To Be or Not to Be…Crunchy

I have a friend who, bless her heart, as the southerners would say, is kind of batcrap crazy.  She’s the sweetest person on earth, she would totally give you the shirt off her back, but her passion for the things she believes in makes her come off a little nuts.  She drives me nuts because she makes me second guess every decision I make as a parent (and I’m out of Xanax refills so I can’t afford the additional anxiety).

She is one of those “crunchy” people, as I’ve come to learn they call those who are very into everything green and organic.  I think this chick would rip out her walls and replace them with organic sheet rock if she could.

I’m about as crunchy as cream cheese.  The cheap, generic store-brand of processed cream cheese that’s about as far from organic as possible. Well, at least, I used to be. I’m getting better. I try to buy organic when it goes on sale and I’ve begun using less harsh cleaners around the house.  But I’ll never be like my dear friend, psychotically scrutinizing ingredients and cleaning the toilets with vinegar.

When we were kids, our parents didn’t have to make the decisions we have to make today.  They just threw us in the old station wagon and let us roll around in the backseat while they smoked cigarettes in the front and turned around to smack us when we were misbehaving.  Times, how they have changed.

But there’s no definitive answer as to what is right and what is wrong, and I’m starting to go a little batcrap crazy myself trying to figure out what’s best for my family.  The problem is, the more I ponder these types of issues, the more I feel like my buddy Bart Simpson– damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

To vaccinate or not?  There are people who will SWEAR that autism rates are currently 1 in 88 because kids get poked with more needles before their first birthday than a heroin addict on a binge.  Some studies say there is absolutely no evidence to support this theory, but many parents of autistic children will tell you their child was perfectly normal one day and then suddenly something went very wrong right after they had their shots at a checkup.  Still on the other side of the argument, there have been recent peculiar outbreaks of diseases (measles, for example) that haven’t been around for decades and people are pointing a finger at the non-vaccinators.  So as parents, here’s the choice we get to make: would you rather your kid catch smallpox or develop Aspbergers?

To eat organic or not?  In an ideal world, food would never be genetically modified, fish would be wild-caught but mercury free, chickens would all be free-range, produce would have no traces of pesticide, and all ingredients would be a maximum of three syllables long.  But unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in today.  The economy is in the toilet and people can’t afford a 300% percent price increase on their grocery bills just because someone slapped a little green “organic” label on all of their food.  So what’s better? Your family presumably gets cancer OR you go broke and subsequently die of a heart-attack brought on by the stress of being unable to provide for them?

To use bug spray or not?  Mosquitoes love my kids and me. Like, they really love us.  If they were around on Valentines Day every year, they would take us out to dinner and buy everyone thorny, blood red roses.  I don’t know why, I’m no scientist, but it’s a fact that these annoying little pests attack my whole family from June all the way to September.  I used to just spray everyone with some Off and go on with life.  But of course, like everything that makes life easier, there is a catch.  Apparently, chemical bug repellents can cause damage to brain cells.  Awesome, right? West Nile Virus or brain damage– take your pick!

Let them watch TV or not?  Those annoying people at the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) have recommended no TV for kids under two and less than two hours per day for children older than that. Which would be all well and good if real babysitters were as cheap and readily available as Dora.

Rear-facing carseats or not? The latest guidelines for children’s carseats indicate that kids should remain in a rear-facing seat until at least two years old or longer, and be secured with a 5-point harness for as long as possible.  There is no question that these are the absolute safest measures and thus the best way to go.  But…. What if your child is old enough to be sick of watching you in their backseat mirror watching them through the rear view mirror; what if they have an older sibling next to them who gets to stare at the vast world beyond the windshield, and then jealousy settles in– and the shrieking starts, then the tears, and feet are kicking and fists are flailing and you’re just trying to get everyone to grandma’s house in one piece? A child in the backseat having a meltdown can be a major driving distraction. Pulling over won’t even help because the tantrum will only resume when you start driving again. So you are forced to continue on, attempting to tune out the mayhem going on behind you and give the road your full and undivided attention. Good luck with that.

With all of these contradictions, how is anyone supposed to decide what’s best for their family? It’s enough to drive any sane person mad, so maybe I shouldn’t blame my friend at all.  Maybe I’m really the crazy one……

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