Save the Nursery Rhyme!

Currently, there are no children in my house either old enough or young enough for nursery rhymes, yet children’s books too numerous to count fill the bottom shelves of my bookcase. So imagine my distress when I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that parents are no longer reading nursery rhymes to their children.

“Too scary,” began the comments from parents.


“Too rhymey.” (No, really?)

Maybe I am alone in my thinking but knowing Humpty Dumpty fell down, broke his crown and all the king’s men couldn’t do a damn thing about it, really didn’t ruin my childhood, or my children’s.

For that matter, regardless of Jack’s weak-footing, I never feared I would go tumbling down and break my crown.

And Little Miss Muffet? I honestly believe if someone suffers from arachnophobia, it has little to do with her particular case.

Nursery rhymes are a part of childhood and are no more “violent,” (one parent’s description, not mine) than television, movies, the Internet, video games, Halloween, coal in your stocking, or, actual reality. We can shield our children as best we can from the horrors of life, but even they can distinguish the difference between the death of “Cock Robin” and the death of a loved one.

Nursery rhymes are merely nonsensical songs to them, ones they can feel pride in memorizing. It’s the very fact that they are “rhymey” that makes them easy to remember. “Georgie Porgie,” “Goosey Goosey Gander,” “Sticks and Stones,” at an early age, titles such as these help us form speech, sing, recognize rhyming, and connect to others who know the exact same words.

Fine, you may choose not to read: “Now I lay me down to sleep…If I shall die before I wake. I pray the Lord my soul to take.” (As my daughter just told me: “Mom, some nursery rhymes ARE actually disturbing.”)

But “Jack Sprat?” He couldn’t eat fat. His wife couldn’t eat lean. So between the two of them they licked the plate clean. Hmmm. A valuable lesson on cholesterol, obesity, nutrition, waste, sustainability, recycling, marriage, compromise, health, sharing, and so on.

Growing up I was never upset by the old woman who had so many children, she didn’t know what to do so she gave them some broth without any bread and then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed. Well, I suppose I may have been if I knew any families living in shoes. But I didn’t.

If we as parents and grandparents stop sharing nursery rhymes great literature may not be far behind. Because as scary as any nursery rhyme may be, none is more so than the classic tales of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” or Roald Dahl’s “The Witches.”

And I’m fairly certain that if we stop introducing the works of such literary geniuses to our children, we’re bound to feel pretty awful.

Even worse, I believe, than those three little kittens who lost their mittens.


Different trails bring mother, son together

At first, when the opportunity arose for my son and me to ski in Beaver Creek, Colo., for a scant three days, I was concerned that our different levels of ability — like the nascent pairings on Dancing With the Stars — would mean a lonely and humdrum trip.

The skiing and the scenery at Beaver Creek, Colo., were exhilarating, inspiring, and rewarding.

The skiing and the scenery at Beaver Creek, Colo., were exhilarating, inspiring, and rewarding.

We are a study in contrasts: Noah is an expert downhill skier and snowboarder, while I have found a permanent home on the greens. Given that we had left friends and family at home working, and that we couldn’t ski together very well, we each took advantage of the independence to tackle something new. Telemark skiing for Noah; cross-country for me.

Lest you think cross-country, with its customary flat terrain and less cumbersome equipment, is a walk in the park, let me introduce you to McCoy Park. It has an elevation of 11,000 feet, and you can only access it by a chairlift while attached to skis by the toes of your boots.

Few cross-country trails in the world can match McCoy’s 500 mountainous acres of powder, blemished only by markings of wildlife. Lulling sounds come from magpies, intermittent bursts of wind, and the occasional snowshoer. Breathtaking views converge on the white-capped Rockies, and startling stands of aspens.

I took lessons through Beaver Creek’s Nordic Center, determined to make significant progress during our brief visit. Despite repeated falls going downhill, imagine my happiness when the instructor matter-offactly referred to me as intermediate.

Meanwhile, and on the other side of an imposing mountain, my son was learning to tele ski. Picture downhill with lunges. He began Sunday on the greens and finished Tuesday on the blacks. So much for being a chip off the old block.

Even though we didn’t ski together, we met for lunch every day. Seated outdoors by firepits, we munched on local delicacies and talked about our mornings. Afterward, Noah returned to the slopes, and I walked into the village, home to shops so unusual that one actually sells a 500,000-year-old giant sloth skeleton (price available on request).

Like Pavlovian dogs, we reconnected at 3 p.m. at the base of the mountain, where a half-dozen bakery chefs appeared with plates of still-bubbling chocolate chip cookies. Après-ski drinks could wait.

After an hour relaxing in the condo, we headed to our favorites for dinner: the no-frills Saloon in Minturn, Colo., a tiny Western town frozen in time; and the Dusty Boot, in Beaver Creek, with luscious Tex-Mex food and even more luscious margaritas. We ended the trip with a lavish meal at Zach’s Cabin, a mountaintop log cabin reached only by an open-air snowcat. The ride back after dinner treated us to a night sky so untainted by light pollution we felt as though we could reach up and pluck a handful of stars.

