Produced by Gary Drevitch
SINCE WE HEARD THIS DECISION, WE'VE PREPARED A SET OF SANDWICH BOARDS FOR SMALL FELLOW TO WEAR WHILE STANDING OUTSIDE OUR HOME:
"I ATE WITH MY HANDS. THIS IS MY PUNISHMENT."
"I CHEATED AT UNO. THIS IS MY PUNISHMENT."
AND, "I DUMPED THE WATER OUT OF THE BATHTUB. THIS IS MY PUNISHMENT."
Without comment, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a California man appealing the punishment he received for stealing mail from a post office in 2001. In addition to two months in prison, a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge in San Francisco also decreed that the man had to stand outside a post office for 100 hours wearing a sandwich board that read: ''I have stolen mail. This is my punishment.''
The man was appealing the sentence on the grounds that it was cruel and unusual - not to mention lame.
FREELANCE DAD DILEMMA OF THE WEEK
Fellow starts up the up escalator at Barnes and Noble, immediately after we ask him to stay with us. We call out to him to tell him to come right back down, and he says, OK, but instead of going all the way up, and then returning down the other escalator, he just races down the up staircase, with impressive speed and deftness. Do we: continue the discipline, or just move on, secretly impressed with his youthful agility? You make the call.
WELL, WE'LL BE DARNED. SMALL FELLOW AND TINY GIRL WERE RIGHT ABOUT PRODUCE ALL ALONG
Kids who refuse to eat their fruits and vegetables just might be on to something - according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, produce contaminated by bacteria from manure fertilizer now causes more food-borne illnesses than raw chicken or eggs:
“Pathogens can adhere to the rough surfaces of fruits and vegetables, so consumers should take precautions, such as washing produce under running water,” the report said, adding people should “still eat plenty of produce.”
What? No! I don't WANT it! Noooo!
THOMAS AND HIS FRIENDS ARE A REALLY USEFUL CREW - BUT ONLY IN THE BACK SEAT
As of January 1, the great state of Illinois will have a law on the books barring drivers from viewing movies or games on screens in the front seat of their vehicles. The new measure inspired this purple paragraph from the suburban Chicago Daily Herald:
The law targets in-dash monitors that, police and lawmakers say, have helped turn the state's highways into a rolling movie house featuring everything from Thomas the Tank Engine to video porn.
Wow, we have definitely got trouble, right here in River City.
THIS ONE IS FOR ANYONE OUT THERE STILL NOT TAKING THAT WHOLE PEANUT ALLERGY THING SERIOUSLY
A teenage boy has a peanut snack, then kisses his girlfriend - who has the allergy, and dies from the reaction.
NEXT TIME, TRY A PACIFIER
Police are searching for a Florida couple belived to have killed their three-month-old daughter last year by dosing her with vodka to keep her from crying:
... the parents told officers that for about a month they had fed their daughter a bottle filled with a mixture of water, sugar and vodka to help her sleep. Small quantities of alcohol have historically been used to quiet crying babies, but authorities said the amount fed to Makeisha was extreme ... the infant had a blood alcohol level of 0.47 percent ... for a baby to ingest that much alcohol would be the equivalent of a 160-pound adult drinking 18 beers.
COMING TOMORROW: FREELANCE DAD SHARES HIS ETCHINGS ON THIS WEB SITE
In an unrelated story, scientists say that artists and poets have sex lives twice as active as other people ...
WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING MEMBERSHIP APPLICATIONS FOR OUR NEW ORGANIZATION, PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF DADS
We have never fished, we have never hunted, we cannot imagine a worse way to spend a day. However, we're also not down with PETA's new anti-fishing ad campaign, targeted at kids, and carrying the catchy title, "Your Daddy Kills Animals!"
Inside the PETA flyer, kids will read:
“Imagine that a man dangles a piece of candy in front of you. ... As you grab the candy, a huge metal hook stabs through your hand and you’re ripped off the ground. You fight to get away, but it doesn’t do any good... That would be an awful trick to play on someone, wouldn’t it?”
