Out. Out. Out.

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on June 19, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

The more I read about public school systems and incidents that occur the more convinced I am that my son will never see the inside of one. Private schools may have as many dopey ideas, but at least if I remove him from one of them they will shrug their shoulders at the lost tuition and not bother me again.

** Out of their minds: Birth control without the consent of parents is wanted … because girls deliberately set out to get pregnant. So obviously, the problem was they couldn’t get birth control because of their parents!

** Out of money, they perpetually complain: Yet offering free meals to anybody under eighteen all summer long, no registration, no proving that your parents don’t feed you enough, no problem.

** Out of accountability and humanity: Parents, who sends their three-year-old child away on a bus? And then is left baffled when the child comes home with marks and bruises? My heart goes out to the child and may they find and punish the culprit, but parents, hello? Three years old! Can’t reliably tell where they’ve been, can’t clearly state who might have abused them, can’t fend for themselves in any way. Keep them out of places where parents don’t have direct supervision or control.

Get out, public schools. Get out of early childhood. Get out of the parenting business. Not needed, not wanted, not welcome.

How Difficult Is It to Bruise a Backside?

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on June 12, 2008 @ 10:32 am

Update: Shorter, corrected, clearer me: Either 1) IMO, Indiana’s standard of child abuse is too narrowly focused on the severity and longevity of bruises caused on the child to the exclusion of the emotional and psychological harm to the child through the mother’s causing such bruises in the first place or 2) The standard does include this kind of harm but the prosecutors failed to prove it in this case, which seems incredible to me based merely on the facts of the article. (Update x3: Also, my inner jury is still out on whether I think any punishment that results in bruises at all should automatically rise to the level of abuse and thus IN’s standard is too low to begin with, but I lean toward “of course, yeah.”) Xrlq has called bullshit on almost all of my amateur attempts to question the legal nuance here, and I defer completely to him on those points. I’d probably make a pretty crappy lawyer. But I stand by my conclusion that there is serious and permanent harm done to a child who understands that his mother is willing to bruise him and a radically ignorant mother who could not foresee such bruising based on the implement–whether belt or extension cord–that she chose to use to spank an 11-year-old boy.


Update x2: Anybody notice how I’m getting a swell series of little snapshot legal lessons by writing something inane and then inviting Xrlq over here to shred it for me? Pretty cunning, don’tchathink?

*** (more…)

Disney/Pixar Getting a Little Too Cute for Their Boots

Filed under:Mothering,Movies,Need a Good Editor?,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on May 1, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

So I’m watching Cars with The Bean, who now will occasionally deign to take a break from four or five episodes of How It’s Made per day to watch a movie, and we have the captions on, as is our custom since he likes to read them and I’ve got a long-standing caption habit dating back to his birth when I wanted the house very quiet. At the end of the first race when McQueen goes to make his appearance in the Rust-Eze tent, a comment from a random car in the crowd flashes up in caption: “That race was a pisser!”

What the hell? It’s one thing for that kind of line to be mumbled in a crowd scene so muddled as to be inaudible. Ha, ha, an adult comment in a kids’ film. Yes, we get it, you’re clever. But to put it in the captions? Do they just expect no kids to ever see those? In some houses “piss” still is a less than polite word, folks. What’s next–will I need to preview the captions on Aladdin to make sure that when the monkey, Abu, is leaping from stone to stone over the lava, he doesn’t really, in fully readable print rather than unintelligible monkey-squeak, say “Oh shit!” as it sort of sounds like he might be doing? (About 1:06 on that vid.)

Come on, people, get your act together. If you don’t want to make movies for kids, don’t. Don’t stick adult or even semi-adult language into kids’ movies, or if you do put in an inaudible nugget now and then, keep it out of the captions.

Government Health [Care/Insurance] Advocates, Take Note

Filed under:Mothering,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on April 21, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

This is what it looks like when the government gets involved in the prescription process for one drug. One drug!

Brave, Beautiful Mother

Filed under:Mothering,Sad — posted by Anwyn on January 25, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

Lorraine Allard delayed cancer treatment so that her unborn son might live. She died two months after he was born. She was my age. RIP.

Preach It

Filed under:Blogging,Language Barrier,Mothering,Television — posted by Anwyn on December 12, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

I do love to read people who know how to use language with precision, unlike the yammering nannies at modern-day Sesame Street. I give you Fug Girl Jessica (don’t worry about deciphering the Mischa Barton photos, we’re here for the article):

As a huge fan of the seminal tune “I Love Trash,” — truly, it’s neck and neck with “Rubber Ducky” as the best Sesame Street song ever, in my opinion, with honorable mention going to “C Is For Cookie,” which I hear has been replaced by “Cookies Are A Sometimes Food,” which, I sorry, is bullshit, because cookies are an ALWAYS food, they’re just not a MASS QUANTITIES food. Why you gotta play me like this, Sesame Street?

