TIME health

Watch These Amazing Kids Talk About Their Real-Life Superheroes

"She flies in the clouds, and she gives us water."

Real heroes don’t necessarily wear tights. But they do have superpowers.

Here’s how kids in some of the toughest places on earth describe their heroes, the aid workers who bring relief from hunger, disease and illiteracy:

“She flies in the clouds, and she gives us water.” “He came and destroyed the mosquitos.” “They did something magical, and the maize grew from the ground.”

For “Superheroes: Eyewitness Reports,” Save the Children sent a documentary film crew to three continents to ask children about the heroes who swoop into their lives. The kids respond joyfully in their own languages making this PSA a sharp departure from more traditional international aid organization spots that feature silent children with big eyes and swollen bellies.

TIME Parenting

I Delivered One Healthy Baby and One Deceased Fetus

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The doctor held up a beautiful 10-pound boy. Minutes later, doctors showed us the remains of our fetus

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

My husband and I spent several months debating the merits of adding one more chick to our crowded, muddy, Lego-filled nest.

We were already the (rapidly aging) parents of three boys, and our lives were chaotic and busy and full. But when I looked at my dining room table, there was an empty chair; a perfect, baby-sized space.

So, before we hung up the going-out-of-business sign, we decided to *ahem* try vigorously for exactly one month, trusting the universe to make the magic happen… or not. If it wasn’t meant to be, we would fast-track the vasectomy and put the crib on Craigslist. We shook on it.

Determined to make this month count, I stocked up on prenatal vitamins, exercised, tried to get some extra rest, and started each morning with a kefir, chia seed, and bee pollen smoothie. Weird? No. At least not compared to the salt crystals and wooden spoons and moon charts scattered about our bedroom. People may dismiss those tactics as old wives’ tales. I say, EXACTLY. When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, ancient feminine wisdom is everything.

Voilà. Two weeks later, two pink lines. Two really dark pink lines, that appeared several days before my period was due. A blood test confirmed it, and three weeks later we had the first ultrasound. We did not see a fetus. We saw fetuses. Twins. In an instant, we gained entrée into the wild world of multiples; a place where people say things like, “But a minivan isn’t big enough,” and mean it.

It didn’t take long for the twins to become known collectively as Cuatro Cinco. After the initial shock, we rolled with it… as most parents learn to do. The universe (and probably those mystical Mayan chia seeds) had indeed provided. So, we researched double strollers and creative ways for me to consume the recommended 100 grams of protein I would need to choke down each day, queasy or not. I began to love having a “they” in my belly and pictured them curled together like a Yin-Yang symbol.

I’m not sure the term ballooning does justice to what was happening to my abdomen. By 14 weeks, I looked seven months pregnant. The twins were growing like those capsules you put in water and five minutes later — dinosaur sponges! The genetic testing had indicated all baby-systems were go. It also revealed the presence of a Y-chromosome, so we knew we were about to welcome a little brother, and possibly two.

During my 15-week ultrasound we saw one fetal exhibitionist, sprawled on his back, arms and legs flexing (Ultrasound tech: “Well, I know it’s early, but there’s your Y chromosome”) and one calm fetus, breech with both legs tucked under itself like a yogi, peacefully resting off to my left side. I felt like I knew them both already.

And then I started shrinking.

Suddenly, I could wear pre-pregnancy clothes again. I chalked it up to being in the second trimester and having less bloating. But by 18 weeks, I looked just like I had in previous pregnancies. I called my obstetrician’s office and shared my concerns. They had me come in and a nurse listened for fetal heart tones. She was sure she heard two distinct heartbeats, and I was comforted enough by that to hold off on an ultrasound for another two weeks. She was wrong, but it didn’t matter. What was done had happened weeks ago.

At 20 weeks, we had our Level II ultrasound. It was finally time to examine all the pieces and parts times two — and hopefully learn the sex of modest Baby B. Instead we learned that there would be no Baby B.

The monitor on the wall showed only stillness. No blood flow, no heartbeat. Just a tiny fetus already being dwarfed by its robust and thriving brother. I say “it” in absence of a gender-specific pronoun; we never learned the sex of Baby B. The fetus was already being compressed and flattened when the loss was discovered. The medical term for this is fetus papyraceous — meaning “like parchment.” Measurements showed a femur length of 15 weeks, 1 day. I watched the rest of the ultrasound in a daze, palm to sweaty palm with my husband, regretting each “I can’t handle twins” thought I had allowed to creep in my brain.

