Author Archives: Alyce Wilson

About Alyce Wilson

Alyce Wilson is the editor of Wild Violet and in her copious spare time writes humor, non-fiction, fiction and poetry, keeps an online journal, and is working on a book, Belated Mommy: How to Cope With Being an Older Mom. Her first chapbook, Picturebook of the Martyrs, and her e-book/pamphlet, Stay Out of the Bin! An Editor's Tips on Getting Published in Lit Mags (which she plans to update soon) and her book of essays and columns, The Art of Life, can be ordered from her Web site, AlyceWilson.com. She lives with her husband in the Philadelphia area and takes far too many photos of her attractive cat, Luke, and handsome preschooler, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda.

Mommy Files: The Reinstall

The other day, when he got home from kindergarten, my boy, Kung Fu Panda, wanted to play the new LeapPad game we’d just downloaded as a reward for earning enough stickers on his sticker chart.

I was out of the room, doing dishes or putting things away — it’s always at least 30 minutes before I get to sit down — and returned to find KFP looking upset. “It won’t let me do anything,” he said.

I took the device from him to have a look. Sure enough, the LeapPad was doing something I’d never seen before: instead of starting up, the display showed a LeapPad with an alert symbol on it and a white cord connecting the LeapPad to a computer.

“Guess we have to connect it to the computer,” I mused aloud and pulled the white cord out of the cabinet.

Once connected, the screen directed me to download the LeapPad Connect software, which I soon surmised was a diagnostic tool for finding and fixing problems. After a couple false starts — including moving from my dinky notebook to my husband’s laptop in order to see the full screen of the application — the program began a lengthy process which seemed to involve a complete reinstall of his LeapPad’s software. Uh-oh.

Gently, I explained to KFP that, when his LeapPad was fixed, it would have the programs but not the settings. I didn’t go into detail, for fear he’d be upset, but I was fairly sure that all of his photos and drawings, his stickers and badges earned from playing his games, would have disappeared into the ether.

When the process ended, I handed the freshly-repaired LeapPad to my son and graced myself for the worst. Would he shriek or wail? Would he cry inconsolable tears as I vainly tried to explain I could do nothing to restore those files? (Perhaps a computer genius could recover them, but I don’t work for “CSI.”)

And then the most amazing thing happened. Nothing.

“I guess I need to take a new picture for my profile,” he said. I tried to walk him through it, but he didn’t need much help. He chose a new background — a tropical fish tank — and opened the virtual pet game to recreate his little brown monkey, Bimbie Baby, completely redecorating his apartment. “Look, he has a flatscreen TV now!” he told me.

Later, opening up the logic game where you build a town by solving space puzzles, KFP was delighted to see the town completely empty. “I’ve been wanting to rebuild it,” he told me.

If only he was always this flexible. If only I was.

An eon ago, in my pre-child days, a yoga instructor tried to explain the principle of attachment. At the time, I’m not sure I understood him as well as I believe I do now. No zen koan can teach the principle of attachment quite as well as motherhood. For I challenge you to find another experience where you are so deeply attached to someone, and yet where you are constantly reminded of the need to let them go.

From the instant he began to smile at ceiling lights — we said he was laughing at his guardian angel making silly faces — I knew the full realization of his life and being would one day lead away from me. From his first steps, to putting him on the bus to school, I couldn’t deny that this kid was going places.

As a friend once told me, everything is a stage. Crying at the top of his lungs every time you go to the grocery store? A stage. Peeing his pants because he can’t stand to tear himself away from his toys? A stage. But so, too, are the good stages, such as when he sits close to you, cuddling your arm, just because he feels like it.

It’s all a stage, and everything is always new again. I hope I can learn from KFP how to look forward to all the new challenges ahead, to build things anew.

Mommy Files: The Black Hat

When my son told me that the adjusting band had broken off his beaten-up black Dave & Buster’s baseball hat, I have to admit I was secretly glad. To say the hat had seen better days was a severe understatement.

First, it had first lost the metal button on top. Then, over years of exposure to sun and rain, it faded, growing more and more distressed. Nine months out of the year, he wore the hat nearly every time we stepped outside, a habit encouraged by me in order to protect his fair skin. In winter, I managed to convince him to wear a winter hat, instead, one that covered his ears.

