Archive for the 'I weep for the future' Category

Halloween. It’s dangerous too!

October 19, 2009

I came across an article from Single Minded Women about Halloween safety for kids.  Maybe I’m just nostalgic or maybe I’m careless, but I thought most of the tips were a reaction from media fed paranoia about our kids’ safety.  One of my favourite memories from Halloween inovles going into a stranger’s house with my bestfriend.  We were in grade 9 and weren’t trick or treating, just walking around in costume having fun.  We were both dressed as Charlie Chaplin and someone thought it was really creative and funny.  He called us over and asked us if he could take our picture.  So we stepped into his house and he took a couple of pictures of us and then we left and went on our merry way.  I often wonder if that man still has those pictures. Weigh in on whether or not you think this was dangerous.  If I found out that any of my kids went into the house of  someone they didn’t know so he could take a couple of pictures of them in a costume on Halloween, why I’d… laugh.

Here are the tips from Single Minded Women’s article and my commentary because it’s my blog and you want to know what I think.  Yep.  You do. Because you’re awesome. 😉

1.) Select a safe and bright costume. Make sure your child’s costume (including beards, masks and wigs) is clearly marked as flame resistant or look for flame resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester. If the costume does not have any reflective fabric, add your own reflective tape on the back and front. Avoid billowing or long trailing features, especially those made of lightweight fabrics or materials. Your child should wear well-fitting shoes to prevent trips and falls. Costume accessories, including swords and knives, should be soft and flexible.

Completely reasonable advise for the most part here.  I like the flame resistant suggestion.  No snark there, I really do.  Halloween is a time when kids are likely to come across dozens of candles. It’s not something I would sweat over if I couldn’t find a flame resistant costume, but it doesn’t hurt to try to find one.  Well fitting shoes, well are we really that stupid that we need someone to tell us that our kids should be in comfrotable shoes?  The bit about soft accessories is way over the top, though.  Why should they be soft?  If a kid is going as a hockey player, does that mean a foam hockey stick? I’m not suggesting giving a seven year old a real sword, but surely a plastic one can’t be categorized as dangerous.

2.) Masks can obstruct children’s vision and restrict breathing. Consider make-up instead, checking all labels to ensure that it is non-toxic. If children do wear a mask, make sure they can see and breathe easily.

Remember those plastic masks that had those eye holes and the tiny little slit to breathe through?  Guess how many kids died as a result of not being able to breathe in one of those.  None.   Not being able to see, of course, is a bigger problem but kids are still able to, you know, take off the mask to cross the street.  Like we did as kids.  I wore mine only while walking up to the house to get my goodies.  Then it was slipped up over my head while I walked because those things were stuffy.  But, instead of teaching kids how to look out for cars or to take off the mask while crossing the street, it’s better just to not buy a mask of course. (Do they even make those anymore?  I was Yoda once.)

And seriously, who makes toxic makeup!?!  And who eats makeup?  Shouldn’t the masks be non-toxic too, just in case a kid takes a nibble?

3.) Do not let children under age 12 go trick-or-treating or cross the street without the supervision of an adult on Halloween night. For guidance and safety’s sake, accompany younger children to the door of every house they visit.

This gets the big ‘ol WTF! from me.  Yes, please make sure you go up to each door with your 11 year old.  Don’t forget to always hover no more than two feet behind him, too.  And, for the love of all things holy, don’t ever ever ever let him (or her) cross the street without you! Take him firmly by his 11 year old hand and don’t let him let go.  I know you let him cross the street by himself while going to school or to his friend’s house, but this is Halloween.  It’s dangerous.

I stand at the end of the walk for each house and send my kids up to get the candy.  I’m taking such risks with my own flesh and blood, for sure.  I mean, they could trip or bump into someone or something.  And we all know that it takes only a second for the guy to snatch up my kid and drag her into the house with everyone watching and knowing where he lives and all that.  Thank you Simple Single Minded Women for showing me just how dangerous I have been all this time.

4). Make sure your child has his or her own flashlight or glow stick to illuminate pathways and curbs.

Flashlights and glow sticks are just plain fun.  We actually need them here because the developers of this subdivision thought that streetlights were not necessary and the city planners agreed (and this was in the 1950s).  Seriously,  walking down the street at night here, there are places where flashlights are needed.  However, I do think streetlights are adequate if they are present.  But, like I said, what kid doesn’t like playing with a flashlight or glow stick?

5). Trick or treat with your smaller children during daylight hours.

Bwahahahahahahahaha!  And if you have older kids you’re taking out too?  Yeah, they need to go in daylight with the little ones too.  Or you need to go out in daylight and at night because you can’t let a kid under age 12 trick or treat alone.  Oh, and don’t forget to mention to all of your neighbours that you will be out at 4:00 so they can be home from work early to give out the candy.  (Yes it’s on Saturday this year but not every year.)  How does this even jibe with the advise to give kids flashlights?  And really, it is such a huge deal for the little ones to be out after dark! ” OMG! How cool is that?  It’s past my bedtime and I’m outside in the dark walking down the street!” I don’t see the risk if you’re, you know, hovering two feet behind them at all time, right?

