Even adults can’t clean

I love the article "Battle of the bedroom clean-up" by Hammina Green (August 2005.) Sounds like my house growing up and the houses of many others. If I could say something to Hammina, it would be: "My brother is 30 and still living at home and, you guessed it, my mom will clean his room because it’s easier."



Ask the kids

I enjoyed your clips from parents of four or more children ("Not necessarily cheaper (or easier) by the half-dozen: How today’s large families make it work," July 2005.)

I grew up with eight siblings and only one bathroom. Parents may not want to take too much credit for making the large family work. The older children are often required to share the load of housework, errand running, babysitting and even contributing to the family income.

Often, children are competing for the parents’ attention. At least that’s how it was in our family. It might be interesting to get the perspectives of the children in these large families, from the holiday fun to the routine fighting. That would be enjoyable to read as well.

MARIAN T. COLLINS Bloomingdale


Rent the lockers

I generally agree with your review of Six Flags’ Hurricane Harbor water park, but I wouldn’t advise against getting a locker. The park is very large, and you can easily be away from your lounge chair and belongings for an hour or more if you’re waiting in line for slides. We did leave most of our valuables locked in the car and paid for everything with plastic, but that still left a credit card, cell phone, and most importantly, car keys, unattended most of the time.

While the rental process was a bit cumbersome, the lockers were easy to use once we figured it out. They are pricey, but the adults in our group rented just one small locker and split the cost three ways. $2 is a small price to pay for peace of mind, and is nominal compared to the cost and hassle if someone had walked off with my car keys, credit card and cell phone.



Thimerosal story on target

Thank you so much for publishing the article "Mercury in kids’ vaccines" by Liz DeCarlo. My 14-year-old son has mercury-induced Asperger’s syndrome. There is no doubt in my mind that the thimerosal (mercury) in vaccines has triggered autism and ADHD in genetically-susceptible children. My husband is an electrical engineer and is not allowed to use mercury in switches that will never come near infants or young children. Why in heaven’s name should it be OK to inject it into babies with immature immune systems? If it’s prudent to remove it from switches, it is even more prudent to remove it from all vaccines.

LILA WHITE Springfield


Night terrors story helps

Thank you for bringing attention to the topic of night terrors ("Night terror or nightmare?" August 2005.) Our daughter, 7½, has had these episodes for more than two years. We have discovered that night terrors are very misunderstood and much of what we have learned, as parents, has been through trial and error. As to why night terrors occur is only speculated by doctors, much more research needs to be done.

After trying many different approaches to these episodes, we have finally found some improvement for our daughter through counseling. She has begun to work with a child psychologist and we have been told that anti-seizure medicine may be necessary.

Having been on chat room sites and speaking with other parents who have a child with night terrors, I believe that your description that "extreme cases are rare," is actually wrong. I believe "extreme cases" are more plentiful then you might imagine.

Thank you for offering support to parents who have witnessed these episodes and assuring them that they, and their child, are not alone.



Circumcision not cut and dry

Thank you for Tracy Binius’ well-researched article on infant circumcision. It was refreshing to see the medical facts presented and the myths refuted. She even gave the correct instructions for care of the intact penis (basically, leave it alone and rinse with water.)

I’d like to comment on a few of Binius’ points. First, she warns of "rare cases of loss of some or all of the penis itself." Such wording implies, erroneously, that the foreskin is something extra, that the "real penis" includes only the glans and shaft. In fact, the foreskin is an integral part of the penis. It is a sizable, richly enervated and specialized sense organ with protective, hygienic and sexual functions. Therefore, loss of some of the penis is the goal of circumcision—not a rare complication.

Second, it is unfortunate the author did not quote the American Medical Association’s recent study showing that only 24 percent of circumcisers use pain relief, and that only 5 percent use it properly. Parents who want their sons anesthetized should demand a subcutaneous ring block, since the association found topical anesthetic cream to be ineffective.

Finally, I was disappointed that the ethical considerations of circumcision were not examined. We need to be asking ourselves: Is cutting a child’s genitals for the sake of a cultural norm ethical? Should doctors amputate body parts to prevent diseases that are either extremely rare (penile cancer) or easily treated (urinary tract infections?) Should cosmetic surgery be legal when the patient cannot consent, or indeed when the patient loudly protests? What are the parallels between Midwestern attitudes toward circumcision and other cultures’ attitudes towards female genital cutting?

Parents often fear an intact boy might feel different. With national infant circumcision rates at about 53 percent and falling, the most likely scenario is that both intact and circumcised boys will someday wonder, "Why is mine different?"

I would much rather be able to tell my intact son, "You were born perfect and we kept you that way; you’ve got the whole thing" than to have to admit to a cut boy, "We thought everyone else was doing it."



Beyond "Wicked"

In your summer memories article you suggested that readers see the play, "Wicked."

Many people may not know that "Wicked" is based on a book by Gregory Maguire. You can purchase a copy at your local bookstore or get a copy at your local library for free. Libraries that don’t have it in stock can obtain the book through an inter-library loan.

Mr. Maguire has also written other books, Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister, and Mirror, Mirror. You can guess which stories these books retold.

He also has written a number of children’s books. Although written for adults, the retold fairytales may be suitable for older children.


Your kids are extraordinary little people. Each has the capacity to teach you more love and patience than you could have ever expected.

But that’s not all they can do. Their minds can soak up new information faster than they can clean up their room. They have endless energy, a cheer on a sunny day, a dread when you put them to bed.

So what the heck are they doing with all this potential? Chicago Parent is looking for truly exceptional kids for a series of profiles in 2006.

Does your daughter’s voice put the church choir to shame? Is the bottom of the ninth, one on, no outs, just another day in the park for your Little League pitcher? Is your child’s compassion for the world already surfacing through activism? Is she overcoming a giant obstacle? Tell us about it.

Send us a 250-word essay via mail or e-mail. Please write a headline summarizing why we should profile your wonder-kid on top of the essay. Include your name, phone number, address and your child’s birthday, school and grade. They must be 14 years old or younger by the end of the year. Entries are due Nov. 1.

By mail: The Real Incredibles, c/o Chicago Parent magazine, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. By e-mail: [email protected] with "The Real Incredibles" in the subject line.

Graham Johnston and Beverly Mendoza


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