Posts tagged ‘political correctness’

February 14, 2011

Bubbleboy’s Valentine

Valentine’s Day is upon us with all its pink and red heart-shaped might and a lot of stressed out teenagers and adults who ponder such weighty questions as “what if anything should I give a girl-friend/boyfriend of three months for valentines?” and “Is a dinner at the steakhouse okay or does it have to be the fancy French place?”

Valentine's Day craziness, pic: (c) Tina Baumgartner

My naive hope had been that my young son would be spared the craziness because Valentines Day is about romantic love and at this point in his life all my son loves are his parents, his grandparents, some friends, his teddy bear,  Luke Skywalker and on some days Harry Potter.

As mentioned, however, this hope was naive.  At school we are all friends, right, and therefore every kid has to give every other kids in his/her class a Valentine’s day card. Unthinkable to hurt a friend’s feeling by not giving him/her a card.  My first issue, as alluded to, is with Valentine’s day card giving 6 year olds in general  – they should just be spared this day, they’ll have a lifetime to agonize over it.

And if they really really must be pulled into this isn’t it part of the deal that one feels special because one gets a card from cute Johnny while little Jane over there doesn’t. Cruel? Well, maybe – such is life.   Just wait until you are in high-school, then we’ll talk cruel again.

Now if my very social and outgoing child would come to me and say “Mom, I want to give everybody a card so nobody feels bad” I’d hug and kiss the little guy for such a brilliant sentiment and go and buy enough cars for everybody.  But make it a rule?

Tree-hugging European that I am, I am thinking of 1500 kids in my sons school giving each 20 cards and I shudder.  That is 30,000 cards in his school alone.

This is utter craziness.

February 9, 2011

Forbidden and demanded

A recent one day visit to two places in northern California yielded this array of signs telling us exactly what to do and what not to do.  Quite impressive – and probably I overlooked a few.

Most/some of them are reasonable but taken together they made for a whole day of screaming at Bubbleboy “don’t do that”, “don’t touch this”, “stay away”, “Don’t step on this”, “STOP”, “don’t run”, “slow don’t”, “be quite”, “shut up”, “sshhh”, “no you can’t have a snack right now because the squirrels will be jealous”, “put that bamboo stick down”, “that other one, too”, “don’t walk there”, “don’t stand there”, “behave well!”, “behave yourself”, “… because I said so”, “I know it isn’t fair”, “I don’t care just do it!”, and finally

“I had it, we are going home!”


Forbidden 1

Forbidden 2

Forbidden 3

Forbidden 4

Forbidden 5

Forbidden 6








forbidden - of course

this is pushing it

Safety concerns - always a good excuse

that is really pushing it

stop and think


Behave some more

and more behaving


December 10, 2010

I wonder – again

The now infoamous butt drag, pic:

this time for real – about a news story that of the “only in California” type.

Let’s set the stage with a couple of definitions.

Wrestling is a sport in which two opponents struggle hand to hand in order to pin or press each other’s shoulders to the mat or ground.  Wrestling, believe it or not, has styles, rules, moves, and regulations.

One of the moves is called butt drag.  As the name suggests somebody grabs somebody else’s butt and drags it.  Presumably that requires some serious grabbing to obtain leverage  and sometimes the wrestlers try and get a better hold even by using a  finger in the rectum for more leverage which – as unpleasant as it sounds to us non-wrestlers – seems to be a not uncommon variation of the drag albeit not quite by the book either.

You are free to form your own opinion about the desirability of those activities, but if you decide to become a wrestler, it would stand to reason that you should be prepared to for some butt dragging.  If you don’t like to be touched there are alternatives: synchronized swimming comes to mind, pole vaulting, stuff like that.

In a poster case for “Only in California” a 17-year old wrestler in Fresno has been charged with sexual assault by his opponent – for dragging his butt.    The case is going to trial in January.

If this was April 1 I would laugh but it is December and therefore it ain’t a joke.

Some sore looser decided to get revenge and in our litigious society it isn’t enough to walk over and say to the guy  “Yo, homeboy, keep your hand off my ass or else …” It is not enough to go to the trainer and accuse the other of something less life altering, let’s say “unsportsman-like behavior”.

