TIME Parenting

‘Time-Outs’ Are Hurting Your Child

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind
No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind Courtesy Random House

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight institute.

Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., is the co-author (with Siegel) of the best-selling The Whole-Brain Child.

In a brain scan, relational pain—that caused by isolation during punishment—can look the same as physical abuse. Is alone in the corner the best place for your child?

Time-out is the most popular discipline technique used by parents and the one most often recommended by pediatricians and child development experts. But is it good for kids? Is it effective? Not according to the implications of the latest research on relationships and the developing brain.

Studies in neuroplasticity—the brain’s adaptability—have proved that repeated experiences actually change the physical structure of the brain. Since discipline-related interactions between children and caregivers comprise a large amount of childhood experiences, it becomes vital that parents thoughtfully consider how they respond when kids misbehave. Discipline is about teaching – not about punishment – and finding ways to teach children appropriate behavior is essential for healthy development.

So what about time-outs? In most cases, the primary experience a time-out offers a child is isolation. Even when presented in a patient and loving manner, time-outs teach them that when they make a mistake, or when they are having a hard time, they will be forced to be by themselves—a lesson that is often experienced, particularly by young children, as rejection. Further, it communicates to kids, “I’m only interested in being with you and being there for you when you’ve got it all together.”

The problem is, children have a profound need for connection. Decades of research in attachment demonstrate that particularly in times of distress, we need to be near and be soothed by the people who care for us. But when children lose emotional control, parents often put them in their room or by themselves in the “naughty chair,” meaning that in this moment of emotional distress they have to suffer alone.

When children are overtaxed emotionally, they sometimes misbehave; their intense emotions and the demands of the situation trump their internal resources. The expression of a need or a big feeling therefore results in aggressive, disrespectful, or uncooperative behavior—which is simply proof that children haven’t built certain self-regulation skills yet. Misbehavior is often a cry for help calming down, and a bid for connection.

When the parental response is to isolate the child, an instinctual psychological need of the child goes unmet. In fact, brain imaging shows that the experience of relational pain—like that caused by rejection—looks very similar to the experience of physical pain in terms of brain activity.

On top of everything, time-outs are usually ineffective in accomplishing the goals of discipline: to change behavior and build skills. Parents may think that time-outs cause children to calm down and reflect on their behavior. But instead, time-outs frequently make children angrier and more dysregulated, leaving them even less able to control themselves or think about what they’ve done, and more focused on how mean their parents are to have punished them.

When children concentrate on their horrible luck to have such a mean, unfair mom or dad, they miss out on an opportunity to build insight, empathy, and problem-solving skills. Putting them in time-out deprives them of an opportunity to build skills that other types of discipline could focus on. Setting clear limits while emphasizing collaboration, conversation, and respect gives kids a chance to practice being active, empathic decision makers who are empowered to figure things out on their own.

Next time the need for discipline arises, parents might consider a “time-in”: forging a loving connection, such as sitting with the child and talking or comforting. Some time to calm down can be extremely valuable for children, teaching them how to pause and reflect on their behavior. Especially for younger children, such reflection is created in relationship, not in isolation. And all of this will make parenting a whole lot more effective and rewarding in the long run.

 

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., co-author with Bryson of the new book No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight institute. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Siegel is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller, Brainstorm, together with the bestsellers Mindsight, Parenting from the Inside Out (with Mary Hartzell) and The Whole-Brain Child (with Bryson).

Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., is the co-author (with Siegel) of the best-selling The Whole-Brain Child, which has been translated into eighteen languages. She is a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist, the Director of Parenting for the Mindsight Institute, and the Child Development Specialist at Saint Mark’s School in Altadena, CA.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Healthcare Policy

Getting Poor to Get Help: How a Tragic Accident Trapped My Family in Poverty

Trapped in America's Safety Net
Trapped in America's Safety Net Courtesy University of Chicago Press

Campbell is the author of the new book, Trapped in America’s Safety Net: One Family’s Struggle.

When Andrea Louise Campbell's sister-in-law was horribly injured, she and her family had to spend down their money and assets to get the medical care they needed

Nearly one-third of American households live in or near poverty. The causes are myriad – and much contested. Those on the political right tend to cite the personal shortcomings of poor individuals while those on the left blame systemic barriers to upward mobility. But as my family has painfully learned, there is another shocking cause: government policy.

