That’s When I Reached for My Revolver

pistolsAfter the horrible events in Newtown, CT, something occurred to me that caused a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and that feeling emanated  from a small box on the high shelf in my closet.

I am not much of a liberal prosthelytizer, but my heart bleeds, more often then I’d like. Children, the environment,  equal rights, seniors, dead pigeons, you name it, I bleed for it.  In an odd paradox, I am also a gun owner. I have 2 single shot nickel plated dueling pistols.  They were a wedding gift for my parents 50 years ago, then they were a wedding gift to me.  My parents were not gun “enthusiasts,” but they both grew up in the midwest, and had some familiarity with hunting, so owning a guns seemed very normal to them. The wedding gift was meant as a joke- dueling pistols for the newlyweds. Ha.  When I was a kid on vacation in Virginia we’d shoot cans with the pistols, or more aptly, we shoot at cans. These guns were remarkable hard to shoot straight.  But I admit, they were fun.

The pistols went with the other unused wedding gifts (a bread maker, a crystal caviar dish) sat in my closet for years. I never gave them a second thought, until the tragic events at Newtown. Hearing about Sandy Hook Elementary made my heart bleed again, but then it nearly stopped.  In the home of my 5 year old son, and my 2 year old daughter were 2 lethal pistols.  No they weren’t loaded, there was no ammunition in the house. Nonetheless it terrified me.  I did not want guns in my house.

I thought about just throwing them out or selling them.  But I did not want someone else to use them to harm others or themselves. I thought about tossing them in the Gowanus canal (the only body of water in the world that is 90 percent guns.)  But I’m not a criminal, I shouldn’t have to “dispose” of the evidence.  Someone suggested taking them to the police.  Maybe that was the best idea, but it seems like an invitation for an interrogation. I looked for gun buy backs (which aren’t nearly as common as one would think) but even the thought of carrying the guns in public was unsettling. I ended up taking them apart, taking out the hammer assembly entirely, rendering them no more lethal than the crystal caviar dish.

Chutes and Toddlers

A least a half dozen friends forwarded me the the New York Times article about injuries toddlers receive when going down the slide with their parent. It seems counterintuitive, but when a child goes down a slide with an adult, they are more at risk of being injured if their hand or foot gets caught on the slide.  The additional weight of the parent can break a toddler’s arm or leg, and apparently this is a common injury in ERs.

I have always been advocate of letting my children go solo at the playground. (Although have been spotted on a few slides, it was more for my own enjoyment than helicopter parenting.) That said, it’s not always easy getting a child to take the plunge for the first time, so I certainly cannot begrudge any parent doubling as a toboggan.

And be aware, a hands off PG approach has its downside. My 4 year old son has broken his arm twice due to his adventurous spirit that his dad encouraged.

But I always tell him, broken bones heal, chicks dig scars, and Park Slope has the highest toddler-to-pediatrician ratio on the country.

Ho Hos, Ring Dings, Ding Dongs, Lend Me Your Creamy Filling.

I Come to Bury Twinkie the Kid, Not to Praise Him.

With the the announcement of Hostess filing for bankruptcy, a lot of people have been reminiscing about Twinkies. The truth is, I was never a big fan of the cream filled spongecake (and frankly, Twinkie the Kid creeped me out, he seemed like a molester) but the with possible demise of Hostess, I will miss the the Hostess lemon pie, and the little powdered donuts.

Hostess lemon pie filling had the color and consistency of Vaseline, but a perfect sweet and sour balance, at least to the discerning tastebuds of a ten-year-old.

I recently tried a Hostess lemon pie again for the first time in over 20 years. It had the same semi- circle cardboard crust, covered in a thin layer of dried icing that resembled eczema more than sugar. But other than being slightly smaller, it looked as I remembered it. Just as it was when ate these after elementary school, the first bite was always a let down, mostly tasteless crust. But once I got to the filling, the lemon petroleum jelly really took me back. In my mind’s-tongue, I recalled them not being as sweet and the 2012 version, this may be just in my memory, but more likely an byproduct of hostess switching to high fructose corn syrup.

I next tried the little powdered donuts, Donettes, the tube of tiny white fluffy donuts, that never went stale. The powdered sugar was so fine, that inhaling while eating always produced a coughing jag, and always left enough powder on your face to make you look like an 80’s stockbroker.

The new donuts were definitely smaller that the ones of yore, but they were just as artificially fluffy as I remember, and just as dry, so much so that once I finished my coughing jag, I needed to chug a Fresca to wash it down.

As much as I like to wax nostalgic, I have to say I’m glad these tasty yet toxic near foods are not nearly as pervasive today. I don’t want my kids eating these things. And the fact that most parents would never even consider putting Ring Dings, Ding Dongs, or King Dons in their kid’s lunch today, something that was pervasive when I was a kid, I see as a real sign of progress.

