Category Archives: Raising a Humanist

How to Car Camp Alone.

Step 1- Set up McMansion. Alone. In the rain.

Step2 – Re-confirm your conclusion of four days earlier that tent stakes that are either plastic or blunt do, indeed, suck.

Step 3 – Ignore the overwhelming smell of sulpher and pray its source is the marsh and not the RV that has just connected its hose to the in-ground poo pot.

Step 4 – Compose thoroughly witty blog posts in your head to keep yourself chuckling  instead of crying and breaking tent poles.

Step 5 – Get inside tent, wrap up in sleeping bag just in time for heavy rains to bust through coniferous tree cover.  Read magazine.  Compose more witty blog entries as you consider the irony of reading Fast Company while broke, alone, and cold in a McMansion tent.

Step 6 – Fall asleep to sound of pounding rain.

Step 7 – Wake up as the pounding turns to drops and the grey light fades to dusk.

Step 8 – Eat cereal standing outside McMansion–since you don’t own a camp chair–in the dark.  Ponder the significance of fires and wish you thought to bring both wood and fire of your own.

Step 9 – Brush teeth in spotless bathhouse scented with bleach.

Step 10 – Go back to bed roll and fall asleep staring at the tips of trees.  Wonder if the occasional waft of sulpher is the cause of your headache.


To Daddy, With Love

I put my hand on his bed rail.  He already held my mother’s hand.

I was reminded, strikingly, of the last time I looked at someone over  a bed rail, and I didn’t like the memory.  I wanted to bravely hold his hand so he could feel my touch.  But I didn’t.  And as I stood there wondering why, he took my hand instead, and managed a little grin in my direction.  I will always be grateful for him unknowingly gifting me a little piece of brave.

He slowly climbed his way through the fog of anesthesia.  And color touched his lips as he groggily opened his eyes unevenly, shut them again, took a deep breath, and opened them once more.

My mother, mommy, blinked rapidly, the little color left in her face draining too rapidly even as it bloomed on the face of her husband.  The relief of his eyes, his breath, his voice, his soft hands, drained her of the little adrenaline left in her exhausted soul.

My heart choked in my throat; I suddenly understood the depth that love can take.  Again.

I expect I will understand this many more times in my life.  And each time it will surprise me and strike me as amazing.  And each time, I will thank the universe for helping me comprehend so that I can remember to reach out to the people around me to fortify this love.

In the end, my life is not about my inability to pay the bills in full, or the mess that is my kitchen, or the lawn sprouting three feet high, or the career that intermittently stalls, it is the people who I love and whose love I cultivate that matter most.

I love you, Daddy, I’m so glad you’re okay.

An Open Letter to BUST: Don’t be a Lemming

Dear BUST,

I am disheartened and frustrated that BUST, a magazine that I trust and love and share with my daughter would hop on the bandwagon of misinformed consumers.  This month, you included one long paragraph about the new LEGO Friends line of toy.  Like a majority of activists, you have latched on to the negative components of their poor marketing strategy without actually playing with the toy, or asking a child to play with the toy.  Case in point, your brief notes included the statement, “According to my back-of-an-envelope calculations using data from Lego’s website…”  Since when is raising strong girls a simple story of number crunching?

Raising strong girls, and consequently, strong boys, is about qualitative interactions, reasoning, and dialogue.  My daughter is 5 and like many girls who walk down toy aisles, she veered away from LEGOs.  No matter how many times her father and I tried to introduce her to the awesome that is LEGO, she just kept walking by.  This is a LEGO MARKETING FAIL, not about the toy itself.  Their website includes ditsy looking figures and the only game is about getting dressed.  The commercials make it look like the toys are full of diamonds the size of your head.  But, did you take the time to open up a box and play with a child?  I doubt it.

Combining kits and creating her own masterpiece. This is the rear view.

Like everyone else, you have used poor marketing to judge a quality toy.  Ask them to change their marketing, but don’t smack the toy with one-sided evidence.  I have a daughter, as I said, she’s five.  And she doesn’t want fantasy play, which is what a majority of LEGOS are.  She doesn’t want to play with figures that are boys.  She wants figures that are girls.  And the LEGOS friends set, gives her that.  It also gives her a play that expands on her everyday world, which is what she likes.  No other LEGO set offers that.  LEGO Friends has opened up the world of LEGOs, it has become her gateway drug to an awesome toy that supports mathematical concepts through following complicated directions, problem-solving, and creative building as well as supporting the development of making-sense of the world through dramatic play.  Now that she has girls to mix in who have puppies, and really cool cars, and vets offices, and science labs, and swimming pools,

LOTR with Dada.

she yearns for Lord of The Rings and Police Officers too, not to mention the circa 1985 space kits that my brother saved and she diligently built.  Don’t compare toys based on the number of pieces and assume they have been dumbed-down.  Sit down with a little girl, open up a box, and build it together.  Then you can decide if it’s a quality toy.  Then, you can support a petition that says to LEGO, change your marketing to tell the truth, include photos of girls on all the boxes, and start adding more girl figures to the rest of your sets.

Because, you know what?  If I were a little boy, I would want the new figures in LEGO friends.  They are far cooler than their tiny boxy counterparts.

Next time you tell us about an activist movement that is meant to change the world, please take the time to gather all your evidence rather than blindly following the crowd, because blindly following is exactly what marketers want you to do.


SerahRose Roth

My original post about LEGO Friends is here.





Thank you, parents

Do-bug and I stopped by her school’s graduation ceremony this morning.

I figured we wouldn’t last the entire time.  And we didn’t.  But I’m glad we went for the first 30 minutes because we were introduced to an extraordinary concept on which I have not had much thought:

After the students solemnly and sweetly marched in, the head of school thanked their parents.  She sincerely thanked them, and then asked them all to stand as she named them one by one.  It was a public acknowledgement that schools produce great students not just because of their teachers, curriculum, resources, and dedication, but because parents are choosing to actively participate in the education of their children.  So they were thanked.

Years ago, when I worked at Chicago Children’s Museum, I remember a day when one of the VPs (she’s now CEO) reminded us that we all needed to remember that even though we want parents to be engaged in their children’s day, we should be thankful that they took the step to bring them.  Because taking your child to a museum, or any cultural event, is an important participatory choice in and of itself.  Our next step is to engage them, but let us first remember that they have made a good choice by being here.

But I don’t recall ever saying to a parent, “Thank you for bringing your child.  This is a good strong choice you have made for the benefit of your child.”  Her comment simply made me want to forgive the parents who sat on benching with their eyes glazed over as their children explored the exhibits.

And here she was, standing in front of the school and thanking each parent for simply being a parent.  I, too, felt appreciated as a parent because although my child has only just finished kindergarten, it is safe to assume that this school acknowledges my worth too.