Wow, yeah, that would suck. And while kids try to come to grips with that horrifying image, the good people at PETA put a face on their fears - Dad's:
"Since your daddy is teaching you the wrong lessons about right and wrong, you should teach him fishing is killing. Until your daddy learns it's not fun to kill, keep your doggies and kitties away from him. He's so hooked on killing defenseless animals, they could be next."
In fact, if your daddy has a gun, why don't you find it right now - go ahead, go get it - and then grab your pets, run to your bedroom and lock the door. Are you there? Good. Now, crouch behind the bed, dial 911, and tell the police that your Daddy is coming to kill Scraps and Mittens, and that they should come quick and arrest him, because he's a bad man, and by the way, fur is murder.
Happy as we always are to get our lessons in values from an animal-rights group whose major claim to fame is plastering pictures of naked (or half-naked) women all around our cities, we'd ask them to kindly refrain from teaching young kids that their daddies are bloodthirsty killers. For if you follow their line of reasoning, kids should also cower in fear at the sight of their school lunch ladies, or their cousins who work at McDonald's, or any of the other millions of adults toiling in the animal-death industry.
Tucker Carlson of MSNBC invited Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of farmed animal campaigns, on his show the other night for the purpose of disemboweling him about the new campaign. Here's just one highlight from this high-level prime-time debate:
CARLSON: ... you're very concerned about the feelings of fish. But you don't care at all about the feelings of kids, or their parents.
FRIEDRICH: That's not fair.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T READ ROSS ANY PETA FLYERS
Ross is an Irish setter and a trained therapy dog who is helping Maryland kids gain confidence in their reading skills by serving as a nonjudgmental listener.
“If they make a mistake, the dog isn’t going to correct them,” [Ross' partner Barbara] Murgo said. “The dog is not going to laugh at them. It’s just going to listen and love every word they say.”
Reading Education Assistance Dogs like Ross are being welcomed into schools across the country to support struggling readers. In fact, there are now 750 dog-and-owner teams visiting classrooms in 45 states. To answer your first question, Yes, all of the teams are volunteers so there's no cost to the involved schools. To answer your second question, No, of course an actual literacy expert thinks this idea is for the -- well, you know:
Catherine Snow, an expert on childhood literacy development at Harvard University, said anything that helps poor readers find enjoyment in books is good — but isn’t enough on its own. “If the kids are freaked out about being corrected, and this gets them over the hump, then fine,” Snow said about reading to dogs. “But if they need to be guided to attend more carefully to the words and the way you sound out those letters, and all this does is give them a respite, then it really isn’t going to help reading at all.”
BUT THIS DOESN'T APPLY TO YOUR TWINS. YOUR TWINS ARE BRILLIANT. WE SWEAR.
A shocking new study out of Scotland has shown that twin children tend to have substantially lower I.Q.'s than their non-twin siblings. Sounds pretty bad, until you find out that:
... [t]he authors acknowledge that their study is based on children born more than 50 years ago and that a study of children born more recently might produce different results.
So . . . nevermind.
THE MOST HARROWING SET OF ARTICLES WE'VE READ IN A LONG WHILE
It's Newsweek's cover package on anorexia's youngest victims - girls (and boys) as young as 9 suffering from the disease with "the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, including depression" - and the scientists struggling to find out why the disorder seems to be affecting a wider range of people than it once did.
As part of the package, James S. Berrien, president and publisher of Forbes Magazine Group, bravely and forthrightly shares the story of how his family has dealt with his daughter's battle with anorexia, telling readers:
It has helped tremendously that we have been open with everyone from the very beginning. For Lacey, I know, this has been hard. But we all realize that there is no shame here, no one to blame. We are a closer and more open family as a result. As a dad, I have learned that I can't make everything better ...
That must be a tough lesson, and we hope we never have to learn it.
IF NOTHING ELSE, THIS ARTICLE HAS CONVINCED US TO START USING THE CORRECT NAMES FOR OUR CHILDREN'S PRIVATE PARTS. WE WON'T CALL THEM "THE BAD STICK" AND "THE DIRTY VALLEY" ANYMORE.
