Friday, May 13, 2005


I ran across an article talking about how parents favor better-looking kids. I’d heard this before, that babies that were “cute”, with rounder heads and Gerber-like little faces, tended to get more and better attention from their parents than those Dumbo-eared, smoosh-nosed, weak-chinned versions.

Ok, so, whatever. I suppose it might be true. I’ve got some pretty good looking and well-behaved kids (at least, usually and in public), and they do seem to attract more positive reactions from people than that ugly little creep throwing bags of Cheetos on the floor screaming, “Buy it for me or I’ll hold my breath ‘til I’m purple!!!”

Blah blah blah, evolution, ensuring that the best thrive and the worst…uh…don’t…but then, my eyeballs stammered across this paragraph, which I am quoting directly from the article:

The differences were striking. The researchers found that 1.2 percent of the homely children were buckled into the shopping cart, compared with 13.3 percent of the prettiest ones. When a man was in charge of shopping, none of the unattractive children were strapped into the carts, while 12.5 percent of the cute children were.

Whaaaaaaaaaa? Sooooooooooo…you’re telling me, that overall fewer than 13 percent of parents are strapping their little monsters into the cart?

I’ve winced a few times when I’ve seen other people’s kids jumping up and down in the basket of a cart. Accidents waiting to happen, and while the fall from a shopping cart might not seem that far from the perspective of a 5-foot-something adult, it’s pretty damned far for a small person to drop.

Think I’m just paranoid? Well, I am, BUT! Every year, around 12,800 kids are taken to hospital emergency rooms for shopping-cart-related injuries. 5700 were head injuries, of which 25% (or 1,425) were considered ‘serious’. It ain’t just me sayin’ that. It’s plastered all over the Internet.

Those falls happen in a flash. Children small enough to be put into the shopping cart in the first place are so incredibly likely to be jumpers, too – ooooh, lookit, a bright-colored package! I wannit!!! – and out they go, without a thought to the fact that it’s four feet to the ground.

C’mon, parents. Yeah, buckling them is a pain, like trying to throw a harness on an octopus. Yeah, they whine about being buckled. Yeah, they’d rather be free to run and roam.

But we’re the parents, and they need us for much more than food, shelter, and Nintendo cartridges. Part of the gig is doing things that are going to be very unpopular. None of my kids particularly likes being buckled into a shopping cart. They also don’t like being made to clean up their rooms, eat vegetables, and behave like civilized creatures instead of Wild Things.

But all four of them are still alive, free of concussions and other broken bones.

I’d like to keep it that way. And I’d like to see yours stay that way, too.

So buckle them. Even if they hate it. Even if you’re a man. Even if they’re so ugly you wish they'd hurry up and get to that phase when they're begging you to pretend you aren't with them.

Keep them close, keep them safe from themselves and others.

Attractive as babies or not, I guarantee they’ll grow up to be beautiful people – if we treat them as the treasures they are.


21st Century Mom said...

When my kids were little they hardly even had those belts on the shopping carts. I had to either take my own (which I did) or just shop with one hand on my kid's shoulder.

I just about go nuts when I see kids standing up in the shopping cart seat. Sometimes I tell them in my most saccharine Mommy voice to sit down and then just endure their stupid parents' glare.

Cheshire said...

When you described the article, I had the same reaction. Appalled that 13.5% is the *good* percentage of parents who strap their kids in.

However, I can hope that the sampling of interviewed parents was skewed, somehow...

I, myself, am a parent and a man, and according to this article, I do not strap my 3-year-old into the seat. I'm here to tell you, though, that the 13- and 15-year-old roll their eyes and sigh with exaggerated "patience" while I make everyone wait so I can fix the strap (they're more often busted than not) to keep the little bug in there.

I will admit, though - I don't bother strapping in the 13 or the 15.

Myownigloo said...

I must say, I'm feeling my age. I come from an age when there were no seatbelts in shopping carts until my DD was too old for them.

I never noticed before. I'll notice now.

BTW, you've started a serious trend amongst your friends. I'm the next on the bandwagon, I guess.

Mother of Chaos said...

Group reply!!

When I was a kid, we didn't have the straps, either. But then, mom seldom if ever took us with her shopping. It was a Big Treat.

We also didn't have carseats. I can remember jumping up and down on the back bench of the station wagon - while we were in motion. Then mom or dad would yell at me to sit down, so I would. Then I'd slid down onto the floor and lie there kicking the door.

GAWD, but I am grateful for carseats!! Strap the little terrorists in, that's what I say...

I was also very surprised by the 'man' part of that survey. Seriously. My DH is much more uber-safety-conscious than I am! And less often distracted. And generally more interested in buckles and straps and other 'engineer' like dealings.

Hokay. Speaking of terrorists...Eldest is screaming at Boo Bug to 'get outta here!' Time to start the beatings, already? How time flies...