TRANSCRIPT One Bad Mother Ep. 334: It’s Cute…Till It Isn’t. Plus, Parenting Research with Jen Lumanlan

Biz and Theresa ponder the age old concept: “It’s cute, till it isn’t.” Be it singing or asking questions or adorable bedtime routines, it’s all cute…till it isn’t.  Does it stop being cute with time? When we’re out of patience? When a friend stops by and we notice they don’t think it’s cute? Plus, Biz brought the fudge, Theresa makes some changes and we talk to Jen Lumanlan of the podcast Your Parenting Mojo.

Podcast: One Bad Mother

Episode number: 334

Guests: Jen Lumanlan

Transcript

biz ellis

This is Biz. I’m a part-time working mom with two full-blown kids.

theresa thorn

And I’m Theresa. I have a family business, two young kids, and a toddler.

biz

This is a show about life after giving life. Don’t listen with your kids, ‘cause there will be swears. This… is One Bad Mother.

music

“Summoning the Rawk” by Kevin MacLeod. Driving electric guitar and heavy drums. [Continues through dialogue.]

biz

This week on One Bad Mother, it’s cute…’til it isn’t. Plus, Biz brought the fudge, Theresa makes some changes, and we talk to Jen Lumanlan of the podcast Your Parenting Mojo.

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: [Cheering] Wooooo! [Laugh.]

biz

[Singing to tune of “Partridge in a Pear Tree”] Woo woo, woo woo woo, woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woooo— [Theresa coughs.] [Laughs.] On the—on the eighth day of Christmas my true love brought to me—a cold.

theresa

Yeah. [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm and mirror each other as they discuss their respective weeks.]

biz

Hi, there— [Breaks off, laughing, as Theresa interrupts her. Continues to laugh enthusiastically.]

theresa

The “woo” definitely brought back that tickle in my throat. I’m still sick, guys.

biz

Coochie-coochie-coo!

theresa

But not really, but it’s just—there—it’s like silve—like, there.

crosstalk

Theresa: I dunno. Biz: When—

biz

When you’re broken, it—the—the wellness doesn’t come as easy.

theresa

No.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

Like, this—this might be as—

crosstalk

Biz: Good as it— Theresa: —as well—

theresa

—as I’m going to get.

biz

Forever!

theresa

Yeah. Forever.

biz

How are you? [Both laugh enthusiastically.]

theresa

I’m hanging in there. It just doesn’t—it doesn’t seem to, like, fully get better. Like, I— [Biz laughs.] I’ve lost track of like how many days in a row I’ve been taking, like, Sudafed and Ibuprofen? Just like, day after day? ‘Cause I—I—

biz

Can’t—

theresa

—Wake up in the morning, I still need it. But some—exciting things are happening in my house. [Deep breath.] Namely, I… stopped nursing! Curtis.

biz

Whoaaa!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

How are ya?

theresa

I’m fine.

biz

Yeah?

theresa

Um, I stopped, like, a couple days before last week’s show, but I didn’t wanna say— [Biz laughs.] —anything about it on that show ‘cause it was like, too new. And I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about it. It’s actually been good. It was… it was like one of those things where I was just like, it’s just really—like, it’s just really time. It was like only at bedtime, and sometimes on the weekends at naptime, and I was just like… I’m—like, I’m sad that this is over? But really, like, I’m sad because he’s so big now! He’s like almost three. And… I’m not really that sad to, like, stop nursing— [Biz laughs.] —anymore? Like, I’m—

crosstalk

Theresa: That part— Biz: It’s more symbolic.

theresa

It’s more just—yeah! It’s more just like I—and I can’t stop time. So with that in mind, I’m just going to stop nursing. And he’s been doing really well with it. Occasionally—like it’s not every night but he’s still— [breaks off, laughing.] He’s still saying, “I not a big kid!” [Biz laughs.] “I not a big kid! I want to nurse! I not a big kid!” Um— [Through laughter.] And so—

biz

God, I love that kid.

theresa

I know. He’s great. Um, and so—but we’re doing fine. Lots of hugs and snuggles, and… I also in the last few days have started enforcing the, like, morning light thing. With him and Oscar. Because as you guys know, Oscar has been in my bed every night for years.

biz

Years!

theresa

He comes in in the middle of the night, to the point where he felt it was part of his routine that it was like expected of him. To like—well, tonight when I get up in the night and I come get in bed with you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Like, it was just something he always did. Um, and I kind of saw a window where he was so tired from kindergarten that he just wasn’t doing it every night. And… I… just started walking him back to bed. And then now he’s just been sleep—he’s just been sleeping longer. He just has been. And so I did the light thing, we got the—

biz

I call it the “bunny clock,” even if it’s—

crosstalk

Theresa: It’s—It’s not a bunny clock— Biz: —not a bunny, but—

theresa

—but it’s the bunny clock, and some of the mornings have been rough but I’m like, you guys can—you can be in here ‘til six. Like, six is—

crosstalk

Theresa: —really early! Biz: Is reasonable! Yeah.

theresa

Like, that’s so early! I don’t want to be up with you before six. So like, we made it six. And so for the last few days we’ve been doing that and like some days have been okay and some days have been great and some days have been really frustrating, and it’s not resulting in like more sleep for me yet?

biz

Yet!

theresa

But I believe that it will, and I’ve totally let go of like “well if one of them wakes up and they’re hollering for me, they’re gonna wake the other one up,” ‘cause I’m like, well, if they wake the other one up, then they can just both stay in there.

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah! Good job! Theresa: Like, I’ve just totally—

theresa

I’ve reached that point, I think, where like… like, Curtis doesn’t feel like I need to protect his sleep as much as I did. So it’s… good! It’s a lot of… like—

crosstalk

Biz: Change! Yeah! And pro—I—that’s— Theresa: —progress things. Yeah. And change. Yeah.

biz

Good job!

theresa

Thank you.

biz

‘Cause both of those impact you but, like, in both ways. Both sides of it. Good impacts, bad impacts. Yeah. The sleep thing is such a fucking journey. Like, I let—Katy—y’know, Ellis wakes up at the crack-ass of dawn still. He uses the bunny clock. For anybody who doesn’t know what a bunny clock is yet [dramatic tone] you will. But basically it’s like a clock that, y’know, shows somebody asleep or is a different color when you’re supposed to be asleep, and then will change colors when you are allowed to leave your room. And, y’know, he and Katy Belle—I hear them. And it used to be he would just stand and scream at her? [Laughs.] ‘Til—until she couldn’t take it anymore? But now like they actually get up and play or she’ll be like, “You can come out and sit and, like, draw while I’m in bed.” And I’m like, you have become the mother now! Uh—good! Yeah! I—good job!

theresa

Thank you.

biz

Good job.

theresa

Thanks. How… are you?

biz

I’m good. I’m very much in the jolly spirit. [Theresa laughs.] I think— [laughs.] I think—a couple of years of therapy and medication under my belt, as well as integrating some past traumas—I’m actually having a pretty damn good time.

theresa

That’s great!

biz

Yeah! The break hasn’t started. I’m aware of what the future holds. But! At the moment! I’m enjoying myself.

theresa

Good!

biz

Uh, we’ve been doing lots of fun things, like the little advent calendar I made a million years ago. And everybody doesn’t scream when it’s not something they want in the advent calendar, like… y’know, “Kindness.” [Laughs.] [Screaming] “Noooo!” [Theresa laughs.] Um, but I made the fudge. I’ve been making the fudge for a while, and this—I make it really for Theresa now.

theresa

It’s my favorite thing on planet earth.

biz

It is the densest, most, like, I need a whole gallon of milk after a bite of it, fudge.

theresa

Not me!

biz

No, not Theresa! [Theresa laughs.] Like, la—like last year or two years ago you like texted me and you were like, “no one gets this fudge. I am eating all the fudge.”

theresa

I ate all of it. Yeah. [Biz laughs.] Yeah!

biz

It makes me so happy! Uh, y’know, I wrapped some fudge up and sent it to school for some different people to, y’know, have the fudge. And… y’know, I made the snack mix. The original Chex snack mix, which I always put a little extra butter. A little extra Worcestershire sauce in it. Also very yummy. Things are very festive and very cute! [Theresa laughs.] Which I think ties in nicely to what we’re gonna talk about today, which is—It’s cute! ‘Til it isn’t.

theresa

Music: Cheerful banjo music plays in background and continues through dialogue. Please—take a moment to remember: If you’re friends of the hosts of One Bad Mother, you should assume that when we talk about other moms, we’re talking about you.

biz

If you are married to the host of One Bad Mother, we definitely are talking about you.

theresa

Nothing we say constitutes professional parenting advice.

biz

Biz and Theresa’s children are brilliant, lovely, and exceedingly extraordinary.

theresa

Nothing said on this podcast about them implies otherwise. [Banjo music fades out.]

biz

Theresa.

theresa

Yes.

biz

I understand cute.

theresa

Mm-hm. [Theresa and Biz regularly affirm and mirror each other as they discuss the weekly topic.]