That was only about strike 17 or 18 for Sesame Street, which I’m thankful The Bean never really got into. He watched Elmo’s World mostly for my sake, because I thought it was something babies his age did, and after a while began protesting loudly. I quit turning the show on at all the day it began promoting stealing as a legitimate way of getting people to give you things.

My niece, age almost 15 months, watches Elmo but with a certain amount of derision. When she hears his music or sees his image, she looks around for somebody to speak to and prounounces her review: “Monkey.”

In the Land of the Prairie Gods

Filed under:Mothering,Sad — posted by Anwyn on August 30, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

So I saw this over at Dawn Summers’s, moused over the link and saw it was to someplace called “indychannel,” hazily thought “independent” for “indy” … and then saw that the story took place in Lafayette. Alas, “indy” did not mean “independent” at all.

“So I approach the car, and the windows came down and there’s a toddler on his knees, controlling the steering wheel,” Barrett told 6News’ Jennifer Carmack on Thursday.

Barrett said she saw Holly Schnobrich buckled in the front passenger seat, and the 3-year-old was crawling in the back.

Lafayette, Indiana. Where the engineers go to school but where most of them aren’t born and raised … except this guy. If he’s driving at five, he should do fine.

Holly Schnobrich told investigators that she let Weston drive because she was too impaired to operate the vehicle, police said.

According to a probable cause affidavit, she admitted taking the prescription painkiller Percocet and vodka.

“(Schnobrich) informed the officer that she took Perocet not for pain control … but she took it when the children acted up,” Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said.

My heart bleeds for the kids in Child Services, but I devoutly hope to all the PGs (who must have been watching over this child) that Prosecutor Harrington fixes it so that that wreck of a “mother” never gets the chance again to ruin those bright kids.

Weston said the incident won’t stop him from wanting to drive in the future.

“I want to be a race car driver when I grow up,” he said.

Update: Over to you, Gib, for the funny closer.

I’m Going to Have a Heart Attack and Die from “Not-Surprise”

Filed under:Mothering,Television — posted by Anwyn on August 27, 2007 @ 10:36 am

The shoddy science behind the study that said Baby Einstein was bad for the baby. Study, quoted from Time:

These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. “The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew,” says Christakis. “These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos.”

Strongest detrimental effect certainly implies that the effect was negative across the board, with the strongest negative in babies eight to sixteen months old. But no! From Junk Science:

Baby DVDs and videos weren’t associated with reduced vocabulary development among the study’s 17- to 24-month-olds. For the older toddlers, watching baby DVDs and videos correlated with a similar positive effect on vocabulary development as story-telling and music-listening.

Did the alleged adverse effect of baby DVDs and videos disappear with age or was it entirely bogus to start with?

The researchers admitted in their study’s fine print that they didn’t directly test whether baby DVDs and videos had an actual positive or negative effect on vocabulary acquisition. They also quietly acknowledged that the study’s correlative nature “precluded” drawing causal inferences and that their results could have been affected by biased and incomplete data.

While they remembered or were compelled by the Journal of Pediatrics’ editors to note these “major limitations” in their write-up, Drs. Zimmerman and Christakis seemed to suffer mental lapses when it came to statements they made in media interviews.

And why let a few facts including the researchers’ history of alarming parents about children watching TV, DVD and videos (more than 10 publications since 2004) get in the way of their scare?

I didn’t blog it when the study was making the news a few weeks ago because this mommy simply didn’t care and suspicioned there might be more to the story than the study said–The Bean watched Baby Einstein videos for an hour a day from the time he was six months old, and at three and a half, he could read (yes, read independently books he’d never seen before, not just recite books he knew by heart (yes, he is amazing! Thank you!), although of course he did that too).

Basically, the study called some parents up and asked them how often their children watched these videos. And then, as “the fine print” says, according to the Junk Science article, “didn’t directly test whether baby DVDs and videos had an actual positive or negative effect on vocabulary acquisition.”

A test that didn’t test what it said it tested. Who knew? Moms knew. Moms know that no matter what studies say, the problem comes if you use TV or whatever to replace a significant amount of interaction with your baby instead of in addition to it. And a study like this simply takes the most alarmist route in insisting that must be the case in any household where babies watch videos. How insulting that is to your average parent, who bends over backwards to work with the baby for the baby’s optimal development.

