Produced by Gary Drevitch
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK AFTER THIS MESSAGE FROM THE PEOPLE OF BOSTON: YEEESSSSSSSS!!!!
The World Series has sucked up all of our prime blogging time these past few days, and we're now embarking on a weekend pilgrimage to join our people in their ritual celebrations at the Fens. Upon our return, look to us for the latest news on all of the following:
- Learning from leaves
- Listening to the (stuffed) animals
- Why it shouldn't hurt to be gifted (or even just talented)
- Why restaurants want to make your kids fat no matter they tell the media
- Why everyone's kids are sicker at night
- How Small Fellow and Tony Girl got their flu shots -- and you didn't
- Why kids should never touch your money (especially if his friends hang out at the OTB)
- What the subway map teaches us
- Who always wins in child custody battles
- Why Lincoln Logs kick Baby Einstein's flabby butt
- Where to find the best $1,500 tricycle on the market, and . . .
- Is four years old really too old for a pacifier (yeah, OK, we know, we know. So you're so smart, YOU got tell Small Fellow to give it up!)
YES, SMALL FELLOW, THERE IS A GOD
We were prepared to enter into a lengthy discussion today about talking with your preschoolers about God, inspired by a series of questions about the Almighty that Small Fellow has been asking us. But we'll save that for another day. Because tonight, as if by a miracle, our own faith in a higher power has been restored . . .
ONE SUBJECT EVEN MORE COMPLICATED THAN COSMOLOGY
Hs anyone out there ever actually tried to explain the game of baseball to a three-year-old? Or, for that matter, to anyone not raised on the game? God heavens, but it really puts into perspective that the game makes no sense. On the other hand . . .
REASON #56 YOU SHOULD NOT ENTRUST YOUR CHILD'S ENTERTAINMENT OR EDUCATION TO COMMERCIAL BROADCAST NETWORKS
Nickelodeon and ABC Family will pay fines to the FCC after being found in violation of federal limits on the number of commercials they are allowed to air during children's programming. The nets also violated restrictions on ads for merchandise based on their own shows.
APPARENTLY, HIS PANTS WERE NOT PART OF THE "NO-SPIN ZONE"
Earlier, we ran some excerpts from Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids," in which the Fox News host offers America's children a detailed road map to a paranoid, lonely, narcissistic future. As you may have heard, O'Reilly's planned promotion of the book has hit a bit of a snag in the form of a $60 million sexual harassment lawsuit from a colleague with whom he shared some deeply felt phone conversations.
The Baltimore Sun has delightfully contrasted a series of excerpts from the book with excerpts from his ex-colleague's complaint. Here's a taste:
He wrote: "And guys, if you exploit a girl, it will come back to get you. That's called 'karma.' And don't allow yourself to be exploited by a troubled partner ... "
She wrote: O'Reilly became threatening when reminded he had bragged of his sexual exploits. "If any woman ever breathed a word, I'll make her pay so dearly that she'll wish she'd never been born," she quoted him as saying.
When a Brooklyn girl with a legit, if longshot, high school transcript was told by her school guidance counselor that she would not be allowed to apply to Harvard, the senior and her attorney sister protested, and the school allowed to application to go through. While we admire her pluck, the girl is unlikely to be wearing crimson next fall, but her story highlights a little known factor in college admissions: The power of school guidance offices to steer students toward and away from elite schools, often in defiance of their desires.
At Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, only the top five ranked students were allowed to apply to any Ivy League schools (even Brown), and no one was allowed to apply for early decision. Although the school eventually caved in, administrators defended their policies as realistic, and as saving wear and tear on its overburdened guidance staff. In our experience interviewing college bound high school students, we are often struck by the power guidance instructors assert in trying to place students.
May we all be so lucky to someday be able to complain about which Ivies our kids' guidance counselors try to bar them from, but, if and when we get there, complain we will . . .
WHEN THEY START OFFERING TUTORS IN PUTTING YOUR SOCKS ON AND EATING WITH A *&%#$ FORK, WE'LL GIVE THEM A CALL
Junior Kumon, a national tutoring program for kids as young as - oh, yes - age two, has been giving nightmares to parents nationwide since the recent Wall Street Journal article on their growth. It has 150,000 young clients in grades pre-K through 12, many of them from Asian immigrant families eager to get a leg up in the race for elementary school admissions. But it is looking to expand. As its Web site says:
Kumon has chosen to devote most of its resources to developing rather than promoting its programs. While Kumon has grown steadily in North America—largely by word-of-mouth—it has been a household name primarily in the Asian-American community.
