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Jul 8 2014

That Time I Almost Picked Up a Hitchhiker with the Kids in the Car

By at 3:52 pm

hitchhiking

I saw a hitchhiker this morning. It was a woman. She looked like she was in her mid-40s. Scraggly, blond hair, a tiny butterfly tattooed on her neck, a defeated look in her gray eyes.

My first instinct was to pick her up. In fact, I slowed down and pulled up so close that she slung her grungy backpack over her shoulder and started to move towards our car. The lines by her mouth rippled out into a tight lipped smile.

“Who is that, Mama?” Evi strained to get a better view. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2014

How Do We Protect Children From School Shootings? Bulletproof Blankets, Apparently

By at 3:20 pm

bulletproof-blankets

It’s safe to say that security blankets have taken on a new meaning. Meet the Bodyguard Blanket, the latest bulletproof product on the market to protect children in schools from increasingly tragic events like school shootings and natural disasters.

Created by Oklahoma company ProTecht, the $1000 bulletproof blanket is designed to withstand being punctured by debris falling at 200 mph and protects against “90% of all weapons that have been used in school shootings in the United States.”

Gun-control lobby groups say there were at least 44 school shootings in the U.S. between December 2012 and February 10th, 2014—that’s an average of about three per month. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2013

Dad, Don’t Bring Your Gun to My House

By at 5:03 pm

no guns signMy dad and his wife are coming to visit this weekend. In addition to the various conversations we’ve had about his travel plans and restaurants preferences, there was one more logistical issue I had to address.

I had to tell them to leave their guns at home.

My father and step-mother both carry guns with them on a regular basis. They are fully licensed to do so, and they have both undergone extensive training and practice in the use and maintenance of firearms. Even so, I’m not comfortable with guns in my home. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 21 2013

Why You Should Never Leave Your Kids in the Car

By at 12:54 pm
My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.

My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.

I have dozens of childhood memories that include me and my siblings waiting in the car for our parents. Most notably, I remember us waiting at the bank and my little brother, probably preschool age, backing the car into an adjacent lot. The story is told in jest now, and my mother was most definitely a helicopter parent of her time. That’s just how it was.

But it’s 2013 and we use car seats and bike helmets and you can’t leave your kids in the car anymore. There is no “running in” anywhere and even going to the bank to deposit a check is a full blown ordeal.

I ran errands one day last week and pulled my two kids in and out of the car no less than 15 times before noon. It was 80 degrees outside and I was taking our cat to the groomer. Here I am holding a 20-pound infant who is diving out of my arms with a cat carrier in one hand and attempting to wrangle a bolting preschooler with the other. Add the diaper bag and I’m a walking circus. Once I finally got everyone loaded into the car I realized that I forgot the checkbook and the grooming salon ONLY TAKES CHECKS. Read the rest of this entry →

May 30 2013

How Worried Should We Be About Flame Retardants in Our Furniture?

By at 11:50 am

couch with flame retardantsI am a champion worrier, and I do not limit my worrying to the logical or the likely. I worry about there not being enough food at Shabbat dinner, and about stranger danger. I worry about my step-daughter refusing to eat vegetables and becoming anemic, and about animals escaping the zoo. But these days, I spend most of my time worrying about two big, terrifying environmental dangers: flame retardants in furniture, and fracking. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 24 2012

Guns Have No Place in My School

By at 11:50 am

security guard badgeLast week, the NRA responded to the unspeakable, horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut with the proposal to have an armed guard in every school in America. Several NRA supporters went further: the phrase “arm the teachers!” frequented Facebook and my Twitter feed for days.

I fumed.

Guns have no place in schools. They have no place around children. They have no place in a learning environment wherein the most fundamental tenets are tolerance, respect, community, and peaceful conflict resolution.  Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

The Killing at the Pittsburgh Zoo

By at 11:00 am

Sunday afternoon a 2-year-old was killed at our zoo in Pittsburgh after falling into the Painted Dog exhibit.

The words “mauled to death” almost made me sick as tears welled up in my eyes. I take my kids to that zoo almost weekly. My 2-year-old just started walking on his own instead of seeing the animals from the safety of his stroller. I wear my infant and push the empty stroller, just in case he gets tired and wants to climb in for a ride. I am often preoccupied with the bulky stroller or fussy baby and he runs ahead a little. The other day I turned my head for a moment and lost him over near the Komodo dragon exhibit. A moment.

Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 21 2012

Worst Case Toddler Scenarios

By at 12:53 pm
baby on the move

My baby's on the move.

My first boss in Washington was like an honorary big brother. In between directing our little staff about housing policy matters, he offered life lessons. “When you have a kid,” he assured me, “you’ll be ready to hurl yourself in front of a moving car just to make sure it doesn’t hit them.” I guffawed. Throw myself in front of a moving car? That sounded dangerous (and crazy).

And yet, he was right. He had the benefit of already being a parent and knowing about danger and fear from the other side. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2012

There Was a Rapist on My Kibbutz

By at 2:52 pm

girl on bike no handsSo once upon a time when we lived in the Big Bad City where police helicopters were more plentiful than stars in the smoggy LA night sky, my ex told me about this magical place where children roam free and everyone knows everyone and it’s like Mayberry only in Hebrew and with shmarim instead of apple pie, and blah blah blah.

It’s called a kibbutz. And apparently it’s paradise for children. And dogs. (Because both like to run around and pee on lawns, etcetera.) Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 28 2012

Should We Be Doing Background Checks on Our Elmos?

By at 2:44 pm

anti-semitic elmoFull disclosure: I’ve never been an Elmo fan. I didn’t especially like him when I first met him on my television screen–he seemed too relentlessly happy, too sure that I would care “what he’s thinking about today.” He made me think about throwing shoes at the television. My boys, of course, loved him. They watched Elmo constantly during the most harrowing time of my life–my year-long divorce. When I hear that red guy’s high cloying voice, to this day, it makes me shudder.

So I’ll admit that, in a weird way, I felt slightly vindicated when I found out Elmo was a recidivist racist. Okay, fine, it wasn’t the REAL Elmo. I mean, to the extent any Elmo is real, of course. Racist Elmo is not the one with the ™ symbol next to his name, the legitimate Elmo. No, racist Elmo is one of the illegitimate Elmos. New York has a bunch of Elmos (and other characters with sidewalk child appeal) who wander around tourist sites to pose for photos with kids and make some quick non-taxable cash. Read the rest of this entry →

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