Produced by Gary Drevitch
COME FOR THE DINO FRIES, STAY FOR THE - WHAT DO YOU CALL THEM? - OH, YEAH, FOSSILS
Roaming the dial, we just caught the New York 1 Parenting Report, a low-budget TV minute featuring hyperactive "Parenting Consultant" Shelley Goldberg. (Out of Towners: NY1 is a local cable news channel.) Goldberg's report today was on the smash exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries." She began with an in-depth look at ... all of the dino-shaped and dino-imprinted tchochkes available at the museum's Dino-Shop, from masks to umbrellas, without once mentioning the content of the exhibit they accompanied. But she must have gotten around to the exhibit eventually, right? Wrong! She continued, "And when you're done with the Dino-Shop, you can take in ... The Dino-Cafe!" and then launched into a detailed presentation of the museum cafeteria's dino-shaped plates, cookies, and chicken fingers. And so ended today's edition of the Parenting Report.
It's a bit like covering the Civil War by reporting on the commemorative pewter chess set.
SO GET YOURSELVES DOWN TO ERNIE JOHNSON BUICK FOR OUR CONSTITUTION DAY BLOWOUT! EVERYTHING ON THE LOT IS PRICED TO MOVE! ERNIE IS THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF SAVINGS!
The Constitution long has ensured that Congress can’t tell schools what to teach. But that’s no longer the case for at least one topic — the Constitution itself.
On Sept. 17, all public school students will be required to learn something about the Constitution, and although compliance will be on the honor system, some critics have spoken out against the mandate:
In middle school or high school, for example, schools may have to interrupt lesson plans, said Dan Fuller, director of federal programs for the National School Boards Association. “You may have to leap from the Civil War or Vietnam to the Constitution,” Fuller said.
Dan, we can't agree with you on that. Everyone knows that since Vietnam happened after World War II, most history classes will never get to it, and certainly not in September.
AND, NU, A LITTLE MANIACAL TOTALITARIANISM COULDN'T HURT, EITHER
North Korea makes a great leap forward, tells its children: Candy is good for you. Given that the candy in question is made of made of seaweed, beans, carrots and sesame seeds, it just may be, but North Korea's starving kids, all things considered, would probably be happy just to get a few pieces of bread.
WHAT THIS TEAM REALLY NEEDS IS AN EQUIPMENT MANAGER, OR AT LEAST A MANAGER WHO CAN MANAGE HIS EQUIPMENT
A baseball coach who led his team to a Florida state championship last season has lost his job after an unusual locker-room pep talk which involved dropping his pants in front of the lads. (via fark.com)
WHEN AN OLD LADY CAN'T STOP GETTING NEW CATS, WE CALL HER THE CRAZY CAT LADY. SO ... ANYONE WANT TO COIN A TERM FOR THIS GAL?
This 57-year-old great-grandmother just gave birth to twins, who were conceived by in vitro fertilization because - wait for it - she didn't want her six-year-old boy growing up an only child. To the surprise of no one, the proud new mom's several adult children had no comment.
THE FD.COM REVIEW: "WHERE WILLY WENT"
Earlier we noted the arrival on our shores of the acclaimed British picture book, "Where Willy Went: The Big Story of a Little Sperm!" Here again is the promotional blurb: "Rosy-cheeked Willy is determined to be the first to reach the lovely and soft interior of an egg, located in the murkily mapped recesses of Mrs. Browne's abdomen .... Worldly older siblings and adults are likely to be Allan's most responsive audience, but many under-five readers may still enjoy the sojourn to a world of endearing, exotic tadpole creatures."