No, it has to be sexual assault, lawyers need to get involved, judges, courts, and likely money will changes hands at some point.   Parents will be pulling their kids out of wrestling practice in droves for fear of litigation and ruining the poor kids’ lives rather than enriching them.  I am starting to wonder what cockamamie claims could possible come up in my son’s martial arts class …

Welcome to California in 2010!

December 9, 2010

Bubbleboy and the U word

Beware! Things starting with U on a line, pic:

Disclaimer: I do really like my kid’s teacher. She is smart, cares about the kids, seems to like her job, and conveyed early on the crucial message that in her classroom there is only one boss, and that is her. I dig that!

All the more surprising did I find a conversation that took place recently at at parent-teacher conference. I can only assume that she was encouraged to mention this or – worse – that there we actual complaints from other parents.

The kids have been working on a letter book. For each letter of the alphabet they say, write, and draw things that start with that letter. My son had many important contributions like gun, bomb, laser, ninja fighter, explosion, chemicals, potassium permanganate, …

The most notable, however, was one starting with the letter U and, no, it was not UFO. He raised his hands and blurted out “underwear”. To the best of my knowledge he did not say “stinky, old, yucky underwear full of poop” – that does start with s anyway – he just said “underwear”.

During the conference I was informed that that was an inappropriate word in the context of a 1st grade classroom.

Now in my universe (another word with U) underwear is what you wear under your, well, upper-wear: boxers, briefs, bras, bikini-bottoms, that sort of thing. Nothing questionable about it, the absence of underwear would be worrisome .   In the universe of 1st grade, however, the concept of “underwear” somehow became objectionable.

Call me a depraved but it never even crossed my mind that any part of that word or the two parts combined could be considered “inappropriate” for public utterance.   Had my son said that he needs to bring a thing that starts with u for the next class and he wants to bring underwear I would have made sure he takes a clean set – but that would have been the full extend of my parental involvement.

I mean, what are we supposed to call these things? “Unmentionables”? Stars with U alright!  Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions that term first being used in 1823.   I had assumed that it went out of style about a 100 years later – at the latest.

That only leaves us with the option of not talking at all about such objectionable concepts as garments worn directly on your skin. By and large that is fine by me, I have no strong desire to discuss underwear, although, I must admit, the girl-friends and I sometimes venture to discuss such topics. I can’t help but think, that by telling my son that it is not appropriate to say the wicked word “underwear” it is all the more interesting to him.

I can see him in my mind’s eye whispering in his friends’ ears during lunch break stuff like “underwear, underwear, underpants, undershorts, undershirts, underthingies,…” and they all break down in hysterical laughter.

December 3, 2010

Bubbleboy’s Naked Toesies

This is a post about little feet, not even necessarily naked, just feet in sandals – or rather the lack thereof.   Sandals, amazingly,  are strictly forbidden in school.  Just imagine the terrible things that could happen to little feet in sandals, they could get dirty, or one could hit a toe at the play structure, resulting in the worst possible scenario: a bloody toe.

Dangerous footwear!

Now, Mrs. M at school asked the parents to make the kids wear closed  shoes because they do 30 minutes of PE every day, outside, weather permitting.   Know what, that makes sense.  I buy that.  PE – sandals, not a winning combination, although not a disastrous one either.   I think PE is great and I will comply – at least on days when it is less than 90 degrees outside.   Anything hotter than that: they are inside anyway and jumping jacks in sandals has never killed anybody – at least not to my knowledge.

After-school – different story. No PE, mainly homework, building battleships out of Lego, singing songs, and impersonating vegetarian wolfs.   Danger factor to exposed toesies: somewhere around -3 on a scale from zero to 10.   Still: big red sign right on the door:  No sandals, crocks or flip-flops.  Dare I ask the obnoxious question: “Why does my son have to wear closed shoes when it is 95 degrees outside?”  The answer, you guessed it” “open shoes are too dangerous. The kids could hurt themselves.”
Really? Hmm, hurt themselves? Yeah, probably, a bit. But how bad can it be and, more importantly, might there not be a lesson somewhere in all of that getting your toesies hurt.  Should we try and protect our children from the slightest little “ouwie”, should they grow up believing that the world is a safe place just as long as we invest in sensible footwear?

