My Holiday Cheatsheet for Nonreligious Parents is gaining a wider audience, having been picked up recently by the PBS NewsHour website. (Have I mentioned how much I love working with those guys?!) First, they ran my piece on Ash Wednesday and Lent. Then, this week, they ran my piece on Purim. You may have noticed they are a bit more conservative in their word usage; whereas it was originally called: "Quick! What the Hell is Purim?," The NewsHour changed it to "Quick! What the Heck is Purim?" Oh, PBS. You are so PG. But who's complaining?
The first time I was interviewed for a radio station was 15 years ago. The BBC called me to talk about a political convention I had been covering. I was so nervous and exhausted from a long day. And they threw a question at me that I wasn't prepared to answer. I don't remember what I said, but I was apparently just terrible because the host thanked me for my time about seven seconds into the interview and then hung up on me. Nothing more humbling than being hung up on by the BBC, people. Anyway, this morning, I was interviewed again — this time on the Barry Morgan Show, which airs on a Montreal radio station called CJAD. We talked for, like, five whole minutes about girls and science. They plugged the book twice, unprompted. AND they didn't hang up on me even one time. Care to listen? Click here.
Jezebel, the deliciously snarky feminist blog, today wrote a response to my PBS NewsHour column ("Skip the fairy tales, and tell your daughter science bedtime stories.") The Jezebel response ("Should You Ditch FairyTales and Teach Your Daughter Science Instead?") was great. Mostly. The writer certainly agreed with the notion that we should be giving our daughters more exposure to science and mathematics, but then said:
"Where I disagree with Russell is on the idea that you have to 'skip the fairytales.' I think you can cultivate a spirit of independence in young girls without totally ditching fairytales, which are helpful in their own way. They are cultural artifacts, they exist in nearly every language in some form or another; they are cautionary tales, can be as gross and weird as spiders, and sometimes work as really good examples of what not to do."
The thing is, I never suggested that we trade in fairy tales for science stories. In fact, Maxine was a HUGE princess freak growing up — and still adores all fairy tales. She has a mountain of Barbies and a closet-full of pink dresses. Mine was never an either/or piece. I do see how the headline could have been seen as a tad misleading, but the folks who wrote it never meant that ALL fairy tales should be trashed or that ONLY science stories should be told at bedtime.
Still, a good essay — and there's no such thing as bad press, right?
After the rather surprising (and surprisingly controversial) success of my last parenting column for the PBS NewsHour's website — which garnered more than 700,000 page views and and was featured briefly at the tail end of the TV broadcast (!!) — the NewsHour has been kind enough to publish another of my columns. This one is about the joys of watching Charlie give Maxine a true and abiding appreciation for science, the kind I never had myself as a child. I hope you'll check it out. Here's the link.
Parenting an only? If so, you've probably heard the litany of reasons to have more children. (Haven't we all?) But there are two sides to every story, and to provide a bit of balance (and humor) to the procreation debate, I've written an essay in defense of making your kid an only. It was published this morning over at the PBS NewsHour, and I'd be awfully grateful if you gave it read.
In my prior life, I was a newspaper reporter covering murder trials. One of them involved the murder-for-hire of a Long Beach mother named Lynn Schockner. The case gained national attention because two police officers were actually on the front porch of her home while her throat was being slashed on the back patio. It would have been a comedy of errors if it weren't such a tragedy. As it turned out, the police had done nothing at all wrong. They were simply investigating a possible prowler in the neighborhood and had no idea there was a murderer lying in wait for the homeowner at the time of their visit. The case was fascinating on a number of levels, which is why Dateline NBC decided to dedicate one of their shows to it. I was among those interviewed, and the segment is slated to air March 6. If you enjoy what my friend Lisa calls "murdertainment," please tune in.
I think I did alright.... OR DID I?
If you have a free moment — Hahahahaha, like anyone has those anymore — head over to the PBS NewsHour site and check out my column about lying to kids about Santa. Although I think there are perfectly good reasons for doing the Santa thing and for NOT doing the Santa thing, I've got some advice for those like myself who have entered Santa territory lightly but worry a bit about the fallout when the Truth prevails. In the end, I realized that what's important isn't how parents do the whole Santa thing with their kids, but in how they undo it.
A big thank you to the PBS NewsHour for inviting me to join last week's Twitter Chat about what works and what doesn't when it comes to celebrating holidays in multicultural or interfaith homes. I joined two other authors and NewsHour data producer Laura Santhanam, and it was a lot of rapid-fire fun. I'm told a full article on the NewsHour website is forthcoming, and will keep you posted.