On Finding the Perfect Name for My Multicultural Son

A version of this essay was originally published by Kveller on August 4, 2016.

I’d known what I’d call my future daughter since I was a teenager.

But things got tricky with my son. I hoped to parcel out his Russian-American-Jewish heritage into one word, ensuring it’s pronounceable by Russian relatives without making him a laughingstock of his American peers.

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To the socially awkward new mom

This post originally appeared on Babble.com, titled “When you’re socially awkward, mom groups are your worst nightmare” on June 15, 2016.

It’s Tuesday night and you are filled with dread. Tomorrow is mother’s group day, when 20 or more strangers with babies will gather at a suburban park or hospital rec room.

And as much as you crave the company of adults — particularly other new mothers to share your joys and frustrations — you can’t help but feel … well, awkward. On top of being hyper-conscious of your gargantuan t-shirt and the ponytail thrown together during your baby’s 6.5 minute-long nap, you’ve seen how unpredictable these gatherings can be. One could make a friend or witness a face-off between two exhausted moms over whose baby sleeps the longest or who’s hosted a larger play date – and why.

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The Parenting Aptitude Quiz

Ever wonder how your parenting stacks up in our world of benchmarks and parenting philosophies? Take this quiz to find out, picking one best answer for each question.

1.Baby transportation: Baby wearing or stroller?

From Babycenter.com

a. Baby wearing forever! Or at least until he tells me he prefers to drive.

b. Stroller. My back hurts.

2.Manners: Your toddler said he hates you and threw goldfish crackers in your face. Your response:

From Babble.com

a. Discuss why throwing and name-calling is wrong, suggest postponing anti-parent angst until he is a teenager. Work with your toddler to pick up the goldfish from the floor together. Name the goldfish. Find an appropriate container for storing the goldfish. No, not the green cup. Incentivize as needed.

b. Deal when you have the energy. Pick up the goldfish yourself and eat them.

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Mothers and babies are people too

Image from Pinterest

I know, I know, there’s been a lot of news coverage of babies lately.

Like a guy running for president who kicked a woman out from a rally because her child cried. (Hey lady, not like he’d let you pump milk at work either, which he thinks is disgusting. But hope you stick with the nationwide “Mothers for Trump” club. Never heard of it? Yeah, me neither.)

Anyway, I’ll spare you from politics, gentle reader, and get right to the issue: the ridiculous division in our society into “moms and babies” and everyone else.

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How to write a speech that doesn’t suck if you are a wife (or a husband) of a presumptive presidential nominee

Melania Trump gives a speech at the RNC convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016 (CNN photo)

Okay, let’s get a few things straight. Party affiliations aside, it’s neat that a wife of a presumptive presidential nominee was born outside of the U.S. and in Communist nation, no less. Gives her a global perspective (baby carrots don’t grow this way, most of the world doesn’t have paper towels, kids walk to school alone and survive). Also, don’t hate her for being beautiful. And the accent? Big deal, I got one too, even though we both spent most of our lives in the U.S. as citizens, some with better purses and a personal chef.

“Hey comrade, join our farming collective!” (From The Huffington Post)

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Terry Gross on not having kids and a civil chat on parenting

Back in grad school, I had an opportunity to interview Terry Gross, the host of NPR’s Fresh Air radio show on WHYY.

She finally agreed to an interview for the school paper after I stalked her for a couple of weeks and eventually told her in a voicemail of how Fresh Air has impacted me as an immigrant.

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Daycare: What it costs and where to find one. No, really.

My daughter’s daycare is closing. To a nonparent, this isn’t a big deal, but it’s reducing me to a puddle of tears because not only is breaking up with a daycare hard to do, but because finding a good one is even harder.

It shouldn’t be. I don’t need my kid to play with sustainably-produced wooden toys in primary colors. I don’t ban food that’s fried, breaded or out of a can or say things like “Now, honey, remember we eat alfalfa sprouts before enjoying this chia seed crisp for dinner.” Nothing like this note to the babysitter.

Continue reading “Daycare: What it costs and where to find one. No, really.”