From the people who brought you the "trend" of first-year potty training, the New York Times now proudly presents Sex Ed for Toddlers, featuring an all-new set of suburban moms seeking original ways to intimidate the Hell out of their neighbors. Today's group comes to us from Long Island, and it met weekly last summer with a Planned Parenthood staffer for lessons in how to educate toddlers about sex, because it sure beats teaching them how to add. Sure enough, the moms involved found the lessons "so necessary" that they are scheduling another set for 2006.
Because when it comes to sex ed for three-year-olds, says Nanette Ecker, the educator who led the moms' group, "Parents don't have the luxury of silence anymore." She did not then add, "They do, however, have the luxury of paying me to teach them ways to talk to kids about how they and their husbands get it on."
Now, we don't just want to poke fun at these parents, at least not exclusively, because their approach does address some valid cultural questions. For example:
The general cultural environment has become so vulgar, the early-approach advocates say, that sex education has become a race: parents must reach children before other forces - from misinformed playground confidantes to pubescent-looking models posed in their skivvies - do. "We need to get there first," said Deborah M. Roffman, a sex educator.
And Roffman's right about that; Fellow and Tiny see all kinds of images we'd rather they didn't and while they can't put their finger on exactly what it is, they know that something about those images makes them uncomfortable. Now, would full-blown sex ed make them feel better about it? We're not sure. Often at this developmental stage, a child's curiosity is only surface deep, as Bill Taverner, the director of education for Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, wisely points out in the Times piece:
"If a child holds up a tampon and says, 'What's this?' " said , "the best answer may just be, 'that's a tampon.' Having a name for something is sometimes enough."
But as with the women in the earlier Times piece on "diaper-free" parenting, who potty-trained children as young as seven months old, we get a sense that at the end of the day, this is really all about the moms, and they straddle the fine and sometimes icky line between being proud of what their kids can do, and bragging about what they can get their kids to do. For example, we can tell you about what new academic feats Fellow is accomplishing in kindergarten, and, sure, that's plenty obnoxious, but it's a different kind of obnoxious than saying, "And then I blow this whistle, and Tiny Girl drops to the floor and gives me 10 push-ups."
To that end, we'll give the final word to Susan Vartoukian, hostess of the Long Island sex-ed group, who has had "the talk" with her two young boys years before most parents would even think about it:
"It's a fun time at dinner now," Ms. Vartoukian [said]. "We have The Talk every single night."
And there you go.
DOCTORS URGE NEW MOMS TO GET OUT OF BED, START WALKING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, FIX THEM A MARTINI
New mothers need to get out of bed as quickly as possible after birth to avoid the risk of a potentially fatal blood clot. Such clots (it's deep-vein thrombosis, the same risk you face if you stay in your seat throughout a lenghty airline flight) are rare, but are four times more common in pregnant women and new moms.
BEST REUTERS EDITORIAL DECISION OF 2005: NOT INCLUDING A PHOTO WITH THIS STORY
A three-day-old baby in India born with an external heart she was holding in one of her hands has died of an infection. Here's just a hint of how awful those three days were:
Doctors separated the baby girl’s hand from her heart after her birth, and said she needed surgery to position the heart, which lay between her neck and collar bone, inside her body.
THE IN-CASE-YOU-MISSED-IT BIG NEWS OF THE WEEK WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR THE ABORTION DEBATE
A first-trimester screening test many of you moms may have taken as part of a 38,000-woman, eight-year, $15 million study has proven effective in identifying fetuses likely to be born with Down Syndrome as soon as 11 weeks after conception, early enough for a first-trimester abortion if parents choose that option.
Fergal D. Malone of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin led the study and trumpets its likelihood to ease a woman’s abortion choice:
"By the time you're 20 weeks pregnant, most women will be feeling fetal movement. We wouldn't want to underestimate the psychological or emotional difficulty of undergoing pregnancy termination that late .... Also, at that point it's easy to tell by looking at the woman if she is pregnant. This way she can make her decision in utmost privacy." Anti-abortion advocates, however, will have none of that, and instead see a slippery slope in society’s willingness to eliminate people with Down syndrome: "What's the goal here? Is it to rid our society of Down babies? If that is the goal, I really have to question the civility of that," [Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations] said. "The overwhelming number of people with Down will tell you their life is good." ... Randall K. O'Bannon of the National Right to Life Committee said ... "These tests appear to be used only to select babies for abortion. . . . Killing a child with Down's Syndrome is not the solution to Down's Syndrome."
