ABOUT ME

About me: My husband Chuck, our six-year-old Junior, our three-year-old Everette and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.

Monday, October 15, 2012

As a parent you should always be afraid. Of everything. Especially couches. And whisks. And throw pillows. And windchimes. I said everything, didn't I?!

I've really enjoyed reading Parents magazine over the years. When I first had Junior, I giddily raced out and bought an issue; yes, tell me everything I need to know about #2 nipples and cutting sandwiches into fun, cool shapes! Please.

Lately, however, I have begun swearing at the magazine. It's because of their monthly column, "True story." If you're not familiar with the column, it details horrific, "real-life" injuries sustained by poor, innocent children at the hands of their parents.

Like this poor kid below, maimed by a coat hanger:



If only the sweet girl's mother hadn't had the poor judgement to buy clothing that needed to be hung up, this senseless tragedy could have been avoided.

And this sad little cowboy (the column used to be called "It happened to me"—insert demonic mwahahahahaha cackle):



If only the boy's mother had put down the crack pipe—I mean, battery-powered toy—and decided to switch to wooden toys, this child's suffering could have been prevented.

Every month it's a similar tale. Children come close to losing fingers because of stray hairs (!). Coffee grinds that should have been thrown away (!) end up in shoes and cause disfiguring bunions. Salt and pepper shakers that should have been glued down to the table (!) end up stuck in eardrums, rupturing them and causing the worst case of deafness known to mankind.

There's this pervasive sense that "If only I'd seen the danger in that [insert harmless everyday object] little Billy wouldn't have to limp to school. Learn from my example...before it's too late."

But you can't learn from examples that aren't realistically preventable. You don't have 10,000,000 eyes in the back of your head, ergo you can't be sure that even though you bolted your plastic hangers to the coat rack, someone else didn't come along and accidentally yank one off and forget about it on the floor.

For Pete's sake, the damn dog could have bumped the rack and undone all your hyper-vigilant handy work.

And for fuck's sake, do you really have the mental stamina to be sure your child isn't sitting beneath you every time you unscrew the battery casing on your children's toys?

I've written about the fear mongering before (yah, I hated the Superbowl suggestion) and I'll continue to do so. We have to stop believing that we can prevent bad things from happening to our kids if only we watched them more, or put them in rubber suits, or thought ahead more, or planned more, or glued things down more.

Features like "True story" perpetuate paranoia and guilt. Yes, accidents happen and when they do you'll feel bad and wish you could make it all better, but columns like this turn everyday objects and tasks into worst case scenarios. They make you look at the coat hangers in your closet and think, This could kill someone!

And here we thought wire hangers were bad.

Not anymore, apparently.

12 comments:

SmartBear said...

Okay...I love this so much. Because most gals who know me tend to find it crazy how laid back I am about this kind of shit. And that's because the women in my family like to tell horror stories. TO THIS VERY DAY not one of the 20 something grandchildren has had a baby sleeper with footie pajamas. NOT ONE. My grandmother scared the crap out of all 5 of her kids and our footies were all cut off. Why? Because one day as she was watching me when I was an infant I wouldn't stop screaming. She finally got so desperate she peeled my hot, sweating screaming body out of the footie pajamas to see what the hell was wrong. There was a HAIR wrapped around my little toe and the toe was purple. Now to ask her, this hair was amputating my toe. It was close to falling off. She managed to save my toe, and when my mom came home, she found all of my footie pajamas had the feet cut off.
This is the power of fear, sister. An entire family of COLD BABY FEET!
Best,
Tina

Patty Woodland said...

Unless you wrap kids in bubble wrap and store them n a closet which leads to its own issues, you can't save them from everything

DysFUNctional Mom said...

THIS is why so many of us suffer from anxiety. It's absurd!

Catootes said...

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
There will always be ways kids get injured. Yes as parents we should be cautious to keep the most obvious issues safe, but holy smokes have so many people gone fucknut bonkers over ubersafety and caution.

S said...

This is why I make my house out like the most dangerous obstacle course imaginable. Shards of glass, steak knives, and definitely battery-operated toys. (Killer robot toys, of course.)

My kids will learn. Oh, how they will learn.

(Too far? Possibly. But I'm with you all the way on this one.)

Magpie said...

Oy. Shall we talk about anti microbial stuff now? Oy.

BNM said...

I should let my husband read this! Today our 8 month old pulled the kitchen table chair down on top of him. How did that happen? Well I mopped the floors and placed the chairs on top of the table. Somehow or another he managed to army crawl into the kitchen and in a split second pulled that chair down (I still dont know how he reached it). My husband went complete rant mode and almost killed the chair in the process... He was so mad at me for putting the chair on top of the table ya know because I totally saw that happening in my head and left it up there on purpose... UGH! accidents happen!

Leanne said...

Accidents DO happen and they happen to good parents. I'm with you, there's enough mother guilt around and no matter how much bubble wrap we put around our kids they're still going to find something to kill or maim themselves with... Enough with the scare columns!!

Twisted Cinderella said...

This is just too true. We can't bubble wrap the whole world and put our kids in a balloon and keep them safe. Things are going to happen. When one of my daughters was 22 days old, I came in the house and put her infant carrier on the table while I took off my coat. The LEG BROKE OFF the table!!! The table I had for years that wasn't even wobbly just snapped a leg for no apparent reason. I felt awful. I sobbed the entire way to the emergency room (she was perfectly fine. Not even a bruise. You can't know stuff is going to happen. It does no good to beat ourselves up over it.

Caroline said...

I love this! I can't stand that Parents rag and that feature is the worst!

One of my friends got me a subscription when I was pregnant with my first and I stupidly renewed. It has gotten worse lately with the fear-mongering. Did you read the article about the little girl whose intestines were sucked out by the pool drain? It gave me nightmares for weeks b/c the article described in graphic detail the horrible, painful experiences and eventual death of the child. They were having a violence-gasm at Parents that month and it really disturbed me. I can't imagine the horror of losing one's child, especially that way, but I was astonished that the girl's family allowed every detail of her death to be published in such a ghoulish manner. That's when I started hating Parents. Now my feelings about the magazine are best expressed by my favorite snarky pin: "You know when you hate someone and everything they do becomes offensive? Look at that bitch eating crackers over there like she owns the place." They can do no right with me now.

Btw, if you aren't already aware of Free Range Kids, you should check out the blog. Lenore dislikes fear-mongering as much as you do.

Caroline said...

I love this! I can't stand that Parents rag and that feature is the worst!

One of my friends got me a subscription when I was pregnant with my first and I stupidly renewed. It has gotten worse lately with the fear-mongering. Did you read the article about the little girl whose intestines were sucked out by the pool drain? It gave me nightmares for weeks b/c the article described in graphic detail the horrible, painful experiences and eventual death of the child. They were having a violence-gasm at Parents that month and it really disturbed me. I can't imagine the horror of losing one's child, especially that way, but I was astonished that the girl's family allowed every detail of her death to be published in such a ghoulish manner. That's when I started hating Parents. Now my feelings about the magazine are best expressed by my favorite snarky pin: "You know when you hate someone and everything they do becomes offensive? Look at that bitch eating crackers over there like she owns the place." They can do no right with me now.

Btw, if you aren't already aware of Free Range Kids, you should check out the blog. Lenore dislikes fear-mongering as much as you do.

Janatude said...

I'm with you. I can't stand this kind of stuff, which is why I am really choosy about the parenting stuff I read lately. Which means, I read almost nothing.