My ideal would be that they run around barefoot so their feet get used to it, instead of marinating them the entire long hot day in airless sneakers. But that, of course, is such a foreign notion, I don’t even dare to introduce it.

So instead of strong dirty feet I get stinky, sweaty feet every day with socks that smell so bad they have to be stored in the yard until the washing machine is ready to go and a child who thinks it is a disaster to have a little scratch on one of those delicate white toes.

Brave new world!

November 11, 2010

Bubbleboy and Sunscreen

My boy is fair-skinned.  If I go overboard with one thing its sunscreen. At the first sign of sun the 50 SPF lotion comes out and it goes on thick: face, arms, neck, ears, legs – everything exposed and then some. Not too long ago I severely burned my back because I was so focus on getting every last corner of his little white body covered that I forgot that my skin, too, tends to burn to a crisp. It was nasty, my whole body ached, I could barely sleep – never, ever would I want to risk that for the little one.

A good thing about modern times: the sunscreens have gotten so much better since I was a child when a factor 8 seemed like this outlandish number and we generally used something more like a 4. The bad thing: the stuff is still sticky and gooey and nobody likes to apply it .

Where is she going with this, you ask.   See, the latest and greatest idea at after-school revolves around sunscreen. In school it is now considered a medicine. Yes, you heard right, like Vioxx – ooh bad example – or the purple pill, or that stuff they tell you you should use for your restless legs, you know the one that makes your legs crawl just from watching the ad.  So, it has been declared that henceforward sunscreen is considered medicine and will therefore no longer be applied by the teachers.

The rational: to avoid the spread of communicable disease. How lame is that?  Has anybody ever read a story osomebody contracting Dengue fever, Cholera or Chickenpox from sunscreen lotion.  Me neither.  (btw, if you want to check out a list of communicable diseases, here is a link:

The real reason I think: the teachers don’t want to put the gooey stuff on 20 kids.  You know, had they just come out straight and said: “listen, we don’t want to deal with sunscreen, too much hassle, it’s kind of yuck and anyway, we are being paid way too little for this crap.” I would had some sympathy, not a lot, but some.

But communicable diseases?? what it means is that every time (!!) not once a season but every time (!) I want them to put sunscreen on my child I need to fill out a medicine authorization form.  Of course, nobody does that and they got themselves out of the sunscreen-applying business without ever as much as admitting that it is for their convenience but putting the tired old “we-just-want-the-best-for-your-child” cloak around it.  Know what?  It sucks!
Normally fall has me depressed and winter is the time where I browse the Internet for bargain real estate in Mexico but this year – in this one respect – I am glad winter is coming. At least I can postponed the sunscreen hassle for a few more months.

November 8, 2010

Bubbleboy Makes Friends

I have noticed a sneaking “friendication” of my son’s world. Again I begin with a disclaimer – a sign of our times: I love my friends, they are important to me.   I’d go to hell (and back, hopefully) for them, I’d loan them money, pump up the airbed for them, help them move, listen to their failed love stories, paint their apartments,  I let them choose TV programs and I even try to accommodate their dietary preferences although that is becoming pretty much impossible these days.  If my friends break something I smile and say “don’t worry, it ain’t important” and, truthfully, it isn’t.  I have very good friends and I intend to keep them for a long time.  Then there are others, acquaintances, people I like, people I think are funny or witty, smart or entertaining.   Some of them might become friends – or not.

And then – big ugly confession coming – there are people I can’t stand.  People who annoy the hell out of me, who are judgmental, arrogant, nasty, or dull. People who bring out the worst in me. I am not proud of that but also not apologetic . There are people who hate me.    No idea why (well, okay, I might have an inkling) I am fine with that, too. Such is life.