biz

Up to a certain age point, and then I wonder—do you age out of cute? I don’t know! It’s like, one day it’s not cute? To like, coochie-coo and wave at a fireman? I—I don’t—know. I’m gonna say… no. Because I’m looking at myself. [Laughs.]

theresa

Okay. Yeah.

biz

But when I look at my children, sometimes others’ children, they’re cute—and then it isn’t cute anymore. Right? And I—I thought that could be fun to talk about today. ‘Cause I feel like “it’s cute ‘til it isn’t” is all about where the line is.

theresa

Right.

biz

And I can say successfully that as a parent, I have failed at identifying that line until it is too late. And it is also a difficult line to, like, point out. Because it—it’s kind of, like, squashing your children. So with that said, you’ve got three in your experiment. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] It’s cute ‘til it isn’t! Talk—talk to me about it’s cute ‘til it isn’t at your house. For example—[stifling laughter] all I can think about at your house is—it’s so cute that they like to play together! Until the hose comes through the mail slot and is filling your house up with water. Like—it’s cute!

crosstalk

Biz: Until it isn’t. Theresa: Well, yeah! I mean—

theresa

So the—the main way this comes up regularly is with them playing together— [Biz laughs.] Where they’re—like, it’s—I am still at the stage where, like, my kids are young and when they play together it delights me to no end. Like, it just is like—it’s like the one time that I feel like, ah! I’ve done the right thing! [Biz laughs.] I have given my children siblings and they love each other and they’re playing! Like, this is perfect! But a lot of times what they’re doing is, like… y’know, uh—

biz

Plotting?

theresa

Uh— [Biz laughs.] Not—well, sometimes they do. Not as much anymore. Um, or at least at the moment. But like, they’re saying or singing something loud together. And they’re cracking up. And it’s hilarious. And that’s so cute!

biz

It is!

theresa

And then it escalates to the point where either people are just kind of getting physically out of control or it’s just really loud and hurting my ears? Or it’s words that I don’t enjoy hearing! In my house. And it’s a quick switch to—where I’m walking through the house just proudly grinning at myself—

biz

Yeah! Isn’t that cute!

theresa

And then all of a sudden it’s like, alright you guys! Just stop it! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

biz

Yes! That’s it. That’s the thing to put our finger on right there. Because that’s—it’s almost like, y’know, porn where it’s like—you—you’ll know it when you see it. It’s hard to define, but when you see it you’re like, yep! That’s it. And that’s—that—that’s why that line is so hard to recognize? And— [deep breath.] I think my kids are fucking adorable. I think they’re super cute. I think things that they do are cute and funny. Y’know. Like, Ellis has really started enjoying drawing, and that’s great. The other day Katy Belle drew, like, an eye on his forehead—again, it was one of those “They’re playing together! I don’t give two shits. Yayyy! They’re cute.” And that was kinda cute. Right? And he wanted to have it on the next day and I was like, eh, that’s fine. And then we came home from a date night—some of you guys may have seen this on Instagram—and Ellis had not wanted to go to sleep and had decided to give himself a full-body tattoo, uh, all over the face, hands, arms, stomach, legs, feet. It’s…

theresa

Wow.

biz

Not cute! Though actually it was cute?

crosstalk

Theresa: Sounds like it was cute. Biz: And I thought it was—

biz

That was cute? There were elements of it that weren’t cute, like if it continues it will pass the threshold of—

crosstalk

Biz: —not cute. Theresa: Yeah. If he does it again—

theresa

You’re done. Yeah.

biz

It’s not cute! And I think kids don’t quite understand those limits either—I can remember, like, being in Katy Belle’s third grade class? And it was like, just about that age where you could start kind of joking with kids and they understood? But then when the joke needed to stop, they couldn’t understand the—

theresa

They’re like, well this was funny before, you liked it when I did this before.

biz

So I’m gonna keep doing it. And I don’t get that? And I think this falls into it. But it’s interesting, the thing that makes me the most nuts also is singing.

theresa

Mm.

biz

I… y’know, think it is cute when my children sing. And they like to make up songs. Katy Belle really likes to make up songs.

theresa

Okay.

biz

She makes up a lot of songs. And… she likes to sing them. All the time. All the time. And it’s cute… like, at first, I was like—I’m not gonna tell my kid to not sing and be creative. Right? I ju—like, it’s just, like, hard for those words to come out of my mouth. And when it started, it was like—that’s cute! That’s cute! Right? Sometimes it’s not bad! She’ll go outside and do the, like, “The hills are alive with the sound of music” volume? But it’s not that song. It’s some song she’s made up about, like… y’know, [singing] “I’m all alooooone! And I’m in my hidden libraryyyy!” and like, “Oooohhh!” right? Like…

theresa

Can—sorry, point of clarification. Is she doing this with you as her audience, or is she really in her—

crosstalk

Theresa: —own zone and you just happen to be a witness? Biz: She’s really in her—yeah.

biz

She’s really in her own zone—

crosstalk

Biz: —when she’s outside. Theresa: This is not about you.

theresa

She’s not expecting to be, like—

crosstalk

Theresa: —noticed or— Biz: Not all the time, no.

theresa

Okay.

biz

So in her room, in the shower, outside. The outside in particularly I’m like, “You’re welcome, neighbors.” But then—“Did you hear? The song?” “Yes.” “I—well, I’m gonna sing it again for you.”

theresa

Oh.

biz

And then she’ll sing it. Verses and songs don’t have an end, usually, like, what should be like a minute-long song becomes, like, it’s just—and you start going, [clapping] “Yay! Oh! There’s—okay! There’s more.” And it— [breaks off, laughing.] [Theresa laughs.] And—it’s all the time.

theresa

Uh-huh.

biz

And I… it—it’s not cute.

theresa

Uh-huh

biz

Uh, anymore.

theresa

Yeah! I mean—so—can I—can I just—I—I think if I were you, the thing that would make it stop being cute to me is the feeling that I needed to be, like, listening and reacting in a positive way. Because like—if you just—if your kid’s just busy doing that, it’s pretty easy to tune it out! But if she’s expecting some acknowledgment or recognition, that gets old—

crosstalk

Theresa: —really fast. [Laughs.] Biz: It’s half and half!

biz

So there’s that, but then she’ll come in and she’ll just like—circle the kitchen island while I’m cooking. [Singing] Singingggg. Singing singinggg! [Regular voice.] Right? She doesn’t necessarily need me to say “That’s wonderful”? But she is singing to me. She needs some sort of, like—

crosstalk

Biz: “Uh-huh.” Theresa: She’s—

theresa

She’s reaching out.

biz

She’s reaching out. Like a shark circling prey.

theresa

Yes.

biz

Sometimes she’ll just be at another, like—in the den doing it, which is— [Theresa laughs.] I say “den,” but it’s like, in our kitchen. And like, y’know, singing, and… like, she wants you to hear it?

theresa

Right! Yeah.

biz

But… like, yesterday, it transitioned into singing, like, things that she just needed to say out loud. Y’know. [Singing] “Will you help me brush my teeth and do the tha la la”—again, cute ‘til it isn’t. And I think a lot of the—what you just said I thought was really interesting, about the like—if it doesn’t require my attention, it’s cute.

theresa

Yeah!

biz

But when it requires my attention? It’s no longer… cute.

theresa

Then it’s like, she’s asking something more of you.

biz

And there’s some—and, y’know, and you start—again, it’s the slippery line of saying, “That’s really nice!” Like, I’m gonna acknowledge you and recognize it. Lots of times I have to say things like—“Oh, Katy Belle. I love hearing you sing! I love your voice. Those lyrics are so good. Right now I’m focusing on— [Laughs.] This! And I’m gonna need you to do that—if you wanna keep singing, I just need you to do it in your room. Or stop.”

crosstalk

Biz: Just— Theresa: So good.

biz

Stop the singing. Uh, and—so Ellis, of course, picks it up. And he wants to sing too. And that’s cute! ‘Til it isn’t. And… I feel like the other thing about—y’know, you fill in the blank with whatever is cute ‘til it isn’t. The other sort of, like, dark side of that? Is the fact that it’s definitely… something that if somebody else sees it, they can’t understand why you don’t like it.

theresa

Right.

biz

Why you don’t think it’s cute anymore. Because it is cute! It’s like when people give your kids a gift that’s like a noisemaker? Like, “jing, jing, jing!” like, jingle bells.

theresa

Yeah, and they’re like, “Look, they love it!”

biz

“Look, it’s cute!”

