Upon Reflection Blog

We are Olga and Valerie—two friends and two voices—reflecting on parenting.

Ernest & Celestine

www.Upon-Reflection.comMy son and I settled down in our seats with bags of popcorn on our laps. The screening of Ernest & Celestine at the NY International Children’s Film Festival was about to begin.“Where are the 3-D glasses?” we heard a boy ask his mother.Lucky for us and surprising to some, the show wasn’t going to be in 3D. In fact, it wasn’t going to be lots of things children are now trained to expect from an animated movie....more

Put Down That Gun

www.Upon-Reflection.com“I’m going to kill you,” my son shouted, pointing a gun at his older brother.The toy was part of the policeman costume the boys had asked me to get. I admit that I didn’t carefully review the contents of the package I was agreeing to buy. My mistake.“Give me that,” I said. “Now.”When they had to give up the gun the kids were devastated, of course. But that’s to be expected. What surprised me, though, was that my husband was on their side....more

Should you always pack the kids?

It’s amusing to hear about the experiences kids remember from their travels. After spending two weeks abroad, my son couldn’t stop talking about a Nigerian kid he met at one of the airports during a layover.  That memorable encounter, along with the unusual taste of the lemonade and the rolled up jean shorts worn by teens, continued creeping up in our conversations during the following few days. And while we managed to keep a rather intense travel itinerary, somehow an arcade and an indoor ice rink made it on our “must see” list....more

Common Core or Common Sense?

Chatting with a friend a while back, I heard her say something that is as unlikely as it is obvious:Every child deserves a good school....more

The Battle for Class Placement

We start to prepare our kids for their future from a young age. As we teach them the alphabet and how to count, we hope that one day they will accomplish big things. Finally, with the right mix of pulling strings and a certain amount of luck, we find the “perfect” school. We think that because we have bright kids and we chose a good school, we’ve done our job....more

Encouraging Good Book Choices: What Is Your Kid Reading?

In our house, children’s books come and go at a brisk pace. Brought in by the pound from our son’s school library, they get read and shipped back via his backpack in a matter of days. He reads a lot. I should be proud. But what kind of books is he reading? And, given how quickly he gets through them, how much intellectual value does he get out of the process?...more
@JillianMak And this is exactly what I find problematic in our approach to cultivating a love ...more

Teaching our Kids to Stand Up for Themselves

If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that there are experiences in our childhood we would like to forget. Trouble is that we can’t. These events have marked us for the rest of our lives. For me it was something that happened in sixth grade. As I was sitting on a school bus happily chatting in Russian with a friend, a girl demanded that we stop talking about her. Surprised by the unwarranted request, I attempted to convince her in broken English that we were speaking Russian because it’s harder for us to speak English....more

A Few Clicks Away From Stupid

Your eyes are barely open and your hair is dripping wet from the shower. You haven’t had a chance to drink your morning coffee yet. But you already know your schedule for the day and you know what to expect at work based on the emails you’d already read. You know who’d texted you while you were sleeping and you know the status updates that your friends had posted during the night. Without a doubt, you know whatever Google wants you to know about any world events that you might have missed in the hours you’d managed to stay off the grid....more

Can't Live with Him! Can't Live without Him!

“Why do the three names on the door of the dentist’s office have the same last name?” my youngest asked. ”They come from one family,” I responded. “At first, their father worked alone and when his sons became dentists, he invited them to join him. When he retired, they took over the business and now the two brothers work together.”...more

Helping Our Kids Design Their Futures

“Mommy is half of so many things!” interrupted my son as I chatted with someone I've just met. Obviously, the question was, “So, what do you do?” My conversation partner, smitten by my kid’s social skills, forgot to raise an eyebrow. The topic quickly turned to: “Oh, what a great boy you've got!” “Thank you, my sweet child,” I thought, “now I don’t need to describe my complicated career choices to someone who might have preferred a simple one word answer." I studied architecture in college and worked as a designer for several years....more
@Lisa Thomson What a great point, Lisa! Thanks so much for reading.more