Ask a soldier about war Susy Schultz' column ("From the editor," July 2004) made me angry. My husband and I are former members of the military who served in South Korea and Kuwait. We have friends who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. My father served in Vietnam.

I wish you had asked us how to explain war to a child, because we know. I told my child that war is always sad and a last resort, but sometimes necessary. I told her our country used its words many times (11 resolutions) and the bad man (Saddam Hussein) didn't listen. He kept hurting his people and encouraging other people to be mean (allowing terrorists to train in his country).

I compared Saddam to a schoolyard bully. You use your words but the bully keeps poking you anyway. You tell the teacher (the United Nations) and the teacher says more words (more resolutions) but the bully (Saddam) keeps being bad. At some point it is necessary to resort to the bully's tactics. That is what we did to Saddam.

As a result, women are not being raped; tongues are not being cut out; hands are not being cut off; people are not being gassed, starved or tortured. Girls can go to school, women can serve in government and things are improving for all Iraqis.

Soldiers have to believe in the mission or they would never go. Dissent is fine, but do not wrap yourself in the yoke of supporting the troops while you revile the reason they fight. Soldiers see themselves liberating an oppressed people. They know the mission is just. If you do not see it, take a trip to Iraq and walk down the street. You can dissent there now because a soldier fought for the freedom of the people of Iraq. GRETCHEN CARTER, Orland Hills

Bob Cook is a funny guy I just finished reading the article, "Making the jump to minivan speed" (July 2004) and laughed so hard I lost my breath. Keep the Bob Cook articles coming. SCOTT SPEIDEL, Evanston

A shot glass full of sunblock You missed an opportunity to educate parents and childcare providers on using sunblock properly. Most people don't use enough (you should use about a shot glass full per application) and don't apply it soon enough (most combination UVA/UVB products need to go on 15 to 20 minutes BEFORE sun exposure begins) and don't reapply often enough (after sweating, after getting wet, after two to three hours regardless of activity). Regular proper use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater among children ages 6 months to 18 years would lead to an estimated 80 percent decline in the overall number of skin cancer cases. DR. TINA J. HIEKEN, Associate Professor of Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Rush Medical College, Chicago

The rest of the preemie story I read "Preemies' prospects improve" (July 2004) and believe it does not give an accurate picture of a premature baby's journey. As a registered nurse and mother of triplets born at 27 weeks who watched one baby die at nine weeks, I feel the need to give my views on the potential impact of this article. My sons' stay in the neonatal intensive care unit was the most stressful and traumatic time of my life. All of my children are incredible, but I will never forget the impact of their prematurity.

While it is heartwarming to read about a baby who defies the odds and is considered a success story, it is a rarity. The article quotes doctors who work in outstanding hospitals, but I think the quotes minimize everything but survival. Survival is one thing, but what about quality of life for the child and his or her family? There are many long-term consequences of prematurity that were not mentioned. Blindness, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, learning disabilities and potential surgeries are some of the many risks.

The article does not mention how difficult it is for parents to leave their baby when the mom is discharged from the hospital, let alone see their child go through so many painful procedures. There is no mention of how physically and emotionally draining it is to go the hospital every day for many months, even when you feel so helpless.

This article says little about the number of therapies each week, the time involved or the cost of those therapies. The March of Dimes says the cost of an average hospital stay for a preemie is $75,000 vs. $1,300 for a healthy newborn. Medical bills for preemies who are hospitalized for longer than four months can easily approach $1 million.

The reality of premature babies is not pretty, but the writer is not doing anyone any favors by ignoring it. Parents should know what they may be in for. Survival is just one thing we desire for our children. Quality of life matters, too. PAM CHAY, Highland Park

Neonatal nurses are ‘angels' Thank you for "Preemies' prospects improve" (July 2004). There is another reason that premature infants are doing so well today: the neonatal intensive care unit staff. Last year, my son was born at 29½ weeks at University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital. After a two-week stay there, he was transferred to a special-care nursery at Michael Reese Hospital. The care and devotion he received at both hospitals was incredible. The nurses, in particular, come to know each of these tiny babies almost better than anyone. They patiently answered all my questions, fielded check-up phone calls from me and my son's grandparents, talked to me and held my baby's hand when I wasn't there.

Words can never express the gratitude I feel for these tireless workers. They have given me a most precious gift. Premature babies are strong and tough. Almost all of them make it today because they come into the world surrounded by people who do not know how to quit. My son is a miracle and his nurses in the NICU are the angels who made it happen. KIMBERLY SCHRODE-LAWSON, Chicago

Veganism good for any reason It was interesting to read about Susy Schultz' 14-year old son's encounter with veganism ("From the editor," May 2004). I also dropped meat as a teen-at age 13-and (34 years later) have never gone back. The fact that I made my decision based on a firm moral stance and that I am female may well be a clear example of well-known gender differences.

But regardless of stated reasons, 13- and 14-year-olds are really thinking about this stuff. Your counselor was quite right, I think, in saying it would be a good experience no matter how it ended. Knowing a little about the differences between girls and boys, though, I would not rule out the possibility that it is just easier (and safer) for boys to take on such life-changes as a personal "challenge" rather than articulating a newly-discovered concern or commitment.

