Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekly Favorite Book

Dora the Explorer: Say "Ahhhh!" Dora Goes to the Doctor, by Pheobe Beinstein
My daughter loves this book. I know lots of kids love Dora, but this was our first Dora book at home. I don't know why my daughter loves it, but I will tell you what I like about it. The story is positive, urban and multicultural. Dora's language has bits of Spanish. They ride the bus, and the narrative is interactive. The readers are asked to identify parts of the story as they go.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dance classes for children

Below is a list of studios that offer dance classes for toddlers and preschoolers. We don't have personal experiences with any of them, but they were all recently mentioned on a parents' list.
Mobutu Dance
Noe Valley Dance Space
SF Recreation and Parks
The Tutu School

Friday, February 14, 2014

Motivating your teen

One psychologist suggests that the way to motivate your teen is Tough Love. I would just caution that this is clearly in the case of an overly-protected and coddled teen. Related findings (such as in Po Bronson's books) find that praising actions rather than labels ("working hard" as opposed to "being smart") creates more successful personalities. But the article is about what to do when it's getting to be too late.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Manhattanization of Children's Bedrooms

Not long ago, when we talked about the "Manhattanization of San Francisco", we meant the increasing height and density of the buildings. We've moved past that -- given housing prices are higher in San Francisco by some measures. This causes a range of side-effects including, as discussed in a recent article in the New York Times, mixed-gendered siblings sharing bedrooms.

The article rightfully points out that not long ago, children didn't have their own bedrooms at all and instead slept where ever made the most sense... such as close to the warm fireplace. I would argue that the idea of everyone having their own room is a distinctly suburban one. When I was a child, my mother created an elaborate ruse because she decided one day it would be good for my sister and I to share room. This caused me to feel like I no longer had any room at all and didn't have a place in the house. Meanwhile a lovely large room stood empty right across the hall and, after many years, became part of the inlaw unit. I don't really understand it.

But the article touches on a bigger issue regarding raising a family in the city -- one of the barriers of entry and exit to/from the appropriate scale of housing for each stage of life. Some of my friends in San Francisco moved here after college and rented large apartments with their friends; the roommates dispersed and now those individuals have large rent-controlled apartments with their spouses and families.

But what about everyone else? There's a huge disincentive to leave a rent-controlled unit for a more appropriately-sized one -- you lose your low rent. Once you own, the transactions fees of correcting your housing investment can be prohibitive. Meanwhile emptynesters similarly have no incentive release their family-scale home back to the market in favor of a more manageably-sized one. All this causes a constipated market where housing prices are higher than they need to be because of unreleased of supply.

Siblings sharing rooms is probably a good thing regardless of gender. It forces young people to learn to get along with each other. It creates efficient use of space. And how luck are these kids to live in the cultural hubs of New York and San Francisco? They shouldn't be hanging out in their rooms anyway. But I wish it could be a more conscious parenting choice rather than one that is forced upon urban parents.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


I was excited to learn that Slate: Brow Beat is running a bi-weekly column "about cooking for children, and with children, and despite children." Frankly, this problem of getting my child to eat a healthy, balanced diet occupies way more of my mental energy than I would like. This week, the column is about tuna. We don't eat much tuna at home because I don't care much for it, but the mercury issues is a whole different layer. Regardless, it's always nice to have an outstanding pantry pasta recipe as presented at the end of the column.