Posts Tagged ‘children’
Chicago, IL, April 24 (AP) – S, an infant born early last week, is already dreading the lifetime of hearing about the discomfort and trouble he caused his parents in the day leading up to his birth.
“I can’t wait for it to kick in,” remarked the nine-day-old, grimacing at the thought, or possibly at nothing. “You’d think world events, or actually amusing things, would make better fodder for conversation, but no, it’ll be decades before discussion of my mother’s experience with me peters out.”
His mother is expected to regale friends and acquaintances with the 34 hours of labor preceding S’s delivery by suction in the wee hours of last Sunday. After the postpartum period, when talk of the labor and delivery is typical of any birth aftermath, the mother’s relatively unusual travails will continue to be described when she wishes to contribute to a conversation about childbirth, or when she wishes to half-jokingly explain her child’s tendencies or behavior.
S’s fears are well founded, says Columbia University cultural anthropologist Beth Nossentrik. “The difficulty of a labor and delivery is a reliable predictor of the number of times the experience will be brought up in conversation,” she explained in a telephone interview. “For each additional hour of labor, a mother can be expected to tell her story an average of eleven times per year in the first four years, with the number gradually decreasing – unless she subsequently has more children, in which case the number actually increases by two until four years after the last child is born.”
According to Nossentrik, other factors can add to the number of times the narrative is rehashed. In this case, she says the fact the labor went on that long without a Cesarean Section being performed has the potential to add anywhere from six to eight occasions for relating the story over the next two years, and twice per year on average after that.
Chicago-area family therapist Hedda Schrinker concurs. “The statistics are pretty robust in that regard,” she said in an e-mail. “Mothers tend to want to share the unusual aspects of their childbirth experience. What I would also add is that the numbers tick up again slightly when she is about to become a grandmother, and do not really come down again,” unless she eventually suffers a stroke or other debilitating condition that removes her ability to communicate coherently.
S’s parents also feature the additional augmenting factor of friends in multiple far-flung places who will need the story repeated to them individually, as they will not be in position to hear it collectively. Shrinker has attempted to reassure S that his situation is not unique, and that many other perfectly dysfunctional parent-child relationships have weathered this sort of repeated rehashing.
“He kind of whined when I said that,” admitted Shrinker. “It reminds me of when I had my second daughter…” she began.
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New York, NY, April 19 (AP) – Responding to increasing pressure from parents, the Bloomberg administration announced this morning that it will begin penalizing people who offer advice to parents without being asked to do so. Additionally, people whose unsolicited remarks include implied or outright criticism will be subject to further fines.
At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg introduced the initiative, which he called Urban Parent-Youth Operation to Urge Restraint in Scolding (UPYOURS). UPYOURS, approval of which in the City Council is all but assured, will take effect in time for the more pleasant spring weather, when children and their parents return to playgrounds en masse, often attracting “helpful” comments from others.
“It’s high time we defend the good citizens of this city from the scourge of harassers,” said the mayor. He cited statistics compiled over the last decade which document a fourfold increase in the number of uninvited parenting critiques or remarks within the five boroughs. “As the most responsive administration this city has ever seen, our response is UPYOURS.”
Neighborhood parent associations had taken note of the increase and began petitioning the city to address the problem. “We parents have enough challenges living in this city,” said Getta Wayfromme, a Park Slope mother of two preschoolers. “Between the mommy-child yoga, the swimming lessons, the interrogation – I mean vetting – of possible caregivers and the shopping for stylish accessories, it’s tough enough as it is. We don’t need people implying that we’re not already giving our children the very best, let alone saying it outright.”
Not everyone is pleased with UPYOURS. Sharyn N. Karen, 54, of Williamsburg, says she has seen enough parents to know which ones are doing fine and which ones could use some helpful guidance. “People don’t like to admit it, but they need other people,” said the childless, single artist. “It’s just good that there are people such as I to helpfully correct the errors of others’ ways, such as when they fail to impart when to use the phrase, ‘such as I’ instead of ‘like me.’”
