Friday, February 28, 2003

Inclusion mom

Last week my daughter had a big project to do for her fifth-grade class, including a written report, a diorama, and an oral presentation. I was in a bit of a panic because the teacher didn't send home much in the way of information on the assignment, and if she had been talking it up in class my daughter did not bring home much in the way of information absorption. But I advised her as best I could, and I thought in the end we'd done a pretty good job. Er, that is, she'd done a pretty good job. It was her project, after all. Not mine.

I never wanted to be the kind of parent who completely took over and did her child's work, although it's sometimes hard not to with my language and learning delayed girl. So I let her lead as much as possible, even if I thought something more complex might be more in keeping with what her peers were doing. Her diorama -- to go with her report on astronaut Sally Ride -- was a shoebox with a computer printout of the space shuttle attached with a paper loop so it stood out a bit from the black-construction-papered sides, a photo of Ride in one corner and a piece of paper proclaiming her the first U.S. woman in space in the other. Simple, but she liked it, and though I was admittedly in charge of the execution, it was mostly her idea.

I figured the other kids' dioramas might be a little more elaborate, but -- oh, my goodness. I caught a few of them on display in the school library today, and they are to my daughter's work as 546-channel digital cable TV is to an old black-and-white with rabbit ears. These were big boxes with clay sculptures and Barbie dolls and curtains and plants and index cards full of detail and wooden extensions and all manner of elaborate scenery setting and story-telling. Part of me was angry that the teacher had never told me that THIS is the sort of thing that was expected; part of me was sad that my daughter would never have the sort of creative vision that could make something like this happen; and part of me was paranoid that all the other parents just knew what making a proper diorama consisted of, and were able to mentor their kids in this direction, and how come I don't have that sort of easy self-evident know-how?

I guess special-ed kids mainstreamed into regular-ed classrooms aren't the only ones who can feel insecure. As a mom with one child who entered regular-ed in second grade and another who's still in self-contained, I'll admit to feeling sometimes that "regular-ed moms" belong to some sort of club I can't belong to, they with their kids who've been together since kindergarten and have older siblings who've gone through the same program and know all the ins and outs of projects and parties and graduations and such. I'm like an inclusion mom: in the same room, but not on the same curriculum. Most of the time I'm happy to keep my head down and do the work that's meant for me, but today -- well, you shoulda seen these dioramas. They remind me that I'm still reading "Dick and Jane" while everyone else is flying through Harry Potter.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Missing Mister Rogers

Feeling a little sad today over the passing of Fred Rogers, who has always provided such a calm and gentle voice in the midst of the hubbub that is children's television. My kids have mostly outgrown his show -- although I've seen my son linger on it now and then as he changes the channels around -- but they were both sad when I said he had died, and asked questions about what happened to him and whether he would still be on TV. If you have a little one who'll be shaken up by this death in the neighborhood, there are some nice resources at, including a tribute with information on where children can send letters and drawings to the Rogers family, and helpful hints for parents on discussing the loss with your child. Kids and parents can also e-mail the show and family from the PBS Kids site.

One of the best things Mister Rogers did for my family was write books on issues of import to kids, most notably, for us, adoption and potty training. Heavy on photos and straightforward with words, these books were just right for starting a dialog with my language impaired kiddos. The site offers information and inspiration for parents on a variety of topics, from adoption to stepfamilies, disabilities to discipline, birth to, well, death. Even though he's gone on to a whole new neighborhood, Mister Rogers is still taking good care of us.

Web English Teacher

Nothing makes me appreciate teachers so much as trying to be one myself, and I'm about to learn that lesson again by leading a class at our school's weekend enrichment classes next month. Two years ago, when I did this the first time, I only lasted 20 minutes with some of these kids before realizing that if I were their teacher for real and had to deal with them for six hours a day, I would need to scream or throw something. I think this happened the 48th time one girl asked if she could go get a drink of water. The enrichment classes only last an hour, and thank goodness for that.

This year, I've swtiched from teaching counted cross stitch (advice: never try to teach this to kindergarteners) to creative writing, and I thought this might phase me out of the teaching business altogether -- maybe no kid would want to do anything so academic as writing on the weekend, and low enrollment would get me off the hook. But no: they signed up in droves. So now I have to really come up with some good creative stuff, because I have lots of fifth graders in my class and lots of them know my daughter and know I'm her mother, and I don't want to embarrass her or myself. It feels real good to volunteer, right up to the point when you're faced with a tableful of bored children.

In casting about the Web for ideas, I found the Web English Teacher, which offers a really nicely organized array of links to lesson plans, games and worksheets on grammar, phonics, ESL, critical thinking, vocabulary, literature and -- well, hey, thanks! -- creative writing. If only all teachers were so easy to get information out of! If you know of any sites with good writing prompts for kids, grades 1-5, let me know -- I've got a week and a half to be stunningly well prepared. Also, to figure out how many times in an hour a kid really needs to visit the water fountain.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Can you handle this?

There's something kind of appealingly straightforward about the objectification of problem students on The You Can Handle Them All Web Site. It's a behavioral index for teachers, and while I'll admit I feel a little unsettled when imagining my son's teacher running her eyes down the list looking for his handle ("Let's see... The Goldbrick ... The Gossip ... The Greedy ... The Griper ... The Habitual Absentee... The Hater ... The Hider ... ahh, The Hyperactive!"), I have to admit that I did exactly that. And you know, the advice was pretty darn good, very much along the lines of what I've passed his teachers in the past. The closest classification I could find for my daughter was "The Crier (Who Sheds Tears)" -- as opposed to "The Crier (Who Claims Foul)" -- and again, the advice to instructors is just as I would wish. How many times have I asked teachers not to interpret her crying as a negative, or be overprotective on account of it? According to "You Can Handle Them All," they're handling her wrong and I'm handling her right. So despite the somewhat name-calling organizational strategy of the site, I'd say it's a good tool for parents looking to advise teachers, as well as teachers looking for advice. And if nothing else, it's comforting to look at that long list and appreciate all the bad things your kid is not.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Five things I learned from watching the Grammys

1. I still know all the words to “Sounds of Silence” and “Sweet Baby James,” and can sing along at will. Don’t ask me about anything I learned in high school, but song lyrics seem to stake out prime brain cell turf and sink down deep roots.

2. My daughter has strong opinions. My personal preteen hated most of the songs in the show’s first hour (and no, it’s not because she prefers rap or metal; her favorite artist at the moment is Cher, and she kept hoping that maybe Rod Stewart was going to sing.) She declared several times that she doesn’t like Gwen Stefani’s style (and a good thing, too, because if she ever tried to wear a get-up like that, I’d have to ground her for life). She observed, cattily, that Vanessa Carlton’s hair looks dyed. She never wants to hear that Michelle Branch song again, or any Avril Lavigne song besides the one that’s playing on the radio right now. When I complained that she didn’t seem to like anything, she turned to me and slowly said, as though I might be too idiotic to understand, “Mom. Bruce. Springsteen.” But she fell asleep before the Boss came on, and when I woke her up to listen, she stumbled off to bed instead. That’s the way it is with the young people: They say they love Bruce, but when push comes to shove, they’re more interested in themselves.

3. My son digs the Dixie Chicks. He was drawn helplessly to the TV set when “Landslide” started playing, and made me swear to bring the “Home” CD home from my office so that he can listen to it, again and again. Who knew he was a little bit country?

4. CBS is my friend. I fretted about letting my daughter watch the Grammys since recent music shows have had such a reputation for bad language, but for this broadcast the musicians mostly watched their mouths and the censors bleeped out the rest. In the end, I was more worried that Robin Williams might say something unfit for little ears than that a rapper would.

5. I’m old. I’ve written before about how chilling it is to see how much one’s teen-age idols looking like comfortable old grandpas, and while seeing Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor still making music warmed my heart, their obvious agedness put a creak in my bones. It didn’t help that the night’s big winner was all of 23, and so many of the other performers seemed entirely too short-in-the-tooth for comfort. The youngsters’ music, at least, was more easy listening than not, but when they start giving out lifetime acheivement awards to people I’ve been listening to for most of my lifetime, it gives an old lady pause.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Michael who?

All the recent point-counterpoint TV footage of Michael Jackson has left me feeling nostalgic for my long-ago youth, when getting someone to slow-dance with you to "Ben," his poignant ode to a rat, was the height of junior high school romance. That's back when Michael had his whole nose and his original skin tone, well before he took the one-way dead-end road to Weirdville. And as much as I try to be sympathetic to the guy, for old time's sake, I think at this point most folks would agree he's just irredeemably creepy.

