Catholic School Back To School Shopping: Myths vs. Realities

Ah, Back-To-School Shopping : such a gentle, consumeristic way to get over the end of summer vacation. However, as two life-long Catholic school students, our experience wasn’t everything the Staples and J.C. Penney commercials led us to believe. I’m watching the cycle all over again with my nieces and nephews – the public schoolers getting cute new outfits and the Catholic school kids getting their first necktie at age 5. [Find me something cuter than a kindergartener in business casual.] In honor of our ’90s and ’00s memories, here is a study in the contrasts between back to school shopping for Catholic schoolers and, if not real public school students, at least the too-cool public schoolers we saw on TV.

Clothing

File under: My childhood as a walking Irish Catholic stereotype.

Expectation: I’m going back to school with a new wardrobe that will mark me as one of the cool kids!

Reality: I am wearing the same plaid jumper from the same Plaid Jumper Store as all of my classmates. Somehow, kids manage to sort themselves into Cool and Uncool anyway.

[Note: there is a 50/50 chance your uniform is a hand-me-down, or your mom bought it at the used uniform sale your school holds at the end of the school year.]

Expectation: At least maybe some fun, cute outfits for after school!

Reality: Those are called “play clothes” and they don’t come from the store, they come from a trash bag your aunt drops off every time your next cousin up has a growth spurt.

[Note: I realize there are Catholics without cousins but I’ve never met one.]

Accessories

Expectation: And don’t forget the accessories!

Reality: … Which are knee socks, a navy blue cardigan, and a shirt with a Peter Pan collar during that five-decade range after Peter Pan collars went out of style in the ’60s and before they came back in style on Zooey Deschanel.

If you’re fancy, please add a headband in the same plaid as your uniform.

Jewelry

Expectation: Wearing some jewelry, I guess.

Reality: Bracelets are not allowed. Non-post earrings are not allowed. Necklaces are a pendant on a thin chain. If you want to consider rosaries jewelry (“WHICH THEY ARE NOT” – every Catholic reading this post, before I could even say it, right?), you can have those. But you cannot wear them, for Pete’s sake.

School Supplies

Expectation: Lisa Frank binders! Lisa Frank notebooks! Lisa The Frickin FRANK IT ALL UP.

Reality: There is a specific, solid color that every subject uses. Does The Vatican secretly operate the Mead company?

Expectation: Don’t forget a trapper keeper to stay organized!

Reality: Trapper Keepers strictly verboten.

Hair

Expectation: It would be so much fun to try a bright color or a crazy new ‘do to show people how much I’ve changed over the summer!

Reality: “No extreme hairstyles” – Catholic School Student Manual 29:11

Shoes

Expectation: I will narrow down the most in-style looks and then pick out some sneakers, a pair of cute shoes, and maybe something a little dressier.

Reality: Your uniform requires shoes that meet all of the following criteria: black or navy blue. No laces. No wedges. No mules. No sneaker soles. Heel must measure less than one inch at the highest point. No ballet flats.

You are left with orthopedic nun shoes.

[Note: If you’re really wondering how we sorted out the cool kids, their moms bought them cute shoes that skirted the Shoe Canon of the student handbook, whereas uncool-kid moms followed it to the letter. As to what camp I was in, let’s just say I still like a sturdy pair of Clarks.]

 

 

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The Fastest Rising Baby Names of 2015 (And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2028)

They’re finally here: the top 1000 baby names of 2015 in the United States! What, you DON’T wait for this news all year? The standard caveats:

  • This is the official Social Security compilation of births registered in the US. Any of the US-based 2015 lists you saw before now were collected from baby name websites and were based on what the website users were naming their kids OR what names people were looking up, but not necessarily using.
  • When we talk about the “fastest rising names,” these are the ones that have made the biggest leap in the past year. Usually a few news outlets will treat the fastest rising names like they’re the most popular, even though they are given to comparatively few children. We didn’t work out the data ourselves: the lists came from the incredible Baby Names Blog.
  • I don’t dislike any of these names. Except for names like Adolph or Lucifer, or that don’t follow the rules of spelling or pronunciation in any language, I don’t think there are “bad names.”
  • Whether you give your kid a top 10 name or a name given to only 10 kids in the whole country, whether you pick a fastest rising name or a fastest falling name, there’s a good chance they’ll grow to hate it by age 13, because 13 year olds are the worst version of humanity.

We looked at 2013 and 2014, so now, let’s examine why your kid will hate today’s fastest rising baby names of 2015 by the time they’re 13 in 2028:

Girl Names

Adaline

If you think this type of name has been popular for a while now, you’re right. There’s the super-popular Addison and its many spelling variations. There’s Adalyn, spelled myriad ways. There’s also Adeline, which is basically the same thing as Adaline, just with an E. Plus Adalie (again, spellings abound) and my personal favorite of the Ad- names, Adelaide. The result: although only Addison appears near the top of the charts, taken in total it “adds” up to a whole lot of girls with similar-sounding names. So is your Adaline (lovely name, by the way!) going to grow up annoyed that, despite your careful choice of a name that isn’t too popular or too weird, she’s one of several Addies in her Brownie troop?

In a word, no. Your irrational 13-year-old Adaline will be annoyed when, after years of begging for an American Girl doll, she receives Addy because it has her name… when she really, truly had her heart set on Josefina. Nobody ever said tweens made sense. But also, just ask any millennial which American Girl doll she wanted but never got. She’ll remember.

Alaia

Alaia follows the recent trend of liquid, vowel-packed girl names: three syllables and only a single consonant in the pack. You might not know any Alaias, but you’ve probably run into an Amaya, Anaya, Ayana, Aliyah, Amara, Aria, Ariana, Aubriana, etc etc etc. So how could a little girl grow to hate a name that’s right on-trend? By entering the world of middle school, which can turn the sweetest child into a door-slamming teen who says things like “I didn’t ask to be born” when you deny her request for Abercrombie jeans (I’m predicting that in 2028, early 2000s fashion is back and so is distressed Abercrombie low-rise denim). When she and her friends begin watching Clueless at sleepovers, her nickname quickly becomes “A-what-a.” Hey, don’t say you didn’t see it coming when your custom Instagram hashtag for her as a baby was #ThisIsAnAlaia.

Aitana

Aitana, a name I’ve never heard before, is pretty. And like Alaia, it follows the starts in A, ends in A trend. Apparently it was used by a pair of Mexican actors in 2014 and comes from the Spanish mountain range Sierra de Aitana. There’s no GOOD reason to dislike such a perfectly nice name with a beautiful origin… but there’s a bad reason, and a 13 year old will find it. How were you to know your Aitana would have an early growth spurt and furiously demand to know “why you named me after a MOUNTAIN?”