The next morning, I boarded a flight to Philadelphia, and my son to Boston. As we hugged goodbye in the airport, I thought how even though we skied apart, we had the most wonderful time together.

Originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer April 28, 2013


How to Get Your Social Life Back

Had fun doing an interview with for their feature on parents making time for a social life. Check out the article below and let me know what you think!

How to Get Your Social Life Back

For many parents, having a social life is often relegated to slivers of free time found after working all day, helping with homework, cheering at soccer practice and bagging lunches.While the proverbial “me time” can seem elusive when your priority is raising healthy and happy children, experts say that making time for yourself is as essential to your children as it is to you and your spouse.Instead of feeling guilty about taking personal time, think about what having an active social life can teach your children, says author and relationship expert Ellie Slott Fisher.“If you’re always at home every Saturday night, as your children get older they can start to feel responsible for your social life,” Fisher said. “Having a social life gives your children permission to have one too, and it helps them develop into completely secure adults.”

Read More: How to Get Your Social Life Back


The Social Parent

Over the weekend, a writer from interviewed me for an article on the need for parents to carve out a social life in the midst of raising kids. It got me thinking.

When our kids are young and dependent on us for sustenance, wisdom, shelter, emotional support and car pooling, it is easy to shelve any social life that involves other adults. It’s difficult finding a babysitter for Valentine’s Day, for example. So let’s just make dinner for the family. Sure, I’d love to see Zero Dark Thirty, but what do I do with my 10 year old who wants to see … uh, (there are currently no G rated movies in the theater) but you get the point.

These plans are more often than not fueled by parental guilt. How can we go out to dinner with our college roommate and her husband when our 14 year old has no plans, is too old for a babysitter, and is going to be home alone? Even the offer of a let-loose ice cream sundae and any movie on Netflix does little if anything to assuage the guilt.

Often times, especially if we are a single parent, a child lets you know (insincerely) he or she will be “fine” if you leave them to go socialize with other adults. Translation: not really. As a result, if we have a child under the age of say, 15, we may feel the urge to bag the social event and hang out at home.

Not so fast.

My own children were very young when I first began dating as a widow. A few years later they were teenaged or approaching that milestone when I began dating after a second, brief brush with marriage. My guilt knew no bounds. I was a single mom and unless I sacrificed everything for my children, they would be unhappy. (This, of course, was my thinking. Not theirs.)

Fast forward to now. My children are young adults and in relationships (my daughter is married). I can assure you that if I didn’t have a social life now they would be miserable. Since they are happily socializing they don’t want to think that Mom is home eating an entire pizza by herself. They are relieved that I have been in a long term relationship for many years, and am rarely around on the weekends.

So, if you are where I was a few years ago, and you’re weighing a decision to go out with friends on Saturday night or stay home and watch the Disney channel, recognize that all you are doing is deferring the guilt.

And it’s not your guilt. It’s theirs.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!


My Daughter, the Glowing Bride


Recycling day is tomorrow. I just unceremoniously tossed into the can a large paper calendar on which I had written every single daily task associated with planning my daughter’s wedding. The wedding was this past Sunday. The squares for the rest of the week were blank.

Thank goodness.

I’m still floating about, feeling a bit tired, useless and a little unfocused. But I’m smiling, a big, loopy, uncontrollable grin. What a weekend it has been. All those words I’ve used to describe other people’s weddings: magical, spectacular, fairytale, I can now use to illustrate my daughter’s.

She was a beautiful bride. Yes, I know. I’m biased. So, no editorial comment, just description. Petite and fair with long cascading blonde hair, framing her blue eyes and her cherubic face (just like her dad’s). Her tiny waste cinched by a charmeuse sash that created definition between the embroidered bodice with sweetheart neckline and the flowing silk taffeta Cinderella bottom, all ivory and swishy above the crinolines. The soft train was graced by a floor-length veil trimmed in pearls and tiny crystals to match the bodice of the gown.

This delicate, exquisite princess was my daughter.

Her dad might not have been around to see his little girl get married but his memory was invoked by so many this past weekend. I am certain he and our old friend, Mark, were cracking open the scotch and watching from the balcony.

So many new words have entered our vocabulary: wife, husband, married, brother-in-law, son-in-law, mother-in-law, (oh yeah, I’ve finally turned into one of those!). Words so common, yet unfamiliar. Until now.

I love my new son-in-law. With all the wedding planning, from the gorgeous museum where the reception was held to the icebox groom cake that was personally delivered from a New York bakery, my daughter and son-in-law seemed blissfully happy.

And HE is the reason my daughter was a glowing bride.


P.S. Love you both very much.




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