Mediterranean Diet: Good Sense Eating column
To Christine Palumbo: Thank you so much for sharing your experience at Oldways 15th Anniversary Med Diet Conference in Chicago Parent (February 2009). I picked it up at the Wilmette Community Center and cut out and read your article several times.
Your explanation of the diet as reflecting an alternative food pyramid was terrific. It really was nice to see a food pyramid that my husband and children would gladly adopt being discussed as something that has been shown to foster long life. I am trying to adopt it starting this week. So far, so good. Family is happier, and I feel lighter and inspired for cooking ideas.
Politics in Parent disappoint
On page 59 of the February 2009 issue of Chicago Parent, a sidebar offers the following piece of advice to parents: "Consider encouraging your kids to share three positive facts about the new president."
Switch the words "George Bush" for "the new president" and tell me how likely it is that the line would be printed. Or better yet, change it to "Justice Clarence Thomas" or "Former Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice," two African-Americans with pretty impressive job titles as well.
In another article, why don’t you advise parents to ask their kids to share three pieces of pork in the stimulus package that’s being pushed through without a careful reading? Or to list three cabinet members who have made money from lobbyists and evaded taxes despite the president’s promise to clean up Washington? Maybe kids should examine the long-term success rate of government work-creation schemes, too.
Or, better yet, you might suggest that parents ask their children to thoughtfully analyze the news and to view the laudatory coverage of our new president with a reasoned, skeptical eye instead of with blind acceptance.
Children are not sheep, and, believe it or not, not everyone thinks the new president is flawless. He’s a political figure who should be scrutinized as vigorously as his predecessors.
Your response might be that Chicago Parent is not a political magazine. Exactly. That’s why there’s no place in it for this kind of group-think. Extremely disappointing.
Don’t look past our history
Your February article on Black History Month, "Embrace the differences and similarities," was distressing to me. As an educator with more than 25 years of experience in the classroom and as an administrator, I know that children as young as 5 who show interest in the topic can begin to hear about and understand both our history as a slave-owning nation and its difficult stories of oppression. Denying or pretending that this is not our past is not in anyone’s best interest.
Speaking with children honestly, we can also let them know that as much as these horrible events happened, there were people of different colors who stood up against the injustices and fought against them. In that way, students can identify themselves with those who worked to correct the wrongs done to others. In time, they may choose to do the same.
There is so much that can be said about this topic. I urge you not to cover such important issues as racism in a superficial way. It is demeaning to people of color. And it is unhelpful to white people who must begin to recognize the privileges that our skin color give us and, consequently, to own racism as our problem—one that we will not "transcend" until we can first recognize its existence and then work to overcome.
A not-so-cautionary tail
Jennifer DuBose’s piece, "A cautionary tail" (February, 2009) was very well done—too bad she had to go through three dogs to get to that level of understanding (and she’s a family therapist, no less).
I am a groomer (and sometimes a dog trainer) and the fact of the matter is that people still have this idea in their minds that they are getting Lassie when they go out to get a dog. Face it—if every dog were Lassie, there would be no dogs in shelters.
I’d like to remind parents that if they have more than one child under 6, they really won’t be happy with a puppy. I’d like to strongly urge people to consider older, trained dogs.
Don’t be so impulsive. Stay out of pet shops which sell live animals. Go to either www.petfinder.com (where you can search by breed and zip code) or www.ChicagolandTails.com (click the resource guide) and find out what types of dogs the rescues have. Their fees include shots and neutering, and most rescue coordinators (especially the breed specific ones) will be very honest about the dogs they have and their "issues." Yes, it’s true, many dogs are euthanized every year because there are no homes for them, but when people buy a puppy from a breeder not breeding for the betterment of their breed, you encourage irresponsible breeding and overpopulation of dogs.
Talk to local groomers and boarding kennel employees about the kind of dog you are interested in. Many times they can give you more information about things you haven’t thought of and they can also refer you to hobby breeders or rescues.
Not every dog that looks cute acts cute, and not every dog that doesn’t seem cute is a problem.
They ALL—every last one of them—will need training. Even if they are already obedience trained, YOU will have to work with the dog every day until you bond. If you just don’t have the time, now is NOT the time to add a pet to your household.
The kids are begging? I was one of those kids once. I brought home every book on dogs I could find. My sister and I read books on training dogs over and over. My parents would not relent and would not let us get a dog until we were mature enough to handle the walking, feeding and grooming.
Take a hint from a previous generation: That was very smart of my folks. I’ve made a living grooming and training, and my brother got a veterinary degree and is a herpetologist.