We have now obtained a copy, and we can tell you ... it's not that bad. Allan has a gift for anatomically correct diagrams that aren't the least bit risque. For example, as the sperm cells race out of Mr. Browne and into Mrs. Browne, the visual looks for all the world like arrows on a treasure map. If a parent chose to describe the parts and actions pictured, he could, but he doesn't have to, and the words "penis," "vagina," and "nookie" do not appear anywhere in the book. The book can also be read as a Where's Waldo adventure as Willy and his bespectacled rival race to lead 300 million cells into Mrs. Browne after the couple "join together." There's also a hint of a genetics lesson when we discover that the daughter produced by Willy's heroic swim grows up to share his weakness in math. In other words, against all expectation, this is a legitimate book for preschoolers about where babies come from. We give it two ... thumbs up. Today, you can restore Cobb County, Georgia, to your list of places you could raise your kids, as the county has been ordered by a judge to remove stickers from its 34,000 science textbooks which had declared, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”
APPARENTLY, THE DESIGN OF THE STICKERS WASN'T SO INTELLIGENT
We have now obtained a copy, and we can tell you ... it's not that bad. Allan has a gift for anatomically correct diagrams that aren't the least bit risque. For example, as the sperm cells race out of Mr. Browne and into Mrs. Browne, the visual looks for all the world like arrows on a treasure map. If a parent chose to describe the parts and actions pictured, he could, but he doesn't have to, and the words "penis," "vagina," and "nookie" do not appear anywhere in the book. The book can also be read as a Where's Waldo adventure as Willy and his bespectacled rival race to lead 300 million cells into Mrs. Browne after the couple "join together."
There's also a hint of a genetics lesson when we discover that the daughter produced by Willy's heroic swim grows up to share his weakness in math. In other words, against all expectation, this is a legitimate book for preschoolers about where babies come from. We give it two ... thumbs up.
Today, you can restore Cobb County, Georgia, to your list of places you could raise your kids, as the county has been ordered by a judge to remove stickers from its 34,000 science textbooks which had declared, “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”
“It’s a sad day in Cobb County,” said Larry Taylor, a parent who favors including alternatives to evolution in science classes. “I hate to see the stickers go. I thought they were a fair compromise."
Taylor plans to promote other fair compromises for the school system, such as posting half of the 10 commandments in each classroom.
Taylor plans to promote other fair compromises for the school system, such as posting half of the 10 commandments in each classroom.
DOES THIS MEAN WE HAVE TO PULL SMALL FELLOW OFF HIS YOUTH SOCCER LEAGUE TEAM BECAUSE IT'S SPONSORED BY SCORES?
BUT IF PEOPLE PUT OFF THEIR BAR MITZVAHS UNTIL THEY WERE ADULTS, HOW WOULD THEY FILL THEIR COLLEGE FUNDS? (OH, SORRY. YOU HAD A SPIRITUAL POINT.)
Emily Bazelon at Slate has a radical proposal to "save" the bar mitzvah: Stop making kids do it at 13, because boys and girls today just don't feel it enough for her satisfaction. Spiritually, she believes, no commitment made by a 13-year-old (Joan of Arc excepted, we guess) can possibly have any meaning:
At 13, most kids don't choose to become b'nai mitzvah—they have the event foisted on them by their parents. At best, practicing their Torah reading is something they do to keep the nagging at bay; at worst, it's homework they resent and blow off. For many, the process can feel more infantilizing than inspiring—less like a first act of growing up than another reminder of her parents' shaping of her identity ...
Actually, 13 strikes us as the perfect age for a bar mitzvah. As a practical matter, a 13-year-old can still fit the lessons into his schedule without completely disrupting his extracurricular life. And yes, 13-year-olds may resist or rebel, but they're young enough that we parents can still make them to do it without really fostering a well of resentment that will disincline them from taking care of us in our old age.
And frankly we've encountered several kids who never thought they wanted a bar mitzvah, but ended up finding it a powerful experience and a major source of pride, for which some of them even thanked their parents. Bazelon would take that discovery away by caving in to any child who says she doesn't want to be bothered:
Doing away with the set age will lead to fewer b'nai mitzvahs—but they'd be more deeply felt. And that's probably a trade-off worth making. Just don't tell my kids I ever said so.
Well, it's a thought. But isn't it a bit like telling your child, "If you're not sure you really, really love geometry, then I don't even want you to go to that class. You can learn it when you're older, or whenever it makes you happy. Just please don't ever be upset with Mommy."
THE FREELANCEDAD.COM QUOTE OF THE DAY
From the same article - Bazelon reports being shocked - shocked! - to find that there are parents who come to the obvious conclusion that the intense period of learning required for a bar mitzvah might translate to other areas:
When I tutored b'nai mitzvah students for a spell, one mother expressed her fervent hope that all the practicing and study would help her son cultivate the habits he'd need to ace the SAT. And that was 10 years ago, at a progressive synagogue that I loved, in Berkeley.