Maybe he feels that he can recapture public interest and sympathy with these latest news assaults, but I have to tell him that, judging from the recent conversation I had with three young passengers in my car, his time has passed as surely as my middle-school days. The subject came up as I was driving my daughter, age 12; her old special-ed classmate, age 13; and her current regular-ed classmate, 10, to bowling practice. The 13-year-old asked if anyone had watched the Michael Jackson shows on TV, and wasn't he just the creepiest? My daughter had no idea who Michael Jackson was. Her 10-year-old friend said, authoritatively, that he was a basketball player. The 13-year-old and I corrected him, and then, since we were the only ones in the car who had heard of the guy, we discussed what a freak show he was. And then, as I waxed nostalgic about junior high school dances, the discussion turned to how much they all now hate the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync.

The King of Pop? Isn't that Justin Timberlake?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Working vacation

My kids have this week off from school, but they don't have the week off from school work. My daughter -- amazingly, for the first time in her school career -- has a research report to do, complete with diorama and public speaking. All the fifth-grade classes are doing reports either on famous people or presidents, and her drawn-out-of-a-hat subject is Sally Ride. So we read a book together and took notes, and found some Web sites, and put a print-out of the Challenger in a shoebox, and put together an outline, and are now up to the rough-draft stage. The "we" there is somewhat worrisome, because my daughter, with her reading comprehension problems, is so clueless as to how to proceed on something like this, and I am so bad at giving clues and so good at just taking over and doing. Teachers may be worried about kids plagiarizing from books and Web sites, but in this case, I think it's more likely that my daughter will be plagiarizing me. Must ... let ... her ... make ... mistakes.

I'm also probably overinvolved in the book report my son is doing on George Washington, if for no other reason than I'm the one who asked his teacher to assign it to him. I let that slip, and he's not likely to let me forget it. I guess it is sort of disloyal to demand extra work for vacation-time; but there's not a lot of challenging going on in a self-contained special-ed classroom, and if I can arrange for challenging things to be assigned on my time, I'm going to do it. He wouldn't write a report to please me, but he will do it if his teacher says. And I'll help, a little with the reading and a lot with the pushing and the prodding and the nagging. His teacher gave him a very cute "Book Report Sandwich" to fill out -- title on the bread, characters on the lettuce, settings on the cheese, synopsis on the meat, opinion on the mayo, and drawing on the back slice of bread -- and he should be able to do most of that under his own wording. Unlike his sister, reading and words aren't problems for him. Paying attention for sustained periods is. So we're doing things in tiny bits over the course of the week, and slowly the work will get done. If I'm lucky, he won't hold a grudge.

Monday, February 17, 2003

News flash: Neglect bad for kids

In news that should surprise no one, new research shows that children adopted from overseas orphanages have developmental problems due to early neglect and lack of stimulation. Gosh, d'ya think? Given what an industry early stimulation of children has become in this country, with CDs to play to your children while they're in the womb and computer games for the extremely young and all manner of educational TV, baby gymnastics classes and learning-minded toys -- with all that considered so essential to good development, how could anybody think that sitting in an overcrowded playpen in an understaffed orphanage for most of your early years could result in a child with only minor developmental differences?

Apparently a lot of adoptive parents do think that, or more accurately hope that and dream that and cling to that beyond all reason. Whether research findings like these will change anybody's mind is hard to say; dreams die hard. It may make international adopters more picky about the orphanages they adopt from, which means that the kids most in need of families will be the least likely to get them. Or it may make adoptive parents less reluctant to get their kids set up immediately with early intervention and other developmental helpers. That's the best-case scenario, for sure. I won't argue with anybody that love will make all the difference for these children. But love has to include acceptance of the problems that come with institutionalization, and willingness to get help for those problems without delay; and it has to be unconditional, whether developmental delays are easily caught up, or deep and long-lasting.

Now, if they could do some research as to just what sort of help helps most for children with this background, that would be really ... helpful.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

It's back!

I'm happy to report that "Mothers with Attitude" is back from the abyss. You can still access it by the short-but-nonsensical, or by the new-but-longer-to-type Or, if you really enjoy typing, you can still use the old-fashioned But why would you, when we're so chock-full o' domain names?

