The 6 Stages Of Mom Yelling (Sometimes It Doesn’t Involve Sound)

Before I had kids, I knew a few things to be true: I was never going to own a minivan, I would never wear yoga pants, and I was not going to be a mother who yelled at her kids. I would see harried yoga-pants-clad moms driving their veritable clown cars around town, and I was amazed to see just how short their tempers were when in Target. I’d stare openmouthed when I’d see a mom lose her shit in the grocery store, and I was certain that if I was blessed with children, I’d never, ever raise my voice — ever.

Boy, did that thinking ever come back to bite me in the ass. Motherhood came along and not only caught me with my yoga pants down but also gave me a giant bitch slap right into reality.

Turns out, a certain amount of yelling is required when raising kids. And I eat my words every single day when I’m hissing at my kids to be quiet in church or using “asshole lips” to get my point across when they are misbehaving in the grocery store.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Yes, I’m a mom who yells at my kids. But before you come at me with your pitchforks, I don’t mean scream-yelling. I am not a mom who always raises her voice. Rather, I’ve come to realize that there are many ways that I “yell” at my kids, and I suspect that you, too, yell at your kids using the same techniques.

1. Pursed Lips, aka “Asshole Lips”

Usually accompanied with a stern “Get. Over. Here.” the pursed lips method of yelling at your children is usually best for those times when your kids are misbehaving in front of your in-laws, or those moments in libraries when your kids are disturbing the peace by running through the aisles like maniacs. And pursed lips are almost always the optimal choice for shutting your kids up in a movie theater.

2. Clenched Teeth, aka “I. Said. NO.”

If you troll the aisles of any Target or grocery store, you will inevitably see a mom with clenched teeth issuing a cease and desist order to her children. This form of yelling is reserved for those times when you are in public and you just cannot even with having to say no one. more. time. Clenched teeth are also used when the ice cream truck rolls down the street and when the kids beg for more tokens at Chuck. E. Cheese’s.

3. The Single Eyebrow Raise, aka “Stop. Right. There.”

Of all the methods of mom yelling, I have perfected the art of the Single Eyebrow Raise. In fact, my kids stop in their tracks when they look at me from across a crowded playground and see my right eyebrow raised in a distinct arch. The Single Eyebrow Raise is best used when your kids behaving like assholes but out of earshot. Museums, community pools, and playgrounds are all places you will see moms executing the eyebrow raise of discipline.

4. The Unsettling Smile, aka “The Singsong Voice”

I don’t know about you, but my brothers and I were masters at misbehaving at corporate functions, company picnics, or any place where my parents were trying to impress others. We always knew we were in for it when my mom would say in a sugar-sweet voice, “You need to stop that right now, sweetie. It’s rude to stand on a chair that way.” She’d always say it with a creepy smile and wide eyes, and we knew that we’d hear about it on the way home.

5. Complete and Total Rage, aka “Your Neighbors Will Behave Too”

Okay, I admit, this style of mom yelling is the least acceptable, but we have all had those moments when motherhood has gotten the best of us. Whether it’s discovering that your kids have cracked an entire carton of eggs on the floor or someone just flushed your favorite sweater down the toilet, we have all lost our mom shit Incredible Hulk style. And usually, it’s when your windows are open.

6. Total Silence, aka “Shit Just Got Real”

And then there are those moments when yelling just won’t do — those moments when you have to stop and take stock of the situation because you are speechless from rage. Moms of teenagers know this type of mom yelling well, because let’s face it, teens can be total assholes. Total Silence isn’t used often, but when you invoke this style of yelling, let’s just say, the kids quake in their boots.

I am not proud of losing my patience with my kids sometimes, but the fact is, sometimes a mom has to do what a mom has to do in order to get her kids to act right.

Why Are Dutch Kids The Happiest In The World? Maybe It’s The Hagelslag

Lazy Sundays are an absolute must in our household. In any case, most places are closed, or open only in the afternoon — if you’re lucky. Bram will be busy in the kitchen, preparing an elaborate breakfast, and I’ll be on the couch in the living room, breastfeeding Matteo and planning our afternoon nature walk. Julius will be in his room, playing on his own with his Duplo.

Today, the morning sunshine and crisp fall air outside have put us in a good mood. Bram is making wentelteefjes, the Dutch version of French toast, which he serves with goat cheese and strawberries, mango and blueberries. I’m looking up local trails on which to hunt for fly agaric, those elusive red mushrooms with white dots on them. Until I moved to the Netherlands, I thought that these red mushrooms belonged in the fantasy world of Super Mario Brothers, in fairy tales, or with garden gnomes. It turns out they grow plentifully here, and are known for their toxicity and hallucinogenic properties. We’re on a mission simply to admire these beauties from a distance.