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Like, 4 AM, it’s not—

crosstalk

Biz: —cute. Theresa: Okay.

theresa

This is interesting because I was thinking about how other people play into this. Like, while you were talking. Because Katy Belle singing in that—that interaction between the two of you? Kind of reminds me of… the way Oscar—not all the time, but he’ll sometimes just get a—on a roll of chattiness? Where he’s just talking at me nonstop for like, the longest time about stuff. And like— [Biz laughs.] —if—if like my brother was there, or like a friend, or like somebody who likes my kids, we would be, like, looking at each other and like giving each other a winky eye and kind of laughing and being like, “Isn’t he so cute?” and like, “Listen to what he’s talking about! This is amazing! Like, he—listen to him talk and like all the stuff he’s thinking about!” Whereas, like, most of the time, though, nobody else is there, and so I’m just feeling like… I can’t think a thought right now! Because there’s this person and they just keep talking to me and I can’t listen to him because I have my own thoughts in my head and I’m trying to do those thoughts and I can’t do those thoughts and he’s here and he won’t stop, but I have to acknowledge him. I don’t want him to feel—like, I’m going through this whole thing. And it’s—it could be that he is behaving the exact same way in those two scenarios, and my reaction is completely different.

biz

So it’s cute when others are around, and it’s not cute— [Laughs.] When you’re by—and I—but I think that’s—yes! I agree. Because there—when Stefan’s home and the kids are doing something, it is a lot easier to absorb the, like… anything that would make you crazy with it? Because yeah, you have somebody to be, like, “Yeah, this is normal, right? It’s okay. It’s cute.” But when you are alone, it can pass real quickly. Into, like, the other place. And—what also sucks is that, like, it’s definitely the sort of thing that is… our fault. Like, because we don’t—I mean— [Sighs.] You and I, at least, I don’t think have it in us, the moment our child does a thing, that is cute, creative, whatever. Brings them joy. Are gonna say, “Don’t ever do that again.” [Laughs.] ‘Cause that would definitely shut it down. For future instances. But I—we couldn’t. And I think it’s really fun to see our kids do a new thing or perfect a thing or just be finding joy in their world. And that brings me joy! I like to see it! Until… it isn’t! And there’s no way to define when that moment’s gonna come. There’s no way in the moment to, like… set anything up? You can’t be, like, “Oh! I love that you love drawing. Keep in mind, never draw on a wall, in a car, on your body—” Y’know? I mean, you don’t like—that—

theresa

And I’m gonna be really impressed the next 16 times, but after that I’m not gonna be impressed anymore. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! I’m not gonna—it’s not gonna wow me.

theresa

[Through laughter] That’s so unfair!

biz

I—right? It’s so [Through laughter] unfair!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Yeah.

theresa

And I wonder—I wonder how much, like, some of this I think is innate. Like, we just lose patience? But I think some of it is also as they’re—as our kids are getting older, we are also taking in, like, feedback from the world about what is, like… what is good or cute for our kids to be doing. And like— [Biz laughs.] No, it’s true!

crosstalk

Theresa: And so—like, I mean it’s— Biz: No, yeah.

theresa

—kind of like how, like, kids run around naked, y’know, until a certain age.

biz

Then it’s not cute anymore.

theresa

And then it’s not that cute anymore. Then it’s kind of, like, why is that kid not wearing clothes right now? In the house? Like— [Biz laughs.] Like, we just, like, had been kind of like a naked house for so long and then like we started having, y’know, Gracie’s educational therapist over once a week and like just different, like, different—and I just started realizing, like, I’m kind of ready for, like, people to be wearing pants at the table. And like— [Biz laughs.] —people to—y’know, like—like—just things like that. And it’s—and it’s sort of like—it’s interesting. It’s like a fine line. Like—like, I think even with, like, Oscar coming in and snuggling with me in bed, like, it was really only maybe a year ago that I was like, I love this! I don’t even ca—like, I don’t—I know it’s not, like, good habits, or whatever? [Biz laughs.] But—it is so—like, I just love being close to him! Y’know? And like—and then it was like, I don’t even know when it happened that I was like, this is not the way our relationship needs to be anymore. Like, this isn’t cute to me anymore. I love him—love snuggling with him and like everything—I just don’t want him in my bed anymore. Like, it was like—

crosstalk

Theresa: There’s like a— Biz: No, this is interesting.

theresa

There’s like a point where there’s a shift and like I think part of it is our natural sense of, like, our instinct of like what feels right? But then part of it is, like, feedback we get from the world. You know? Like—

biz

I—I can remember going to people’s houses and being—like, as a kid—and like thing that they did as a family or what were like family norms, that obviously they thought was cute and fun and whatever—and I’d be like, “Whoa! That’s weird.” You know? [Laughs.]

theresa

Totally!

biz

Right? And I’m—y’know, I—so—I—that is such a good point about, like, lots of times… behaviors are acceptable when you’ve got like a friend or a relative over? And you’re like, aw, that’s cute! But there’s that moment where a friend or relative comes over and sees something and they’re like… like, they just— [Theresa laughs.] —there’s a beat, and you’re like, Oh. Maybe I thought rethink this. Right? Like, yeah—the nudity. I think there’s lots of, like, family games that involve, like, tickling or picking up or snuggling or kissing that, like… make total sense at a certain age, and then there’s a line where you’re like… oh! We should reevaluate this. Let’s find a different way to show our affection. Yeah! That’s interesting.

theresa

It is interesting!

crosstalk

Theresa: And I— Biz: That is—yeah!

theresa

I also think it’s interesting, like, what things about our kids will just always be cute because we love them? Like, I think about Grace, when she’s asleep, and I, like, go check on her right before I go to bed? And I just stand there and I’m just like, I am gonna think she’s cute asleep when she’s 40. Like, I could stare at her asleep forever. It’s the cutest—and like—

crosstalk

Theresa: When she—it’s— Biz: And it’s cute when you say that—

biz

—right now at this age! Like, I—right? Like, it’s an outsider listening and I’m like—that’s cute!

theresa

That’s cute! Yeah! But— [Biz laughs.] —that might not always—I mean, I don’t know—

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah! I don’t know either! Theresa: But—but also—

theresa

But also, things that are— [Biz laughs.] Things like that, that our kids do might be cute to us but not to someone else. Like, I might see somebody else’s kid sleeping—like, especially an older kid. Like, little kids I think we’re all like, oh my god, a little kid sleeping, that’s pretty much always cute. But like, an old—

biz

A teen.

theresa

Like, I don’t know if I would look at another eight-year-old and think they were cute asleep. I might just see an eight-year-old sleeping. Like, not—nothing against that eight-year-old, but it’s like— [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Do you know what I mean?

crosstalk

Biz: What’s wrong with that eight-year-old? Theresa: It’s like— [Laughs.]

theresa

It’s just—

biz

No, but I—I also really like the actual—though there becomes a point in time when we as parents share things that we think are cute and they’re not.

theresa

Right.

biz

To other people.

theresa

True.

biz

Right? Like, I mean, I’m listening to you talk about everything—I was with you the whole, like—“I love watching Gracie sleep and I’m gonna love it ‘til she’s 40” and then in my brain I was like, “If you came to me and said ‘I’m just standing in her room, staring—‘” [Theresa laughs.] “’—at her whenever she comes home to visit, she’s 40.‘” I mean, yeah, her—like—

crosstalk

Biz: Her partner’s there. Her partner’s there. Like, whatever. Theresa: That would be so weird! Yeah! Yeah.

biz

Yeah! I would be like—I don’t know.

theresa

That wouldn’t be cute.

biz

That would be, like, super weird! It’s like when your like… 30-year-old son’s like, sitting on your lap and you’re like, no snuggling. And you’re like—yeah, I don’t know where that is. In the line of cute. Should we have put a limit on the—‘cause I think about Ellis, who’s like… I will always want you to snuggle with me! And I’m like, no, you’re not.

theresa

You’re like, no.

biz

No. You’re not. And I can’t, because it—it’ll get weird! Like… it’ll get weird. They’ll be a point where like, you coming up and kissing me on the lips is gonna be weird.

crosstalk

Theresa: Is gonna start not being cute. Yeah. Yeah! Biz: Like, for me, I already feel like, ah!

biz

But that’s my own baggage! [Laughs.] Where I’m just like, “Ohhh! Don’t know what to do!” But, yes.

theresa

And I’ve also noticed that as I’ve gotten older, the things that I think are cute are also—extend beyond an age that I used to think was cute. Like, I look at teens going into their high school— [Biz laughs.] —when I’m on the way to work or whatever? And I’m like, look at the cute teens! Like, they’re so cute! Like, I love teens! I love—

biz

See? Welcome to the loving teens!

crosstalk

Theresa: No, but I get it now! Like, I— Biz: I love teens! Yeah. [Laughs.]

theresa

I’m like, they are so, like amazing! You know? Like there’s something so special—and like, that didn’t come to me until now.

crosstalk

Biz: Yeah, now I’m with you. Theresa: Now? You know?

biz

No. I—I am the same with the, like, going to the school when the whole school’s together? And seeing the difference between fourth and sixth graders? And basking in all the puberty that’s unfolding?

theresa

[Laughs.] Oh, God.

biz

Like, the beginning stages of it? And its just wicked effects on—on these kids? And I’m like, yeah, I’m like, that is so cute.

theresa

They’re so cute.

biz

You’re so cute! [Theresa laughs.] There is nothing worse than being a prepubescent teen and being told—

crosstalk

Biz: You’re so cute! Theresa: You’re cute! Yeah.

biz

“I have acne.” “That’s so cute!” [Theresa laughs.] Let’s make sure we remember to do that to our children. [Laughs.]

music

“Ones and Zeroes” by “Awesome.” Steady, driving electric guitar with drum and woodwinds. [Music fades out.]

