color in the movie, sadly. And these cliché roles are worth discussion with your children…both for their small roles and cultural presentation.

But the movie is a stunning cinematic experience, especially the “2nd act” when the boy and the stallion are alone on the island.

For a half hour or more there is no dialogue and the scenery of the Mediterranean island is sumptuous. Meanwhile, the visual story-telling is intriguing for parents and children.

The movie rolls along slightly slower than what our pre-COVID-19 attention spans could tolerate. But nowadays, if nothing else, we’re forced to slow down and temper our expectation of instant gratification.

And the Black Stallion is, indeed, spectacularly gratifying, especially for your COVID-19 Family Film Festival.

Causing Tears and Exploring Nudity in Art: Coronavirus Homeschooling Day 1

Causing Tears and Exploring Nudity in Art: Coronavirus Homeschooling Day 1

Yesterday for our household was about causing tears and exploring nudity in art.

How’d that whole “Setting Expectations” thing go?

Just another day in the COVID-19 life.

Honestly? Not so bad. Or…the morning wasn’t so bad. Get up, go for a walk (thank goodness we can) and they’re pretty motivated to be doing “school” in another form. It’s a relatively quiet and focused time.

And then helicopter dad swoops in and starts screwing everything up.

Again – we were pretty focused for the morning, had a snack, got some reading and writing done, had lunch, and then had some “gametime with daddy” time after lunch.

I’ve made it my personal mission to teach my kids some basic sporting rules of basketball, soccer and baseball…which is hilarious given my lack of care about professional sports. But in our school which is wonderfully arts-heavy and focused on participation and dance, I don’t think they’re getting any actual sports learning. So…I’m the not-by-choice-default coach. (All my friends are laughing at this.)

Anyway, I wanted to have some actual soccer drills going on. The younger kiddo (who loves soccer) was game for some passing and teamwork. The older was just annoyed with me.

She kicks.
Great job. Maybe just a little lighter.
She kicks.
Good. Now can you do it with the side of your food for more control?
I control it just fine! As she’s kicked like a Rockette and the ball’s sailed over my head and way off to the side.
Right, but you can control it more if you kick lightly with the side of your feet.
I kick and demonstrate.
Daaaaad! Stop telling me what to do!
She Rockette-kicks the ball away from me.
I retrieve ball and start dribbling over to her (poorly…but with a bit of control) over to her, trying to show off.

See? If you trot along and kick lightly with the side of your foot, it’s so much easier and you just control the ball and everything stays together and…
Daaad, stop telling me this!


She’s pouting and angry, I’m increasingly annoyed by her lack of willingness.
And mind you – I was exactly the same at her age. Zero interest in sports. My parents constantly encouraging me to show an interest and practice and play in soccer and baseball leagues. I loathed it. But I succumbed to social pressures making me do “boy” things that just didn’t interest me at all.

She’s pouting. She’s angry.
I’m demonstrating and pleading with myself, “god DAMN child, you can do what you want, but learning these skills now will be a life skill that will help you just be well-rounded…”
Daddy, stooooop!
But sweetie, this is 'games with Daddy' time!
You’re not making it fun!
Because you need to learn the skills!
I already know the skills!
But kicking with the side of your foot…
Stooooop! I already know that….
And I kicked the ball to her. And I swear to you, dear dozen readers, I did NOT put extra sauce on it intentionally.
But I did. And it struck her. Hard. In the chest.
Cue: instant hysterical tears of frustration, anger, and pain.
I mean - it couldn’t be that much pain. It wasn’t THAT hard.
But I get it. I admit: I wanted to laugh just a little bit. But I refrained from that. I hugged her. For a long time. I held her sobs and let her calm down as I held her close.
We had a good recovery. And a good cry.
I calmly explained to her all I wrote above - I hated this as a kid, too. But life will be easier if you have some skills for the future when you’re somehow forced to play soccer. Or baseball. Or basketball.
She got it.
And it was time for a snack.

Later, the other feature of the day was when I forced our “social studies.” They were losing focus, understandably.

