by Jennifer Byrne
‘Tis the season – to tell massive lies to your kids!
Yes, even in the most open-minded, truth-embracing households, it’s common practice for parents to annually impersonate an obese saint who has no tolerance for shouting, crying, or pouting. What about lying, Santa? Hmm, it seems Santa is conspicuously silent on that issue, even though “cry” and “lie” are probably the two most commonly rhymed words in songwriting history.
But if you’re a parent, you know exactly what your job is at Christmas: to buy and lie (this, by the way, happens to be the title of my new Christmas song). Your task is to pass down the same absurd whoppers your parents told you, the ones that caused you such disillusionment and psychic pain when you got down to their rotten core (Hey, at least Mommy’s “adulterous” makeout session with Santa Claus stopped weighing on your tortured little conscience after that!).
Ah, childhood! It’s so magical!
Of course, you technically don’t have to lie, but what are your options, really? You could be one of those rare, super-PC parents who decide to empower your children with the truth, also known as “the least popular parent on the block.” You don’t want to be a sopping wet Snugli, do you? Here are some tips for more effective deception:
1. Develop Your “Character.” One of the first flaws your kids are likely to find in the whole Santa Claus farce will be that shoddy impersonation seen at the local department store, Moose lodge, or holiday parade. Often, these are out-of-work actors, college kids working for minimum wage, or that crazy old man in town whose jolliness may or may not come directly from a flask of Jack Daniel’s.
Your child might ask, “Why did Santa’s beard fall off while I was talking to him?” or “Why does Santa have D-cup breasts?” or “Why does Santa’s breath smell like Nick Nolte after a rough night?”
At first you might want to panic, but don’t. This one’s easy; just rely on the time-tested “helper explanation.” Tell your children that this isn’t the real Santa, but a local helper who dresses up as his likeness. Sort of like Elvis impersonators, they represent the actual Santa, because he can’t be everywhere at once. Also like Elvis impersonators, they have unconvincing hair and ridiculously oversized belt buckles.
Another important trick is to individualize your family’s version of the myth.
Unfortunately, most co-conspirators of the Santa scam are decidedly small-time, “Mom& Pop” operations, and seem to have a lot of trouble keeping their stories straight between households. Your kids are going to come home from school saying, “At Braden’s house, the Reindeer leave a note” or “At Sophia’s house, Santa wraps the presents” or “Jayden gets a $100 bill in his stocking.” Explain to your kids that since he is so amazing and omniscient, Santa treats each child individually. Tell them, for example, that at your house, Santa writes the note personally, since he knows your kid is way too smart to be corresponding with some dumb reindeer. Or you can say that Santa knows how environmentally conscious your family is, and would never waste paper on your behalf. Or say that Santa only gives cash to kids he doesn’t love enough to shop for. Yeah, maybe skip that last one.
2. Use a Time Travel Theory. OK, so you’ve convinced your kids that the barely credible mall “helpers” make public appearances because Santa can’t be everywhere at once. But then you’re going to turn around and tell them that on Christmas Eve, Santa makes it around the entire globe in 12 hours. I’m sure you see the problem here. Oops, there goes your credibility, right down the chimney!
Sooner or later, your kids are going to have serious doubts about the whole time setup. At this point, you can either give up, or raise the level of your game. Try introducing a theory of time travel, which claims that for one night only, Santa is able to transcend the space/time continuum and occupy infinite parallel universes. Whereas before, you had to just shrug and say, “It’s magic,” now you can shrug and say, “It’s a traversable wormhole.”
3. Keep the Magic, Lose the Hypocrisy. Anyone who has ever lied knows that the best way to do it convincingly is to believe in your lie. And the best way to believe in the Santa lie is to not be a steaming pile of hypocrisy about it. This means not using Santa Claus as a means of enforcing moral behavior in your kids. Yes, yes, that notorious Santa-as-Big-Brother song encourages it, but that ditty was written in 1934, when it was also cool to get your kids to mix you an Old Fashioned while rolling you a cigar. You, as a modern Santa, might feel a little bit uneasy about using a colossal lie to keep your kids from doing wrong. So don’t! That’s what “Wait ‘til Daddy gets home” is for.
Instead, focus on the positive aspect of this lie, which is to keep the magic alive for your kids.
The truth is, we live in a world where “magic” is a retired basketball player and “wonder” is a processed white bread that’s horrible for you. If your kids are lucky enough to believe in Santa for a while, let them. Sure, it’s all a big act, but it’s an act that will make their little faces light up with anticipation and joy. And really, it’s not exactly the only holiday that is jam-packed with B.S. and crushing disappointment. Just wait until they experience Valentine’s Day!