Meilani

So it turns out Meilani is not a Hawaiian name! It’s an invented variation on Melanie, and its popularity is mainly due to its use by JWoww of Jersey Shore fame. We have three options for why your Meilani will hate her name even though it’s so fun to say:

  • You chose the name because you liked it. No problem there. But when little Mei presses you for why you chose the name, you told her it was in honor of your honeymoon in Hawaii. Then she learns that the name isn’t Hawaiian at all… and that you honeymooned at a nearby casino. Whoops.
  • You named her after your sister-in-law Melanie, who is currently Meilani’s least favorite aunt.
  • Throughout her elementary school years, its similarity to the first lady’s name leads classmates to call her Meilani Trump. Also, Melania Trump is First Lady. So really, everyone loses in this scenario.
Aislinn

I’m a big fan of Irish names with their original spelling, and if you named your baby Aislinn, so are you. Pronounced Ash-lin, Aislinn means dream or vision and is unrelated to the name Ashley or its spinoff, Ashlynn. It’s a name so nice that you and little Aislinn won’t mind correcting people on the pronunciation… until the World’s Worst Substitute Teacher asks if “Ass-lin” is present.

Boy Names

Jonael

Talk about a fast rise: Jonael is only number 919 for 2015, but in 2013 it ranked in the nine THOUSANDS. It’s all down to a talented tot who won La Voz Kids on Telemundo. Jonael is one of those names that sounds like it could be a biblical name (it isn’t), combining the Jon of Jonah or Jonathan and the -el ending of Daniel, Nathaniel, Gabriel, and so forth. It could even be a creative way to honor a grandpa John or an uncle Michael. One little problem: history has shown us that it’s a risky proposition to name a kid after a child star. Can I get an amen from the 9-year-old Mileys out there?

Matteo

I love Matteo! More international-sounding than Matthew, but still kind of comfy and familiar. Along with Mateo, Matteo is climbing the charts. By the time your Matteo is 13, we’re down to the same problem your brother Matthew had in the 1980s: so many Matts in a single class!

Riaan

Riaan is a Hindi name, and isn’t just a weird way to spell Ryan. But tell that to the World’s Worst Substitute Teacher (see: Aislinn), who goes on a 5-minute rant about creative spellings. Or to the World’s Worst Doctor’s Office Receptionist, who insists on pronouncing it Ryan but holds the “a” for a really long time.

Note: World’s Worst Substitute Teacher is based on a woman my friend worked with who insisted on calling a student named Juan “Joo-ahn” and would not hear that that was actually a proper spelling/pronunciation of the name. These people are slowly dying off but many will still be alive in 13 years.

Adriel

What could be better than an easy to spell, easy to pronounce name that’s as old as the Bible itself? Not much! But when Adriel discovers that his character’s story is mostly confusing genealogical stuff, he just wishes you’d gone for one of the flashier characters, is all.

Kyrie

In addition to being put on the girl’s gym class list (thanks, Kylie), Kyrie is treated to rounds and rounds of “kyrie eleison” – causing the teacher to pronounce it “keer-ee-ay” instead of “ky-ree,” like basketball player Kyrie Irving. Just HAD to spring for the Catholic school, didn’t you?

 

Mama From ‘All-Of-A-Kind Family’ Was Some Kind Of Genius: C+S Book Club

Sweep out the sukkah and check the china shepherdess for buttons, because it’s time for another edition of C+S Book Club! Rather than lamenting that Amy March is a total bitch, or revealing that Marilla Cuthbert was, in fact, a creepy church hag, today we’re going to talk about someone who is better than you and I could ever dream of being: Mama from Sydney Taylor’s All-Of-A-Kind Family. Mama was so clever and calculating that I almost wanted to call her an evil genius, but she was also the kindest, most chill mother in RL-4 chapter book history.

Look. I don’t have children. But I did read that one book about how our children would be classier if we raised them like French children, and I’ve seen some episodes of SuperNanny, which is a show about how our children would be classier if we raised them like British children from 1905. Plus I’ve read those articles that Facebook friends post about why children shouldn’t have technology and fast food, as well as those other articles that Facebook friends post about why children should have technology and fast food. And let me tell you: not a ONE of those so-called experts had anything on Mama. Case in point: her dusting scheme.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then chances are you didn’t read All-Of-A-Kind Family. If you did read it, the dusting ploy is seared in your memory along with chocolate babies and that time Henny got lost in Coney Island. (FREAKING HENNY, am I right?) The chapter was titled Dusting Is Fun, because it was 1951 and Sydney Taylor didn’t really have to try (honestly, what was her competition in children’s entertainment? The show Lassie. That’s it.). By the end of that chapter you, a grubby-faced 90s kid wearing a t-shirt decorated with puff paint, wished you were an old-fashioned child in the Lower East Side dusting for free. And for fun. That is how powerful Mama’s dusting plot was.

Ready for the scheme IN ITS ENTIRITY? Hold on to your pinafore. Mama hid buttons around the front parlor. By the way, their house only had like 4 rooms and one of them was a parlor used strictly for fancy decorations and pianos, that’s how high-class Mama was. Okay, so then the dusting girl had to find all of the buttons while she was dusting. Also Mama got straight-up sneaky with it, like those buttons were under table legs and piano keys. You had to DUST. IT. UP. If you found all of the buttons, you had done a good job dusting.

All right, let’s talk about the genius parts of this plan:

  1. The girls never knew how many buttons there were. Say you’ve found 5 buttons. You couldn’t just call it quits at that point, because maybe there were 9 buttons that day. You had to dust every damn thing, and only then could you be sure you had all of the buttons.
  2. Mama kept it fresh. Sometimes she’d bring out the buttons a few times a week, and sometimes she’d wait two weeks because what did she care, she had those little dusting girls under her spell and they would WAIT FOR IT. They’d wait for those buttons.
  3. In case you missed it, the prize was that you had done a good job dusting. Mama raised her kids to want to do a very good job at something because it feels good to know that you’ve done a very good job. Mama quarantined four children with scarlet fever in a spotless 4-room apartment during Passover; she knew that you didn’t get a ticker tape parade every time you did a damn chore.
  4. But Mama was the best ever because one week she hid a penny every day. Judging by how much candy the girls could buy for a penny, it was basically a dollar. Do you know how great it is to find a dollar when you’re cleaning? Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie sure do.

Mama wasn’t all dusting and parlors, though. She also was really good looking. The girls introduced her to the Library Lady and they were so proud because even though she had, at the time, 5 children, she didn’t look like the other women in the neighborhood: “like mattresses tied about the middle.” Which admittedly sounds harsh, but you know exactly what they mean. I’m sure they’d all love Mama just as much if she were a lumpy mattress-lady, but the point is Mama had a whole bunch of kids and her figure and outfits were still on point.