In Berkeley? That's outrageous. We'll bet that mother wasn't even a vegetarian!
WHAT WILL THEY SAY WHEN THE CHILDREN ASK, "MOMMY, DOES THIS MEAN I WON'T GET INTO HUNTER?"
According to a Yale University study, preschools are expelling their charges at a rate three times that of K-12 schools (6.7 per 1,000 children enrolled, or about 5,000 kids per year). But given that preschoolers are of an age when handling their own poop is not necessarily considered a felony offense, one wonders what these children are doing to get themselves expelled.
Karen Hill-Scott, a California expert on children's development and their readiness for school, has some theories, but we're not going to pay any attention to her since she kicks off her comments by invoking a preposterous reality show:
"What the data tells us, as does the show 'Supernanny,' is that there are a lot of out-of-control kids out there," [Hill-Scott] said.
The study's chief author, Walter S. Gilliam, didn't research the reasons kids get expelled, only the numbers - which may be artificially high because he believes the same kids tend to get expelled from multiple programs - but the types of behavior that can get a kid tossed include
aggression toward the teacher or other children; actions that violate a zero-tolerance policy, like taking a toy gun to school; or anything that might cause a teacher to worry about injury and liability, like running out of the classroom to the parking lot.
Oh, man. Tiny Girl's not gonna last a week . . .
ON NEWSSTANDS NOW: YOU'VE GOTTA FIGHT -- FOR YOUR RIGHT -- TO A BIRTHDAY PAAARTY!!
Freelance Dad, writing as Gary Drevitch, has a few articles on newsstands and in pediatric waiting rooms this month. The first is the cover story from the May issue of Nick Jr. magazine, on wrangling your preschooler's birthday party. (Full article not available online, but it looks a lot like this.) The piece begins with an official Small Fellow Anecdote:
How important is a child’s birthday party? My son, [Fellow], 4, began dictating his guest list three months in advance. He wanted us to invite his entire nursery-school class, all of last year's pre-nursery class, and a certain 13-year-old cousin from New Hampshire. But wasn't New Hampshire too far away? “No, Daddy," he said. "She can fly on an airplane and get here very quickly!” Clearly, children place a high value on these parties .....
What we found interesting as we interviewed parents and party planners across the country was how many told us that they saw the preschool birthday party as a great opportunity for parents to drop off the kids and then take off on their own for a couple of hours. And yet, here in Manhattan, no one EVER just drops preschoolers off for a party - we all stay right there until the bitter (and often sticky) end.
Maybe in communities where everyone drives, it's easy to drop kids off and then speed to the Megalo-Mart; maybe outside the city, more people have parties in their homes, where all those extra moms and dads would just get in the way. In any case, it appears to be a major disconnect.
(By the way, Fellow continues to devise grandiose plans for his birthday parties. He now envisions the New York Hall of Science in Flushing as the ideal destination for his party. As we talked about it one morning, we told him it might be hard for all of his friends to get themselves from our neighborhood to deepest Queens. "It's OK, Daddy," he assured us. "They can all rent cars!")
ALSO ON NEWSSTANDS NOW: SMALL AND TINY MONKEYS ON OUR BACK
We have an item in the May issue of Parents about the risk of back injury for dads who carry children on their shoulders. (Article not available online.) To make a short story short, the risk is real. Once a child hits about 30 pounds, they should stay off your shoulders for good. The threat to your balance, the weight on your neck, the pressure on your spine - it adds up to a cocktail of pain.
Fortunately, at about 30 pounds, your child should also be old enough to be carried piggyback style, with their arms around your shoulders and their legs around your hips. (Think of it as carrying a fidgety, not especially water-resistant backpack.)
It takes a little getting used to, but it's more efficient and it saves wear and tear on the back. (There's a reason firefighters rescue people by carrying them on their hips instead of their shoulders.)
