The dilemma of the modern American parent

After reading Jonathan Last’s excellent piece, Safety Not Guaranteed: Yellowstone in the age of the helicopter parent over at the Weekly Standard, I got to thinking about my own kids and the example my wife, Swampette, and I are setting for them.

In Alaska, we hiked along many dangerous trails.
In Alaska, we hiked along many dangerous trails.

We like to think of ourselves as adventurous types.  We’ve taken family trips to Alaska and the Grand Canyon (both before our little girl, the Swampling, was born – but we did take Swampus Junior with us – he was 7 and 8, respectively).  Granted, we “camped” in an RV and a hotel room, but still.  We hiked the trails; we built fires; we stood amazed at nature’s awesome beauty.

We never had any dangerous encounters with the local wildlife, but there were times when I feared for Junior’s safety – was he wandering too close to the edge of the cliff face we were hiking?  What happens if this rapidly-flowing mountain stream carries him away and over the falls?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was afraid of losing my son to these hazards.  I’m also afraid of him getting hit by a car when I let him ride his bike around the neighborhood.  Mostly because he’s still in that “lovable doofus” stage of childhood and not because he’s lacking in the brains department (sure enough, last time he rode his bike, he took a turn too sharply and somehow managed to sustain a smattering of scrapes).

I look at statistics for injuries and crimes against children, however, and on the whole, American children are safer than they’ve ever been.  Yet on the whole, we’re more frightened than ever of a multitude of boogeymen:  stranger abduction, peanut allergies, traffic accidenJunior in the Wildernessts and whatever else is on the front page of the newspaper this week.

I wonder if I’m doing him a disservice by not encouraging him to get outside and do more things on his own and without supervision.  When I was his age, I’d disappear down neighborhood streets on my bike or into the woods for hours.  I’m sure my mother worried about me, but it never got to the point of her freaking out about where I was.

Maybe it’s because she’s German.  They have different ideas about child-rearing; the idea of a “helicopter parent” is likely foreign to them.

Regardless, the toughest part of being a parent is realizing that your progeny is ready to face some of life’s challenges on his own – if not without your (distant) supervision, then without your help.

SUBURBAN WILDLIFE

One of the joys of living in the suburbs of South Florida is the amount of wildlife I can see in my very own backyard.  Some of it is exotic, some of it is ordinary, but it’s all fascinating to me.

My home backs up on a waterway, so I think I probably see more wild animals than many other folks who might only have a fence.  I’ve had the joys of seeing otters, raccoons, possum, turtles and other native wildlife in addition to some non-native but pervasive species like iguanas.  Here are a few photos that I’ve taken within the last couple of months.  Sorry for the shitty quality, I didn’t have my cell phone camera set quite right.

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VICTORY FOR MUSCHAMP

Sad Muschamp

Georgia Southern may have to vacate its 2013 win against the Gators.

According to the NCAA, a former assistant compliance director provided one student-athlete with all her coursework for a class the player was enrolled in, then instructed the player to lie and cover up for her when the professor caught on.

In a separate incident, a former assistant director of student-athlete services wrote and submitted 10 extra-credit assignments for two players, using their usernames and passwords without their knowledge.

To add insult to injury, the cheating didn’t even work, according to the NCAA’s report.

In addition to the probation and loss of scholarships, Georgia Southern will also vacate any wins in which the players involved played, reduce their number of official visits for recruits by 10 percent and be fined $5,000, a punishment self-imposed by the school.

Here’s hoping that one of the players was ineligible on November 23, 2013.

“One of the things you don’t know about money is that it is covered in human skin.”

One of Archie McPhee’s more popular items: handerpants, underpants for your hands.

No, Director of Awesome at Archie McPhee, I did not know that.  I did not know that at all.  Nor did I know how bad human skin smells when it starts to decompose:

“One of the things you don’t know about money is that it is covered in human skin,” says Wahl. “So as it gets hot out, it basically starts smelling like human flesh.” The stench of the dead, rotting skin was overpowering, and any time the shredded money had to be dealt with, workers had to wear ventilator masks and gloves. Eventually, they were able to sell the reeking bails back to the original buyer at a steep loss.

I suddenly feel as though my life has been devoid of all meaning.  I mean, sure, we can’t all work for a weird novelty company, but after reading this, I am asking myself why I’m not.

UT SETTLES TITLE IX SUIT

sad butch
Sad Butch

 

Per ESPN:

The University of Tennessee has reached a financial settlement with a group of women who sued the school in federal court for the way it handled their allegations of sexual assaults by student-athletes.

According to documents obtained by ESPN, the university will pay the eight women $2.48 million.

According to a UT release, the settlement agreement specifically provides that the university is not admitting guilt, negligence or unlawful acts. UT officials said they have already spent $220,000 litigating the case and estimated that it would cost another $5.5 million if the case ended in trial. David Randolph Smith, the Nashville attorney who represents the eight women, said his clients are dismissing their lawsuit against UT.

“My clients and I are dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice and signed the settlement agreement,” Smith said in a statement. “We are satisfied that, while universities everywhere struggle with these issues, the University of Tennessee has made significant progress in the way they educate and respond to sexual assault cases. My clients and I are also convinced that the University’s leadership is truly committed to continue its exemplary efforts to create a model as it relates to sexual misconduct.

Honestly, $2.5 million split among 8 different women is not that much, however the attorney’s statement indicates that UT is taking some remedial measures.

Schools with prominent sports programs need to buckle down – it’s a new world and student-athletes shouldn’t be coddled anymore when they (allegedly) rape coeds.  It isn’t enough for the Jimbo Fishers, Art Brileses and Butch Joneses of the world to stick their heads in the sand and ignore what their players are doing.  They need to be charged with some oversight of their students, especially when the guys they’re recruiting are not exactly “model citizens.”

F$U BUYS PARTICIPATION TROPHIES FOR FOOTBALL TEAM

football-trophy

The geniuses at the School Out West decided it was a great idea to buy “State Champion” rings for the football team, since the Noles didn’t win a national championship or even an ACC title this year.  Heck, they didn’t even win their division.  They didn’t even beat Houston in their bowl game.

From Deadspin:

The rings, which also acknowledged the Seminoles’ appearance in the Peach Bowl—a 38-24 loss to Houston—cost $62,010. The school also purchased 64 pendants at $175 each. The final total: $73,210.

I’m guessing, since it’s F$U, that this is taxpayer money. MY taxpayer money.  And I think it bears repeating that the ring commemorates a bowl game in which the Noles LOST.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a “State Championship.”  While it’s true that Florida State beat Florida, Miami and South Florida, it’s also true that the Noles didn’t play every Division I team int he state.  UCF, FIU and FAU technically went undefeated against F$U in 2015 (because they didn’t play).

It should not go unremarked that in years when Miami, Florida and F$U all play each other, there is already a trophy – the Florida Cup, of which F$U is the present custodian, having last won it in 2013.