While Mama enforced rules, she was lenient when it mattered. When Sarah made that big fuss about not eating her rice soup that one day, Mama stuck to her guns, but once Sarah had a few bites of the gross congealed soup she let her move onto something more appetizing. (I loved re-reading that chapter, because it so reminded me of when you’d get stubborn about something or throw a fit as a kid, and you wouldn’t even know why you were doing it, but you couldn’t will yourself to stop.) And when Gertie and Charlotte used their pennies to buy candy and crackers and ate them in bed, Mama played it like she had no clue, just because it makes kids feel smart and important having a secret.

The All-Of-A-Kind Family was medium-poor. They were second generation-ish Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side in 1912 long before their neighborhood became some sort of real estate holding for foreign billionaires. However, Papa had a scrap shop and they lived on one floor of a house instead of in a crowded tenement, so they were doing pretty okay. Mama was really good at being medium-poor. She was frugal where it counted, but she still allowed for splurges like a trip to Coney Island, or a treat when they went to the market.

If I can have one quibble about Mama, it’s that she finally had a boy and she named it Charlie. Look. One of my favorite real-life little boys is named Charley. It’s a great name. PLUS Adult Charlie from the book is such a cool grownup. You spend the whole time hoping that he and the Library Lady will meet and hit it off and … well. You know the rest. (Also: another post about the Library Lady, maybe?). So it’s great that Mama names a kid after him. It’s just … Mama. Did you forget you already have a Charlotte? She’s going to have so much Middle Child Syndrome. On the whole Mama picked good names – Library Lady even said! – so I can’t be too annoyed. And at least she didn’t name him after Uncle Hyman.

Library Lady = the Miss Honey of this series.

If I have kids, I’m going to skip the parenting guide telling me to make my children be more French. I’ll bypass the naughty step. I’ll steer clear of the Facebook click-bait. As far as I’m concerned, the best parenting guide there is this one weird old chapter book with no real plot. If I am even 1/10th of the benevolent evil genius Mama is, I think my kids would turn out just fine.

 

Beauty Advice For My Goddaughter

Someday, my goddaughter is going to move mountains, I’m sure of it. But today, she turns 7. Seven! People born in 2009 are seven years old. After meeting her at the hospital, I took the train back to Philadelphia and watched President Obama’s inauguration on tv. Seven years.

I take my godmother job very seriously, and for a very good reason. M’s mother died last month. My brother is an amazing dad, but there are things he won’t know to tell her.

Beauty advice is one of those things that isn’t too hard to think about right now — because it isn’t important. I don’t care if my niece wears sweatpants and a ponytail if that’s what she wants, but she’s artistic and colorful and gets real joy out of beautiful things – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Here’s some of my essential information for Miss M., when she’s ready for it:

  • Sometimes, one of your friends will get really evangelical about a hair or skin care product that they think is the best thing ever. There’s a good chance that it won’t work on you, but it’s okay to try it anyway.
  • There will come a time when you want bangs. You have curly hair. It might never look good. Getting into a years-long cycle of cutting bangs then growing them out again is totally acceptable and is actually how I spent my teens and 20s. It’s like a casual hobby.
  • If you have a hair tie, bobby pin or safety pin in your purse, and somebody else needs it, it is now community property. 
  • Always buy clothes that fit. Odds are you’re going to stay small-boned and skinny (but it’s fine if you don’t) and when clothes hang off of you, you will look like a Dickensian beggar.
  • Dickensian beggar is an OK look for weekends but probably not job interviews.
  • If you aren’t totally sure about a tattoo, don’t. Even if you fall out of love with something later on, it will be more okay if you at least were certain when you got it.
  • If it’s too itchy, get rid of it.
  • There are two kinds of people: people who take off their makeup every night, and people who wake up with smudgy faces and smudgier pillowcases. You know what kind of person to be.
  • Hang up or neatly fold your clothes. They will last longer.
  • Sunscreen. Every day. Forever. Because your lineage is half Puerto Rican, half snowman.
  • There’s a 5-8 year window when the things you wore in high school will be really embarrassing to you. Don’t throw away photos of those outfits – someday you’ll love looking at them.
  • Never tell anybody that what they’re wearing is “flattering.” That’s lowkey insulting.
  • Never listen to anybody who tells you that what you’re wearing is “flattering,” either. You look good, not the clothes.
  • You asked your dad to save all of your mom’s clothes for you, which was amazingly forward-thinking for a six-year-old because your mom had great style. Take good care of them, but if something gets ruined, remember that your mom would have wanted you to wear things and enjoy them, not keep them locked away. You will give them life again.
  • Try not to be too jealous that your brother’s hair gets more compliments than yours. There’s an excellent chance that he will be bald one day. Let him have this moment.
  • If you ever go to a school where you have a uniform, rejoice! I know some parts of it aren’t great but your mornings will be so much easier.
  • While we’re at it: you can try to make a school uniform or your ballet tights and leotard look cool, but chances are it’s just going to call attention to how uncool they are.
  • Your favorite bit with your dad (though you pretend to hate it) is when he “yells” at you for being too pretty. But seriously, you are really pretty. That is only one thing about you and it’s not why any of us love you.
  • Always be yourself. When you were chatting with your baby cousin last month and we asked what you were teaching her, you answered “just always be yourself.” So kiddo, this isn’t a lesson you need, but in case you ever forget.
  • ‘Highlighting’ is where you paint white stripes on the parts of your face you want people to look at. It will probably be very out of style by the time you’re wearing makeup, but if you go to a 2010s-themed party in college you should totally do it.
  • A few days before Christmas, I let you splash too much in the bath, brushed your hair into two shiny black pigtails, and got you dressed in a white dress that your other aunt bought. It seemed so wrong that we were going to your mother’s memorial. But there will be other white dresses for happier days – your quince, your graduation, maybe a wedding – and I’ll be there to help you then, too, if you want it. And probably if you don’t, because you are never, ever getting rid of me.
  • Until your mid-20s, cheap moisturizer is fine.
  • Every once in a while, a rumor goes around that you can use hemorrhoid cream on puffy under-eyes. Maybe that works for some people, but personally: it makes your puffy skin extra-shiny AND it makes your face smell like a butt. An ailing butt.
  • The first time something you wore in your youth comes back into style, you’re going to feel terrible. Get used to it, because once it starts it doesn’t stop. Chances are when you are 80 all of the young kids will be wearing the spacesuits or whatever that were popular in your 30s.
  • If you’re afraid of overdressing or underdressing for an event, just wear something simple but make sure your hair and makeup is on point.
  • If you ever, ever, ever find yourself saying that you can’t cut your hair because your significant other will hate it, either that person is garbage OR you really don’t want to cut it and feel better hanging that on someone else. Take a minute and figure out which it is, okay?
  • It’s better to be a tween with braces, if you need them, than to be an adult trying to figure out if your insurance will cover orthodontia. You will probably look back on the years of 11-15 as awkward ones anyway, and the braces are an investment in the future.
  • Assuming selfies are still a thing when you get older, try to take 3 unnecessary cat pictures for every 1 unnecessary selfie. Not because there’s anything wrong with taking pictures of yourself, but because it’s been scientifically (not at all) proven (by me) that excessive photos of pets in your social media accounts will keep out the wrong element. (Plus every girl needs that one Weird Cat Aunt, and I’m yours.)
  • You will not become prettier or healthier by “flushing” “toxins” from your system. M, this fact will appear on several of your lists.
  • You will not become prettier or healthier by “flushing” “toxins” from your system BUT you will be prettiest if you drink enough water, eat enough fruits and vegetables, move a lot, and live a life that makes you happy.
  • Here are my favorite things about you: during the last week I spent with you, you called 4 days “the best day of my life.” You believe in all of the best things, like unicorns and mermaids. You ask good questions even though they’re hard for us to answer. You dance instead of walk. You are unfailingly patient and helpful with your baby cousins and none of us are really joking when we say we’d let you babysit them. You know your mind better than anyone I know. None of those things have anything to do with what you look like, but they are what make you one of the most beautiful people I ever could have imagined.

