Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tips The Parenting Magazines Won't Tell You: Plausible Excuses for Being Late

Parenting magazines like to focus on strategies to prevent you from running late, but we at Lunch Box Mom think it’s much more useful to simply gather a collection of plausible excuses.

The most effective approach for the office is to be completely honest. This works beautifully, as long as you remember to omit pertinent details.

I am so incredibly sorry (I had to come to work today.)

The traffic was horrendous (between the trash cans and big wheels in my driveway.)

I’ve never seen the trains that messed up (but, then again, Curious George was station master for most of the episode.)

The opposite of omission is to offer too much information, making your lack of tactfulness much more noteworthy than your lack of punctuality.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Listening to Fear

Last week, three people from different parts of my life forwarded me this email, just slightly before I read about the incident in the local newspapers:

Hopewell Township Police are investigating a possible attempted luring incident involving a 9 year old female in the Brandon Farms area. Around 4 PM the girl was playing in front of her home when two males in a newer green car with Pennsylvania plates stopped near her.

Reportedly the males offered her candy if she would get in the car.

She told them she was going to call the police and ran inside the house. The males are described as being white, in their 20s to 30s, clean shaven, with short brownish colored hair. The subjects fled the area. The incident was not reported to police until approximately 9:30 PM.

Residents should be alert and report any suspicious people or vehicles to police immediately.

And so the question of when to begin the discussion of strangers with my five year old was answered. How about today, right now, in the car, on the way home from school, as I drove past the street that leads to the development in which this incident took place.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lost and Found with Andie MacDowell

The city of brotherly love was showing me none last Tuesday night: one-way streets, signs obscured by construction, forks—or rather sporks-- splitting roads into three, all with the same name.

“Where the hell am I?” was the question racing through my mind as I reached for my cell phone to call home. Forty miles away, my husband had a better chance of guessing where I was than I did.

No, Sarah, I told myself, tossing the phone down, you actually figured out how to program the navigation system, so trust it.

I was on the brink of a mini-panic attack. How would I ever get home? Did I need to head back to that Dave and Buster’s arcade I’d just passed and play Ms Pacman until a kind person coughed up directions to New Jersey?

“In a quarter of a mile, right turn,” chimed the voice on my GPS. It had been silent for a few blocks, miffed that I’d missed an earlier command, but now it was back, offering hope.

In a quarter of a mile, turn right...I could do that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Modern Tragedy

The Tyler Clementi story has resonated with the country in part because it touches upon so many complex issues. In writing this week’s post, I felt the same conflict others have expressed: mainly, that if the invasion of privacy was a driving factor in this young man’s death, then the last thing we should do now is invade his, or even his accused antagonists’, any further in a superficial, speculative way. Still, what happened at Rutgers is symptomatic of a greater cultural storm, and as parents raising kids in this world, we are feeling the chill of it—even if we still don’t know what it all means. With that, and the acknowledgment that this is only one way of looking at the evolving story, here is this week’s post.

I agree with Hank Kalet’s editorial in The Princeton Packet, (We’re all Complicit, October 7, 2010) when he says the Tyler Clementi, Dharun Ravi, Molly Wei story is a tragedy in the deeper sense of the word. It speaks to a “societal flaw that has led three lives to be ruined and three families to be terribly broken. Tragedy, in the Aristotelian sense, is not accidental but based on human flaws and human agency,” Kalet says.

Theatre Mask from Pompeii
I’d add there’s another element of ancient tragedy that plays out in this modern story: the feeling that catastrophic outcomes seem both unexpected and predetermined—at the same time. “How could this happen?” is met with an equally strong, “of course, in our world, of course, this happened...”

Friday, October 1, 2010

Can We Say Epidemic, Now? The 24/7 Recall

In case you didn’t think the potential for beetle and beetle larvae in your powdered Similac was shocking enough, take the recent announcement by Fisher-Price: a recall of more than 11 million products for infants and toddlers, including high chairs and tricycles. Pegs on high chairs led to seven kids requiring stitches; ignition buttons on the tricycles, genital bleeding in six girls, according to an article on the Today Show's website.

Take this in context of a front page New York Times article, “Crackdown on Toy Safety Rules Proves No Fun for Toy Makers” (September 29, 2010), in which the protests of toy makers are given center stage as The Consumer Product Safety Commission haggles over the definition of “children’s product”, a task they were charged with as part of The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Where, I wonder, is the story about the parents, outraged by this epidemic? Given the magnitude, it would make sense for us to be staging rallies and boycotting. Instead, we are overwhelmed and weary. In an effort to raise kids who are not paranoid or fearful that everything they eat and play with is contaminated or designed with a deadly or hazardous flaw, we keep going, and buying, and longer surprised that what we bought, or ate, or thought about buying, was, in fact, pretty much junk.

Or worse.