"By the time you're 20 weeks pregnant, most women will be feeling fetal movement. We wouldn't want to underestimate the psychological or emotional difficulty of undergoing pregnancy termination that late .... Also, at that point it's easy to tell by looking at the woman if she is pregnant. This way she can make her decision in utmost privacy."
Anti-abortion advocates, however, will have none of that, and instead see a slippery slope in society’s willingness to eliminate people with Down syndrome:
"What's the goal here? Is it to rid our society of Down babies? If that is the goal, I really have to question the civility of that," [Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations] said. "The overwhelming number of people with Down will tell you their life is good." ... Randall K. O'Bannon of the National Right to Life Committee said ... "These tests appear to be used only to select babies for abortion. . . . Killing a child with Down's Syndrome is not the solution to Down's Syndrome."
YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE, BUT YOU CAN SCHEDULE DELIVERY
Despite a concerted effort by, well, everyone except pregnant women and their obstetricians, the rate of Caesarean sections in the U.S. has climbed to an all-time high. The procedure was performed 1.4 million times in 2004, which amounts to almost 30% of all births. Among the reasons given for the C-section increase: better detection of potential delivery risks; an increasing belief that women who’ve had C-sections are at risk if they deliver vaginally in the future; and doctors’ fear of malpractice suits from botched vaginal deliveries.
WE WANT TO MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR: FREELANCE DAD WAS NOT IN THE NEWTON AREA AT THE TIME OF THE REPORT
A man claiming to be a "professional diaper changer" (although we don't recall ever seeing him at the institute) accosts a pair of mothers in a Store 24 parking lot, offering to change their children's diapers right there on the spot, and of course, creeping the diaper-change material out of them.
But here's the punchline: After hearing one mom's complaint, local police went to a nearby day-care center to ask if, by any chance, she had a rogue staff member roaming the streets in search of posteriors to powder. The director said, no, she didn't, and in fact
there was "absolutely" no one trained to change diapers at the center.
WE'RE NOT READY TO GIVE UP ON THIS GIRL. IF SHE ENROLLS AT THE FREELANCE DAD DIAPER CHANGING INSTITUTE, SHE MAY YET HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AHEAD OF HER
An Oklahoma mom frustrated by her teen's poor grades and bad attitude sends her walking the streets wearing a sandwich board that says, "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food." This mother-of-the-year candidate also has an entry in the race for understatement of the year:
"This may not work. I'm not a professional ... But I felt I owed it to my child to at least try."
Donald Wertlieb, a child-development professor at Tufts, broke no new ground with his theory that "such punishment could do extreme emotional damage," but then redeemed himself with this classic but worthwhile piece of parenting advice: "The trick is to catch them being good."
NOT TO BE LEFT OFF THE BANDWAGON, THE CENTRAL PARK ZOO IS RUSHING POLAR BEAR BURGERS ONTO ITS SNACK BAR MENU
A safari-themed zoo in Thailand has come under fire for offering a VIP dinner buffet featuring relatives of the animals on display, including tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe. Food critics say the giraffe tastes like chicken. The tigers agree.
COLLEGE IS REALLY ALREADY VERY MUCH LIKE NURSERY SCHOOL, WHAT WITH THE PUBLIC URINATION, THE INCESSANT SITTING IN CIRCLES, AND ALL THE DAMN CLIQUES
Alison Gopnik of the University of Washington, one of FD.com's favorite childhood-development thinkers and the co-author of The Scientist in the Crib, wants to make college more like nursery school. As she writes on Slate.com this week, undergraduates in all disciplines need to get in the lab or the field and do hands-on research as much as possible, not just sit and listen to lectures about it for four years:
This is, literally, a medieval form of learning, and it's no coincidence that modern science only began to take off when it abandoned it—at first divorcing itself from universities in the process .... Why not make all teaching like graduate teaching (or, for that matter, the best preschool teaching)?