Later that afternoon, we tried to be stoic; pragmatic. We shared the news with family and friends, presented in medically accurate terms and wrapped in the appropriate platitudes. Better to know now. Nature is wise. Everything happens for a reason.

The following day was July 4th. I never felt less like celebrating in my life, but we still had three rambunctious boys who understood little of the loss, and who were ready to barbecue, swim, and watch fireworks in the park. Life needed to go on.

Still, I remember stepping outside to pull a few weeds and slowly collapsing to my knees in the grass, sobbing into handfuls of dandelion. I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Baby. Was it that vigorous bike ride? That cough that wouldn’t quit? How had I failed this little one who was still inside my body but who I would never hold? That day was the worst — drowning in reality and permanence.

My wonderful, long-time obstetrician assured me that nothing I had done caused this. He said often a later loss like ours indicated an issue with the umbilical cord, maybe even something as simple as a knot. I know that was meant to make me feel better. All I could think was, “A fucking knot?” This fetus did one too many somersaults and that was it? I would have preferred to hear something about inevitability, or incompatibility with life, rather than the suggestion of simple bad luck.

Days passed. Kind friends brought food and blooming plants, gestures of love when finding the right words proved difficult. Several times I was told to look at the bright side: “At least you still have one.” This truism always seemed to suck the air from my lungs, unintentionally minimizing my grief and leaving me feeling both guilty and ungrateful.

The tears eventually decreased, but my anxiety about the health of my surviving twin remained. I bought a portable fetal Doppler. Several times a day I would drop everything and listen for my baby’s steady heartbeat and his subtle movements, screeching at full-volume through my headphones like a needle dragged across a record.

The remainder of my pregnancy was difficult. I was hospitalized for a week in August due to a mystery virus that left me feverish and fatigued. Shortly afterward, I was diagnosed with the painful pressure of polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) and two weeks later, gestational diabetes. Thankfully, none of this seemed to faze our son. He was and is a champion.

My final pregnancy ended via Cesarean. The doctor held up a beautiful 10-pound boy who immediately hollered and peed on everyone before nuzzling into my neck between electrodes. Minutes later, per previous discussion, doctors showed us the remains of our fetus. My eyes were blurry from anesthesia, but I remember seeing something shaped like a 3-inch long, flattened kidney bean attached to a gingko leaf… our Baby B and her/his placenta. A photograph was taken with our consent for scientific and educational purposes, but I have never seen it.

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed. My son is now 11 months old and he is a cheerful, inquisitive baby. He has adopted the tranquil nature we first observed in his twin; in a crowded room it can be easy to forget he’s there, smiling and quietly surveying the scene. My main concern now is to provide him with a life so rich and fulfilling he will not have time to dwell on any sense of loss lingering in his heart.

I have read the blogs and been to the online support groups for twinless-twins. Many members, even those who lost a twin at birth or in utero, report feeling an incompleteness or melancholy later in life, in some cases guessing the existence of a co-multiple sibling before they were ever told. So, there will be no secrets. I just want to make sure we address any concerns the right way and at the right time, avoiding the unintended consequence of creating guilt or sadness that may never have existed otherwise.

For now, I will do nothing but appreciate each baby-squeal of discovery and each joyful “Mama!” directed my way. Although the tiny hole in my heart will likely remain, I believe I am mothering the four children who were meant to give my life purpose. They teach me humility, bring me to happy tears, remind me why I don’t need to spend money on nice things, and allow me to swell with pride at their impressive use of sarcasm.

Platitude or not, nature IS wise. Everything does happen for a reason… if only to make us aware of our own strength, endurance and capacity for love.

SB Falkner is a blogger and new mother.

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 Family

Work-Life Balance Is Having a Moment—But for the Wrong Reasons

Work Life Balance
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A recent study found that 70 percent of workers suffer from work-family tension

Work-life balance is having a moment, but for the wrong reasons. Although scholars have been researching work-life fit for more than 50 years, the 2008 recession changed the nature of the beast: Lacking job security, workers became afraid to take advantage of company flexible working options, instead seeking to show hardcore commitment to hang on to a job.

This strategy has had devastating effects. A recent study found that 70 percent of workers suffer from work-family tension, which manifests itself in sleep-deprivation, marital conflict, parent-child tension, alcohol and tobacco use, and other problems.