The commercial ends with a confident young Asian girl sitting alone in a classroom who turns to the camera and says, with a chilling smile, "Just watch what I can do." She doesn't add, "... to your kids," but it's certainly implied. For some neurotic parents, this ad will probably have the same affect as the LBJ campaign's mushroom-cloud spot back in '64.
Critics from academia predictably bemoan the Kumon approach:
"There's a mistaken notion that education is a race," says David Elkind, professor of child development at Tufts University.
Still, we won't be rushing to sign up Small Fellow, or Tiny Girl, at Junior Kumon. We'll agree with the experts that sitting in a classroom mastering addition and multiplication tables is probably not the best way for a toddler to spend his time. No, we'll stick with the old standbys: nose-picking, jumping on the bed, and peeing in the tub.
FREELANCE DAD, NOW AVAILABLE SOMEWHERE ELSE ONLINE
Earlier, we referred visitors to the October issue of Parents magazine, for our article on Dads' tricks of the trade, in which 10 fathers from across the country shared their unique parenting strategies with us. That article has now been posted online, and you can find it here.
ON NEWSSTANDS NOW
In the November issue of Parents, on sale now, FD has an item on the Dads page (not available online) enlightening pops on how to carve the turkey this Thanksgiving. It was an eye-opening lesson for FD, who had never carved a bird and typically lets Loving Mother do such things here at headquarters. But as we read the item in print now, we wonder where our mind truly was as we crafted our text. Here's a sweaty excerpt:
Pull a leg away with a carving fork, then work the tip of a sharp, eight- to ten-inch knife into the crease between the leg and carcass . . .Whew. Anyone else need some cranberry sauce?
THEY'RE BACK AND, UM, GOLDER THAN EVER
Golden Books famously came close to going out of business a few years back, though they came close enough to cost some of FD's colleagues their jobs. Now a tiny unit of Random House, we're pleased to see Golden making a major marketing push of its back catalog. We continue to be pleasantly surprised at how well such decades old books play with the home audience here. Golden's new ad campaign asks, "Everyone has a favorite Golden Book. What's yours?" Well, while you may be partial to "The Poky Little Puppy" or "The Saggy Baggy Elephant" (which was, ironically, FD's nickname back in high school), we say this is the greatest Golden of all.
IN OTHER GOLDEN BOOKS NEWS . . . (HAS ANYONE EVER SAID THAT BEFORE?)
New York City parents looking for some retro family time should amble over to the Donnell Library on 53rd Street from November 1-9 for an exhibit of original artwork from Golden Books classics.
IN CONCLUSION, SCIENTISTS DISCOVERED, NURSING MOMS WHO GO BACK TO WORK DON'T FEEL GUILTY ENOUGH
According to researchers at New Jersey's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, when breast milk is kept refrigerated for more than 48 hours, its antioxidant levels drop - and freezing milk makes the anti-antioxidant effect even more pronounced. Fresh breast milk has the highest antioxidant levels. Enjoy your commute, breast-pumping moms!
IN BLIND TASTE TESTS, FOUR OUT OF FIVE VENTRAL PUTAMENS* CHOSE THE TASTE OF COKE. SO DRINK UP, VENTRAL PUTAMENS!
A Baylor University study finds that the Coca-Cola brand labeling is so deeply entrenched in our minds that the mere sight of the logo gives the sugar water a step up on its competitors right out of the gate. We know most parents aren't serving their kids Coke, or any other soda - happily, it's not even an issue here; Small Fellow simply rejects carbonization in all its forms. When he sees a glass of water sitting around, he always asks first whether it's refreshing water or disturbing seltzer. But given the strong and apparently subliminal nature of our attachment to familiar labels, parents may want to opt for generics or supermarket house brands when they can, to avoid brand loyalty.