LAST NEWSSTAND ITEM: VIDEO GAMES YOU CAN ACTUALLY PLAY
Finally, we have an item in the June issue of Parents (not available online, but the issue looks like this) on the boomlet in retro video game systems. Unlike almost all new games on the market, the old Atari classics are, one, easy to play, and two, fairly non-violent. So they make a fine introduction to video game play for dads who want to take the risk of having no conversations with their sons between the ages of 8 and 14.
Dedicated correspondent that we are, we researched the story intensely, sometimes until 2 0r 3 in the morning, as we reacquainted ourselves with favorites like Asteroids and Yars’ Revenge, got a needed fix of Galaga, and reminded ourselves why we never much enjoyed Centipede or Pac-Man.
ALTHOUGH WE SUPPOSE THAT IF A UNITED STATES SENATOR CAN TAKE TO THE FLOOR AND COMPARE THE FILIBUSTER DEBATE TO PALPATINE'S TAKEOVER OF THE EMPIRE, A STATE LEGISLATOR CAN COMPARE MOUNTAIN DEW TO DEMON RUM
The Connecticut legislature yesterday banned certain soft drinks and junk foods from public school cafeterias and vending machines, apparently without taking the time to question how they were allowed in there in the first place. The ban is neither universal nor internally logical - high-calorie juices are still allowed in vending machines, for example, as are high-fat french fries, hot dogs, mac-and-cheese, and other lunchroom staples.
The floor debate was lively, with several legislators discussing their own childhood struggles with obesity and bribery, and others predicting a Prohibition-era-style black market in Coke and Kit Kats:
[Republicans] predicted that children would find ways to subvert the bans, much the way Prohibition failed to stop the flow of alcoholic drinks long ago .... Republican opponents said there would be widespread "bootlegging," as Representative John W. Hetherington of New Canaan called it.
"If I was in high school and had a case of Hershey bars, I may be in the parking lot seeing what I could do," agreed Richard O. Belden, a Republican from Shelton.
Oh, Rep. Belden, it staggers the mind to imagine what you could do in an elementary school parking lot on a hot day with a case of Hershey bars . . .
GRADUATION DAY IS ALWAYS SPECIAL AT DEAR OLD DOUBLE STANDARD HIGH SCHOOL
We offer this item from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
A pregnant student who was banned from graduation at her Roman Catholic high school announced her own name and walked across the stage anyway at the close of the program. Alysha Cosby's decision prompted cheers and applause Tuesday from many of her fellow seniors at St. Jude Educational Institute. But her mother and aunt were escorted out of the church by police after Cosby headed back to her seat.
"I can't believe something like this is happening in 2005," said her mother, Sheila Cosby.
But wait, there's more!:
The father of Cosby's child, also a senior at the school, was allowed to participate in graduation.
WHAT'S THE "ROLLER COASTER LOOPHOLE"? IT'S A LITTLE-KNOWN CLAUSE THAT SAYS FREELANCE DAD DOESN'T GET ON ROLLER COASTERS
Slate officially kicks off Summer of Fear 2005 with this piece on scattershot state and federal regulation of the amusement park industry. For example:
The state of Florida ... inspects all permanent rides, unless the company that runs the park employs more than 1,000 people—an exemption that leaves out self-policing amusement parks like Disney World, Busch Gardens, and Universal Studios.
Yeah, that's what we want to do: Put our lives in the hands of the people who green-lit "The Pacifier."
AND, NOW, A LITTLE BIT OF SACRILEGE ABOUT THE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
Let us preface this comment by noting that we are members in good standing, that we wear the T-shirts, and that we visit the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Central Park zoos many, many times each year. But when these guys did their aerial survey of the Bronx campus, did they happen to notice how far visitors had to walk to get from one animal to the next?
THE TROJAN FELLOW
Dads, have you ever been in this situation: In a strange city, feeling the call of nature, and facing only a row of restaurants with "Restrooms for Customers Only"? Here's our advice: If you have your Small Fellow with you, you can easily enter the establishment, ask the maitre d', "Can I please take him to use your bathroom?," then stroll right in. Works like a charm.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE GIVE YOU ... THE DULLEST PRESCHOOL IN AMERICA
This year's winner is the Nutritional Sciences Preschool at Rutgers University, perhaps the nation's only preschool with a curriculum focused on nutrition. As you can imagine, it's quite a dynamic place, as was in evidence during a reporter's recent visit:
"Versions of the Food Guide Pyramid, in wood, plastic and fabric, are everywhere."