Someday I May Get Arrested

Filed under:Jerks,Mothering — posted by Anwyn on July 12, 2007 @ 10:32 am

Because I’ll be blasted if I’m going to shut my mouth and take it if a flight attendant ever speaks to me this way:

But Penland said when they were aboard a Continental Express plane, a flight attendant became annoyed by Garren’s personality when he kept saying three words.

“As we started taxiing, he started saying ‘Bye, bye plane,’” said Penland. “At the end of her speech, she leaned over the gentleman beside me and said, ‘It’s not funny anymore. You need to shut your baby up.’”

In disbelief, Penland asked the woman if she was kidding. It was then, Penland said, the flight attendant went too far.

“She then said, ‘You know, it’s called baby Benadryl.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to drug my child so you have a pleasant flight.'”

Penland and her 19-month-old son were then–say it with mekicked off the flight.

Penland said when the other passengers began speaking up on her behalf, the flight attendant got angrier and soon announced they were turning around and that Penland and Garren were going to be taken off the plane.

“I was crying, I was upset and I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do? I don’t have anything with me, I don’t have anymore diapers for the baby, no juice, no milk,” said Penland.

The young mother said she later learned the flight attendant told the pilot that she had threatened her. Penland said that never happened.

Emphasis mine. Another sad bequest of 9/11: Flight attendants, and other airline and TSA personnel, who have elevated petty powermongering to a pitch of rage-inducing perfection, who equate the duty to help keep the plane safe with the right to order others around for the elimination of their personal annoyances.

A fellow passenger told Channel 2’s Rachel Kim none of the other passengers had problems with Garren and that Penland never threatened the flight attendant.

Penland is considering legal action.

May she carry it to the fullest extent that the law allows, and may that flight attendant shortly have to find a job that requires more than pointing to exit doors a la Vanna White and exhibiting the bare minimum of good customer service. I’m betting she won’t even pass a laugh test.

H/t: Daddyman, who saves me a lot of valuable websurfing time by filtering Fark and passing on the stuff he knows will make me see red.

Update: Her son did not show his best side on Good Morning America when Diane Sawyer was chatting with her about the incident. I’ve stirred the hornet’s nest at Ace’s before and found a bunch of rabid child-bashers who can’t bear even the thought of a little crying disrupting the audio track of their lives. But the kid was responding to Chris, who clearly knew what he was doing with little ones. He wanted to be down playing with the toys he was offered rather than confined in his mother’s lap. Big surprise. Kids behave differently at different times in different settings. Big surprise.

Bottom line: That was a commuter plane, a small plane. Everybody on it could see and hear the incident. Sawyer said they talked to some of them. If this wasn’t the way it went down they’d have found out by now. Fire the flight attendant for lying to her captain to get an innocuous passenger thrown off. Period.

Whither the Muslim Mothers?

Filed under:It's the Jihad,Mothering,Priorities,Religion,Sad — posted by Anwyn on July 7, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

One line from this Telegraph article that Allah linked in his round-up of coverage about the Glasgow/London bombing attempts really jumped out at me, emphasis mine:

By the time he had graduated from medical school in the Iraqi capital in 2004 his views – already so hardline that reportedly his mother would not dare remove her headscarf in his presence when he was a schoolboy – had become positively toxic because of the US and British invasion.

“He” refers to Bilal Talal Abdulla, 27, being held by the police after the failed attack.

Why aren’t these boys taught from an early age that they’d better fear their mothers more than Allah? Why is it that she feared his reaction even as a schoolboy so much that she did not “dare” remove her headscarf? Surely he was not strong enough, as a schoolboy, to harm her. We know one answer–in a culture that murders women for being raped or for breaking their marriage vows, we can assume that most of them cannot stand up to their husbands and thus will not to their sons, either. Thus the sons are raised as the ultimate expression of the spoiled brat–“Don’t offend me or I will throw a tantrum that will result in your death.” Even in a more moderate form it involves riot violence defended as a natural consequence and a mistaken notion that they have the right to control the speech and behavior of others.

Obviously, also, there are many hardline mothers, or grandmothers, out there who believe in the cause as much as their sons do. But why don’t the more reasonable mothers care enough about their sons’ lives to do everything in their power to halt their progress down this deadly path, possibly to end in suicide bombing? Maybe it’s because they’ve spent years thinking their sons will kill them if they get out of line while the boys’ hardline education at the hands of religious extremists teaches them to do so. What a horrible cycle.

