September 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm , by Louise Sloan
This week, we lost another child to bullying. Fourteen-year-old Jamie Rodemeyer killed himself Monday, because—despite having made an “It Gets Better” video in May—he apparently couldn’t take the taunts anymore.
Last year around this time, we lost a whole string of teenagers to suicide for the same reason. If you missed it, please read LHJ’s award-winning article on gay teens and bullying, which includes important information about how everyone, regardless of their beliefs about homosexuality, can help to create a safer environment for all our children.
In addition, here’s one really fun way you can make a difference: Get a copy of The Boy With Pink Hair, a picture book by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton that just came out this month, and give it to a young child in your life or donate it to your local elementary school. It’s my five-year-old son Scott’s new favorite book. The illustrations are adorable and the story is about how the thing that makes you different can turn out to be the thing that makes you special, popular and successful.
That’s often true, but most of us have to wait till we are adults to figure that out. Not the Boy With Pink Hair, who was born with a “cotton-candy mop,” loves to cook pink food, and gets harassed about his hair by just about everyone—even zoo animals!—and especially by his kindergarten-class nemesis, the Boy With the Bad Attitude.
When the Boy With Pink Hair starts elementary school, the cafeteria stove breaks down right before a welcome party for parents and students. But our hero has an unusual hobby: He makes beautiful pink food, like pink marshmallow sandwiches with pink potato chips, and he knows how to whip things up quickly without having to cook on a stove. The principal calls on him to save the day. “Not the pink weirdo!” shouts the Boy With the Bad Attitude. But in the end, he, too, enjoys all the pink food and ends up seeing the Boy With Pink Hair for the special, valuable person that he is.
The teenage bullies who drove Jamie Rodemeyer to commit suicide might be lost causes. But this charming book (even if you don’t like Perez Hilton, you’ll love the story) may help us all create a new generation of Boys and Girls with Pretty Good Attitudes. And maybe it will get better.
September 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm , by Louise Sloan
“Listen to your body” was the lifesaving message being put forward at the lunch I attended today, sponsored by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. That’s because there’s no screening test available and the signs are subtle, so it tends to be caught late. But symptoms do exist (see the list below), and when ovarian cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is more than 90 percent. So women who listen to their bodies have a great shot at beating this deadly disease.
The featured speaker at today’s lunch was Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history and an ovarian cancer survivor who was diagnosed earlier this year at age 33. (That’s me towering over her in the picture.) Miller says she almost delayed going to her gynecologist for a checkup because, as a business owner and the mom of a toddler, she just didn’t have time. But something told her to make that checkup a priority. And, during a routine pelvic exam, her doctor found a baseball-sized tumor. It turned out to be malignant.
Keeping that appointment probably saved Miller’s life. Take care of yourself, she urged today. Make those appointments. As women and moms, we often put ourselves last. But Miller pointed out that you can’t take care of your loved ones if you aren’t healthy.
Talk to your doctor if you have the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
*pelvic or abdominal pain
*trouble eating or feeling full quickly.
*Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often.
These symptoms are common and usually don’t mean ovarian cancer. So don’t freak yourself out! But do follow up with your doctor. And listen to my mom and to the NOCC: Listen to your body!
July 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm , by Louise Sloan
One day when I was about 16, my mom came into my bedroom and looked with horror at the skirt that was hanging on the back of my armchair. “Oh, no,” she said in a low voice that managed to communicate judgment and despair at the same time. “You’ve become one of those.” She meant a hippie, druggie, unwashed alternative person. It was one of those wrap-around Indian-print skirts that, in the late ’70s, you could buy on streetcorners in New York. They were all the rage at my preppy, fairly conservative Southern high school. Having it in my bedroom meant I thought it was cool and wanted to fit in with the other girls. But my mom read an entire lifestyle into it.
I thought about that moment this week when a somewhat conservative male friend saw that my son’s toenails were Kermit the Frog green. I had gone to buy myself some shiny pink polish and my 5-year-old son had grabbed the green bottle and asked if he could have some, too. After pausing for a moment to calculate the risk factor, I’d said sure. It wasn’t a pink tutu. And given his current obsession with cars, trucks, guns, competing to see who’s fastest, and generally being stereotypically male in every way imaginable, I thought it was a nice change of pace.
“You let him wear nail polish?” my friend said, in a low voice, full of judgment. “A boy should not be wearing nail polish.”
“It’s just paint!” I said. “And it’s GREEN, for godsake. Don’t be silly.”
It was just after Gay Pride weekend in New York, where thousands were celebrating their new right to get legally married. And so my friend replied, “All those people in the street, representing their viewpoint. I gotta represent mine.”
Wow, back in the day, I became a drugged-out hippie with the purchase of one wrap-around skirt, and now, with just 10 swipes of a green brush, my five-year-old son was on a path to get gay-married. (To Kermit, maybe?) Read more
June 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm , by Louise Sloan
This hasn’t been my best week as a single mom. Last weekend I was terribly sick with bronchitis; I needed to crawl back in bed and stay there all weekend. Instead, I went on what I’ve been terming the Single Parent’s Death March. This when you need to be in bed but your active 4-year-old is totally done with TV after 2 hours and if you don’t get out of the house somebody’s gonna kill somebody, you’re not sure who will be the perpetrator, but it’s clear that blood will be shed. So instead of lying comatose under the covers, coughing and sneezing pitifully and giving a grateful, rheumy-eyed half-smile to the person bringing you chicken soup, you get dressed, get out, and start walking. You walk all day. In the park. Through the zoo. Through the street fair. To the playground. After about a 7-hour Death March you can go home, make dinner, clean up and collapse, so you can start the next day’s Death March bright ‘n’ early. Maybe this isn’t just single parents, to be fair—I guess if your kids aren’t in school and you’re a stay-at-home parent, you have the same situation on weekdays. But anyway… delightful.
