October 8, 2017

Father Traps Child in Washing Machine

So the laundromat bores you? Try sticking your youngster in a washing machine…

Stop! What?

In the video above (recorded by a laundromat surveillance camera) a man closes a young boy in a washing machine as a joke, but the door locks, trapping junior inside. When the automatic cycle starts the parents start to panic.

Light bulb moment: it’s a bad idea to place a child (or an infant, small adult, domestic pet, etc.) in a laundry machine. Ever. Period.

Unfortunately by the time the lightbulb illuminates, junior’s already spinning inside the washing machine and the genius man is helpless. He tugs the door, dances around and finally decides to seek a laundromat attendant. At last this coin-op nightmare is resolved by an efficient attendant who interrupts the wash cycle and liberates the damp but uninjured tot. The attendant’s efficiency is actually a little alarming. Has he experienced this before?

Darwin Awards, anyone?

Despite spending a minute or more getting tumbled and rinsed, the being trapped for more than a minute, the child escaped the doltish prank bruised but otherwise intact. Or so reports assure us, though I suspect that psychotherapy might be a better judge of that.

Why no kids? Rattlesnakes!

Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had rattlesnakes on the brain for the last few days.

Timber rattlesnakesCrotalus horridus.

And even Massassagua rattlesnakes. Sistrurus catenatus.

It’s spring in the Adirondacks, and spring means critters, LOTS of critters. I witnessed a hawk shredding a live pigeon about three feet from our breakfast table before my bride donned her pink dish washing gloves, chased the hawk away and saved the wounded pigeon. Sort of. It died, but not in the hands of a vicious raptor.

The hawk’s an efficient and frequent diner at Rosslyn, and judging by the fresh piles of pigeon feathers every few days, we’re up to a half dozen in just two or three weeks.

And two nights ago we startled an ermine imitating a boa constrictor, coiled tightly around the bird feeder. I’m not sure if he was digesting a woodpecker, suet or birdseed.

A little earlier in the spring we had a red fox that cleared out about a half dozen squirrels.

Spring. Critters. Predation…

All of this backyard safari action got me to thinking about kids. Actually, it got me thinking about kids and predators.

Especially the hawk. That bird was a killer. And powerful.

Wikipedia doesn’t list human children as part of the diet of any of these critters, so I should be relieved. I mean, I don’t even have any kids to get eaten alive by a hawk.

And yet while whipping up a couple of posts about rattlesnakes, in particular one massive and extremely lethal looking serpent who appeared and promptly vanished in my rhubarb patch three years ago, I realized that it’s a pretty major relief not to have to worry about these critters getting hold of my own progeny.

I haven’t successfully identified the snake, but I suspect it was a rattlesnake.

I now suspect that I may have spotted a massasauga rattlesnake with markings totally unlike our local Adirondack timber rattlesnakes. (Rosslyn Redux)

Rattlesnakes! (Cochiti Pueblo, NM)

Rattlesnakes! (Photo credit: virtualDavis)

I’m probably wrong. Odds are it was a timber rattlesnake (we have a large, healthy breeding population just a few miles up the road) with unusual coloring for our area. Or possibly, at least in the opinions of some naturalists I’ve spoken to, it was a Northern Copperhead that had wiggled a bit north of their usual northern limit which is apparently a couple of hours south around New Paltz, New York. Global warming?

Lest you’re missing the bottom line, these cool looking snakes are all venomous. (Read poisonous.) Adult fatalities are rare if medical attention is immediate. But kids? Especially little bitty kids? The odds are a bit spookier.

Fortunately rattlesnakes tend to be reserved, preferring to avoid contact and altercations.

Most resources concur that timber rattlesnakes only strike if/when provoked. And common sense should compel anyone happening upon a timber rattlesnake in the wild to avoid provoking it. If the snake is behaving aggressively, coiling and preparing to strike — perhaps even false striking — its defensive behavior indicates that it perceives a threat. Avoid further threatening the snake and withdraw cautiously, slowly. In all likelihood the rattlesnake, no matter how large and menacing, will slither off without striking. (Essex on Lake Champlain)

Good news as long as your tyke is prudent. But it’s a bit of a gamble, no?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no alarmist. I grew up in the Adirondacks’s Champlain Valley a short bicycle ride away, and I never had to ward off a hungry hawk or get pumped full of anti-venom to save my bacon. But I could have…

So, rather than worrying all the conscientious parents out there who are 100% attentive, shepherding their kids through life’s wilderness perils, I’m just taking a moment to savor the profound relief I feel about never having to worry that junior could stumble across that 3+ foot long snake in my rhubarb patch. The one that’s probably poisonous.

