Sunday, August 29, 2010

Books That Won't Be Published

In the spirit of our series, What the Parenting Magazines Won’t Tell You, we are pleased to present “Books that Won’t be Published”, part of Lunch Box Mom’s ever-expanding offering of exceptional literature.

Tops on the list is a children’s book, created by my very own mother.

Grandma, as my kids call her, made quite an impression on a recent visit, especially in the kitchen. First, there was the banana bread that flopped like a sunken soufflé seconds after coming out of the oven; then, chocolate chip cookies, made in a mysteriously chipped glass bowl and containing, what I believed to be, bite sized shards of the missing glass; and finally, an ice cream recipe cut out of the newspaper that would have been great fun to make, if only the last ingredient hadn’t been Vodka.

All this inspired the book my mother calls: Grandma Screws Up.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Roadkill on the Streets of Suburbia

I don't like the term "roadkill" but even the naturalist I spoke with said is the term in use. That said, this is not an easy subject to talk about---but that's the point, I suppose....

This summer, from the comfort of our car, my kids and I have seen some deer, a frog, two turtles, several raccoons, a few birds, and a bunch of squirrels. Unfortunately, all of these animals were dead.

Rigor mortis on the roadkill du jour belongs in the ever-expanding category of topics I’d rather not talk about with my five year old. It’s up there with “how mom actually got pregnant”, and a literal explanation of the lyrics to Yankee Doodle Dandy.

“What was that?” my daughter asks on our way to the highway.

“Oh, a raccoon,” I say. “Aren’t we lucky to see a nocturnal animal, and it’s only ten in the morning.”

“Why is its leg sticking up?”

“Ah, yes--completely natural--once an animal has died. Rig-a-”

“Was that a mommy raccoon?”

Would it be better to say it was a juvenile?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Feliz cumpleaños, Dora, You've Grown on Me, Kid

Ten years ago, Dora the Explorer hit the scene as the first Latina character to have her own children’s show in the United States. She lives in a cartoon world with no specific landmarks aside from friendly forests and mountains with chocolate rivers. Still, we know where she’s from: Viacom.

And, that is why, for many years, I didn’t invite her over to play. A children’s icon could be born in a classic book and work her way up to TV star. But, I was suspicious of a star created by commercial television who then appeared in children’s books, and generated 11 billion in merchandizing revenue. Could she still have our kids’ best interests at heart?

As Nickelodeon celebrates Dora’s 10th anniversary this Sunday night at 8pm EST with an hour long “Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure” followed by a 12 minute documentary on the cultural and educational impact of the show, I’m as surprised as anyone to be setting my DVR and practicing my Spanish.

“Feliz cumpleaños, Dora.” 

You’ve grown on me, kid.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Is the Internet Making Me Stupid? Fritz Schiller Might Hold the Key

On June 14, 2010, I confirmed that my computer homepage, MSN, had engaged on a long and premeditated campaign to sabotage my intelligence. I’d suspected this for a while, but it was not until a headline read, “How to Tie the Perfect Pony Tail” that I had what no Wikileak procurer ever possessed—full and unhindered cooperation.

Yes, MSN was handing me this evidence without restrictions. The headline and photo of a woman getting her hair tied in a pony tail took up the top third of my computer screen. No matter how urgently I tried getting to my hotmail account, the duo flashed before me again and again, as if to say, learn to tie the perfect pony tail or your world will collapse.

The world, it seemed, was collapsing, at least for the women and children in Kyrgyzstan I’d recently read about in an old-school, print edition of the New York Times. Ethnic and political violence had driven these families from their homes and they were now refugees, living with fear, dysentery and desperation.

Kyrgyzstan, I thought, is that where Borat is from? No, no, that’s the country to the north, Kazakhstan. These citizens were fleeing to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan? I wonder how to tie a perfect pony tail.

No. Don’t do it, Sarah. This is how MSN gets you. First your hair, then your brain.

Was the internet making me stupid, or did I come to it that way?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cry Baby, Fly Baby

At any given airport and within the confines of most jets, there are two types of travelers: those with children, and those who hate them.

In this second group, it’s hard to top the story of American Jean Barnard, the sixty-seven year old business woman who recently settled a lawsuit out of court with the Australian Airline Qantas.

It was while boarding flight 1936 to Darwin, a two hour flight scheduled to depart at twelve-ten in the afternoon, that Barnard’s life, she claims, took a devastating turn. A three year old boy seated nearby leaned over an armrest and “let loose a shriek” four inches from her face.

“Blood instantaneously shot into the back of my head,” she is quoted as saying in an article on ABC NEWS.COM. Her lawyer would argue that she sustained “significant personal injury” and “sudden sensio-neural hearing loss” (referred to elsewhere as Sensorineural Hearing Loss) inhibiting her ability to work.

Whatever happened, it was Barnard, and presumably not the three year old, who was ushered off the plane and taken to a hospital in the Northwest Territory town of Alice Springs. Barnard’s travel plans would be cut short, but her fifteen minutes of fame were yet to come.

We’ll never know the full story now that both parties have agreed to confidentiality. But, before this tidy July 12th conclusion, the defense reportedly presented some interesting pieces of evidence: Barnard had gotten new hearing aids a month before the flight; no other passengers were injured.

And, then there was the email, produced by which side, I am not sure, in which Barnard wrote that had her eardrums not exploded, she would have “dragged that kid out of his mother’s arms and stomped him to death.”

Excruciating pain does make a person a tad grumpy.

Still, this case troubles me.

Primarily because nobody, not the parents of a child nor an airline, can completely predict or control the vocal production of a three year old for any randomly selected period of four seconds without the use of medical intervention or duct tape.