So I’m barely recovered from my bronchitis/Weekend Death March experience and oh, joy! It’s Father’s Day week! And my kid has no dad. His preschool is planning a Donuts for Dads party. At the Mother’s Day Breakfast, the kids all sang, “Mommy loves me, this I know, for she always tells me so,” to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me.” Mommy as Jesus… a little weird, but who am I to argue? It worked out fine, since all the kids had moms. But was my son going to have to sing similar lyrics for Father’s Day, detailing his loving relationship with the father he does not have? My dad died when I was 22 months old, and I remember dreading school Father’s Day celebrations, which never made room for students like me. Instead, they were a yearly reminder both of my loss and of my marginality. I needed better ideas, stat. Read more
April 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm , by Louise Sloan
My 4-year-old son, Scott—”I’m not four! I’m four and three-quarters!”—was not quite two when, of his own accord, he started tapping out the rhythm of the subway trains. Ba-bum ba-BUM. Ba-bum Ba-BUM. The boy loves music, has great rhythm and sings right on-key. So naturally I’ve tried to encourage music at home.”Hey, Scott, can you do this?” I’ll say, as I tap out a rhythm on the conga drum. Scott practically rolls his eyes and wanders off. I’ve tried to teach him simple songs on the keyboard, using whatever his current favorite tune is, and no dice—he’ll either start randomly banging and laughing, cracking himself right up, or he’ll play two notes and then bail. If Mom’s trying to teach it, it must not be worth knowing. Same reason I had to sign him up for swim classes, even though I was on a fricking swim team! God help me when he’s a teenager.
So anyway, when I heard about Freddie the Frog, a four-volume children’s book and CD series designed to help familiarize young kids with musical notes and rhythm notation, I thought, “Surrrrrrrre.” But I was willing to check it out. We’ve been reading the first three off and on for a couple months now, and I’m a total convert. The books follow the adventures of Freddie and his best friend Eli the elephant. They are typical kids’ picture books with mystery, drama, humor and fun illustrations—and a nefarious plan to teach your kid about music.
Each book has an accompanying CD that helps the story come alive with music and voice characterizations.The first book in the series is set on Treble Clef Island—can you guess what it covers? Second one is on Bass Clef Island, and the third, Tempo Island. The music-reading stuff is kind of woven in to the story, but not really… Like, in the first book when it mentions azaleas, there’s a drawing of an A note on the treble clef, just kind of jammed in there. But you know what? After just a few reads, Scott’s already starting to recognize the notes! Read more
February 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm , by Louise Sloan
A few of my friends think I should consider staying far, far away from snow sports. I don’t know what they are talking about. Sure, there was the mild traumatic brain injury, whiplash and vertigo from a snowboarding accident, that took a year and a half and lots of physical therapy to resolve. And then there was the black eye (and maybe a mild concussion?) from that idiot who didn’t wait his turn when we were snow tubing. Oh yeah, and the time in high school when the sled hit bare road and stopped, and I continued, face first on gravel, with my little sister on top of me. And, well, I am currently nursing what I hope is not some sort of rotator-cuff damage from pushing a giant boulder of wet snow on Sunday. My son and I were building a snow sofa. Hey, the snofa is an essential backyard accessory! (That’s him and me chilling on it, below, and him goofing around while sledding, at right.)
Snow is pretty, fluffy and fun as heck to build with, roll in, and slide down at warp speeds, and I am not about to back off from enjoying it, injuries or no. After a good snowfall I feel like about 80 percent of the whole point of having had a kid is being able to go sledding at age 47 without anyone thinking I’m immature. My kid is 4, so I’ve got sledding carte blanche through my mid-50s at least. But I do have a good deal of personal experience with the downside of hurtling down snowy slopes, so when I saw the press release today from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital, recommending the use of helmets while sledding, I knew they were absolutely right. Their number of sledding-related admissions has doubled this year, due to the extra-snowy weather. Check out their important recommendations and safety tips. And then put on your helmet, get out there and have fun! I can’t be the only one who thinks this winter has been AWESOME. (Or am I? Let me know either way!)
January 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm , by Louise Sloan
In a post a few months ago, I briefly mentioned our new friend Nelson, a Brooklyn neighbor who happens to be an up-and-coming r&b/reggae/hip-hop artist going by the stage name “Cherry L.” The other LHJ ladies and I were astounded when my mommy-blog post was basically mobbed by adoring Cherry L fans. “Who exactly IS this guy?” we wondered. So we invited Cherry L to stop by the Ladies’ Lounge and tell us a bit of his story.
LHJ: Nelson, you do seem to be quite the ladies’ man.
Cherry L: [laughing] Yes, I do love the ladies.
LHJ: In your native St. Lucia, looks like you’re pretty much a rock star. You’ve had top radio hits there with “Turn Me Loose” and “Like That,” won the Best New Artist award, and—according to the Youtube videos of your live concerts—you’ve played to packed venues with screaming women in the front row trying to get their hands on you. When did you come to the U.S. and what’s the reception been here?
Cherry L: I came to New York in 2008, and that first year, I was the only reggae artist to win one of the biggest hip-hop showcases in New York, called Faces in the Crowd. I’ve been performing at various clubs and bars around the city and people love the Caribbean element I bring to my shows.
LHJ: Your lyrics sometimes get raunchy but there are none of the demeaning expletives about women that so many other hip-hop artists use to sound cool. Why not?
Cherry L: It comes from the way I was brought up. I love my mom, who is a music teacher, and Read more