Jennifer Byrne is the author of “Fake It: More than 100 Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts Every Woman Needs to Know” (Adams Media) and “The Intrepid Parent’s Field Guide to the Baby Kingdom” (Adams Media). Visit her online athttp://jenniferbyrnevirtually.com/.
Event connecting parents with experts is the only one like it in Wisconsin
The 10th annual Foro Latino event, the only one of its kind in the state, will offer Spanish-speaking parents/guardians of students with disabilities the chance to attend workshops and connect with experts in the field.
Foro Latino is set for Friday, November 9, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
at Milwaukee Public Schools’ South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham
The event is sponsored by MPS, Alianza Latino Aplicando Soluciones,
Disability Rights Wisconsin, Southeast Regional Center/Children and Youth
With Special Health Care Needs, the Wisconsin Association for Bilingual
Education (WIABE) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
“We’re proud to be a partner in the effort to connect our Spanish-speaking
parents to critical information, experts and services,” MPS Superintendent
Gregory Thornton said. Dr. Thornton is set to welcome guests at the event.
– Academic and Behavioral Supports Available to Children through MPS’ PBIS
(Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports)
– Attention Deficit Disorder With and Without Hyperactivity
– Creating a Vision Towards a Successful Transition
– The Impact of Technology and How it Affects Brain Development
– Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for Students with Autism
– Introduction to Special Education
– Introduction to Bilingual/Speech/Language Services in MPS
– Milwaukee County Information Panel: Birth to 3 Program, CLTS Waivers,
Family Support Program, Transition/Adult Services
– Play, Creativity and Learning
Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving
nearly 80,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city. U.S. News
and World Report named MPS’ Rufus King International School and Ronald
Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School the two best high schools in
the state and among the 200 best in the country in 2012. In the past year,
Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 17 points higher
than the rate for 2000.
‘Believe in Bay View’ meetings begin Tuesday, Nov. 13 and run through Nov. 26
A series of meetings to discuss transforming Bay View Middle and High School is set to begin Tuesday, November 13.
The ‘Believe in Bay View’ meetings offer an opportunity for parents and neighbors to share opinions, listen to others’ ideas and assist Milwaukee Public Schools as it develops a long-term plan for the school. Those who cannot attend meetings are invited to share thoughts via email: [email protected].
“We invite our community to share ideas to grow student achievement and improve the school climate at Bay View Middle and High School,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “Parents are our most important partners and neighborhood support is critical as we look to enhance outcomes at the school.” The meeting schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, November 13th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Burdick Elementary School, 4348 S. Griffin Avenue, Milwaukee 53207
Tuesday, November 13th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: MPS Central Services Room 206-208, 5225 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee 53208
Wednesday, November 14th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Dover/Tippecanoe Schools, 2969 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee 53207
Wednesday, November 14th, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Riley School, 2424 S. 4th Street, Milwaukee 53207
Thursday, November 15th, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. Fernwood Montessori School, 3239 S. Pennsylvania Avenue, Milwaukee 53207
Thursday, November 15th, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Gwen T. Jackson School, 2121 W. Hadley Street, Milwaukee 53206
Monday, November 26th, 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. AND 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Bay View Middle and High School, 2751 S. Lenox Street, Milwaukee 53207
Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving nearly 80,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city. U.S. News and World Report named MPS’ Rufus King International School and Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School the two best high schools in the state and among the 200 best in the country in 2012. In the past year, Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 17 points higher than the rate for 2000.
Brown Street Academy Boys & Girls Club members may not have been old enough to vote but they were old enough to know that it’s important to exercise one’s right to vote. That’s why they hosted a Voters’ Day Fair to educate both parents and students about election process and encourage their parents to vote.
The Voters’ Day Fair was held last Friday at Brown Street Academy, 2029 N. 20th Street. The event was made possible through Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee’s Young Leaders Community Action Fund.
At the Voters’ Day Fair, parents had an opportunity to get information on where to vote and how to register for voting. There was also a carnival with family-friendly games like “Pin the Flag on the White House,” election fun facts and performances.
Thanks to a gift from the Joseph and Vera Zilber Family Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Young Leaders United Community Action Fund allows children and teens who live in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood to identify and financially support ideas to put forth by their peers that will enhance the life for all of its residents, schools and businesses.
Members of Brown Street Academy Boys & Girls Club came up with the concept, prepared a proposal for it and presented it to a panel from Young Leaders United Advisory Council.
Brown Street Academy and Augusta M. LaVarnway Boys & Girls Clubs, and Neu-Life Community Resource Center received grants of $850 and $300, respectively, from the fund for their projects.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2012. For all the latest Club news, visit www.boysgirlsclubs.org, www.facebook.com/bgcmilwaukee or Twitter@bgcmilwaukee.