In February 2012 my sister-in-law Marcella was in a car accident on her way to nursing school, where she was working towards a career which she hoped would catapult her and my brother Dave into middle-class security. Instead, the accident plunged them into the world of American poverty programs. Marcella is now a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. She needs round-the-clock personal care and assistance. The only source – public or private – for a lifetime of such coverage is Medicaid. But because Medicaid is the government health insurance for the poor, she and my brother must be poor in order to qualify. (Medicare does not cover long-term supports and services, and private long-term care insurance is time-limited and useless to a 32-year-old who needs decades of care). Thus, Marcella and Dave embarked on a hellish journey to lower their income and shed their modest assets to meet the state limits for Medicaid coverage.

To meet the income requirement, my brother reduced his work hours to make just 133 percent of the poverty level (around $2,000 per month for their family). Anything he earns above that amount simply goes to Medicaid as their “share of cost” – a 100 per cent tax.

Worse: the asset limit. In California, where they live, they can own only $3,150 in assets beyond their home and one vehicle. They’re “lucky,” a social worker tells Dave: if not for the baby (Marcella was pregnant at the time of the accident; the baby miraculously survived), the asset limit would be $3,000. As if you can raise a child on $150. This asset limit was last raised in 1989. It has fallen by half in real value since then.

Dave and Marcella began to liquidate. Under California rules, retirement plans are not exempt from the asset test. Marcella had to cash in a small 401(k) account from a previous job, paying the early withdrawal penalty to boot. Dave had to abandon his hobby, working on old cars, which violated the asset test. He sold them all, keeping a 1968 Datsun pickup because its tiny value didn’t impinge on the asset limit. The pickup is 45 years old, weighs less than a Miata, and has no modern safety features. The only able-bodied adult in the family has to drive to work in an unsafe vehicle. And they had to empty their bank account, watching their hard-earned security disappear.

As Dave and Marcella spent down their assets, they had to keep track of every penny. They could only put the money into the exempt items, the house and the used wheelchair van they bought for Marcella. They could not use the money to pay credit card bills, household bills, or Marcella’s student loans from her undergraduate degree. And they are barred from doing any of the things the middle class is constantly advised to do: save for retirement. Create an emergency fund. Save for college with a tax-free 529 plan. Just $3,150 in assets – that’s it.

What happens in an emergency? One day the van’s wheelchair ramp stopped working. The repair cost $3,000—the sum of their meager assets. Fortunately their tax refund had just come in and went straight back out to pay for the repair. We don’t know what they’ll do next time.

What would help folks like Marcella and Dave?

True universal health insurance. A universal social insurance program for long-term care, not just Medicaid. And one modest change: no asset test. Policy is already trending in that direction. Under the Affordable Care Act, those newly eligible for Medicaid face no asset test. (Unfortunately those in the original eligibility categories, including the disabled like Marcella, are still under the old rule.) About half of the states have no asset test for any Medicaid recipient; perhaps someone realized that trying to ferret out the tiny amount of resources most Medicaid applicants have is inefficient. As for Dave and Marcella, I suppose they might move to a state with more generous rules. However, no state helps with wheelchair renovations. Lacking the assets to buy a new house elsewhere, they must remain in the home their friends renovated for them on an entirely volunteer basis.

It’s bad enough that America’s system of social supports is so limited. That the government also forces some of its citizens to get poor to get the help they need is an abomination.

 

Andrea Louise Campbell is professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of Trapped in America’s Safety Net, out this month.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Review: In Her First Novel, Caitlin Moran Explains How To Build a Girl

The best-selling author of How To Be a Woman returns with a novel about growing up in '90s Britain

Most of America first encountered Caitlin Moran in 2011 when she explained How To Be a Woman with her best-selling memoir/polemic. The deeply personal book served as a call to arms for modern feminism, skipping academic jargon in favor of discussing pubic hair and sex work, with plenty of jokes in between; Woman became an international best-seller and put Moran on the map as one of the new feminist icons.

In her first novel How To Build a Girl, Moran takes her trademark humor and applies it to a new subject: adolescence. Moran’s protagonist is Johanna Morrigan, a 14-year-old girl circa 1990, living in a provincial English town called Wolverhampton, which “looks like something bad happened to it.” A bright, overweight optimist, obsessed with sex and yearning “to be beautiful,” Johanna dreams of becoming a writer while living with her large, eccentric family in public housing. Terrified that her father’s disability benefits will soon end, Johanna decides to save her family from poverty by becoming a music journalist in London.