So I used a link sent to me about virtual visits of world museums. We had options like the British Museum (not a very kid-friendly interactive site), the Guggenheim (fun’ish) and then my kid wanted to go to Sao Paolo.
We did so.

I’m all about forcing culture onto my kiddos. Not matter how torturous.

And on their fabulous tour of what I suppose is main floor of this fab modern art museum (Museu de Arte de São Paolo…the MASP), we got a wonderful reminder and tour of art through ages, from Middle Age portraiture to Renaissance still life, religious everything and then some modern.

And all of it (from the religious forward) had boobs. Lots of boobs.

Some butts, a couple of uncovered vulvas, interestingly no penis until we got to a modern piece of an over-exaggerated baby boy.
Whatever. They were thrilled to look through artistic pornography at a museum in Sao Paolo. At least I had them engaged.
And they’ll remember that little “social studies” tour as the most delightful part of COVID-19 Day 1.

A virtual tour of Museu de Arte de São Paulo…seeing lots of nudity

Not sure if tomorrow will be more about causing tears and exploring nudity. But it seems like a full day, after all.

Setting Expectations to Manage a Pandemic

Setting Expectations to Manage a Pandemic

Day 1 of 25 Home-Schooling and I’m barely surviving – but definitely setting expectations to manage our sanity.

I mean – talk about interesting times we live in. Not sure it’s a full on Hamilton-ian “How Lucky We Are to be Alive, Right Now”, but hopefully soon we will look back in appreciation for all we learned – especially about human fragility in an instant-gratification era in which we all feel entitled and impenetrable.


We’ve begun day 1 of home-schooling. We will have more direction from our teachers after they’ve got through an intensive training later in the week about remote-learning from the NYC DOE.

But for now, it’s all about setting expectations to manage our lives.


As I constantly harp on and rely upon in my own parenting, everything is about setting expectations.


And the best way to do so is have the kids’ input.


This morning, we sat down and had a “morning meeting” in which we set daily expectations with a to-do list that the kids helped craft.

  1. Set a daily routine schedule
    Set some goals for what kids would like to accomplish on a weekly basis – culling through old toys, learning a new skill
  2. Find a reward system for sticking with the program – incentivize (fine: call it a bribe) with screen time, sweet treats. But also – this is just life, kids. Rewards come from exceptional behavior. They don’t need a reward for every tiny thing they do.
  3. Make a check-list chart so kids can gauge their progress.
  4. Set lots of timers.
  5. Keep your own expectations low so you don’t get too frustrated.
  6. Be kind to yourself and the kids – it’s a strange time. Space everything out with snacks and breaks.

And at the end of the day, give up, have a drink, and hand over the iPad. You done good setting expectations to manage the kids’ enrichment. hell, they’re going to learn a ton during this pandemic and be touched for the rest of their lives.

Make a calendar to chart progress and check off your to-do list

8 Ways Childhood in 2020 is not as Fun as the 80’s and 90’s

8 Ways Childhood in 2020 is not as Fun as the 80’s and 90’s

Childhood in 2020 is very different from the 80’s and 90’s, and that’s all for the good. Safety and health are tantamount to parenting, as opposed to convenience and convenience back when we got to ride without seat belts munching a lunch of fruit roll-ups.

But we know things are better with shoulder restraints, air bags, educational television and a modicum of vegetables.

Nonetheless, I know my kids’ childhood in 2020 will be less fun than my own. In addition to my quick list of archaic pleasures, what will your kids miss out on?