Have a great week!

Kids’ Manners Matter

365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly (Image via Rainbow Resource)Is it only my observation or have manners largely gone by the wayside these days? Moreover, how many really well mannered children do we all know?

Okay, so I’m giving away my northern location because generally, the kids I know from the South could teach the northern ones quite a bit when it comes to manners. However, It follows that if many adults aren’t too familiar or interested in basic etiquette, then their children won’t be either.

Are you tired of rude children in restaurants, airplanes, theaters and the like? Do you cringe when your favorite child rips opens your thoughtfully chosen gift with little notice of you or a thanks for the gesture?

Fear not. For those of you who long for a more mannered world, Sheryl Eberly has created the book, 365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Etiquette. It’s pure Genius. Has anyone attempted this before? If this kind of book has been offered in the past, it unlikely covered the extensive topics that Ms. Eberly offers. In this information-packed book, the author, a former employee of First Lady Nancy Reagan (well, no wonder – that explains some of her expertise), tackles every sticky etiquette scenario one could ponder.

Ms. Eberly’s advice roams near and far.

  • Anticipating the needs of others
  • Neighborly manners, sloppy language
  • Active listening
  • Writing letters with care
  • Everyday table manners
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion
  • The valued teammate
  • Be a model American
  • Be considerate to people with special needs

And my favorite, Environmental Manners, because “taking care of the environment is everybody’s responsibility.”

She also demystifies “netiquette,” (net etiquette) museum, travel, restaurant, wedding and even funeral behavior. In doing so she goes a step further by breaking down the important details of religious holidays and ceremonies in every denomination. Not sure how children should act at a Ramadan or Kwanza celebration or at a Mormon wedding? She has all the answers. It’s clearly as much for the parents’ education as for their offspring.

Good manners, the author advises should begin at the onset of a child’s birth and “involve more than simply knowing the rules about forks and finger bowls in formal situations – they include good attitudes, respect, and consideration for others every day. If we want our children to be confident, poised adults, we need to teach them the rules of etiquette today. Knowing proper behavior is an essential part of being prepared for life.”

Well said.

The book is informative, never preachy, and a great gift for parents (their children will thank you years from now, or maybe sooner if the lessons are well learned). The only question is how do we give this book without offending parents, without them thinking we’re suggesting their kids are ill-behaved? You’ll have to figure that out. In the meantime I’m passing it around to all my favorite parents. Thank you, Ms. Eberly, from the non-parents of the world.

“Where do your idle hands go while eating in America?” I quickly quiz my nephews on a regular basis.

“On your lap,” they sullenly respond. They’ve been through this before.

“And what if you’re in France?” I fire back.

“Wrists resting on edge of the table, fingers off” they dutifully retort. They are half German and part French so I have always found it important for them to distinguish manners in different cultures.

“What about your hands in Africa?” A harder question they don’t get asked as often, but they find the answer.

“The left hand never touches food, especially communal food. It’s reserved for the bathroom.”

Do they need to know this? Well, maybe if they live in Africa like me one day, or if they visit there, they will not offend. I am proud. At least their table manners are well rehearsed, but I have more work to do.

“Why do we need to know this?” they will occasionally ask.

“Because good manners are important and because you will dine with Presidents and Heads of State some day,” I proclaim. “Do you want to be forever embarrassed because you ate with the wrong fork?” They are not convinced but oblige their silly aunt nonetheless.

“How do you know we’ll ever meet Presidents?” they ask.

“Oh, I know these things.” And we leave it at that.

I suppose this book was just destined to find me.