OK, so the decor is compelling. But how's the brainwashing coming along?:
" 'We love broccoli!' [said] 3-year-old sisters Sara and Molly Balsamo of Milltown."
"5-year-old Justin Najimian of East Brunswick told a visitor everyone should eat lots of bananas and apples."
"I'm telling you, they love fruit, they will eat vegetables," [said preschool director, Harriet Worobey].
"They'd kill for me!" Worobey did not go on to say.
AS YODA WOULD PUT IT, "SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS KIDS DO"
Tiny Girl loves her hand-me-down copy of Lucky Ducks, the battery-powered game in which you place a dozen ducks around a pond, press the button, then grab the ducks as they pass, turning each over to see if it is one of the three with a bottom that matches the color on your game card. It's a game you can play cooperatively or competitively (more on that later).
But the other day, as we were reading and Tiny was playing her own solitaire version of the game, we suddenly heard an ear-piercing shriek.
- What's wrong, Tiny?
- Fellow turned off my LUCKY DUCKS!
- Fellow, why would you do that and make your sister so sad?"
- "Well ... it's because ... I really didn't want her ... to use up all the batteries ..."
AND NOW, THE SUBWAY REPORT
As we rode out to Queens for a family outing last weekend, Fellow exulted in the opportunity to look out the windows of the Number 7 train. Tiny shared his enthusiasm, but for some reason was very concerned that we not take the train to the end of the line. And so, every few minutes, in the middle of the crowded car, she'd yell to us, "Daddy, I don't want to go all the way!" We urged her to please hold that thought until she was 17 ...
IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THERE'S THIS LEVEL OF OUTRAGE FROM A PEOPLE WHO SPELL "PENALIZE" WITH AN S
Fourteen-year-old Brits taking national standardized English tests this year will not be penalised for any spelling errors. And the Telegraph is outraged.
IF THEY COULD PROGRAM IT TO PLAY "CAILLOU" REPEATS IN A CONTINUOUS LOOP, WE'D NEVER EAT BETWEEN MEALS AGAIN
Coming soon to a kitchen nowhere near us: The astoundingly unnecessary TV Refrigerator, the icebox with the built-in idiot box.
IN A RELATED STORY, PATIENTS GIVEN A TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS OFTEN BOOK VACATIONS, THEN ASK THEIR TRAVEL AGENTS TO CONTACT THEIR DOCTORS TO FIND OUT WHETHER TO BOTHER BILLING THEIR CREDIT CARDS
Certain Manhattan parents who don't want to know the sex of their babies in advance are choosing two sets of nursery accessories - blue and pink - then instructing sales clerks to call their OBs to find out which set to order and have ready to deliver when the baby arrives.
Susan Johnson, co-owner of Blue Bench, in TriBeCa .... said one pregnant customer asked her to share the secret only with her mother. "She wanted to have the nursery painted, carpeted and decorated in time for the baby, but didn't want to know herself," she said. "So every day when she went to work, her mom came to her apartment and worked on the room, then padlocked the door before leaving. For months, she lived with a padlocked nursery."
Just a hunch here: That's not the last padlocked room this customer's going to be dealing with.
MAMAS, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE VENEZUELAN BEAUTY ACADEMY STUDENTS
In pageant-mad Venezuela, parents send girls as young as 7 to the many beauty academies dotting the nation's cities. And while the academies claim their lessons can prepare a girl for any career, the bottom line is: hotty good, homely bad. As one instructor told the Times:
" 'There are people who say that beauty is not important, that what's important is what's inside. But who is going to get close enough to an ugly woman to ask what's inside?' "
Families who get Noggin should check their listings for repeats of the network's first "Move to the Music" special, which debuted a week ago. The half-hour compilation of family-friendly music videos commissioned by the network features favorites by Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner, as well as new tunes from indie sweetheart Lisa Loeb. While Loeb is a shade too sexy for a network that dubs itself "preschool on TV," and leaving Zanes' "All Around the Kitchen" video off the special was a criminal omission, it's still well worth recording so you can cue up a dance party in your living room whenever you like. (Video clips also available online here.)