Anyone already familiar with Moran will immediately recognize the broad outlines of the story: she also lived in public housing with her large family in Wolverhampton in the ‘90s, before becoming a teenage music journalist for the British publication Melody Maker and then going on to work for the Times. Moran insists, however, that it’s a work of fiction, autobiographically inspired as it may be.

The smartest thing about the universe of Moran’s Girl is that growing up isn’t a passive activity, a thing that happens to you. Instead, it’s something you deliberately set out to achieve for yourself, building up piece by piece and constructing who you are with books, pop music and wild experiences. For Johanna, it also involves sex, drugs and lots of rock ‘n’ roll. She tries on different identities, such as “Dolly Wilde” — her rock critic nom de plume — and suffers various humiliations and disappointments along the way.

There’s a lot going on and, unsurprisingly — given that it was written by Moran — How To Build a Girl is very funny. It’s also quite rude. A considerable portion of the book focuses on the various household items that Johanna can use to masturbate with. (Book banning types in the U.S. are bound to have a field day with this one.)

But there are also some observations that aren’t believable coming from a 14-year-old — or even, as Johanna ages throughout the book, a 16 or 17-year-old. Her insights are either too mature or much too naïve. Though Johanna can be reflective on class, music and sexual frustration, most of her feelings regarding her family, her colleagues or even some of her experiences are left largely unexplored. While charming and funny, she is often disappointingly glib, breezing over events in her own mind in a way that feels unrealistic.

Johanna often approaches new experiences as a complete innocent, before her future self interrupts in order to editorialize what she’s experiencing. In one notable scene, after Johanna has a rash of unsatisfying sexual encounters and finds herself in bed with a man whose pleasure is the only thing she focuses on, she notes: “In later years I find this is called ‘physical disconnect,’ and is all part and parcel of women having their sexuality mediated through men’s gaze.” Sure, it’s an accurate description of what’s going on, but it’s not one that teenage Johanna would ever articulate. It’s passages like that which make Girl feel less like a novel and more like a collection of deleted scenes from Moran’s first book.

With How To Be a Woman – a hugely lovable book, even when it was problematically narrow – Moran had swaths of women snapping it up, laughing and saying, “Yes, this is what it is like to be a woman.” While How To Build a Girl will almost certainly make readers laugh, it’s hard to imagine anyone recognizing the adolescence it depicts. That said, many readers will recognize plenty of Moran in it. For her fans, that’s probably all that’s needed.

TIME Books

It’s Banned Books Week: Here are 5 Classic Books to Celebrate With

From Waugh to Walker, the banned-books list has plenty of literary highlights

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh.

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.

In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume.

Each of the above is, for most people, safely tucked away in the pantheon of “good books.” But that hasn’t stopped each from seeming, for others, bad enough to ban. They’re all on the American Library Association’s lists of challenged books, which the organization is promoting in honor of Banned Books Week (Sept. 21–27, this year), a celebration of the fact that speaking out against censorship has caused most American attempts at book-banning, by their estimation, to fail.

Even so, a quick look at those lists reveals that banning books is very much not a thing of the past — and that, as an expert on the effects of book banning told TIME for a 1981 story about the rise of the practice, “nothing is safe.” As that article pointed out, the range of books that have been banned in the U.S. includes not only literary classics but also the dictionary, because “some organizations … objected to the sexual intimations of the definition of the word bed as a transitive verb.” (Even TIME itself has been a banned “book,” though that was in Europe during the early months of World War II.)

Part of the reason why book banning remains so prevalent in the U.S. is that the challenges to books happen mostly on a local level. The federal government stays out of it, but individual schools and libraries are, as TIME put it in that 1981 story, “eager to protect everybody from hazards like ugly words, sedition, blasphemy, unwelcome ideas and, perhaps worst of all, reality.” Still, TIME explained, just because each ban only affects a small portion of the population, that doesn’t mean the bans don’t add up:

Written words running loose have always presented a challenge to people bent on ruling others. In times past, religious zealots burned heretical ideas and heretics with impartiality. Modern tyrannies promote the contentment and obedience of their subjects by ruthlessly keeping troubling ideas out of their books and minds. Censorship can place people in bondage more efficiently than chains.