Doomed Parenting

Cover of Parenting

Image via Wikipedia

Ah-ha! My suspicions all along…

A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while  overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood… [and] anything between those two extremes is equally damaging…” (The Onion)

And this doesn’t even take into consideration the inevitable unhappiness of the parents! 😉

Leila Revisited

Matti

Image via Wikipedia

In reflecting on the movie Leilait is easy to see the conundrum couples face in traditional cultures when they can’t have or don’t want children.  Many cultures just don’t accept childless unions.  How many people do we know, however, who really might be having children largely for their parents, or for the tradition of having children to carry on their family gene pool, so ingrained in every society, even the most modern of ones?  It’s not uncommon.

I have to admit, the continuity of family heritage, and pleasing one’s parents or in-laws with the gift of grandchildren are compelling reasons to procreate.  My own parents and in-laws have been exceptionally supportive of my decision not to have children, but if I told all of them tomorrow that I had changed my mind, or that I was pregnant, would they be over-the-moon elated?  You bet.  Multiple year-long celebrations would be initiated.  Who doesn’t like to make people you love that happy (especially because of all they did for you)? Who doesn’t like the idea of having your parents and in-laws helping to shape your child if you know they would be great at it?  That part of parenting would be ideal – the part where the baby’s grandparents are cooing over the child, playing on the floor, cleaning up the mess, while you’re reading a book or having cocktails with friends.  But, then the grandparents leave, and you’re stuck with all the responsibility.

Perhaps if we lived with our siblings and parents as adults, like in some traditional societies, raising a child wouldn’t be that daunting, what with all those extra hands to help out. Frankly, multiple wives made it much easier too (but don’t get too excited about that idea until you see the film Leila).

Leila grippingly explores the consequences of ignoring one’s own needs and instincts, and one’s own biological destiny to please another entity, or a culture at large.  It serves as an important reminder to know ourselves and our partners and to ensure that when our partner tells us that he or she does not want a child, to believe it and to discuss that choice with frankness and honesty.

Moreover, people choosing not to have children or questioning whether it is the right choice also need to have those same frank conversations with their parents.  Hopefully, if they love you enough, and if they are not as imperious and opportunistic as Reza’s mother, they will happily accept the grand dog or cat and more quality time together (because you’re not saddled with the time demands of parenting) that you offer them instead.

Why No Sleep for Moms?

Stillnox

Image via Wikipedia

Moms don’t sleep, and on top of that they worry about not sleeping. Disturbed from restful nights by crying babes, and stressed by busy days they are turning to prescription meds to fight anxiety and insomnia.

“A 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation found that nearly three in 10 U.S. women said they used a sleep aid a few nights a week. Experts said that stress and anxiety had made mothers dependent on sleep aids like Lunesta, melatonin, Ambien and even Xanax.” (ABC News)

No word on a study about dads. Maybe they slept through it.

The NYTimes reports:

“One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi.”

Is it another reason to not have kids? Or just part of the busy world we live in where we are over-scheduled, stressed out, and plugged in?

Hey WNKers do you have trouble sleeping? Do you reach for a “mother’s little helper” to get to sleep?

 

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Joys of Shopping with a Child

Watch this video if you’re considering having a kid!

Yes, it is Halloween and no, we shouldn’t be thinking about shopping — certainly not Christmas shopping — yet, but we are. Correction: I’m not thinking about it, but it’s by sheer force of will that I’m resisting.

The Halloween candy isn’t even off the racks yet, and my mailbox has been brimming with Christmas catalogs for over a week. I know the economy’s stuck in the ditch, but for the love of all that is spooky can we please hold off until after the jack-o-lanterns have rotted?!?!

I’m not a shopper, not a willing shopper, at least. Not in any conventional, recognizable-to-twenty-first-century-humans sense of shopping. Third world markets suit me well for brief photography forays, but Christmas shopping in October? Bah humbug!

So when you add dysfunctional minors into the equation, things are liable to get unhealthy quickly. And kids are synonymous with shopping. Though not always in markets… Or maybe they are less annoying and more intriguing when studied through a camera lens.

Happy Halloween!

Why I Said ‘Yes’ to Kids

Today’s guest post is from Ana June, a mother, wife, writer, photographer and jewelry artist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Tattoo (photo credit Christopher Riedel)

Tattoo (photo credit Christopher Riedel)

In the spring of 2008, I sat down late one night to write the first installment for a newspaper column I called Planet Mom. While my youngest son slept on the couch next to me, I stared out at the night sky and tried to conjure my muse. By midnight, I had it–a relatively clear, concise, and honest introduction to the life I live as a mother to four. (Full installment is here.) In it, I wrote the following:

“This act of mothering is life in the raw. There are moments that threaten to unhinge me, followed closely by those that offer a glimpse of enlightenment.”