[* the part of the brain that senses when you're getting something as a reward; sadly, ours has atrophied]
SURPRISINGLY, A PENTHOUSE FORUM STAFFER WAS ALSO RECENTLY FIRED FOR LIFTING PASSAGES FROM HIGHLIGHTS IN HIS ARTICLES
An 11-year-old boy claimed a top prize in a Canadian newspaper's kid's writing contest with "Eyes of a Dragon," a story he'd lifted word for word from a piece Highlights magazine ran two years ago. What's incredible to us isn't that he lifted a school writing assignment from a magazine - after all, who among us didn't plagiarize from the World Book for fifth-grade social-studies essays? (It couldn't have just been FD, could it?) It isn't even so amazing that teachers or newspaper editors failed to smell the wordjacking, although Lord knows there were enough clues, like this paragraph:
Then, Goofus the dragon found a magical mirror that had been cleverly hidden in a picture of a forest. Goofus used the ancient magical powers of the mirror to confront Gallant the dragon, and . . . become really good friends with him!No, what's truly remarkable about this is that a 13-year-old girl heard the boy's story read aloud in her classroom, thought it sounded familiar, and then - wait for it - ran home and flipped through her BACK COPIES OF HIGHLIGHTS DATING BACK TO 1999 until she found the issue with that story, and exposed the boy's scam.
Reached for comment, absolutely everyone we know said, "Dating back to 1999?!"
Most of us reading this grew up in places where our classrooms were strictly tracked – honors, standard, remedial. Our own junior high school had six or seven tracks in each grade, enforced by obscure class numbers that everyone had deciphered by the second week of September. You may recall that a major movement was afoot in the 1990s to get rid of tracking as we knew it. How did that go? Take a guess.
Education Next magazine is now asking, Whatever happened to detracking? It’s an article well worth reading as we all prepare to entrust our children to the system. The author, of course, is opposed to tracking, which we can conclude because her article was accepted by an education reform magazine. (The blogger favors the system.) But she does offer a few statistics that recognize the likely benefits of the practice for the brightest set of kids.
(Apologies to the late Rodney Dangerfield for the opening.)
YES, SMALL FELLOW, THE FIREMAN IS YOUR FRIEND
Walking home from a dinner with a friendly family the other night, we passed by our local New York fire station, the proud home of Engine 74. As always, Small Fellow made sure to check on whether the engine was in the house or out on call. On our way out that night, the engine had been away, but now it was back, and two firefighters were tending to it. Suddenly, the firemen invited Fellow and his friend to come inside and sit in the truck. Post-9/11 or not, it’s pretty damn special for a little guy to get to sit in a fire truck for the first time. FD confesses to never having sat in a fire engine himself, but here’s our initial impression: It’s huge.
And the firemen were terrific. They let the boys hang around as long as they liked, they let them play all around the truck, and they gave them "Sparky's Fire Safety Coloring Book," which has a companion Web site the little ones may enjoy. It features a game where your child pretends to drive a fire engine, and "practices" getting cars and pedestrians out of the way by blowing the truck's horn.
FD spoke to fire departments (and police depts.) across the country for a recent Parents magazine article (not available online) on taking your preschoolers to visit "our protectors." We could not be happier to have finally done it in person. The only drawback is that we now will have to constantly remind Fellow that he really can't visit the station every time we walk by it (although it would probably be fine with us).
HEY, ALL YOU STAY-AT-HOME DADS OUT THERE: YOU CAN HAVE MY SLOT (ON THE SHOW, THAT IS)
As a national leader in the field of telling dads stuff, FD received a message the other day from the producers of ABC's reality show, "Wife Swap." (No, not the one on Fox; ABC calls their version "The Original Wife Swap," which is interesting because Fox' show made it on air first. We now await the premiere of CBS' "Original Famous Ray's Wife Swap" . . . )
"Wife Swap" seeks at-home dads willing to abandon their families for a couple of weeks and allow some other guys to live in their homes and steal all their baseball cards. We're going to pass: Loving Mother is just a little too excited about the idea of swapping mates for our taste, so we're going to be sticking close to the homestead for the forseeable, if you know what we mean.
We'll reprint the message from the show below, and if anyone is interested, follow the links, and don't come crying to us:
ABC's Wife Swap Seeks Stay-at-home Dads
Hello, My name is Hila Perl, and I work on Wife Swap, ABC's new reality TV show. I'm writing to you because we are currently looking for at-home fathers to participate in an episode. I was hoping that you might be of some help. Despite the titillating title, our show is family-friendly programming. We are documenting the modern day American family--how couples share (or don't share) housework and child-rearing responsibilities, how they spend their money, and how they spend their leisure time. I'm writing to find out if you have any resources that could help us get the word out about our search for families with an at-home dad. This could be a simple message about us in a newsletter, a mass email, an announcement at a meeting, or recommending an organization/group that might be of help. Please let me know if you are able to assist, or if you know of any at-home fathers who would be interested in taking part in the show.
