An Interesting Parenting Tip – Signaling?

When we are in the throes of manufacturing lollacups, I spend quite a bit of time in the car, driving to and from our factories.  One day, I was listening to a “marketplace” segment on NPR that was fascinating.  The discussion was about, “Why more athletes are choosing to sport eyewear.”  I really have no interest in this particular topic, but the whole discussion really spoke to me.

Apparently the NBA star, Lebron James, wears non-prescription eyeglasses, and Harvard economist Roland Fryer explains the reason as a ‘two-audience signaling mechanism.’  As Fryer puts it, “These guys are saying to one audience, ‘Hey I’m here, I’m an athlete.’ To the other one, ‘Look at my glasses, look at the way I’m dressed, look at the way I carry myself — I can promote your product.'”

This idea of a signaling mechanism intrigued me.  Prof. Roland Fryer went on to talk about one of his colleagues who admitted to dying his hair gray to be taken more seriously by his students.

I began to wonder if I have any signaling mechanisms?  By blow-drying my hair and putting on makeup before a playdate, am I signaling to other moms that I have my life together?  On the rare occasion that I’m dressed up and wearing heels and stop into Target to pick up a prescription with my 2 kids in tow, do people perceive that I am waltzing through parenthood and making time to primp?

The scenarios kept running through my head, until I realized that oftentimes, I do what I do because I truly do want to be “that person.”  When I walk into a business meeting, serious but smiling and dressed to the nines in 4-inch heels, I really do want those people to think I am fully capable of achieving and doing it well.

One thing I cannot live without is under-eye concealer.  I feel like it instantly makes me look and feel well-rested.  I am, by no means, well-rested, but I really do wish I were and for now, to signal to others that I have had a good night’s sleep is fine by me.  Maybe I’m not really understanding the gist of the radio segment I was so affected by, but perhaps “signaling mechanisms” are the best form of motivation.  Perhaps one day I will make sleep a priority.  To begin with, I will try “signaling” to my children that I am in full control of each and every situation, and perhaps, they will buy it!

Another One of My Go-To Recipes – Pasta with Pancetta and Peas

I don’t know about you, but every afternoon I find myself thinking, “how is it already time to prepare dinner?”  I just gave the kids an afternoon snack and now I’m already worrying about dinner!  Well, I am a big fan of quick and tasty dinners, and this is one of my kids’ favorites.  I love that there are only a handful of ingredients, it’s quick and easy to prepare, and it makes my kids devour peas.  What more could you ask for in a meal?
  • 16 ounces of pasta (I prefer linguine)
  • 8 ounces pancetta, diced (I like these Pancetta cubes I get at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen peas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (I’ve made this without lemon juice and it’s fine, but the acidity gives it a nice little touch)
  1. Cook pasta in salted water (before you drain the pasta, be sure to save a cup of the pasta water for later – this is key!)
  2. Saute pancetta in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until golden and crisp.
  3. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In the same pan, saute onions until soft and translucent.
  5. Add peas and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in Parmesan, pasta and pancetta.
  7. Moisten pasta with some of the reserved pasta water.
  8. Toss to incorporate, season with salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve, sprinkled with lemon juice.

You can find the original/full recipe on foodnetwork.com.  Enjoy!

Bigger, Better, and Faster?

Recently, my daughter’s school had a “Bike Day,” when children could bring their bikes/scooters to school and ride freely in an empty parking lot.  I saw several kids with those balance bikes (bikes without pedals/training wheels).  I kid you not, some of these barely 4-year-olds were fully able to ride a 2-wheel bike because of these new bikes.  I was astounded.

I found myself jumping online to look for this particular bike that would help my 4-year-old learn to ride like a pro.  Then I stopped to think – am I becoming THAT mom, who is constantly pushing her children to learn everything sooner than they really need to?  When my kids were infants, I didn’t push them to do anything.  Instead, I celebrated and enjoyed each little milestone that was reached.  At 2-weeks-old I wasn’t forcing my little one to hold her head up high and at 2-months-old I wasn’t buying devices to help her to sit up – why do I find myself looking to do this now?

Whether we like it or not it’s human nature to compare and feel pressure from outside influences.  Take potty training, for instance.  Many of us feel so much pressure to potty train – and quick, but do you know any tweens still in diapers?  My older daughter wasn’t fully potty-trained till she was almost four.  This made my mother and mother-in-law crazy.  They became obsessed with the fact that other 2-year-olds were potty-trained and mine wasn’t.  They would even try to accomplish the feat while they were babysitting.  For what?

Recently, I was talking to a friend who chose to start her son in kindergarten at 6 instead of 5 (which so many parents do), so he could have another year to mature and develop.  She was telling me about the ridiculous comments she got from others accusing her of trying to give her son an advantage in sports.  Are you kidding me?

I understand that we live in a competitive world, but these are our babies!  Whether you choose to breastfeed yours till he’s 12, start them on “your baby can read” at age 2, or keep her in diapers till 5, do you what you want to do when you think it’s right for your child.  Today’s post serves as a little reminder to myself to slow down and let my kids be kids at their own pace, because the incredible freedom that IS childhood does not last long.

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. – Meryl Streep

Today my older daughter brought over an old mermaid costume that had been sitting, untouched, in her “dress-up” drawer for months.  It was torn to pieces, and she asked me to fix it, so she could wear it again.  I looked at her in silence for several reasons:

1. She could not have chosen a worse time to ask me to find the sewing machine, recall how to use it, and repair her costume.

2. I know the basics of using a sewing machine, but I’ve never attempted to repair a polyester costume that is virtually torn to shreds.

A mother-daughter moment captured by the talented photographer, Caroline Tran

For some reason, this very short exchange led me to think about all the things my grandmother and mother are able to do, and I am not.  What happened along the way?  Can you imagine if we were able to retain all the skills our parents had and couple that with our current education level and tech savvy – we’d be super-parents.  I’m picturing myself cooking up some old family recipe after sewing matching outfits for my girls, and facebooking and tweeting photos along the way.

Since Mother’s Day is fast-approaching, I keep thinking of all the things I wish I could do like my mom.  Yes, there are many things I try my best to do differently, but there are those general skills,  recipes, and nuggets of know-how, that I hope to someday learn/acquire and be able to pass on to my own daughters.  For now, as I try and develop this elusive skill-set, thank goodness for Google, DIY blogs, and YouTube!  I just had to quote Meryl Streep, because every day is really about the essentials.