Things have improved since 2008, sure. But now, the trick is to harness the energy of this moment into a cultural shift — a movement that sparks lasting change.

So, where do we go from here? To the data! Yeah, yeah, it’s 2014, the data. Got it. But, from the data, the big question is whether we can solve the problem with one good policy, or some fear in the marketplace, a combination of both that changes the ecosystem of the workplace.

The first step to making any change, of course, is acknowledging the problem. Denial can be destructive. Let’s take, for example, the work of Robin Ely of Harvard Business School. She studied a professional service firm to find out why 90 percent of the employees at the top level were men. Most of her 107 interviewees attributed it to women’s family responsibilities, claiming that greater work-family conflict caused them to slow down or quit. But when data showed similar dropout rates for men and women, the true culprit appeared: overwork. But instead of addressing the organization’s culture of overwork — prompted by over-selling and over-promising deliverables — the firm chose to depict it within a “work-family narrative” that shifted the blame away from company culture. Naming the true problem would require altering some things, including some supervisor, management, and promotion practices — which need not be as daunting as it sounds.

So, where do we find solutions? In a “best of the best” workplaces study, awarded the 2014 Kanter Award (an honor bestowed to the work-family field’s most influential research), researchers found that when European governments enacted public childcare and paid leave statutes, they often inspired companies to change their policies and implement additional flexible work arrangements, above and beyond what the law required. Using data from 19,000 organizations in 19 countries (the survey didn’t include the U.S.), the authors found that the presence of a federal context of family-friendliness mattered: their statistical analysis showed that 15 percent of the variability in companies’ adoption of flexible work arrangements was explained by institutional pressures such as state support.

But government can’t do it alone. And if you’ve been following the latest work-family legislation news out of the U.S. government, you know that it’s not doing much of anything, let alone changing work-life rules. Luckily, governments aren’t the only organizations that can initiate societal ripple effects. Other big companies can do that, too. It’s all based on a somewhat wonky theory known as organizational isomorphism — companies’ tendency to mimic each other to gain social legitimacy, and to remain competitive in the war for talent, customers, and profit.

More and more, companies are eager to make “Best Places to Work” or “Best Places for Working Mothers” lists — it’s good for their brands and supports the bottom line. Such lists nudge organizations into thinking about shifting their policies and culture toward more family-friendliness. But after a nudge, the real drivers of change are threefold, according to scholars. First is labor supply. According to Ellen Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute (FWI), companies move toward becoming more family-supportive when they lose valued employees whom they want to retain. In FWI’s recent report, only 11 percent said they did so because of legal mandates. Second is leadership, especially the human resources (HR) manager’s stance: if he or she supports a work-life innovation as a way for the organization to adapt to change (especially global competition), that’s a plus, says Ellen Kossek of Purdue University. The HR executive is a critical driver, according to Kossek’s research. If he or she has a global orientation, and thinks other executives will be favorable to a work-life innovation, change is likely.

Another way to change an organization’s culture: give employees greater control over where and when they work, and train managers to be more supportive of family commitments. Research from the University of Minnesota found that these changes resulted in a significant reduction in employees’ chronic work-life stress and feeling of insufficient time with their families. Implementing more schedule and location flexibility, and supervisor support for family responsibilities, meant system-wide change could relieve work-family pressure for those who needed it. In particular, employees who were parents or had supervisors who were initially suspect of greater freedom were helped the most by these changes. Unfortunately, according to the Families and Work Institute report, fewer employers are providing supervisor training for support and evaluation of a diverse, flexible workforce. That trend needs to reverse. But the report also showed that flexibility in where and when work gets done has increased since 2008, from 50 percent to 67 percent of the companies it surveyed. That’s good news.

The data are clear. Change can happen inside organizations to ease work-family tension for all who need it… and increasingly, that means not just mothers. And change can happen across organizations, in response to public policy prodding companies toward family-friendly practices; as well as companies replicating one another’s programs in response to social, economic, and leadership pushes. And most importantly, change is needed when 70 percent of working Americans feel stressed and 70-hour workweeks beckon. We want that type of virus to spread, instead of an epidemic of people’s stress-filled work-life imbalance creating a national health crisis.

Nanette Fondas, co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace, writes about business, economics, and family. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, Slate, Ms., Quartz, as well as academic journals. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

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

How Letting Your Kids Stay Up Late Could Wreck Your Life

Father and daughters watching movie in home theater
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I plan on putting my kids to bed early until they are older and no longer want to hang out with me

I never, ever, want my children to stay up past 8pm.

