A Moment of Jen
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
posted by Jen at 1/26/2005 05:07:00 PM

Lucy's First Rule of the drop-in play group:

All of the toys in this entire room are mine, until I lose interest.

Addendum to Rule One

If another child shows any interest in a toy I have abandoned, it's mine again.

We had a little bit of drama over the busy box ("Bizzy Box! Bizzy Box! Oosie's turn! OOSIE'S TURN!") In our regularly scheduled playgroup, the teacher told us that toddlers her age don't understand the concept of sharing, but they do understand taking turns.

As a result, Lucy has gotten quite adept at shouting "Oosie's turn!" Which means, in Lu-speak, "I want that now give it to me give it to me NOW NOW MINE MINE MINE!"

Meanwhile, I'm completely addicted to Supernanny. Have you seen it yet? The first half of the show is devoted to kids running wild -- kicking, screaming, thrashing, hitting, biting, throwing and screaming some more while the hapless, drained-looking parents gnash their teeth and cry on Supernanny's shoulder.

Then Supernanny lays down the law, writes up a schedule, and sets up -- this is my favorite -- the Naughty Stool. (Actually, it was the Naughty Stool for the first week; the Naughty Mat last Monday, and I believe that next week we're actually going to have a Naughty Room).

In her deliciously clipped British accent, she kneels down in front of her young charge and says, "That behavior was unacceptable! You are going on the Naughty Stool!"

And at the end of the hour, after the clueless parents manage to botch up Jo's plans and she returns (with video footage, in her specially imported British taxi!) to get them back on track, everybody's beaming and behaving themselves.

It's wonderful to behold, but I suspect-slash-fear that the real reason I, and other mothers I know, like it so much is because of the pre-Supernanny portion of the program, where you can sit back in the comfort of your own living room, smugly marveling at how out of control other people's children are, and say, My kid would never -- while knowing full well that your kid probably will, or already has.

(You also get the vicarious thrill of finding out what other parents are naming their children. This week was Brycie and Rylan. Next week, meet Chandler, Caden and Declan!)

Meanwhile, is anyone else getting sick of the reviewers who seem astonished to learn that even though Curtis Sittenfeld is female and from the midwest and went to a New England prep school, her book about a midwestern female at a New England prep school is...made up?

If I have to read another golly-gee-whiz profile expressing shock and awe that things young women write in novels did not necessarily actually happen to them, I'm going to chuck my copy of Everything is Illuminated at some smartypants editor's head.

"Is it so easy to believe that I have no imagination and I can't invent dialogue or those scenarios?" Sittenfeld asks The New York Times.

Sadly, that's been my experienced (although none of my books have gotten the kind of attention that Prep has).

If you're a young male writer drawing from the well of your real-life experiences, the critics praise your imagination and inventiveness.

If you're a woman doing the same thing, all they do is wonder whether you really gave your high-school crush a blow job, or if you really had a boyfriend who wrote for a magazine and said all of those terrible things about you.

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