Other provisions of the city ordinance include: greater leniency for advice-givers who have children the same age as the parent receiving the comments, all the more so if the children have been playing together for more than thirty seconds; additional fines for belittling or dismissing the anxiety of a parent over his or her child’s possibly fatal food allergies; and mandatory jail sentences for lecturing on the benefits of cloth diapers or for treating breastfeeding in public as objectionable.
At the press conference, Bloomberg praised the parents who first proposed UPYOURS. “This city has always benefited from citizens who understand where public action is necessary and where things are best left in the realm of the individual. As this administration has made clear before, it is not the place of other individuals to tell people how to live their lives.”
“That’s the city’s job,” he said.
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Terre Haute, Indiana (AP) – Lice at the Kiddie Carousel Day Care are complaining that the facility, on South Seventh Street, is infested with human children. Children are a risk factor in the forcible uprooting and premature death of millions of lice every year.
The two-legged, immature humans provide an initially welcoming environment for lice. But often, once the insect population has been lulled into complacency, the surroundings suddenly become hostile. Baths of harsh chemicals often occur just when the lice population has begun to thrive, and sweeps of the child’s scalp area indiscriminately carry off young and old alike when the dreaded Comb passes through.
The International Taskforce on Cootie Hosting, or ITCH, has documented at least seven hundred thousand cases of child infestation in North America this year alone, representing an increase of eight percent over last year, which in turn grew from eight percent the year before. According to government statistics, although the number of human children has remained steady in North America during that time, an increase has been noted in the number of the hazardous human spawn inhabiting sites that lice once found more friendly.
ITCH has documented a general increase in dangerous conditions for lice. Famine and wars in Africa have reduced the number of available hosts in certain areas, although the most recent data point to stagnant growth in the African cephalic environment to begin with, as the hair of the African human tends to be less suitable to habitation by lice. But violent conflict in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have wrought havoc with the consistency of available residences.
The situation is not nearly as dire as it was seven hundred years ago, when the Black Plague swept through Europe and severely reduced the human population. Rival arthropod species seemed poised to assert dominance over the parasitic world, but a steady rebound in the number of humans on the continent, coupled with the displacement of bubonic plague hosts, assured the ascendance of head lice for centuries after.
In fact the lice future has never looked rosier, according to a new report by SUCK, the Society of Users of Chitin Knees. The SUCK report notes an overall global increase in human population, which will provide many more heads for lice to inhabit, and global warming means more of the planet will be hospitable to the insects, which survive longer in warmer environments if they become detached from the scalps of their hosts.
But the lice at Kiddie Carousel are still worried, as the presence of the deadly combs and topical treatments have been detected, according to rampant rumors among the lice.
A vocal contingent denies the rumors, calling into question the evidence for the comb and shampoo phenomena, as well as any indication of silicone spray. The skeptics note that all the fear-mongering stifles the productivity and growth of the population, and deem the rumors “pediculous.” Moreover, they argue, any such threat, even if imminent, lies beyond the capability of the lice community to address.
At press time, a louse with dyed, otherworldly-shaped orange hair was seen departing the preschool in a tiny helicopter marked “Trump.”
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Norfolk, Virginia (AP) – Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has denounced the legendary teller of nursery rhymes Mother Goose for encouraging violence and mistreatment of animals in her doggerel.
“Treating blackbirds as food is bad enough – but Mother Goose would have us sadistically putting the captive birds in a hot oven and baking them into a pie,” said Newkirk. “How out-of-touch with ethical behavior can you be?”
PETA released a litany of cruel acts against animals in Mother Goose’s rhyming verse and called for a boycott of her nursery rhymes until Mother Goose could demonstrate she had reformed.
The PETA report grades all of Mother Goose’s rhymes, assigning them a score on a scale of 1-4, with 1 representing an “acceptable” attitude toward animals, 2 meaning “borderline” and 3 meaning “poor” and 4 meaning “reprehensible.”
