Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not dead...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Some more blogging coming very soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Burn Baby Burn

A few weeks ago, my wife and I took our little one for a walk. It was a hot and sunny day and we pulled the stroller canopy all the way down to keep the child out of the sun. As we were walking we passed a tichel clad woman pushing her newborn baby in a cheap umbrella stroller (sitting semi-upright). If that wasn't bad enough, the infant was in direct sunlight, being blinded and sunburned at the same time (with eyes tightly closed). We politely mentioned to her as she passed that her baby was in the harsh sunlight. She responded with a silly giggle that could only be described as infantile, and continued on her way as if nothing was wrong. We both looked at each other, nodded our heads in utter disbelief and moved on.

Another time I was walking past a Jewish supermarket. By the entrance there were two frum women chatting each other up. One was holding her baby and the other had her baby in a stroller. They were all in direct sunlight. Both moms were wearing hats and both babies (surprise, surprise) were not. The baby in the stroller was crying very loudly and was clearly uncomfortable, while mom stood there either completely oblivious or choosing to schmooze rather than tend to her suffering child.

This sort of thing is not an isolated incident. I see this type of thing every day. Jewish moms wearing sunglasses or hats while pushing their babies in a stroller, sans canopy, directly under the scorching sun. How can these women be completely oblivious to the immediate danger they are exposing their children to?

Come to think of it, is sun protection even an issue that frum people think about? Well, many parents take care of their kids the way they take care of themselves. One theory could be that since tznius is a thing that is so strictly enforced, one might erroneously assume that clothing offers proper sun protection, and since these Moms are always covered all the time, they don't worry about being sunburned. Ergo, they don't think about it, even when it comes to their kids. If you think about it, its not that crazy of a hypothesis.

If you want to argue How do you know that they didn't put sunblock on their child? Why are you so quick to judge? The answer is, it doesn't matter. Babies can get heat exhaustion after spending approximately 5 minutes in direct sunlight. This can precede or follow dizziness, vomiting, lethargy and unconsciousness, to name a few symptoms... and that's just the beginning. Longer exposure can result in second degree burns and heat stroke, or worse. Besides, if these women aren't sane enough to block the sunlight that's barbecuing their infant children, you really think they're gonna protect them with sunblock?

Its sad that people in the frum community don't give this much thought. They need to print information on the back of the Kemach cereal boxes regarding sun protection. There's a wealth of information on the bad effects the sun's rays can have on human skin. If you see a Mom with a lack of interest on the subject, educate her. Maybe then Chanie will realize her baby isn't supposed to be a shtickel crispy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manny Nanny

The frum world is no stranger to the concept of men watching children. Heck, since the economy went haywire, for some reason, Moms are the ones with jobs and Dads are left at home to watch the kids. Kollel Dads are nothing new either. Its nice to see that people are somewhat okay with men taking care of their own kids, but what about taking care of other people's kids?

For some reason there is this taboo about men watching children who are not their own. Who could blame people? All those horror stories about Jewish children being molested always involved men. (As if a woman isn't capable of molesting children...hmmm...) Growing up, my younger sister had weekly opportunities to make lots of money babysitting. She made no effort to ask people. The phone calls just poured in and she'd waltz right on over to said home and basically get paid to sit in their living room for 3 hours while the kids were shluffing. Talk about a sweet gig. As a teenager who grew up in a big family I was used to being around babies and knew my way around a home with little kids. Watching kids was part of my responsibility, but when it came to, say, babysitting someone else's kids when my sister wasn't available, their tone of voice shifted to the usual vocal shrug in the form of Well, thank you we'll find someone else. click.

When I first started college I wanted to be an occupational therapist for children. I was very good with kids and it seemed like the natural choice. Plus you could make your own hours, and God help us, there are so many Jewish children who need therapy, especially in the frum sector. I was sold. I started taking the appropriate classes and when asked about my collegiate goals, told people I was going into an OT program. Upon hearing this, people's faces began to conduct a hellish frenzy of gestures expressing extreme discontent but attempting to mask it with some kind of a haphazard grin, followed by Oh...interesting...