We are all best friends forever - or at least until tomorrow. Pic: © Marzanna Syncerz |

Only, my son’s isn’t. He is six and therefore supposed to consider everybody between 2.5 and eight years a friend. He might have friends, good friends, really good friends, and best friends – but they are all friends.

And since they are all friends certain rules apply (there are probably more but this is the one that bothers me the most):

No kid can bring birthday/party invitations to class and hand them out unless all “friends” are invited. The rational is that the friends’ feeling will get ever so severely bruised resulting in lifelong visits to a shrink by not being invited to Mike’s birthday party – even if Mike is that kid one never plays with.  F-ing hassle for the poor mom who has to position herself off the school grounds or lurk in the shadow of some building waiting for the parents of the real friends to walk by before or after school and secretly hand them the incriminating envelop, glancing around right and left to make sure not to be spotted.

The worst (or best): the kids are smart and they are not buying that stuff  so it is all for naught. Standing phrases in our house are “Jack is my friend but I never play with him and I don’t like him.” or “Janet is my friend – BUT I DON’T WANT HER TO COME TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!!!”

I tell my child – politically ever so incorrectly: “It is okay, not everybody has to be your friend. It is normal not to like certain people and not to play with them. You just have to be nice to them anyway and you cannot ever knock the daylights out of them.”

One day, I know, my son will yell on the top of his lungs “but my mom says it is okay that I don’t like you!!!”. That day I will get a call from the principal. I am working on my defense summation already.

November 6, 2010

Bubbleboy’s world is antiseptic

The world is a dangerous place full of creepy crawly things, nasty bugs that make your stomach churn, your nose run, your head hurt. Sometimes worse.

Where are the wipes??

Thankfully our bodies have learned to deal with most of them with the help of our immune system. At least that was then. Now, advanced species that we are, we have decided that entrusting our lives and health to something as unreliable as our immune system is way too risky, especially since Target offers large containers of antiseptic wipes at really good prices.

If wiping our hands once we must, of course, wipe the hands of our little ones three times and their faces as well, while we are at it. Who knows where those little fingers have been and what has touched those rosebud lips. And once you start the wiping you realize how dirty a place we live in and so, logically, you start disinfecting it all.

I grew up cooking soup for my dolls containing mainly water and dirt. I tried it myself before feeding it to my dollies – had to make sure it was fit for consumption. Right now, I am trying to imagine the little girls at the local park, mixing water and sand, sticking their fingers in and having a taste. Somehow the picture won’t materialize, instead I see a freaked-out mother pulling out a big box of antiseptic wipes at the first sign of dirt wiping everything clean, accompanied by a stern lecture on the mortal danger of ever being in close contact with anything that wasn’t sterilized, wiped, cleaned and finally inspected and approved by mom.

And the pictures keep coming: mom wiping off the bench before the kid sits on it (I assume to avoid those nasty wiggle-through-three-layers-of-clothing-bugs), the box of wipes that comes out to wipe down the shopping cart before the kid gets put in (of course not in the cart directly, that’s what those fabric covers that concerned mothers put into the child’s shopping cart sitting place are for), the antiseptic wipe dispenser at the supermarket for killing all those nasty supermarket-infesting bugs that have jumped on us by walking the aisles and piling spaghetti and bananas into our carts.

We live in an antiseptic world, no wonder our bodies don’t know what to do should they run into a bug after all.

November 4, 2010

Bubbleboy and the VW

Reading VW you might think that this is a blog about cars and bikes and things that move. But no, VW does not stand for Volkswagen but for a way more radical and innovative concept: the vegetarian wolf.

Little Red ridinghood bringing celery sticks to the VW

The setting: drama class week at after school
The play: Little Red Riding Hood

The issue: the brutality of it all. The mean wolf, eating grandma, the whole concept of carnivorous existence, of meat (let alone red meat) and the impressionable souls of our six and seven year-olds.
The solution: ingenious in its stupidity – after a good scolding for attempting some unsavory wild predator-type behavior the wolf acknowledges the wrongfulness of his ways, promises to better himself and becomes a vegetarian.

Think I am joking? I wish I was.

