Dogsign55Lying with Tiny in the lower bunk the other night for her nightly "two minutes," she asked us, "Daddy, can you see my hand shadow puppet?" We turned around and saw her five-finger shadow bouncing on the wall and said, "OK, I'll make one too," except, it turns out, we're really lousy at hand puppets, so the best we could come up with on the spot was a pair of scissors. "Look!" we said. "My scissors can cut off your hand!"

There was then an awkward pause before Tiny said, "Daddy, you would never cut off my hand, right, because I'm your sweetie?" And we said, "Of course not! I was just playing with shadows! Cutting off your hand? That would be the most terrible thing I could ever do!"

And then, from the top bunk, as we knew he would, Fellow chimed in: "No, Daddy. That wouldn't be the most terrible thing you could do. The most terrible thing you could do to Tiny is kill her."

"OK, sleep well, everybody!"


By now, you all know that infant cold and cough medicines are being pulled off the market because of the risk of overdose to kids under 2, more likely from parents not following instructions than from anything inherently wrong with the medicines—other than perhaps the concern raised by many pediatricians that they don't actually work, or are at least no better than home remedies, in children that young.

But what we always find interesting about episodes like these is that when you review the recall list, it really drives home the fact that over-the-counter generics are exactly the same as famous-label medicines; the recall lists include brand-name elixirs and drug-store-chain generics produced side-by-side in the same factories, then sold for prices that can vary by as much as several dollars a bottle. In other words, Dimetapp is for suckers!

Meanwhile, doctors advise treating toddler colds with fluid and rest; acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain; a humidifier; and saline drops and/or suction bulbs "to gently clear infants’ clogged noses." All excellent suggestions, except that FD has an irrational, pathological fear of using the suction bulb. Every time we pick one up we imagine sending some sort of "air bubble" up into our child's brain, damaging them for life. So we ask Loving Mother to do it instead. . .


Daily Candy has been sending out peppy shopping alerts to city gals for years without ever bothering us; then we found out it was launching a new daily e-mail blast for parents, "Daily Candy Kids Everywhere." Feeling obligated as we do to collect all the parenting info we can so as to better service you, dear reader, we signed right up and began receiving tips for goods like the Sue London ballet-style slippers for toddlers, inexplicably made of 100% Italian lambskin. The anonymous Daily Candy writer insists that a child would NEVER take these slippers off, as toddlers might throw off their other footwear while sitting in their strollers, because, hey, just look at them, they're so darn stylish! So we checked the Sue London Web site for more information, and, we gotta tell you, for $103 a pair? That kid BETTER not pull them off and throw them on the street!

Alternately, might we suggest Robeez slipper-style shoes for toddlers, which come in a variety of styles from puppy to pirate, each made of what we sure as Hell hope is not 100% Italian lambskin, each retailing for just $27.95.


Wall Street Journal "Love & Money" columnist Jeff Opdyke railed against the mountain of homework that his fifth-grade son faces each day, and the stress it causes him, his wife, and his child. Our oldest is still in second grade, so we're not in any position to dispute Opdyke's claims about how much homework it takes to disrupt his home life. Still, we might question his solution, which was to hire a college student to help his son "manage his schoolwork a few times a week."  Our quibble isn't that it's "a parent's job" to help with the homework; on the contrary, we think it's entirely the kid's job. But showing the 11-year-old that the solution to stress is hiring someone to come in and bail you out? We don't know. Seems kind of young to have to go that route, and we're not sure it's the most valuable life lesson the kid will ever receive. Still, a column worth reading.


The Times' puff piece on adorable Montclair (NJ) High School ninth-grade English teacher Damion Frye is a good example of everything that's wrong with . . . everything. Frye, you may have already read, is the teacher who assigns homework assignments to parents and then—apparently because Montclair High School offers its teachers separate bathrooms, a well-appointed lounge, and reduced-price lunches, but not any actual professional supervision—actually ties his students' grades to the work done by their mommies and daddies! The Times clearly finds this idea to be the Next Big Thing, neglecting to raise any questions about how differences in the educational or socioeconomic backgrounds of a school's families, or for that matter, their possible international origins and concomitant facility with English, might factor into their ability to do the assignments, or the time it might take them. Nor does it ask how working two jobs to keep students reasonably well-dressed in Frye's class might keep parents from devoting their full attention to his required essays on  "Ethan Frome."  In any event, none of these are great concerns in well-to-do Montclair, where parents are so obsessively aspirational that they would never dream of jeopardizing the ninth-grade English mark on their child's college transcript by going against the grain. And Frye obviously takes advantage of that mindset to foist his experiment on the community.

We'll note that, yes, the article reports that parents can opt out of assignments by posting a message to Frye on his Web site, and that only once has a student's grade actually been lowered because of a parent blowing off an entire semester of assignments (though once is enough). But that's not the point. There's a lot of pressure on kids today. As Opdyke notes in the column cited above, there's also a lot of pressure on parents. All moms and dads who worry about their kids aren't necessarily helicopter parents; they're just parents. Susan Dominus' remarkable must-read piece in the Times magazine's special issue on colleges two weeks back, about how the elite students of Bronxville High struggle to get into the colleges of their choice, makes it clear how deeply any parent can live and die with their children's applications. Right or wrong, bourgeois or not, those feelings are real. The parents in Frye's class appear to sincerely respect his work in the classroom, and by and large say they're happy to reward his good efforts by taking part in his experiment. Among other things, they tell the Times, it helps them reconnect with their student's nightly work in a way they hadn't since third or fourth grade. But would they feel the same if Frye was an algebra teacher? Would they feel the same if their kids' Spanish and chemistry teachers started doling out assignments as well? We don't think so, but we're sure it'll all be moot by next fall when Frye leaves the classroom to go out full-time on the teacher's conventi0n speaking circuit. . .

October 15, 2007 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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Ha! I love the bedtime story one.

Posted by: Stacy | Oct 21, 2007 9:37:32 PM

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