“My love, take a look at this,” cries out Bram from the kitchen-dining area.

I turn my head toward the table. Julius is sitting in his high chair, an infectious grin on his face. Our 3-year-old has helped himself to breakfast. In front of him is a piece of bread piled high with unsalted butter and hagelslag — chocolate sprinkles.

“No wonder Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world,” I think to myself. “Who wouldn’t be happy if they could have chocolate first thing every morning?”

I can already hear gasps of disapproval and disdain from the perfect moms of the internet. Chocolate for breakfast? You wouldn’t think that starting the morning with a sugar rush would be a brilliant idea. And he’s created a horrible mess. Butter is smeared all over his high chair, as well as his face and hands, and there are chocolate sprinkles all over the floor.

My husband and I look at each other. Shall we reprimand him? Instead, we burst out laughing and count it as another sanctimommy fail. Obliv­ious, Julius starts gobbling his hagelslag sandwich, and my husband snaps a picture of his happy face.

Breakfast of champions

So is there something special about eating hagelslag for breakfast? Is that really what makes Dutch children so happy? Judging by the reac­tions of American kids on a fascinating BuzzFeed video inviting them to try traditional breakfasts from around the world, it was clear that this Dutch breakfast had won their hearts. What kid wouldn’t want to eat breakfast every morning if chocolate was on the menu? But kids in other countries also eat sugar-laden foods, often in the form of cereal — Coco Pops spring to mind. No, I think it’s more about the fact that the Dutch eat breakfast as a family.

According to the 2013 UNICEF report — the one that suggested that Dutch kids were the happiest in the world — 85% of the Dutch children aged 11, 13 and 15 surveyed ate breakfast every day. Sitting down to eat around the table as a family, before school and the working day, is a routine that underpins Dutch family life. In no other country do families eat breakfast together as regularly as they do in the Netherlands. I’m aware that, in American and British families, breakfast is a meal that’s often skipped altogether, in the rush to get out of the house on time.

What the Dutch seem to understand is the importance of eating reg­ular meals, starting with the meal that breaks the nighttime fast. There’s an abundance of research that points out the benefits of having break­fast every morning: It’s said to reduce the risk of snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day, decrease the risk of obesity and increase a child’s ability to concentrate at school. The Dutch are champions of breakfast time and seem to be happier and healthier because of it. But the real point is that they put as much value on the idea of starting the day together around the breakfast table, a calming and bonding experi­ence for all the family.

A healthy, balanced diet?

I was surprised that chocolate sprinkles are the centerpiece of breakfast across the Netherlands. Didn’t the Dutch know about the importance of a well-balanced diet low in fat and sugar? It’s true the Dutch have built a reputation, especially among expats, of preparing and eating stodgy, uninspiring food. Perhaps the best way to describe the Dutch approach to eating is that it’s utilitarian: Foods should be easy and quick to pre­pare, affordable and nutritious. The only difference between a typical Dutch lunch and a typical Dutch breakfast is the three hours in between: Both are based on open sandwiches. Dinner, the only meal that is eaten hot, is often referred to as the holy trinity of meat, a vegetable and a car­bohydrate. Haute cuisine it ain’t.

Yet, according to recent research, the Dutch no-nonsense approach to eating may be the way to go. An Oxfam study undertaken in 2014 declared that the Netherlands had “the best food in the world.” Oxfam, an organization working to fight global poverty, looked at four cri­teria: whether there was a plentiful supply of food, how affordable it was, whether it was good quality, and whether it caused high rates of obesity and diabetes. The UK came in 10th. The US was way below, in 21st place, because although food in the US scored high in affordability and quality, the country’s ranking was brought down by the high incidence of obesity and diabetes.

The UNICEF report supports Oxfam’s claim. Dutch children had the lowest obesity rates of all the 29 industrialized countries sur­veyed. Only 8.36% of Dutch children aged 11, 13 and 15 were deemed obese. Sadly, in every country except for three — the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland — childhood levels of obesity are now over 10%. The results show that the best place to eat in the world is not France, somewhere in the Mediterranean, or Japan, but right here in the Netherlands. In spite of all that butter, bread and hagelslag, the Dutch eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s pretty much affordable to everyone.

