My son continues to make me smarter

A post from my other blog, The Ministry of Culture:

The Buddha’s parents tried to shield their son from all the evils of the world. I know exactly how they felt.

My son is 12 and already knows that history is filled with ugly bits. I walked him across the field where Pickett’s Charge took place and tried to get him to imagine what it was like to be under fire the whole way, watching your friends be hit and hoping you weren’t next. He knows about persecutions – of the Indians, of the Blacks, the Irish, the Jews, and everyone else. We have talked about war and poverty and starvation and cancer and homelessness and slavery. He already has a heart that leaps to defend others who are being picked on, even as it is hesitant to defend himself.

Mostly he has known about the ugly bits as a general concept, not a specific incident. Through 6th grade that’s how history gets taught in school. There was a lot of emphasis on heroes and heroines – he wrote a report and acted the part of Louis Braille in 4th grade. Once you hit 7th grade, though, it’s time for the real stuff to be known. The first novel assigned this year was about a black child growing up in the South in the ‘30s. The second one was about a Jewish child growing up in Germany at the same time. Then, thankfully, came Tom Sawyer. But another teacher assigned a research paper. The holocaust – any aspect of it or just a general overview. Because of his friends and his family he chooses to write about the pink triangles – homosexuals in the concentration camps…. (more)

An Expose of the Baby-Industrial Complex

This story I wrote years ago about how marketers prey upon the self-inflicted fears of new parents has been getting a lot of traffic of late, so I thought I’d give it a plug.

FIRST, LET’S DISPENSE WITH any pretense of objectivity, I am a paranoid, first-time parent. As I write this, my son Greg is playing quietly and contentedly in his room. At one year old, he coos, takes tentative steps, laughs, screams like the devil’s on his tail when he wants to, beats his arm in time to music (at least as well as his father), and in general seems to thoroughly enjoy his life.That’s why I’m convinced he’s autistic.

Either that or it’s another neurological malady no one will notice until it’s far too late. Yesterday he was scratching at a bug bite, and I instantly knew it was lyme disease. Today he is crying more than usual, which means he is undoubtedly suffering from the first horrible arthritic symptoms of the disease.

I am not alone in this private hell. My wife has diagnosed nearly as many ailments as I have. Her biggest fear seems to be breathing stoppage. Not choking, just immediate, independent cessation, sort of like spontaneous human combustion of the lungs. This is what exposure to too many warnings about sudden infant death syndrome will do to you.

All of which makes us only slightly less rational than any of the other new parents we know. It also makes us the perfect marks for the Baby Industrial Complex (BIC), whose motto seems to be: If You Scare Them, They Will Spend. The BIC’s ad campaigns have refined this application of guilt and fear to a fine art. Their message: You are a bad parent. Your child is going to die a horrible death unless you buy our products.

You can read the rest here if you want.

(BTW, just so you can gauge the accuracy of my predictions: Greg is fine and finishes sixth grade this month. Well, at least I think he’s fine — there’s always the chance he has … )