Read the full 1981 story about the increasing incidence of book banning, here in TIME’s archives: The Growing Battle of the Books

TIME Music

Sheila E Reflects on Her ‘Glamorous Life': ‘It’s Hard to Be That Popular’

2014 NAMM Show - Day 2
Sheila E. attends the 2014 National Association of Music Merchants show at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 24, 2014 in Anaheim, Ca. Jesse Grant—Getty Images

The Grammy-nominated singer and drummer opens up about her tough past, relationship with Prince

Sheila E, the legendary singer, drummer and percussionist, has lived on stage since she was a teenager — playing music first with her family and then on tours with Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and her notorious collaborations with Prince.

Now, after a lifetime in the spotlight, Sheila has written an autobiography, The Beat of My Own Drum, which casts a light into the areas of her life lived off-stage. TIME talked to the legendary drummer about her new book, her work as a musician and bringing the F-U-N-K to Prince songs.

TIME: You’ve spent so much of your life in the spotlight. Have you ever figured out how many years it’s been that you’ve been in the public eye?

Sheila E: The first time I played was with my dad at [age] 5. That was my first experience being on stage. And then I was playing a little bit when I was 14. But during that whole time in the Bay Area, we had so many different groups that we were inspired by, like Carlos Santana and Grateful Dead, Tower Power, Sly and the Family Stone. My dad played Latin jazz music and still does, but that time was the Motown era, so my brothers and I would emulate all the different bands, from the Temptations to the Supremes, Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder, James Brown — it didn’t matter. We were always performing, going to our family’s house, my cousin’s house, my uncle’s house. But up until I was 15, I didn’t know that I was going to be a musician, because my focus in life was sports. I was an athlete, my mom’s an athlete, and I wanted to train to be in the Olympics and I wanted to win a gold medal. I feel that I’ve been transparent for so many years now that actually writing it down and letting other people who I haven’t been able to reach, letting them read this — I’ve been telling my story for a while, so it’s OK. I want to be transparent.

I read an interview where you mentioned how many inaccuracies were in your Wikipedia entry. Is this book sort of a way to fix that?

Yes — that would be great. We keep going in and fixing it, and they keep changing it.

What’s the one thing that keeps changing?

One thing is they keep saying that I learned how to play tuba.

You don’t know how to play tuba?

No!

Maybe you should just learn to play a tuba.

Exactly. And then the year that I was born was wrong. It was two years off. And this lady argued with my manager one time. She says, ‘You know that Wikipedia says this was the year that she was born.’ And my manager says, ‘No, it wasn’t. I’m telling you, it’s my artist.’ And she’s like, ‘No, it’s not. Wikipedia is right.’ She’s like, ‘I’m sitting here with my artist. I know how old she is.’

One of the things Wikipedia says is that you met Carlos Santana when you were 18.

I met him before then, because my dad and my uncle played in the band, and we loved Carlos Santana growing up. That was some music that we had never heard before. Bringing percussion with some rock and roll melodies, a little bit of flavor of Latin in. Yeah, I met him when I was younger and then, later on, I fell in love with him.

What was that like for your dad? Was he like, ‘You can’t date my daughter!’?

It’s really weird, because it never came up when I was dating him. We really didn’t tell anybody. Not that I was too young or anything like that, or it was weird. He was coming to my soccer games, he was coming to the house hanging out. But he’d always pick me up or I’d meet him somewhere and we’d hang out on the other side in San Francisco, as opposed to Oakland all the time. My father never said anything to me. I don’t know if maybe he didn’t want to say anything, or it’s not like Carlos and I really hung out with the family and said, ‘Hey, we’re riding together now.’ He was on tour and I was touring, so it was almost like a relationship that was kind of in the Bay Area, but not. And my mom, honestly — I know this is crazy, but I don’t know if she even knew.

Your book talks about how Prince was already a fan of your music before you started working with him.

Yeah, before he was famous. He came to the Bay Area to do his first record, because he was influenced by Bay Area music and wanted to record in that studio where Sly and Carlos had recorded. So my dad was in Santana at the time, and they were at the studio, and they were talking about this young kid who was next door recording and producing and playing all the instruments by himself. They were like, ‘This kid is amazing.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I want to meet him.’ The following year Prince’s record came out, so he came back to the Bay Area and San Francisco to perform. And I went backstage to meet him and as I went to introduce myself, I put my hand out, and he saw me in the mirror and he turned around, and he said, ‘I already know who you are.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ He goes, ‘I’ve been following your career for a long time.’ Then he asked me how much money I was making, and said, ‘Okay, I can’t afford you.’