This morning, as we watch our toddler happily eat his Dutch break­fast, his head swaying blissfully from side to side, his legs kicking to and fro, I finally realize what hagelslag is all about. Pausing for a moment and just looking at him, silencing all the neurotic and anxious voices in my head, I understand that, apart from his obvious enjoyment of the sweet taste of chocolate, my 3-year-old son is content and proud to be able to choose and prepare his own breakfast. This translates into self-confidence. It really is all about the hagelslag.


This post is an excerpt from The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less ©2017 by Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison. Published with permission of The Experiment.

Hey Kids, You Really Do Want Me To Say ‘No’ Sometimes, And Here’s Why

There they stood: my three oldest sons, mouths wide open as I put a scoop of icing onto each of their tongues. This was their reward for smiling for a family picture without a meltdown.

Yes, I bribe them for things like this. And yes, I am far past the phase of feeling guilty for doing so. So there I stood, tablespoon in hand.

As the icing dripped from their mouths, they looked up at me giggling and said, “You’re the best mom ever.” Then they looked at each other smiling. They couldn’t believe the reality of the moment. I was having fun too — until I heard my oldest son continue.

“No, Mom. Really, you’re the best. I can’t believe you’re letting us eat icing out of a can.”

Suddenly, my stomach dropped. He meant it to be a compliment. And the innocence of his accolade to my amazing mothering skills should’ve made me feel happy too. But instead, I felt a need to step back because I could truly see it in his face. He really thought this was me showing him my love — evidenced by his dimples practically jumping off his face.

I couldn’t help but remember what had happened the night before with this same son. I had told him no to something he had wanted to do, and he got so upset with me. He couldn’t understand why I would say no to this one request of his. But I stood my ground. And I remained strong. “No, son. You just can’t do it.” And he was angry.

I heard nothing of how great of a mother I was then. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Is it really that simple to them? Is love, to them, so skewed? As I pondered this, the laughing and the giggles confirmed the answer was “yes.”

So I thought long and hard the next day about what I wanted my sons to know about my love. Then I wrote this letter to them (and really to myself too):

Dear Child,

I want to teach you a lesson about what makes me a good mom, and what makes me a mom just wanting you to smile for a picture, so here goes.

In life, you’re going to hear me say no more than you’re going to hear me say yes. And when you hear that word “no,” I want you to know it’s another way of me saying, “I love you.”

Yes, I know. It’s doesn’t feel like that. It feels like I’m blocking you from what you care about. But you’re wrong. Because what I’m really doing is blocking something from hurting what I care about. And what I care about is YOU.

So you’re going to hear me say no — a lot. Or at least a lot more than you want me to. And you don’t always have to understand my reasoning. You don’t always have to understand my ways. I don’t even care that you do.

I just need you to know that most often I am being a better mother when I give you limits than when I do not. I would not be loving if I did not do so. Sometimes loves says no.

And don’t get me wrong, I will say yes as much as I can. Because I love to make you happy. But me loving you is not always about making you feel happy. So please don’t confuse the two.

And about that icing last night, a good mom may have chosen to say no to you because she cared more about your teeth rotting and obesity and the sugar high that would prevent you from going to sleep easily after eating all of that sugar. That love you thought you tasted? That was bribery.

My actual love for you is so much deeper and sweeter. And don’t you forget it.

Love,

Your Mom Who Is Going to Tell You No

Toilet Seat Covers Don’t Prevent Disease, But I’ll Use One Anyway, Thank You Very Much

An article titled “Why Using Toilet Seat Liners Is Basically Pointless” has been making the rounds. It was written in 2014 by Huffington Post‘s Amanda Chen, but it seems like social media archaeologists have unearthed it again, and now I can’t seem to avoid it in my Facebook feed. USA Today even made a classy little video about the article’s subject.

Chen interviewed William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center who told her this, “That’s because toilet seats are not a vehicle for the transmission of any infectious agents — you won’t catch anything.” Then she points out that the original reason seat covers were invented were to prevent the transmission of gastrointestinal or sexually transmitted infections, but that idea has since been refuted in research.

Ultimately, using a toilet seat cover is basically a psychological thing now. It has nothing to do with preventing the spread of infections. The best protection you have is your butt skin. So now we are all left with a question: Do we stop using them because they don’t work, or do we keep layering paper on toilet seats because it makes us feel better about using public toilets?

This is a hard one for me, and I have to assume for others too. I’m actually addicted to these things. Sometimes I use two, depending on the nature of the toilet. When you pair two covers together like that they slide around a bit, but it’s cool. I end up with a pretty good core workout. And yes, I know that there are some environmentalists reading this right now who are not going to like that, but honestly, a naked public toilet seat feels like rubbing my bare ass against a complete stranger’s bare ass, and I just can’t live with that.