There is so much wrong with this in so many ways that it is difficult to decide what to focus on. What stands out for me is that the lesson learned from the original story – one that every parent in the world likes their children to comprehend the minute they are born – “do exactly as mom/dad tells you, don’t you think you know better and certainly don’t go goofing around in places where your little behind is not supposed to be. Or else ….” is completely lost and replaced by some murky concept of how everybody and everything is good and special and if we all just really, really want it the world will be a bubble-gum colored happy place.

If you live in a world like that, where wolves happily munch on celery sticks and processed cheese in portion-size plastic wrappers that Little Red Ridinghood buys at the local supermarket and takes to the woods. A world where it is enough to say “Swiper no swiping” three times in a row to make everybody stop any wrongful behavior immediately, a world where little kitties drink milk all day and never make a bloody mess of a mousie and bears run around with honeypots in their arms – if you live in such a place and your child does not need to learn about bad people and stupid, dangerous decisions, let me know. Because I have never seen such a place and I would be curious to visit.

November 1, 2010

Bubbleboy and goodie bags

The dreaded goodie bag, pic:

Goodie bags – need I say more to sow fear in every parent’s heart? Goodie bags those superfluous little bags full of crap that every parent hates and still can’t get rid off, that scourge of every kiddie birthday.  If you hate goodie bags try politically correct and nutritionally valuable goodie bags and you’ll gladly go back to stuffing fun size Snickers into plastic bags.

The obesity rate in California is about 25% so it makes sense to cut down on the burgers, fries, and Snickers, especially the not-fun-size ones. The place to start, most parents seem to have decided, is their children’s diet.  That makes a certain amount of sense, we want those young impressionable souls to grow up seeing a baby carrot thinking “yum!” and seeing chocolate thinking “unhealthily elevated blood sugar levels”.

Here is something to think about, though: carrot sticks (don’t get me started on their nastier cousins, the celery sticks) are to chocolate fudge what a wooden toy truck is to a nice, big, orange plastic Nerf gun: not their idea of fun! Should we let them stuff their face 365 days a year with chocolate, smarties and other sugar-stuff and have them run around the yard like little guerrilla fighters shooting Nerf guns? (This actually describes my son’s idea of heaven pretty accurately) – probably not.

Should we define our value as parents and human beings by the fact that we will never, ever, under no circumstances and at no occasion let them stuff their faces with the sweet, yummy stuff? Probably not either. That, however, is exactly where we are with respect to the dreaded goodie bags.  Shame and disgrace on any parent who sneaks a candy into a goodie bag and since shame and disgrace seem insufficient in today’s society, lets create some rules around this. Actually only three rules but broad ones which can roughly be summarized as.

Rule 1: you do not have to bring goodie bags to school for your kids birthday, we encourage you to donate a book to the class room instead (this is the good part). If you must bring goodie bags because otherwise your child will blame all future failures on the missing goodie bags at his/her sixth b-day party then rules 2 and 3 apply.

Rule 2: under no circumstances is it ever permitted to put any kind of sweets or candy into a goodie bag. Sweets are to be defined in the broadest possible sense including pretty much everything that contains any sugar.

Rule 3: you are actually not to put anything edible into a goodie bag at all since whatever you put in might offend or irritate somebody. There are possible exceptions for organic, vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, no sugar “treats” (read: freeze-dried celery sticks).

Who needs that hassle?  As a result we get – and make – dozens of goodie bags each year which all contain: an eraser, a pencil – matching the eraser -, stickers (I hate stickers! Do they ever end up on a piece of paper? No way, my iPhone, car, wallet,  books, …), something made of plastic in China (like the other things aren’t): a slinky that does not work, one of those little games where one needs to get metal balls into holes, bubbles that leak, …  All that stuff accumulates because, of course, nothing can ever be thrown out. Things get ignored, teeter on the brink of being forgotten until suddenly, 1 minute after I throw a never-functioning slinky out – as if by divine inspiration – my son will ask “mom, where is that pink-orange slinky I got from Andrew’s birthday goodie bag?” We search the trash …..

Please, people, put some good old fashioned fun-sized Snicker bars into my son’s goodie bag. At least those get used!