Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Scoop on Poop: A Post Earth Day Wrap Up

Let's dish, in a grown-up kind of way, a little potty-talk.

Allen Hershkowitz, a scientist and director of the solid waste program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, got the ball rolling a few weeks ago when he was quoted in an AP article that looked at both the golden anniversary of Pampers and the resurgence of cloth:

“A compelling argument for getting rid of disposable diapers absolutely does not exist. It’s a personal choice, but it really can’t be made on environmental grounds. There are costs both ways.”

Surprising?

Not so much if you look at what’s been written, even on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s own site.

Back in 2007, Sheryl Eisenberg wrote “Revisiting the Diaper Debate” on the Council’s This Green Life Journal. She cited the 1990 study that showed no significant difference in environmental impact between disposable and cloth diapers. That study, she pointed out, was conducted by Procter and Gamble. The sponsor behind the subsequent study that found cloth diapers were better for the environment? The National Association of Diaper Services.

A tug of war has often existed in this debate, leaving many, like Eisenberg, to suggest that if neither choice is without impact, it’s a third option that puts less burden on the earth: infant potty training.

But it was convenience and presumably not environmental or developmental considerations that first prompted Victor Mills, a chemical engineer and new grandfather at Proctor and Gamble, to tweak what was then the unpopular and expensive disposable diaper. Although disposables now dominate the market, it was once, obviously, the other way around.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Siblings With/Out Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry, as they say, is as old as tape decks and the Rolling Stones. Or, maybe it’s Cain and Abel. Either way, it’s the fighting over rock music or punk, tape decks and stereos, and other cultural references to life 1987 that place the best-selling book of that time, Siblings Without Rivalry, in another era. And, perhaps the book’s premise of following the progress of a group of parents throughout a series of seminars on sibling rivalry feels like what would now be the plot of a reality TV show--one that was made before the boundaries of political correctness shaped what people said, if not what they felt.

But, setting aside the understandable differences between life in 1987 and in 2011, and looking at the basic hope of parents to raise happy, self confident children who are able to love and cooperate with their siblings, the book is timeless.

And it reveals an aspect of sibling rivalry that was evident in the informal survey I conducted among readers last week. Children grow up to become adults who may or may not have reconciled their rivalry with their sisters and brothers. But they almost never forget what their parents did to quell, ignore or feed the flame of competition or typecasting within the family when they were kids.

So it was with the hope that I might create a more harmonious relationship between my two girls as well as with a little fear of the potential for a future of regrettable pain and resentment that I took on this subject.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The April Mail

I do not bungee jump, nor have I ever.

I was confident about answering this question and one that referred to my rodeo habits (or absence of) when my husband and I sat through Round One of the application process for life insurance.

Despite being no stranger to the details of my own life, I gained a greater understanding of a few things that morning:

1) I am not a risk taker. I am ok with that.

2) My husband’s life, in a system that asks you to assign value, is worth more than mine. I am ok with that. Really, I am.

3) The novels in which a wife takes out a $20 million life insurance policy on her husband before pushing him off the deck of a cruise ship don’t make “paperwork” part of the plot.

The Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Insuring a life, after all, is serious stuff. Could I compare it to insuring a home, a Renoir, the Hope Diamond? No, when assessing these objects, I imagine cholesterol levels are not part of the conversation.

Round Two: peeing into a cup.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dora Dances with the Stars

By now, you’ve probably received your invitation to Dora’s dance recital. It’s an intimate affair, just her family, some friends and a few million Target Shoppers.

My invitation came in the form of an ad for the DVD Dora’s Ballet Adventures, sold exclusively at Target.

“Et tu, Dora?” I thought, holding the video at the store a few days later. Dora stood dressed in a tutu and showered in a rainfall of roses.

“When had she crossed over to the pink side?”

Back at home and twenty-five minutes into the episode, however, I was shouting, “Hooray, Dora! You did it!”

Again.

What did she and her creators do?

They stayed true to Dora’s prosocial theme and made an episode about ballet a story about problem solving, helping others, and finding joy through activity, in this case, dance. They took the heart of what’s made the show exceptional and applied it to a theme that could have been reduced to fancy clothes and audience adulation.