Archive for August, 2011

Dead Squirrel Parenting

Little Girl Dead Squirrel

I am, without a doubt, a high-test parent. When my first-born was an infant, I had somehow missed the memo that breast-fed babies were protected by their mother’s immunity. So, the first two years of my daughter’s life were literally swathed with an advance-guard of Purell. It was like a parting of the Red Sea, only opposite. In my daughter’s case, wherever she was set down, or happened to crawl, a splooge of Purell was slathered in front of her. My parents joked that they should have bought stock in Purell prior to my daughter’s birth, but it was only a half point of humor… I think part of them really regretted the chance to make some money!

After my son was born, my germophobic standards dropped, thank goodness. By this point I’d learned about the protective properties of breast milk and, honestly, I was simply worn out from being wound tight all the time. I’d known all along that my perspective would change with the second baby. After all, it’s easy to view someone else’s toddler as a snot-infested disease machine that’s trying to slop wet kisses on your newborn’s forehead, but when it’s your own boogery kid giving super squeezes on their little brother’s face… you just see them differently.

Now I’m pregnant with #3. I wonder how much I will get to let go of this time. Hopefully, a lot. It’s nice to let go sometimes and just see what happens. I wonder how much I’m damaging my children’s fragile sense of self mastery and ability every time I grab their hand to prevent them from exploring something less than sanitary, or lurch in front of them to prevent a minor fall that ultimately could help them learn about gravity.

I watched a YouTube video a few weeks ago that I keep reflecting on. It pops to mind every time I want to yank my son away from a gicky looking puddle, or tell my daughter to keep her shoes on in the sandbox. The video truly can only speak for itself, so in all it’s glory, here’s the “Little Girl, Dead Squirrel” video.

Look how cool and calm those parents are! Mortified, sure, but that girl is simply joyous. Plus, really, what’s the harm? The animal just died – it’s not like they found some festering piece of road kill and decided to let their daughter lick it like a lollipop.

When I write about lowering my standards, and point to this video as an example, I mean it as the highest compliment. Instead of swathing the world with Purell or gasping at every near-fall, clutching the dashboard of life (I can still see my mother’s snow-white knuckles gripped solidly to the dash of our Chevy station wagon as I learned to drive), how about I relax a little and learn to let go? After all, it’s one of the best ways to let my kids learn so they can be prepared for the real world on their own.

Airport Seats

Most airport seats are not this clean.

For now, when I catch myself wanting to seize my children and yank them from false harms, I remember this video and smile. There are other low water-marks of childhood sanitation to reflect on as well. Like the time when I was traveling with my 18 month old daughter alone. Airports, airplanes and hospitals are by far the skeeviest germ places for me, where my hackles are constantly raised and my hand keeps a tight grip on the Purell bottle in my pocket. While standing in line to board a flight, my daughter broke away from me, sauntered to the nearest row of chairs and proceeded to slowly drag her tongue across three of the seats, all the while eyeballing me in a challenge to see who would break first. I held firm and didn’t flinch, knowing that if I leapt at her she would think it the funniest thing and surely make this part of her airport repertoire.

Flamingo Exhibit San Francisco Zoo

Flamingo Exhibit San Francisco Zoo

And then there’s the story my neighbor told me of the time when she caught one of her twin boys licking the snot-glazed glass wall in front of the San Francisco Zoo’s flamingo exhibit. For those who’ve never been, zoos are (A) inherently filthy and stinky and (B) the flamingo exhibit at the SF Zoo is set conveniently next to the food area, so every child who visits the zoo has the chance to smear their snack-strewn fingers all over the glass, much less sneeze on it.

Finally, there’s the swell little story I read today about the adventures of a dad taking his three year old for a  grand poop in a filthy men’s restroom. The article is aptly named “Aiming Low, the Bowels of Hell.”

Rather than making my germophobia worse, these stories liberate me to get reasonable and ask myself, truly, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Aaah yes, this is the message I want to send our daughters. Reminds me of the “Polite as a Princess” book… only so much worse.

JC Penney CEO Mike Ullman is too pretty to do homework

JC Penney CEO Mike Ullman is too pretty to do homework

JC Penney is selling a jersey shirt that reads “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” The description reads “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.” I suspect that the item will be yanked from the site within hours***, as news of the offensive shirt is hopping across the internet – mostly thanks to a great catch by Pigtail PalsMelissa Wardy. The sweatshirt, which comes in sizes 7-16, is on sale for only $9.99, so if you act now, you too can own this fabulous piece of evidence of culturally condoned misogyny.

***as of 9:08 AM, 8/31/11, the shirt was no longer showing up for sale on the US version of the site. It was still available in the UK and Ireland and probably elsewhere.

Where JC Penney can shove that "I'm too pretty for homework" shirt.

JC Penney can shove it.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to let JC Penney know where it’s at and where they can shove this shirt (see example above), feel free to call 972-431-8200 to speak to a person at  JC Penney’s “Customer Concerns” line. When I called at 8:21 AM PST on 8/31/11, the woman I spoke to stated that the company was aware of the issue with the shirt and was preparing to pull it down off the site. If you’d like to go further up the food chain, I’m encourage you to drop a line on over to CEO and Chairman of the Board Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III. I called the corporate headquarters and asked for Mike Ullman. I was put through to the customer concerns line again, but I know that the company has now gotten two calls at two different lines to voice my issue. Mike, who has four sons and two daughters and whose significant work with Mercy Ships should make him far more culturally aware than this serious misstep by his company indicates, can be found at:

Mike Ullman, III
Chief Executive Officer
J.C. Penney, Inc.
6501 Legacy Drive
Plano, TX 54024

(972) 431-1000

I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me

I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me

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