Ever.

I don’t want them to have a later bedtime until they are older and no longer want to hang out with me. I love my children, but I also love my sanity, and that sanity comes from bad TV and sweet, sweet silence.

I have six-year-old twins, and right now they go to bed at around 7:30 p.m. I hear other parents talk about their first graders staying up and hanging out with them until 10:00 p.m. at night and it horrifies me. That isn’t because their kids are staying up too late, but because, my God, when do those parents get to have their evening fun time? When do they watch The Bachelorette and eat the cookies they hide from their children?

By 8:00 p.m. at night, I am done. That’s when Mommy clocks out. At that point, I am unable to even pretend to parent anymore. All conversations my children try to have with me between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. are met with one word: No.

“Can you fix my sheets?”

“No.”

“Can you get me more water?”

“No.”

“Can you –”

“No. And before you ask your next question, the answer is also no.”

The more I talked to other parents about bedtimes, however, the more concerned I got that 7:30 p.m. might be too early. I have a tendency to get lulled into complacency by the habits of day-to-day life, and sometimes forget that my children keep getting older and occasionally the rules need to change. So when I learned that my kids had the earliest bedtime of all of their first-grade friends, it made me a little nervous. Was I putting my kids to bed way too early? Was I about to lose the only time of the day when I am able to fully and completely relax? When they’re at school I’m still on alert because my phone could ring at any minute — the school nurse could call asking me to pick up a sick kid, or the principal might ring, telling me that my shy child tried to run off of school property to avoid picture day. Night-time is the only time when I know that my children can’t possibly ask me for anything because they are unconscious.

To address my concerns, I decided to ask an expert for guidance. I called Rebecca Michi, a trained Children’s Sleep Consultant in Seattle who has a British accent and a great attitude. Did she think that 7:30 p.m. was too early a bedtime for a couple of first graders?

“Wake up time has to dictate the bedtime,” she said. “Children can go to bed late if they wake up late. First graders need ten to twelve hours of sleep a night. Otherwise they are sleep deprived, and we all act like two-year-olds when we are sleep deprived.”

My kids wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning on their own. I can put them to bed at 5 p.m. or I can put them to bed at midnight, and they will still wake up at 6:30 a.m. It’s something my husband and I have had to accept, and by accept I mean we’ve had to murder the part of our souls that has hope. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Michi didn’t tell me that my kids should stay up later. In fact, based on Michi’s recommendations, 7:30 was a perfect bedtime for them. I couldn’t believe it – I was doing something right…completely by accident, of course, but I’ll take it however I can get it.

Before I ride my high horse off into the sunset, though, it’s important to point out that in addition to my accidentally appropriate bedtime, it’s likely that many inappropriate bedtimes aren’t chosen thoughtlessly. I don’t think there are a lot of parents who are watching The Tonight Show with their kindergartener and saying, “Eh. He’ll go to bed when he feels like it. Now Timmy, go get Momma another martini.” I think there are a lot more parents who keep their kids up due to external factors they can’t control.

For example, there’s Michi’s recommendation that wake-up time dictate bedtime. My kids don’t start school till 9:30 a.m., and with their 6:30 a.m. natural wake-up time that means I never have to force them out of bed in the morning. If I had older kids who were doing homework and then going to bed at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., who then had to be at school and in class at 7:30 a.m. the next morning, I’d be dealing with some overly tired kids and I would be seriously aggravated. I understand the recent push by some parents to move school start times back, because I’m not sure how anyone can expect kids to succeed when they can’t get the rest they need.

I’m also a work-at-home mom. I take my kids to and from school every day. I have three hours with them before school and three hours after. I am not hurting for time with my kids. If I had a job where I had to be at work by 8:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home until 7:00 p.m., and I put my kids to bed at 7:30 p.m., that would mean spending less than an hour a day with my kids during the week, if that. Of course I understand why some parents would want to push that bedtime back by an extra hour or so in order to get some time with their children. You know, for bonding. Or for algebra, which is the opposite of bonding.

Thankfully, I no longer feel any pressure to let my kids stay up past 8:00 p.m. I can turn off their lights, say my final no’s, and ease myself onto my sofa, where frozen yogurt and The Voice await me. Even the experts understand my need for “night time means no children time.” As Michi told me, “Some parents love having their kids up late. I can’t think of anything worse. I want to watch inappropriate TV with my husband and have a glass of wine.” Preach it, British priestess of sleep.

