Shameless Purell

From the Purell e-mail blast I just got:

Your little ones are headed back to school and so are millions of germs!  

I’m leaving aside all the nasty things I want to say about how we are MADE of germs and must get ACCUSTOMED to germs and when did start treating everyday life like lung surgery? But instead I will leave you with my son’s remark:

Oh, the germs took the summer off? – L.

 

“How a Mother Can Make or Break Their College Student” Oh Really?

Hi Folks! A publicist sent me this infographic titled, “How a Mother Can Make or Break Their College Student.” It’s about a new service called mygofer that apparently ships basic toiletries and food to college students because otherwise they would stink and starve.

“HELP THEM OUT, MOM!” reads the copy. “Clearly they cannot be trusted on his or her own yet.” (The grammar alone is killing me.) “Shop for your busy student and have the items delivered right to their campus.”  The benefits of doing this? “No off-campus shopping = more time for rest, healthful habits and studying.” I leave you to supply your own guffaw. Also: “Send them reminders of home — favorite brands and foods.” Because it’s so hard to find an Oreo once you leave Topeka. And: “More of the money you give them is freed up for fun, not necessities.” Uh…great.

“College is a time for coming of age, making big decisions and becoming independent…and while all that is important, it’s a lot for a student to handle!” (Especially if they have to spend all their beer money on food.)  “Let them know they’re loved by Mom, not snubbed by Mom.”

Because only a mom who snubs her kids would expect them to learn how to buy a bottle of shampoo without her. – L.  (who, speaking of college educations,  can’t figure out how to shrink the graphic to fit quite right, but wanted to give you an idea of it anyway)

Here We Go Again — Another “Worst-First Thinking” App

Hi Folks — As I wrote to the publicist who sent me this pitch: ” How does knowing my kid is out on a field in the middle of a tornado give me ‘piece’ of mind?” Here’s what she had sent me:

.
Dear Lenore: Before leaving for work this morning, you recall hearing something on the news about severe weather. You can’t seem to shake the worry as thoughts about your loved ones rush in. The worry pops into mind again as you’re walking down the hall at work. As you approach an office window, a faint yet familiar sound is audible. Mary, whose desk is nearby, comes up beside you and remarks, “a tornado watch was issued earlier, I guess now it’s a warning”. The once muffled siren is now ringing in your head. Where are Kate and Sam usually at during this time of the day? Kate has Softball every Thursday, so she should be at the school, but Sam could be on the bus or getting a ride home with friends. You attempt to walk calmly back to your desk and inform coworkers of the tornado sirens on the way.  Grabbing your phone from your top drawer, you flick on a blank screen. No messages. As you file in line with your coworkers to the basement, you launch The Safety App and request the status of those in your safety group. Seconds later you receive the current or last known addresses of Kate, Sam, and the rest of your family. In addition you receive Kate and Sam’s automatic safety status’ indicating Kate is currently at practice and Sam is at a friends house. Before you’ve even reached the stairwell you’ve got the piece of mind you need to make it through this disaster….

 I’m so glad I know that Kate is at softball practice! Whew!

A Lemonade Stand Costs HOW Much, According to a Parenting Magazine?

Hi Folks — We all know that magazines exist to sell things, but this example seems particularly outrageous: A parenting magazine lists all the things your kids need to run a lemonade stand — from name brand ice cube trays to an actual, store-bought stand, to a juicer  to squeeze the lemons (has no one heard of hands? Or lemonade mix?)  — and the total is pushing $300. If you want the breakdown of all the costs, here it is! – L (and don’t diss me for vlogging! I am trying to embrace all sorts of new things!)

UPDATED! Can You Set The New York Times and Psychology Today Straight about Free-Range Parenting?

Readers — In today’s New York Times there’s an article about a new type of food product: a pouch parents can give their kids to suck, rather than making them go through all the rigamarole of, you know, eating food from a plate. Or even a bun. Or even chewing.

Putting aside my feelings about the product, I was shocked to read the inventor’s explanation for why a feeding tube…er, sorry, pouch…is suddenly necessary for kids:

Mr. Grimmer believes the pouch’s popularity can be attributed to the emergence of a new way of relating to our children. He calls it “free-range parenting.”

Parents, he explained, want to be as flexible as modern life demands. And when it comes to eating, that means doing away with structured mealtimes in favor of a less structured alternative that happens not at set times, but whenever a child is hungry.

What Mr. Grimmer is selling, he said, is a way to facilitate that: mobile food technology for the modern family. “It’s on-the-go snacking, on-the-go nourishment,” he said. “It moves with kids and puts the control in their hands.