My little brothers were getting help with OT and PT and some of their therapists were male. I figured I'd ask them about their experiences. They responded with a resounding "Oh man don't even start me on this." Almost 9 times out of 10, when dealing with frum families, the parents always requested that no male therapists be sent in, women only. I don't know if this has to do with the whole yichud thing, but either way its just plain ridiculous. These men are coming to help your children get out of the developmental mess they're in. (which, in some instances, could very well be your own fault.) They are just as qualified as female therapists and theres no reason to have a bias against them. (and no, just because a guy deals with children for a living, doesn't mean hes gay or a pedophile) This problem doesn't just exist in the ultra-frum community. Some of the modern orthodox world is guilty of this as well. (By the way, it turned out that OT wasn't really the thing for me anyway.)

Its hard for many to have a solid opinion on this. How do you know you can trust someone? Oh, well if its a woman, what could she possibly do to this child that could be so bad? I don't think I need to even answer that. A man on the other hand could be more of a threat, right? Why? Because he has testicles? Because his voice is deeper? Because he has facial hair? (Hell, I've seen more facial hair on some women than on some guys!) Allowing a male to be around your kids not any more of a risk than allowing a woman to be around them. Period.

People need to lighten up. Practice caution with a man as you would with anybody who would spend time with your kids. Be there to supervise and if you can't, do the same background work you would on a female babysitter. As this blog and many other sources can tell you: Possessing the ability to give birth doesn't qualify you as an expert in childcare. To extend that thought, not possessing that ability doesn't disqualify you either.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How NOT to Hold a Baby

This story that a friend told me, epitomizes the meaning of the title of this post.

He was sitting on the B49 on Coney Island Avenue. The bus was full-ish but not packed to the gills. The bus stops on Avenue M and a bunch of kids who appeared to be siblings (they looked alike) boarded the bus. After them a black-hatted, bearded yeshiva Dad boards the bus fumbling for his Metrocard, with three heavy bags on his arm while holding a baby in the other. I use the word "holding" only because technically he was holding the baby. How he was doing that completely defies the way anything should be held except for maybe an economy sized package of Unger's Mixed Cholent Beans.

He was hold the child by his head. The entire weight of his body was being supported by his neck while his head was being gripped from the bottom of his jaw, body dangling below. The crude drawing to the left might help clarify what it might have looked like.

My friend didn't say anything (shame on him...) but the question is, Why would he have needed to in the first place? I know I sound like a broken record every time I talk about these incidents but I'm trying to raise a specific point about holding babies. Obviously, this example is very extreme and sickening beyond imagination. I'd be very surprised that if this child was held like that on a regular basis, and grew up with a perfectly healthy brain and spine.

Babies heads and necks are very fragile and many frum parents seem to forget that. Dozens of times, I've seen Moms walking around the park or supermarket cradling their baby's body in one arm while their baby's head is flopping about near their elbow. This is dangerous. I know some people are going to tell me, "Babies aren't as fragile as you think...If you fuss about your baby when they're younger, they'll grow up too sensitive to regular movement." That's bull. There is no excuse for handling a baby like a piece of meat and no matter how many doctors and or nurses you see handling babies this way, it is still wrong. (Although I disagree with things like holding an infant upside down, some parents feel that when babies reach 12+ months, throwing the baby up into the air and playing upside down games is okay. I guess when it comes to that, If you're into it, exercise extreme caution.)

General things to keep in mind while holding a baby are, having good support for the baby's head and neck, keeping one hand under the baby's back, not picking up or putting down the baby with quick violent motions and of course, never to shake a baby. (Sadly, many babies are shaken to death because of ignorant and frustrated parents.)

Many frum parents are desensitized to the fragility of their infant children. Maybe its because they have so many. Maybe. Thats a discussion for another time. Keep your eyes peeled for any Tottys playing games of kinder-lynch and the like. Its not out of place to point out to a parent that they are in the process of injuring their child. Remember, as the MTA likes to constantly remind us: If you see something, say something. 

Until next time...

Thursday, August 12, 2010


A Frumsatire post I read today, about frum people being unhealthy, got me thinking about the obesity epidemic sweeping the yeshiva system. I can certainly relate to that having gone through the system myself.