6.) Teens should always go trick-or-treating in a group. Advise them to only stop at familiar homes with an illuminated outdoor light. Remind teens that they should never enter a stranger’s home, car or walk in unpopulated areas. At least one child in their group should have a fully charged cell phone.

Cell phone, not a bad idea I guess.  But, can’t we just let teens use their common sense as to whether or not a situation is dangerous?  Like my story above.  Never did I think he was a dangerous person and if I did, I would not have entered his house.  I do think all kids should trick or treat together, but more because it’s just more fun that way and a larger group is easier to see.  But I’m a big Halloween curmudgeon and don’t think anyone over the age of 13 should be going door to door anyway.  Dress up and walk around, sure.  Get free candy?  Nope, go get a job and buy your own candy.  And why would anyone be walking around an unpopulated area on Halloween?  How do you get candy that way?  And yeah, don’t go to that house where the person you don’t know lives!  In todays withdrawn society, we live in a whole neighbourhood of unfamiliar homes so that’s really limiting.

7). Make sure you know where and when your teen will be trick or treating and with whom. It’s also a good idea to have the phone number of their friends’ parents in the event of an emergency.

Sound advise, even for when ti’s not Halloween.  Nothing wrong with knowing where kids are supposed to be – I’ll leave it up to you to decide if they’ll actually be there.  I do think it’s a really good idea to have the phone numbers of your kids’ friends.  So, hey, I agree with them here.

8). Illuminate jack-o-lanterns with flashlights or glow sticks. Avoid candles as they can pose a danger for trick-or-treaters who may come in contact with the open flames and ignite their costumes.

But then why the need for the flame resistant costurems?  I don’t really see anything wrong with this advise.  If you’re not going to be out front with your pumpkins in sight, it is best to use a flame free candle.  It does lose some of it’s festiveness that way so we just make sure we’re able to keep an eye on the pumpkins.  I may be a bit over cautious on this one, but a friend of knocked over a Jack-o-lantern when we were young.

9). Advise your child not to eat any of the candy until you have inspected it first. This is especially important if your child has any food allergies.

Children with food allergies are usually overly aware of the risks of eating something that could hurt them, but it is good to remind them that they can only munch on the licorice while out trick or treating.  However, there is no need for anyone to inspect the candy.  None.  At all.  Ever.  You know all of those stories about kids who ate poison candy on Halloween?  Want to know how many of them are true?  None.  Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.  There are two reported cases of poisoned candy killing kids and in both of those cases, it was the parents who killed the kids and blamed it on poisoned candy.  So, let’s all throw caution to the wind and let the kids eat a bag of chips while they are trick or treating, shall we?

10). Monitor their candy intake too. You’d be surprised at how much sugar, fat and calories a single, snack size candy bar has.

Um, no I won’t be surprised at the amount of sugar, fat and calories in a single, snack size candy bar.  I don’t monitor their intake because the faster they eat it, the faster it leaves the house.  I have a sneaky suspicion that regular meals of take out, fast food and prepackaged meals contributes more to the child obesity rate than Halloween candy.

 The world is a crazy place, but it’s not as dangerous as people would like us to think.  This particular article was partially written by Debra Holtzman, author of a book called Safe Baby.  Perhaps someone who has a vested interest in keeping parents paranoid is not the person we should be turning to for advise on Halloween safety.  After all, if we as parents are no longer paranoid, will we still want to buy her book?

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On another Halloween note, has any one heard about the candy goblin that comes and takes the candy away and brings a toy for the kids instead? I have heard of two families who do that and they’re quite proud of themselves. I personally think it’s a huge waste. Why would you be proud that you’re throwing a bunch of candy out that you didn’t need to get in the first place? I mean, would you proud if you bought a bag of Skittles just to throw it out? No. Why not just go door to door, sing a Halloween song to the people and then get a toy at the end of it all? Plus, Halloween = candy. And candy != evil if it is not an everyday, all day thing. These families could give their kids three pieces of candy a week and it would last a year. Is it just me or is the candy goblin really a stupid and wasteful idea? (Not to mention that it is more than likely bringing in another piece of cheap plastic crap (CPC) into your house that your kids don’t need. There will be more on CPC from me as Christmas approaches.)

Play. It’s dangerous business people!

October 8, 2009

My kids brought home some interesting news from school today.  Aparentally, the principal  announced that it is no longer allowed for a younger student and older student to play together.  In order for two people to play together, they have to be either in the same grade or one grade apart, either higher or lower.  Trying to get to the bottom of it, I asked why.  The answer that my kids gave me is because older students play rougher.  Well, talk about taking the sledgehammer to a problem.  My kids can no longer pay together at recess, even though for the last three years they have played together at recess at least once a week without incident.