There are just certain things I am not ready to change, regardless of science. I’m not going to poop in a squatting position, regardless of how many Squatty Potty commercials I see showing me how crimped my lower intestines are. I’m not going to stop drinking diet soda regardless of how many people post articles on my Facebook page about how many tumors I’m probably developing. I’m not going to take my shoes off in the house even though there is hard data showing me all the nastiness I’m tracking into my home. And despite this information on toilet seat covers, I’m not going to stop using them. In fact, I have a little boy at home, and I’ve strongly considered getting some toilet seat covers for me to use in his bathroom because the kid can’t aim worth a damn.

What I can say about all of this is that unless my children are peeking in on you while you are doing your business in a public restroom (sorry about that, we are working on it), no one has to know whether or not you use a seat cover. It’s basically a guilty pleasure now.

Please keep in mind that this is just my experience that has lead me to a personal preference for paper-lined seats — my personal hang-ups. And women out there, I assume you have some real hard thinking to do because you spend a lot more time in the saddle than men.

Now here’s the really scary part. The more I think about this revelation concerning toilet seat covers, the more I wonder what this says about me. Usually, I’m a pretty big believer in scientific discovery, but this little slice of facts I can’t handle, and I wonder what else I can’t handle. Perhaps it’s because I’m in my 30s, and I’m starting to get stuck in my ways.

I’m not sure.

But what I do know is this. Amanda Chen ended her article with this very important message: “What does help to tamp down on the spread of gastrointestinal illness is hand-washing.”

Now, this I can get behind. Regardless of where you stand (or in this case, sit) on the toilet seat cover argument, please wash your hands. For the love of humanity, wash your damn hands.

10 Simple Ways Kids Can Volunteer In Their Communities And Make A Difference

These days, so many of us are feeling like we want to do something to address the inequalities, injustice, and heartbreak we see in the world and our communities. We are looking for concrete ways to make an impact, to do something — anything — for those who are in need or struggling.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a strong tug to get my children involved. This past Christmas, after I did my annual cleaning out of their closets, I showed my kids the stuff I’d found that they no longer played with, and I told them to make three piles: a pile of stuff they absolutely could not part with; a pile of stuff they wanted to give away to family or friends; and a pile of stuff they wanted to donate to children in need.

We had been talking about the fact that not every child has the privilege of being showered with gifts for the holidays. When I told my youngest that some children may not even get presents at all, his jaw dropped to the floor. And when it came time to decide what to do with all his extra toys, he decided to donate them all to Goodwill. My older son did the same.

I was proud of the way my kids had chosen to give, and for the lessons it taught them, but I realized we have to do more, much more. So I brainstormed a list of simple things we can do to give back to our communities:

1. Donate meals.

Hunger and food poverty is something you can easily explain to your kids. And there are easy actions you can take to help. You can grocery shop together, and then go to Feeding America to find your local food bank for donation. Remember that homeless shelters and food banks don’t just need food during the holidays. It’s important to donate during the off-seasons to fill in the gaps.

2. Set up a “Blessing Box” outside your home.

This past October, Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton set up a “blessing box” in their front yard, which they filled with free food and hygiene products. As Huffington Post reports, the mother and son placed a sign on the door that read, “Take a blessing when you need one. Leave a blessing when you can.” And that is just what people are doing. What an awesome idea, and a great way to give back to your community!

Visit the local mosque with your children to show support and solidarity.

More than ever, our Muslim brothers and sisters need to know that we stand with them, support them, and have their backs. Last Christmas, after visiting his local mosque, my friend Christine’s 10-year-old son decided to donate to the mosque for Christmas. What happened next was an amazing exchange of love (and gifts) between her son and another family from the mosque. You can read the rest of the totally inspiring story here.

Volunteer at a nursing home in your community.

In high school, I volunteered at the local nursing home. I was usually the youngest one there, and the residents would totally light up when I walked in. And if young children came in, forget it — even the residents with severe dementia or Alzheimer’s were remarkably moved by the bright, incredible energy of the kids. Often, a nursing home will pair you up with a particular resident so that you can form a bond with them.

Donate your children’s old clothes and toys to a local children’s hospital.

Probably the easiest thing to do with old clothes and toys is to donate to Goodwill or another charity organization. But dropping them off at a children’s hospital has the added dimension of bringing good cheer and happiness to the kids there. It can be uncomfortable for our kids to see some of the sickness and despair that is present at hospitals, but when they see how much their smiles and gifts make a difference, it will be worth it, and they will learn and grow because of the experience.