Thank you, Hila Perl
Here is the text of the posting:
THE FREELANCEDAD.COM "UH-OH" CONVERSATION OF THE WEEK
Small Fellow: I hope the Red Sox win. I'm so happy when they win!
FD: Me, too. I like the Red Sox!
[We establish that the Sox are playing the Yankees now because they've beaten "the ones from California"]
SF: I like both of them, the Red Sox and New York.
FD: No . . . you should just like the Red Sox. I like the Red Sox, because I'm from Boston.SF: But I'm growing up in New York, so I should like New York!
OR THEY COULD LOCK THE ASTRONAUTS IN A CAR WITH SMALL FELLOW FOR TWO HOURS AND SEE WHAT THAT DOES TO THEM
Russian space researchers will lock six men in a metal tube for more than year in an effort to mimic the stresses and challenges of a manned mission to Mars.The 500 Days experiment, as they call it, will test the physical and psychological effects of lengthy space travel. Just a thought, guys: How valid do you think your psych results will be, given that since the tube will be . . . on earth, the astronauts can just open the door and get out if things go bad?
CHANCES ALL OF OUR KIDS WILL HAVE THESE IMPLANTED IN THEM WITHIN A DECADE: 90%
The FDA has approved a tiny computer chip which can be implanted in your arm to carry all of your vital medical records wherever you go - and, oh yeah, to track your movements.
CAN'T WAIT TILL HE ASKS, "MOM, WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE WAR?"
Pfc. Lynndie England has given birth to a baby boy at Fort Bragg. Post officials initially said they didn't know what sex the child was, because the birth announcements distributed by its parents pictured the baby with a mask over its head and with its genitalia obscured by a prisoner simulating fellatio.
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR . . . STATE FARM IS LEERING AT YOUR DAUGHTER
In a new commercial for State Farm, we see a middle-age man come home from work carrying some dry cleaning. He notices a very sexy little dress on one of the hangers, just as he happens to be standing several feet behind his wife, who has her back to him. As the soundtrack starts playing an adult movie soundtrack riff, he holds the dress out and shakes it around, imagining her wearing it. Then his attractive teenage daughter swoops in, grabs the dress, and thanks dad for picking it up. The message: She's really growing up fast. Better buy some insurance now - before they lock her up for solicitation!
Bill O'Reilly has published a book of advice for children. That's right. Not a book for parents seeking creative ways to tell their children they're worthless - although that's a book you'd think O'Reilly could really sink his teeth into. No, this book is actually FOR children. Which children? Well, we suppose there might be a lot of youngsters out there who watch the "O'Reilly Factor" in their garages as they pore over their middle school's floor plans.
We can learn a lot of things from our "Friends" on television, but sitcoms are very different from real life . . . In real life, true friends stand by you when things get rough. . . Sure, they do that in the TV program, but the tragedies those characters experience last only 23 minutes. Yours will last much longer . . .
You mean, my suffering will never end? Kill me now, Uncle Bill!
I once had a friend in high school. . . . This guy and I had known each other since first grade. . . . There was this dance I wanted to go to, but I didn't want to go alone. . . . So I asked my friend. . . He said he couldn't go. . . But when [I] arrived at the hop (that's what they called a dance back then), I couldn't believe my eyes. My so-called friend. . . . was out there doing the twist like a madman. What was up with that? . . . . [H]e admitted that some of the guys he went to the dance with didn't like me, so he didn't want me around. . . . If that situation had happened in a TV sitcom, everybody would have made up and had a few laughs. But life is different. I never trusted that guy again and rarely spoke to him. . . . Once I become friends with you, I'm in for life unless you do something bad to me. Even though I am now famous and successful, I still keep my old friends. And believe me, none of them looks like Jennifer Aniston. It would not be hard being her friend. . . . Other people will tell you to forgive a friend for lying to you. Not me. . . . Someone can lie to me once, but only once, if he or she wants to be a friend. See, you heard I could be stubborn. . . .
And so, class, what have we learned from Mr. O'Reilly?