You’ve Got A Lot To Live Up To, Saint

If you’ve been keeping up with the Kardashians as of late, you know Kimye welcomed their second child over the weekend. And after two days of speculation of what baby boy’s name would be, Kim finally revealed their son’s name:

Naturally, anyone’s first reaction is of confusion.

Then the realization it’s legit:

and acceptance:

So I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been seeing it everywhere since Monday, but I think the name is actually growing on me? I had a similar reaction when they announced North West, but the winning point for me was that they would be calling her Nori, which is adorable. Saint, though? First of all, someone let ‘Ye pick the name. Second, what would his nickname be, if anything? Third, Saint is like, not a name. To be fair, *what even is a name anyways*??

However, to put things in perspective, Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy rocker, ex-husband to Ashlee Simpson, father of son Bronx Mowgli) and his girlfriend had a son last year and named him Saint Lazslo, but the reaction was definitely not as fervent as it has been with Saint West. Kim and Kanye are an easy target, so unless they named their son Robert (after Kim’s late dad) as rumored, they would’ve gotten shit for anything they named him. But who even remembers the fact Pete Wentz named his son Saint a year ago? No one.

To also give Kim and Kanye more props, let’s be honest here – it could be worse. His name could’ve been Audio Science or Pilot Inspektor. Now those are REALLY not names in the slightest. With Saint, it implies a greatness to be achieved, whereas Audio Science, Shannyn Sossamon’s son, could be a major at MIT. There is of course a caveat to having a name like Saint – it gives him a lot to live up to. Just like being a Kennedy or even a Kardashian, there’s a stigma and pre-judgement that comes with a name that you have no control over. So if Saint West needs any advice on how to live up to a name larger than life, he can consult with these other celebrity babies who have just as odd if not more odd names than him.

Royalty {Daughter of Chris Brown}

Chris didn’t actually have anything to do with the naming of his daughter, since he found out she was his well after her birth, but it somehow seems exactly the right name that he would give her anyways. He’s also been treating her as such ever since the truth about his paternity came up, so much so that he’s named his upcoming album Royalty, and in the spirit of philanthropy, he’s also donating proceeds of the record sales to the Children’s Miracle Network hospital. He’s a *changed man* y’all.

Messiah Ya’ Majesty Harris {Son of T.I.}

That is not a typo, that apostrophe belongs there. Perhaps it was because it was T.I.’s first kid that he thought he needed to go big or go home, so he went for our savior, Lord Jesus Christ as the name for his baby.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Valor {Son of Emile Hirsch}

Valor {noun}: great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.

Valor {proper noun}: Hufflepuff.

 

Happy Hinds {Son of Macy Gray}

Wouldn’t it be great if he could just change his name depending on his mood? Today he’s Happy, tomorrow he’s Outraged, next week he’s Flabbergasted.

King Cairo {Son of Tyga and Blac Chyna}

Is he just supposed to be treated like a king in general, or is it that he rules over the city of Cairo?

Atlas {Son of Ed Norton}

Despite what you may thinking, Ed Norton’s son wasn’t named after the huge ass book of maps, but rather the Greek god who was condemned by Zeus to hold up the sky forevs. TBH, this seems like the most difficult of all the names to live up to, since your name LIT’RALLY means to hold the world on your shoulders. I can’t even wear heavy coats.

Titan Jewell Witherspoon {Son of Kelly Rowland}

Although Kelly’s said the name itself has to do with family, it still bears heavy on the kid, since Titans were Greek gods of incredible strength. Sure you want your kid to be strong, but what if he’s a crier and a chess player? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Moxie Crimefighter {Daughter of Penn Jillette}

For a little backstory, Penn and his wife EZ (those are her initials) wanted to use a “purely American” name like Moxie to represent spunk and energy. As for the CrimeFighter part, Penn’s wife thinks middle names are stupid and they chose “CrimeFighter” as a joke. A JOKE. Who’s going to be laughing when there’s a murder to be solved and the only person who can seek retribution is Moxie CrimeFighter?

Kal-El Cage {Son of Nicolas Cage}

Literally his son is a superhero. He is Superman.

What To Buy: A Baby You Know

Welcome to What To Buy, a semi-recurring holiday gift guide feature I’m doing since I’m looking all of this stuff up anyway. It feels like all year I think of gifts that would be perfect for people, only to panic and scramble for gifts once November and December roll around. This year, I’m sharing my thoughts for anyone else in the same boat. Julie Andrews always told us to start at the very beginning, so that’s what we’re going to do … with gifts for babies, who are the beginning of people.

Something you probably know about me: I know a lot of babies. I don’t actually have one, which is great. There are a lot of people that I like hanging out with but I wouldn’t particularly want to be roommates with them, and babies fall into that category. But I think they’re really fun once they get a personality on them, and they’re some of the easiest people to buy for because they’re happy with an empty box. For gift giving purposes, we’re calling babies anything from brand new to age two or so, when they start to fall into the kid category.

For The Baby Who Loves 90s Hip Hop And Has Dreams

I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller or I Wish I Was A Baller shirt from tribeisalive

 

 

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This is my niece, Lulu. I’m obviously biased but I think she’s as cute as a bug  – and at 17 months, she’s also about as big as one. She probably does wish she was a little bit taller but you can’t blame an auntie for wanting her to stay this size forever. Also comes in I Wish I Was A Baller, and is available in onesies or – why not – adult sizes. Lu has a great Jump Up Jump Up And Get Down shirt from the same site, but it seems to be no longer in stock.  $23, tribeisalive.com

[Because you didn’t ask, my personal criteria for “clever” baby t-shirts and onesies: nothing that references the father’s fertility or the fact that babies poop and pee. Why are those so popular?]