biz

One Bad Mother is supported in part by HelloFresh. With HelloFresh, America’s number one meal kit, get easy, seasonal recipes and pre-measured ingredients delivered right to your door. All you have to do is cook and enjoy!

theresa

You guys know I’m not that big on cooking?

biz

Whaaat?

theresa

But HelloFresh actually makes it manageable for me. Because all of the meals are set up with pre-measured ingredients and they’re all put together in one little bag, so you can easily find everything— [Biz laughs.] —and put the whole thing together. And you get wow-worthy dinner on the table in just about 30 minutes. There is something for everyone, from family recipes to calorie-smart and vegetarian, and fun menu series like Hall of Fame and Craft Burgers. You can easily change your delivery days, food preferences, and skip a week whenever you need.

biz

Get nine free meals! What?! With HelloFresh. By going to HelloFresh.com/badmother9 and using code badmother9. That’s HelloFresh.com/badmother9, with code badmother9 for nine free meals!

theresa

Hey, you know what it’s time for! This week’s genius and fails! This is the part of the show where we share our genius moment of the week, as well as our failures, and feel better about ourselves by hearing yours. You can share some of your own by calling 206-350-9485. That’s 206-350-9485.

biz

Genius fail time, Theresa. Genius me! [Biz and Theresa repeatedly affirm each other as they discuss their weekly genius moments.]

clip

[Dramatic, swelling music in background.] Biz: Wow! Oh my God! Oh my God! I saw what you did! Oh my God! I’m paying attention! Wow! You, mom, are a genius. Oh my God, that’s fucking genius!

theresa

Okay. I have been shouting this to the rooftops all around town. But I decided to—I was so tired and overwhelmed that one day, I angrily made a list of all the appointments for myself and for my kids that I am responsible for scheduling, moving if I need to move, getting people to, and then logistically covering for other kids during that time, like, if there’s a pickup or whatever. Just for this year. And it works out to like more than one appointment per day, seven days a week?

biz

Oh my god.

theresa

And I… was so validated.

biz

Yeah!

theresa

By this experience. Because I was just like, okay. Now I understand why I am—I feel so stressed out all the time! And so overwhelmed! Like I—this is just so much stuff, and it kind of gave me—it just made me feel like yes! This is why!

biz

Yeah!

theresa

This makes sense!

biz

And that’s just, like, one faction of it!

theresa

Yeah!

biz

It’s so much.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Yeah. Good—good job.

theresa

Thanks.

biz

Good job. I was like, I didn’t know which way that was gonna go. [Laughs.]

theresa

Oh.

biz

But I mean—I think that’s so good to have it on paper.

theresa

Yes.

biz

Just leave that—

crosstalk

Biz: —in places around the house. Uh-huh. Theresa: Yeah. Just leave it around the house.

theresa

Yeah. [Biz laughs.]

biz

Good job.

theresa

Thanks.

biz

Okay. I… for years, have just wanted to be the parent who is able to do thank-you notes. ‘K? For my children. Or get them to write them when they are old enough to do it. Or even write thank-you notes for myself. I have let that go.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Since the beginning.

theresa

Yeah.

biz

‘Cause every year, I’m like, I’m gonna do it, and I don’t? And like lists of like birthday presents and things stay on the desk as if I’m gonna come back—and then when two months pass, I just ball it up, throw it away, long gone. I sat down the other day and I did thank-you notes for Ellis’s birthday.

theresa

Amazing.

biz

And got him to sign all of them.

theresa

Amazing.

biz

I kept them short and sweet, and then the other thing was, because it’s fun to get mail, I put all their addresses on it! So the kids are gonna get it in the mail? And I felt—like this was one of those things where I’m like, hey guys! I wrote thank-you notes! This is all about, like, I couldn’t stop talking about it to Stefan. I was like, I did it! No, I did it! There are thank-you notes! And look, here they are in a pile and they’re all done correctly and their stamps and they—they’re gonna go! Out into the world today!

theresa

Yeah. You’re amazing.

biz

I did it!

theresa

Yeah, you totally did it.

biz

My children are 10 and 6, and this is the first time I’ve been able to do this since they were alive.

theresa

I’m very impressed.

biz

I felt really good.

theresa

Good job!

biz

Thank you.

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, One Bad Mother! I’m calling with a genius. My almost-two-year-old always, always, always tries to drink out of my to-go coffee cup, and it’s always a big fright because obviously he can’t have my coffee. But then I realized that I have one of those free Starbucks holiday reusable to-go cups, so I just filled it with a little bit of water. Now she has her coffee and I have mine and it’s not a fight and we even got to leave about 15 minutes earlier than expected for Thanksgiving because she was happy because she had her coffee. [Biz laughs.] I’m doing a great job! And so are you. Thanks, guys! Bye.

biz

Good job.

theresa

Very good job.

biz

I love that—you know, it’s the small simple things—again, no one would acknowledge that you did that if they saw your kid walking around with that. They’ll actually probably gonna assume you’ve given your baby coffee. But it’s so—it just made your life much easier? And, y’know, we should be making it a national holiday! [Theresa laughs.] I think it’s great. You are doing a very good job.

theresa

Good job!

biz

Failures.

clip

[Dramatic orchestral music plays in the background.] Theresa: [In a voice akin to the Wicked Witch of the West] Fail. Fail. Fail. FAIL! [Timpani with foot pedal engaged for humorous effect.] Biz: [Calmly] You suck!

biz

Fail me, Theresa! [Theresa and Biz affirm each other as they discuss their weekly failures.]

theresa

So we are deep into the Lego phase in our household. Mostly Oscar, but sometimes Curtis, and… the problem we’ve been having is that Curtis tends to, like, take apart the stuff that Oscar has, like, painstakingly creatively put together. And it’s just an ongoing challenge. And I had a little bit of a genius moment the other day where I set up two separate areas. And they can really play wherever they want in the house with the Legos? But if they want their own space to play with Legos, or a place to leave something they’re working on, they have designated areas right now. But of course Curtis is two-and-a-half! So he’s still learning about just, like, respecting those spaces! In the house! And so we’ve had a lot of instances of, like, not noticing that he was off playing in Oscar’s Lego area and Oscar’s just been pulling his hair out. Like, losing his mind. Like—and we know, we’re—kind of trying to help everyone work with all aspects of this, ‘cause it’s such a—such a conflict! And it’s like, a part of life, but also—and like, he needs to learn to deal with it appropriately? But also it’s so, like, frustrating and unfair that—to have your stuff constantly taken apart! [Biz laughs.] In the spot where you’re leaving it where it’s supposed to be safe. This morning I just had the worst, like, I’ve also simultaneously been working with Oscar to, like, follow his morning routine schedule on his own, and like… do all this stuff before he plays. And, y’know, we’ve been working on that for like a year or two years. So it’s an ongoing struggle with him? But the last week has been really bad. And this morning was like, we were doing it! And it was Monday! And I was like, we’re getting there and he’s calm and he’s not losing his mind and he’s not—you know, he’s like—he’s calm! And he’s okay! And he’s like getting stuff done.

theresa

And I was feeling that feeling of, like, we’re gonna do it! We’re gonna do it! And then he goes, uh, Mom? Uh, is it okay if I just go check and see, uh, like, about my—‘cause you just get this feeling in the house, like, where is the two-year-old? And I was like, I’ll go check. Don’t worry. And I’m thinking to myself, ugh. And I go in and sure enough, like, Curtis has really taken—taken—totally taken apart, like, a—a big thing! That Oscar had worked on. And there was just no way for me to fix it. Like, I just couldn’t and—and then Oscar did. He had a huge meltdown! Because it was—it—and so then it was like—I—I just felt… it was a fail because I felt like I had done all these things— [Laughs.] To like, prevent this? And I was getting there this morning. It was gonna be okay! And then it just wasn’t. It was like, no! You can’t ha—you can’t have it. [Laughs.]

biz

I’m so sorry. Ugh. That’s so much, like, ugh! In the house. I’m sorry.

theresa

Thanks.

biz

Okay. So I mentioned at the beginning of the show an advent calendar, and that for the most part everything had been—everybody’d been enjoying! In the little advent calendar I’ll put things, like, y’know, “Let’s watch A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight!” or, y’know, “Slippers,” or, y’know, sometimes it’s a little piece of garbage [Through laughter] and sometimes it’s an activity. And usually there’s a, y’know, “It’s act of kindness day!” Y’know, go do an act of kindness. And I usually give examples and all this stuff. I’ve done two. Both times, they’ve upset Ellis. The first time, it upset him a little. The second time, it upset him so much. And I wanna be clear, ‘cause I’d said—no one’s getting mad because they have to do it. He wasn’t mad ‘cause it wasn’t a toy or there wasn’t an activity; he clearly interpreted that what I was saying was that he is not kind. And he’s like— [Theresa laughs.] “I am kind all—every day! I am kind! I do that—” ‘Cause at school, like, his whole class theme is, like, is like kindness first. Right? And so they’re always talking about kindness and he could not understand that I just meant, like, just an extra little thing aimed at a person. Like, tell somebody a joke! Y’know. Draw somebody a picture! “I am kind!” Like, it was the most unfair thing I could ask of him because he’s already kind.

