Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three for Thursday: Baby Proofing Insanity, Parents 'Occupying' Wall Street with Kids & 9:30 AM School Lunches

Item #1: Baby Proofing Insanity

The very first parenting column I wrote after having my twins was one which lampooned the mania that all the parenting “experts,” baby stores and parenting media had whipped up when it came to baby proofing. Of course, like any parent, I wanted to make my house safe for my newborn twins, so The Spouse and I got to work and covered all the electrical outlets. We bought a multitude of gates. We put protective latches on cabinet doors and drawers throughout the house (including on the kids’ bureaus). We bought doorknob covers for most doorknobs and installed eye hooks on the sliding glass door so that when they were toddlers they wouldn’t escape. We had powerful baby monitors to listen to the goings on in the nursery even though we lived in a small ranch style house.

But according to the fear-mongering catalogues that were flooding into our mailbox and the articles in parenting magazines and online, we weren’t going far enough in attempting to bubble-wrap our children’s on the home front. That’s when I decided to write a satirical column about the insane levels people were going to in the name of household safety and suggested, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, that I’d hire some “pediatric body guard/childproofing safety service” to definitively make my house safe for the my kids. It was preposterous, of course, I thought at the time, because there was no such thing as a childproofing safety service.

Lo and behold, some 13 years later, not only are there baby proofing consultants out there, but a New York Times writer recommends that new parents hire such a service because mere garden variety parents might not be thorough enough (which sends a lovely message about parental aptitude, that it's more prudent for them to outsource their parenting throughout the kid’s life to “experts”). After running through an exhaustive and expensive list of things parents “need” to do to batten down the hatches in a vain attempt to make their baby’s world absolutely safe, the Times writer said, “Even if you follow all these childproofing steps, consider calling in a consultant. Every house poses different hazards – with fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, for instance – and first-time parents can’t see everything.” And he wasn’t joking. He was being serious.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor at the unnecessary fear that was being instilled into new parents who read this piece I had to remind myself that it was this same newspaper section -- the “Home” section – that ran a piece last December about the lethal threat posed to babies and toddlers by coffee tables. Enough said.

UPDATE: You can read my original baby proofing satire here under the sarcastic title, "The Joys of Baby-Proofing."

Item #2: Parents ‘Occupying’ Wall Street with Kids

Seeking to provide their children firsthand experience with the First Amendment right to protest, parents have begun bringing their offspring with them to the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, as well as to other Occupy protest sites around the country, the New York Times reported.
There’s even a web site – Parents for Occupy Wall Street -- which encourages moms and dads to bring junior to see democracy in action and to hear people wax poetic about economic inequalities. “With our children’s best interests in mind, we join together peacefully to support the Occupy Wall Street movement across the U.S. on our children’s behalf,” the web site says. “We’re speaking for the 99 percent that can’t speak up for themselves.”

Parents for Occupy Wall Street recently spearheaded a family sleepover event in New York City’s Zuccotti Park amongst the protesters -- featuring a sing-along, pizza party, arts & crafts and bedtime stories -- which organizers said would “not only be a great teaching moment for kids but a totally community driven peaceful protest with events throughout the weekend.”

The Times pointed out that children have been present at Tea Party rallies, the Egyptian protests in Cairo and “at many other events that marked the Arab Spring.” However the newspaper did add that during the Zuccotti Park sleepover, “families had to be moved at dawn to make way for new police lines and barricades.”

Would you take your kids to an Occupy Wall Street event, or a family sleepover next to the protesters in a public park as a “teachable moment?”

Item #3: School Lunch at 9:30 in the Morning?

NBC’s Today Show highlighted some Florida schools which are now scheduling students’ lunches as early as 9:30 in the morning. Why are they doing this seemingly bizarre thing? School officials told NBC that students today “start their days earlier,” therefore they’re hungry for lunch earlier, even though a federal mandate says schools need to serve lunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (These Florida schools obtained waivers for their early breakfast nosh.)

This seems nonsensical. Why not encourage students to have a healthy snack at 9:30 instead of serving them a full lunch? Who wants tacos or meatloaf at 9:30? Considering that most parents work and the family’s dinner isn’t served until sometime in the 6 o’clock hour, giving the kids lunch that early will throw off their entire eating schedule. They’ll be ravenous for dinner at 3:30. By 6:30, when many families eat, if the students consume a second dinner, I think we’ve got yet one more reason as to why American kids are gaining weight. There’s got to be a better way.

Image credit: Parents for Occupy Wall Street.

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