What the heck happened to "Mothers with Attitude"?

If you're looking for my main site, "Mothers with Attitude," you may notice that sometime today it dropped off the face of the earth. Don't worry: It's still there. However, I made the mistake of trying to turn it from a Geocities free site to a paying one, and while that's pending they've apparently managed to make the site completely inaccessible. It should return sometime within the next 72 hours, and if it takes that long I will probably have popped a necessary blood vessel and will not be around to keep it up. Hold good thoughts.

Why don't DOCTORS just say no?

In case you're keeping track, here's another thing parents shouldn't be demanding antibiotics for: ear infections. According to new guidelines from "a joint sub-committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians," letting kids ride with otitis media for a few days will do no harm, and the infection may go away all by its ownself. The docs promise that no damage will be done to the kiddo's hearing, and you can always start the meds later. Easy for them to say; they don't know how my daughter used to howl and scream when she had an ear infection. Or maybe they do know, and that's why they don't want her in their offices.

Again, the assumption clearly stated is that hysterical, overprotective parents are responsible for the overprescription of antibiotics and their subsequent decline in effectiveness. How it is we force pediatricians to buckle to our evil will, I'm not sure. Maybe by bringing our screaming offspring and refusing to leave without drugs. At any rate, the joint subcommittee wishes we would knock it the heck off.

In other news, I finally went to my doctor last weekend with my lousy cold, which had mutated into an unsightly skin infection on my upper lip. The doctor thought the skin infection, like the cold, was probably viral, but gave me some antibiotics anyway just in case it was a staph infection. This is pretty much exactly the way I and my children have been prescribed antibiotics most, if not all, of the time -- by doctors who aren't sure it's needed, but want me to have it anyway. Do they assume my mere presence in their office represents an insistence on drug-getting? Has anybody reading this blog ever demanded antibiotics over a doctor's resistance, or has it usually been the other away around? Please use our "comments" feature to weigh in.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Happy Valentine's Day

I've been wondering at what grade level kids stop wanting to give Valentines to everyone in their class, and now I know: fifth grade. At least that's true for my daughter, who has always been perfectly willing to write out little cards to each and every one of her classmates but this year wanted no part of it. She swore that they didn't make little mailboxes in class this year, no list of names came home, and she was adament that she didn't have to do it this time, didn't want to do it, wouldn't do it. If she comes home with a bunch of unrequited cards, I'm going to feel bad, but she probably won't.

If your kid obsesses about Valentine's Day school etiquette the way I seem to be, there are some discussion tips here. We're not going altogether greeting-less this year; my son did Valentines for his special-ed class, and my girl did agree to bring some candy for her teacher, aide and therapist. But I'm sure she and her classmates are already looking ahead to middle school, when they'll put away childish things and start giving Valentines like they mean it, and then of course I will have to worry if she DOES want to give someone a card, and if she gets any that are at all meaningful. Guess I should enjoy the lull.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Maybe McDonald's IS trying to make us fat

I've had little patience with stories of lawsuits claiming that McDonald's is somehow forcing people to overeat their fried specialties and is therefore legally responsible for the plaintiffs' obesity. We may sometimes feel that we're slaves to advertising, but we're not, really. We can choose to eat elsewhere, or to not go out at all. We can choose to order the McSalad instead of the McSaturatedFatBurger. No matter how amazing the fries smell, we are still people of free will. And unless there are pimply teenagers in McDonald's uniforms forcing milkshakes down our unwilling throats, I don't believe we have anybody to blame for our appetites but ourselves.

And yet, there is this: Every so often, I drive by McDonald's in the morning on the way to my office to pick up a little breakfast. And when I do, I allow myself a little indulgence: one of those nice greasy delicious hash-brown patties, hot and oily from the fryer. It's not so good for me, but one of them every now and then isn't so bad for me, either. But McDonald's doesn't want me to have one of them; it wants me to have two. Two for the price of one! Isn't that great! The drive-through order-taker is incredulous when I beg to just have one for the price of one. When I can have two! And two is better! This isn't a case of asking me to supersize. This is a case of insisting that I take more than I have asked for. I honestly have to argue with these people every time I order. Now, if I took the extra and threw it away, I'd feel like I was wasting food. And if I ate it, I'd blame no one else for that decision. But the forcing of extra food on people who don't want it -- that, I blame on McDonald's. Maybe Ronald's got ulterior motives after all.