WE'RE IN TALKS TO TRADE SMALL FELLOW TO THIS FAMILY FOR A USED CAMRY, SOME MAGIC BEANS, AND A BABY TO BE NAMED LATER
The Arizona couple who haven't named their 18-month-old girl yet initially seemed merely quirky, until we read the kicker of this article:
Because "Baby" has no legal name, she has no Social Security number, and cannot be claimed as a tax deduction.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, we have crossed the line from quirky to financially irresponsible.
WHAT'S A DOG GOTTA DO TO GET A NAME IN THIS TOWN?
In Kenya, a stray dog saves a stray baby by carrying her across a busy road. And while hospital workers now call the girl "Angel," "the short-haired dog with light brown eyes has no name."
STEP LIVELY, KIDS. WE'RE GOING TO DUSSELDORF!
Well, we're actually not. But if we were, we'd be sure to take the kids to the Kunsthalle to see the first museum show devoted exclusively to flip books. We have fond memories of the children's books we read as a kid which doubled as flip books because the author put tiny pictures in the upper corner of each page. And that wonderment is alive and well today. As you can see below, even young Skinheads love a good flip book.
We can't wait for this show to come to the Met.
STOP US IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE: HOW MANY YANGON HOUSEWIVES DOES IT TAKE TO BREASTFEED A PAIR OF TIGER CUBS?
A pair of Bengal tiger cubs born in the Yangon (Myanmar) Zoo but rejected by their mother (who killed their sibling) was nursed by a selfless local housewife for several weeks. But sadly the cubs could not process human breast milk and have died of heat and dehydration. Link here for the full story and an uncomfortable, barely safe for work photo of the housewife nursing her feline charges.
(Yes, this is the second photo we've linked to this month showing a human woman breastfeeding an animal. We're just following the old TV news credo: "If it feeds, it leads.")
NEW YORK KIDS DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY. (WE MEAN THAT LITERALLY. THE STATE GAVE THEM A TEST AND EVERYTHING.)
More than 80 percent of New York City eighth graders could not meet state standards in social studies last year, a rate of failure that has increased nearly 20 percentage points in the past three years. The near-certain cause is the general shafting social studies gets in the curriculum as schools hustle to improve their standardized math and reading scores.
In other news, Napoleon totally kicked butt in last year's Civil War!
THE LEAST POPULAR NAMES? FOR BOYS, "SHECKY." FOR GIRLS, "GOOD-TIME."
To the surprise of no one with children in New York City nursery or elementary schools, the Social Security Administration announced this week that Emily and Jacob were the most popular baby names in America in 2004, for the ninth and sixth years running, respectively. When parents have twin boys, they like to pair Jacob with Joshua, Esau having long fallen out of favor.
For irresistible fun, you can go to the Social Security Administration's Web site (Slogan: Your retirement dollars at work!), punch in your own child's name and see where it ranks in popularity, today and up to a century ago. (Small Fellow comes in 25th, and Tiny Girl is 19th with a bullet, up almost 40 spots in the last decade.)
WE'RE THINKING YOU COULD DO A LOT WORSE THAN NAMING YOUR DAUGHTER "MILAGROS"
Milagros Cerron, Peru's "little mermaid," turned one last week. The girl was born with the rare birth defect known as sirenomelia, or “mermaid syndrome," and her legs are fused together from her thighs to her ankles. Almost all babies with the affliction die within 10 days. But Milagros has grown into a bright, happy little girl.
Her father, Ricardo Cerron, 24, who took Milagros on an eight-hour bus trip to Lima after her birth to find expert medical help, says, “I think she is the happiest girl in the world, side-by-side with her dad and mom, nothing more." Still,
[Dr. Luis] Rubio said Milagros would need 14 to 15 years of corrective surgeries to reconstruct and repair her sexual, digestive and other internal organs.
Milagros means miracle, by the way.
JUST IN TIME FOR SUMMER VACATION: FEAR AND PANIC
Grab your sunscreen:
Pediatric melanoma is still uncommon in children, affecting only 7 per million, or about 500, according to 2002 statistics from the National Cancer Institute. But that number has risen from 3 per million in 1982 . . . .