theresa

He’s already kind.

biz

And it was so clear that is how he was interpreting this thing, and I’m just like, well, fuck that. We are definitely not doing— [Through laughter] Screw acts of kindness! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi, Biz and Theresa. I’m calling with a fail that I think you’ll enjoy. Um, I was trying to head out to meet up with some friends tonight, and, um, was already a little bit late getting out the door but I was finally getting out the door and I grabbed all my cell phone and my wallet. I went to grab my keys and I could not—could not find my keys. I spent 20 minutes searching the house looking in all of my jacket pockets, looking in all of my purses, looking in every room that I spend any time in. Re-looking through all of those spots ‘cause it had to be somewhere. I know I let myself in the house yesterday— [Biz laughs.] —so I knew they had to be somewhere in the house and I just couldn’t let it go. But I finally had to just take the spare keys that we have. Thank goodness we have spare keys. Take the spare keys and—and resign myself to—to finding them later. And I finally go up to meet my friends. I was half an hour late to meet my friends, and I get settled in and I tell them my story and later in the night I get up to do something and feel something in my sweater? And apparently the whole time? My keys were in my sweater pocket. [Biz laughs.] I guess— [Laughs.] I picked them up to put them in my purse, put them in my sweater instead, and never thought to check my sweater pocket. [Biz laughs.] In the 20 minutes I spent looking for these goddamn keys. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] So the good news is I found them before I dug through the garbage, ‘cause that was gonna be the next step. [Biz laughs.] Um, the bad news is that I’m about 29 weeks pregnant now? And it looks like the super brain is definitely setting in, so. Gonna have to start leaving reminders for myself for something. But anyways! That’s my—that’s my fail. You guys are doing a great job. Bye.

biz

I like that—like—I—I can only imagine keys like mine. Which is, like, I—on a big handle so that I can find that—they’re—they are chunky and they are, y’know, until I can’t find them in my purse. Otherwise they would be large, bulky, items. And I like that you’re at this place where something—and I’m just gonna imagine they’re large bulky and not two petite keys on a loop—in your sweater pocket, so that’s like on you, banging against you, like, all day! It’s like a sweater! Right? It’s not a canvas! You’re not wearing a canvas bag as a shirt! It’s a sweater! And—it’s just like—how long you were able to go—

crosstalk

Theresa: Without noticing that those were on your body. Biz: —without noticing—on your body!

biz

That just makes this such a sweet, beautiful fail. I mean, I know you know this, but I wanna make sure I really point it out. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] [Mellow piano music begins quietly in the background.]

theresa

I was just gonna say, it’s like an out-of-body experience.

biz

[Through laughter] It is!

theresa

Yeah. Looking for your keys.

biz

I know. Well, you’re doing a horrible job.

theresa

Yep!

biz

You don’t deserve keys! [Laughs.]

music

“Mom Song” by Adira Amram. Mellow piano music with lyrics. You are the greatest mom I’ve ever known I love you, I love you When I have a problem, I call you on the phone I love you, I love you [Music fades out.]

theresa

Music: Jazzy piano plays in background and continues through dialogue. One Bad Mother is supported in part by Story Worth. A great part of the holidays is reconnecting with family—swapping stories and reliving moments together. But keeping these memories alive can be hard! So give your family a meaningful gift this year—Story Worth!

biz

It may surprise you, but my family’s got stories. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] I never wrote any of them down, and my memory is shot because I’ve had children. [Laughs.] But I want my kids to know these stories! Storyworth is an online service that helps your loved ones tell the story of their lives through thought-provoking questions about their memories and personal thoughts. Every week, Storyworth emails your family member different story prompts, questions you may have never even thought to ask! Like, what’s one of the riskiest things you’ve ever done? After one year, Story Worth will compile every answered question and photo you chose to include into a beautiful keepsake book that’s shipped for free.

theresa

Preserve and pass on memories with Story Worth—the most meaningful gift for your family. Sign up today by going to Storyworth.com/badmother. You’ll get $20 off your first purchase! That’s Storyworth.com/badmother for $20 off! [Music ends.]

biz

Hey, Theresa! Let’s call someone today! [Biz and Jen repeatedly and regularly affirm each other as Biz interviews Jen. Theresa occasionally pops in to affirm the other two as well.]

music

Upbeat, up-tempo choral music plays briefly.

biz

Theresa? This week we are gonna talk to Jen Lumanlan, who holds a Master’s in Psychology—focused on child development—and another in Education. She hosts the podcast Your Parenting Mojo, which is a reference guide for parents of toddlers and preschoolers based on scientific research and principles of respectful parenting. Whaaat?! [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Do we have eight hours? Alright. In each episode, she examines an issue related to child development from all sides, so parents can understand what the body of research says about it, and how to use this information to align their day-to-day parenting with their goals for raising their children. No, I mean it—do we have eight hours just to talk about— [Theresa laughs; Jen joins in.] —one very specific—

crosstalk

Jen Lumanlan: I do! [inaudible] [Laughs.] Biz: Thing? Yeah, you do! Great!

biz

Welcome, Jen!

jen lumanlan

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

biz

It is so great to have you here, and before we get in to all the things that I’d like to get into, we’d like to ask you: who lives in your house?

jen

Mm-hm. Yes, just a couple of other people, including me, uh, or besides me, I guess, my husband is also in our household and he’s a photographer, and my five-year-old daughter, Carys.

biz

Oh! Five! I can’t imagine how any of your master’s degrees apply to parenting a five-year-old. [All three laugh.]

jen

No, no. they really have nothing to say about it. [Laughs.]

biz

[Through laughter] Yeah! [Theresa laughs.] Well let’s start with… tell us about—I mean, it is a very helpful podcast, but why did— [Jen laughs.] —besides just helping me specifically? [Theresa giggles.] Why did you, uh, decide to start the podcast?

jen

Well, to help me specifically. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah! [Laughs.]

jen

Yeah. I mean, there’s so much support for parents when they are in the younger phase? Kind of the pre-mobile phase? Um, you know, the Wonder Weeks and how—how your child is changing through that period of time, and honestly, yes, you’re getting used to it and it’s all new and, uh, and it’s hard from that perspective? But from the perspective of actually stuff you need to do beyond keeping the kid from— [Laughs.] Uh, accidentally starving to death, the—there’s— [Biz laughs.] —there’s not too much to know. But then I found that once I got to the stage where she was mobile, and all of a sudden it’s not just ‘keep things away from her and she’ll be fine,’ but ‘keep her from getting into stuff’ and then you need to start negotiating about things, and—and keep her from getting into things. And I realized that a whole different set of skills was needed, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had basically no parenting instinct whatsoever, so— [Biz laughs.] Uh, but I have really good research skills! And so I thought okay, well this is a problem that can be solved with research! [Laughs.]

biz

Yay research! [Laughs.]

jen

So. Yeah. So that—that was why I went back to school and got a Master’s in Psychology. Basically a bit of framework around it and make sure I wasn’t missing anything important and then I realized how much I was learning and—and how much other parents could benefit from this and I just thought, y’know, this is really silly to do all this reading and writing and not share it with anyone. So.

biz

Well, it’s—it’s true! I mean, like, I think… you were—what you were just saying about that time, preschool to, y’know, toddler and preschool, I feel like a lot of the questions that I do have stem from: is this normal, what my kid is doing? And… uh, and then that’s always, y’know, a spiraling, uh, concern that I—that I then have. So because your show is based in research, what’s your process for each episode? Do you pick something that your kid’s doing and go, how’s that—why is my kid doing this? [Jen laughs.] Or, uh, or is—or is there something more scientific to it? [Laughs.]

jen

[Laughs.] Well, I—it’s—it’s a little of both, to be honest. And when I started out there was definitely more of the former and now there’s a lot more coming from listener questions? Uh, this is listeners will email and say hey! What—is this normal? [Laughs.]

biz

Right. Is this normal.

jen

And—yeah. On—on that kind of—it’s—it’s cute ‘til it’s not cute topic, I think there are a couple different things on that. Y’know, first the—there’s a huge range of what is normal, right? Um, what one child will start doing something way earlier than another child, and then secondly we have these expectations in our mind of what a child should be doing by a certain age that pretty often are not rooted in any kind of, uh, research. And so—a regular example of this is—is emotion regulation, and so we expect our children, when we say no, to not have a tantrum! [Biz laughs.] And it turns out that they just don’t have the skills that we expect them to have until so much later in their development. Often a year or two later than parents are ready [through laughter] for tantrums to be over. [Biz laughs.] And they’re just—they just can’t use other—other emotion regulation skills yet! And so it’s this mismatch of expectations that creates a lot of problems.

biz

Oooh! Expectations. Yeah. I mean, I know some people, uh, maybe when I look in a mirror— [Jen laughs.] —that are still trying to regulate their emotions now! [Theresa laughs.] As a full-grown adult! What sort of feedbacks and questions do you get from your listeners? Is there—is there— [breaks off, laughing.] Is there, like, one thing that you’re like, oh man. Why aren’t there more books written about this? [Through laughter] This seems to be what everybody’s concerned about!

