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A very special Mother’s Day Wonderland

By Alice Bradley

This week in ground-breaking news: television is destroying our youth! It’s probably responsible for the rock-and-rolling and hip-hoppery the kids of today are enjoying.

Seriously, now. Stop your joking. A new study out of the University of Washington has concluded that most children under two watch television. In addition, 40 percent of children under three months are watching TV. (And they’re angry that they’ve missed so much of the Sopranos.) Researchers are alarmed. Alarmed! One researcher solemnly intoned, “We are in the midst of a large, national, uncontrolled experiment on the next generation.”

To all this I say: oh, feh. Yes, too much television is bad and leads to obesity and delinquency and hair loss. And excessive gas. But too much anything is bad. And hasn’t television been around for a few years, now? Didn’t we all grow up watching far too much of it? The American Academy of Pediatrics frowns on television watching for the two-and-under set, I know, I know.  (Updated AAP policy on TV rules as of Oct 2016). But it’s going to happen anyway, you frowny-faced docs. And really, it’s not the worst thing you could do. What I want to know is, what about when you have older kids? Do you ban television for everyone until the youngest is old enough that her brains can handle the scrambling?

Anyway, most preschooler parents will tell you that they wished their kid would watch more TV. Shocking, I know. But no study addresses what to do when you’re desperate for a nap, and your four-and-a-half-year-old turns off the television in order to ram Lego rocket ships into your ear. Solve that one, science!

Besides, we’ve got bigger problems than excessive television viewing. Like the fact that 1 in 4 kids suffer from inadequate health care. This number is twice as large as previously believed, according to a report by the Children’s Health Fund. While 9 million children are uninsured, many more are underinsured or lack access to transportation, bringing the total of underserved children up to a whopping 23 million.

To close this huge gap in health coverage, child health-care advocates argue that the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, needs to be expanded. If the funding continues at its current levels, enrollment will drop to 3.5 million. Opponents to a budget increase feel that more funding means that children who were enrolled in private insurance will be switched to this public program, a “crowd-out” effect that many wish to avoid. On the other hand, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, points out, “Just because families are offered private coverage doesn’t mean they can always afford it. That’s why CHIP has to exist.” The debate will continue this summer as the reauthorization deadline approaches. So now’s the time to speak up.

Finally, as you may have heard, this Sunday is Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day was originally created not as an excuse to buy your mom flowers (really, do we need an excuse?) but as a call to mothers everywhere d to unite for peace.

Written in 1870 by poet Julia Ward Howe, the original Mother’s Day Proclamation reads as follows:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Purchase an e-card through the Mother’s Day for Peace site  and you’ll also contribute to No More Victims, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to aid the victims of war and advocate for peace.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • pnuts mama

    May 11, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    amen, sister. let women lead the call for justice and peace in this world- we just might be able to get it going.
    on a lighter note, i once attended a seminar (pre-mama days) that explained why children under three should limit their television watching- it’s not so much *that* they are watching but *what* they are watching. the way i understood this is a babies/toddlers brain contains many more brain cells than they will use in childhood, and the brain spends the first few years forming synapses- paths between cells that information flows through. the patterns that are created are what the kid uses for the next 10 years or so, and the brain discards the rest of the cells not being used. when a baby/toddler watches tv, they are forming synapses that respond to what they are watching- if the program/commercials are quickcut edits with multiple shots in a second, the brain is trained to recognize this- and the same with longer panned scenes/edits. since real life is more like the longer-panned shots scenario, it is better for the child (ultimately) to limit the amount of time they are watching faster scene changes (most network-type cartoons/commercials, etc.), to give their brain more patterns and pathways to enable them to deal with situations like sitting in a classroom, having an extended conversation, studying for/taking a test, etc.
    but to say that babies/toddlers are irreparably harmed by watching *some* fast-paced scene change shows seems alarmist to me. in this day and age kids will be expected to deal with a variety of experiences and situations- both slow and fast, and will need their brain patterns to be varied. the most interesting thing discovered (the reason why i was at the seminar in the first place) is that during early adolescence the brain seems to do the same thing as when in utero- it loads up on new brain cells and then during adolescence goes through the same process of forming new synapses and patterns (from personal and visual experiences) that seem to last for the rest of adulthood. that was way more interesting to me than whether or not a baby watches too much tv- is how much and what types of tv do most 10-13 year olds watch and what could that indicate for their futures? older kids seem to not be as shielded from advertisement and quick-cut editing (even video games) as their younger counterparts.
    anyway, sorry i got carried away- i guess i just needed to justify the time my baby spent in front of the tv so i could take a shower. happy mothers day!

