Posts Tagged ‘choices’

Facebook Likes Are Not A Measure of Value

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

A heartwarming story came across my Facebook page this week, about some kids whose dad told them if they got 1 million likes on their Facebook photo they could have a new puppy. They got their likes in about 7 hours and their dad has promised to keep his word and get them a (rescue) puppy.

Adorable kids + puppies = internet gold, right? It takes less than a second to click the little up-thumb and now – thanks to Facebook’s news ticker – all your friends can immediately see and join in. Then we can all pat ourselves on the back for doing something nice today.

Here is the part of the post where I turn into the a Puppy Hating Grinch who probably enjoys seeing kids cry: I think asking for attention on Facebook is a stupid – if not downright dangerous – lesson to teach children.

Why didn’t the father ask his children to save their allowance money to cover the adoption costs of a puppy? Or make a sticker chart for responsible behavior and once they had filled it the dog could be their reward? I’d even have less of a problem with simply waiting for a special occasion – a birthday perhaps – and surprising the kids with a trip to the shelter to bring home a puppy. The lesson learned could be about responsibility and delayed gratification and doing nice things for those we love – all important factors in dog ownership.

Instead, the lesson these kids learned is that the attention of a million strangers is valuable and that being Facebook famous is something to strive for. In a society where “internet famous” is mostly a negative thing – anyone remember when Tila Tequila was just someone with a ton of MySpace friends? – why would you encourage your kids to focus on that kind of popularity? I have no problem with anyone, adult or child, wanting to be well known for a legitimate reason. Fame in itself isn’t negative. It’s the “Look at me! Look at me!” attitude of Facebook fame that I take issue with. Get Facebook likes for being clever or original or an amazing artist or rescuing a three-legged puppy from a shelter and naming him Tripod.

I sincerely hope those kids get a new puppy and love it enormously. I’m sure this is nothing more than a fun anecdote they’ll tell someday when they get together for holidays (“Hey, remember the time we were on Good Morning America??”) I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with being liked. But I do think rewarding kids for the attention of strangers is a mistake. Let’s reward our kids for kindness, responsibility, patience,  wise choices and not running with sharp objects instead.

Parking Lot Police

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Yesterday morning at Target I had an experience that left me feeling alternately overwhelming guilt and extreme anger (neither of which seems warranted but I’m really tired and overly emotional right now).

The kids and I haven’t left the house since last Thursday and if it was up to me we probably wouldn’t leave again until it’s consistently above 70 degrees, but a lack of cold medicine and Goldfish drove us from our cave and out into the world. And by world I mean Target. We actually did pretty well getting ready and packing up to go so it was early when we got to the store.

Now, with one child, my standard method of getting said child into a store was to park as close to a cart return as possible, toss my bag over one shoulder and carry the child to one of the carts in the return. Then I don’t have to worry about anyone running away or distracting me in a Dangerous Parking Lot Situation and we roll right into the store. The problem is with TWO children – especially when one weighs upwards of 30 lbs and the other is sleeping in a bucket seat – is I cannot carry them both safely at the same time. It is possible but not easy and not something I like to do, especially with the toddler in his current state of extreme defiance. I just don’t trust him not to thrash out of my arm when I’ve only got one to hold him with. So what I try to do when I have both kids with me is park directly next to the cart return (even if it means parking super far away from the store)(I actually prefer far away because then no one parks so close to your doors you can barely fit in the space to get the kids into the seats), lock the car, grab a cart and bring it back to the car to load the kids one at a time. I’ve always felt very comfortable with this situation, because my proximity to the car at all times means even in the extremely unlikely circumstance that I were to suddenly – KNOCK ON WOOD – drop dead while the kids were locked in the car, someone would notice them.

Unfortunately, because it was still really early and I was at the Target Less Traveled (you should be so lucky – brand new gorgeous store, almost always empty) there were only 2 carts in the entire parking lot and both were in a cart return in the only row full of cars. I drove around for a minute, hoping I could stalk someone out of the store to their car and grab a cart from them but no one came out. So I decided to pull through a spot one row over from the return. That way although I would have to trek across a row of cars to GET a cart, I’d only have to cross the lane of traffic to put it back.

So I park the car, turn around to tell Little Evan I’ll be “one minute”, which he repeats back and holds up one finger, and get out of the car. At that exact moment, cars pull into spots near mine. The guy in the truck on one side smiles and heads towards the store. No one gets out of the minivan on the other side. It isn’t until 5 seconds later when I’m on my way back with the cart, being extra-super-careful not to ding anyone’s car on my way through the row that I can see two women in their van making dramatic motions and pointing towards my van, where you can clearly see Little Evan sitting in his seat drinking his milk. I get back to the car and press the “unlock” button as dramatically and obviously as possible, wrestle the toddler then the infant seat into the cart and start towards Target. Only THEN do the women get out of the van.

After picking up all the essentials – cough drops, graham crackers, tiny pink cowboy boots – I successfully navigate checkout without accidentally stealing anything or letting the toddler fall out of the cart and head to the car. I open the right door with the remote, lock the (still sound asleep) baby’s bucket into the base, drop my bags under her seat, and close that door. I roll the cart around to the other side, wrestle the toddler into his car seat, put my diaper bag under his seat and close THAT door. Now I have an empty cart and two kids secured in their seats, so I press the lock button, dash across the lane of traffic and shove the cart into the (still empty) cart return.

As I get back into the car, I look to my left and notice those two women are sitting in their van, just watching me with their judgy, judgy faces.