Go ahead, tell me off

I've added a comments feature to this blog -- and given my level of tech savvy, the chances that I've screwed up the code in some significant way so that it either won't work right or will make the rest of the blog not work right is high -- so if you read something here that you love, hate, or wish to expand upon, you may now do so easily. Be nice, and if you can't be nice, be brief.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Funny business

Here's something small and silly that's made my day today: Dave Barry has a blog! This is good news because I never did get around to getting a Dave Barry page-a-day calendar for my office desk this year, and now I can keep popping over to the blog for my daily laughter fix. Plus, it's new stuff and not excerpts of old. Oh, I know, it's not exactly a big deal, but I've had a rough week. I need all the laughs I can get.

Disasters can be fun!

Are your kids disturbed by the heightened state of terrorism alert we're supposed to be under right now? Mine, I'll admit, are pretty oblivious. Maybe these are some of the blessings of being language delayed, as my daughter is, or spending a lot of time in a fetal-alcohol-effects-inspired alternative universe, as is the case with my son -- in both those cases, you miss a lot of what's going on in the real world, and the real world being what it is these days, that ain't so bad.

I don't really have the heart to force them to sit and pay attention and absorb the full horror of events like 9/11 or impending war or the space-shuttle explosion. They hear a little, but most of it goes over their heads. If I ever do want to put them into a panic, though, I know just where to go: the Federal Emergency Management Agency's perky pages for kids. On bright Web screens that glow with sort of an "elevated alert" yellow, kids can learn about National Security Emergencies, read up on terrorism, figure out what they need to make Mom and Dad assemble for a home emergency kit, and map out their response in case of regular explosion, nuclear or radioactive explosion, or chemical or biological warfare. They can play disaster-related games and quizzes, get a certficate for being a Disaster Action Kid, and read the story of Herman, the FEMA spokescrab, as he seeks a disaster-proof shell.

Oh, it's all positively empowering, and will give your kids plenty of things to lie awake at night worrying about. It made me feel like chewing my nails, anyway. Maybe kids today are cooler about this stuff. Is that a good thing?

Monday, February 10, 2003

Real Naive. Real Idealistic. Real Discouraged.

Well, I guess, in a way, I lost my Internet virginity today. It was my first tangle with the dreaded "intellectual property" rights, and I lost. Turns out you can't say the words "real mom"™ on the Web, or at least you can't say them on T-shirts, as I had in my Mothers with Attitude store. "Real Mom,"™ it turns out, is trademarked to the owner of this site, who politely but firmly told me to cease and desist using that phrase. She also apparently told Cafepress, where my store resides, and they shut the shops with those products down and sent me a "Thou shalt not steal intellectual property" e-mail in the blink of an eye. All of which leaves me feeling angry, frustrated, bewildered, maligned, defensive ... and silly, too, because no one much was buying those shirts, and I wasn't pricing for a profit anyway, and really, who cares? They're no great loss.

But when I thought of them, anyway, they were mine. I had an idea to do it, and although the trademark owner legitimately feels that she owns those words and has worked hard to attach them to herself, I'd never heard of her or that trademark when I had the idea. They were just two common words waiting to be set on a shirt. How is it that common words can be owned? The Internet makes this all so much more confusing because it is now so terribly easy to put your words in very public places, and then so very easy for people to find those words and find fault with them. There was a time when I would have thought that putting those words on a shirt was a fun idea for an adoptive parent, and I would have drawn them on a piece of paper and gone down to the transfer shop and made me up a shirt. No one would likely have challenged my right to do that. Now, though, I can set up a whole store, for free, with the click of a button, and suddenly I'm a trademark violator.

The whole thing has me feeling very paranoid. Should I shut down the rest of my little store, just in case? Is my Web site safe? Could someone trademark the words "Parenting Isn't Pretty"? "Mothers with Attitude"? What if somebody trademarks my name? Do I actually intellectually own anything? Maybe I should just pull all my Internet plugs and go hide somewhere where I can't break any laws.

