Suggested New Episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Good news for moderate parental negligence—a study soon to be published in the Journal of Children and Media found that watching the PBS Kids cartoon Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood may help preschoolers develop social and emotional skills. For those of you who have not yet been inducted into the Daniel Tiger cult, each episode deals with a common issue for toddlers and preschool-age kids—fear of starting school, separation anxiety, a new baby, sharing, resolving conflict with peers, etc. There is always a catchy “strategy song” that reinforces the message after the show ends. One of my son’s favorite episodes is “Daniel Visits School,” and I sing the strategy song fairly often to remind myself that he’s the kind of kid that needs extra reassurance during transitions: When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do. C is also obsessed with all of the episodes that feature Daniel’s baby sister Margaret, which is just about enough to make my heart completely explode with love and forgive him for all of his general ass-hattery.

Given Daniel Tiger’s proven success at imparting macro-level life lessons about kindness, empathy, and managing negative feelings, I figure the show’s writers might be equally effective at helping us parents handle some of the more micro challenges of daily life with toddlers. To that end, I have created a list and summaries of suggested episodes I would like to see produced in the near-future:

Episode 501: Daniel Leaves His Shoes on in the Car

Daniel is riding in the car to the grocery store! He is going to leave his shoes on for the entire ride to the store and the entire ride home because he understands that even though it’s only June, it’s already 98 degrees outside, and the last thing Mommy Tiger needs is to be crawling around the back seat of her black station wagon trying to find his forty-dollar Sperrys. Daniel is also going to stop unbuckling his chest clip repeatedly and dumping the entire bag of Goldfish crackers he insisted on holding into his lap.

Strategy Song: No matter how itchy the infinitesimally microscopic piece of sand on your toe is, you still have to leave your shoes on.

Episode 502: Daniel Diversifies His Musical Tastes Beyond Uptown Funk and The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Everyone loves Bruno Mars! Golden Oldies are great for dancing! But seriously Daniel, there is an entire universe of musical genres yet to be explored, and if Daddy Tiger tries to hit the high note in “Whimoweh” one more time, Mommy Tiger is going to file for divorce.

Strategy Song: What About Beyoncé? Everyone Loves Beyoncé. Even Taylor Swift is fine, whatever, anything but the Bieber.

Episode 503: Daniel Displays a Little Bit of Flexibility When We’re Out of Cream Cheese

The Tiger family is enjoying Saturday breakfast together! Daniel is having his customary morning meal of half of a whole wheat bagel, cut into quarters and prepared to “medium” heat, meaning Mommy Tiger toasts it to a golden brown and then puts it in the freezer for 45 seconds, no more, no less, to achieve ideal temperature. Oh no, looks like someone forgot to put cream cheese on the grocery list! No worries, Daniel is not going to start shrieking like he’s fallen into a quicksand pit made of yellow jackets, instead he listens calmly as his parents explain that they will go to the store later, and for now he can have peanut butter on his bagel instead. Or he can have a waffle. Or cereal. Or pickles and olives. The world is your fucking oyster, Daniel, just please stop screaming before the neighbors call the police.

Strategy Song: Life is full if disappointment, but that’s not an excuse to act like a turd.

Episode 504: Daniel Wears His Pull-Up Diaper All Night Long

My how Daniel has grown! He is so independent, and he loves to help Mommy Tiger out with Baby Margaret. Daniel has been fully potty trained for awhile, but he still has to wear his pull-up at night, because accidents can happen when you are sleeping. Accidents that result in lots of extra laundry for Mommy Tiger, who already spends about 95% of her waking hours doing laundry. Mommy Tiger didn’t graduate from law school just so she could dedicate her life to folding underwear! Daniel helps minimize the amount of laundry Mommy Tiger has to do by keeping his pull-up on all night long, even if he wakes up at 3:30am and decides that it’s scratchy.

Strategy Song: Keep your pee in your pull-up and not soaking through your $80 organic sheet set from Pottery Barn.

