Let the Children Play

BLOG-PLAYWhen I was in kindergarten, my school day ended at noon. My teacher played the piano and my class sang along. She read out loud to us, The Carrot Seed and Are You My Mother?

In all fairness, I do remember a pencil can in the middle of our communal table and echoing the words to a Dick and Jane book.

But mostly, I remember Green Trees. Yes, that’s right our playing field had a name. And I recall, vividly, a seesaw and running and playing tag.

Twenty years later, things were different.

My son’s kindergarten day ended at 3:00. He was not yet 5, but the first thing his teacher told me at his parent conference in November was, “He still wants to play.” She said this as if this was a bad thing and that something had to be done if my son was to succeed at all.

Being an NYU student who was majoring in education, I ignored her. Well, that’s not exactly true. I talked about her endlessly to anyone who would listen, wondering why someone who obviously knew nothing about children or education was allowed to teach.

The year before, when my son was 4, his teacher raved at our parent conference about how he had a glowing imagination. She reported that he could brilliantly story tell, recall details from stories he’d been told and had a flare for description. And most importantly, he had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face.

So you can imagine my surprise when his kindergarten teacher did not feel the same way about his development and wanted him to sit still longer and pay attention better.

This child of mine had learned to tie his shoes the previous summer while he was still 4; but when I showed up in April to help out in his classroom, his teacher looked at me, pointed to my son’s untied shoe laces and said, “It’s time he learn to tie his shoes.”

Why had my son played (pun intended) like he couldn’t tie his shoes throughout most of the year?

And what else had he pretended he couldn’t do?

According to Let the Kids Learn Through Play, a New York Times piece, academic teaching in kindergarten can backfire. It can cause unnecessary stress and spoil a child’s desire to learn.

Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist, spent his career studying how the human brain develops and says that most kids younger than 8 are better suited for exploration than they are for didactic explanation.

Formal education at an early age will not foster people who can discover and innovate; and in fact, may result in children earning lower grades than children who had the opportunity to learn through play.

My grandson is now learning to read and it’s as if this generation of teachers and educational policy makers still did not get the memo:

Children learn through play.

It is essential for their development, not to mention their happiness and overall well-being.


"The Dress" And Letting Go of The Need To Be Right

I’ve seen it over and over again: The need to be right. It’s a relationship killer.

It affects marriages, friendships, co-workers and heads of countries.

I saw it, the needing to be right problem, brewing this past weekend over “The Dress”.  Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children vehemently fighting over if “the dress” was blue and black or white and gold.

It was actually comical how intense people got in their efforts to convince others to see what they saw.

My own family had a group chat going for most of Friday. What started out as funny turned well, here it is. You decide.

Note: Text messages have been edited for clarity reasons and to protect those in my family who can’t spell, and those who don’t care about grammar: text message or not.

10:21am Friday morning, I got this from my oldest son. Let's call him Son#1: What color is this dress?

Blog-The Dress3


My husband answered: Is this a trick question? It’s blue and black.

Daughter #2: It changes. It was white and gold but now it’s blue and black.

Son #2 said he saw blue and black; but his wife saw white and gold. He said they fought about it all night.

I wrote: Blue and black. And to the gold and white people- what are you talking about?

Son #1 sent this updating us on the picture that had gone viral and the story behind it that had the nation’s attention.


BLOG-The Dress Poll


My husband works in the fashion business and he worried about his design team. What if they had color issues?

Son #1, who works in the family business with him, was about to go into a design meeting. He  assured my husband he would get to the bottom of this.

Daughter-in-law #1, who is a nurse, sent a very long and scientific text explaining that our retinas have rods and cones and she used phrases like subtractive mixing and additive mixing, and I knew that more than half of my family would not bother to read her text.

Our family discussed “the dress” all day via group chat, today’s version of family bonding.

I was excited because it was Friday; and so, I imagined the prospect of a Friday night dinner conversation about perspective and perception, human complexity and the human condition, a conversation with more depth than our usual dialogue, like is pink salt better tasting than kosher salt? And are the mashed potatoes on the table really mashed potatoes or is it really mashed cauliflower? And how nobody in his or her right mind would ever prefer cauliflower.

So I pushed my agenda and wrote: This is craziness. What an interesting take on perspective. 

There was no response to the seed I’d planted.

The next text was from Daughter-in-law #2: It’s white and gold!!!!

We were all flummoxed, but Son #1 said it best: Major bug out.

Daughter #1 chimed in: You guys are nuts. It’s blue and black.

(Reader: I presume you see my family’s sincere interest in understanding one another’s point of view.)

Son #1 sent this picture. What do you see now? 

BLOG-3 Dresses

Son #3 wrote: Those are obviously 3 different dresses.

Daughter-in-law #2: I see white and gold in all 3!!!

Daughter #2: No you don’t!!!

Then the real fun began…

Daughter-in-law #2 raised the stakes: I feel sad for all you blue and black people because the dress is white and gold. Fact.

(Now that’s tolerance.)

Son #2 (and the above daughter-in-law’s husband): You’re lying. You don’t see white and gold on the last one.

Daughter #1: I feel sad for you white and gold people. These all 3 are blue and black! What else are you missing out on in the world?  What color are blueberries to you?

Daughter-in-law #2: No, I feel sad for you. (Angry emoji face). I can’t believe you see blue and black. I thought differently of you. I guess happy people see lighter things. (Smiley emoji). Good luck in life black and blue people.

Daughter #1: So happy person, what color do you see? 

BLOG- Cookie Monster


Daughter-in-law #2: Forgot who I’m debating with. Gonna need a little help. (She summoned son #3, my white and gold seeing son.)


He sent this…


Are you blue and black people seeing an evil Satan baby wearing black?

Then we got this:



Then this arrived:



We continued to debate throughout the rest of the day. While there were a couple of digs here and there, there was plenty of laughter.

I can’t help but think there’s something important to be learned from “the dress” and the dialogue it sparked.

No matter how logical the reasoning, the fervor of the argument, the force of the claim, those who saw gold and white could not see black and blue no matter how much the black and blue people wanted them to, and visa versa.

Wars happen, divorce happens, often because people need to be right.

But what if there is no right? Or more precisely, depending on how you see things, what if both sides are right?