Clean up your neighborhood or local parks.

Next time you go to the park, take a trash bag and spend a few minutes cleaning it up with your kids. This will be especially appropriate in the weeks after winter, when park spaces tend to get less TLC. Heck, while you’re at it, organize a flower planting event to get ready for spring. The kids will love the extra opportunity to get their hands in the dirt and beautify the local spaces around them.

In the winter months, donate warm clothing to local shelters.

It’s astonishing how much our kids grow, and it’s often likely that you’ll have some warm clothing that needs a new home. Donate, donate, donate. When I think of a young child not having warm enough clothes on these bitter cold winter days, I am heartbroken. But there are concrete things we can do to help. Click here to find your local homeless shelter.

Create care packages and thank-you cards for local service people in your community.

Our firemen, police officers, paramedics, and other Good Samaritans don’t get nearly all the accolades they deserve. So bake them some cookies, send them some adorable kid-created art, and write some notes of thanks. Then deliver them by hand. Your kids will be thrilled to meet these real-life heroes (the feeling will be mutual!).

Hold a fundraiser for charity.

Last summer, my kids had a blast hosting lemonade stands in the front yard. They were pretty excited about their profits too — and they made more than a few bucks! This coming summer, I’m going to encourage them to take it up a notch, and donate a portion of their earnings to nonprofits like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. This will also give us an opportunity to talk about what these organizations do, and why they are vitally important right now.

Find out what a local women’s shelter needs, gather materials, and donate.

According to GreenDoors.org, each day, about 200,000 children are living without a home. The majority of homeless families (84%) are headed by mothers, many of whom were driven out of their homes by domestic or sexual abusers. Women’s shelter’s truly are safe havens for these women and children, and can really help to protect them, and get them back on their feet. These shelters are always in need of supplies — from diapers, baby food, feminine hygiene products, clothes, toys, and more. Click here for a directly of women’s shelters, and how to donate.

This list isn’t an exhaustive one, not by any means. Once I started brainstorming, I realized that there are actually so many ways you can get your kids involved in their communities. And if you happen to feel overwhelmed by all the choices, pick one or two to concentrate on and go from there. Every little thing makes a difference, large or small. The idea is for us all to get involved, and teach our children that there is a world out there beyond their four walls, and it is everyone’s responsibility to make it a better place.

You Don’t Have To Be A Grandma (Or A Farmer) To Be A Gardener

If you’ve even been to my house then you would notice that in all the windows are small potted plants and next to them little tea saucers with small piles of seeds. After years of training, I now know that when I do any of my husband’s laundry I must check his pockets very carefully because there will inevitably be a few seeds of some interesting plant he found in the forest hidden away in the lining of a pocket. He was born a gardener.

But I was not. For many years, I was the designated murderer of anything that requires chlorophyll to live. No houseplant made it past a month in my care. I even killed a cactus once.

Gardening, as it turns out, can be as cheap or expensive, simple or complex, as you want to make it. You don’t need to be a farmer with expansive land — or even own any land at all, for that matter. And you don’t need to be a grandma with a lifetime of Farmer’s Almanac style tricks and old wives’ tales about how herbs work or ways to ward off pests with strategically planted marigolds and mint.

If you want to get started with gardening with your kids, or for yourself, you can grab a few old yogurt containers, poke some holes in the bottom for drainage, fill with potting soil that you can grab from any hardware store, and let your kids toss in some seeds. Water the soil, place in a sunny window — and wait. I suggest starting with something fun like zinnias or even radish, these grow fast and are fun to watch.

If you rent an apartment and have no backyard, you can create a simple container garden with lots of small pots. Some folks even take container gardens to the next level by using a wooden palate (think Pinterest project) and filling the gaps in between the slates with yogurt containers of soil and seeds. When the plants start to grow and create a barrier so that the soil won’t fall out, you can hang the palate on a sunny wall inside or outside and have a really cool jungle effect. Plants that work well for this kind of project are herbs like mint, basil, parsley, and sage. Nasturtiums create a waterfall-like effect and are full and lovely with brightly colored flowers that you can actually eat (they taste peppery, add them to salads).

If you have a backyard big enough for some ambitious projects, you can try checking out books like Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together With Children by Sharon Lovejoy. The colorful pages are filled with great science facts about plants and insects for kids, and the fun and imaginative projects include things like a pizza garden where kids can grow all the toppings they will need to make their own pizza. There is even a fabulous (and unbelievably simple) fort project that creates a secret hideout for kids to play in.

