Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ch-Ch-Changes: Let's Talk About Puberty!

A while ago I was sent something called the Changes kit, a cute little boxed set of items that are meant to ease your pre-pubescent girl into the exciting world of menstruation, pimples and mood swings. I say 'a while ago' because it really was a few months ago, and I owe the people behind this product a little apology for not reviewing it sooner. But I received it right on the heels of reviewing another similar product, and I thought that if my tween girls even caught a glimpse of anything that might elicit another one of my 'talks' they'd steer clear of me. In fact, my 'talks' have become so unpopular that I've found that even clearing my throat, or walking in to a room and saying, "There comes a time..." can send them screaming from the house.

Fortunately the Changes kit is a very non-confrontational way of getting some basic facts in front of your teen or tween daughter without having to convene a town hall meeting, or necessitating the use of PowerPoint presentations or flow charts (no pun intended, I swear.) It consists of The Guide, a pocket-sized informational booklet that covers everything from your first period right down to picking out your first bra (there's a couple of paragraphs about toxic shock system that are a little intense and could use some editing - I might give my daughter a little less alarming version, so that she doesn't faint at the sight of a tampon.)

Everything in the Changes kit is beautifully designed, cleverly packaged and, refreshingly - has a contemporary feel to it. This is especially important if you've seen the ancient, completely outdated films that most schools use to educate our kids about puberty. I think the one I saw recently featured a woman using cave drawings to tell her daughters that they had 'the curse' because they hadn't clubbed enough bison that month.

Then there's a journal for your daughter to jot down her innermost thoughts, things like, "I REALLY wish my mom would STOP TRYING TO TALK TO ME ABOUT SEX" and "Dr. Pepper RULES." The journal also contains a handy calendar wheel for keeping track of period days and in a little pocket in the back are some beautiful notecards with matching envelopes. I imagine these wouldn't be used for notes like, "Dear Sarah - I got my period today. SQUEAL!!!" but more like, "Dear Sarah - I swear, if my mom tries to TALK TO ME ABOUT SEX ONE MORE TIME I'm totally going to run away with Todd. I don't care that he smells like lunchmeat."

Last but not least the kit contains a few fun items that my 10-year-old has already taken possession of - a 'Mood Pen' with different colors of ink to "reflect your feelings and moods" and three small bottles of perfume meant to express said moods. She hasn't reached puberty but apparently she's ready to smell like she has. I've already had to restrict the use of one the scents she's been using a little too often, one appropriately named, 'Diva.'

I'd recommend the kit as a supplement to having a good old-fashioned talk with your daughter - nothing takes the place of the real deal, and you can't put a price on seeing the various looks of disgust, embarrassment and boredom that crosses the face of your tween or teen as they hear their mother use words like 'sex' and 'breasts' and 'vagina.' But the Changes kit would make a nice intro to the subject, a gentle way to broach a lot of topics that aren't necessarily easy to bring up. I think my first attempt went something like, "How was school? Well, here's a snack, and I've also got a box of maxi-pads for you."

See? I could use all the help I can get.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Pinocchio at the El Capitan!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to see a digitally restored version of Walt Disney's Pinocchio at the El Capitan Theater, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the beloved film. I love all the old Disney movies, and especially this one - it's so weird and subversive in its own way. I mean, a sneering, evil man invites all the young boys to his island of pleasure and then turns them into donkeys? So un-PC! And when was the last time you saw a bunch of kids smoking in a Disney movie?

This evening was made even better by what took place beforehand: Don Hahn, the producer of Beauty and the Beast, hosted a special presentation of people involved in Disney animation, including Dick Jones, who was the voice of Pinocchio in the film. Jones, who was eleven when he did the film, had some great stories about meeting and working with Walt Disney. Then Hahn took us through the storyboard for the "Give a Little Whistle" sequence in the movie, complete with sound effects. After that he introduced sculptor Ruben Procopia, who was actually carving a little bust of Jiminy Cricket right there on stage, and then an animator who showed us the painstaking process of creating animation using cells. I loved Jones' comment afterwards: "I hate computers!" That led Hahn to divulge that Disney is currently working on a feature film using the old-style of animation - I can't wait to see it.

The pre-show presentation ended with the Disneyland Dapper Dans, who perform on Disneyland's Main Street, singing "When You Wish Upon a Star."

The movie itself is beautiful - the restoration is evident and the seeing it on a big screen at the El Capitan made it that much more spectacular. Then again, seeing a film at the El Capitan is always such a great movie-going experience - I don't think I've ever not liked anything I've seen there. In fact, I could probably see a Pauly Shore movie there and I'd think it was Oscar worthy. Well, maybe not.

Check out Pinocchio at the El Capitan for yourself - it's playing through February 12, and you don't want to miss your chance of seeing Pinocchio turn in to a real boy...

Click here to buy tickets!

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