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” was rated borderline, as the report indicates, because it takes for granted that the little sheep’s wool is meant to serve human needs, when, as PETA contends, any human appropriation of animal products violates the animals’ inherent rights. However, the rhyme does not cross the problematic line into “poor” because the lyrics can be construed as trying to elicit the black sheep’s consent to part with its wool, which bespeaks an attitude much more in keeping with proper ethics, the report says.
“Humpty Dumpty” presents a more disturbing situation, in which “all the king’s horses” are clearly being exploited by “all the king’s men” to reach Humpty Dumpty in time to put him back together. But the rhyme was rated 3 and not 4 because, as the report explains, the verse can be construed as meaning that the horses voluntarily participate in attempting to reassemble Dumpty, but with society’s current set of assumptions that is not an obvious reading.
“Pop Goes the Weasel” has a misleading title that might lead to the assumption that a rodent is being mistreated, but in fact the poem received a score of 1, since, as many scholars suggest, the “weasel” in question is cockney rhyming slang for a non-animal object being pawned by a pauper. In the report PETA expressed dislike for the reference to an animal, but the offense was not egregious enough to warrant a demotion to 2.
In an unusual twist, “Hey Diddle Diddle,” despite its myriad references to animals, scored 1 in the report, as the animals in the poem clearly behave the way they do in the absence of human interference, and the rhyme implies that when unfettered by exploitative, abusive captivity, cats can train themselves to play violin, cows can develop aerospace technology, dogs develop a philosophical sense of wonder and inanimate objects mature to the point of recognizing that fundamental physical differences are no barrier to emotional intimacy.
However, the flagrant and brutal treatment that occurs in a number of other rhymes prompted PETA to question Mother Goose’s moral compass. “To Market, To Market” encourages the purchase, slaughter and consumption of swine; “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” endorses the enslavement of animals and, worse yet, implies that the creatures prefer it that way; “Itsy Bitsy Spider” finds nothing cruel about watching an arachnid get repeatedly washed away.
Even some selections without overt mistreatment were rated as unacceptable by the PETA report. The three men in a tub include a butcher, a cruel profession so beyond the pale that its mere mention earned the poem a rating of 4. And in “Hickory Dickory Dock,” the implied use of a human-constructed implement, a clock, to scare away mice was deemed a poor choice.
Newkirk also demanded that Mother Goose clarify at once why the apocryphal, eighteenth-century folk figure uses the name of a blameless bird. She concluded, “Anyone who doubts the speciesism rampant in Mother Goose’s works just has to take a gander at them.”
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Fairfax, Virginia (AP) – In response to the fatal shooting of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that had the students been allowed to carry a weapon, the murders could have been averted.
“A gun is an easy piece of equipment to use,” said LaPierre at a news conference at NRA headquarters. “A child as young as five can be properly trained to load and aim one. I’m not saying that arming the children would have necessarily prevented all the tragic deaths, but I know the gunman would have thought twice before entering a classroom of two dozen first-graders with upwards of 140 rounds of ammunition at their disposal.”
“And that’s just if you assume each one has a six-shooter,” he continued, referring to the standard revolver. The number of potential deterrent bullets could rise as high as 360, said LaPierre, if each first-grader were provided with a weapon holding a 15-round magazine. He said the NRA would soon be offering firearms purchasing and training programs in school districts throughout the country.
According to the evidence the police have pieced together so far, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the school building and went from classroom to classroom, shooting students and faculty before taking his own life. It was as yet unclear how the weapons, which Lanza had taken from his mother after killing her earlier, came into her possession. They were a semiautomatic rifle and two semiautomatic pistols.
The shootings underscored the deep divide in the US between supporters of strict gun control and advocates of expansive Second Amendment rights. It is but the latest in a gruesome series of mass murders by gunfire over the last few years, each one rekindling the debate over what makes American society safer: more guns in the hands of more people, the fact of which might deter would-be attackers, or tougher access across the board to the acquisition of any firearms, which would make criminal shootings less likely.
