‘Normal Barbie’ comes with acne, tattoos

Lammily stands next to taller, thinner Barbie

Lammily stands next to taller, thinner Barbie

“Normal Barbie” — a fashion doll with the body of a typical 19-year-old American — now can be customized with acne, tattoo, cellulite and stretch-mark stickers.

Other options are “freckles, glasses, blushing, adhesive bandages, moles, temporary tattoos, stitches, scrapes & scratches, bruises, casts, scars, mosquito bites, and grass and dirt stains,” reports BuzzFeed News.

Imperfections make “Lammily” more “relatable,” says designer Nickolay Lamm. “I want to show that average is beautiful.”

At 5’4″ and 150 pounds, the average 19-year-old is pudgy, notes Virginia Postrel. Lamm has declared she’s an athlete to justify her “firm plastic tummy.” (Do average 19-year-olds have stretch marks?)

When I was 19, I was 5’4″ and 120 pounds. That was normal in 1971.

Unsafe on Sesame Street

Sesame Street‘s early seasons come with a warning to parents: Not safe for today’s children. Producers cite Cookie Monster’s dietary choices and children shown riding bikes without a helmet and running through a construction site, writes Peter Weber on The Week. “In the opening scene of the very first episode, a young girl being shown around Sesame Street by a grown man, Gordon, who is not her father and is holding her hand.”

Weber highlights 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn’t show today’s kids, including Ernie’s encounter with an O-pusher. “Kids, if a strange man approaches you and starts to open his trench coat, run,” advises Weber.

Furry Potter and The Goblet of Cookies

Sesame Street presents Furry Potter and The Goblet of Cookies.

Michelle Obama: Advice to my teen-age self

Michelle Obama: Advice to My Younger SelfWhat advice would you give to your younger self? People asked Michelle Obama.

“Stop being so afraid!,” she replied. “That’s really what strikes me when I look back – the sheer amount of time I spent tangled up in fears and doubts that were entirely of my own creation. I was afraid of not knowing the answer in class and looking stupid, or worried about what some boy thought of me, or wondering whether the other girls liked my clothes or my hair, or angsting about some offhand comment someone made to me in the lunchroom.”

I would love to go back in time and tell my younger self, “Michelle, these middle and high school years are just a tiny blip in your life, and all the slights and embarrassments and heartaches, all those times you got that one question wrong on that test – none of that is important in the scheme of things.”

When my daughter entered her teens, I shared my hard-won wisdom. “Other people don’t care about your hair or your clothes. They’re worried about their own hair and their own clothes.”

Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad book.


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a very bad book, “one of the worst children’s books I have ever read,” writes Troy Patterson on Slate.

The movie version of Judith Viorst’s 1972 classic has hit the multiplex, writes Patterson.

Alexander is SUCH A PILL. He’s graceless and ungracious and self-pitying to an entitled extreme. You know, when Mr. Raccoon has a very bad day—in “The Unlucky Day” of Richard Scarry’s Bedtime Stories—when Mr. Raccoon’s bathroom faucet breaks and his car motor explodes and Warty Warthog sticks him with the check at lunch and he goes back home to find that his house has flooded, despite Mr. Fixit’s having been there all day, alone with Mrs. Raccoon—when these misfortunes befall Mr. Raccoon, he remains stoic and takes it all in stride. Meanwhile, Alexander, being a terrible, horrible brat, narrates a tedious catalog of petty gripes.

Alexander complains that his teacher prefers a classmate’s drawing of a sailboat to his own drawing of nothing—an “invisible castle.” Look, kid, either pick up a crayon or develop some conceptualist jargon. Alexander bristles when his teacher observes that, at “counting time,” he omits the number 16. Why should the book dignify his annoyance at being taught a worthy integer?

What’s the very worst children’s book? Patterson considers Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree (arboreous Jewish mother sacrifices for her bratty kid), which is kind of creepy. He settles on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Princess and the Pea, another tale of over-entitled youth.

I think kids get the don’t-be-a-brat subtext of these books. What do you think?