I think that boys such as your son should be applauded for such attempts and encouraged to delve more deeply into the reasons for such changes. They may not want to be open about it, but just knowing that they are supported in their moral choices-and for most of us vegetarianism is a moral choice-will make him more secure in all of his decision-making for years to come. KIMBERLY SWISE, Chicago

Save the shivering elephants People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) understands you were a sponsor of the June 6 "Run for the Zoo" hosted by the Lincoln Park Zoo, and we are writing to ask you withhold any future sponsorship agreements from the zoo until it retires its three African elephants to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

In April 2003, Peaches, Wankie and Tatima were transferred to the Lincoln Park Zoo from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, where they had spent their entire lives in a warm climate. After just one year at the Lincoln Park Zoo, these elephants show visible signs of physical and psychological decline. Elephants cannot tolerate cold weather and because of Chicago's long, harsh, winters, the animals are kept in a concrete back room for up to half the year.

There is no reason why these elephants should suffer another year in such compromised and unhealthy conditions, which will undoubtedly lead to their premature deaths. The 2,700-acre Elephant Sanctuary has offered a permanent home to Peaches, Wankie and Tatima, and PETA is willing to pay for their transportation. NICOLE MEYER, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, Va.

Breastfeeders need discretion Regarding Eryn McGary's article about breastfeeding rights in Illinois ("One Mother's fight," May 2004): I agree that women should be able to breastfeed their babies. However, I have two concerns about this bill.

My first concern relates to discretion and modesty. I have friends who breastfed at home, at parks and at shopping malls. Most used light blankets to be discreet, but one pretty much lets it all hang out. I was shocked and uncomfortable; I don't care how close a friend she is or how natural it is, I had to look away. I believe mothers have the right to breastfeed, but I also believe they should be considerate, especially in public places.

My second concern relates to a mother's right to choose breast or bottle. I remember many conversations on this issue with health professionals, family and friends just days before I gave birth to my son. I was warned by more than one mom about the hospital's methods for pushing the breast over the bottle. I felt compelled to make it very clear to the postpartum nurse that "NO" was my final answer. A new mom shouldn't be pressured. Not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding. Some women have negative breastfeeding experiences and feel as if they've failed "Child 101" the first week.

Let this bill allow women to breastfeed when and where they like. But don't let it be a license to force the issue on the general public by publicly displaying one's intimate and joyful moments with one's child. DEBRA OBERMAN, Glenview

More lead prevention tips Your article on lead exposure in children was not complete ("Get the lead out," July 2004). One of the main sources of lead was not listed-wicking. Candlewicks may be checked for lead by rubbing the wick on a piece of white paper. If it leaves a dirty smear, better to err on the side of caution and buy something else. This test will not damage the unbought candle for someone who doesn't care if it contains lead.

Next, in writing only "Another source is past use of lead in gasoline," the article breezed right over the most prevalent source of lead. Though the United States banned leaded gasoline years ago, other countries continue to use it and the air from those nations drifts everywhere. If we would simply remove our shoes as we enter our homes-as the Japanese do-we would take what is possibly the most effective step toward lead abatement. That and a damp mop will do a lot to minimize the amount of lead we track in and leave for babies to crawl through.

We also need to plant more trees, which can remove dust from the air. Neighborhoods with mature trees have 1,000-3,000 dust particles per liter of air; streets without trees suffer 10 times that. MAJA RAMIREZ, Chicago

About letters Chicago Parent welcomes letters from its readers. In order to publish a letter, we must have the name and phone number of the writer, and the name of the town in which he or she resides. Please send letters to: • Susy Schultz, editor, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302

• Or fax them to Susy at (708) 524-8360

• Or e-mail them to [email protected]

We may edit letters for space or clarity. We will not divulge the addresses or phone numbers of letter-writers or forward messages to them.

Please tell us... Reader poll September means school and, to kids, the bright spot of school is recess. But recess isn't always fun, too often kids learn the rules of life. Tell us how you help your kids cope with bullies, make new friends and generally navigate the black top jungle. Deadline: Aug. 9. October means Halloween and the annual scramble for the perfect costume. Tell us about your best last-minute costume, how you made it happen and how much time you had to do it. Deadline: Sept. 7.

If we run your response, we'll enter you in a drawing for a family membership to the Chicago Children's Museum. We'll print your first name, the town in which you live and the names and ages of your kids; please provide us with your full address and phone number for verification purposes only. Send all submissions to: Sandi Pedersen, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. E-mail: [email protected]; fax: (708) 524-8360.


Gallery September brings Labor Day, so we're celebrating moms' days of labor. Send us photos of you and the new arrival celebrating the end of your personal laborday. Deadline: Aug. 9. In October, we're going for the obvious: send us photos of your kids in their Halloween costumes. We know it's not original, but we just love looking at all those ghosts and goblins, witches and wizards, pirates and princesses. We'll run the most original costumes in the magazine. Deadline: Sept. 7.

We will keep all photos and may use them in future issues. By sending in your child's photo, you give us permission to run it now or in the future and post it on our Web site. Send prints to: The Gallery c/o Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. Send digital photos to: [email protected]

Please include the first names of everyone in the picture, children's ages, the town in which you live and a phone number for verification.


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