The best part about gardening is that it gives parents a hands-on opportunity to explore science with their kids. From learning how seeds grow into plants to incorporating bugs (try creating a butterfly terrarium!), parents can take these small and fascinating moments of rapt attention from children and use it to lay down some awesome knowledge about how nature works.

But be careful, gardening can be a gateway experiment to other more complicated things like physics and math. For example, my kids have turned into budding gardeners thanks to my husband’s love of nature (and my willingness to learn how to stop killing our poor houseplants). They have started taking a keen interest in learning other cool science based things like how to build and use a compost bin, how to build and set up bird houses, and at one point, with the help of a professional, my oldest son even saved a swarm of bees.

You just never know what will happen when you start mixing seeds with soil, kids will ask a million questions, and if you’re willing to go down the road of curiosity with your child, will lead to some amazing projects that will lead to a lifetime of learning and passion for nature. It’s one of the things I love most about my husband, and I’m thrilled to see our children head down that path.

 

A Win! Supreme Court Unanimously Rules In Favor Of Higher Educational Standards For Students With Disabilities

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously March 17 in favor of higher educational standards for children who have a disability in one of the most important education cases in decades.

The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, argued just how much educational benefit public schools must provide. While some lower courts had ruled the need for a “meaningful” educational benefit, others required only a bit more than de minimis — the bare minimum.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court discussed nine different levels of standards of education. They ruled unanimously (8-0) that schools must do more than provide “merely more than de minimis” education for students with a disability and instead provide them with the opportunity to make “appropriately ambitious” progress.

There are roughly 6.4 million students with disabilities between ages 3 and 21. Roughly 13% of all American students are students with disabilities, making this case important for a wide group of students.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, stating that a school must offer an individualized education program that is “reasonably calculated” for each child’s circumstance in order to meet its obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

“It cannot be right that the IDEA generally contemplates grade-level advancement for children with disabilities who are fully integrated in the regular classroom, but is satisfied with barely more than de minimis progress for children who are not,” the opinion read.

The “merely more than de minimis” language has been used in other special education cases in the lower courts, including by Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Gorsuch answered questions on the new ruling during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national legal advocacy organization advancing the rights of people with mental disabilities, often advocates for students with disabilities to receive the educational opportunities other students receive.

Prior to the decision, Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, said, “We hope that the Supreme Court will issue a decision in Endrew F. that recognizes that an ‘appropriate’ education for students with disabilities is one that reflects the expectations we have for all students.”

Each year nearly 400,000 students with disabilities leave school — almost 40% without a high school degree. Only 65% of students with disabilities complete high school, which is a key contributor leading to just 1-in-3 Americans with disabilities having a job, causing many people with disabilities to live a life of poverty.

This, in turn, leads to high costs of government benefits for those not working, plus the increased risk of falling into the school-to-prison pipeline. Indeed, there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities behind bars in our country today, most of whom are illiterate.

“As someone with a disability, who also knows what it means to parent a public school student with multiple disabilities, I am thrilled with this decision,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, a nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. “School for students with disabilities today can be a disaster. Our family had to move so that our children could go to a great public school that does the right things for students with disabilities. However, most people do not have the flexibility to pick up and move to a different school district. Every child should have access to the education and skills they need to succeed. This Supreme Court decision can mean that students with disabilities can succeed, just like anyone else.”

Listen Up, Arkansas: College Campuses And Sporting Events Are Not A Place For Firearms

Last week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a new law that will force the state’s public colleges and universities to let people with concealed carry permits and minimal training bring hidden, loaded guns onto campus and into sporting events, including the University of Arkansas’ Razorback Stadium. The bill also allows guns in campus daycares, airports, and bars.

Governor Hutchinson chose to sign this bill despite widespread opposition from experts and advocates across the state, including every Arkansas college president, many campus police officers, and the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. In fact, these laws are incredibly unpopular nationwide: 95% of college presidents and 94% of college faculty oppose guns on campus.

Moms Demand Action volunteers spoke out against the Arkansas bill and even met with the governor twice in an attempt to dissuade him from siding with the gun lobby over key campus stakeholders, law enforcement, and other constituents he was elected to serve. But with the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist at his side, Governor Hutchinson held a press conference to announce he would sign this dangerous, unnecessary bill.

And now post-signing, the governor can add Southeastern Conference (SEC) commissioner Greg Sankey to the list of influencers who agree this new law is a terrible idea. On Tuesday, Sankey released a statement requesting the Arkansas legislature move to exempt athletic events and sports arenas like the Razorback Stadium from the bill.

“Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events adding weapons increases safety concerns and could negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics program in several ways, including scheduling, officiating, recruiting and attendance,” Sankey wrote.

I commend the commissioner for speaking out against this reckless law, and I encourage others with powerful platforms to do the same. Given the influence of football in the South, the commissioner’s call for an exemption for athletic events and sports arenas will undoubtedly result in change. And while I’m grateful for his voice, the perks of powerful lobbyists and associations to successfully demand change are reserved for those who can afford it.

Football matters, but so do families.

This bill will still allow guns in places they don’t belong and put our families’ safety atrisk. Who will speak up for students and faculty on Arkansas campuses who are afraid fights will lead to gunfire? For the parents who worry guns around depressed or intoxicated students will lead to suicide?

Sadly, everyday Americans don’t have access to powerful lobbyists.

For now, Moms Demand Action volunteers are their voices. And that’s why the work we do — in Arkansas and across the country — is so vitally important. That’s why the women in the red Moms Demand Action T-shirts are at hearings, press conferences, and rallies, and in statehouses and governors’ offices every step of the way.

We will not stand on the sidelines while lawmakers beholden to gun lobbyists fumble the safety of our children.

Having A Kid Who Gets Car Sick Is Hell

One parenting milestone that we could all live without is that first time your child pukes all over the car. Every parent has a nightmare story about projectile vomit in an enclosed space, and some parents even drive another 10 hours after that happens, which proves parents truly are rock stars.

Any parent who has had to drive with a kid covered in puke for more than five minutes knows that you can pretty much survive anything parenting throws your way after breathing through your mouth for hours.

That’s why parenting a kid who gets car sick can be hell. I was that kid growing up. We had what we lovingly called an “urp bucket” in the backseat of our minivan at all times. My sister and I were both born with this incredible ability to get sick on long road trips, or short ones. It didn’t matter, really. Sometimes it was just my dad’s driving that would do us in. While I’ve blocked out most of those memories, I do remember throwing up large quantities of grape Kool-Aid that one time. It’s etched into my brain. (And now it’s etched into yours too. Sorry.)

Now that I’m a little older, and almost always get to ride in the front seat, I don’t suffer as much. There are still times when I have to make my husband pull over, so I can step on solid ground for a few minutes and get some fresh air, but they are far and few between.

Of course, now that I can manage a car ride without barfing all over, I have a kid just like me. He gets sick in the car, and it can be awful. He came home from an outing with a bunch of friends one time and looked as pale as could be when he walked through the front door. He went straight to the bathroom and puked. Apparently, he had been shoved all the way in the backseat of the minivan that had a “weird smell” because all minivans do if we’re being totally honest.

But other times we haven’t been so lucky. There was the chicken nugget resurface of 2011 that is still seared into my memory six years later. And I swear, despite washing the car seat and wiping down the straps, I can still see stains from the milk incident of 2014. Recently, one hour into a long road trip, this same child started getting really pale and really quiet. My own puke history clued me in to what was happening. We were on the freeway in the middle of nowhere, and we had to sit on the side of the road for 20 minutes so he could breathe some fresh air. Car sickness can make an already annoying road trip seem like hell on earth.

Many families have an experience — or three — with a pukey kid in the car, but when you have a kid prone to car sickness, traveling anywhere can be a complete nightmare. And since we’re preparing to take a long road trip with our kids in a few weeks, I think it’s timely to share what helps our little family survive car trips vomit-free.

Teach your kids to look out the window.

This is a simple trick, but lots of kids don’t know that if they are coloring, reading, or watching the iPad, they might get sick. Have screen-free time and encourage your kids to look out the window instead of down in their lap. I remind my kids often that when I was there age, I just had to entertain myself with songs and made-up stories.

Make sure everyone has had a good meal.

One thing I’ve noticed is that if my son in the car with a sensitive stomach, it helps to not have an empty one. Give your kids a chance to eat outside of the car too if possible. Sometimes smells in the car can make it worse. The smell of chocolate is, of all things, my worst enemy when I’m feeling pukey. Although it seems like an empty stomach would be better, in the long run, keeping my kids’ bellies full helps keep the car a vomit-free zone.

Keep supplies on hand.

When I go on road trips, I don’t take an “urp bucket,” but I do take supplies. I have empty grocery sacks, paper towels, and wet wipes within reach at all times. Towels and an accessible change of clothes can’t hurt either. Trust me, there is nothing worse than panicking at the last minute when your child is about to hurl and realizing you have nothing to catch it. If your child gets really sick on short trips, consider having a little bag in the car at all times along with a change of clothes.

