Here’s a brief assortment of articles I’ve written on parenting (and other stuff).
“Why did you punch Michael?” I had come to pick up my 4-year-old son, Willie, at pre-K and found him wrangling with a boy who had recently joined his class. “Because he’s the new kid,” he replied. “Did he take something of yours or hit you first?” I asked. “No, Mommy,” Willie said, shrugging. “He’s new, so I just don’t like him.”
Linda Briggs is one of the 1.5 million New Yorkers who are illiterate. Bravely, she’s decided to tackle her problem.
It will take most adult Americans about twenty minutes to read this article. It will take Linda Briggs hours of sounding out syllables, of painstakingly reading to the end of each sentence simply to gather the context. Though she suffers from no particular learning disability, Linda, like some 1.5 million other New Yorkers and 44 percent of her fellow black Americans, is functionally illiterate. Most literacy experts define functional illiteracy as writing and reading below fifth-grade level. For New Yorkers, this means the inability to read the Daily News with ease. After three years of tutoring, Linda’s reading has improved so much that she has surpassed that simplistic definition. But not by much. Riding the Broadway local, she starts reading the News’s horoscopes aloud at 34th Street, stumbling over every few words. By the time she finishes reading these twelve three-sentence fortunes, we’ve pulled into 79th Street.
7 easy strategies for getting them off to a good start
“This is the longest two weeks of my entire life!” my daughter, Elisabeth, groaned last December while flopping onto the sofa. At age 4, she was experiencing her first winter break from school—and she wasn’t happy about it. She missed her teacher, her friends, her school routine. But the more she sighed, the more I celebrated. What better evidence that her first school experience was going well?
There I sat, silently spooning infant oatmeal into my 9-month-old daughter’s eager mouth. Under normal circumstances I can chatter away with the best of them, but a recent spate of late nights had left me mute with exhaustion. I didn’t notice how quiet my kitchen had become until Elisabeth reminded me.
“Dat?” she said, pointing to the refrigerator. “That’s the refrigerator,” I told her. “Mommy keeps food inside it, see?” I opened the door with a flourish worthy of Vanna White. “Dat?” she said, pointing to the juice carton. “That’s your apple juice. You love to drink your juice!” I was getting into it now. It was clear that Elisabeth wanted me to talk to her.
Daring to be different, my parents named me Nan rather than the standard of the day, Nancy. Growing up with a nickname name wasn’t so bad, except that it didn’t leave any room for, well, a nickname. And that, inshort form, is the reason I named my own daughter Elisabeth (The S is another story.) A classic name, four full syllables (the minimum number I had sworn to my mother I’d give any daughter), and, according to the baby-name book, one that would someday offer her a wide variety of nicknames to choose from-exotic Bettina, standard-issue Liz, Little Womenish Beth, retro Betty, beyond-retro Lisbeth.