- Deborah Degraffenreid
- Brian K. Mahoney
The big news this month is the launch of our Kids & Family section. We're planting our flag in the sandbox, so to speak. It's not an aggressive, acquisitive pennant adorned with images of swords and scimitars and warships. It's a nice flag, with lots of bright colors and charming, eclectic animals on it, like lobsters and limpets (more on that later).
The Kids & Family section will be the dedicated place in our pages (and in the various "places" we engage the Chronogram community in the digital sphere) to discuss the wide range of issues of family life, especially as it is lived here in the Hudson Valley in the 21st century. Our coverage will be informed by our mission—to stimulate and support the creative life of this place we call home—and will address the wide range of complex issues affecting parents today with an open mind, a questing soul, and a generous heart. We want to push past the stock conversations—home birth vs. hospital birth; Waldorf vs. Montessori—and talk about how we live as families on a more profound level.
There is certainly no lack of opinionated grandstanding in the mainstream media and on the varieties of social media and listserves we use to converse with each other. In discussions of kids and parenting, the tenor of conversation can achieve a shrillness of tone quite easily, as parents can be firm defenders of their particular parenting turf once it's staked out. The Kids & Family section will be a space for reasoned discourse and investigation. We'll raise some controversial issues, and probably a few hackles. We wouldn't have it any other way.
To all of Bethany Saltman's fans who called or wrote since her Zen mommy column Flowers Falls disappeared a few months ago, I am thrilled to trumpet her reappearance as Kids & Family editor. Bethany will be bringing her smart and thoughtful direction to our coverage, and if you have any ideas or feedback for her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We kick off this month with Bethany's interview with National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity ("The Heartbreaking Realization of Parental Love"). Solomon's book is a portrait of families where the children are not at all like their parents, a set of characteristics he refers to as "horizontal identity"—things like blindness, autism, prodigiousness, criminality. The question at the heart of Solomon's book—How do we love those closest to us who are so unexpectedly different from us?—has many transcendently joyous answers, as well as some heartbreaking ones. Solomon's discussion with Sue Klebold about the love she still feels for her son Dylan, who killed his classmates at Columbine High School before committing suicide, is harrowing.
In our second feature, Robert Burke Warren (aka Uncle Rock to all you kiddie music fans out there) surveys the ways in which children and parents are honoring the passage of childhood to adolescence through ritual. While many families follow the traditional paths of Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation, it should come as no surprise that in the Hudson Valley there are spiritual mavericks who choose to forge their own way, creating ceremonies of their own devising. "From Time-Honored to Homespun: Coming-of-Age Rituals in the Hudson Valley" examines how four families navigated this crucial transition.
We've also curated some listings to assist you in finding cool things to do—as a family— whether you want a cultural experience, a kid-friendly (and delicious) place to eat, or just a fun adventure. For the latest on what's happening, Chronogram.com is updated daily and is a repository of hundreds of family-friendly event listings.
In upcoming issues, we have interviews planned with Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy on constructive approaches to moving beyond bullying, as well with Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families.
The Small News
The small news is, what I wrote last month—"you think that you're going to make it through the winter just fine. March is around the corner. Winter's back is broken"—turned out to be a lie. In its final weeks, winter's back seemed chiropractically well-adjusted and cold as hell, pardon the oxymoron (unless you subscribe to Dante's vision of Hades, with Satan and the other great betrayers trapped in a frozen lake). March neither came in nor went out like a lamb; and not like a lion either really. I mean, don't lions live on the African savannah where it's always hot? Who coined that bit of nonsense? The correct phrase might be something more akin to "in like a lamb, out like lobster, huddled on the frigid ocean floor"; or, "out like a limpet," which is to say not out at all, as these marine snails cling tenaciously to rocks along cold and windy coasts.
My apologies if I raised anyone's hopes prematurely. Oh, and by the way, we've launched a weekly podcast. Assistant Editor Jennifer Gutman and I discuss the upcoming events from our 8-Day Week digital events newsletter with insight, wit, and relish. You can find more information about the podcast and the 8-Day Week at Chronogram.com.