Episode 505: Daniel and Baby Margaret Choose Not to Coordinate Their Epic Evening Meltdowns

It’s been a long week for Mommy Tiger! While Daddy Tiger is away on business, sleeping in dark hotel rooms and conversing in full sentences with other adults, Mommy Tiger has been trying to sleep-train Baby Margaret while also dealing with Daniel’s latest nap regression. Uh-oh, Daniel has something in his eye…or is that pink eye? Time for a trip to urgent care during rush hour! In order to prevent Mommy Tiger from becoming a full-blown alcoholic, Daniel and Baby Margaret decide that rather than express their feelings about this stressful event through tandem sobbing, they are both going to go to bed without protest and sleep 11 hours through the night.

Strategy Song: When the baby is crying, instead of crying too, why don’t you do something useful like open Mommy a bottle of wine.

How about you? What episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood would you like to have custom-tailored to your particular parenting dilemmas? I hear PBS is struggling with the recent decreases in federal funding, so perhaps they could turn made-to-order TV shows into a new revenue stream. You’re welcome, Big Bird!

Written by: Kathleen

41 ½ Weeks

It wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Second babies are never overdue, I thought, and I was pretty sure I read somewhere that most women have all of their kids around the same point of gestation. My son’s labor began at 38 weeks and 3 days, and so while my daughter’s due date was December 25, I informed anyone who asked that she would most likely be home in time for Christmas. But the holidays came and went, and as I stared down the final days of the year, my Google history filled with increasingly desperate searches:

how to induce labor

do late babies sleep better?

has anyone ever been pregnant forever???

The weekly emails and updates from my pregnancy apps stopped comparing my fetus to a fruit and started questioning my sanity. “Are you sure you’re really pregnant?” They asked gently. “Maybe you should see someone.” Strangers no longer smiled warmly when they saw me waddling down the sidewalk and instead crossed the street like I might have some infectious disease. My phone lit up with calls from the bravest among my family members, gleefully posing the dreaded question:

Have you had that baby yet?

Medical induction wasn’t an option for me, so I turned to the Old Wives for their recommendations. Black cohash sounded sinister, like something an ancient Greek philosopher would use to poison his rival. Evening primrose oil required more flexibility than I possessed at 10 months pregnant. Castor oil had the most promising data behind it, but I was not quite prepared to poop myself into labor. I drank red raspberry leaf tea and walked for an hour every morning, which did succeed in getting the baby into the entryway, but did nothing about opening the door.

“Anything you recommend?” I asked my doctor at my 57-week appointment, after she informed me that if it was possible to be negative-dilated, I was.

“There is one thing,” she said.

I reconsidered the castor oil.

New Year’s Eve came and went. One evening, while hauling my substantial bulk off of the yoga ball and lowering myself into a forward-leaning inversion, I turned to my husband and said, “I think we’re going to have to try.” He looked like a third-string quarterback that had just been called in for the final play against Alabama. A squirrel that fell into the lion cage. The young squire thrown into battle. For God and country, we were going to get this baby out.

“I think I have a headache,” he said.

The Saturday night before the Monday of my scheduled repeat C-section, I gave up. My husband and I stayed up late talking, mourning the lost chance of a spontaneous labor and a VBAC, pointing out all of the benefits of a scheduled birth. At least we would be well rested. We went to sleep at midnight, at peace with the way things were going to be.

Labor began at 3am.

My baby girl was born 26 hours later, at 41 weeks and 4 days—just a few days shy of forever.

41 weeks pregnant, feeling as sexy as a beluga whale.

41 weeks pregnant, feeling as sexy as a beluga whale.

The Birds and the Bees Revisited

The moment you go from actively not trying to get pregnant to actively trying to get pregnant, your sex life changes. Often it’s not a single moment but a month or more of inactively not trying, the birth control equivalent of slowly stepping into a freezing cold swimming pool rather than closing your eyes and jumping. You pull the goalie then forget to invite the other team to play. Or the other team is so freaked out they don’t even try to score. Or they do try to score but don’t, and then you start to wonder if there’s something wrong with the other team, if they’re too old or too stressed out or smoked too much pot in college. That’s when you go from dipping your toes in the water to doing a running cannonball off the diving board—Geronimo, kids, it’s time to get busy.