I can’t prove they were waiting for me to come out and they never said a word while we were in the store together, although I passed them several times, but I would bet a MILLION DOLLARS the conversation they had when they pulled into the parking lot was whether to call the police and report children left in a car. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wrote down my license plate.

Or, hey, maybe I’m just being paranoid! Maybe they were waiting to see if I needed help! They’re just Concerned Citizens and they want to watch out For The Children! Such As.

So here’s the thing: Am I doing this wrong? Is leaving my kids in the car for less than 30 seconds at any given time worth the looks of scorn and horror these women were sending me? Trust me, I am VERY AWARE of the dangers of leaving your kid in the car but…I don’t think that’s what I’m doing here. I would bet the number of children hit by cars in parking lots is a lot higher than the number of children who are kidnapped while their mother grabs a cart. Even if you add in children who were left in a car for up to 5 minutes while their mom runs into a convenience store to pay for gas or buy some milk I think “hit by car in parking lot” would be significantly higher. I am making what feels like the safer choice in a situation that doesn’t really have a better option – at least until Target gets valet parking.

What say you?

Video Killed the Creative Free Playing Imagination Star

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Baby Evan is finally at the age where he’s starting to notice the television and it is making me a very sad panda. With a list of reasons kids shouldn’t watch tv as long as my arm and the revelation that even Baby Einstein is more like Baby Paris Hilton I fear it may be time to kick my viewing addiction habit. Or at least cut back. A little. Maybe.

If I was the kind of parent I feel like I SHOULD be, we would pack up this 60-inch monstrosity dominating our family room right now and I would spend my days listening to classical music while reading Voltaire (in the original French) aloud while Baby Evan recites his Latin verbs and colors inside the lines of his Art of the Masters coloring book. But first I need to find out what happened on Glee. And who wins Top Chef. And whether or not Tyra’s models will ever learn to smile with their eyes. And if this guy spins $1.00 on the big wheel. And if Chandler and Monica ever get married. Ok I know that last one but all those Friends reruns aren’t going to watch themselves.

We’re never going to be a tv-free family and I’m comfortable with that decision. I’m not using the tv as a babysitter for my 8 month old. I’m not relying on Dora or the Teletubbies or Barney to teach him the alphabet. I just need to find a balance between using television as a constant background noise to keep me from feeling isolated during the day and making sure Baby Evan’s first words aren’t “THIS….is American Idol!”

Mommy Boxes

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I’ve been feeling sort of out of place recently – both on the internets (where, let’s face it, I spend most of my time) and in real life – when it comes to where I fit in as a mother. I’m not afraid of being a bad mother or a neglectful mother or a lazy mother. I’m comfortable with my choices and don’t feel guilty for making them. I’m worried I’m going to be a lonely, friendless mother because it is hard to maintain friendships with people who disagree with your parenting decisions, no matter how well you get along.

On the one hand, I’m a breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping attachment parent. I feel very strongly about breastfeeding and end up talking about it a lot, mostly because it’s hard not to talk about something you do 12 times a day. Other things I believe in: making my own baby food, feeding on demand (even at 2 am. And 3 am. And 4 am), sharing a bed (or bedroom) with my baby and carrying Baby Evan more often than not.  In general, my view of parenting is that kids weren’t meant to be easy and if raising an independent, well-adjusted child means I don’t get to wear non-nursing clothes or see a movie in a theater or get eight hours sleep for a year or two (or eighteen), I’m OK with that.

But on the other hand, I loved my hospital birth, complete with epidural and pitocin. Really, I loved it. We chose to circumcise Baby Evan. I’ve followed a standard vaccination schedule so far (I can’t resist linking this article on the importance of herd immunity my friend Lareign posted on Twitter). We don’t cloth diaper, although if someone wanted to offer me a lifetime supply of BumGeniuses and a diaper service I’d certainly make the switch. And the moms who agree with everything in my first paragraph are absolutely totally anti-EVERYTHING I JUST SAID in my second paragraph. To them, those decisions are all risky and uneducated. I’m clearly blinded by Big Medicine and Big Pharma and hate fresh air, trees and puppies. My child will get autism, penis cancer, mercury poisoning, male pattern baldness, early onset puberty, and incurable diaper rash and it will be all. my. fault.

I think the key to mommy friendships is to not comment on anyone else’s parenting. And “not comment” doesn’t mean not saying anything to someone’s face but loudly ranting about the dangers of cesarean sections within earshot of someone you know had one. Or “not comment” by saying “Oh I would NEVER…” Or “not comment” with my biggest, hugest pet peeve smack-down, “Just educate yourself on all the facts and then make a decision.” No one ever uses that phrase unless what they really mean is YOU’RE DOIN’ IT WRONG AND SUCK AT PARENTING AND HAVE UGLY HAIR TOO. “Not comment” means seriously don’t talk about stuff you know is going to lead to someone being uncomfortable and stick to safe topics like trying to remember the last movie you saw in a theater or how annoying it is that all little boy clothes have footballs on them. And I can do that for about 20 minutes. But then I start talking about how exhausted I am since the baby started rolling and kicking me in bed and the co-sleeping comes up and then suddenly the conversation is back to sleep training and feeding on demand and boobs and oh look this isn’t a beach it’s a minefield.

I just wish there was a place where I could meet other moms with my half one kind, half the other parenting approach. It could be the “I vaccinate my breastfed baby who wears Pampers but doesn’t use a bottle” club. Maybe we should get lapel pins. Or a secret handshake.