Nearly 3 years later, the truth in this statement still holds. Being a mother, especially to a brood the size of mine, is absolutely dichotomous. It’s unhinging and enlightening, sometimes all at once!

Choosing to become a mother was, for me, a no-brainer. I always knew I would have children…. Furthermore, I always knew I wanted to have children. This desire must have been hardwired or something–I can’t explain it much better than that. Having children gave me so very much–the opportunity to lose myself and find myself… the thrill of finding and dancing on the very edge of my every possibility. Being a mother has made me more human, more frazzled, more fully alive, more tired, more fully in love, and more humble than anything else I have ever done.

That said, motherhood doesn’t define me entirely, and it shouldn’t. I am also a photographer, a writer, a graphic designer, and a jeweler, though not necessarily in that order at any given time. I own my own business, set my own hours, and have been turning a profit for several years now. Today, Wednesday, I am a writer and a jewelry maker. I am both writing this and babysitting my jewelry kiln as it sinters tin and copper into bronze (making two sets of custom wine charms!). Next to me, dull gray pendants that will soon metamorphose into fine silver await their turn in the fire. I am an alchemist.

I am also a traveler. I returned from a whirlwind trip to New York several days ago, where I was photographing a friend’s wedding. I was blissfully childfree for this journey, and it was awesome. It was awesome as well to come home and see my family again. A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with my husband, kidfree, to Baja to shoot the Baja 1000 with and for a group of firefighters who ride for The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (the prelude to that story is here. I apparently never posted the actual story). In a nutshell, that adventure was awe-inspiring, remarkable, incredible…. fill in the blanks. But again, it was also awesome to come home and see my family again.

Family is the absolute ultimate for me, and of course that is defined in large part by my children. Because of this, I simply don’t see parenting as duty-driven more than I see it as motivated by a deep and abiding love. It is not a job, it is my heart.

I can’t and won’t sell it to anyone, however. It is not something to do unless you feel that undeniable drive within you to create a child. It is never something to take lightly. It should never be a should. It was absolutely never a should in my own life–in fact, quite the opposite, since I was very young when I got pregnant with my son. I chose to have my children when I did–Soren, who is now 17, was born three weeks after I turned 22. I birthed him at home, with a midwife, and when I looked into his little face for the very first time I saw God. This agnostic borderline-atheist truly and absolutely saw God. You see, God isn’t some big judgmental guy lurking about the heavens waiting to smite sinners or whatnot. No… God was the design of my son’s newborn face. God was his first cry.

And I can’t expect anybody else, not even my son’s father, to understand that moment like I did. That was my moment as a mother, and I was fortunate to have three more like it in the years that followed.

It was for moments like this that I became a mother. My decision to do so had very little to do with economics or leisure or opportunity for myself. It had everything to do with feeling and expressing a love that eludes definition. It wasn’t happy happy happy, but it wasn’t sad sad sad either. It ultimately isn’t any one thing. As I recently wrote in another post on my blog (full post here):

“…motherhood is the end-all-be-all of a woman’s existence…except when it isn’t. Motherhood will thresh your very soul and lift you to heights of joy you never thought possible… except when it doesn’t. Motherhood will sweep you up to the pinnacle of beauty…. except when it’s anything but beautiful. When you have shit on your hands because the baby decided to do gymnastics after you removed the stinky diaper and the phone is ringing and the dog is barking and the older kid is whining about cookies or some such… and the diaper pail is full and the room smells like digested green beans and you haven’t showered in two days and your breasts start leaking and then the baby pees all over the changing table and all the while you suspect, in a grim sort of way, that your mortgage check will bounce this month….

Nope, that’s not beautiful at all. Motherhood isn’t always anything except raw, demanding life. Base and beautiful humanity.”

And though it is a commitment, that sometimes makes you feel like you should be committed, it can be–should be?–one gleaming facet in a multifaceted life.