A lot of articles have cast Prince as a mentor for you. Do you agree with that? Because it sounds like you influenced him as much as he influenced you.

Yeah, he’s not as much a mentor. I think we influenced each other. I influenced him the same way he influenced me. When he came back to the Bay Area, I introduced him to my family, and he got to see me play with my family, with my dad, and play Latin jazz music, and he’d never heard it before. He was like, ‘This is just crazy. This is amazing.’ He loved it. We mentored each other, if you want to look at it that way. That’s the good thing about Prince: you can see how he was influenced by the people around him. I can hear and see it, because I got to live the influence that I had on him as well as the influence he had on me — just being around each other, being able to record all the time and play, and do things that he had never done using live percussion instruments and recording all the time.

One of the things that comes through in your book is how spiritual you are. How did that work, being in the music industry in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s?

It didn’t. I knew that there was a God growing, but it was different later on, when I realized I wanted to be a better person and believing in God was not enough. I really needed to, in a sense, give my heart to the Lord.

There’s a story that you refused to sing “Erotic City” because there’s so much profanity in the song. Is that true?

Yeah, he said the “f word,” he was reading the lyric, and I said ‘I’m not singing that.’ He said, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘Because I’m not going to say that word.’ I said funk, f-u-n-k, and he said the other word.

And then the story lives on.

Yeah and they keep telling me, ‘You said…’ You can manipulate things but I did not say that word.

Prince has so many songs that were really raunchy — songs like “Darling Nikki,” that spawned a whole national movement spear-headed by Tipper Gore. What are your memories of that time or that song?

I loved it. Are you kidding? Back then?

Even though it was raunchy?

Yeah, I mean, I didn’t know any better. That was the ‘80s. We were having a blast, I’m young. It’s like I walked around: ‘Hey, I’m naked. Look at me.’ Playing, just doing, having a blast. I had so much fun. And I loved the show that he put together. We all loved those songs. That thing was brilliant, then. And some of the songs are still great — just change the lyrics a little bit. I do “Erotic City” in my show. But I change the lyric.

Around the time that “The Belle of St. Mark” and “Glamorous Life” came out, there seemed to be a real push for you to be a pop star and less of a musician. Did you feel that sort of tug-of-war?

That was challenging for me, yeah. I signed as an R&B artist, and when “Glamorous Life” crossed over to pop, it became, ‘Yeah, she was a pop star, not an R&B artist.’ A pop star, that changed it. Then I started changing my show, because then it was more about me singing and less playing, and that’s why by my third record I said I don’t want to do this anymore. It wasn’t true to who I am. Not that I didn’t want to be a pop star or pop music was bad, it was just I wasn’t playing as much and that was the foundation of who I was was a musician. I played percussion and played drums. And the more that I sang and the more I didn’t play, I felt an emptiness and I realized that it just didn’t feel right. So I just walked away from it.

There’s a long tradition of singing drummers, but that didn’t appeal to you to try and do both?

I did do both. I incorporated as much playing as I could, but it was more about singing. By the third record, I need to figure out really what I want to do. I was so famous when “Glamorous Life” came out, and I mean, I couldn’t go into the store, I couldn’t do anything. And that’s a hard place, to be to be that popular. It’s a scary place to be, and it can swallow you up. I could see what these young artists have to go through nowadays. It happened to me, and I know it’s crazy. So I felt that I needed to change some things. So I went back, I started another band. I started a band called the E Train and I went back to playing some more Latin jazz, Brazilian, a little bit of everything with a smaller group, just so I could play again and I felt so good.

In your book you write very frankly about the abuse that you suffered. Was it liberating to write about it?

I’ve been sharing my testimony for a long time, since my 30s. It’s not always easy, but it’s great to talk about, because I realized not only was it healing for me, I was also helping other people. So then when I started to write this, well, the first time I wrote that first chapter about the abuse, I was in my 30s. I wrote for two hours, and I just broke down, like someone had stabbed me in the stomach. I hurt so bad, and I cried for three days. I couldn’t even get off the floor. I felt sick and disgusted. And I almost felt like I wanted to die — it was that intense. But I realized that after getting that out, after holding it in for so long, that the process of the healing began. I started talking about it and I started sharing. And then I realized that this baggage that I had carried for so long — baggage of guilt, baggage of shame, feeling dirty and all of these things that are not pure and clean and of God — and I wanted to let it go. I was like, ‘God, I’m giving this all to you. I don’t want it anymore.’ And really, I started feeling lighter and happier, and not angry as much, and getting better and better the more that I did it.