For A Baby Who Is Cold

Knitted hat that makes them look like something other than a baby

Baby it’s cold outside … is NOT a song you should sing to a baby. Creepy song, that. But it’s also a fact of life this time of year. One of the great things about babies is you can make them wear ridiculous things and they don’t know, like the adorable hats from Melondipity. These cute knitted caps are also a good way to circumvent that whole issue of not being able to find cute boy or neutral baby clothes. $19.99, melondipity.com.

For A Baby Who Likes Taking Things Out Of Containers And Putting Things Back In Again

Autumn Acorn Color Sorting Bowls

Autumn Acorn Color Sorting Bowls //  Wooden Bowls & Acorns // Wooden Educational Toy // Montessori // Waldorf

I know that sounds like a really specific type of baby, but if you also know a lot of babies you know what I’m talking about. I try to avoid anything that is probably full of lead paint and parabens, and if I were shopping for a sort-crazy baby this year something like this wooden set is just what I would go with. And since adults are the ones stuck with baby stuff strewn about their house, the bonus is that wooden sets like this are a lot less loud and ugly looking. $29.00, Simple Gift Toys on Etsy.

For The Baby Who’s Working On That Walking Thing

Plan Toys Push Toy

PlanToys® Push Toy Storage Capacity

During that wobbly stage, toddlers are so much happier to walk when they’re pushing something. This van is adorable and leaves storage space for kids to take a stuffed animal or two along for the ride. It’s also non-babyish enough that I could see it getting worked into pretend play into the early childhood years. $60.99, target.com.

For The Baby With A Crafty Gift-Giver And A Blank Bedroom Wall

DIY Name Sign

Not at all sorry for bombarding you with my Lu. My sister-in-law made this for her own baby’s room, but it would be a great gift, too. Use scrapbook paper and mod-podge to cover wooden letters, available at most craft stores, and accent with flowers or balloons, also in the scrapbook section. It’s a thoughtful, fun gift that will ensure that the baby you know never forgets who they are (as soon as they learn how to read.) $10 – 30 for supplies, JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels.

 

For The Baby Who’s Growing Teeth In Its Mouth

Josephine Mouse

Chances are, the baby you know already has a Sophie the Giraffe – but do they have Sophie’s friend Josephine yet? A few parents have raised choking concerns about Sophie’s long neck, although looking at the toy and the babies I know, it just doesn’t seem possible. But if you’re concerned, you might like the mouse’s rounder shape. $16.10, Target.com.

For The Baby Who Still Has A Lot Of Growing To Do

Set Of 30 Milestone Baby Cards

Milestone cards

It can be hard to document all of a baby’s firsts. If you know parents who aren’t painstakingly writing every moment in a baby book, they probably still have time to bust out the camera phone when baby does something new. These milestone cards provide a space to put the date the baby hit those big milestones, like smiling and saying mama. Parents can just write the date on the card, prop the card up next to the baby, and snap a photo. Instant, easy baby book. $24.59 for a set of 30, NotOnTheHighStreet.com.

For The Baby Who’s Sleepy

Constellation projecting turtle light

 

 

The soft light from this projector will create a peaceful glow in the baby’s room … and make parents 50% less likely to stub their toes walking into a dark room in the middle of the night. Win-win. $34.95, hammacher.com.

For The Musical Baby

Baby Instruments

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Instruments aren’t just great for a baby’s burgeoning musical abilities, they also help teach cause and effect. Pro tip: go for the non-electric ones that are baby, rather than battery, powered. The parents will thank you. $19.93, thejunglestore.com.

For The Baby Who Likes A Good Story

Baby Lit books

Pride & Prejudice

I have bought these for so many babies, and they always get a great response. No baby is too young to get drawn into the Bingley v. Wickham v. Darcy debate. Other titles include Sherlock, Wuthering Heights, Moby-Dick, and many more. If you’re a lit nerd trying to get your favorite babies on board – guilty! – these are just the ticket. $9.99, babylit.com.

 

Where Are They Now: Every Kid From Your Second Grade Class

My oldest nephews, who were born in February 2007, finished second grade this week. That is absolutely astonishing to me. It’s hard to grasp that people who didn’t exist until 2007 can walk and talk, let alone read chapter books and multiply two-digit numbers.

Looking at these big kids (up to my shoulders!), I’m reminded of the Up Series.  In the early ’60s, British filmmakers interviewed seven-year-olds from different backgrounds and social classes. The premise: “to get a glimpse of England in the year 2000. The shop steward and the executive of the year 2000 are now seven years old.” They were testing the Jesuit maxim “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” The filmmakers have followed up with the participants every seven years; they are now approaching 60 years old.

There are other Up series filmed throughout the world. The first installment of the American version was released in 1991, so when I watch it I’m seeing kids grow up in the same time I did. The really amazing thing is that in many cases, the child at seven does tell you a lot about the adult they’ll become.

So how about those kids we all seemed to have in our second grade classes? Do you think we can accurately predict where they are now? Maybe not – but it’s fun to try.

The Nose Picker

Also known as the Gross Kid. As a child, I lived in fear that I was the Gross Kid even though I was hygienic. And as an adult, I sometimes still feel like a grown-up version of the Gross Kid.

But you know who doesn’t feel like that? The actual grown-up version of the Gross Kid. Because the hallmark of the Nose Picker/ Gross Kid/ Smelly Kid was that they were utterly oblivious to their own filth. This kid has not become an appealing adult. He has become that guy at your office with the rumpled shirt who is always faintly smelly, or the sticky guy who you hope doesn’t chose the elliptical next to you. She’s that person whose apartment may be surface-clean, but the sink always has a layer of grime.

If the Nose Picker was an unappealing kid because his parents just didn’t care, though, not because the kid was oblivious, then he is probably very tidy and fastidious now.

The Dinosaur Kid

How about that one child who knew everything about dinosaurs (or fighter jets, or bugs, etc)? Chances are this kid is the expert in some super-specific field, but has left the dino t-shirts behind. But if you go see Jurassic World with a former Dinosaur Kid this summer, be prepared for a tirade on the inaccurate skin folds of the velociraptors, because once you amass that much knowledge about a subject it doesn’t go away, it just gets locked up for a while.

That One Kid Who Showed Up Halfway Through The Year

Remember how one kid would show up halfway through the year, introduced by the principal, and then they’d be gone at the start of the next school year? That kid made friends fast – in part because everyone was so taken with the novelty of an unfamiliar kid, and in part because if you switched schools a lot, you sort of had to know how to make friends quickly. So it would come as no surprise that That One Kid Who Showed Up Halfway Through The Year is now a person who instantly gets involved in a new workplace or neighborhood.

The Kid With The Healthy Lunches

Well, they’re probably thin, but good God, at what cost?