In eighth grade, rabbis would regularly reward us with "Mishnayos Pizza Parties" and things like that. They'd offer chalav yisrael doughnuts to the kids who would refrain from eating chalav stam. Boys in my class who were the best learners always got little rewards in the form of candy and other types of unhealthy foods. The rebbes are right on track with knowing what pre/post pubescent kids like. Just one look at a garbage can in your typical yeshiva classroom after recess and you'll see the class' taste in food manifested in the form of a giant pile of candy wrappers, soda cans and chip bags. Kids eat junk food. That's understandable. Schools supporting that habit by regularly rewarding kids with junk food? Not so much.

Now I'm not innocent of having eaten junk food as a kid, or even as an adult. Who is? I think most people partake in unhealthy eating habits some of the time. However, as some folks pointed out in Frumsatire's comments, these bad eating habits in the yeshiva system are formed from a combination of a few things.

School lunches are probably a factor. Unlike public school lunch menus that are regulated by nutritionists, most yeshivas serve greasy, calorie heavy foods that are most probably prepared and regulated by some guy who cooked shmaltzy meals in a sub for the Russian navy. (The cook in my childhood yeshiva had a bunch of Russian sailor tattoos.) If they're fed pizza and hot dogs on a weekly basis (supplemented with Kugel or fries of course. Not a green vegetable in sight.) how are they going to eat when they're not at school? Even when they cook "healthy" meals that contain a vegetable or two, the food is usually drowning in oil. Sadly, many yeshiva moms just don't care. They're not happy about their kids being fat, and some struggle with it because they want their kids to be healthy, and at the end of the day its hard to get a kid to diet. So what does mom do? Either gives up, or doesn't care in the first place.

Why are yeshiva kids getting fatter? Especially around puberty? Well, besides for all the regular reasons, theres one possible prime factor that could get kids to think about their weight that isn't present in the yeshiva community. Attracting the opposite sex. Yep. Some kids start to look at each other in that way sometimes as early as 5th grade. Of course, boys and girls are separated and basically discouraged to even look at each other until they're in their 20s, which in the case of bad eating and obesity, makes it easy to not care about looks until that point.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking boys/girls only schools and I'm certainly not saying this happens to every yeshiva kid, but it is a pretty common problem and I think the lack of social interaction between boys and girls leaves no incentive for older kids to want to look good, and that goes hand in hand with healthy body weight and eating habits. Moishy is never exposed to girls in a social setting, so he doesn't care if he's fat. His friends poke fun at him every now and then, but he just shakes it off and moves on. However, if a girl he fancied was periodically in his environment...he just might care about how he looks. So the question is, who is at fault? The parents? The yeshivas? I'd say both, in that order.

The parents will obviously never agree to letting their boys and girls mingle (a topic for another day...) so they need to crack down on schools to serve healthier foods and get the educators to encourage healthy eating habits and not write it off as some kind of issue that's not the schools' problem.

This of course applies to the schools that are not feeding their kids junk food so they can keep their minds off the opposite sex. (Yes, there are institutions that practice that for this reason!) Those places really need to rethink their chinuch strategy. Nefesh Briah Beguf Bari (A healthy soul lives in a healthy body). Of course a change in habits would require effort on the kids' part, but the proper direction needs to be shown from the responsible adults. Building healthy eating habits at a young age is the key to making sure our kids are healthy throughout their lives. Lets hope some change comes so that out future doesn't end up being a race of obese yids rolling around in motorized chairs.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kosher Theft

Here comes another biggie, straight from the heart of Boro Park.

It is common practice in many frum circles to work for cash. Pretty much any Jewish business, when hiring, will ask if you want to work on or off the books. While this is wrong, its certainly not something I am not guilty of. Its pretty safe to assume everyone cheats on their taxes a little.

Of course theres always someone who can top this sort of thing, and eventhough Jews are (unfortunately) known as being no strangers to "funny" money business, this phenomenon of extreme financial fraud in the frum family sector is absurd and completely out of control.