The article goes on to talk about how kids are so structured that they have no TIME to eat a real meal, so this is a lovely “free-range” alternative. For his part, the reporter adds that he gave his daughter, under age 4, a pouch to suck after her gymnastics class, and another on the way to a party because somehow lunch got skipped.

I feel for the guy. His toddler is already so over-booked there’s no time to stop and eat  the carrots. But to think that is “Free-Range” is so, so, sooooo wrong my brain is turning into a  pouch of plum-spinach mush.

In fact, Free-Range Kids believes just the opposite: We are all for giving kids a chance to do things on their own — play, walk to school, spend an afternoon just drawing on the sidewalk — which in turn gives us parents a chance to do things on our own, too, including get out of the car. Maybe even make a meal. Or have the kids make a meal.

We have to stop this misconception of Free-Range as harried chauffeurs before it grows. Already a  Psychology Today blogger has written a piece about “The Perils of Free-Range Parenting,” which goes on and on about how SHE doesn’t believe kids should make their parents give them snacks instead of  meals. Moreover, SHE doesn’t think kids should be the ones to decide whether or not they’re going to sit in the car seat, or what time they go to bed.

Lady — neither do we!

“Free-Range” is not a (depleting, exhausting) lifestyle.  It’s just the conviction that kids today are safer and more competent than our culture tells us they are. That’s why we can give them  responsibility AND freedom — and not schlep and schedule up the wazoo, to the point where they have to suck their meals in between appointments. Can someone please drop these folks a line and tell them that? – L

For kids too busy to digest a Cheerio.

UPDATE!! Look at this lovely piece by the Pscyhology Today blogger, Dina Rose, realizing that Free-Range does NOT mean “Let kids do whatever they want while we cater to their every whine” parenting. Kudos for the correction, Dina, and welcome!! – L

Free-Range Kids and Attachment Parenting

Hi Folks! Just found this post buried in my “to put on blog” cue. Sorry it’s so long after the Time Mag cover (which cover? You KNOW which cover) and the “Take Our Kids to the Park…and Leave Them There Day” piece.

Anyway — after the umpteenth question and comment about Free-Range “versus” Attachment Parenting, I wrote one commenter this note. He had asked, “Have you seen any correlation, either positive or negative, between Attachment Parenting and Free-Range?  Or do the bubblewrap/helicopter parents you see tend to be the Attachment Parenting parents?” My answer

.

I have, thank goodness, no idea. What I always try to explain is that Free-Range is not a “type of parenting.” It’s an outlook that tries to resist the rampant fear being foisted upon us by marketers, politicians, “experts” and the media, all of whom have a vested interest in making us worried that our kids will be killed.

.
Or not get into Harvard.
.
I don’t endorse bashing any parenting decision. I DO endorse bashing all the forces that are trying to make us unnecessarily suspicious, worried and afraid to connect. – L

The Latest Trend: “Alcatraz Parenting”!

Hey Readers! ALCATRAZ PARENTING. Let’s popularize that term, okay? We need it, because we’re getting to the point when children are monitored by GPS, cell phone and camera in ways prison wardens can only dream of! Check out this ad:

The mom says she  has cameras “in the playroom, the living room, the kitchen. And from my mobile phone and computer I can check in on them any time and it just gives me some added peace of mind.”

Great. And just what does it give the children? That added sense that Big Mother is watching. That sense that they are never safe without her electronic eye upon them. (It doesn’t MAKE them any safer, of course. It just reassures the mom.) It also tells them they are never free and never completely to be trusted. Just like prisoners, except with refrigerator privileges.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Just as I was going to end my post,I got this letter in my email:

Dear Free-Range Kids:

I just got two tickets for child abuse because my 7 yo and her friend were playing in the complex when 2 older girls tried to hit them with sticks. They ran away and my daughter, being frantic, got lost. The police found her and brought her home. They then  gave me a ticket for both girls but not the other girls parents! One officer said I could not let her out to play at all without me. The other said she could but needs to stay close and tell me where she will be, which she always does. There are many children in this complex who play outside alone! They said children under 16 must be supervised.

How are these topics — the cameras in home and the tickets for unsupervised kids — related? They both start with the assumption that children are never safe without an adult by their side, either physically (if they’re outside) or electronically (if they’re inside).

That is a RADICALLY NEW, DYSTOPIAN VISION OF CHILDHOOD! It is not based on reality, as the reality is our children are safer today than at almost any time in history. It is based on FEAR.

The result? Alcatraz Parenting, either by choice, if you buy into it, or by force if you don’t…but the authorities do. – L