Here’s how I look at it: this is a parenting rule that is not only good for the kids, but also brings me joy. There aren’t a whole lot of those. I’m going to take advantage of it while I can.

Meredith Bland is an award-winning humor and parenting writer from Seattle. She works as a staff writer at Mommyish, and has a humor blog called Pile of Babies. You can follow her on Twitter at @pileofbabies.

TIME Family

My Mother Died Three Months Ago and I’m Still Figuring Out How To Grieve for Her

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It's hard to get out of bed, most days. I am drowning in her

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

This has been, to date, the most difficult essay I’ve ever written. Usually, I can bang one out in a day or two. A week, even. But writing about the death of my mother has been a series of stops and starts, deletions and revisions. How do you write about something that feels as if it happened yesterday and not three months ago? How do you distill grief and heartache in a few paragraphs?

It’s hard to get out of bed, most days. There’s a heaviness in the air, and it’s hard to breathe. Sometimes the grief paralyzes me. I’ll lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, silently willing myself to get up and start the day.

“Mommy, I wanna see grandma.” The toddler always makes this demand casually, usually as I’m picking him up from school or fixing him dinner. Sometimes he’ll ask looking up from his tablet while watching one of his favorite shows. Three months later and I still can’t find the words to tell him she’s gone for good. “We can’t see her right now,” I’ll say, knowing that in a few minutes he’ll forget he asked.

For two months, I’ve been staring at a cardboard box. It is roughly 5×7, and it’s blue. It contains what is left of the woman who taught me everything from tying my shoes to picking greens. Her last name is misspelled on the side. The blue box sits on a shelf in my bedroom, amid books and clothes. Boxes filled with her personal effects crowd the hallway of my apartment. Furniture from her oversized studio take up my dining room. Pictures from her photo albums are strewn across a table in the living room, the same table where I ate dinner until I went away to college. The “Thank You” cards I bought a week after her memorial are in a bag on my desk, untouched.

Every morning I’m greeted by these reminders, and I summon the strength to navigate around them. I will occasionally glance at the blown-up picture of her, perched on a barstool wearing a black dress and a demure smile. It’s tucked in the corner of my living room, near the window. I replay our last conversations while I’m working on an assignment, or look at the blue box as I’m brushing my teeth.

I am drowning in her.

Last month, at the suggestion of my sister-in-law, my husband bought me a copy of Hope Edelman’s Motherless Daughters. Edelman, a mother-loss survivor herself, interviewed hundreds of other women who had lost their mothers at various points in their lives. While the book is geared towards women whose mothers died when they were young, it has helped me a great deal. I no longer try to suffocate Grief with a pillow, or stab it with a fork; I hold on tight and ride the wave until the tide settles, until the calm returns. This isn’t a process, Edelman says, but a life-altering event.

“Expecting grief to run a quick, predictable course leads us to over-pathologize the process, making us think of grief as something that, with proper treatment, can and should be fixed. As a result, we begin to view normal responses as indicators of serious distress,” Edelman writes. “The woman who cries every Christmas when she thinks of her mother—is she really a woman who can’t let go of the past, or just a woman who continues to miss her mother’s warmth and cheer at holiday time?”

One of the last hospital visits, days before she passed in mid-June, taunts me. We’re sitting on the couch and it seems like she’s back to her old self. I am brimming with hope. I’m telling her of the plan to move her into our apartment, to take care of her the way she took care of grandma years ago. She’s excited at the prospect of living with her grandson, of us being under the same roof again. I wondered if I could handle caring for her and a four year-old boy. I had support, but those people had lives and responsibilities of their own. If she fell while my husband was at work, I’d have to find a way to pick her up. I’d be responsible for her diet, her health, her overall well-being. The enormity of what lay ahead frightened me, but this is what I wanted, for her to live out the last years of her life surrounded by love and family, not in a place I no longer trusted. In the Nicholas Sparks’ version of her last days, she quietly slips away as she sits in her favorite chair, catching a final view of the lakefront from our highrise as she goes.