jen

In some ways it changes with the season. Right now, of course, it’s a lot about Santa. [Laughs.]

biz

Right. Right.

jen

And there aren’t so many books about that. Um, emotion regulation is always a hot topic. Um, and, y’know, when it my child gonna stop having tantrums. [Biz laughs.] When is my child just going to be able to accept when I say no? [Laughs.]

biz

Is there— [Laughs.]

jen

And—and when are they going to—when—after I’ve told them not to do something a hundred times, when are they actually going to not do it anymore? [Biz laughs.] And—

biz

30. [Laughs.]

jen

That process of developing that capability of—of thinking, you know, I hear what my parent is saying and I’m able to put the brakes on that and they’ll start by actually saying aloud what you said. Mama said don’t touch. [Laughs.] And then that process becomes internalized. And then eventually they’re actually able to stop doing it because all—all through that early phase they—they can’t stop themselves from physically doing it. Even though they’re telling themselves don’t do it. And so, yeah. That’s—that’s always a perennially hot topic as well.

biz

I really like the idea that we’re all just writing you, saying, “When will my child listen to me?” [Jen laughs.] [Laughs.] You’re like—maybe never! I don’t—I gotta—

jen

Of course there are other—

biz

Yeah. I just think that’s like a—uh—it’s a very poignant question that I have asked the universe— [Jen laughs.] —many times. Let’s, uh, you—your episodes cover a huge range of topics. But I think I’d love to touch on stereotypes? You have talked about how children develop stereotypes—gender, race, etc—and what parents can do to overcome these. Can you tell us what the research says on this, because I would’ve probably asked that question in a much more panicked way. [Jen laughs.] Given, like, my fears of my children, like, just saying something that I’m like, “What?! We don’t do that!!!” [Laughs.] [Jen and Theresa laugh.] “We don’t say that! Why are you saying that?!” Anyway. So talk to us a little bit about that.

jen

Yeah. It’s, uh, actually a really fascinating process of how this all develops, and I—I covered it through a series of episodes on, uh, things like, um, parenting beyond pink and blue and, um, how do social groups form and—and I did a whole series on white privilege and the intersection of race and parenting, so it’s been something I’ve kind of teased out for myself and—and my listeners at the same time over a period of a couple of years. And the—the process that I’ve—I’ve come to understand is that basically we all organize things by groups. It’s just how our brains work. And—and we—especially when we’re younger, tend to look for the essential qualities of these groups. And—and it’s really easy for us to misunderstand what these essential qualities are. And so some research that has looked at this, the—the researchers ask children: if there’s a boy raised on an island with women and girls only, who like to play with tea sets a lot, what will the boy want to do when he grows up? And so the children, when they’re asked this question by the researchers, are pretty likely to say the boy is gonna want to grow up to be a firefighter. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] Even though he’s never seen a firefighter before, he has—he has no idea what a firefighter is in this thought experiment. But children think there’s something essential about boys that’s true to them, that’s innate, that’s unchangeable, and that that has a lot to do [through laughter] with being a firefighter. [Biz laughs.]

jen

When actually, so much of what it means to be a boy or a girl—or even those categories themselves—are based on how we’re socialized. So. That’s kind of how it starts. And then children use these ideas to form in-groups and out-groups, and so, y’know, I—I am a girl and so I must want to hang out with the girls because girls are, at their essence, different from boys. And therefore boys are in the out-group for me. And so that leads to this voluntary gender segregation that we see in schools, where our—our girls are socializing themselves to be more and more “girl-like” because that’s who they’re spending time with and of course the boys are doing that on—in the other corner. [Laughs.] By themselves. [Laughs.]

biz

So what do we—because, I mean, we—we know so much more now about gender. And… uh, so I’m using that as an example, uh, though there are so many groups we like to put ourselves in.

crosstalk

Biz: Or point out. Jen: Oh, yeah, sure.

biz

What then does the research say about, uh, what parents can do?

jen

Mm-hm. Yeah. Well, there’s actually a lot that you can do! And— [Biz laughs.] And I think you’re absolutely right to point out that there is a parallel process for other kinds of groups like race, where, uh, children see in the media all the time, y’know, which race is always the one in charge? [Laughs.]

biz

Right.

jen

Pretty easy to answer that question.

biz

Yes. [Laughs.]

jen

And—and there was a fascinating PhD study that embedded the—the, uh, student in a class, a preschool class for a couple of years and she followed what they’re doing and she found that, y’know, the white kids are trying on this identity of being in charge all the time and seeing if they get caught, seeing what happens if they do get caught, and chances are not—they don’t get caught and not much happens if they do, and this is in a preschool class. Where the teachers are—the administrators are really priding themselves on the tolerance that they have on their campus. And so, we each—each one of us, myself included, thinks that our child is a darling. [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.]

crosstalk

Biz: Until they aren’t! [Laughs.] Jen: And that they would never engage in this behavior.

jen

But in reality, they’re—they’re all doing it.

biz

Yeah.

jen

They’re all—they’re all trying out these different identities. And so, yeah! There’s a—there’s a ton that we can do, actually. We can read books that feature all different kinds of people, and there’s a couple different avenues you can go on with this. I mean, firstly, books about Black and Latinx and Native activists and people with disabilities who are fighting for their rights, that you see those stories. But also, books about people who are just being people! [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah.

jen

So. There’s—there’s the reading the books angle and then of course a lot of it comes down to—who are you friends with?

biz

Yeah.

jen

Who—who are your children seeing as being important in your lives? And, um, I did interact with a parent one time who said that, uh, y’know, she’s not too worried about her children getting exposure to all different kinds of people ‘cause they ride the bus. And they see, uh, different kinds of people on the bus. And—and the research shows that’s not really exposure to other people. So it’s—that’s not helping us to understand truly what those person’s concerns are and see them in—in their essence. You know, not as a group essence, but in their individual essence. So we need to have friends—all of us—need to have friends from all different backgrounds. Um, on—on the gender topic, where—where gender isn’t relevant? Don’t point it out. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. [Laughs.] Which is—just—surprisingly most of the time! Is not that important!

jen

It is! It really is!

biz

Alright. I would like to talk specifically about one of the episodes that you did, uh, Episode 49: How to Raise a Girl With a Healthy Body Image. Uh, and in it, you talk about our culture’s obsession with appearance and how that can hurt girls and women and—duh—and you say that you intentionally do not tell your daughter that she’s pretty. And I guess I would love to hear about that, ‘cause it’s so funny. In our house, I’m like— [Laughs.] I’m like, I grew up with my mother telling us that she thought we were pretty all the time. She also told us we were smart; she also told us there were no limits. I mean, it was—pretty wasn’t the only thing. I grew up in the South. I know some people who’ve been told their whole lives, only that their looks are important. And, y’know, I have feelings about being able, y’know, saying it to my daughter and my son. He’s pretty too! [Laughs.] And— [Jen laughs.] —but it always goes with, “You’re also super smart and kind and funny” and like, all these things. And I know that for me, it helped me when I didn’t feel pretty. Right? Like, because I’m constantly surrounded by—as a—especially as a kid, by images that I was definitely not a reflection of? Awkward and a variety of other things that weren’t on the magazines that I saw or the videos that I saw. I always somewhere in the back of my mind had that little okay-ness with how I looked, because of my mother always saying that to us. Right? Even though if no one else thought that, Mama did! Uh, so— [breaks off, laughing.] [Jen and Theresa laugh.]

biz

So I’m, y’know, I’m always—but I’m always interested in, like, the research and all of that too, ‘cause, y’know, I—I could be doing things probably better. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs; Jen joins in.] Talk to—talk to me. Talk to me about that.

jen

Yeah. So—I mean this—this is—this is a really important episode for me. And I go into this a little bit at the beginning of the episode. Y’know, my mom actually starved herself to death—

crosstalk

Biz: Oh my god. Jen: When I was 10.

jen

So—this is—this is one of those topics where it—it’s not like I feel there’s a lot—a ton of flexibility here for me to screw this up. [Laughs.]

biz

Right! No, yeah.

jen

The—this is one of those things I need to get right. [Laughs.] And so when I was thinking about this book, I read a book by Dr. Renee Engeln called Beauty Sick, and so I—I interviewed her about the approach that she takes in that book, and—and she’s talking about the colossal amount of times that girls and women spend about thinking about how they look. And—and how that detracts from the time and energy we have to think about things that we really care about! Things that are important to us. Um, and she—she said it’s like carving off a little piece of your consciousness and then dedicating it to solely monitoring how you look to make sure everything’s in place and everything looks okay. And how—how does that manifest itself? Well, our girls will post a picture of themselves on Instagram and if they get 50 likes, then they feel okay about how they feel—about how they look that day. And if they don’t get those 50 likes, then they know they don’t look okay and they spend the whole day worrying about it. And so I—I am so glad that I didn’t [through laughter] grow up in—

crosstalk

Biz: I know. Me, too. I know. Jen: —an age where there was Instagram and there was Facebook.

jen

Wouldn’t it be so much harder?

