Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Trick or Treat

Something’s been bugging me about Halloween. See, around here kids are supposed to tell a joke to get their candy (doing a little dance is an acceptable alternative; one of my favorites was the moonwalking girl).

Constipation jokes were popular this year. (What did the constipated hot dog say?) And there were a few Cubs-related gems that were very much appreciated by the recovering Cub fan that lives in our house.

But one joke bugged me then and bugs me still. More specifically, it’s my reaction to it that bugs me.

Middle-school-age Kid: “What’s the difference between a pencil and a girl’s argument?”
Me (frowning): “What.”
Kid: “A pencil has a point.”

How did I react? Did I yell at him, tell him to get off my porch? Say “No candy for you!” in my best Soup Nazi voice? Say, “No sexist jokes on my street, get outta here.” Alas, my confrontation-avoiding self frowned some more and tossed the twerp a Tootsie Roll and shut the door.

WhyTF didn't I tell him off or at least give him a lecture about how his joke is sexist and awful and he better think of a new one. Or something. I guess next year I need to have a script prepared. There are few feelings more disappointing then knowing you should have said something and didn't.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Basic Freedoms

It seems that there have been a proliferation of stories lately about about busy-bodies calling the cops on unsupervised children. These are school-age kids whose parents are letting them play out in the open without a caregiver in arms reach.

There's a mom who was arrested after letting her 7-year-old walk to the park. Another was arrested for leaving her kids in a park while she waited in line at the food bank. Hitting close to home is this story about our old elementary school in California, where a kid the same age as our oldest is hassled by police while walking home. And perhaps most well-know, the mom who left her kid at a busy playground while she worked a shift at McDonalds and was arrested. (Sign a petition urging that the charges be dropped here.)

This concerns me greatly for three reasons: one, it furthers the trend towards postponing independence later and later; kids won't be able to control themselves or make any kind of decision for themselves without being able to perform basic tasks on their own.

Second, it's putting the focus on "stranger danger," when in fact kids are much, much more likely to be abused or kidnapped by people they know. (Here's some advice on talking with kids about a legitimate danger.)

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it's allowing the most nervous and nannyish among us to decide how the rest of us should parent. Soon people will be calling the cops if they see a pregnant lady with a diet coke. It will be illegal to put your kid in a front-facing carseat before they're four.

Interestingly, the pro-lockdown people and those on the side of free-range kids don't fall neatly into red/blue camps. So that's refreshing. But then there's this frightening poll that shows that more than two thirds of American think parents who let kids 9 and under play in a park unsupervised should be arrested, and almost half think that should apply for kids under 12.

According to the Polly Klass Foundation, fewer than 1% of child abductions are committed by strangers. And crime has been going down consistently for 30-40 years. It seems people believe the world is somehow less safe than when they were kids and wandered around unsupervised for hours at a time. Much of what I've read and heard blames this on the "24-hour news cycle" and over emphasis on the kinds of crimes those in favor of child lockdown hope to protect kids from. If that's the case, this may be the most depressing legacy of CNN, local TV "news" broadcasting and the demand for insta-news.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Weather fluctuates
95 to 65
Fall? Probably not.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Stars wrestling with
Sequoia tops for notice.
There--a streak. Good night.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Walls of granite rise
live history museum
Of Donner Lake

Friday, August 29, 2014

Granite bowl. Soaring
cliffs. Magic under water.
If only it flowed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spires of granite
Rocky ridges along tree lined cliffs
Mountain air cleanses