“There’s an appropriate level of alarm here,” said [Dr. Anthony Mancini, dermatology chief at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago]. “Clearly it’s happening and it’s deadly, and it’s missed.”
DON'T WE KNOW IT
According to this groundbreaking study conducted by leading academics who had not previously met any 3-year-old girls, those adorable toddlers can be just as mean and manipulative as their famously nasty teenage sisters.
"It could range from ... telling their friends not to play with someone to saying, 'I'm not going to invite you to my birthday party,'" said Craig Hart, study co-author and professor of marriage, family and human development at BYU. "Some kids are really adept at being mean and nasty." .... The "mean girls" are highly liked by some and strongly disliked by others. They are socially skilled and popular but can be manipulative and subversive if necessary. They are feared as well as respected.
Dr. Hart, you've certainly blown the lid off this one. But Tiny Girl, who is not even three, is already way ahead of the development curve here. As she will often approach us, "Daddy, I love you ... kiss and hug! ... Daddy, can I have a cookie? ... No, I want a COOKIE! RIGHT! NOW! ... You won't give me a cookie, you're not NICE! ... No, don't say that thing to me! ... I want a COOKIE!"
Just as Dr. Hart indicated, mean girls are both feared and respected.
WHY ARE THE BABIES CRYING? MAYBE THEY JUST FOUND OUT HOW BURDENSOME THEY ARE
The Japanese company that brought you the "Bowlingual," a device which promised to tell you exactly what was on your dog's mind when he barked (they've already moved 300,000 units in Japan), is back with a new wonder product: a baby-babbling translator. The new product could be on shelves by 2006 and sell for about $95.
Kazuyuki Shinohara, a neurobiology professor at the state-run Nagasaki University who leads the research team, says, reasonably, "It is cruel just to tell [parents] 'You should naturally know what your baby wants'." He then goes on to promise most unreasonably that "the device may also help detect abnormalities such as autism."
Of course, the mystery of why children cry has baffled parents for centuries, though our Agence France Presse correspondent offers one theory, at least regarding Japan. Maybe children there cry so much because they live "in a country where a growing number of young people find child-rearing too burdensome."
TINY GIRL ALREADY HAS ACCESS TO THIS TECHNOLOGY AND DEPLOYS IT ALMOST NIGHTLY
Coming soon to a manipulative store near you: The smell cannon.
OK, YOU WANT US TO THROW SMALL FELLOW SOME HEAT, WE'LL DO IT. BUT HE'D BETTER REMEMBER THAT THE INSIDE OF THE PLATE BELONGS TO US.
Interesting study available today attempts to explain why small children playing baseball have such trouble hitting balls pitched to them slowly. It's counter-intuitive, but we're willing to give it a try.
IRWIN MAINWAY WOULD BE PROUD. BUT ABSOLUTELY NO ONE ELSE WOULD.
"Actually, to be honest with you, you'll hear it first. I'm gonna make a billion dollars out of this," said Tony Van Pelt, the creator . . . "This is a business, controversial, but a legitimate product, hard work behind it."
What is Mr. Van Pelt peddling? Chronic Candy, lollipops made to taste like marijuana, with the slogan, "every lick is like taking a hit." To Mr. Van Pelt's chagrin, some parents seem to think kids might get the wrong idea about his treats.
IT GETS WORSE: ACCORDING TO "PRIMETIME LIVE," PAULA ABDUL SECRETLY OFFERED TO STRAP THE MOST ATTRACTIVE TODDLERS IN THEIR STROLLERS BY HERSELF
According to a report in yesterday's Times, parents just like us favor their attractive children over their uglier offspring beginning in toddler days. As always with groundbreaking, counter-intuitive research on parenting, the methodology is the most fun. The Canadian researchers apparently hid in the dark corners of supermarkets, rating the appearance of each child on a scale from 1 to 10. Then,
The researchers noted if the parents belted their youngsters into the grocery cart seat, how often the parents' attention lapsed and the number of times the children were allowed to engage in potentially dangerous activities like standing up in the shopping cart.