New 5 Guys on Flatbush Makes 9 Burger Joints in Park Slope

This burger craze has officially gotten ridiculous.  The Patch reports that another 5 Guys Burgers is opening on Flatbush and &th Ave.  Including the 2 McDonalds, that make 9 restaurants selling exclusively hamburgers in Park Slope, and that isn’t even counting the dozen or so of diners, grills, and restaurants that mainly sell burgers.

I guess the burger Bürgermeister’s believe that they have a few years to clog the arteries of the youth of Park Slope before they start dropping off, or their parents get wise. Mark my words, in response to this I expect a spate vegetarian restaurants opening, either that or Zocor and Lipitor stores will start popping up.

According to my calculations the next burger place should open on the corner of 7th Avenue and Berkeley. The former La Taqueria space is still for rent, I'm talking to you Bobby Flay!

9 Burger Joints…and counting
5 Guys 7th Ave, 5 Guys Flatbush, 67 Burger (opening soon), Cheeburger Cheeburger, Corner Burger, Brooklyn Flipsters, Bare Burger (opening soon), McDonalds 4th Ave, McDonalds 9th St.

My New Hyper-Empathy

There is a story in the NY Times Magazine about a 1 year old buy who suffered brain damage, and whether it was cause by shaken baby syndrome or some other cause. At least I think that what it was about, as I couldn’t read past the first page of the 7 page article. As with many articles about child abuse, or the tragic death of child, I felt sick to my stomach when reading about it. I’m not talking metaphorically, I actually had to swallow to keep myself from becoming physically ill.

This never used to happen before I had children. I would read horrifying stories and I’d get angry, and feel sympathy for the parents and children, but I could get through them without wanting to vomit. Not anymore.

I’m wonder if my hyper-empathy will ever fade, or if I even want it to. But it does amaze me at yet another thing I never expected that changes after I had children.

Just a Wee Touch of the Colic

Sadly have been re-reading my books by Weisbluth, Ferber, Pantley, and Karp.  Several nights of of crying from 3 week old Veronica, has my wife and I whispering the “c” word – Colic.

Nate had colic, although we denied it for weeks. At first we said “he’s just fussy.” Then we moved on to “he just has colicky tendencies” and “a touch of colic.”  But our ped confirmed it at Nate’s one month, “classic colic.”

I’m still holing out hope for V that maybe she’s just gassy or going through a phase, but in the meantime I’m looking for a 3 month sublet in Mali, where apparently they don’t have colic.

On second thought, I suppose a touch of the colic is better than malaria.

Paying Off My Sleep Debt

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I asked my brother-in-law what he thought of parenthood.  He compared it to torture.  He was joking, but I have to say, the lack of sleep does give some validity to the parenting=torture department. The day in, day out of not getting enough sleep takes a toll.  A recent study says that new parents miss out on six months of sleep in the first two years!

With baby number two on the way, I was hoping to catch up on my sleep debt, and be refreshed and rested. But since Nate has transitioned out of his crib, he has been getting up between 3:30 and 5:30 AM.

The sleep debt is piling up!  By my numbers, I need to make up about 1,800 hours in lost sleep.  So if I go to bed nice an early tonight and sleep through to right before the baby is born in the first week of October, I should be all caught up.

I better pick up some Sominex.

Fertility Flight? NY Times, really?

The NY Times had an article, Birth Certificate, Brooklyn Address,  about how hospitals in Park Slope, Fort Greene and Cobble Hill have lost patients from who live in these neighborhoods, while four Manhattan hospitals’ birth rates have gone up 31% Manhattan. In truth, births have gone up in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But because a large potion of the Brooklyn births are coming from “non-affluent” neighborhoods, apparently they don’t count.

“Hospitals in or close to the affluent Brooklyn neighborhoods are not necessarily hurting. Births at New York Methodist Hospital, in the heart of Park Slope, soared by 40 percent in the 10-year period.”

“Yet, the numbers of births at Methodist to mothers from Park Slope, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens dropped over that time as more chose Manhattan; the hospital’s growth came from the black, West Indian and Lubavitcher neighborhoods in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights; Latino and Satmar neighborhoods in Greenpoint and Williamsburg; and the West Indian, Haitian and blacks neighborhoods in East New York, Flatbush and East Flatbush.”

Putting aside the waft of racism (blacks, Latinos and orthodox Jews can’t be “affluent?), but the article doesn’t mention that women may choose OBs who are near their work (most likely Manhattan), and in its statistics from Methodist, it uses just the 11215 zip code (and not the surrounding zip codes 11217 and 11232) or the fact that they compare Methodist’s number of births with a the combined number of births of 4 Manhattan hospitals.

For what its worth, my son was delivered at Methodist, and the staff and facilities were excellent. But the reason we chose it was because my wife’s OB worked there. If she had privileges at NYU, our son would have been born there. It had nothing to do with borough loyalty.

I’m not sure what point they are trying to make other than to create some sort of animosity between Brooklyn (particularly “gentrified” Brooklyn) and Manhattan.  I expect this from Gothamist and Gawker, but from The Gray Lady?

Prospect Park West Bike Lane Underway (and Why the Opponents of It are Wrong!)