The NRA has lobbied vigorously for freer access to firearms by the broadest possible section of American society. Aside from deterring crime, they contend, the preservation of Second Amendment liberties safeguards other fundamental rights that the government might, under some circumstances, attempt to deny, as if such an attempt would not be backed by firepower and tactics far that would overwhelm, to the point of ludicrousness, anything even collective US gun owners could muster.
As for statistics demonstrating that a gun owner is more likely to be killed by his own weapon than by anyone else’s, the NRA recommends expanding the pool of gun ownership even further. “We’re all about gun safety,” said NRA President David Keene. “Anyone who accidentally shoots himself probably deserves it, and anyone who does so intentionally, well, that’s one fewer loose cannon to worry about, right?” Arming elementary school children, argues Keene, would enable the youngsters to experience the responsibility at a tender age, responsibility that would bring a maturity currently in short supply.
“Kids love top play cops and robbers, or some variation thereof,” continued Keene. “Allowing them to do so with actual firearms would drive home the point that these things are not toys, and that their use requires a seriousness that can only serve them well – in school, at work, wherever.”
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New York, December 8 (AP) – Gyrone, a four-year-old decorative dreidel, has become increasingly frustrated over the years with the ignorance displayed by anyone and everyone he encounters, and their short attention span.
“Nobody seems to have any idea what I’m all about, and their misapprehension of my purpose,” he lamented in a recent interview. “People seem to think I have some inherent connection to Hanukkah – and I have no idea how that happened.”
“I’m just a teetotum,” he added, wondering how anyone could confuse gambling with a celebration of divine wisdom as represented by light.
Dreidels are a specific type of teetotum, a polygon-shaped spinning top used in games of chance. Teetotums are marked with the outcome on each face, indicating what action should be taken as a result of the spin. On the dreidel, a four-sided teetotum, the markings use Hebrew letters that stand for Yiddish instructions: nothing, take the whole pot, take half the pot or add to the pot.
“I wish I knew whom to blame for this,” Gyrone continued, “but no one seems to know who first took those letters and said they really stand for ‘A great miracle happened there’ in Hebrew. Whoever it was, I’d like to throttle him. If I had arms, anyway,” he added ruefully. The miracle to which he referred was of oil that miraculously burned for eight nights when only enough uncontaminated olive oil could be found for one night, according to the Talmud, after the Jews rose up against the Seleucid oppressors and reclaimed the Temple.
“To make things worse,” continued Gyrone, his tone rising, “then some fool in Israel decided to put a local spin on it: since the miracle happened there, the dreidels used in Israel should use the initial for the Hebrew word ‘here’, and a bastardized teetotum was born.”
The connection with Hanukkah might be attributed to Jewish legends about religious persecution at the hands of the Seleucid rulers of the second century BCE. Those tales recount bans on various elements of Jewish practice, including the study of Torah, and how Jews would circumvent the prohibitions by having children play games to divert the Hellenistic authorities and their informers from the true goings-on. It is unclear when, but at some later point the game of dreidel was specifically mentioned in that context, even though nothing specific about the games is part of the original legend.
For most Jewish families, the game of dreidel loses its novelty after about four minutes; the average life span of a typical plastic or wooden dreidel is between two and seven days, as the cheap toys are ignored, neglected, lost, disposed of or chewed up by the family dog. Decorative dreidels are luckier in that respect, though seldom used, according to Zvi Vohn, Professor of Jewish culture at Columbia University. “There’s an appalling lack of imagination when it comes to the game of dreidel as it’s typically played,” he explained. “Pennies? Chocolate coins? No wonder people get bored. Heck, one of the reasons my brother married a shiksa is that he couldn’t stand the boredom of dreidel.”
“We Jews are a creative bunch. I’m sure there’s some way we can give this classic game a clever twist.”
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