biz

Yeah, it would, and I—I do wanna say—again, one of the other reasons I love doing this show is that, like, the story I shared right there at the beginning about my mom—it—y’know, we—that’s so unique to the, y’know, environment that, uh, I was raised in. And what she and Papa decided, y’know, they raised us as feminist. They raised—y’know, so that word didn’t carry the connotation that, say, someone growing up in a house with people who are suffering from, y’know, eating disorders and, y’know, that—that does! It does put—we didn’t—y’know, mama never gave us makeup to put on. Right? Y’know, like it’s—versus— [Jen laughs.] Y’know, friends who—again—Deep South—y’know, were in makeup, y’know, by sixth grade. Right? And—and had very specific looks. So I just wanna—so thank you for—I’d like to keep going. Thank you. I like— [Jen laughs.] —reminding myself I’m not the only person on the planet. Good! [Laughs.] [Jen laughs.]

jen

Yeah. So I mean, what you’re talking about, about not telling a—a girl that she’s beautiful—and I think that that probably goes against the instincts that a lot of parents have.

biz

Sure!

jen

Because we want our children to believe that they’re beautiful and to—and to know that we think they’re beautiful. And so Dr. Engeln’s point on this is: if that is one of the primary messages that you’re conveying to your child, then what you’re doing is you’re telling her that’s important. That it’s important to be beautiful. Important to be pretty. And if you’re not—I mean, not all children are objectively beautiful by our standards! And that—that can be… it—it’s pretty hard to live up to our— [Laughs.] Our— [Biz laughs.] The standards that are found in the media, right? You have to be white. You have to be skinny. Your—the lips—lips have to look a certain way. Your nose has to look a certain way. And if you don’t fit that mold, it’s a lot harder to perceive yourself as beautiful.

biz

Right.

jen

And so… when we are giving our children these messages very consistently about their looks, they’re learning—oh! Looks are really important. This is something I need to pay attention to. And so what her advice was, is—to basically, what—whatever you’re doing right now? However often you’re saying it right now? You probably want to say it a little bit less than you are right now. [Biz laughs.] So that you’re— [Laughs.] You’re giving your child messages about other things that are important, too, and I think your parents probably found a really good balance there. In also finding other things that are important. Um, and I guess the—the caution I would have with the way that you, uh, you phrased it around, y’know, you’re smart and you can do anything is—sometimes—

crosstalk

Biz: You can’t. [Laughs.] Right. Jen: You don’t always feel smart!

jen

Some— [Laughs.] Um, and what we’re—what we’re doing when we’re telling our children that is we’re essentially praising them. We’re essentially trying to tell them, oh, you put a lot of effort into this? And it seems as though you learned a lot from it! And so it would be more helpful for a child to understand that process rather than— [Biz laughs.] —us jumping right to the “you’re smart” factor. Because maybe—maybe they didn’t put a lot of effort into it!

biz

Right. [Laughs.]

jen

And they—and they look at us and think, well, she doesn’t know very much! [Laughs.]

biz

Right.

jen

She thinks I’m smart for doing this when actually it was really easy. [Laughs.]

biz

Well it’s just ‘cause I’m pretty. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.]

jen

[Through laughter] Exactly! [Laughs.] Yeah, the teacher gave me a higher grade ‘cause I’m pretty.

crosstalk

Biz: There’s right. Yep. [Laughs.] Jen: I get to that in another episode. [Laughs.]

biz

Well, how can we—besides my theory on telling my children they’re pretty every day—uh— [Laughs.] [Jen laughs.] How can we talk to our kids about their bodies and other peoples’ bodies and—because it’s not—this isn’t just about people who identify as girls. This is—I mean, it—image is important and ties in to everything our kids are kind of seeing. So how do we talk about their bodies, our bodies, and other peoples’ bodies in a less—in a way that will fuck them up less? [Theresa laughs. Biz and Jen join in.]

jen

‘Cause that’s our goal. [Laughs.]

biz

That—the ultimate goal is that. Yeah.

theresa

Right.

jen

Yes. It is. [Laughs.] Well, I think there are a few things that we can do that—one of them is to recognize the amazing things that our bodies can do. And no matter what they look like, no matter what abilities we have, our bodies can do amazing things. And—and it’s really tempting, as—as we women get older, to look at our arms and see they’re a bit saggier than they used to be. They might be a bit bigger than they used to be. But they give our children the hugs that sustain them. [Laughs.] And, I mean, what more important function is there in life, for arms, than to convey that message to a child of— [Biz laughs.] —“You are loved.” And so we all have these bodies that are able to do amazing things. And if we can focus on that, and—kind of, our body is an instrument that helps us do things that are important, and not an object that everyone gets to comment on and everyone gets to judge and that we end up judging ourselves as well. Then that, I think, really shifts the focus from, uh, from appearance? To what we can do and—and what our bodies can do. And then—I think one reason that we talk to children about their looks is, we—we don’t know what else to talk to them about! [Laughs.] [Biz laughs.] We meet a girl—maybe we—we’re out in the street, we meet a friend, she’s got her daughter with her, and we know we want to say something to the daughter but we’re—we don’t really know what? And so we just say something like, “Oh, you have really pretty shoes!” or “Oh, your hair’s beautiful!” or something like that, when instead we could ask them what they’re reading and what they’re interested in and what they’re learning about. And so that—that gives them a message: this is what is valued, what I’m learning about and reading and interesting—and interested in is valued and not just what kind of shoes I have on and whether my hair is curling nicely today.

biz

Oooh, that’s good. That’s like—because I mean, I think…those other—the—the nice shoes, nice hair—are really easy ones. They come out of my mouth all the time! No matter who I’m—y’know—no matter who’s in front of me, adult or child. [Laughs.] [Jen laughs.] I’m like—you look so nice today! Y’know, that kind of thing. But I—I do like the, y’know, trying to change the instinct that sometimes—and I—we constantly talk about things come out of our mouths way before our brain catches up to say, eh, you could’ve said— [Jen laughs.] —something else there. And usually— [Jen laughs.] A lot of times it’s just ‘cause we’re tired! Right? And like—so—trying to get into that habit and retrain how we speak to each other, I think, is a wonderful challenge. Uh, to give ourselves. Jen, I just want to say thank you for coming on to talk to us, and the—the podcast Your Parenting Mojo, it is really helpful. We are big research fans, because we are not scientists. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] Or experts. [Jen laughs.] And so… we—especially when it comes to the very difficult ages of toddler and preschool, those are really hard ages. Uh, to have in your house. However those ages got into your house. And so this podcast really helps tackle a lot of those big questions and concerns we have, as well as just, y’know, remind us that we can, y’know, always do things even better! Tomorrow! [Laughs.]

jen

And—and—and I know you’re saying that in jest, but honestly, that—that’s such a key to parenting. It’s such a key. We—we beat ourselves up for not doing things right? And… all we can do is do the best that we’re doing in the moment, and if we screw it up—which we’re going to do because we’re humans because we all screw up—we just start again tomorrow!

biz

Yeah. That—yes.

jen

That’s it, right? We—we just start again tomorrow and we do better tomorrow. And so, yeah. That’s—that’s—that’s so critical. Such a—an important thing for parents to remember, I think, because we—we’re—we’re so tired. We’re under so much stress. [Laughs.]

biz

Yeah. Yeah!

jen

So, yeah. And—and I—my goal with the podcast is to bring that research together so that you don’t have to read all these, y’know, 50 peer-reviewed studies to understand what’s going on with a topic. You can listen to an episode and—and understand it and—and feel like you have confidence in choosing a path forward.

biz

Yes. I love it. Or—or another path another day. I love it.

jen

Yes. Exactly. [Laughs.]

biz

Well Jen, thank you so much for joining us. We’ll make sure we link everybody up to Your Parenting Mojo podcast. Uh, obviously they can download it wherever they get their podcasts. Thank you so much for joining us!

jen

Thanks for having me! It was such a pleasure.

biz

Oh, it was our pleasure. Have a good holiday season! [Laughs.]

jen

Thank you.

biz

Thanks!

jen

You too. [Laughs.]

biz

Okay. Bye-bye.

jen

Bye!

music

“Telephone,” by “Awesome.” Down-tempo guitar and falsetto singing. Brainwaves send a message: Pick up the phone (When you, I call) Arm is moving now, no longer stone (When you, I call) Hand reaches out with a will of its own (When you, I call) [Music fades out.]

promo

[A telephone rings.] Hotshot Hollywood Producer: Listen, I’m a hotshot Hollywood movie producer. Music: Fun, grooving music begins to play quietly in the background. Producer: You have until I finish my glass of [articulating] kom-bu-cha to pitch me your idea. Go. [Slurping sounds.] Ify: Alright! It’s called Who Shot Ya: a movie podcast that isn’t just a bunch of straight, white dudes. I’m Ify Nwadiwe, the new host of the show and a certified BBN. Producer: BBN? Ify: Buff Black Nerd. Alonso: I’m Alonso Duralde, an elderly gay and legit film critic who wrote a book on Christmas movies. Drea: I’m Drea Clark, a loud, white lady from Minnesota. Ify: Each week, we talk about a new movie in theaters and all the important issues going on in the film industry. Alonso: It’s like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner meets Cruising. Ify: And if it helps seal the deal? I can flex my muscles while we record each episode. Producer: I’m sorry, this is a podcast?! I’m a movie producer. [Disdainfully] How did you get in here? Drea: Ify, quick! Start flexing! Ify: [Dramatically] Bicep! Lats! Chest! Who Shot Ya, dropping every Friday on MaximumFun.org, or wherever you listen to podcasts. [Music ends.]