She asked me to stay a little longer. I couldn’t. An appointment to enroll her grandson in Pre-K had been scheduled for weeks. I remember the feeling of relief I had as I left her room, the feeling that everything was going to be okay. Three days later I’d be standing over her body, clasping her hand as the warmth evaporated from her body, as blood spilled from her nose. The third attempt to revive her after another cardiac arrest had done the most damage. In my head, I’d had years to prepare for that moment, years of hospital visits and grave diagnoses. But no amount of preparation will ever soften the blow.

Even as I watched my mother’s health deteriorate in recent years, I still held fast to a glimmer of hope that somehow, someway things would turn around. Maybe she’d get bitten by a radioactive spider, regain full mobility, and take up crime-fighting. It didn’t hit me until hours before she passed, as I sat in the hospital chapel after visiting her, that she was literally in the process of dying. But that’s how denial works. Though it’s taken some time to accept, I realize now that she left when she was ready, and that I knew my mother well enough to know that when she was ready to go, there was nothing you could do to stop her.

Edelman says that most motherless daughters my age process the loss differently than our younger counterparts because we’re able to confront it with a relatively intact personality and more mature coping skills than a teen or a child. “Losing a parent at this time violates fewer assumptions she has about her future,” she explains. “A motherless woman continues to renegotiate her relationship with her mother throughout her life, changing her perceptions and trying to fnd a place for each new image as it develops.”

In my case, my mother’s death has forced to reexamine choices made and opportunities given. That she died in my 37th year, the same age she gave birth to me, is not lost on me. It signifies rebirth. Renewal. A chance to accomplish the things she wanted for me, all the hopes and dreams she’d share throughout the course of my life. It is her legacy that I carry with me wherever I go, and I am grateful that I was loved by such a remarkable woman.

Jamie Nesbitt Golden is a journalist originally from Chicago.

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.

MONEY Tourism

You’re Not Allowed to Wait in Line for This Disney Ride

Daytime TV talk show host Wendy Williams and her son Kevin take a ride on "Toy Story Midway Mania!" during a visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World Resort January 19, 2014 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Daytime TV talk show host Wendy Williams and her son Kevin take a ride on "Toy Story Midway Mania!" during a visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World Resort January 19, 2014 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Gregg Newton—Disney Parks via Getty Images

If you want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios, you better have a reservation.

In a test that started on Monday and runs through Thursday, Disney World is requiring Hollywood Studios visitors to make advance reservations via the FastPass+ system if they want to hop aboard the popular Toy Story ride, an interactive “4D” attraction in which guests twist through a series of virtual carnival games while wearing 3D glasses. Normally, the wait time to ride Toy Story Mania can easily stretch over an hour, but the new reservation-only system means that Disney World guests won’t have the option of waiting it out in the standby queue.

A Disney spokesperson explained to the Orlando Sentinel that extra FastPass+ reservations for Toy Story Mania would be available during the course of the experiment. On the one hand, the move means that no one will have to endure agonizingly long lines for the ride. The FastPass+ system gives riders a time window when they are to arrive and hop on in a jiffy. On the other hand, some worry that all of the available pass times could be snatched up as soon as they’re available, and those who don’t snag a reservation early in the day will be shut out from riding.

What makes this four-day test potentially big news is that it could be a vision of how theme parks will operate on a broader scale in the future. Over the years, Walt Disney World and other theme parks have tweaked numerous policies that essentially kill spontaneity because they all but force guests to plot out plans for meals, rides, and more in advance. Disney guests have been instructed that if they want to bring their kids to a Character Breakfast or have dinner at one of the nicer park establishments, they should reserve weeks if not months before arrival. Likewise, the MyMagic+ wristband system introduced in early 2013 was created to help guests reserve meals, ride times, and more.

When theme park guests aren’t waiting in lines for hours, they’re happier, which works out for Disney and park visitors alike. What works out especially brilliantly for Disney is that when guests aren’t waiting in lines, they’re free to roam about in the areas where they’re apt to spend more money, such as gift shops and restaurants. After all, you can’t buy overpriced souvenirs while you’re stuck waiting on line.

In a post at Theme Park Insider, most Disney fans seem opposed to reservation-only rides. “I want a vacation, for Christ’s sake, and if I have to plan everything in advance, then it’s simply not fun anymore,” one commenter stated, bashing the entire swath of policies pushing guests to plot minute-by-minute plans ahead of time. Still, another commenter noted that Toy Story Mania reservations are “definitely needed for the ride. The queues are longer than any other attraction in the Disney parks.”