MPSʼ existing Craig Montessori School in northwest Milwaukee has a waiting list
Prospective city and suburban parents are invited to two community meetings to discuss the possibility of a new MPS Montessori school serving northwest Milwaukee and suburban neighborhoods.
Milwaukee Public Schools’ existing Montessori school in northwest Milwaukee, Craig Montessori at 7667 W. Congress Street, has a waiting list.
Nearly every student in MPS’ longest-standing Montessori programs outperforms the district average and many outperform the state average.
Two of MPS’ Montessori schools were recently rated as “exceeds expectations” by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
If the proposal moves forward, the new school would serve 120 3- and 4-year-olds next school year (2013-14). Wrap-around child care would be available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Meetings are set for Monday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 14, both at 6:30 p.m. at MPS’ Lowell P. Goodrich School, 8251 N. Celina Street, Milwaukee 53224. (The new school would be located at another site which has not yet been identified.)
If approved, the new school would be the ninth Montessori program in MPS, which offers Montessori education from grades K3 through 12. Existing MPS Montessori schools are: Lloyd Barbee (north side), Craig, Fernwood (southeast side/Bay View area), Kosciuszko (south side), Highland (MPS-authorized charter/near west side), Howard Avenue (far southeast side), Maryland Avenue (east side) and MacDowell (west side/K-12).
Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving nearly 80,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city.
U.S. News and World Report named MPS’ Rufus King International School and Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School the two best high schools in the state and among the 200 best in the country in 2012.
In the past year, Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 17 points higher than the rate for 2000.
Apps help parents track sex offenders for safe Trick-or-Treating
(NBC – La Crosse)
Cody Packer is spending the day playing with his friend, Jasmine, at the Eau Claire library. But in less than two weeks, he is looking forward to trick-or-treating with his parents.
His mom, Cassandra Packer, says their family follows all the basic rules on Halloween night.
“We wear a bright costume and all stick together,” she said.
While Packer keeps her kids close, many older kids will go out by themselves. We showed Packer one of many apps parents will find helpful that tell you where sex offenders live.
It was Packer’s first time seeing the app and hearing about some of the laws sex offenders are required to follow on Halloween night. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections says there are a few things sex offenders on parole cannot do on Halloween.
“Their porch lights cannot be on during trick-or-treating, they can’t display Halloween decorations, and cannot have big bowls of candy out for Trick-or-Treaters,” said Grace Roberts with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
She added they cannot also be outside of the house one hour before or after a city’s trick-or-treat hours.
Even so, parents may find comfort in knowing where sex offenders live.
“I really don’t want my children around people like that, I want my children safe,” Packer said.
We put the Life 360 app to the test, taking it to a couple Eau Claire neighborhoods.
At Birch and Putnam in Eau Claire, we found 9 registered sex offenders living within a 3 block radius.
by Nicole Angresano, Vice President, Community Impact,
United Way of Greater Milwaukee
My son is 5 years old. Well, 5 ¾, actually—he’s at an age where every extra month counts. He is the cherry on top of my family’s ice cream sundae—and there isn’t a thing we wouldn’t do for him. Some choices are obvious: we feed him healthy meals, and make sure he visits the doctor and dentist. We buy him clothes and shoes that fit—and try not to let him watch too much TV. But there are other parental duties that might not be as obvious—or as easy. Let’s take, for example, taking about sex. As parents, we need to be our child’s first and best health educator. It’s true! Kids who feel they can talk with their parents about sex are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than kids who do not feel they can talk with their parents.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy recently released survey data in a report called “With One Voice” (2012.) Once again, youth said that it is parents who most influence their decisions about sex—more than friends or peers, TV or popular culture, or coaches and teachers. And, once again, teens reported that they would welcome more conversations with their parents about sex and avoiding teen pregnancy.So whatever your child’s age, it’s very important that you talk with them about sex—and not just once, but many times, over many years.
Easier said then done, right? For most of us, talking about sex isn’t easy under any circumstances—let alone when the conversation is with our children. Luckily, October is Let’s Talk Month, a national observation of the importance of parent-child communication about sex, and there are tons of great resources out there for parents just like you and me. Here are a few of my favorites:
Baby Can Wait’s Parent Portal—on this site you can find United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s Let’s Talk Month Toolkit, available in both English and Spanish, for talking with your kids about sex: babycanwait.com
Advocates for Youth’s Parent Sex Ed Center: advocatesforyouth.org
It’s That Easy: itsthateasy.org
It’s OK not to know all the answers. What you know is a lot less important than how you respond. If you can show them that no subject, including sex, is off limits to discuss within your family, that is a great place to start!
(Family Features) As schools introduce lunch menus in line with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new school lunch regulations, chocolate milk has already undergone a makeover that schools, parents and kids can all feel good about.