THIS SINGLE PHOTO IS ALL WE'VE EVER SEEN OF THIS PROGRAM, AND YET IT'S ENOUGH TO CONVINCE US THAT WE NEVER WANT TO WATCH IT
PBS is getting involved with the national campaign to beg kids to stop getting fat and raising their parents' health-insurance premiums with its new show, "Kid Fitness," which began airing this fall. Targeting husky youngsters age 2-8, the show stars the superhero "Kid Fitness" (that's him there at left, in the bright yellow kneepads), who encourages viewers to get off the couch and join him in basic, high-energy exercise movements. And if kids should actually be inspired to get off the couch and go outside to run and play, Kid Fitness encourages them to leave the cable box on so PBS still gets the Nielsen credit and he doesn't lose his show and have to go back to work at the Y.
WE'RE HAPPY YOU'VE DECIDED TO SPEND A SMALL SHARE OF YOUR HALF-A-MILLION YEARS OF GOOFING OFF WITH US
Advertising Age magazine has determined that U.S. workers will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs on the job this year. Work time spent reading blogs unrelated to work will eat up 1.65% of labor force hours. With that, we encourage you to get back to work before they ship your desk to Bangalore.
SURE, SHE SAYS THAT NOW, AFTER SHE'S SPENT ALL OF HER GRANT MONEY
New studies based on research derived from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Study of Early Child Care reinforce conclusions that kids in group child care situations gain advantages academically, but not socially, and are generally safer than they would be in home-care situations. But the real headline comes deep in the story:
"Virtually across the board, the effects of parenting are greater than the effects of child care, so some people might say we don't need to worry about the small effects of child care," said Cathryn Booth-LaForce of the University of Washington, a researcher on the study.
ACCORDING TO THIS COLUMN, 18% OF WORKERS HAD SEEN CO-WORKERS PUT THEIR PERSONAL INTERESTS OVER THOSE OF THEIR EMPLOYER. THE OTHER 82% WOULD TAKE A BULLET FOR THEIR VP.
Another typically interesting family-oriented column from WSJ's Career Journal details how many white-collar workers use office phones, e-mail, and fax equipment to manage their kids' sports teams and other extracurriculars. Oddly, the article barely mentions parents who use office technology to produce their children's nursery-school newsletters.
THEY ALSO WOULDN'T MIND YOU TELLING THEM WHERE YOU KEEP THE KEY TO THE LIQUOR CABINET
Parenting recently ran a piece on "what the babysitter wishes you knew," and it's a quite reasonable checklist of do's and don'ts for dealing with sitters.
OK, THE KIDS MIGHT GET ADDICTED, BUT ISN'T IT WORTH THE RISK TO AVOID THEIR HAVING TO SEE VIDEO OF THEMSELVES LINE-DANCING AT THEIR BAR MITZVAHS SOME DAY?
Demon poker has infiltrated the sacred realm of the over-the-top suburban bar mitzvah party, putting dance leaders and other "party enhancers" on the street, and leaving Harvey Araton of the New York Times shocked - shocked! And, presumably, alarmed.
ACCORDING TO A CUNIEFORM TRANSLATOR ON THE SITE, THE TABLETS ALSO TELL THE LEGEND OF A FURRY BLUE MONSTER, SENT BY THE HEAVENS, WHO WOULD EAT THE NEW LETTERS IN ORDER TO PREVENT HUMANS, IN THEIR ARROGANCE, FROM COMMUNICATING WITH EACH OTHER IN WRITING AS THE GODS DO
Archaeologists digging in Israel have found a stone tablet with Phoenician or Hebrew letters inscribed on it, enabling scholars now to date the origins of human writing back to the 10th century BC.
YEAH, AT FIRST THIS SOUNDS KIND OF HOT, LIKE THE HIGH-CONCEPT ADULT VIDEO SCRIPT WOULD WRITE ITSELF, BUT THEN YOU READ ON AND REALIZE THAT'S NOT AT ALL WHERE THIS STORY IS GOING
A British woman with two vaginas and two wombs became one of only a handful of women around the world who share her rare (and apparently painful) condition to successfully deliver twins, one from each womb. Happily, although the twins were premature, both are healthy, so it's still a happy ending.