Why on earth would someone want to prevent intergenerational play?  It’s good!  Good for the younger kids to look up to the cool older kids.  Good for the older kids to look out for the younger kids.  If there has been an epidemic of injury to the younger kids due to rough play with older kids, I have not heard about it.  If it has been a one case thing, well then GAH! (That was a scream of frustration, just to clarify.)  Last week my five year old ran out onto the street without looking for cars.  So, all five year old must now stay inside at all times.  Got it!  Oh, and on Monday, my almost ten year old fell down the ladder of her bunk beds so no more bunk beds for ten year olds, OK?

I want to address this with the principal.  I think it needs to be addressed.  It is a ridiculous rule that does not need to go into effect becasue 1) older kids are usually less rough when playing with younger kids, and 2) younger kids are just as likely to be rough with each other as older kids, meaning they can still get knocked down, bruised, scraped, bumped and whacked.  There is nothing anyone can do to prevent these things from happening.  If there is something happening, it needs to be addressed on an individual basis and stopped.  But, to ban a grade seven student from helping his grade three brother and his friends practise some soccer moves?  Yep.  Dangerous!

I need to know what to say to the principal.  I want to let her know the benefits of play between younger kids and older kids.  I want to tell her how sweeping generalizations are never a good thing.  I want to say that kids will get hurt and no amount of rules will ever stop this.  I want to include something about putting kids in a bubble gives them an unrealistic view of the world.  They will get hurt.  It’s going to happen.  Let them  Let them learn how to play with younger kids.  Let them learn that sometimes it’s not a good idea to play with older kids.  Let them learn how to get along with each other.  Don’t isolate them.  Include them.

So, how do I say all of that?  And does anyone have a web site I could point her to?

Free Range Sesame Street!

October 5, 2009

I am wathcing Old School Sesame Street with Victoria and Rosemary. Yes, I ignored the warnings at the beginning of the disks about it not being appropriate for today’s preschoolers. How Sesame Street can be inappropriate for preschoolers of any generation is beyond me, but yes there is a warning at the beginning of each episode.

So far, in this episode this is what I have seen:

  • Louise left his store in the care of a child around seven years of age while he left for five minutes to grab a cup of coffee.  He asked her to answer the phone if it rang and tell the people he would be back in five minutes.  This child is clearly not his.
  • Small kids (some girls) running around without a shirt on.
  • A group of children playing outside the buildings unsupervised and then joined by a man who has no children of his own.
  • A child sitting alone on the stoop of his building.
  • A boy around the age of 11 driving a cart of some kind (his job I assume) while a younger child sits on it.
  • A young girl telling someone who is practically a stranger that she loves him and giving him a kiss.  (The infamous A-B-C Cookie Monster clip.)
  • Lots and lots of bellbottoms.

None of that would ever be shown to todays kids.  And why?  Because all of it has been deemed to be dangerous behaviour.  But is it really?

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Old school vs. new

I would rather my kids watch the outside of the box Sesame Street old school than the formulaic one that is currently offered on PBS. As my brilliant 19 year old nephew put it, old school Sesame Street taught kids how to think and now Sesame Street teaches kids what to think.

Do you remember the yo-yo man and the lost kid? What great advise yo-yo man gave to the boy!  “You should figure it out yourself”.  Do you remember the kid buying a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter?  No need to write it down mommy!  I can remember!  Neither of those clips would be suitable for today’s preschool children, according to so-called child experts.  And why?  Because those children were left to think for themselves.

What are some clips from new Sesame Street?  Let’s see, there’s Jack Black and the fuzzy red incarnation of evil itself Elmo teaching about octagons.  Then there’s Neil Patrick Harris (love him!) singing about shoes.  Where’s the thinking involved in those?  (And if anyone can show me a new Sesame Street clip that would make me jump for joy and change my stance, please point me to it!  I will even make sure everyone who visits me here will see that I am wrong.)

How about the guest songs?  Well, Feist visited Sesame Street and sang a redone version of her 1-2-3-4 song.  But, way back in the day, Paul Simon visited Sesame Street and sang Me and Julio.  Can you see the difference there?  Which gives you a good feeling about the future generation?  I weep for todays generation of children when the freedom to think for ones self is not considered appropriate for preschoolers.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t include a rant about Elmo’s world in here.  My personal feeling about Elmo aside, I hate Elmo’s world.  A lot.  Sure kids like it, but kids will watch a video consisting of fish swimming in an aquarium.  And I would rather they did.  At least fish are unpredictable.  “Hey, I wonder where the orange one will swim next!  Oh and look!  The angel fish (just for you my friend Angel <3) swam in the same place three times and is now moving to a different area! What will happen next!”  With Elmo’s world, kids know exactly what will happen next.  Right down to the words of the song he will sing at the end of the episode.

And just for fun, watch the clip of Elmo’s song with Big Bird and Snuffy and put a sarcastic undertone on everything Big Bird and Snuffy sing and say.  “To think, he wrote that himself” *roll eyes and snicker*