1. Bill O'Reilly is famous and successful.
2. Don't cross him. Don't ever cross him.
3. Behind every friendly face lies a back-stabbing bastard. Trust no one.
4. Stop watching sitcoms. Everything you need to know about life you can learn from "The O'Reilly Factor."
5. Life is tough. No one will hand you anything. Especially not Bill O'Reilly.
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS SLEEPY BEAR. . .
As an infant, Small Fellow was given "Sleepy Bear," a small blanket bearing his name, with the head of a teddy bear and a satin border, which is so important for nighttime rubbing. (You can find one for your own fellow or sweetie here.) And he slept with Sleepy Bear, and it was good. Soon, we added the rabbit from "Goodnight Moon" to his bed, followed by a tiny teddy bear he named "Baby Bear." And that remained the status quo until newborn Tiny Girl was given a long stuffed cat to which Fellow took a liking. That cat is alternately called "Cat," "Cat Number 8," or "Clyde." Then came a matching pair of small beanie bulldogs, bringing the nighttime menagerie up to six as Fellow turned 3. And now there's been another population explosion. Two new small teddy bears joined the crew in recent days, "Cozy Bear" and "Little Cozy Bear." All eight "sleepy friends" - actually, Fellow often tells us they're "a family," and, like the Manson Family, they sometimes tell him disturbing things. ("Daddy, Cozy Bear likes to be in a bag.") With eight sleeping companions, all tucked in neatly under his covers, the boy is quite adorable . . . but also not so unlike your average eight-year-old girl.
WON'T YOU PLEASE FIND IT IN YOUR HEART TO GIVE WHATEVER YOU CAN TO SAVE THE CHALLAH BABY?
We are all for toys expressing our faith. We shook our toy lulav here this week, and blew our toy shofars last week. But we have to draw the line somewhere, and this is just too damn creepy. It looks like someone's mummified Pippi Longstocking . . .
THE EMPEROR HAS NO FLAP
America loves the "Spot" books, Eric Hill's series of turn-the-flap books featuring a dog who's cuter than he has any right to be, and his crew of slightly miscolored animal pals. We have easily a half-dozen, but one is not like the others. It's "Spot's Birthday Party," and, due to an apparent production error, our copy is missing all of its flaps, making it a real challenge to read, especially since the first page declares, "Let's play hide-and-seek . . . "
WELCOME TO FLU CITY
Tiny Girl's reactive airway disease - Can we digress? We understand that the doctors don't like to use the word "asthma" when they're talking to parents of toddlers - after all, children as young as Tiny often grow out of her asthma-like symptoms, which, so far, are only triggered by colds, and then go away. But to avoid calling what she has "asthma," could they not come up with anything more reassuring than "reactive airway disease." Let's break it down word by word - no, actually, let's just break down that last word. It's "disease." Thanks for the euphemism, we're sleeping fine.
Anyway . . . because of Tiny Girl's "flowerpot" (that's our euphemism and we're sticking to it), she's in the high-risk category for the flu, so she had a shot scheduled for yesterday. But since she's never had a flu shot before, she actually needs to get two doses, yesterday's and then a booster four weeks hence. So we asked the nurse, "Any chance your office is going to have any flu shot left here in four weeks?" And she smiled and said, "Well, we hope so." And we shared a knowing laugh. Because there's no chance.
FYI: We hear tell that some pediatric practices are keeping enough flu shot in reserve to be able to meet its booster commitments to children who just received their first flu shot. If you're in a similar situation, make sure to ask your pediatrician if he or she is doing the same, or is willing to.
OH, DUDE, YOUR TIMING REALLY SUCKS
Just in time for the vaccine crisis, a team of US researchers recreate the deadly 1918 Flu, and then use it to kill some laboratory mice in particularly cruel and unusual fashion. Way to go, science!
A CONVERSATION YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE WITH YOUR PRESCHOOLER AS HE EMERGES FROM HIS STANFORD-BINET V TEST, WHICH WILL DETERMINE IF HE'LL BE ABLE TO ATTEND AN ELITE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, AND, INEVITABLY, WHICH YALE SECRET SOCIETY WILL SEEK HIS COMPANY
FD: Did you have a fun play date? Did you do a lot of puzzles?
Small Fellow: Yeah. I did some puzzles.
FD: Great! Did you do all the puzzles?
Small Fellow: No . . . I did some puzzles . . . and some puzzles I didn't want to do.