I know this sort of thing happens all the time, and will probably happen to me again. I've been thinking about another site that I like very much, enormously more successful than my own, that had to completely change its name and url and everything because of a similar situation, and that was exponentially more of a headache for them than losing a non-paying store is to me. It's the nature of the beast, I guess. But somehow, I'm feeling a little less joy in free expression tonight.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

New on Mothers with Attitude

Julie Donner Andersen's latest installment in her Therapeutic Laughing column, "A Mom by Any Other Name", is up and ready to amuse you. She covers the names kids give their maternal parent at different ages and stages, from "Mama" to "Moooooooooooom." When we adopted our kids at ages 4.5 years and 21 months respectively, we started them on "Mama" and "Papa," good Russian-sounding names, and those have stuck for most of these 8 years and more. Lately we've been having some drift into more all-American "Mom" and "Dad," which is fine too, and the more attitude-packed "Terri" and "Rick, which is not. My daughter becomes a teenager in April, and we'll see what she comes up with then. She better know I don't answer to "Hey, you!"

Thursday, February 06, 2003

No Nick

My son is a major SpongeBob SquarePants fan -- though, thankfully, not yet sophisticated enough to appreciate it on a more adult level, such as the one proposed by Virginia Heffernan on No, my guy is less interested in SpongeBob's "moral vision" than in his tendency to do silly things and make silly noises. He gets so excited by the sponge's antics that he sometimes doesn't come down all evening. And so, of course, I'm pulling the plug.

That's got to be one of the hardest parts of parenthood: withholding something your child really loves, for his own good. In this case, it's all Nickelodeon NickToons that are temporarily banned from our TV -- not just Mr. SquarePants, but "Rugrats," "Hey, Arnold!" and "Rocket Power," too. Not only do these particular funnies wire him up something fierce, but his tendency to pick up phrases and activities and repeat them in other contexts, when no one knows that he's just playing a cartoon character, has started to get him in trouble. The only way I know to make him stop is to remove the source. Maybe if he doesn't hear bully Harold on "Hey, Arnold!" say, "I'm gonna pound you!" for a few weeks, he'll stop saying it to bigger kids on the playground.

He hasn't found anything harmful to pick up yet from gentle PBS cartoons like "Arthur" and "Clifford," or on the Nick Jr. cartoons repeated in the afternoons on Noggin. Franklin and Little Bear, apparently, have no dangerous catch-phrases. And the Food Network is still pretty safe. No need to ban all TV -- it's one of the few rewards he's interested in for good behavior -- but for now, Mom's saying no to Nick. And my boy's left saying, "Barnacles!"

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"Parents' False Beliefs Bring Kids to ER for Colds"

I've been too sick with an annoying winter cold over the past couple days to write anything here, but at least now I know from this helpful Yahoo! News article that I needn't trouble my doctor with my sufferings. It gives survey results showing that people who run to the doctor or the ER for mere colds, demanding antibiotics in spite of the fact that they don't work on viruses, are responsible for the downfall of American medicine, or something like that. Actually, the article doesn't talk about adults going to the doctor, but something more insidious: parents who bring their children to doctors. Imagine the nerve of them, expecting somebody to care that their children are afflicted! This appears to be a continuation of the campaign to blame parents for antibiotics overuse, which I railed about in my very first column on Mothers with Attitude.That was three years ago, and I've still had antibiotics pushed on me by doctors way more often than I've requested them. But hey, let's blame parents -- they're an easy target. They're all too tired or too preoccupied by their children's health or too miserable from catching their children's cast-off colds to complain.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

School lunches from all over

I'm pretty happy with the lunches at my kids' school, mostly because they're affordable and save me the trouble of having to pack lunches myself. The offerings seem decent enough, neither as unhealthy as selections I 've heard of at other schools nor as surreal as ones I remember from my own youth. Occasionally my son or daughter will ask for extra money to buy chips or cookies, but they get none from me: Eat what's on the tray is my response. And if they complain about that, I'm going to show them this editorial from today's New York Times, which lists the particulars of school lunches in several different countries. The aim is to show how healthful the meals are in, say, Moscow or Paris as opposed to New York. But I know that when my kiddos complain about their bill of fare, just showing them the South Korean menu of Squid with Hot Sauce and Radish Kimchi will make their cafeteria chow seem a whole lot less scary.