  • RLJ

    May 12, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I’m with you sister! Sod peace on earth, if my nearly two would just sit in front of the telly for 15 minutes so I could get a frigging break/make the dinner/stick on a load of washing/not have a nervous breakdown. So far his record is ten minutes and it is the longest cuddle I have had from him since he was so small he couldn’t run away.
    When does it get easier? Not by 4 by the sounds of things….

  • Kyran

    May 13, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    our kids watched lots as toddlers. less as they get older. they have bright imaginations and active, lean bodies. and I have had some time to read, write and recharge.
    I monitor content more than quantity. I limit smartass stuff (Nick, Toon) the way I limit sugar cereal.

  • Mauigirl52

    May 13, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    My mother used to stick me in a playpen so she could get stuff done around the house. Seems to me it is more educational to at least watch TV.
    Thanks for posting the Mother’s Day proclamation. I had heard something about Mother’s Day being about peace but had not read the Julia Ward Howe proclamation before. Too bad it got turned into a Hallmark Holiday instead of what it was meant to be. It is so pertinent today.

  • ozma

    May 13, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Oh my God, I thought I loved you before but now I really love you. Ouch. It’s kind of painful.

  • cagey

    May 14, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Television is just one small part in our long, long days. Besides, my kid is really, really into animals these days. We have plastic animals, books on animals, stuffed animals – you name it. However, what we DON’T have is a panda in our backyard. And we live in Kansas. Where else is my kid supposed to see a live, moving panda rather than a stationary photo or picture? In short, TV is just one part of his learning process.

  • lizpenn

    May 14, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    i have to agree with alice’s “feh” and her contention that the statistics on health coverage are far more alarming. we lucky middle-class mothers whose children actually have the benefit of health insurance are absurdly pressured to provide some kind of impossibly pure environment for our children. as a child of the mid-60s, i was fed on formula, from which i graduated to a childhood of pop-tarts and vienna sausages. my brother and sister and i watched tv every day after school for hours and all day on saturday. do i plan to give my child a better diet, both of food and media? sure. but did all of that keep me from growing up strong and healthy and smart enough to earn an advanced degree? nope. somehow i think my child will survive the occasional plonking in front of a cute kids’ movie while i take a shower, just as she’ll survive the occasional ice cream for breakfast.

  • Ren

    May 14, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Loved the mother’s day poem. Funny how all meaning is sucked out of a holiday when Hallmark gets involved. Also, TV = sanity, it’s not that my 5 year old watches it constantly, but holy heck, it’s alot better alternative than me beating her because I’ve totally lost my mind. I wonder if Andrea Yates had a TV?

  • Melanie

    May 14, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Hey, I have breasts! I’m a mother! I’m going to arise and fight!
    I’m not going into health care today, because my husband and I spent a looong time ranting about it today because he needs knee surgery and how the HELL do we afford knee surgery and maybe we could get rid of the insurance because it’s so expensive, except we need medication and need surgery…. and there was much ranting.

  • sarah

    May 14, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    I ALSO JUST DISCOVERED THE JULIA WARD HOWE AWESOMENESS! And I agree that it is very awesome. it almost balances out the freakiness of the lyrics to the battle hymn of the republic, which she also wrote.
    It’s exciting to be a mom at a time when Howe seems relevant; when groups like MomsRising are working to channel progressive mom energy. Yay mama activists.

  • Tara in VA

    May 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Julia Ward Howe’s proclamation was the inspiration for the Mother’s Day message at my church. I loved it, and I thought how incredibly relevant her words are, even 137 years later. It’s nice to know what the holiday is *really* about, and to feel that, “hey, that’s something I can get behind!” (not that I don’t love and appreciate my mother, but I’m anti-made-up-holidays-that-make-Hallmark-rich.)

  • Katie

    May 19, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Could it be that moms in the 1800s were so much more radical than we are today? After reading that I feel like we should have taken over the world by now. I wonder what a Mother’s Day poem read like today?