Keep air flowing.

Make sure your kids get plenty of air in the backseat, and check on them often. Even in the winter, it helps to have a little air circulating so that no one gets overheated and everyone feels like they can breathe. Mom cars are disgusting, so make sure there aren’t smells that will trigger nausea. And let’s be real: This may require getting your car professionally detailed before big trips.

If all else fails, try some anti-nausea meds or tricks.

Talk to your pediatrician if it gets really bad. They may recommend something like a small dose of Dramamine. You could also go a more natural route by trying ginger ale or some other natural anti-nausea remedy like peppermint oil.

Don’t be a bad driver.

I’m sorry, but some people are just worse drivers for those prone to car sickness. I had a friend who made me car sick every time I rode with her. Basically, slow and steady is the key.

Listen to your child.

My last bit of advice is to believe your kid when they say they don’t feel well. It doesn’t take much for those of us who have this problem to upchuck our lunch, and you’d rather take a few minutes to give them a break, than have to breathe with your mouth open for 10 more hours. Trust me.

The Incomparable Magic Of Watching Your Child Learn To Read

We’re snuggled in my 7-year-old’s bed, his head resting on my arm wrapped around his shoulders. He holds one side of a Winnie the Pooh book and I hold the other. He reads the last sentence out loud, then looks up at me, beaming.

“Mommy!” he squeals. “I read the whole thing!”

“Yes, you did!” I reply. “Look at you!”

It’s a moment I’ve experienced with each of my three kids, and it’s incomparably magical every time.

There are many noteworthy milestones in a child’s life, but there is nothing like watching your child read a whole book all by themselves for the first time. The learning to read process is wondrous and mysterious and unique to each child. When the various moving parts all come together and it finally “clicks,” it’s like seeing an entire world open up for them. As a parent, it’s an unbelievably fun and rewarding thing to witness.

Our oldest daughter read extraordinarily early. I remember telling a kindergarten teacher that she was reading fluently at 4. “Some kids memorize books and seem to be reading,” was her response. Um, no. The kid could read practically anything you put in front of her. She had a freakish interest in letters and words from the time she was a baby, and formed a connection to the written word much earlier than our other two. We used to joke that she came out of the womb with a book in her hand. (“Book” was, in fact, her first word.)

Our second kid read quite a bit later. In fact, I started to wonder at age 7 if she was ever going to read. She did okay with the mechanics for the most part, but she didn’t enjoy it. She never read for pleasure and pushed back on every attempt to get her to read for school. She was our feral child, much more interested in galavanting around in nature than sitting down with a book. But one day, her older sister started reading a series about cats, and she got hooked. She went from complaining about reading to spending hours a day devouring novel after novel.

Now our third kid — my baby boy who just turned 8 — is just entering that fluent reading stage. In the past year, he’s gone from sounding out most words to only having to decipher the big ones. And it’s been every bit as exciting and amazing as it was with the other two.

Reading is a significant tool for learning — perhaps the most important one as a child gets older. When you can read, you can go to any library and learn about literally anything for free. Reading stories can make us more empathetic and tolerant as well. Both fiction and non-fiction reading affects the way we think, the way we look at the world, the way we understand others and ourselves. I can’t imagine a life without being able to read.

Of course, there are some downsides to a child becoming a fluent reader, especially if they read early. It’s a special parenting moment when your 6-year-old scans the magazine covers in the check-out line and says, “Mommy? What’s an ‘orgasm’?” (Thanks, Cosmo.) You have to start shooing them away from your phone when you’re texting your husband about something you don’t want them to know about, or tell them to stop looking over your shoulder when you’re reading an article about Syrian children and their parents’ dismembered bodies. That whole new world is not always age-appropriate, so it adds a new complexity to parenting.

But that’s nothing compared to being able to discuss things they’ve read, or watching your child get so engrossed in a book that they don’t want to put it down. One of my favorite things to see is a kid tucked into bed with a book and a flashlight, even if it means they’re staying up later than they should. It’s a beautiful thing.

There aren’t many parts of parenting small children that I’d want to relive, but this is one. As much as I’m thrilled that my last child is reading, I’m a little sad that this is the last time I’ll get to see this process unfold in detail before my eyes. Watching a child enter the world of literacy is like watching a seed open up and become a flower — you know that it’s going to happen, but it still seems miraculous and magical every time it does. I have been awed by it with each of my children, and it will forever remain one the greatest joys of my parenting journey.