Love it or hate it, the shift to more reservations and less waiting in line seems like the way things are heading. “Everybody’s striving to improve the flow of the guest. That’s the wave of the future in our industry,” Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, explained to the Orlando Sentinel. “It would not surprise me within the next 10 years that we see rides that are totally reserved.”

TIME Family

My Weight Made My Father Cry

Broken scale
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I'm not sure how to reconcile my parents' heartbreak over my weight

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I knew my weight would be an issue when I saw my parents last weekend. It’s always been an issue, but now it’s an Issue. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, pushing 200 pounds, and my parents have entered into an intervention-like mindset.

I’m not writing this to vilify them; they don’t deserve that. If this excessive concern about my excessive weight was the only thing you knew about my parents, you might think they do, but they don’t. I have two of the greatest parents in the world. Together 40 years, they’ve been a beautiful model of a lasting, loving relationship; they’ve displayed wisdom and forgiveness in incredibly difficult situations; and to paraphrase a line in The Descendants (which I finally just saw, so it’s fresh on my mind), they’ve given me enough to do something, but not enough to do nothing.

But they’re human, and humans have personalities, and personalities have flaws. Their shared flaw, in my opinion, is not having boundaries when it comes to my weight. They love me unconditionally; they hate my weight.

Even when I hovered between a slender-yet-curvy size 6 and 8 in my 20s, my parents voiced concerns about my weight. Maybe it’s because my mother had been thinner than me in her 20s or because most of my closest friends have always been thinner than me, but something instilled a fear in them — one that never stayed tucked away in their inner monologues — that I was too big, even when I wasn’t.

And now that I’m definitely too big in their eyes — I wear a 12 or 14 in dresses, a 10 in some pants and skirts — the concern that used to be exhibited with the occasional “Are you sure you want to eat that?”-type comment is now manifesting as tears — actual eyes-welling-up tears.

Last Sunday, at a brunch the day after my niece’s bat mitzvah, I put smoked salmon on my plate, knowing my father would be vocally disappointed if I’d put it on a cream-cheese-covered bagel. He had already complimented me on the food choices I’d been making over the weekend, and while I was glad he’d noticed, I was annoyed he was paying such close attention. Next to the salmon, however, I put a piece of my ex-brother-in-law’s famous noodle kugel.

I sat next to my father on the host’s backyard settee, and I could see in his face that he wanted to say something about the kugel. Before he could, I said, “My friend Meirav wrote an article in Allure a few years ago about losing 100 pounds. She talked about how she’d stopped eating processed junk food but allowed herself truly special once-in-a-while treats, like something homemade by family member,” preemptively justifying the kugel I get to eat three times per decade, but having eaten processed junk food only 72 hours earlier.

“I just hate seeing you like this,” my father said. Ouch. I don’t think I look my all-time best, but I don’t look terrible. “See,” he continued, “now I’m crying.”

I thought he was kidding at first, but he was holding his glasses away from his face and wiping away a real tear.

My emotional response to this was very complicated. Not much makes my father cry, so at first, I felt uncomfortable. Then I felt sad and guilty for having given him a reason to be so upset. But then, I felt hurt and offended. Why should the state of my body make anyone else cry?

“Dad, I’m not that big,” I said. I’ve seen talk shows where the parents of 800-pound bedridden people shed fewer tears over their situation than my parents have over my “situation.”

He reminded me of the heart problems on both sides of my family (he’d had a heart attack as a somewhat overweight 49-year-old), and how my grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes when she was around my size — albeit 15 years older — and that he doesn’t want me to have to go through that. (Ironically, I had brought one of my best friends with me for the festivities last weekend, and there she was sitting next to me, no more than 130 pounds at six feet tall, and recently diagnosed with type II diabetes.)

My father’s tears felt like a loving insult. I know that what he’s upset about is the difficulty my weight could cause me — not about me as a person — but it is me and my choices and my psychological excuses that have led to the weight I’ve gained over the last decade, so the tears make me feel like a failure.

And although my parents’ concern over potential health problems is genuine and legitimate, I feel like it’s also being used as an ethically acceptable cloak for more superficial concerns: that I could be very conventionally attractive, that I would feel more confident and have more options while dating, that, as someone who puts herself in the public eye, I’d be taken more seriously if I just lost the weight.

Perhaps they really do feel that way, or perhaps I’m just assuming they feel that way because, if I’m being honest, I feel that way.

