Tag Archives: torture

Tips For Adulthood: Five Parenting Duties I'd Readily Outsource

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This week’s list is inspired by a recent post I did on five reasons we all need a wife.

As with the division of labor within marriage, I’m a big believer that – it’s best to be honest as a parent about which tasks you like and which tasks you find onerous.

I’m not in a position to hire a nanny right now – (and we all know how hard that can be) – but if I had an imaginary care-taker for my children, here are five jobs I’d readily delegate:

1. Swim Lessons. Much like riding a bike (see below), learning to swim is one of those formative childhood experiences that’s meant to stay with you your entire life. I was at a dinner party last night and everyone at the table very clearly remembered their first swim lesson (often with a grimace.) I don’t mind going to watch my kids swim (as I currently do every Sunday morning.) But those early lessons where you also have to don a bathing suit and jump in and “acclimate them to the water” while singing Motorboat, Motorboat over and over? No thanks.

2. Riding a Bike. You know how they have that expression “It’s like riding a bike!”? I think there should be a sister expression: “It’s like learning to ride a bike” which captures the tedium, frustration, and near-death experiences that characterize the bike-learning process. Yeah, I know. This is parent blasphemy. What can I say? I told you I valued honesty.

3. Art Projects. I’m cool with some paper and crayons, even a scissor or two. But once glue, paint and – God Forbid – anything with a needle and thread get involved, I’m totally ready to hand off to someone else. I don’t, mind you. But I’d like to. Which is why I’m *so* jazzed that my daughter is at a camp this week where she’s learning to make her own clothes. Today she came home in a tiger-fur waist coat (vest, for you Americans.) She was so proud of herself. And so was I. And relieved.

4. Science Experiments. Ditto. Mind you, I love the *idea* of a test tube. But once you actually start mixing things in those beakers and waiting for them to react…uh-uh. (And by the way, why do all the experiments require iron filings? I mean, really. Who has those just lying around the house? Sure. Right here with my copy of the Constitution…)

5. Spectator Sports. I enjoy watching my kids compete in sporting events. It’s when they ask me to take them to watch a sporting event that I wince inwardly. This might be because – as someone whose own sporting prowess doesn’t extend much beyond pool and bowling – I just don’t find sports that interesting (Musical Theatre, in contrast? Now you’re talking…). So attending, say, a professional soccer game? Not my cuppa…

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of parenting duties I do enjoy: reading, writing, singing, play acting, playing board games, doing homework, baking cookies, ice skating. And more.

But I’ll happily pass on those listed above.

What’s on your list?


I’m over on PoliticsDaily.com today talking about a controversial CIA torture case in the UK and why it’s been so divisive for this country.

Image: Sewing Lesson by Robert the Noid via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I direct you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. I got a huge kick out of this Q and A with an economist at the Financial Times – Tim Harford – weighing in on topics like why people aren’t having more sex. Check it out! And while you’re at it, check out Joshua Gans’ (another economist!) blog about parenting, Game Theorist: Blog. Fun stuff!

2. As a writer, I love stories of perseverance and second acts. Here’s a compelling story about novelist Erica Eisdorfer finally getting noticed when she joins a novel competition and (nearly) wins. (Hat Tip: Practicing Writing.) And here’s another one about essayist Kerry Herlihy who landed a big scoop in last week’s NYT Modern Love column, where she wrote about her birth mother. (Hat Tip: Lisa Romeo Writes). Bravo, ladies!

3. If you want to catch up on British politics, here are my contributions to PoliticsDaily.com this week on torture, health care and…health care again! The Brits are really P.O.’d that the Americans are slamming the NHS in their health care debates and have begun to fight back…do have a look!

4. Finally, and just for fun, here’s the Guardian’s slide show of art hotels from around the world. Kinda makes you want to take a holiday…


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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons You Should Go To The Dentist

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

One of the dirty secrets of adulthood is that you get cavities. When you’re a kid, you think cavities are just for children because you eat too many sweets. But then you you grow up and realize that – nope – you can still get new cavities or have to refill the ones from childhood.


Dentistry is a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m over on politicsdaily.com today talking about why government-sponsored dentistry in the U.K. is – IMHO – such a nightmare. (Subtitle: “Why The British Have Bad Teeth.”) Have a look.

But in the meantime, here are five reasons why it’s important to see your dentist regularly:

1. It’s Cheaper Than Therapy. Let’s face it. Most of us spend some portion of our time “in the chair” really “on the couch.” And why not? Dentists are such gentle, convivial people. I had one dentist in Chicago who was so comfortable with his patients that he told me he gave one guy advice on getting a vasectomy. I recently saw my own dentist the day my boiler broke and he allowed me to just sit there and swear – literally – for like five minutes. Later, when he was drilling my teeth he said, “Well, as bad as this feels, remember that you’re more upset with your boiler man than me. I’m probably only like 10th on your list of people you hate right now.” (Shame about all that alleged depression/suicide stuff among dentists, but it would appear that those stories are exaggerated.)

2. Tooth Decay is On the Rise. Despite all that fluoridated water, tooth decay is actually on the rise, particularly among the middle-aged and older. The reason? An increased reliance on medications for heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, etc., many of which cause drymouth, which in turn rots your teeth.

3. You’re Likely to Earn More. According to a study called The Economic Value of Teeth, there exists a mild “beauty premium” for having straight, white teeth. (At least if you’re female and not very wealthy). (Hat Tip: Freakonomics.)

4. You get free stuff. (At least in the U.S.) And everybody likes that. Just ask Chris Anderson.

5. You Don’t Want To Have British Teeth. It’s a cliché for Americans to mock Brits for their poor oral hygiene, just as they in turn make fun of us for obsessing about our pearly whites. But – as with most stereotypes – there’s some truth on both sides. And much as I tend to side with my British friends on many things, on this one I’ll proudly call myself American. See my article.

Bizarre, fascinating fact: A disproportionate number of dentists are named Dennis. Really. (Again, Hat Tip: Freakonomics.)


While you’re over at politicsdaily.com, have a look at my post on Hillary Clinton threatening to cut off intelligence-sharing with Britain over a high-profile torture case.

Image: Recommended by Dentists by Guendal via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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