Hooray! They are finally building the bike lane on Prospect Park West.  I’m not sure why  something that will make streets safer, and reduce pollution is controversial, but apparently the Brooklyn Paper and Marty Markowitz are doing their best to make it appear controversial.

The dedicated bike lane will take away one lane of traffic from Prospect Park West. This will slow down speeding traffic and give bike riders a safe place to ride on a major road.

The opponents have a few misguided arguments:

“It will slow down traffic!”
They are correct, taking out a lane will slow down traffic, but that’s the point! Traffic needs to slow down.  PPW is like a drag race! Try taking a dawdling 2 year old across PPW, hoping you’ll make it across in time before the cars speeding from the Grand Army Plaza starting line make it to your light.

“There’s already a bike lane in the park!”
There is a meandering road in the park (filled cars at rush hour.) It is great for a nice scenic ride, but terrible for commuting.

“We will lose parking spaces!”
True, a few parking spots will be taken by the bike path entrance ramps, but the coincidental elimination of the B69 bus will make up most of those lost spots.

When I wrote Marty Markowitz about this issue, and his resistance to the PPW bike lane, he did respond promptly, but he really doesn’t get it. Here is what he said:

“Like our DOT Commissioner, whose professionalism I respect, I too support cycling in this city and have not only supported bike lanes like the ones on 9th Street in Park Slope and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, but have also been a major proponent of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a 14-mile on-and-off street bike lane that connects Greenpoint to Sunset Park. Without my office’s support and advocacy the Greenway would not be happening. What I am opposed to is bike lanes on Prospect Park West, which will both take away needed parking for residents and park-goers and interrupt access of pedestrians to the park during peak usage in summer and on weekends. There are better options to explore that would meet everyone’s needs—such as adding traffic lights to calm traffic, and adding another bike lane to the park itself. By the way, as borough president I advocate for bikers, and also for those who do not live near public transportation, those who cannot bike for various reasons, and yes, those families and residents who chose to own a car in this borough.”

Like a true politician, Marty practically breaks his arm patting himself on the back regarding Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. (And I’m not even going to mention how crazy it sounds when tries to make car owners seem like an oppressed minority?!?) Although the real disconnect is that Marty and other opponents think the bike lanes are for recreational cyclists. But the new push for bike lanes like the one on PPW is that they are not being made for cyclists on their weekend tool around the park.  They are creating an environment for bicycle commuting and transportation. These bike lanes are trying to get New Yorkers to use alternatives to cars to get around, like they seem to ba able to do it in the rest of the world.

Take a look at the rush hour commute in Utrecht Holland-

Baby Slings: Mothering Bond or Smothering Bind?

After a sling trip to the Met, my back felt like I built the pyramids.

Apparently, wearing your baby is either  an in vogue way to bond with your child, or incredibly irresponsible, depending on which article you read in the New York Times this week.

The Latest in Strollers, Mom and Dad” talks about how more parents are getting baby carriers and eschewing strollers.  In addition to “fostering a strong attachment,” baby carriers are popular with parenteratti, “with celebrities like Brad Pitt and Keri Russell” seen wearing their children. (I guess this helps justify buying a $540 designer sling ?!, which is essentially a piece of cloth.)

Yet a few pages deeper in the paper was the article, “Govt to Warn on Baby Slings Because of Deaths.” The Consumer Product Safety Commission is about to issue a warning about the possible suffocation risks with certain baby slings.

It’s enough to make an overprotective parents head explode!

From my own experience, a slings are safe and great for short trips, but would never replace my stroller.

I know other babies love the child to parent contact, but my son rarely slept while strapped on, and we tried 3 different carriers.  But he always napped soundly (and still does) in the stroller.

He outgrew his Baby Bjorn at 13 months(the Bjorn has 25 lb weight limit , you’d think the strapping Swedes would accomodate a bigger baby), he kept slipping through the Moby (you need to take a lesson from the Merchant Marine Acadamy to make sure that thing is secure,) and by the time we got the Ergo, which mom, dad and baby all liked, he was just too heavy to carry around for any extended periods.

And the usefulness of a carrier diminishes after tour child is a year old.  Maybe the mothers of !Kung San tribe in the Kalahari can carry 25+ pounds strapped to their body all day, but my back can’t take more than a couple of hours max. I leaned this the hard way. “We don’t need the stroller,” I arrogantly told my wife before a trip to the  Metropolitan Museum of Art when my son was less than 6 month old.  The next day my back was so sore I could barely get out of bed (although Nate did really like the Egyptian wing.)

Quasimodo never used a stoller

Maybe all these people who never use a stroller and call them “isolation pods” are all married to chiropractors. Because if I had to rely on a sling to get my son around, I’d look like Quasimodo after the first 6 months.

I am interested to see what the official Consumer Product Safety Commission warning says, but I’m guessing common sense will apply, ie. make sure your baby’s airway is always clear, and don’t let them curl up in a ball at the bottom of a rucksack.

http://www.brooklynbrood.com