Based on their spying, they found that moms only strapped their homeliest kids in shopping carts 4% of the time, while their tots with shiny hair and symmetrical features were strapped in 13.3% of the time. Dads didn't bother to strap in a single dog-faced boy. The research is consistent with studies showing that taller, more attractive people tend to be more successful, more popular, and to earn more than their knuckle-dragging contemporaries. The study's authors speculated that people may be wired to take better care of more attractive children to preserve the most promising seed for the next generation.
Maureen Dowd, speaking as always for the underdog, especially on slow news days, speculates on today's op-ed page that not only are parents neglecting their ugly ducklings, they're actually considering burning them, as her column concludes:
... one thing's for sure: it's hard to develop self-esteem when you're hurtling out of the supermarket cart toward the rotisserie oven.
In other news you may have missed . . . PARENTS ONLY STRAP THEIR KIDS INTO SHOPPING CARTS 13% OF THE TIME!!!
AND WITH THREE TIMES AS MUCH KETCHUP IN EVERY PACKET, IT WILL ONLY TAKE FOUR PACKETS TO GET SMALL FELLOW THROUGH A SIDE ORDER OF FRENCH FRIES
Heinz is testing new "simple to open, mess-free" ketchup-packet technology in the U.K. And it sounds like the kind of product American burger-lovers would welcome. "Heinz spokesman Robin Teets said it's too early to project when the squeeze packet will make it across the pond," the Daily News reports, but since the company "suggests that fast-food diners pay a small price for the new packets," we're going to go out on a limb and guess . . . never.
AFTER ALL, WHO KNOWS BETTER THE STING OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY THAN CLINTON, WHO WAS A HUSKY KID HIMSELF . . . AND FOLLOWING THAT LOGIC, WE IMAGINE HIS NEXT CRUSADE WILL BE TO STAMP OUT MIDDLE-AGE INFIDELITY
Former President Clinton came to a Harlem school yesterday to announce a partnership with the American Heart Association to reduce childhood obesity and its time bomb of health costs by 2010. Clinton, who blames his childhood diet for his eventual heart problems, will encourage schools, health care organizations, and the media to join the campaign. He will also encourage restaurants and food manufacturers to reduce portion sizes for unhealthy food.
On a personal note, we'd like to take this opportunity to invite Clinton to take his campaign to FD.com headquarters, where he can urge Small Fellow and Tiny Girl to -- stop eating the matzoh already!
YOU THINK THIS IS BAD? WAIT'LL THE NEXT ITEM
Two Indiana preschoolers snatched their mother's keys and took her van on a five-mile joy ride that ended with the brothers plowing into a pile of dirt at a fertilizer plant.
IT'S TIME TO PLAY YOU MAKE THE CALL, THE GAME WHERE FREELANCE DAD ASKS: WHO IS MOST AT FAULT?
Here's today's challenge (second item) : A father falls asleep in his Queens home on a quiet afternoon. As he rests, his three-year-old puts on his purple jacket, leaves the apartment, walks to the nearest bus stop, catches the Q5 to Jamaica Avenue, strolls into a multiplex, and sits down to enjoy the voice talents of Robin Williams in the animated motion picture, "Robots." Police find the boy at the multiplex, and promptly arrest the father for endangering the welfare of a minor.
So, reader, You Make the Call: Who Is Most at Fault?
If you said, "The bus driver," for letting an unaccompanied three-year-old get off his bus without alerting authorities, you're right! (We also would have accepted Robin Williams, for the tired shtick we can only assume he brought to his voice-over performance in the film.)
A PASSING MOTORIST NARROWLY AVOIDED STRIKING DUCKLING NO. 11. GOOD THING, OR WE'D BE CALLING HIM "FLAT QUACKS"
And now an FD.com update: The mother mallard duck who had taken up residence on the lawn of the Treasury Building a few weeks back, and who had been granted Secret Service protection, has finally hatched her 11 ducklings. The mallard, nicknamed Quacks Reform by some, and Failed Foreign Policy Distraction by others, was taken by motorcade with all of her babies from Pennsylvania Avenue to a creek in a district park, in an operation uncannily similar to the one in Robert McCloskey's classic.