Actually, I take that back. The kid with the aggressively healthy lunches raided his friends’ Dunkaroos and Pop Tart Bites every time he went over to to play – I should know, my friend had the good junk food and I did the same. By high school, they probably developed a Claudia Kishi complex and snuck unhealthy snacks. This kid is now an adult who buys lunch from a vending machine at work.

The Kid With The Good Lunches

You know how some children were destined to a life of Lunchables and Handi-Snacks when your lot in life was bologna sandwiches and lukewarm yogurt? Those Good Lunch Kids had 20 minutes of joy in the middle of every school day. I like to think they still create happiness with little things, like as adults they have a living room with one really unexpected piece of art, or they’ll wear a normal weekend outfit with a punchy pair of shoes.

Or, childhood Type II diabetes. One of those.

The Kid With The Statement Piece

It always seemed cool when a child had one thing they always had with them. Think Harriet the Spy with the tomato sandwiches. Or the boy with the purple socks, also from Harriet The Spy. Or Punky Brewster’s mismatched shoes, or Blossom’s hats. By now, this person has outgrown their statement piece. The boy who always wore suspenders is not still wearing suspenders. But they still like to get noticed right away, so look for a gregarious personality or some chunky jewelry. In second grade, the kid with the statement piece knew his own mind, so now they’re adults who have to have their house, car and workspace just the way they want it.

These are the people who have customized license plates.

Dress Girl

I went to Catholic school, where every girl was Dress Girl. However, I still knew some of those girls who even in their free time insisted on wearing dresses. All dresses, only dresses, every day. Sometimes it was a religious thing but usually it was just a preference. Dress girl is not someone who works in fashion. Dress girl just chilled out at some point and realized that pants are useful for things like exercising, or windy days. But she’s mostly just someone who wears a lot of dresses, still. Sorry.

That Kid With A Ton Of Siblings


Your eyes don’t deceive you, that’s Jamal Lyon and Jess Merriweather in the best show nobody seems to remember.

If the Kid With A Ton Of Siblings was the oldest – or one of the oldest – in their giant family, there’s an excellent chance that this person is now an Adult With No Children, enjoying the blissful sounds of silence and sharing their wardrobe with nobody. In the immortal words of Kevin McAllister, when these kids grow up and get married, they’re living alone.

The Two Kids Who Look Alike But ARE NOT SIBLINGS

They never talked to each other again. But one has a spouse who looks like them. When they have kids, nobody can say “he looks just like his dad” or “that’s his mom’s nose!” Instead it’s like “yeah… that’s the only face those two faces could have created.”

Any other ginger kids out there? Then you know the very real struggle of being asked if you’re twins if there’s another random ginger in the class.

The “Half Hour Of PBS” Kid

Often a crossover with the Healthy Lunch Kid, remember that one kid who was allowed a single half-hour of public television once a week? Yeah, she spent a lot of time playing outdoors, developing an imagination, and getting acquainted with her local library, but she never knew what the heck was going on on TGIF. And like the Healthy Lunch Kid, this child binged on SNICK and Tiny Toons as soon as a play date began.

This could have gone one of two ways. Either this kid is now a TV blogger, or she’s one of those people who manages to drop the fact that she doesn’t own a TV into every conversation, relevant or not.

He Had A Rat Tail

He doesn’t, now.

The Kid God Forgot To Color In

Me, ’90s, skiing cow sweater, you’re welcome internet.

Oh, bless. That kid with pasty skin and pink-rimmed eyes is now an adult with slightly less pasty skin. For some reason, this child eventually ended up allergic to everything, as well. The quote from Community comes to mind – it’s like God spilled a person. The pasty child is now a grownup who doesn’t leave home without sunscreen, Zyrtec, eye drops, an inhaler, and maybe an epipen. And tissues, because for some reason frequent nosebleeds go along with this whole setup.

And yes, this kid is me. Now excuse me as I fish my flonase out of my purse.

The Girl Who Knows Everything

Nobody in the world knows more than a seven-year-old girl. Especially THIS seven-year-old girl. Unfortunately, knowing everything is not the best way to ingratiate yourself with your peers.

The Girl Who Knows Everything probably forgot that she knows everything for a few years there – junior high or high school – but her Hermione Granger tendencies won out and now she’s in an upper-level position in the Ministry of Magic got a pretty good job.

The Kid Who Wants Everyone To think He’s Rich


God bless typecasting. I feel like our child-selves should have been friends.

What’s more insufferable than a rich kid? A kid who wants everyone to KNOW that he’s a rich kid. This is the girl who told everyone that she got her Halloween costume from the deluxe tier, or the boy who referred to his pool as an “olympic-sized swimming pool.” I’m not saying that this kid is rich now, but they probably have a subprime mortgage on a flashy McMansion and lease a nice car that’s beyond their means to own.

The Fastest-Rising Baby Names Of 2014 (And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2027)

If you had a baby in 2014, enjoy! In 13 short years you will be the parent of a surly teenager. Surly teenagers hate many things, but their own name usually tops the list. That’s why last year we examined the top baby names of 2013, and why your kid will hate them in 2016. It doesn’t matter how restrained or normal the name was, how well-planned or creative — sometime in the next few decades you may have to answer to your child’s wrath. It’s not your fault.

Last week the Social Security Administration released the 2014 baby name rankings – the official list of every name given to more than 5 children in 2014. Since the top 10 names are mostly the same as they were last year, this year we’re looking at the fastest-rising names. Now, many of these were not highly ranked at all, given to maybe a few hundred kids, but what’s unusual is how quickly they skyrocketed. All the more reason for your children to hate them. We’re anticipating some of the kids’ arguments, but don’t worry if you’re the real parent of an Aranza or Bode: I don’t think any of these names are really terrible.

[Fastest-rising calculations courtesy of the Baby Name Wizard blog.]

Girls

Aranza
  • Aranza is a telenovela name, a form of  Arantxa (your daughter thanks you for not choosing Arantxa). Basically any name that pegs the mother as someone who watches a lot of soaps can be sort of embarrassing. Just ask all those 20-somethings named Kendall and Lucky.
  • It’s sort of simultaneously beautiful, yet also sounds like the name of an evil cartoon spider. Teenaged Aranza will latch onto the latter opinion.
Daleyza

Awww. Who WOULDN’T want a kid like little Daleyza?

  • Again, 13-year-olds are the worst: any name, however pretty, with the syllable “lay” in it will be the victim of dozens of dirty jokes.
  • A child will figure out that it sounds like “the laser” or “the lazy” and make even more jokes. None of them will be good or funny, because again, middle school.
  • People are stupid, so by 2027 little Daleyza will be tired of explaining that it’s not Da-LIE-za or Da-LEEZ-a.
  • If you think soap opera names will make your kids roll their eyes in 13 years (don’t worry, moms and dads, most things will make them roll their eyes in 13 years): try reality TV names. So it is with Daleyza, from mun2 reality show Larrymania. Fortunately, little Daleyza will have plenty of classmates with names like Khloe and Bethenny to keep her company.
Everly

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X7b2E_Jq-k]

  • Everly Brothers: charming, old-school 1950s musicians, or hokey as hell? Tween Everly thinks hokey (don’t worry, she’ll come around).
  • Everly kind of sounds like a weird adverb. That’s not really a bad thing, just an observation. They lived everly after. I’ll mow the lawn wheneverly. She’ll have this name foreverly.
Montserrat

Montserrat has it all: it’s not new or made-up. It’s a place name, and it has religious significance. And all of that will be lost on a 13-year-old.