  1. Processed foods. I ate Mac’n Cheese, Kool-Aid, Fruity Pebbles, Pop Tarts and Fritos. And there was no about their nutritional value. But my kids will only have those on special occasions. (Like at the frequency of Haley’s Comet visits.) Now we worry about red dye, HFCS, and chemical additives that render food addictive. And we obsess over our kids eating vegetables. Actually, red dye confounds me. But I totally obsess over the veggies. In my childhood, canned creamed corn counted as a vegetable. And I will never serve that to my kids as a vegetable. Unless we’re camping. Actually, they can eat all those foods can be eaten when camping. All bets are off camping. But every day? Sorry guys. You’ll never have it as good as I did.
  2. Seat belts. My dad drove a Volvo in the early 80’s. There was a black grip bar that inexplicably (to me) jutted out from the dashboard. When riding in that car, I’d hold onto the black handle to get myself as close to the front windshield as possible. Occasionally Dad would ask, “Gavin, please sit back and put on your seatbelt.” “No,” I’d respond. “Well, then,” he’d compromise, “at least lock your door.” Yeah, kids. That’s never going to happen, again.
  3. And speaking of driving: the front seat by age three? Not gonna happen. Sorry. Please proceed to the back of the car with less of a view.
  4. Saturday morning cartoons. My parents didn’t monitor me. I watched hours of cartoons until at least 11 AM. If I woke up early enough, I could catch the full 90 minutes of The Smurfs from 6:30 to 8. I didn’t have to worry about “what else was on” because I didn’t have a remote control. Few choices meant fewer worries. Now, let’s face it: with Netflix and YouTube, cartoons are less special and the sheer volume of videos at fingertips means less enjoyment and more worry what they’re missing. Instead, they schizophrenically tap between videos without indulging in the pleasure of calm watching. I lived for Saturday mornings. Kids, you’ll never know such bliss. I won’t allow it. Oh, and half hour of screen time. Tops. Except when daddy needs a break. So…whatever I say. And go read a book.
  5. Classroom holiday parties with tons of sugar and nuts. Parents didn’t avoid the sweets and no one had allergies. Sorry, guys. With carrot muffins masquerading as “treats”, you’ll never have it as good as I did. Sorry. I have to play by the rules, now, too.
  6. Russia was the bad guy. The world was black and white. Sure, I lay awake thinking about nuclear holocaust. But now? Yikes. Hurricanes, terrorists, cyclone bombs, CV-19, and Russia? Life seems more and more like an episode of 24 every twenty-four hours. I’ll do my darnedest to protect you. And I hope you don’t lie awake at night worrying. I’ll do the worrying for you.
  7. Passing notes. I mean, I haven’t been in a junior high class in a long time. But passing notes, and the challenge of hiding it from the teachers? We lived for that. Plus, “do you like me? Mark the boxes ‘yes’ or ‘no’” is so much more titillating than sexting. Please, please don’t send naked pictures of yourself. Just draw them on paper and pass them in class. I’ll talk to the teacher if you get caught.
  8. We didn’t have to be so friggin’ good. You have to volunteer for half a dozen philanthropies to qualify for junior high entrance, not , let alone college admissions. In my day, only serious over-achievers (with over-involved parents) did anything We watched Saturday morning cartoons and ate Frosted Flakes. You have it way worse, kids. I expect you to be volunteering for blood drives and writing non-profit grants by second grade. You’ll learn empathy, damn it.

What has my fatigue-fog made me forget? I want to know what your kids will miss out on in their childhood in 2020!

Making Room for Women #metoo & Douchebaggery

Making Room for Women #metoo & Douchebaggery

It seems to me that society is slowly making room for women – and thank goodness for that.

I’m late to the #MeToo conversation surrounding sexual harassment, but I’ve encountered fewer men weighing in than I’d expect. I know this is a time when men should often just shut up and listen. (Bad timing for some man-splaining?)

But I also think dads and sons and brothers should be part of the conversation.

This isn’t the time for anyone to ask, “but this all happened so long ago. Why bring it up, now?” (Because it still matters. Even you, Keillor.)

This isn’t the time for postulating, “Yeah, it was bad, but should it really ruin someone’s life?” (Well, Spacey, maybe you should’ve thought about that before thinking with your groin. You weren’t 13; you were in your 20’s. You knew better.)

Women: I’ll probably put my foot in my mouth wading into this delicate issue. So maybe I should just be speaking to the menfolk.

But I have to say: I’m loving this time, this space, this conversation, this movement.

I love this zero-tolerance-for-douche-baggery moment we’re witnessing. And I hope it changes our culture for the good.

Several female friends of mine have voiced their cynicism that “nothing’s gonna change. We have so far to go.”

But that was before Lauer and Keillor. That was also before the Weinstein verdict and The Morning Show.