Couples get married by the Rebbe but don't file a legal marriage. They quickly have their first kid and pop one out every year after. Since they're not legally married, Mom is listed as a single mother with a child (or 2, 3, 4...). She has an income that legally puts her in the lower class range and immediately files for Medicaid, Food Stamps, WIC and of course Section 8. Since she is living with her "boyfriend" they have a shared income. Because Totty is working off the books, he only declares 25,000 (or less) and files separately for Section-8. Uncle Sam sees a poor single Mom with a bunch of kids and a loser boyfriend, so he gives them Section-8 apartments right next to each other, so Dad can see his kids. (This scenario is a ballpark example)

Meanwhile, Totty actually could be making six figures. They demolish the wall separating their never regulated Section-8 apartments to make one giant government funded direh. They get free food, diapers, health insurance, cribs, air conditioners (no foolin') and pretty much anything else they can get from Uncle Sam, free of charge. The Rebbe doesn't consider this a problem because the mayor probably told him he'd look the other way the kehila swung the vote his way. (Who knows? It could be true. Its happened before.)

Now, besides the fact that these people are stealing from the government...and besides the fact that they are stealing from hard working citizens...and besides the fact that many of these are Jews...which already throws any halachic rationalization for this out the window, I wonder. What kind of example are these people setting for their children? What message are they sending?

Yankele... eetz okay t'bee a ganif. Nisht Geferlach.

That's pretty much what it is. Now matter how you slice the gefilte fish, if you're not supposed to have it, and you take it, its stealing. How do these people live with themselves? I've seen shops in Boro Park that sell streimels, with big signs in Yiddish saying they accept Medicaid. How is this a Torah lifestyle? How do these Rebbes with all their hullabaloo about sin and vice, live knowing that their communities are outright stealing?

Well, kinderlach, the answer is, they probably don't care. None of them do. This thing wouldn't be going on for years if they did. Unfortunately there is so much corruption and falsehood snaking its way through the minds of the frumme velt that its become second nature to accept this kind of thing. I don't know whats on the other side, but I'm pretty sure these people'll be lining up in front of a small guillotine marked "Ganifs".

I'm not talking about families that do really need government assistance, and Lord knows there are plenty of frum families who fall into that sector, but there are many (a great deal really) of these families that just take it because they can. What adds insult to injury is that there are plenty of hard working honest tax-paying families who could really use free health insurance, who can't get it because they "make too much money".  I know this problem exists everywhere, but the appalling irony of a community that practices this and identifys itself as "Ultra Orthodox Jews" is just staggering.

I'm probably talking to people who understand that this is wrong. The kind of shmuck that would do this probably wouldn't ever read a blog, especially this one. However, I'll say this anyway, just in case. Stealing from the government is not okay, and its most certainly not kosher. If you wanna steal. Fine. Do it. Its your crummy life, but don't ever mask theft with the guise of a hechsher. No matter who says its okay. Whether they be Rebbe or not. Its completely assur. Forbidden... and more importantly, when you raise children with that kind of conduct, you're bound to set a terrible example that will almost surely turn into a continuing cycle of behaviors for your children's offspring.

(I apologize for the cheap throws of Yiddish colloquialisms, but it tickles my funny bone and helps colorfully illustrate my point.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pregnant Boozers

The office of the surgeon general released a statement in February of 2005 urging women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant to abstain from drinking anything that contains alcohol. Why it took them this long is beyond me.

I don't understand why I see so many frum women drinking while they're pregnant. They always say "Its only for kiddish..." or "Oh, its just a little, its not dangerous." or something to that effect. Where that legitimization came from, is also beyond me.

Drinking just a little is just as dangerous to an unborn child as drinking a 40 oz Heineken. But even if it were allowed, why would any woman even risk the chance of deforming her child in-utero? Thats like saying. "Oh, a little drop of cyanide might not kill me, why don't I just drink it anyway? its only a little." I'm pretty sure if lethally poisonous Japanese blowfish was kosher, these types of women would eat it during pregnancy too. Again, this ignorance is a product of neglect. The neglectful part, being an uninformed mom-to-be. These women don't do any reading on whats not okay to do when they're pregnant. They rely on Bubbe's story about how she rubbed a little mashke on her gums while she was pregnant to relieve nausea.

