Posts Tagged ‘ news ’

The Sandy Hook Promise: This Time There Will Be Change

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

It has now been over a month since the tragic event that inspired me to write you, ”Processing The Newtown, Connecticut School Shooting As A Parent.” Since then, I’ve observed two natural responses from American society:

A) To help those who are grieving and B) to try to figure out how to prevent this from happening again.

The latter has led to many discussions about gun control, for as much or as little as that term may be referring to. For the past month, I have been deliberately avoiding public involvement in these conversations.

But now, I am willing to share with you how I feel about it. What makes it easy for me is that I read an article today on The New York Times’ website called “Families of Newton Victims Organize Violence Prevention Effort.”

After reading the story, and after reading between the lines, it appears to me that the Sandy Hook parents who are quoted are saying out loud what I’ve been thinking to myself for the past month.

To summarize, they are ultimately thanking the President for his efforts to help by trying to prevent another similar tragedy with his effort to ban the kind of assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the Newtown shooting.

However, the parents interviewed in the New York Times article, who have started a non-profit group called Sandy Hook Promise, are more focused on creating a national dialogue about school safety, mental health, and gun responsibility.

Here’s the Sandy Hook Promise, according to their website:

“I Promise to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I Promise to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.”

It can’t be assumed that all or even most of the Sandy Hook parents feel the same way as those who have founded Sandy Hook Promise. Even still, it’s interesting to see enough gun-owning members of Sandy Hook Promise who are basically saying, “Hey, wait, before we focus so much on banning guns and ammunition, let’s take a look at the other issues too…”.

Maybe (!) I’m reading too much into the article, as well as, the Sandy Hook Promise’s website, but I think the term “common sense solutions” is an indirect way of saying that banning guns is not a common sense solution.

I find it interesting and no coincidence that when you go to the website for Sandy Hook Promise, there is a button you can click to receive email updates. It says, “I promise,” followed by, “this time there will be a change.”

(It is worth noting that the President’s campaign slogan of 2008 was “Change we can believe in.” Complete coincidence? Again, maybe I’m reading into something that’s not actually there.)

Personally, I feel that if certain assault weapons and ammunition magazines were banned, it would surely make it more difficult for troubled, mentally ill young men to use those certain assault weapons and ammunition magazines in public shootings. But it wouldn’t stop them from finding other ways to hurt large groups of people in theaters and schools.

Even with a complete gun ban, which I know the President nor the Democrats are not actually in favor of, a crazed attacker could still find access to homemade bombs, poisonous gas, and most likely… guns.

Honestly, my opinion on gun control and the Newton, Connecticut shooting doesn’t really matter. However, the opinions of the Sandy Hook parents are actually very relevant and they absolutely do matter.

And best I can tell, they’re more interested in having a national conversation about school safety, mental health, and gun responsibility. Not “banning” guns.

Read The New York Times’ Families of Newtown Victims Organize Violence Prevention Effort” and the Sandy Hook Promise website… see what you personally think about it.





Top image: Little boy holds his father’s hand: Shutterstock.

Bottom image, No guns allowed, abstract art: Shutterstock.


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How Do Parents Leave Their Kids Alone In A Hot Car?!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

(The next day I answered this question with “Kid Still In The Car Seat” Awareness. Read it if you are curious to see if my view changed on this subject. Hint: It did.)

20 months.

I think I already know the answer: You sort of have to be crazy.


Today a news story popped up about a 25 year-old mom who left her two toddlers in the car while she went back inside the house to take an hour nap. When the mom returned to her car, her children were dead.

The problem with this story is that it’s too familiar. It’s not really that unique, unfortunately.

I feel like I hear of slightly different version of this happening a couple times every summer.

Assuming the mom in that particular story wasn’t insane, on bath salts, or demon possessed, I tried to imagine if I could ever end up in her position.

As soon as I heard about the story while I was at work today, I immediately reminded myself of this morning’s events:

“Okay, you definitely dropped off Jack at daycare this morning because as soon as you plopped him down, his friend Sophie started growling at him like she was a dinosaur, then immediately offered him a cup to play with. Yes, that was this morning. Not yesterday. You didn’t leave your son alone in the car in the parking lot… Whew!”

Even then, since that moment, I have questioned myself on whether or not I could ever become one of those parents who leaves their kid alone in a hot car.

I try to imagine a worst case scenario where I drive straight to work and forget Jack in the back seat because he was really quiet and content the whole time, which caused me to fall into a state of surreal solitude. I mean, life is stressful, could that ever happen to me?


Here’s why. Every time another one of these “parent left their kid alone in a hot car” story surfaces, it always ends up that the parent was less than a dependable and respected member of society.

There’s always something shady going on with them to begin with.

I’ve yet to hear of this happening where a “normal parent” like one of us finds themselves in a situation like this.

Until then, I think I’ll be able to keep myself out of a Shawshank Redemption kind of setting.

But really, I don’t know, do non-crazy parents end up leaving their kids alone in the car?

Do they?

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9 Year-Old Girl is Dad’s Designated Driver

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Eleven months.

That pretty much sums it up. An intoxicated  dad recruits his 9 year-old daughter to drive him home. Fortunately, his altered state of awareness caused him to brag his crime to a gas station cashier, as well as, the security camera.

So the predictable blog comment here should go something like this:

“Can you believe this guy? It’s people like this that should be locked up. What a horrible father! He endangered an innocent child, as well as, everyone else on the road!”