THIS IS AN UPDATE OF AN OLDER STUDY, WHICH CONCLUDED, "2 MILLION U.S. DINOSAURS PRE-LAPSARIAN"
But today's headline is "2 million U.S. adolescents pre-diabetic," because the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health have found that
roughly 2 million U.S. children ages 12 to 19 have a pre-diabetic condition linked to obesity and inactivity that puts them at risk for full-blown diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, was not involved in the study, but suggested that "systematic societal changes are needed," including more healthful school lunches, to avoid a public-health time bomb. Yeah, he's looking at you, Sunny D ...
WE TOLD YOU A WEEK AGO THAT THIS STORY WAS ABOUT TO BLOW UP. WELCOME TO THE HOTTEST CULTURE CLASH OF CHRISTMAS 2005.
Newsweek jumps in on the Focus on the Family vs. American Girl dispute this week, capturing the sincere anguish of conservative Christian parents torn between their favorite toy line - which remarkably continues to grow in popularity among girls nationwide despite its dowdy values and educational underpinning - and their passionate opposition to abortion, homosexual rights, and free speech:
A few weeks ago Tracie [Cross] read on the [American Girl] Web site that it was donating $50,000 and proceeds from its I CAN bracelet to Girls Inc., which sounded like the kind of nice thing American Girl would do. But when she clicked on www.girlsinc.org, Tracie was crushed to find an endorsement of Roe v. Wade and language supportive of homosexuals. It struck her that politics had invaded playtime. "I feel like there's nowhere safe," says Tracie, who has vowed not to buy anything from American Girl as long as it's affiliated with Girls Inc. "I have to have a clear conscience."
Newsweek reports that:
For now, American Girl, which grossed $379 million in sales last year, is standing by its commitment to Girls Inc. Meanwhile, the group is enjoying a surge in donations ... If the boycott has had any real impact on sales, it was not noticeable at American Girl Place in Chicago last week.
But it is clearly only a matter of time. Will Mattel pull its support of Girls Inc.? And if it does, what kind of backlash will that invite? It's only 45 shopping days till Christmas ...
HEY, WE'RE ALL FOR ELEVATING MOTHERS TO SAINTHOOD - WE'D NOMINATE OURS, IF WE COULD - BUT WE CAN'T GET DOWN WITH THE WHOLE "OVERPOPULATE THE WORLD" CAMPAIGN
An Italian mother who raised 11 children (she gave birth to 9) a century ago was beatified by the Vatican last week, which seems like a lovely idea until you discover that it's part of a campaign to promote large families.
Apparently, Pope Benedict XVI is calling for countries "to approve legislation and other incentives to help" large families. According to MSNBC, "the pontiff has said there is no future without children." We can't argue with that. But there's also no future without wheat, and no future without water. Resources are scarce. We're not so sure that advocating 11 children per home as the ideal is necessarily going to ensure a bright future for all of them.
THIS COULD LEAD TO THE GREATEST INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REAR-FACING YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE BACK SEATS OF CARS SINCE THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SATURDAY MIDNIGHT CURFEW
Apparently, we can all expect a revision of longstanding guidelines for children in rear-facing car seats, as a body of evidence from Europe, and from American sources including the American Academy of Pediatrics, argues compellingly that all children, no matter their weight, should be rear-facing in car seats until at least the age of two. As the academy has already advised:
If a car safety seat accommodates children rear facing to higher weights, for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the maximum weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back.
In many cases, that would mean up to 30 pounds, and/or perhaps several months past the child's second birthday. So, turn 'em back around, America.
SOMEONE MAY WANT TO CONTACT VERISIGN AND BUY THE RIGHTS TO DEFACTODAD.COM
The Supreme Court of the state of Washington ruled this week in one of those gut-wrenching custody cases in which former gay (in this case, lesbian) partners have a child, carried by one of them, but never legally adopted by the other. In this case, the jilted partner, Sue Ellen Carvin, was actually a stay-at-home mom for the couple for the child's first six years, at which point the couple separated. But the partner sued for co-parenting rights and won her case, as the court,
[i]n [a] 7-2 decision ... recognized what it called a "de-facto or psychological parent" under the state's common law as one who "in all respect functions as the child's actual parent."