  • The taunting starts early, with the nickname “monster rat.” Unfortunately, it comes from her preschool teacher’s failed attempt to pronounce the name on the first day (hint: it is pronounced exactly like the letters in the name look. Put the accent on the last syllable. Done).
  • Having a name that means “mountain” will not feel awesome when lil Montse hits that junior high growth spurt and feels like she’s towering over everyone.
  • At age 13, Montserrat is old enough to order those fluffy Starbucks drinks, but too young to find it hilarious when her name is misspelled.
Elsa

You’ve loved the name Elsa since you were a little girl, and just your luck, Disney releases a movie with a heroine named Elsa right when you’re getting ready to have kids. I named a character Elsa in a book I wrote in third grade — I get it. [Other characters: Charlotte, Lillian, Lucy, Eleanor. Man, was I ever tapped into the popular baby names of 2015 back in 1995).

  • “Let it goooo, let it GOOO!” If you think you’re sick of this now, imagine how tired little Elsa will be by, oh, third grade or so.
  • Sharing a name with a Disney princess has a ton of cultural cache in Kindergarten; less so in seventh grade.
  • Also, stupid children’s jokes: “Do you have a sister named Anna?” “It’s cold in here, right” [pointed stare at Elsa.]

Boys

Gannon

If you’re scratching your head about what a “gannon” is, you probably don’t watch Teen Mom. Me either. It sounds name-ish, and it’s a short name that ends in -n, a pattern that is all over the boy name charts. But don’t worry, your teen will still hate it in 2027 because:

  • TEEN MOM. First of all. You can swear to him that that’s not where you got it, but he won’t believe you.
  • ZELDA. Not just Zelda, but the bad guy from Zelda. And if any name from Zelda is trendy, why not Zelda? That’s actually cool.
  • You may be well-versed in up-and-coming names, but the receptionist at your pediatrician’s office or elementary school definitely isn’t. “Gannon Smith.” “CANNON?” “Gannon.” “No, but like, Dannon?” “Gannon.” “Gander.” “Gannon.” “Shannon.” It’s a new name, but it sounds sort of like a bunch of other names and words.
Karter

Well, somebody’s been taking a page from Kris Jenner’s guide to baby naming. And your baby doesn’t care now, but he’ll care in middle school – not because you’re a bad parent, but because the human brain is beset by obnoxious little demons from ages 11-14 or so.

  • Everyone’s just going to spell it Carter, then you’ll have to say “Carter with a K.” Which isn’t that big a hassle, but what’s the point?
  • And when Kris Jenner has that baby boy at the age of 63 after a few seasons of flagging ratings on E! – thank you, science – Karter is really going to hate sharing his name with baby Karter Kardashian.  Yes, Kris is going to legally change her surname to Kardashian in 2020 or so to keep it “on-brand.”
Bode
  • People assuming that either he – or you – smokes a whole lot of weed. It’s like the name version of having one of those heavy, woven Mexican blankets in your trunk. See also: Kai.
  • The name will constantly get mispronounced as “bode,” unless you pronounce it that way, in which case it will constantly get mispronounced as “bodie.” You’ll try to explain to his teachers that the accent is on the “e” — from which point, his name will be pronounced “boe-DAY.”
  • Seems like it stands out, but his karate class will have a Brodie and a Bodhi … oops.
  • Also, I almost wrote “karate klass.” THANKS KARTER.
Royal
  • You wouldn’t think that people would remember the Lorde song “Royals” well enough to sing it at him in 2027. But they do, because by then our nostalgia cycle is moving faster than ever and we’re all really pining for 2013.
  • By 2027, baby Royal has also internalized thirteen years of your mother-in-law tut-tutting “I don’t know why you had to go and name him ROYAL” every time she visits.
  • The nickname Roy. Just, you know, in general.
Axl
  • The worst fear of any parent naming their child “Axl”: he will grow up to be a music snob. There’s only so many times he can hear “Oh, like Axl Rose?” before he snaps.
  • He also won’t love how, thanks to Axl Rose, his camp nickname was “Rosie.”
  • Unlike the Scandinavian classic Axel, people will think that they’re supposed to smoosh the consonants together.

Bottom line: all of the girls’ names are appealing enough that I can see why parents’ will choose them. Your kids aren’t any more likely to hate them than if they were named Sophia or Mary. Which still makes your kids pretty likely to hate them, because kids are the worst. And the best. Congrats on your 2014 baby!

Please Don’t Call Me Ma’am. Or Mom.

Nobody wished me a Happy Mother’s Day yesterday. I don’t have kids, so honestly that was pretty nice. Last year, however, I had to make a pre-cookout grocery run. First at the deli counter, then at the checkout, the cashiers chirped “happy Mother’s Day!” instead of telling me to have a nice day – or a “blessed day,” in the words of my favorite cashier. I just… like… hmm. Let’s run through this point by point.

  • I didn’t have a child with me.
  • I didn’t have any child paraphernalia or accoutrement with me (diaper bag, macaroni necklace, birth certificates, positive pregnancy test).
  • I don’t think I had any kind of drool, spit-up or spilled food on my person, although to be fair I can’t make a complete guarantee on that.
  • I’m a small person, which doesn’t mean much — so are a lot of the moms I know. But that also means I wouldn’t look at me and be like “yep, no doubt that person has 100% birthed humans.”
  • Likewise, I’m in my late 20s, which is certainly old enough to have a kid. But most of my same-aged friends aren’t parents, so I also wouldn’t say that someone in her 20s is definitely a mom.
  • No ring. Of course many married people don’t have kids, and many unmarried people do, but it’s not like the cashiers were going by that.

“Happy Mother’s Day” isn’t a holiday greeting you give to everyone, regardless of whether or not they have kids. I don’t think those cashiers were also wishing 20-something bros and tiny children a Happy Mother’s Day. [Wegmans, you know you’re my favorite grocery store, but let’s be real.] You can’t even say that everyone has a mother, because a lot of people don’t. Wishing me a happy mother’s day is fairly innocuous, but I can also imagine it would be a gut punch to someone who wanted kids but didn’t have them.

A few years ago I might have just laughed off these folks thinking I’m a mom. But that was before I started to get ma’am-ed. For the uninitiated, that’s when people call you ma’am and your youth starts to slip into the abyss.