I agree. The man obviously shouldn’t have A) exposed his daughter to his drunkenness B) especially not in a place where he would have to eventually leave from in a vehicle, not to mention, C) force her to illegally drive a car D) because on top of everything else wrong with this scenario, he is setting an unimaginably horrible example for his daughter and E) who knows, maybe he is giving ideas to other outrageously inept parents out there.

Seriously, let’s hang a millstone around this guy’s neck and shove him off a plank, then stone him with radioactive moon rocks; only right after we stick a badge on his chest reading “World’s Worst Dad.” Just for good measure, give him an enema of baby barracudas swimming in Tabasco sauce. Right?

The question is, can we give “World’s Worst Dad” a microscopic shred of credit? Just for one thing: After all, he himself didn’t drive his daughter. Granted, he should have never done what he did. But was his decision to hand the keys to his 9 year-old daughter at least better than him driving drunk?

Passing the Mic:

Which is the greater evil- giving the keys to his daughter or him getting behind the wheel (with his daughter in the van)?

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Why This Dad Approves of the Brat Ban

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Eleven months.

Back in July, a restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania started banning children under the age of 6 from entering its restaurant. Evidently, this event sparked a trend called the Brat Bana ban in which a certain demographic of adults want to keep kids out of their favorite public places (at least during certain hours). In addition to restaurants, this also includes swimming pools, theaters, planes, and grocery stores. This trend has evidently fired up a debate with parents.

As a dad, I’m evidently supposed to be offended. I’m supposed to go on about how the Brat Banners are selfish, whiny, bratty people themselves who just don’t understand the reality and necessity of having to take kids into public places. I should also defend us parents by saying we can’t always completely control our children in public.

Here’s the thing: I say if a business can afford to ban kids, let ‘em.

In this economy, if a restaurant or store or entertainment venue finds more monetary value solely in adults as opposed to families, then let them capitalize on that. Honestly, if I showed up at a grocery store where they ban children during the hours I shopped, I would simply take my money and my kid elsewhere. That’s simply it- no drama from me.

Something I particularly like about the Brat Ban is that it raises social awareness of two extremes: A) the parents out there who let their undisciplined kids run around unattended in public and B) the adults who generally see children as a rude nuisance. I represent neither; instead, I am one of the normal people not taken into consideration in these scenarios.

I think that the more people talk about socially extreme situations like these, the more it creates a snowball effect where many of the extremists begin to conform to the expected social norm. These days, if a semi-celebrity publicly makes an allegedly racist, sexist, or anti-gay comment, all Twitter will break loose over it. But there’s a pretty good chance that 50 years ago the same statement would have barely raised an eyebrow.

So I say let businesses ignore the civil rights of children. Let that action speak for the company itself and what they value. I say let irresponsible parents keep doing their thing and let those who are annoyed by all children keep running their mouths.

Meanwhile, I’ll sit here watching from the bleachers with my well-behaved kid.

Passing the Mic:

What do you other normal parents think about the Brat Ban?

Do you agree with my take on it? If not, why? 

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The Gender of the Baby

Friday, June 18th, 2010

“Sadie, Chloe, Sammy, or Max, chillin’ in a baby sack.  Tristan, Evan, Lily, Zoey, or Jack…” -Candy Butchers, “Let’s Have a Baby”

Nineteen weeks.

After my grandmother’s dream and my wife’s co-worker’s psychic’s prediction of it being a girl, it was pretty obvious to us what the gender of our baby would be.  I drove down to the appointment yesterday full of excitement, knowing that I could finally tell everyone that our intuition was correct once I would get the official confirmation.

Several anxious moments passed as the nurse showed us pictures our  our baby, then finally she asked us, “Do you want to know what it is?”

Laughing, full of confidence, we told her that we were quite sure already, but yes, tell us for sure.

“You’re having a boy.”

I wish I had a YouTube clip of our reaction.  “WHAT?!  NO WAY!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”  Etc., etc.  All exclaimed while hysterically laughing.

Not that it mattered either way to us.  I just don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life.  I wish there was a way to type in a “laughing font” to better show my tone here.  I’m so happy!  We’re having a boy!

This is an "under the scrotum" shot.

Of course now it’s time to answer the other question: What are you naming him?

First name: Jack

Middle name: William

Last name: Shell

Here’s how we came up with the name:

He will go by “Jack”, which is my dad’s name.

Which is an alternate version of John, which is Hebrew (Jewish) for “God’s grace”.  Which just sounds like a cool name.  It’s simple, not too popular, and easy to spell and say.  And Jack also happens to be the name of the lead character of the best show ever made, LOST (played by Matthew Fox, who is also part Italian.)

Jack is the size of a mango.

Plus, my wife’s name is Jill… so it’ll be “Jack and Jill”.

His middle name, William, (my wife’s dad’s name) is German and loosely translates as “protector”.

His last name, Shell, (originally spelled “Schel” at some point in American history) is German and loosely translates to “loud and noisy”.

That being said, Jack William Shell is a Jewish-German-German name which fully translates as “God’s gracious gift of loud and noisy protection.”  I’m already picturing a little boy wearing a pot on top of his head, running around the house, banging a pan with a wooden spoon, being “loud and noisy”.

Most importantly, Baby Jack is healthy, thank God!

Jack, the boy.  Who knew?

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



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