See, despite being on Team Fat Acceptance, I do want to lose weight. I want to lose the same 50 pounds that my parents want me to lose. I want to do it for health and superficial reasons. And I cry about it sometimes.

But, for some reason, when someone else cries about it, it’s not OK. Even if it’s someone who loves me as much as my father does.

I’m not sure how to reconcile my parents’ heartbreak over my weight with how much it hurts — how crazy and deprecatory it feels — that they’re so heartbroken over my weight. I want them to see that I’m OK. I’m OK as I am. I’ll be OK whether or not I lose weight. Hell, I’ll be OK if I gain weight (which I have no plans to do, by the way).

I love my parents very much, and I hate to see them so upset, but I also hate that they feel entitled to be so upset. The support they’re offering me to help me lose the weight is amazing and generous, and I want to accept it, but if I do, I’m worried I may be welcoming further commentary, albeit well-intentioned, and an emotional claim to my body.

“We hurt when you hurt,” they said when I showed them what I’d written up to this point; and my current weight is upsetting to me, so I believe that. I guess I hurt when they hurt when I hurt.

Marci Robin is a contributing editor at xoJane and lives in Brooklyn.

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 Family

Passive-Aggressive Dad Is Back With Instructional Video About How to Load a Dishwasher

Wait until you get to the "advanced" level.

Will Reid is an ordinary dad with an ordinary problem: His teenage children are completely inept (and we mean that in the nicest way possible) when it comes to incredibly menial tasks.

So Reid has made a series of “Teenage Instructional Videos” to teach them the complex art of loading dishwashers — the “advanced level” involves pressing things that “look like the buttons on your Xbox or Playstation” — and replacing the toilet paper roll.

The videos have clearly resonated so much that they have gone viral, inspiring Reid to make his own line of cups and instructional shirts.

May the profits go to a beach vacation sans kids. You deserve it, Will.

Here’s the toilet paper video. Can also be shown to lazy roommates for the single audience:

MORE: Dad Makes Hilariously Passive-Aggressive Instructional Video to Get His Kids to Do Chores

TIME celebrity

Brad Pitt: “I Want to Spend More Time With My Kids”

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt Jason LaVeris—WireImage

The actor opens up about being a dad

Brad Pitt’s favorite role? Being a dad.

The 50-year-old actor, newly married to Angelina Jolie and father to six, told the U.K’s Psychologies magazine that being a father makes him “feel like the richest man alive,” according to TODAY.

Though he says being a parent is “the most beautiful thing you can experience,” he also admits that he worries when it comes to his children. “I worry about them all the time,” he says. “That’s the emotional bond and responsibility that sweeps over you when you have a family to look after. I care about them more than I care about myself, which I think is the real definition of love.”

Amid all the gushing, it’s clear that Pitt’s priorities are shifting to his family, possibly at the expense of his career. “I’ve been slowing down for a while now — and slowly transitioning to other things,” Pitt says in British GQ’s November issue. “And, truthfully, I do want to spend more time with my kids before they’re grown up and gone.”

TIME Family

African American Donor’s Sperm Mistakenly Sent to White Mom

A medical worker works on a dish ready f
Georges Gobet—AFP/Getty Images

Lesbian parents tell the TODAY Show that they love their mixed race daughter but are suing their sperm bank to prevent future mixups.

The Midwest Sperm Bank sent Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, the wrong sperm. She’d requested sperm from donor number 380 and received instead sperm from donor number 330. Ms. Cramblett and her partner are now suing the sperm bank.

What makes the story a whole lot more complicated is that donor number 330 is African American.

“On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” says the lawsuit. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Among the issues that are causing these anxieties are the prospect of sending her mixed race child to an all-white school, traveling to a black neighborhood—where she feels unwelcome—to get Amanda’s hair done and the lack of acceptance by her extended family, who, according to the suit, are already having issues with the whole same sex couple arrangement.

Ms. Cramblett told The Today Show that she and her partner Amanda Zinkon love their daughter very much, but she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family. “I’m not going to let them get away with this,” she said. She’s primarily angry, she says at what she considers the sperm bank’s cavalier attitude and “lack of concern for me and my family…if they had some compassion and just said sorry. But they didn’t.”

So far, the Midwest Sperm Bank has declined to comment.

(This might be a good time to direct Ms. Cramblett’s attention to Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care, a website used by many transracial adoptive families. You’re welcome.)

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