Pick up practically any book on pregnancy and you'll find a chapter on FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders). Half the parenting mistakes these women make from conception til the chuppa could be avoided with just a little reading. Of course, as I mentioned in my post on uninformed pregnancy, they just write it off as something they don't need to concern themselves with or just ask mom who most likely drank when she was pregnant too.

By the way, this also applies to nursing mothers. Alcohol is directly transferred to the baby through breast milk, so unless Mom wants a drunk baby, she shouldn't drink until she stops nursing. There is a thing that some nursing women do called "Pump and Dump" which is basically disposing of the milk produced right after the drinking, but I wouldn't even consider that to be okay. If she dumped 98% of the boozed milk and even 2% got into the baby's system, that would still be bad. Again, why risk it?

No its not okay to drink while you're pregnant. Not even a little. The risk of abnormalities and or death is not worth it. It sounds crazy that some people actually need to be told this, but they do. If you ever see a pregnant woman drinking, stop her. If she resists, don't be polite. Make a scene. You'd be doing her unborn child a great favor.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Space Cadet Mommy

At the playground today I experienced another gem of a story.

The park was full of kids, mostly Jewish and the benches were full of Jewish mommies chatting each other up. The moms that weren't sitting were walking around observing their kids, making sure everything is okay. At least some of them were. I was walking around the gated swing area with my child when I noticed a little barefoot boy in pajamas (!) who couldn't have been older than 1, in a bit of a predicament.

His head was stuck between the bars gating the swing area. It was too big to go in either direction, oh, and he was crying his eyes out.

I immediately ran up to him and tried to help him get free. He was clearly stuck. About 30 seconds later a boy (who was about 7 years old) claiming to be his brother, runs over and tries to help the child out while calling for his mother. After a few careful maneuvers we helped the child out. Then mom shows up, thanking me for my help. I reciprocated with a you're welcome and walked off.

What was this baby doing alone? How much time was he away from his mother that he got tangled up in the bars? While her baby was in trouble, mom was, you guessed it, on the phone...on the other side of the playground. Yeah.

What could possibly have been so important that she could just leave her baby on the floor and walk away? Oh, maybe she left the baby with the older kid. As if that's okay. Is there really an excuse in the world that could justify leaving a baby to reach that kind of situation? Not that I can think of.

I know some of you are thinking. Why are you so hard on mom? So she spaced out a bit and her kid got caught in the fence. You know how fast these things can happen. Chill out. Well, one wrong turn and that baby would've seriously injured his neck, which could ultimately lead to paralysis. Not something I could chill out about. If a parent has to choose between being neurotically overprotective about her baby, or incredibly lax and neglectful, choosing the latter clearly says something about their parenting abilities.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bootleg Daycare

We've all seen it and heard of it.

My mother's friend, Mrs. Goldberg runs a day care out of her basement. I know, I know, these things are usually very shady but my mother knows this woman really well and you can trust her.

With the price of tuition skyrocketing every year (and not looking like its gonna slow down), people are compelled to send their little ones off to some sloppy homemade day care operation. Initially, one couldn't be blamed, but can these women really be trusted as professional caregivers/educators? I know what you're thinking. Mrs. Goldberg took care of her own little army of kids and grandkids, she's got experience. Well y'know what? Who says her standards of child care are up to par with yours? Who says they're up to par with any normal standard? Its not like you have cameras strapped to your kid to keep an eye on them, because even if you did, by the time you noticed somethings wrong, it would be too late. Even if shes a relative. Do you really think that she could handle your child plus ten others without training? Anyway, she'll agree with anything you ask as long as you put your kid in her "care". (If you can even call it that.)

One particular bootleg daycare has really screwed the pooch. This woman was a local mom with spare time who was friendly with all of the neighborhood families. When she opened up her home for child care, every family she knew had a kid signed up, until it was full. Things went seemingly smooth for a number of months when one day it came out that that the woman's husband was molesting the 2-4 year old children when the mom wasn't looking. Of course, the local rabbis kept it hush hush. I mean, we can't have a blot like that on the face of our kehila.

