Sorry, Not Sorry

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    Trust me, I do not spend my days on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, but if there’s a #parenting tweet that sums me up, it’s this: I am not an expert.

    I like Twitter. It’s fun to talk about innocuous things like reading and Virginia529 and movies. I tweet about local theatre and business, sports now and again (some soccer, but mostly NBA, which is ironic I know, considering I am the poster child for the vertically challenged), and breastfeeding.

    These topics represent things I’ve been moderately successful at as a parent. They’re also easy. You would be hard-pressed to find someone bored enough to chirp nasty comments at you about books or #RaisingReaders, even on Twitter. Reading, like parents investing in a prepaid college tuition plan, is always good for children, right? Sports, and believe it or not, breastfeeding, can be a bit more polarizing on social media, but oh well.

    Anyway, despite what I might loosely define as my parenting success in breastfeeding three babies who have grown up to read for pleasure, enjoy sports (both playing and watching), and who, God willing, one day will graduate from college relatively debt-free, I’ve learned after six glorious years with Richmond Family Magazine (Happy Birthday RFM!) that in the general parenting and homemaking realm, there are far more things about which I know diddly-squat. But the truth is, we’re deluged with information in the Digital Age, and it has become increasingly difficult to ignore it.

    Even in our beloved RFM, there is the occasional article that leaves me shaking my head and asking, Did I really need to know that? Do I have to do something with this information? And now that my kids are teens (one is a young adult living in a college dorm), I’ll admit there are more than a few things I have given up on completely.

    Shopping for what the world says I should consider healthy food is one of them. While I might buy organic produce if the price is right, and I do buy Trader Joe’s breaded chicken tenders and mac-and-cheese, it doesn’t matter to me if beef is grass-fed or chicken is free-range. To write this column, I read up on GMOs for ten minutes and I still don’t know why they’re good or bad for my family. And at this point, I’m not sure I want to.

    I’ve also given up on establishing regular chores, allowance, and thinking about whether the two should be connected. So what if the only strategy I have is asking the first kid I see to unload the dishwasher? Or making the one who didn’t get out of bed until one o’clock clean the bathroom? We’ve gotten this far without a system.

    This next one might get me in trouble: The Disney ship has sailed for us. My kids each had their princess phase (if you consider Mulan a princess); we’ve enjoyed our fair share of the movies; and we absolutely adored Disney on Ice and on Broadway. Since RFM began in 2009, we have covered this most revered of family vacations more than any other topic (by reader request and with good reason, I know!) and as Mickey as my witness, my family will never go there.

    Which brings me to this month’s article on cursive writing. When I first read it, I nodded in agreement, shook my head a little, and nodded some more. I wondered if cursive would be part of my stuff-I’ve-given-up-on list. Then I made a list of questions for my kids. Do you compose on paper or on your laptop? Do you take notes at school in cursive? Victoria’s article on the benefits of cursive writing is encouraging for parents like me, maybe because the prospect of doing something isn’t overwhelming. While she writes about pencil grips and the importance of tactile learning for preschoolers, she also explores why it’s not the best idea in the world to take a picture of someone’s notes from a missed lecture, rather than rewriting them. In cursive, of course.

    When my kids were learning cursive in elementary school, I became aware of how my own handwriting had deteriorated over the years (wow, just like my driving!). While none of my daughters writes exclusively in cursive today, they all have decent penmanship. After reading our article, I’m ready to recommit to this important life skill and help my kids do the same. And that’s one of the amazing things about parenting. If you’re doing it right, you learn a lot about yourself along the way.

    It’s too bad I can’t tweet in cursive!

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    Karen Schwartzkopf
    Karen Schwartzkopf has her dream job as managing editor of RFM. Wife, mother, arts and sports lover, she lives and works in the West End with her family: husband Scott, who not coincidentally is RFM’s creative director, and their daughters—Sam, Robin, and Lindsey. You can read Karen’s take on parenting in the Editor’s Voice.