promo

[Up-tempo background music heavy on the percussion.] Nnekay: Hey, James! James: Hey, Nnekay! What we doing, girl? Nnekay: We are inviting the awesome listeners of Maximum Fun to join us at Minority Korner! James: Ooh! Fun! Nnekay: But you know how we go on tangent city. James: We’re the joint mayors. Nnekay: We’re not gonna do that, okay? James: Supes focused. Nnekay: Okay. So Minority Korner is where you can all come and get your pop culture take. James: Plus, social commentary, news, and TV/movie reactions—like Avengers: Endgame! Nnekay: No spoilers here! James: Ooh, snap! Nnekay: Sometimes we dig into the vault and we review and recap those movies you missed. James: Looking at you, Halle Berry’s Kidnapped! Nnekay: I love how she always gives 1000%. James: Like Beyonce! Nnekay: Did you see Homecoming on Netflix? James: She was burning it down like the Mother of Dragons. Nnekay: Have you seen the latest Game of Thrones? James: So good. Only thing missing? Nnekay and James: More black people. James: Whatcha think about Mayor Pete? Nnekay: Wait a minute! James! James: We went on a tangent? Nnekay: Yes. James. Oh, well. Join us every Friday for more tangents. Nnekay: On Maximum Fun!

biz

Your Parenting Mojo. A delight.

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

And I— [sighs.] Really, what we’ve talked about a million times on the show is… so much of what our children are struggling with, therefore we struggle with, really, is developmental. And, uh, it—and I feel like once we figure that out—every time I realize this is what my child’s supposed to be doing right now? And I’m really just in charge of helping them navigate this? The pressure, like, falls off of my shoulders. And so check out the podcast. It’s very insightful. Yeah! You know what’s also insightful? Listening to a mom have a breakdown!

caller

[Answering machine beeps.] Hi! I am calling with a rant. It is currently about two weeks after Thanksgiving? And um, this is the first morning that my children have not had complete and utter meltdowns. Like, Thanksgiving travel was so disruptive that they have just been nightmare beasts. Hitting, screaming— [Biz laughs.] —yelling, knocking down their train sets, okay? Like it— [Sighs deeply.] [Biz laughs.] So why am I calling today?

crosstalk

Caller: This is the first day that I haven’t had— Theresa: Is this me? Biz: It might be you.

caller

—a nightmare meltdown getting out of the house in the morning? ‘Cause right now it’s 9:00, and I just left my toddler at preschool. Usually we are here at 8:00. So what took so long if he wasn’t melting down? He was just being a toddler. I kept my cool the entire time? But like, he wouldn’t put on his clothes. He wouldn’t get out of the car. He wouldn’t get in the car. He, uh, decided he was scared of trucks? I don’t know. It just took 15 minutes at school to leave him. Like, even when I’m doing it right and even when they’re not melting down, it is just so hard. I am an hour late starting my day. And I’m just—it is so exhausting! [Biz laughs.] It is so exhausting! [Sighs.] I really just need to go hide in the bathroom down here. [Biz and Theresa laugh.] But instead now I have to, y’know, start the real paid work of the day. [Biz laughs.] Anyhow! You’re all doing a great job! Thanks for the show. Thanks for this hotline. Catch you all hiding in the bathroom soon. [Biz laughs.] Bye.

biz

I always like it when people call and at some point in their call they just start making noises? Like, they’re just like—ugh! Err! Aah! Like— aah! Like, there’s no words! They can’t, like, they just, mmhhm!

crosstalk

Biz: Like, they’re— Theresa: I just assumed—

theresa

—she was coughing.

biz

Yeah, oh no! I’m like this: Err! Ahh! [Laughs.]

theresa

Yeah.

biz

I imagine, uh, just no longer being able to speak words and only to grunt our frustrations out into, uh, the void. Why I think this is a fun call is that she says—there—it wasn’t a tantrum. It wasn’t a meltdown that caused us to be so late. Y’know, I wasn’t yelling and my child wasn’t melting down. They were just being a toddler! You’re being very kind in how you phrased all that, by the way. Good job. But like… not wanting to get in a car. Suddenly afraid of trucks. Y’know? [Laughs.] Like—all of that—it doesn’t matter that they’re not screaming! That’s still so much work! ‘Cause you wanna scream! When they’re screaming, you realize we’ve hit, like, a wall and now we have to ride this out. But when they’re just like, “I don’t wanna get into the car!” Ooh! That’s when you wanna be like, [angry voice] “You won’t get in this car?!” And we will, like, Hulk out, right? Like, it’s—that’s so hard and we’ve been—I—I feel like the loss of time. The loss of time due to— [Laughs.] Things we have to do as a parent, be it all the scheduling—Theresa—that you’ve been doing. The loss of time—that sounds like you lost a whole hour! Of your life!

theresa

Yeah.

biz

Of—just because your kid’s like, I don’t wanna get in the car! It’s just doing developmentally—as we know!—what they should be doing, but those, like, minutes and hours add up. Like, I currently—every time I pick up a fucking plate and I know I should be, like, “Katy Belle! Come get your plate!” Right? But I’m like, eh, then I have to call and I’m right here in front of the plate. Right? [Laughs.] Like, those—those are moments that are adding up to time lost. And…I hear you? And it’s exhausting, not having that hour? It does! Make you tired. And not losing your shit? Makes you even more tired. Oh, it takes so much energy to not lose your shit! And I—you’re doing a good job. And we see you. Getting to your day an hour late. It’s okay. We’re all late, too. You are doing a good—I mean, really, this whole call represents what a good job you’re doing.

theresa

Agreed.

biz

You really are.

theresa

Yes.

biz

Theresa, what did we learn today? We learned our children are cute— [Theresa laughs.] We learned that, uh, when we’re alone, they’re less cute. [Laughs.] We learned that when people are watching us, sometimes that makes our children cute again! Or—

crosstalk

Theresa: Or less cute! Yeah. [Laughs.] Depending. Biz: Or less cute! Less cute.

biz

Yeah, depending. You know, when your 20-year-old is still talking baby talk and calling it Starblocks, maybe—maybe things went too far. [Laughs.] [Theresa laughs.] So maybe all we learned is that we have no idea what too far is. [Laughs.] Until it’s staring us right in the face. We’ve also learned from our lovely guest that children are probably doing what they’re supposed to be doing developmentally. The problem is, uh, we want them to already be developed. [Laughs.]

theresa

Mm-hm.

biz

Because helping them through those developments? Is tiring and yeah! There are some days we’re great at it. We’re nailing it. We did it. Thank you notes out the door. Meltdowns not happening. You know? Like, we did it! Food got in people’s mouths. It was great. And then there are other days where helping them navigate it is exhausting. And why is it exhausting? ‘Cause it’s leaving us very little room for the development that we as individuals are going through. We are still developing too, guys! ‘K? There’s still needs and things that we have to meet for ourselves, and those get really lost. Which is why you are doing a really good job. It’s a… happy or shitty time of year right now, whichever one—you get to pick from the menu. You’re tired. And there are kids in your house. That’s a recipe for something. Probably a cookie that you don’t like. You are doing a very good job. Theresa? You are doing a very good job.

theresa

Thank you, Biz. So are you.

biz

[Whispering] Thank you. [Regular voice] We will talk to you guys next week.

crosstalk

Biz and Theresa: Byeee!

music

“Mama Blues” by Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans. Strumming acoustic guitar with harmonica and lyrics. I got the lowdown momma blues Got the lowdown momma blues Gots the lowdown momma blues The lowdown momma blues. Gots the lowdown momma blues Got the lowdown momma blues You know that’s right [Music fades somewhat, plays in background of dialogue.]

biz

We’d like to thank MaxFun; our producer, Hannah Smith; our husbands, Stefan Lawrence and Jesse Thorn; our perfect children, who provide us with inspiration to say all these horrible things; and of course, you, our listeners. To find out more about the songs you heard on today’s podcast and more about the show, please go to MaximumFun.org/onebadmother. For information about live shows, our book and press, please check out OneBadMotherPodcast.com.

theresa

One Bad Mother is a member of the Maximum Fun family of podcasts. To support the show go to MaximumFun.org/donate. [Music continues for a while before fading out.]

biz

MaximumFun.org.

biz

Comedy and culture.

biz

Artist owned—

biz

—Audience supported.

About the show

One Bad Mother is a comedy podcast hosted by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn about motherhood and how unnatural it sometimes is. We aren’t all magical vessels!

Join us every week as we deal with the thrills and embarrassments of motherhood and strive for less judging and more laughing.

Call in your geniuses and fails: 206-350-9485. For booking and guest ideas, please email onebadmother@maximumfun.org. To keep up with One Bad Mother on social media, follow @onebadmothers on Twitter and Instagram.

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