The experience has also led you to do a lot of philanthropy and a lot of charitable work.

Yeah, my brother introduced me to his friend and she said, ‘Hey, we’ve been through the same thing.’ I started selling my instruments on stage, and I was running out of gear, so I was like, I got to start doing this the right way. So we thought about starting a 501(c)(3). And we started Elevate Hope Foundation, and we started helping other kids. We thought, music has gotten us through this. Music and arts have healed us. They’ve become our outlet to express ourselves, and gave us courage and healing and hope. So we we went to foster care facilities since they’re the least likely to be helped — we started there. And now we’re opening up to the public schools, because all the music and arts have been taken out of the schools.

Going back to Prince for a minute, your relationship with him seems like a double-edged sword. Obviously working with him helped bring you to fame, but at the same time, you’re put up with people like me asking about your relationship. Is that how it feels? I’ve read interviews where you’ve been like, ‘Can we stop talking about this?’

It’s fine to talk about it, but after a while, once I answer one or two questions, then it becomes all about him, and I’m not doing his interviews. He should do his own interviews, you know what I’m saying? So it’s not fair to me to ask me a bunch of questions about him. I know everyone does that, because I’m the closest thing to him, or the only one talking about it. A couple of questions here and there is fine, though.

I’ll ask you one question. Did he ever make you breakfast?

Yes. Why does everyone always ask that question?

Because there are so many stories that circulate about Prince showing up somewhere and inviting them to his house for breakfast.

That’s true. I lived with him. Of course, he made me breakfast, and I made him breakfast. No one asks me, ‘Have you made Prince breakfast?’

Okay, I’ll ask you. Have you made Prince breakfast?

Yes.

What did you make him?

Eggs. He loved eggs. Scrambled eggs. He loved scrambled eggs, pancakes — he loved my pancakes. And he loved my lemon cake.

 

 

 

TIME Books

Exclusive: Read James Franco’s New Poetry

Hollywood Dreaming
Insight Editions

Read Franco's poetry about Spring Breakers and Sean Penn, excerpted from his forthcoming book Hollywood Dreaming

The latest project from multi-hyphenate movie star James Franco will be the book Hollywood Dreaming: Stories, Pictures, and Poems, due out Sept. 23, 2014. The book includes snapshots, short stories, essays and poems — including the two excerpted below.

ANGELZ

That was a time we had down in F-L-A.

It was something, like with all movies,

That was special, like a bubble, in which

We all lived, a magic time, where we all

 

Came together. This is how it iz on all filmz

But this one was special, because them girlz

Was doin’ sumptin like this fo’ the first time

And they wanted to be rescued, di’n’ they.

 

At first they was excited, and said yes, yes,

Then they was scared, and pulled back,

Because they waz still loyal to all them fanz

Of theirs, the young wunz, impressionable.

 

But then it changed, once again, when I arrived

Because I waz the electricity that shocked dem

Into place, you see how that happened?

They was hot young things with skillz of sex

 

That I brought to the fore, and galvanized.

 

 

SEAN II

They called you Sean

De Niro because of your

Dedication. An actor

As engrossed in his role

As De Niro, as LaMotta,

You were Spicoli, stoner,

Prophet, entertainer, politico.

 

Smart enough to know

Not to give too much:

That ordering pizza

In class was the move

That would last.

Everyone loves a loser

If he smiles; everyone

Wants to relax.

 

Spicoli, in his dream, won

Surf contests, and had babes

On his arms, and was asked:

“A lot of people expected

Maybe Mark ‘Cutback’ Davis

Or Bob ‘Jungle Death’ Gerrard

Would take the honors

This year.” You said,

“Those dudes are fags.”

 

And when he introduced you

For your nomination for Milk,

De Niro, now your friend, said

He couldn’t believe you

Had been cast in all those

Straight roles, because

In Milk you were such

A fine homo. And when

You and I kissed

On Castro Street, it was for a full minute.

Your beard was like my father’s.

 

Excerpted from Hollywood Dreaming: Stories, Pictures, and Poems by James Franco, published by Insight Editions. Copyright © 2014 James Franco

TIME Books

Watch Neil Patrick Harris Take Shots of Rubbing Alcohol in His Book Trailer

It's...wait for it...legendary

Neil Patrick Harris has never been one to blend in with the crowd. So it’s no surprise that his upcoming autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, has been styled as a “choose your own adventure” book.

