September 2006


Thanks for C-section article I cannot possibly thank you enough for your article "C-Sections: Moms' or doctors' choice?" (June 2006, by Gene Declercq and Judy Norsigian, for Women's E-News). At the advice of my obstetrician (who was part of a large practice and therefore unfamiliar with my pregnancy), I was induced the day after my due date. After nine hours of labor, my doctor suggested we do a C-section because my baby wasn't moving down and the head was "cockamamie."

In my emotional state, I couldn't even think of what questions to ask, so I said a quick prayer and trusted that the doctor was doing what was best for both of us. I cried all through the surgery and for days afterward for putting my body and my baby through that unnatural, and possibly unnecessary, experience so that someone else could go home and not be sued. Every day I look in the mirror and see my scar and I relive my experience, while many of my peers have "chosen" elective C-sections at the advice of their doctor.

I, for one, do not ever want to go through that again. Women have been delivering babies for millions of years; why, all of a sudden, do we need a surgeon to do it for us? Thanks for making us think and letting us know that it doesn't have to be this way.


An immigrant's perspective I would like to congratulate you and thank you with all my heart for your wonderful, sensitive, humane article on the issue of immigration and the effects on our children ("What About the Children?," July 2006). I always look forward to your magazine, and I love you now even more for being caring enough to acknowledge the real reason that most of us come to this country: a better future for our children.

I know that many of your readers will have different views on the issue, but I speak from experience. I came to this country when I was 10 years old-my mother came with a visa and we overstayed it, becoming illegal aliens. In those years, things were worse in many ways: The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service could deport you not only from your job, but they could go to your house based on an anonymous tip and take whomever was home. You also could be deported on the street and in stores.

I remember when we were on the street once and a raid took place in a store. A bus full of people was deported while they were shopping. My mom made us run so fast we cried from the lack of air.

I was touched by the first line in the story from the little girl, who said she was not scared. Well, that was us; we were taught by my mom not to be scared. She instructed us where to go for help with family members if, God forbid, she was deported. And where to find the money she saved so we could ask relatives to bail her out-or, if she was automatically deported, to buy tickets back home.

Thank God it never happened, but I never forgot. I never will forget who we were and where we came from. Today I am 36 years old, and I am legally in this country. I attended all of the marches to support everyone, of all races, whose only crime is to want a better life for their loved ones.

Many may disagree, but think about this: These children are all U.S. citizens, and tomorrow their votes will decide the fate of future leaders, and then they will remember what was done to their parents and loved ones. They will remember people calling them criminals, while they know their parents are hardworking, good people.

I never forgot, and I am now in a position to use my vote to decide who I want to represent me in government. Most of the people in the marches were U.S. citizens and legal aliens.

As for you, dear Chicago Parent, thank you with all our hearts for thinking about our little ones, thank you for taking the time to understand and see through children's eyes and their hearts and have empathy for our cause. I took many copies of your article and gave them to friends and family members. During the July 19 march, many people were carrying your magazine. We will remember you too, with gratitude and respect.


The use of 'beautiful' I so enjoy Susy Schultz's "From the editor" columns. I never know what the topic will be, but they are always interesting. I find her "right on" almost all of the time.

One exception was "Lead by Example" (March 2006). I quote: "Both their handsome son, Evan, 12, and their beautiful daughter, Tess, 9, on the day of the funeral ... ." I take exception to using "handsome" and "beautiful" to describe people, especially in a parenting magazine that focuses on more significant and meaningful topics than outer beauty. It didn't add to the article, and for me took away because it said nothing about the people themselves.

I am especially sensitive to describing girls and women as beautiful because our society does too much to emphasize outer beautify and thinness, which I think is the totally wrong message.

BONNIE SHAY Highland Park

Language in movies I sat in the movie theater full of excitement and anticipation. It was a day I knew I would remember for years to come-I was bringing my daughter to her first movie. I was taking in the whole experience, watching her response to the dimming of the lights and enjoying her reaction as she tasted her first movie popcorn.

Then the previews were aired and my heart sank. As the theater screened the "Monster House" preview for the audience, I literally blinked and shook my head, trying to digest what I had just heard and seen. One of the lead characters, a young girl disgusted with the scaredy-cat ways of her pals, turns to them and sneers, "What are you two, mentally challenged or something?" And then, as if that wasn't cruel enough, the character continues with a smirk: "If so, I'm certified to teach you baseball."

It isn't enough to say that I was shocked. I was outraged. I had these reactions not only because a popular film (geared toward children, no less) could make it to the marketplace with a horrible slur in the script, but that the film is winning awards and praise from critics from coast to coast. While everyone watching should feel offended, I can only imagine how a parent of a child with a disability would feel watching this preview or this film. "Heartbroken" is the word that comes to mind. And it is even more difficult to consider how a child with a disability would feel upon hearing the words.

It is remarkable that this movie made it to the big screen after being viewed by hundreds of people, from production editors to producers to animators to studio heads, with this piece of dialogue remaining in the film.

It is hard for me to believe that Steven Spielberg, a man who has spent the last several years of his career creating art that teaches tolerance, has helped produce a film that is sure to injure countless individuals and one that tacitly sanctions bigotry and exclusion.

Shame on those who review this picture without mentioning this portion of the script. We should all be as outraged and outspoken as we might be if this were a slur related to religion, race or sexual orientation. And shame on Spielberg and fellow producer Robert Zemeckis. They have hurt people with their film and their ignorance.