Other offenses by various heimishe day care programs include giving kids food they're allergic to, (As if asking about what foods a child is allergic to is too complicated) putting kids out in the sun without sun protection, (because that's too much to ask) having staff without basic CPR/first aid training (not to mention disaster training, fire drills, health dept. and building inspections, etc.) having an unsafe environment (good ventilation, electric outlets guarded, toilets that kids can't drown in, free of sharp objects...) serving nutritious food (One place I heard of fed the kids cholent and kishke..far from nutritious) and transporting them without car seats (That's for another post). There's also the idea of them sticking your kid in front of Uncle Moishy for hours. (Not what I'd call proper stimulation.) Call me crazy, but these are our kids we're talking about and I think we need to practice caution.

Bottom line is, these slipshod day care groups are usually unlicensed, uninsured and essentially untrustworthy. If you want to take care of children for a living, get the proper training and certification. (Yes there are licensed people who are still aweful and untrustworthy, but they can be held accountable if they work for a decent institution...and thats another topic for another day)

Personally, I'd spend the extra cash for the peace of mind.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Supermarket Horror Story #2

This story didn't happen to me. It was told to me by a friend.

A city official who works for child protective services was driving through Williamsburg. He was not supposed to be there at the time, he was off-duty. He came across something odd in front of a kosher supermarket, which he later realized was the unthinkable.

A parking lot of strollers, most with children inside was in front of the store. Where were the parents?
Inside, shopping.

Obviously taken aback by this, and knowing what to do, he quickly rushed into the supermarket and asked the manager to announce on the loudspeaker, in English, that whoever has left a child in front of the store should immediately bring them inside. No response. He asked the manager to announce it again, this time in Yiddish. Still nothing. The store was obviously full of people, and there were several unattended children outside. What was he to do? What any decent city official would do. He whipped out his badge and said that he works for child protective services.

The moment mister store manager saw this he quickly grabbed the microphone and nervously shouted something over the loudspeaker which received a response in the form of a small crowd of mamales and tatales making a mad rush for the door. So basically, these parents needed to be threatened with the very right to keep their children in order to think of their safety be able to take them home.

There are freaks who kidnap children every day in every part of the world. Why would anyone risk the even remote possibility of their child being G-d forbid kidnapped, hurt or killed. G-d entrusted us with our helpless, defenseless children who completely rely on us for their safety and well being. Having a child (or nine) is a privilege and a responsibility, not something to be taken lightly. Couples all over the world pray every day for the chance to have what these men and women take for granted. There are neighborhoods in Brooklyn filled with these kinds of parents, and that is very scary indeed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kosher Racism

Yesterday, my tichel clad wife took our son to the park. Even though it was about 5 or 6 pm-ish, there was a fair amount of kids still running around. My son began to play with a little boy, who was not Jewish, black and about a year older than he is. My wife usually begins to chat up the mom of a kid my son suddenly becomes friendly with, so they began to schmooze. She was very friendly and the kids were having a lot of fun playing together. The park was full of mostly Jewish kids and after my wife and the other mom parted ways, something happened.

She (my wife) began to get the dirtiest looks from every single Jewish mom in the park. After a few minuted of this, the general unspoken consensus within the playground was "How could you possibly let your child play with one of them." She didn't really pay any mind to it, but did tell me about it when she got back.

What on earth is wrong with two toddlers playing together? If you want to play the whole "bad influence" card, don't even go there. These kids are way to young to be influencing each other in any way shape or form. And even if bad influence was a factor, these naysayers had no idea what the kids were doing. Why does being black constitute the automatic assumption of being a bad influence? This display of disapproval was pure racism and nothing more. I could talk for hours about how I think racism is evil, but I'm only going to talk about it within the context of Jewish parenting. Raising children to be racist is pure sin. There is no merit in the world to come for people who raise their children to have sinat chinam (baseless hatred), and just to clarify, racism is sinat chinam in its purest form.