[Full disclosure: Fellow went on to describe in detail the type of puzzles he claimed he didn't want to do, but we've erased that part of the transcript so as not to tip off other parents to the secret contents of the SBV test.]
ACTUALLY, VELMA WAS AWOL WHEN IT CAME TIME TO POSE FOR THE GANG'S VITAMIN MOLDS . . . THE MANUFACTURER WAS ABLE TO LOCATE FRED AND DAPHNE UPSTAIRS IN THE MASTER BEDROOM "SEARCHING" EACH OTHER FOR "GHOSTS," AND SHAGGY AND SCOOBY ON THE BACK PORCH "GETTING HIGH"
Get me Kissinger on Line One! VitaminGate has hit the fan. This brilliant item (via radosh.net) asks the leading manufacturer of children's vitamins why certain characters are notably absent from their bottles. For example, Scooby vitamins have no Velma, and Flintstones Chewables have no Betty Rubble. As a Miles Inc. spokesman says, "You can tell the difference between Fred and Barney, and between Pebbles and Bamm Bamm, but you can't with Wilma and Betty." Oh, really? You, sir, have a very limited imagination . . .
[Speaking of Pebbles, here's the line that led to the biggest dinner party laugh FD has ever earned. On a brisk Saturday night in October of 1990, the conversation turned to R&B songstress Pebbles and her hit "Mercedes Boy." FD's opinion is sought out, and we say: "Yeah, her career has really taken off since she pulled that bone out of her hair."]
IT'S NOT EASY BEING ARRESTED
The animator of some of Sesame Street's brilliant number animations is hauled in on child perv charges.
TALK ABOUT A TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY
As if sent by the Lord to expose a sinner, a tornado hits a Maryland man's home, blowing the roof off and uncovering a truckload of kiddie porn.
OF COURSE, ACCORDING TO POSTAGE REGULATIONS, YOU'RE NOT REALLY SUPPOSED TO BE ALLOWED TO APPEAR ON A STAMP UNTIL YOU'RE DEAD
The US Postal Service has ended its experiment with stamps.com under which many parents created legal postage stamps featuring pictures of their tots, partly due to bad press arising from people minting stamps featuring the Unabomber, Linda Tripp, Dr. Phil, and other unsavory characters.
IF THEIR CLAIM GOES THROUGH, PREPARE TO LEARN THE LYRICS TO "JULEMANDEN IS COMING TO TOWN"
Denmark has laid a claim to ownership of the North Pole, and if it is successful, Danish officials will reportedly take Santa's Workshop by eminent domain, tear it down, and build a new factory and office park for the Juul Nisse.
AFTER PINOCCHIO REVIEWED THE SCENE IN QUESTION, IT WASN'T JUST HIS NOSE THAT GREW
The producers of the new movie "Team America: World Police" have toned down a marionette oral sex scene in order to earn an R rating. The MPAA had previously threatened to rate the film NC-17, despite the fact that the puppets in the scene have no genitalia and are, in fact, made of wood. Still, we suspect "Team America" will look pretty tame compared to the granddaddy of puppet raunch, "Meet the Feebles," from the man who brought you "The Lord of the Rings." "The Feebles" takes Muppet spoofing to a place 20,000 leagues below "Avenue Q."
PRINCE WROTE IN NOMINATING "I WOULD DIE 4 U" BE PLACED ON THE LIST, BUT IT WAS DECIDED THAT'S NOT REALLY AN EQUATION
Physics World magazine, which boys across Britain wrap around their copies of Maxim in the backs of their classrooms, recently asked readers to nominate candidates for the greatest equations of all time. Among the leading nominees was "1 + 1 = 2." This note from a Canadian scientist says a lot about science and fathering:
"I know that other equations have done more, express greater power [and have a] broader understanding of the universe," wrote Richard Harrison from Calgary in Canada, "but there's something to be said for the beauty of the simplest things of their kind." He then recalled how 1 + 1 = 2 was the first equation he taught his son. "I remember [him] holding up the index finger of each hand as he learned the expression, and the moment of wonder when he saw that the two fingers, separated by his whole body, could be joined in a single concept in his mind."
Give that man a Nobel.
AT LEAST HE'S MAKING FRIENDS
Small Fellow tells us he has a new friend in school. We'll call him N.