Improving a village I'm writing about Susy Schultz's July 2006 "From the editor" column. I appreciated your personal sharing of the alarming incident that happened to you. I empathized with the situation because I, too, am trusting. I might have let kids in my car and had the same incident happen to me. I want to believe in the essential goodness of people, especially children.

Besides my empathy, I wanted to give you hope about the positive changes taking place in Austin. In a very roundabout way, I was led to a wonderful nonprofit organization, Westside Health Authority, in the Austin community. Jacqueline Reed is the president and CEO of this organization, whose mission is to use the capacity of local people to improve the health and well-being of Chicago's West Side residents. The goal of this organization is to build relationships and help neighbors through "Every Block A Village." EBV is based on the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Through EBV, citizen leaders on every block hold meetings to discuss economic, social and health-related issues that affect their neighborhoods. They watch over the kids.

When I visited last week, some teens were outside dealing drugs. When Reed heard about this, she took over. She gathered a number of her employees outside and started praying to these teenagers. Before long, more teens gathered around. The people from Westside Health Authority were encouraging the teens to get off drugs, telling them the importance of doing more with their lives, and explaining how they could help them.

Before long, everyone was hugging each other. A police car passed by and didn't bother them. I believe the police knew everything was being handled well by this group.

Over the past 15 years, Westside Health Authority has accomplished many positive changes in Austin-from building a health and wellness center to providing a job service, afterschool programs, prisoner re-entry services and more.

Reed's next objective is to raise funds for a cultural arts center in Austin for teens to have a safe place to go after school, for adult banquets, for lessons in the arts and as a place where African-American kids can learn about their heritage.

LYNN SANDERS Park Avenue Productions "Writing That Works" Winnetka

Unfair stereotypes I read Susy Schultz's July "From the editor" column, in which she pointed out many truths about what kids face when they grow up in an environment of pain, disappointment and injustice. While many of the comments and observations resonated with me, I was disturbed by the decision to name the communities that you referred to in your editorial. My guess is that you chose to name Austin because it gave more context to the story, but doing so added to the already present fear that many people in Oak Park and the surrounding communities have about Austin.

As a resident of Austin, I am always interested in hearing questions and comments about where I live. "How long have your lived there?' people ask. "Do you feel safe? What about the schools?"

I find that many people who live in communities surrounding Austin perceive the area to be unsafe and full of the types of kids described in this column. I am not so naïve as to believe that these perceptions have no basis in reality and history.

Identifying the Austin area by name reinforces existing stereotypes and violates the people who live here who do not fit the stereotypes. This prevents those who live outside of Austin from moving without fear toward this community. The truth is that there are many fine people living in Austin. There are people who genuinely care about each other and have built a community that people might be less likely to experience in the relative safety of the suburbs. That is not to say that life here is problem free, but I don't know of many neighborhoods without challenges.

As one of my Oak Park friends so aptly put it, "Austin Boulevard is like an invisible force field." In a few sentences, Chicago Parent strengthened the invisible wall between our communities. My hope is that your publication can work toward being more proactive and sensitive to the issues of race and economics that exist in Oak Park and Austin and in the greater Chicago area.


Affordable education? I am a teacher at a new Chicago Public School, Uplift Community School, which was opened in order to offer a college preparatory education to students in a historically underserved neighborhood.

We promise our families that we will take their children at their academic level-we are not selective, like the other college prep schools in the city-and prepare them to enter college and graduate from college. But this will be an empty promise if they cannot afford the tuition or even the interest on government loans for higher education.

Leadership in Congress has not even allowed a vote on the Miller-Durbin bill, which would have slashed interest rates on new loans. The maximum Pell Grant has been frozen for four years while tuition has increased 40 percent since 2001. Congress has not even extended the college tuition tax deduction.

Somehow we can afford tax breaks for the wealthy and for multinational corporations, but we cannot afford to make good on our rhetoric about children. We say we put "children first," we say that we will "leave no child behind," we say that the answer to globalization is an educated work force, but we don't act on our words. How can we look our children in the eyes?


The love you do see I read online that Editor Susy Schultz will be leaving Chicago Parent. Her July 2006 "From the editor" column moved me. I had to finish it. I was moved that you would show your soft side. I was moved that you had such a profound soft side. Thanks, Susy, for being you.

While we all know about the dangers lurking and the insanity of picking up strangers, you brought the troubles we are plagued with to a new level. You showed that compassion is alive and well. Sure, you saved yourself, but your heart allowed you to look with love.

You are just too cool. Thanks for sharing.

You rock. COLLEEN DEENIHAN Plainfield

Thanks for your honesty I just read Susy's comments online about her job change. While I'm sorry she's leaving Chicago Parent-I've been a reader for a long time-I really have respected her honesty over the years in her columns. It's rare in journalism to hear the straight scoop direct from the source, and I hope whoever fills Susy's shoes will be as honest and forthright, and look just as hard for what Chicago Parent readers want from this publication-both on and offline.

I wish Susy well. TAMAR SCHWARTZ Deerfield


Corrections In the August edition of Chicago Parent's calendar on page 135, a photograph was misidentified. The photo is from Me and Baby Fitness, which offers classes in Chicago. For information, call (312) 375-8222 or visit www.meandbabyfitness.com.

In the "Can-do kids" story, chiari malformation results when the cerebellar tonsils extend into the upper portion of the spinal canal.

For October, send us photos of your little ghouls and goblins dressed in their Halloween costumes. Deadline: Sept. 11.

Ah, fall ... for the month of November, send us photos of your kids frolicking in the leaves. Deadline: Oct. 9.

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Send prints to: The Gallery, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. E-mail digital photos to:[email protected] with "gallery photo" in the message line.


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