Unfortunately, it is acceptable in the frum community to be racist. My brother went to a very prominent yeshiva in the Flatbush community. Some might even call it, the yeshiva. He related to me about how racist his rebbe was and how he ranted and raved about how dirty and degenerate the shvartzes are. This man is supposed to be an educator and he is acting no better than the instructors of the Hitler Youth. Is his Torah really worth anything? Sickening.

The beauty of childhood is that there are no biases, preconceived notions or prejudices. These two children were sharing a moment of fun together and that is a beautiful thing. To frum people who think its kosher to be racist, I say this: If you want to raise your children to be good Jews, they first need to be good people. Start by teaching them about the beauty of humanity. Kavod Habriot. Separating people (especially children) based on their differences teaches hatred. I'm not saying send your kids out to play with anyone. G-d knows there are plenty of bad kids out there, Jewish or not. Use your best judgment, but don't make that decision based on skin color. Raising children exposed to diversity will make them better people, and it certainly wouldn't hurt their parents either.

Update: Thanks to Heshy for the guest post on Frumsatire.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Supermarket Horror Story #1

I saw a woman a the supermarket who is a prime example of the Jewish neglectful parenting problem.

She was walking around the aisles pushing her stroller with the sleeping baby inside. The awning/sun cover was extended and had a basket full of groceries on top of it. Now mind you, this awning was not designed for this task nor could it handle it. The thing was buckling down and practically squashed because of the weight of the groceries on it. And where was the baby in all of this? Right underneath the awning, head tilted completely to the left, squished down and bearing the entire weight of the basket-full of groceries.

This poor baby (who couldn't have been older than 8 months old) was holding all his mother's groceries using the side of his head, neck and shoulder. What was this poor child's spaced out mother doing while she was shopping?

Talking on her cellphone.


A raging inferno of anger immediately blew up inside me as I politely walked over to the ignorant fool (while she was placing the 3rd half gallon of OJ's worth of weight on her child) and told her in not so many words that she is currently actively exposing her son to the very real possibility of becoming handicapped. She smiled and said "Oh, I didn't realize" as she gave me the dirtiest expression I have ever received that one could pass as friendly. Who cares. At least she removed the dangerous burden from her poor child's head.

Are there actually people in this world who need to be told not to do this stuff?! What was going through her mind (or lack thereof) while she was filling this heavy basket? Oh, this flimsy awning can hold 50 pounds of groceries. Lalala. The lack of consideration this woman has for her child is staggering to say the least. If someone in Child Protective Services would've seen this she would've surely gotten into trouble. Hell, If any normal person would've seen this she would've gotten into trouble. Of course, this occurred in one of our typical Jewish Supermarkets where this sort of thing is tolerated. Only when a little boy is run over by a school bus in Boro Park do people even being to see the tip of this astronomically gargantuan iceberg.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Negligence starts earlier than you think

The first stages of being a neglectful parent is being uninformed...and that starts with uninformed pregnancy. Women (and their husbands) who basically leave the entire procedure of birthing their child to a gynecologist who really is interested in nothing more than to slice the woman open so he or she can bag that extra C-section cash. Yeah. They make more with a C-section. Now its not my place to knock medicated births, but it is a known fact that infants born through medicated births (i.e. epidural, etc.) come out eyes closed and practically stoned from the chemical crap flowing through their blood stream. Granted, I'm a guy. What do I know about the pain of childbirth? Well, I know this. The pain a woman goes through in recovery from medicated birth is ten times the pain a woman experiences in natural birth. Recovery time is longer for medicated birth and the mom doesn't have energy to take care of her baby.

There is a wealth of information on pregnancy and childbirth that many Jewish parents in the frum sector don't really care to look at. The understanding is "Ze doctor is smart and zey vil tell me ven to poosh." So many women just don't want to take their birth into their own hands, as if its information they are incapable of handling because it involves medicine. Maybe they don't look at it with their husbands because its mamish not appropriate for a man to look at a diagram of a woman's mokoym. In any case, its downright foolish not to know about this insanely stressful procedure you (or in a man's case, your wife) will go through.

I told this joke years ago and its sad but true.