Into the big world


On her new blog, Love, Hope & Coffee, my stepdaughter Gina writes about “the start of letting go.” Her older daughter is now a kindergartner.

At “kindergarten curriculum night,” the literary specialist talked about “print concepts and phonemic awareness” and how their children soon will be “reading and writing at a level once reserved for second graders.”

I can’t believe all five-year-olds are prepared for what used to be first- and second-grade work.

At the kindergarten “meet and greet,” J says a shy hello to the teacher.

I feel a rush of pride and want to say, “Look, see, here she is!! My daughter, my superstar! Can’t you just tell from the way she said ‘hello’ that she is really smart and creative??”

In the next moment, J derails any hope of a pristine first impression when she begins to argue with her sister over whose turn it is to sit on the crayon stool a few feet away. . . . J pushes L off the stool in the swift, ruthless motion of an older sibling asserting her will. L’s head hits the floor and she wails, her cries piercing the stuffy air . . .

L is starting preschool. It will be easier than being a little sister.

On her first day of kindergarten, my daughter asked me to open the car door.

“Aren’t you going to say ‘little pig, little pig, let me come in’?” I asked.

“I’m in kindergarten now,” she replied.

And I sent her into the big wide world.

Two Robins

Overprotective parents raise ‘lazy’ teens

Overinvolved parents are raising “lazy,” unmotivated teen-age boys, writes therapist Adam Price in the Wall Street Journal.

Parents complain their children — especially their sons — aren’t achieving their “potential.” His practice is seeing more “college students, home for a year because when the parents, tutors, coaches and, yes, therapists were no longer around, they failed.”

It’s hard to be motivated by someone else’s goals. Teens crave autonomy, Price writes. Many parents won’t let their children make their own decisions and live with the consequences.

. . . the lack of motivation is not the root problem: For many children, it is the lack of accountability. Parents remove that when they try to protect their children from suffering in the future by doing everything possible to make them successful today

He suggests parents stop telling their kids they’re smart or too “special” to take out the garbage. Set limits. Don’t “saddle children with unrealistic expectations.”

Yale designs robot ‘trainers’ for kids

Some day, robot “personal trainers” will teach kids to speak, read, exercise and eat their vegetables, say Yale researchers. A $10 million federal grant is funding the five-year project.

“Socially assistive” robots will help children “learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises,” the Yalies predict.

“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study.

“We want them to help children learn language, we want to help them learn better eating habits, we want them to learn new social or cognitive skills through their interactions with these robots,” he said.

The robots will support the efforts of parents and therapists, Scassellati said. Robots will be designed for children with special needs — and for average kids.

Support or replace? I suspect someone thinks robot trainers will act as competent parents for kids whose human parents are inferior models.


Raising brats

Parents, stop raising your kids to be brats, advises a British nanny who’s worked at home and in the U.S.

If the child says, “I want the pink sippy cup, not the blue!” yet the mum has already poured the milk into the blue sippy cup . . . more often than not, the mum’s face whitens and she rushes to get the preferred sippy cup before the child has a tantrum.

. . . Who is in charge here? Let her have a tantrum, and remove yourself so you don’t have to hear it.

Don’t teach your kids they’ll get what they want by throwing a fit, Emma Jenner advises.

My policy: If you feel the need to scream, do it in your room. I’ll be running the washing machine or the dishwasher and working in the other side of the house.

Also, parents don’t expect enough of their children and they get upset if anyone else tells their kids to behave, Jenner writes.  (My husband will tell kids to behave in a public place.)

Children expect instant gratification, she writes. Parents exhaust themselves providing it.

So often I see mums get up from bed again and again to fulfill the whims of their child. Or dads drop everything to run across the zoo to get their daughter a drink because she’s thirsty. . . . There is nothing wrong with using the word “No” on occasion, nothing wrong with asking your child to entertain herself for a few minutes because mummy would like to use the toilet in private or flick through a magazine for that matter.

Indulgent parents raise their children to be “entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults,” writes Jenner.  “We never wanted them to feel any discomfort, and so when they inevitably do, they are woefully unprepared for it.”