Ma’am is gross. Ma’ams wear elastic-waist pantsuits from Alfred Dunner and have carefully-styled, short poofy hair. Ma’ams are named Linda, or Deb, or Bev. (Make no mistake: not all Lindas, Debs and Bevs are ma’ams). Ma’ams yell at waitresses. A ma’am used to be young, I guess. Ma’ams used to be. Being a ma’am isn’t to be confused with getting older in general, which is really pretty nice. I’m a lot better now than when I was 18, and in 10 more years I hope I can look back and say I’m better at 38 than I was at 28.

Let’s compare ma’am to its cognate, sir. Sir is fine. A “sir” is anywhere above the age of 18 or so – no arbitrary age distinction required. “Miss” and “ma’am” is like if we called men “young guy” and “old dude.” Imagine if every time you gave someone their change at the store, you had to decide whether or not you were going to call them “young guy” or “old dude.” Know what I’d do after about a week of that? Totally bow out and quit using both terms. Barring that, I’d just start calling everyone “young guy.” It just seems nicer.

It’s pretty easy not to refer to someone as miss or ma’am – just say “have a nice day!” instead of “have a nice day, ma’am!” Or, “excuse me” instead of “excuse me, ma’am.” The only exceptions are for Southern people or military folks, who were trained to use “ma’am” and “sir” — but in those cases, I also don’t think it carries as much age stigma. If you’re Southern or from a military background, do what you will. But if you’re not, please don’t ma’am me. I already see my age slip by at the grocery store when I see that the sign prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people born after this date in 1997. I don’t need a cashier calling me ma’am or mom to remind me.

Oh, the second cashier, by the way? After he said “happy Mother’s Day!” I just cheerfully replied “You too!” He looked perplexed, but I don’t think he got it. Bless his heart, I think he just thought the old ma’am was confused.

Dream “Take Your Child To Work Day” Scenarios

Did any of you participate in Take Your Child To Work Day as a kid? The correct answer is “no” – because when we were kids, it was still called “Take Your Daughter To Work Day.” It was part of that earnest early ’90s Murphy Brown feminism that sort of aggressively told  girls “you can be anything! You can do anything! Someday maybe you’ll own a briefcase!” I mean, it was started by the Ms. Foundation and Gloria Steinem. But even when Take Your Daughter To Work Day began in 1993, kids were way ahead of that mentality — it was mostly the product of adults who had grown up in the 1950s when there weren’t so many options. I remember being mostly confused by the holiday, like I already knew I could have a job, but everyone making such a fuss about it made me realize that somewhere somebody was saying I couldn’t? Nice try though, Gloria. It was a weird time and my main priorities were Rugrats and Dunkaroos, to be honest. Apparently my parents were confused too, because I never attended. To be fair, my mother taught in my school, so every day was Take Your Daughter To Work Day.

Still, I couldn’t help but be jealous of my classmates who got to cut school and tag along with their parents for the day. Well, I was jealous of SOME of them. If your parents had cool jobs, you’d come to school the next day with tales of amazing experiments and adventures and free swag that you got. And then some kids just sat in an office playing Gameboy. Here are some Take Your Daughter To Work Day scenarios that would have blown my mind as a kiddo – or Take Your Child To Work Day, or Take Your Daughter Or Son To Work Day, however you roll. Did any of you go to work with your parents, or are you taking your kids now? And was it fun, or just another day at the office?

Veterinarian Or Zookeeper

Oh hell yes. This is it. What kid wouldn’t love getting to hang out with cats and dogs all day and using cool medical equipment? It’s like if your parent were a doctor, but even better because there aren’t all those pesky humans. Also, zookeeper. Or really any zoo employee. Why do I think most zoos put on amazing Take Your Child To Work Days? And can you imagine getting to go behind the scenes to see how they take care of the animals? Man. I wish my parents were zookeepers.

News Anchor

All I know is this. I worked my tiny butt off in children’s acting classes and poured my heart and soul into three-times-a-week rehearsals — and those kiddos whose parents worked at the news channel got to fast-track their way to T.V. every year. This still happens. Sometimes they even deliver inconsequential reports in tiny, adorable suits. I imagine that behind the scenes, one has a child-sized slate or a miniature boom mic. If you are a news anchor, or otherwise involved in television production, and you don’t take your child to work today, I really have no words for you.

Grocery Store

All right, I know people who don’t live near Wegmans grocery stores are really bored of people talking up how great Wegmans is. But our hometown is the base of Wegmans and it was practically the only city that had them when we were growing up. It was – and still is – one of the biggest local employers. And as such, there were always a few kids in your class who had a parent who worked there, and let me tell you, they put on a mean Take Your Daughter To Work Day. There were bakery tours, and cooking demos, and tiny chefs hats, and aprons, and stepstools. Fortunately, if your parents worked elsewhere they put on a mean fourth grade field trip.

Fashion Designer

Nobody’s parent is really a fashion designer – for real, comment if your parent is a fashion designer – but remember in The Parent Trap when Hallie goes to that shoot with her mom and gets to help style it and somehow appears in it as well? It was such a fun montage but for some lucky kid out there, it isn’t just a montage – it’s real life.

Florist

Basically, any job where there’s a hands-on activity would be the greatest. Working at a flower shop would be like a day-long art project. There would probably be flowers that didn’t make the cut that you’d be allowed to play with, and I bet there’s even a good chance you’d get to use the cash register. Allergy kids need not apply.

The White House

A backstage tour of the White House! Possibly meeting the President or First Lady or, heck, even Bo! Visiting the seat of American democracy! Okay, so no surprise here: I was one of those kids who really, really wanted to be the president when I grew up. My family went to Washington, D.C. when I was seven, and I was wide-eyed when I got to visit Congress, see the Declaration of Independence close-up, and stand next to the Lincoln Memorial. Nerd. But a whole day at the White House? I couldn’t have even dreamed it. Lucky kids – now you can go there for Take Your Child To Work Day even if your parents don’t work there!

Even better – the White House has asked other employers to do the same, opening their doors to kids in the community who can’t shadow a parent … or whose parents have boring jobs, maybe. Imagine your dream job as a fifth-grader, then imagine if your school worked to get you to spend a day living it. So amazing!

Firefighter

There’s a reason firefighter is one of the top jobs little kids say they want when they grow up. It’s cool. There’s danger, and uniforms, and trucks, and sometimes dogs. Obviously you’d have to keep children away from, well, fire, but a day learning about their community heroes would be really great for a lot of kids.

DJ

Judging by this picture’s popularity online, a lot of adults and kids would love to spend a day stepping into a D.J.’s shoes. Personally, heavy club beats and sweaty crowds sound like no fun, and what can I say, I usually like being the only Molly in the room … but mixing beats would be so much more interesting than beating those hollow wood sticks against each other in music class.

Paper Company

No? Oh well.