The charming new trailer for the book visually demonstrates what that experience might be like: If you’re bored of hearing book details, you can watch NPH do magic, re-enact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp with his husband David Burtka or (attempt to) take shots of pure rubbing alcohol.

Despite the silly trailer, Harris’ book will touch on some serious topics: He opens up about struggling with his sexuality and having his children with Burtka through a surrogate.

The book is set to hit shelves on Oct. 14.

 

TIME Books

Watch the New Trailer for Carl Hiaasen’s First YA Novel

Clinton Tyree, the wild-man Florida governor from almost 30 years of Hiaasen fiction, is back—this time in Skink—No Surrender, a book for younger readers

Bestselling author Carl Hiaasen is joining other adult writers who have recently gone young-adult with Skink—No Surrender, out next week from Knopf. Hiaasen, the author of Florida-based crime thrillers like Strip Tease (which became the movie starring Demi Moore) and Bad Monkey, has also written four novels for children.

Skink—No Surrender, his first for young adults, introduces the teen audience to the eccentric character of Clinton Tyree, a glass-eyed, roadkill-eating Vietnam vet and former Governor of Florida who has gone crazy and lives off the grid (read: on the beach), costumed in a floral shower cap and long beard woven with vulture beaks. He is known as Skink, both to the characters in the book, and to readers who would recognize him from numerous “grownup” novels, as Hiaasen calls his adult books, starting with Skink’s first appearance in Double Whammy 27 years ago.

Richard, Skink—No Surrender‘s teenage protagonist, meets Skink on the beach as he waits for his 14-year-old cousin Malley, whom readers soon learn has run away from home with a boy she met in an Internet chatroom. Richard and Skink form a two-man search party, and the novel is off and running.

Though it’s typically the teen characters in young adult books who have readers itching for a sequel, it’s the adult in this story who leaves a lasting impression. “Kids dig the irreverence of the fact that [Skink] sort of lives on the edge and does exactly what he wants,” Hiaasen says in the book’s official trailer, revealed today on TIME.com.

TIME Books

New Alan Moore Comics Coming in December

Alan Moore
Avatar Press

The six-part series is based off Garth Ennis' Crossed

Fans craving new material from graphic novelist and comic book icon Alan Moore have some good news: the man behind Watchmen and V for Vendetta has a six-issue project in the works.

Crossed: +100, a spin-off of Garth Ennis’ sci-fi-horror series Crossed, takes place approximately 100 years after the original outbreak of a plague that reduces humanity to its most evil thoughts, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gabriel Andrade will illustrate the author’s new set of monthly comics.

“I think people think of Crossed as a horror story, and I can see why. It is extremely horrible,” said Moore in a statement. “[But] I was thinking that Crossed is actually a science fiction story that has got a really, really high horror quotient. So that was the way that I started approaching it.”

Crossed co-creator and writer Garth Ennis likened Moore’s addition to the series as “Jimi Hendrix want[ing] to play in my band” and said it “means everything to me.”

Crossed: +100 arrives in December on Avatar Press.

[THR]

TIME Books

I’m a Woman Who Lived as a Boy: My Years as a Bacha Posh

The Underground Girls of Kabul
The Underground Girls of Kabul Crown

For 9 years of her youth in Afghanistan, Faheema lived as Faheem—a boy, one free from the societal barriers and stigmas women face

Jenny Nordberg’s The Underground Girls of Kabul, published Sept. 16, is the result of five years of research into why it’s not uncommon for girls in Afghanistan to be brought up as boys. Nordberg, an investigative reporter, discovered the practice in 2009, and detailed it in a story for The New York Times.

The Underground Girls of Kabul explores the reasons for, and the consequences of, this longstanding practice, which has affected many Afghan girls and women. It also offers a glimpse into the situation for women there, which remains precarious.

What happens to such a person, Nordberg wondered, when they relocate to a society that values women more, and there is no longer a need to hide? She recently connected with another young Afghan woman, now living in the U.S., who once passed as a boy in her home country.

Exclusively for TIME, this is the story of Faheema.