FD: So, Fellow, why is N. your friend? Small Fellow: Because I like to copy all the things he does.
APPARENTLY, MRS. DR. PHIL ASKS TOUGHER QUESTIONS THAN JIM LEHRER
Earlier, we linked to Slate's review of President and Mrs. Bush's appearance on the Dr. Phil family tragedy show. Slate has now offered the follow up, (scroll down on the link) in which Senator and Mrs. Heinz Kerry spoke from the heart about raising children in a merged family in which no one can really understand what the Hell the mother is saying. Here's an excerpt:
Asked if one of his daughters was more like him than the other, he responded, and I swear to God I'm transcribing word-for-word: "Yes. No. Well that's ... gosh, I'd like to say yes, but I guess ... yes, the answer is yes." Which daughter, Mrs. Dr. Phil inquired? "Well, that's why I hesitated. Because in some ways my daughter Alexandra is more like me, but in other ways my daughter Vanessa is more like me."
Is it me, or is Kerry's indecisiveness becoming endearing?
MEANWHILE, EVERYWHERE ELSE . . .
One in twelve children worldwide die before age 5. Now go kiss your child goodnight.
THE FREELANCEDAD.COM UNFORTUNATELY WORDED HEADLINE OF THE DAY
From the Associated Press:
No, of course kids should not be drinking soft drinks, and the children of FD have never touched the stuff. Still, we speculate idly, how much harm would be done by the occasional Diet Coke or similar no-calorie refresher? We await the research.
WE KNOW THAT WE'LL NEVER FORGET HOW THE SMELL EMANATING FROM TINY GIRL'S DIAPER OVERPOWERED AN INNOCENT CHILD'S BIRTHDAY PARTY YESTERDAY
Two American scientists win a Nobel Prize for research into our sense of smell, specifically how we remember scents.
CONKER? I JUST MET 'ER!
Britain is all atwitter over an uptight, overprotective school that forces children to wear goggles whilst engaging in the ancient and honorable game of conkers. For the uninitiated, which we'll assume is everyone, here's how conkers works: You put a hole in a chestnut and run some string through it, creating a "conker." Your opponent holds his conker out while you whip your own conker at it in an attempt to break it.
All in all, conkers sounds like a game we used to play in the junior high parking lot before school. Except we didn't drill any holes in our chestnuts, run string through them, or keep score. Groups of us just stood a certain distance from each other and threw handfuls of chestnuts at each other, as hard as we could.
An extremely talented old friend, artist Chris Kalb, writes us with news of a new children's cookbook he's designed and illustrated. He plugs thusly:
"COOKING ROCKS! Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals For Kids" -- the latest from the spunky, best-selling star of Food Network's 30-Minute Meals and $40-A-Day. (For those of you with kids: I did a lot of research before working on this one, and I can safely say this is the most fun and most useable cookbook for children out there. For ages 4-16.) All this week at 7:30 EST Rachel will be cooking with kids on her show (the kids featured in the book!), and, hopefully, promoting "COOKING ROCKS!"We'll be picking up the book up right away. Cooking has become one of Small Fellow's favorite things to do with us. It's one of those activities that gives you a clear window into your preschooler's capabilities, and, we think, into his in-school persona, which, other nursery parents will likely agree, is usually quite a bit different than the child you get at home. Focused on a task that requires attention and allows him to do grownup things, with the payoff of eating what he creates, we really get him at his best. A cookbook with a lot of "entry points" for him, including Mr. Kalb's always engaging illustrations, should be a hit.
HOLIDAYS YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU MISSED, PART ONE
Last week turns out to have been Banned Books Week, an annual look at which high-quality books are being kept out of schools across the country, courtesy of the American Library Association. Among the most-banned books in schools in 2003 were the Harry Potter series, the Go Ask Alice series, "Of Mice and Men," and "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star."
We strongly oppose the banning of all of these worthies, although if anyone wants to help us round up all the copies of William Wegman's "Farm Days" and burn them in the town square, give us a call. As one Amazon reviewer put it, "It's a little distressing to see dogs with people [sic] hands." You don't say . . .
HOLIDAYS YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU MISSED, PART TWO
By presidential proclamation, September 27 was "Family Day." A Google search revealed that many communities marked Family Day by encouraging families to share a meal together. Share a meal with our kids? Yeah, right. Give us a call when they learn how to use a fork, then we'll talk.