Mothers and feminists should be making common cause to break it. But it’s hard to expect that out of feminists who don’t view motherhood as important in the first place and who spend much of their time, like the hardline Muslims, working to control the behavior and speech of others who offend them. Muslim mothers need to be able not only to speak up but to consistently raise their sons in such a way as to prevent their sons’ departure down the path that will end in their deaths and the deaths of innocents. Western women need to find ways to support them in doing so.

Brain Freeze

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on July 6, 2007 @ 4:34 pm

While this woman’s all about freezing things, maybe she should freeze her brain for scientists upon her death.

“I told myself if she had needed another organ like a kidney I would volunteer without any hesitation and it is the same kind of thought process for this.”

“This” being freezing her eggs so that her daughter, who will become infertile due to a health condition, can use them if she and her future partner wish.

If she freezes her brain, maybe science can figure out what kind of thought process equates donating a life-saving organ with donating an ethical problem that may or may not enable her daughter to have the dubious life experience of giving birth to her own half-sister.

And on that subject, I’m sure half-siblings everywhere will be relieved to note that some ethicists hold them to no binding family obligations, since half-blood isn’t really sisters:

“Although this means the resulting offspring will be similar in genetics, an unrelated sperm will be used – and this means that the offspring will not be a true sister.”

I stipulate that I have a healthy son of my own and never expect to wrestle with infertility should I want another child. That said, I have no sympathy for anybody so desperate for the experience of giving birth that they will prioritize it over the huge stinker of impregnating oneself with one’s own half-sister or -brother–or the mother who would make that choice available to her daughter.

It Starts Early

Filed under:It's My Life,Mothering — posted by Anwyn on May 7, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

Back from vacation. After flying 3,000 miles and back with a three-year-old, I may need another vacation in a couple weeks.

I got a haircut today, and amid some standard mommy-son tickling/general “woolling,” as my mother used to call it, he mussed my hair with the following dialogue:

“Are your hairs long?”


“I like your hairs long.”

Woo! Validation! Followed immediately by this declaration:

“I’m tying Mommy’s hair together.”

The Rant: The Shit People Do to Their Children in Order to Be on TV

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities,Rants,Reviews,Television — posted by Anwyn on March 16, 2007 @ 9:58 pm

I don’t watch reality television. Don’t look at me that way–Dancing with the Stars is not reality TV, it’s a talent contest. And it doesn’t start till Monday.

Tonight when the TV came on, before I could get it flipped to my show, I saw about five minutes of the abomination that apparently is Wife Swap. I knew the show existed; I’d seen the promos. But this was unbelievable. A man and woman having a huge fight in front of the man’s children–the woman was the swap-in–while the children curled up miserably in the corners of the couches. Apparently the fight was over school–the woman was insisting that she homeschool them, the way she apparently does with her own children–and the man was protesting that she was “not going to mess with their futures.”

Look, I’m no enemy to homeschooling. I’d lean more towards it myself if I thought I had the patience and attention span. Her preferences are not the issue here. But a strange woman comes in to live as mother to your children and starts insisting on breaking up the kids’ settled routine and the school life they’re already living AND fights it out in a screaming match with their father? I’m sorry, but fuck that. Yeah, that’s what I said. Wouldn’t those kids’ mom flip if she saw what was going on back at the house? Their dad certainly was. The only valid point the woman had was this: “Why did you sign up?” One surmises that it’s part of the “game” to let the swap-in set some rules. But at the expense of the children’s peaceful home? They likely understand it’s for television, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to leave a mark.

Sure, I’ll say it again: Fuck that. Why would anybody sign up? You simply couldn’t pay me enough to turn my child over to somebody else, who had the goal of turning his life upside-down for the cameras, for a week or however long it is. Not even for a day. And judging by the houses they were in, they weren’t too much in need of whatever ABC is paying them. (Although, for all I know, the houses could’ve been provided by the show. Whatever.) So whether it’s greed or exposure that’s motivating them, any adult going on that show deserves whatever emotional hangover they get–but it looks to me like their kids are paying the price. Assholes.

FWIW: In the other house, with the homeschooled kids and the mother of the previous children, she was trying to get them to go to school. Mildly. Without raising her voice either to them or to the dad (although to be fair, the dad was the one doing most of the shouting in the other scenario, but it looked like he had plenty good reason). The dad was about to tell her he wasn’t going to make the children go back to school. In a measured tone of voice. Fine. Meanwhile, back in the first house, the swap-in is equating the importance of what she wants in this faux, for-camera situation with what the kids need and what their dad says they’ll have. Asshole!

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace