Posts Tagged ‘parenting’
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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Cambridge, MA (AP) – Researchers at Harvard have found what they consider convincing proof that it is just fine for complete strangers to make unsolicited contact with the protruding midsection of a pregnant woman.
In a paper to be published next month in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of physicians presents the evidence in favor of people you don’t know from Adam up and touching your pregnant belly. “It’s a life-affirming experience to encounter a mother-to-be, and the healthiest possible reaction is to invade the personal space of that mother,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Leonard Asperger. “Such women have already had several months to adapt to the notion that their bodies are not exclusively their own, and having complete strangers give them an appreciative pat or stroke is just the thing to bring everyone together in a warm moment.”
The study, which observed the social effects of 1,023 visibly pregnant women over the course of six years, cataloged over 4,000 individual incidences of stranger-belly contact. It found that invariably, the mood in the immediate vicinity of the contact improved, as indicated by the number of smiles and the increased heart rate of the pregnant woman. If the contact persisted more than a second or two, the cardiovascular benefits to the pregnant mother were even more in evidence, and if the mother’s romantic partner or sibling was present, those benefits extended even to them.
“The adrenalin increase associated with the touch of the stranger has myriad positive health benefits. The increased pulse can often help during gravidity, when many women experience drops in blood pressure,” the study says. “A consistent regimen of being in an environment where strangers feel welcome to touch the protruding abdomen can help in reducing the need for medication to combat the hypotension.”
According to the researchers, such locales include, but are not limited to, train stations, bus stops, waiting rooms, supermarket aisles and Park Slope, Brooklyn. They observed that the demographic most likely to touch a pregnant stranger’s belly was people over the age of 50. Approximately the same percentage of men and women could be counted on to engage in such impromptu contact.
Asperger intends to follow up the study with an investigation into the positive impact generated when strangers offer unsolicited criticism or advice regarding someone else’s parenting.
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Seattle, WA (AP) – The Association of American Body Piercing, a trade group, is warning its members to expect a slowdown in demand in the coming years as American youth run out of body parts in which to make holes.
Citing statistics that point to the emerging trend, the association sent a notice to its 24,000 member practitioners that discussed the challenges soon to confront the industry as fewer and fewer American youngsters have available areas of epithelial tissue through which to stick a metal stud or other adornment. Though many piercing experts expected continued growth ever since the emergence of the punk scene decades ago, it appears that the industry has increasingly depended on repeat business from goths, misfits and just plain weirdos.
“We should have seen years ago that our business model was unsustainable,” said Loeb Needler, a tattoo and piercing parlor owner in Spokane. “But we kept looking at the total numbers, not once looking at the fact that we’ve been piercing the same people over and over again, and they’re running out of places to stick a new accessory.”
Perversely, according to the association notice, although more and more American youths are overweight or even obese, which should reflect vastly increased potential areas for piercings, the increasing prevalence of the overweight among American youth has a depressing effect on the piercing industry. Heavier people tend to be more sedentary, and thus are less likely to pay an impulse visit to a piercing studio. Also, the increased fleshiness of American youth means plentiful folds that wind up concealing or obscuring desirable piercing locations. That fleshiness both makes infection more likely and eliminates the aesthetic or social value, if any, of the piercing.
Another factor is the greater and greater reliance among American youth on social interactions in the online realm, where one can easily Photoshop as many piercings into once image as desired, but without the headache of actually undergoing what might be a permanent alteration.
Needler is not completely convinced, however, that the industry faces a mortal threat. “There have to be other people out there who aren’t obese,” he contends. “I mean, if American kids are so damn fat, who’s buying all the skinny jeans?”
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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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Ann Arbor, MI (AP) – Fast-food giant Domino’s Pizza, confronted with anemic sales of its new pizza suppositories, has put further marketing efforts for the product on hold, according to a statement from the company’s corporate headquarters.
Following a lengthy promotional campaign, the Italian food chain finally released its line of “Up Yours” pizza suppositories, hoping to tap into the growing need for ever-more-efficient food delivery in a busy era. With Up Yours, Domino’s hoped to appeal to rushed parents and hurried workers who lack the time to properly ingest and digest even typical fast food. Its “Taste is waste” slogan leveraged the company’s reputation for providing a less-than-stellar culinary experience; a 2009 survey of consumer taste preferences among national chains by Brand Keys, Domino’s tied with Chuck E. Cheese’s for last place.
The advertising push followed an intensive program to get buy-in from the chain’s more than 5,000 franchise holders, but that stage of the program took several months longer than expected because headquarters found it difficult to convince the franchisees to get behind the initiative, according to Seymour Butz, an analyst at Sphincter Industries who studies the fast food industry.
“The franchisees were worried about bottlenecks in supply and production,” said Butz, who also noted that trial runs of that production exposed lax adherence to quality standards. Although the company addressed those concerns, problems continued to emerge even as the release date approached.
Domino’s was forced to push back the start of the promotional campaign to fix those emerging issues, and the executives were apparently satisfied that they had managed to wipe away the sticky problems by softening its position on franchisee contribution. Advertising began in January, and the first Up Yours suppositories were offered in Kansas, Texas and Arkansas. Hopeful initial data from the “In Testin’” phase prompted the further roll-out of the products up and down the eastern seaboard and Illinois.
But sales logs, initially positive, proved disappointing, and continued to contract through the spring and summer, skidding almost entirely to a halt by August. The board pinned its hopes on the September “Backside to School” advertising blitz, aiming to appeal to more regular customers, but decided that if October sales showed no major improvement they would be forced to cancel production. Despite an $18 million investment in equipment, materials and marketing, the company’s bottom line has suffered, limiting Domino’s to a second-quarter profit only slightly higher than the same period last year.
Hopes had been high until then, as a program in the same spirit by a different fast food player had shown its potential. In 2009 White Castle announced that it was “eliminating the middle man” by liquefying its burgers and spraying them directly on the insides of toilet bowls. White Castle sales figures had not appreciably suffered as a result, and Domino’s executives apparently felt that their marketing acumen could make such an approach profitable.
This is not the first abortive Domino’s marketing program. In 1992 and 1993, high-profile lawsuits charged the company with recklessness in guaranteeing home delivery within 30 minutes of an order’s placement; two fatalities had resulted from Domino’s delivery men’s driving. Of particular interest to the plaintiff was a provision calling for the public beheading of drivers who failed to reach their destinations within the allotted time. The company settled both cases, but agreed to eliminate the punitive measures for late deliveries, which had garnered initial popularity and a contract to televise the beheadings.
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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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