It should follow the sentiment I have tattooed on my upper left arm:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
(Alfred Lord Tennyson)

No matter what we choose in this life–parenthood or not–there will forever be more to explore, more to learn, more to love. Or at least, there should be. And that is the only should that I, personally, understand.

Postscript: For anybody who is still unsure about having a child, ask yourself this: if you attempted to place your coffee mug in the cup holder of your car, one frenetic morning, and found that the space was already occupied by a large piece of dusty, hairy, dessicated bacon left therein by one of your children (one of your teens, in fact!), how would you feel? Your answer to this may help clarify your child-bearing decision…. at least a little bit. 🙂

You can follow Ana June on her blog, Non Compos Mentis Mama, or visit her professional site, Ana June Creative.

Breeders vs. Non-Breeders

Promo shot for Last Splash

Image via Wikipedia

Some people hate the term “breeder.”  Mostly it’s breeders that complain. To me a breeder is someone who chooses to have children and a non-breeder someone who does not. I’m a non-breeder and think it’s a funny title. You are welcome to call me a non-breeder even to my face. Also The Breeders happens to be the name of one of my favorite bands, so named because the term “breeders” is gay slang for heterosexuals. Interesting, right?


Urban Dictionary
has a slightly modified version of the term breeder:

1: slang term used by some childfree people for one who has a child and/or has many after that, refuses to discipline the child/ren, thinks the sun rises and sets for their child/ren, look down upon people who do not have children, and are in general very selfish and greedy when it comes to their whims and those of their child/ren, especially if they can use their parenthood status or their children as an excuse to get their way.

Okay. Ouch. That is not so nice. When did “breeders” become derogatory term against parents?  An alternative definition is  a person who breeds livestock or other animals or plants professionally. (That could be taken a couple of ways perhaps.) Apparently defining the word breeder is not that simple and a touchy subject for many including Renee from the blog www.womanist-musings.com:

“The main slur that has been directed at me from the LGBT community is the term breeder.  I understand that this a reaction to the fact that straight people constantly shame same sex couples for their inability to reproduce.  Though many straight couples spend a lifetime together and chose never to become parents, the biological impossibility of two women, or two men producing a child has been constructed as a negative.”

And on www.christianforums.com

“Are you aware that we parents are sometimes referred to as “breeders” by childfree people? It just made me sad, as I am one of those people who doesn’t judge couples for not wanting a child. That’s their decision, but why should we as parents be termed “breeders” because we decide to have children? The term is primarily use in reference to someone breeding animals! Really… I do find it offensive, and very hurtful.”

So why do we need labels like breeder, non-breeder, childfree, non-parent? Do names and labels hurt or discriminate? What do you think breeders and non-breeders? Are you loud and proud?

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Empty nest? Not all parents are sad about it

A hybrid travel trailer made by KZ Recreationa...
Image via Wikipedia

Empty nest? Not all parents are sad about it – CBS News.

Parenting is a tough and thankless and endless job and there’s reason for empty nesters to be excited. You can take it from me. Travel, extra income, naps, dating your spouse rather than forming a partnership for child-rearing… all things that are worth celebrating, whether for a week,  a lifetime, or when the nest is empty. Empty nesters may be excited to rad about childfree retreats on WhyNoKids.com or look into peaceful travel opportunities at Childfree Travel

 

No twinges of sorrow in Bentonville, Ark, for mom of five Pamela Haven and her husband, Jeff. She has a recurring thought about life after the last of the brood — 17-year-old twin boys — graduate high school in June: “Thank God they weren’t triplets!”

Up next? “We’re booked on a cruise right after school ends, just the two of us. We’re purchasing a travel trailer, and we can’t wait to strip down the upstairs and repaint, carpet and make two guest rooms.”

Also looking forward to life after children is Jeanette Simpson, an interior designer in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. She has six kids (no boomerangers in the bunch) and the last is a high school senior.

“After 27 years of dealing with school schedules, and 33 years of kids at home, I’ll be an empty nester in less than a year,” she said. “With the last one, I feel almost guilty about not being overly saddened. I have a feeling of ‘job well done.'”

What’s she looking forward to the most? Traveling with her hubby without worry about school breaks and, “Time for myself, something that’s been rare since the first one came along.”

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