We think it was a fair decision, but we'll offer you an excerpt from the dissent:
"This outcome is unconstitutional and in derogation of rights of the mother because it interferes with an admittedly fit parent's fundamental right to make child-rearing decisions..."
Finally, allow us to present you this one ultra-fascinating detail from the case that you can use in cocktail party discussions:
[Carvin and Page Britain] had used donor sperm to produce the child, known in court documents as L.B., now age 10 ... Britain is now married to the sperm donor.
-- WELL, SMALL FELLOW, THAT'S THE END OF THIS MORNING'S POST.
-- But what if it isn't?
-- NO, IT IS. I'M DONE, SO THAT'S THE END.
-- But what if you're not?
The debates between us and Small Fellow sadly never reach the summits of oratory climbed by the likes of Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits, but they do follow a consistent pattern these days, as he is completely hung up on "What if it isn't?" as a reliable conversation extender.
"We'll have dinner in a few minutes when mommy comes in."
"But what if she doesn't?"
"No, she is coming. She just called from outside."
"But what if she doesn't?" etc., etc.
It's not so much the annoyance factor that bothers us about these conversations, though, have no doubt, it's high. It's the implication that, for the first time, he doubts us as a legitimate source, and that's just a blow to our pride.
A PERSONAL NOTE
Some regular visitors may have noticed that this site was dark for the past week. That was because we were mourning the passing of our own mom, Freelance Grandmother. She never got to see this Web site, but we think - we hope - that she would have found it amusing, and shared a few laughs with us. At left, a photo of her visiting with Small and Tiny.
THIS COMES AS NO SURPRISE TO CLOSE FOLLOWERS OF THE AMERICAN GIRL LINE, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE READ "TERRY, GIRL OF THE 1910s, AND HER BOSTON MARRIAGE"
A Wisconsin Catholic school canceled a planned American Girl fashion show fundraiser because of concerns that the doll line's parent company, Mattel, donates money to Girls, Inc., a.k.a. the Girls Clubs of America. According to the AP report:
Two national groups — the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. — have raised questions about the American Girl brand and its parent company, Mattel Inc. because of the company's fund-raising for Girls Inc.
Girls Inc. offers a wide range of programs and resources to help educate and encourage girls in everything from science to health. That includes information about abortion and contraception along with sexual abstinence. The organization also affirms lesbian sexual orientation.
The school's pastor, Frank Molloy, wrote to families, "It's a bargain we'll just have to pass up ... The cost is too high. Our integrity isn't for sale."
And here's your takeaway from this story: If the religious right is trying to get at the Girls Clubs by attacking Mattel, is a boycott of the company's flagship toy, Barbie, in the offing? Watch this space.
WHEN THE FATHER OF THE YEAR MEETS THE WIFE OF THE YEAR, IT'S A VERY SPECIAL THING
Some of you may have caught this piece in the Times a couple of weeks back - a front-page article on the men who are trying to instill a love of hunting in the next generation, perfectly illustrated with a photo of a golden-haired 9-year-old Vermont girl in full camo, locked and loaded for bear. The star of the feature was Kevin Hoyt, who has made a personal crusade out of showing kids the joy of killing. We learn that Hoyt is a father of five children under age 13, and a superb caretaker, to boot. As he recalls:
"My youngest child was with me when he was 2 months old and I shot a deer with a muzzle loader," he said. "He was in a backpack. I was stuck home baby-sitting, and I felt like hunting."
As you'd imagine, the old adage holds here: Behind every great man there is a great woman, and so it is with the Hoyts:
With his wife, Heather, supporting the family by working from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at a veterans' home and a Wal-Mart, Hoyt devotes himself to his mission, asking for donations of services from outfitters, taxidermists, hunting guides and others.
But domestic concerns cannot get in the way of a man on a mission. He may have those five kids, his wife may work 17 hours a day to feed them, but Hoyt has a calling:
[In September] he plans to drive his camouflage-tattooed Toyota Tacoma truck to dream hunts for deer, elk, bison or pronghorn antelope in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Saskatchewan. He intends to sleep in his truck in between hunts and not return home until Thanksgiving.
Sorry, gals, he's taken.