Chassidishe woman waddles into the Maimonides triage. 
They ask her "Whaaat iiis yooour naame?"
She answers "Epidural."

Taking good care of your child starts with how they are born. Wouldn't you want to make sure your fragile little baby comes int this world in the best way possible? Nowadays doctors encourage the use of forceps and vacuums and all sorts of hellish instruments to remove babies from the womb. Birth is a natural process and it should be done naturally. To all those angry women who are again saying "You pigheaded fool! What could you possibly know about childbirth pain?!" To them I say, talk to a woman who has given birth naturally. Talk to a midwife. A doula. These people believe in the natural process of childbirth and how it should be conducted. I'm not into the whole hippie, granola crunching thing. I like my SUVs and red meat as much as the next gun toting maniac, but when it comes to childbirth, I believe its natural all the way. To all those expecting couples out there, try it. Its the first step to being a good parent. Your baby will thank you.

The truth is, I could rant on and on about this subject for days. Maybe I'll do a part two on this topic. In the meantime, here are some links to some info on the subject at hand for those who don't know where to look:

National Geographic - In the Womb
Laugh and Learn about Childbirth
Laugh and Learn about Newborn Baby Care
What to Expect when you're Expecting

A Blog is Born...

Hello to all,

This blog came to be because of many different factors in my life. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, what most people consider the epicenter of Judaism in America. I was raised by my Baal Tshuva parents who have chosen a frum lifestyle for my 7 siblings and I. Growing up in a large family comes with its pros and cons. I found that being with a larger family can maximize the total family experience. With a big family, good times are better, bad times are worse.

When I was old enough, I got married and eventually became a father. For me, this was a transforming experience. As most new parents do I instantly referred to my foolproof mental Rolodex of ideas on parenting, no doubt automatically ingrained into my mind by the way my parents raised me. After all, If my parents used their methods, and I turned out okay, wouldn't I want my child to be the same? Every day brought a new perspective and a new challenge. What to feed the child? How to feed them? What consistency should the food be? How should they sleep? On their back? On their stomach? Side? Blankets? How many? The list of questions and choices was endless.

From the beginning of the pregnancy, I referred to the endless library of baby magazines and books. Dr. Spock. The whole shebang. Immersing my brain in the massive treasure of parenting wisdom backed up by years of heavy duty research. Armed with this information, I felt I was ready for anything when it came to my child. Becoming a parent also changed the way I saw other parents and their children. I always make sure that my child has everything they need and that there is nothing overlooked. If its sunny, I apply sunscreen and a hat and make sure my child is never in direct sunlight. Cold? Sweater, snowsuit, hat, extra blankets, etc. Why wouldn't I? I mean, this is my child! Shouldn't I want to make sure my child is safe, happy and healthy? Of course.

Walking around Brooklyn, I detected a certain haphazardness about other Jewish parents I hadn't noticed before. People walking with their infant children in a stroller being blinded by the sunlight. Mothers holding their babies with their heads dangling and bobbing with every move and step. This came to me as a complete shock. How could these people do this? These are children were talking about here. Innocent and helpless. Entirely reliant on their parents to receive the best care. I've seen baboons take better care of their kids! My eyes being constantly bombarded by the sight of careless parents is part of what drove me to start this blog. Part of me is ranting just to get out the frustration of seeing these poor children with stupid parents and part of me wants to explore this phenomenon of neglectful child care in the Jewish community. I'll mostly post instances of shockingly nonchalant child abuse that many of these parents consider to be no big deal. The rest of my posts will contain some thoughts and musings on where this came from, why this is happening and what can be done about it. For those of you who wonder why a Brooklyn Jew chooses to blog anonymously, the answer is in the question.

The name for this blog can be understood in a few ways. Who are the Meshuga Parents? I consider myself to be a meshuga parent. I am tirelessly fixated on protecting the best interests of my child. Does that make me a better parent than any other? No. Everything is better in moderation. Let the kid run and scrape their knees. Don't be the parent who either never lets their kid run in the first place, or the parent who calmly sits by while their child engages in an activity that could very easily render them handicapped. Maybe were all Meshuga parents. This is something I plan to explore.