I’m so pissed at the people I admire – Franken and Keillor. Do I think their transgressions are as serious as Weinstein or Lauer? Not really. There’s a difference between stupidity and sickness.

But it’s all under the same umbrella of objectification, crossing lines, and exploitation.

Being part of the non-douche-bag club, (of which I think a majority of my fellow men are card-carrying members), I’m glad pigs are going down.

I’m happy that the shit that riseth to the top masquerading as cream is being scooped out and exposed.

So I hope there’s more women come forward, because that’ll open up corporate positions thus making room for women (and some men who aren’t entitled douche-bags.)

And it’ll teach our sons they can’t be creeps and our daughters that they don’t have to tolerate creepiness.

If a few people (beloved or not) have to take the fall to make society an egalitarian place where women do not feel objectified or exploited or belittled or unsafe, then that’s ok.

NO MATTER THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WHO GO DOWN. It’ll never be enough to rectify the harm done.

Because a systemic cultural sickness that has allowed sexual harassment to be excused for (thousands of) years is worth changing; no matter the sacrifices made or how many supposed role models are scandalized in the process.

For all the Louis C.K.’s and Roy Moore’s that go down (please may Moore go down, Alabama voters, pleaseupdate for 2020: he did…and he also spectacularly lost a second primary attempt at the US Senate), someone more talented and less likely to have sexually harassed someone else will replace them.

Making room for women makes the world a better place.

It may be lots and lots of women filling those shoes.

And that’s a good thing.

All you have to do is not be a douchebag. It’s simple.

Kids Say No – and We Should Give Up

Kids Say No – and We Should Give Up

Kids say no – and it’s a daily chore to choose that battle.

But with “no”, my youngest cracks me up. At 19 months (a little while ago, now), he said about two-dozen words, including “cha-cha” (chocolate), “eh-fant” (elephant) and “go-go” (yogurt).

He calls seltzer water “bash” because they both call seltzer “spicy water.” (Such an East coast thing. Seltzer burned my throat as a kid, now I drink it by the gallon. We make great use of our Sodastream. #notanad . But in the interest of cutting down on plastic and aluminum waste – get yourself a SodaStream. We don’t put any flavoring in it because all that syrup is nasty. Brapefruit wedges or sliced cucumbers are awesome!)

He says “shoes, bat (bath), buh-sh (toothbrush), car, purple and yellow.”

But he will not say “yes.”

He never hesitates to say “no.”

He will acquiesce to offers with a full-body nod, starting from his waist, to demonstrate “yes”. That’s when we TELL him, “Colton! Time for bath!” or “Time to go for a walk.”

But if we ASK, “do you want to take a bath?” He says, “No.”

Then he skidaddles to the bathroom.

Far be it for me to compare my children…but I will. The older was a “yes” kid – agreeing to everything: water, diaper changes, supply-side economics. They didn’t always mean it, but still always said “yes”.

The younger’s the direct opposite.

The exception is stuff he really wants. And that elicits the full-body nod.

“More raisins, kiddo?”

Full-body nod.

“You want more bash, buddy?”

Full-body nod.

But he will not say “yes”.

The family’s in on the full-body agreement. I asked my older kid to ask their sibling if they wanted a bath. (Younger was busy with his favorite activity: standing on the toilet, leaning on the sink and playing with the water.) After asking, the older said, “Daddy! Daddy! I asked him and he said…

…at which point Older did the full-body nod.

We amuse ourselves by posing Younger a litany of questions:

Do you want dinner?

No.

Do you want a snack?

No.

Do you love me?

No.

Do you love our dog, Maddie?

No.

Do you want to play trains?

No.

Do you like cars?

No.

Do you see the couch?

No.

Do you see anything?

No.

Do you want to be a millionaire?

No.

Do you want to go to Florida?

No.

And then…

Do you want to say “no”?

Silence.

Never once has he fallen for it for our trick. He has total focus on the questions. He never slips up. He merely remains silent when we ask, “do you want to say ‘no’?”

He never falls for the trick and never slips up saying “yes”.

I’m sure it’s a sign of genius – kids say no. It’s their power.