Because of his larger-than-average head, we’d bought him a one-size-fits-all hat, adjusting it for the smallest setting. As a result, its large brim cast a shadow over his face, ruining many outdoor photos.

While I didn’t mind its distressed appearance, lately the hat had begun to go downhill severely, first with a loose thread on the brim, which I clipped. Another thread followed, and soon the entire brim was frayed, with the black plastic of the brim protruding slightly through the cloth that covered it.

But still, the hat was my son’s favorite, and so I kept hand washing it in the sink, clipping off the fringe, and attempting to make it somewhat presentable. Of course, since it was one-size-fits all, little hope existed of him outgrowing it, and I was increasingly more embarrassed sending him out in it. Yet, he loved the hat so much that I had trouble hardening myself and making a huge decision, like refusing to let him wear it.

So when the little voice called from the back seat to say that “something important fell off my hat,” I had to stifle a little cheer. I took a look at it and proclaimed it unwearable but headed off tears by reminding him he had several other hats to choose from (hats I’d bought in the mistaken belief I could entice him into wearing them).

This morning, on his way to school, he consented to wear one: a bright orange and green cap featuring a surfer with the word “California” on the back. At first, he seemed OK with it. After all, the cap contained one of his favorite colors, green. But then, as I’d feared, he dissolved into tears.

I got down at his level and asked him what was wrong. He told me, “I don’t feel like myself without my hat.” I kissed his tears away and reminded him he wears different clothes every day, and he’s still the same person.

By the time we got to the bus stop, he was smiling again, receiving a compliment from his bus friend on the cap.

But between you and me, I’ve covered my bets. Just in case, I’ve ordered a black baseball cap from eBay.

Mommy Files: Oh, Hello There!

I never intended it to be so long between entries, but I have had difficulty keeping up with my blogging. In part, I got out of the habit when the Yahoo! Contributor Network went under, which had kept me writing on a more or less regular basis.

Then, with a growing boy, my life soon became filled with classes ranging from sports (at various times, hockey, tumbling, soccer, a sports sampler, and swimming) to piano. Not to mention kids’ birthday parties, events at his preschool and the like.

But a college buddy asked me, at a Labor Day party this weekend, if I could spare five minutes a day to write SOMETHING. I had to agree that yes, I could. So here I am, getting back in the game.


My son and I are currently watching a “Shaun the Sheep” DVD, made by the same studio that does the “Wallace and Grommit” shorts and movies. There is almost no dialogue, and it is good, silly fun. Exactly the sort of thing my mild-mannered boy enjoys.

I had meant to write an essay about violence in kids’ movies, and I hope to post lengthier observations later, but suffice it to say that, in a world where too much children’s content is abrasive and downright scary, I’m loving the simple, gentle humor of “Shaun the Sheep.”

Sadly, we won’t be seeing the feature film, because the previews showed a scary-looking animal catcher, literally gunning for the sheep (although with a science-fiction looking device, rather than a gun, per se). *sigh* Why is there this villain obsession in Hollywood? There are ways to create good stories without always relying on an evil nemesis, threatening to kill the protagonists. I expected better from “Shaun the Sheep.” But at least we have the TV shows to enjoy.


Before YCN shut down, I downloaded all of my articles, and I will soon begin posting my best articles about parenting tips.

Yahoo! Contributor Network Shutting Down

It’s the end of an era. Yahoo! has decided to shut down the Yahoo! Contributor Network entirely. I’m not surprised, since they’ve been gradually shutting down a lot of the programs within YCN that gave writers opportunities to make money on top of Performance Payments. The good news is that all rights to my articles will revert to me, allowing me to sell them elsewhere, if possible.

I will be archiving copies of all of my articles as they appeared on Yahoo! for my records. You have until July 31 to go through my profile and check out any articles that interest you, because I will still get whatever Performance Payments accrue during that time.

I’m not actually too upset: writing for Yahoo! was fun, and I got a lot of great comments from editors over the years. But this would be a good time to turn my focus towards writing projects that could potentially earn me more per piece.

Thanks for reading and sharing all these years!

My Yahoo! Contributor Network portfolio: http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/alycewilson/

Article: Best Kid Attractions in Old City Philly

Here’s the first installment in a short series I’m writing about kid-friendly attractions in Philadelphia, this one focused on Old City. It’s also giving us an excuse to check out a lot of places we’ve never gone before!

The Best Attractions for Kids in Historic Philadelphia