Dr. Keith Ayoob, RD, a nationally-recognized child nutrition expert, highlights the biggest changes under the new regulations:
Nutrient-rich milk is emphasized. Along with lowfat and fat free white milk, now all the chocolate milk served for school lunch will be fat free.
More colorful fruits and vegetables. Both fruits and vegetables must be served every day of the week, and there is now a weekly requirement for specific colors of vegetables. Previously schools only had to offer either fruit or vegetables.
Whole grains will be required. While encouraged in the past, schools now must offer whole-grain rich foods. Schools are really looking at how to ensure foods are nutritious, but also appealing to kids. It’s a challenge, but one that schools across the nation are focused on.
Schools are paying attention to portions. Calorie limits will be enforced based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size. New menus will be increasingly focused on reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
While the requirements for school lunch menu has only recently changed, school chocolate milk has been undergoing changes for the past five years. The nation’s milk processors have been hard at work to lower the calories and sugar in school flavored milk, while continuing to deliver a nutritious and delicious drink kids love. School flavored milk now has 40 percent less added sugar than just five years ago and on average, just 132 calories per serving, according to a new nationwide survey of milk at schools during the 2011-2012 school year.
Flavored milk is the most popular choice in school lunch rooms, and kids drink less milk and get fewer nutrients when it’s taken away. Whether flavored or white, milk has 9 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are all “nutrients of concern” that most kids fail to get enough of. Many kids are falling short of the recommended milk each day, and when they skip milk at lunch, they’re not likely to make up for it the rest of their day.
Dr. Ayoob has some tips to help parents and kids make the most of school lunches:
- It’s equally important that school meals are appealing, as they are nutritious. Along with good nutrition, food choices need to be practical, so they don’t end up in the trash. Many children are overfed but undernourished, so focusing on our kids’ nutrient intake is essential now more than ever. Studies show flavored milk contributes just 3 percent of added sugars to kids’ diets, compared to sodas and fruit drinks, which account for close to half of the added sugar and deliver much less, if any, nutritional value.
- Help kids learn healthy choices. Research has found that if you offer kids carrots and celery, they’ll eat more carrots than if you just provide carrots alone. Offering nutritious choices in schools helps kids learn food and nutrition lessons and research suggests the ability to choose between two or more options helps boost kids’ overall intake of nutritious foods.
Learn more at www.milkatschools.com.
A new generation of drugs is making it more difficult than ever for parents to identify potential warning signs of drug abuse in children.
Now, drugs are being manufactured and targeted toward kids by using bright colors and household names to disguise their harmful effects.
“Bath salts,” “glass cleaner” and “skittle parties” are the most common among these new-age drugs, and they are invading the lives of children as young as 9 years old.
“They call it glass cleaner and actually manufacture it in a way to suggest it’s not for human consumption,” anesthesiologist Dr. Vael Vernado said. “So if it’s called bath salts or glass cleaner, then they get around all the legal issues of it.”
Glass cleaner is a white powdery substance, which acts similarly to cocaine or amphetamines. Bath salts are crystalline-like substances, which contain a mixture of mephedron, methylone and MDPV, all designated Schedule 1 controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
When reports of these drugs surfaced in 2009, kids were getting them from convenience stores, online and through friends. The DEA caught wind of it and acted quickly to enact temporary bills to stop the production of some of these drugs; however, it wasn’t until July of this year that President Obama signed a bill banning bath salts in the U.S.
Vernado said children between the ages of 9 and 12 are going into their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets to “steal and hoard prescription drugs.” The kids then exchange pills at a party and often take them with alcohol. These so-called “skittle parties” can have long-lasting consequences because the kids “don’t know what they’re taking.”
The problem with many of these drugs, Vernado explained, is that “we don’t even know what’s in them, so we can’t even tell you what the long-term effects are.”–Article courtesy of Fox News
Parents of children seeking a preschool for the coming school year will have the opportunity to register those children plus have them get free health and dental screenings.
The Head Start program coordinated by the Social Development Commission (SDC) will hold a pair of Registration and Health Fairs for the public. The first will be held Tuesday, August 21st from 8:30 am to 3 pm at Northcott Neighborhood Head Start located at 2460 N. 6th Street. The second will be Thursday, August 23rd at the same time at the SDC Head Start site at 6682 W. Greenfield.
The fairs will provide a chance for parents to learn about the free preschool program and to register for the next school year. Parents are encouraged to bring birth certificates for their children plus documentation of family income. In addition to registering for Head Start, attending children can also get a physical and dental exam, height and weight measurements, and screenings for vision, blood pressure, and blood lead.
The SDC Head Start program is free for income eligible Milwaukee County children between ages of three and five. For more information on the nationally recognized program, call 414-906-2777 or visit the SDC website at www.cr-sdc.org, click on the “Programs” page and then on the link for “Head Start”.