**

Liberating. That’s how it felt, walking out the door for the first time as a boy. I was 12. I was no longer Faheema, who needed to be proper and watch her every move, but Faheem, who had guts and could go where he wanted. That was my right as a bacha posh—from Dari, it translates to, “dressed up as a boy.” It’s what they call girls who live their lives disguised as boys in Afghanistan. And I suppose those who eventually become boys on the inside, too.

My family had returned to Kabul after the Taliban, and in 2002, society was so much more conservative there than in Pakistan, where we had lived as refugees. Girls were looked down upon, and being one was made very difficult.

With short hair and in pants, I found that no one would look at me on the street, or harass me. I did not have to wear the scarf. I could look people in the eyes. I could speak to other boys, and adult men too. I did not have to make myself smaller by hunching over. I could walk fast. Or run, if I felt like it.

In fact, I had been brought up as a boy—I just didn’t look like one at first.

At home, I was the one who got things done. We were carpet weavers, and I ran the family enterprise from our house. Seven other, younger, children took orders from me. My parents often told me they wished I had been born a boy. They have said it for as long as I can remember; my father in particular. It would have made more sense, he said, since I was a harder worker than any of my brothers.

Even while living as a girl, I tried to do everything Afghan society and culture said I couldn’t do. I became strong. I took responsibility. I educated myself and my siblings. I helped my father with his guests and all the technical work at the house. But I still felt inadequate.

Most bacha posh in Afghanistan are made that way by their parents. But my story is different. One day I made the decision for myself to switch. I gave them what they asked for.

It worked.

The attitude, the lowered voice; how I moved with more confidence. I could disappear in a crowd. The more divided a society, the easier it is to change the outside. Others bought it. It shocked me that I could trick those harassing eyes just by how I looked. Being a boy allowed me to function as a more of a whole person in society. It was practical. I could protect my sisters, and escort them to class in winter. It pleased my parents, too. At least they did not protest.

I spent nine years as a boy. I continued trying to please my parents like that until a few years ago, when I came to a small town in America to go to college. My turning point was when I started thinking about being a woman. Why should I need to hide? Could I not have the same pride, and the same abilities, as a girl? Why did only my male self have that strength? I had been so proud to be a boy, in that I had figured it out and outsmarted everyone. That I had won. But I began feeling more and more angry. I was like, “How long will I have to do this?”

To be honest, I had always thought of being a bacha posh as my own choice; that I was doing something also for myself, and of my own free will. But that was not entirely true, I realize now. My parents’ wish for me to be a boy forced me to become one. I took it too literally. So a few years ago, I wanted to try and accept myself as a girl. I knew it was inevitable at some point anyway.

By then, I was 18 but I still had no breasts, and my periods were irregular. When my mother had sought out a doctor in Kabul, he said that my psyche may be turning into that of a man’s. It scared her. She worried I may never be able to turn back.

It was hard. I began letting my hair grow out. Now it’s almost all the way down to my waist. I also went to see a psychologist at my university. We talked about what is male and what is female in me. I don’t know what normal is, but I am not as angry anymore. The differences between men and women exist here too, but there is no need for me to pretend to be a man in order to go outside, or to count as a full person. In some ways America is a conservative society too, and it’s so important for many people to be either male or female. I have both in me now and that’s how I’ll always be.

I think often about what it means.

Being a man gives you so many privileges, you don’t see the small things. You own the world and everything is yours. As a boy, I was very busy thinking of everything I needed and wanted. That’s what you do. You just don’t take much of it in. You focus on yourself. A lot is expected of you as a man, so you have to.

As a woman, you see more. You notice what’s around you. To me, that is the essence of it. You relate to others. As a woman, I have a soft core that melts with everything. As a woman, I can feel what others feel. I see what they see. And I cry with them. I think of that as the female in me. I allow that now.

I’m in my twenties now, and I don’t expect to live long. A woman’s average life in Afghanistan is 44 years, so I’m halfway done. I would like to stay here and become an anthropologist, but my American visa expires in a few months, and then I have to return home.

My father still only accepts me as a boy, not as a girl. We talk on Skype: He is a macho colonel in Afghanistan who calls me every day. Like my close friends, he is still allowed to call me by my boy name. But I know now that both my family and much of my society was wrong in saying that only boys can do certain things. They are the ones who don’t allow girls to do anything.

I have complicated feelings about the freedom I have here in the West. It’s borrowed. It’s not really mine. Deep down you know it’s going to be taken away at any moment. Just like that of a bacha posh.

As told to and edited by Jenny Nordberg.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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