Unfortunately, despite what the Lifetime Movie Network and your high school guidance counselor want you to believe, making a baby is not as easy as a six-pack of Zima and a rec room couch. I went to a progressive school that prided itself on a liberal and comprehensive sex education curriculum. I remember writing anonymous questions about boobs and periods in fifth grade, a particularly horrific slide show about STDs in seventh grade, and a series of heated arguments throughout high school about whether legalizing prostitution would empower or oppress women. At the age of 32, when my husband and I decided to close our eyes and jump into the baby-making pool, I could argue the constitutionality of abortion, gay marriage, and pornography. I knew how HIV was transmitted on a molecular level. I could recite statistics on the risks associated with advanced maternal age as they related to miscarriage, infertility, and chromosomal abnormalities. But I didn’t truly understand that I could only get pregnant on four, maybe five days of the month, and probably fewer, because I was a maternal dinosaur and my husband smoked a lot of pot in college.

That’s the annoying truth of it. While it seems like every teenager on reality TV can get pregnant 26 days a month, and you swear your best friend occasionally gets knocked up in the shower, you and your old “career oriented” eggs have only a 12- to 24-hour window to get fertilized after ovulation. Your husband’s boys may be able to survive longer, depending on whether your fallopian tubes resemble a mahogany-paneled man-cave with a built-in beer tap and 60-inch plasma television or a women’s studies class at Smith, but at most you have five days during which sex leads to baby. Five days is the best-case scenario, and let’s be honest ladies, at our age, we have to aim for the bull’s eye just to hit the target.

So if you’re done testing the water and you’re ready to dive in, don’t waste your energy shaving your legs the first day after your period ends. Start spritzing your fancy Versace perfume a few days before you think you’ll ovulate, and save date-night at your favorite martini bar for the day before. And if that night happens to coincide with a major sporting event or highly anticipated episode of The Walking Dead, you might as well throw on your yoga pants, open a bottle of pinot, and wait ‘til next month.

Written by: Kathleen

PS: If you've been doing cannonballs for several months and are starting to get antsy, or if you're just trying to be more precise in your baby-making so you don't end up with, say, a Christmas due date, I highly recommend and the accompanying app for more comprehensive information and tools to maximize your chances of getting pregnant regardless of who dies in the next episode of Game of Thrones.


Are You Raising an Asshole?

If you haven’t gotten there yet, you will: that moment when you realize that you may have given birth to Rosemary’s baby. The first time your precious offspring starts acting like Kanye West, humiliating you in public, interrupting others and  wearing Gucci, you know you have trouble brewing. Now some of you might say it is offensive to call a young child an A-hole, but I think we all know that there is really no other term to describe their behavior. If they were adults, you would most certainly call them something you can’t say in front of your grandmother.

Here are a few clues that you might be raising an asshole. If your child has ever:

  • thrown a sizeable hard toy at your head
  • screamed “I hate you” at you in a public place
  • asked you “mommy, do you still have a baby in your tummy?”
  • squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste out on your counter
  •  painted your walls with her poop
  • shown up with a twin—while technically I know the child didn’t choose this, we all know it’s rude to bring a guest if the invitation didn’t specifically say plus one
  • woken up two hours early when you decide to have a few extra drinks the night before
  •  used your bedspread as a blank canvas for finger painting
  •  stiff bodied herself so you can’t get her in her car seat in front of a crowd of parents at school (tip: tickle her stomach so she’s forced to sandwich)
  •  grabbed items off the grocery store shelves as you cart by so that they break on the floor
  •  ran from you in public forcing you to look like you are abducting her

If you have experienced one or more of these things, or something worse, you are, in fact, raising an asshole. You are not alone. We have all either dealt with or are still dealing with the bi-polar antics of a youngster. The best we can all do is hope that the problem can correct itself once they become teenagers and we have the opportunity to be even bigger assholes back to them. Stay strong! Also, I can’t leave you without mentioning that we are not raising the very first generation of assholes and we should all take the time to call the people who dealt with our former A-hole selves and thank them for not kicking us at out of the house at 4 years old.

DISCLAIMER: For those “mature” parents, I am sure there is much worse coming down the pipe as our kids get older. Not there yet. Stay tuned. 

Written by: Alice

Always let your little a-hole know you have the upper hand...

Always let your little a-hole know you have the upper hand...