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On How My Obsession With Furnishing A Future Put Me Nearly $40,000 In Debt

@Lynn P

This was what baffled me most when I read the glowing reviews in the first few comments. Content aside, the quality of the composition is *so* poor. The grammar and word choices are awkward and often flatly incorrect, as a number of people have pointed out. This is the product of years of graduate study of creative writing?

I know the author was reading the comments earlier and I'm not trying to be vicious. But given the hard-won lessons described above about the futility of buying the trappings of a happy life vs building the relationships you actually want, I think it's worth saying. It might be time to focus a little more on the actual craft of writing sentences and structuring a narrative vs living the great writer "lifestyle". I know many of the sentences in this essay would have been sent back covered in red ink by my high school English teachers. Hell, even if you have no desire to go back to basics, consider trying to build some relationships with editors who are willing to be more blunt than is perhaps initially comfortable for you.

Writing personal essays on the internet is always going to be an emotionally fraught and vulnerable pursuit, no matter who you are and what you have to say. But a grammatically flawless essay about the poor life choices made *during graduate writing programs* would probably be much less harshly received by the peanut gallery than this was.

Posted on November 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm 7

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@Better to Eat You With

So, if I'm following the line of reasoning in this thread, fear of dogs develops because people can't avoid threatening dogs, but one shouldn't worry about conquering that fear, because dogs are easily avoided.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm 0

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@emmycantbemeeko

Sorry, "inappropriate" not "irrational". I don't think it's that, either. Fear of dangerous things, including dangerous dogs, is appropriate. It's the extrapolating from a few dangerous dogs to all dogs, and the lack of understanding to distinguish between the two, that I was originally pointing out. It causes fear, avoidable bites, destruction of dogs, breed-specific legislation that carries with it a host of other miseries... it *is* sad.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm 0

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@kinbarichan

Of course people should socialize their dogs as well, and I volunteer with an animal rescue to try and ensure that dogs are socialized and placed with responsible owners. I would absolutely love if everyone who wanted a dog got one that fit their lifestyle, trained it to behave calmly, and controlled it in public spaces. Since we were talking about people who are afraid of dogs, the issue of encouraging responsible dog ownership (an issue that in real life, outside the specific context of a conversation about childrearing and dogs, I spend a lot of time working on) seemed irrelevant to the discussion- someone terrified of dogs is unlikely to have one in the first place.

I don't know why you put '"irrational" in quotation marks while referring to your daughter's fear- I don't think being afraid of aggressive dogs is irrational and I didn't describe your daughter's fear as such. Generalizing from one bad experience to all similar situations is a common reaction in kids though and I do think that to help kids avoid that when they've had a scary experience with something that usually is not dangerous is a good idea. It sounds like you're doing that, exposing her to well-behaved dogs. That's great.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm 1

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@commanderbanana

But yeah, I'm okay with suggesting that making sure your children have basic education on safe, humane behavior with dogs is in fact The Answer As Far As Kids And Dogs Are Concerned. Have one, both, or neither, but if you have either, raise them to be gentle to others.

Crazy and prescriptive, I know.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm 2

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@commanderbanana

Aren't you glad @polka dots vs stripes explicitly asked what I would do?

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm 1

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@polka dots vs stripes

Obviously if a dog is actually physically threatening or hurting your child (or anyone), you should take steps to protect the child immediately, and prevent it from happening again. But afterwards you need to debrief the child in an age-appropriate way about what happened, and then make an effort, if they have ongoing fear, to expose them gradually to safe, controlled interactions with normal dogs. There are a number of books for kids about this (http://www.amazon.com/May-Pet-Your-Dog-How/dp/0618510346/ref=pd_sbs_op_2 for example) and the Humane Society has a curriculum of materials for teaching dog safety to children. At kid height, and especially if they have no or only bad previous experiences with dogs, of course meeting dogs may be intimidating. But avoiding them is impossible, and a child who has had a good example from their parents, previous positive experiences, and instruction on proper dog handling will be much less afraid, and also at much less actual risk, in these unavoidable situations. They're less likely to interperate neutral or friendly dog behavior as threatening (a common mistake) or to behave in ways that frighten or provoke the dog. And of course, they will experience less fear and misery.

Of course some dogs are aggressive or poorly-trained, but even with these dogs, a calm, experienced person is at much less risk for injury than a panicked, inexperienced one.

No, not everyone taught to handle dogs will grow to love them, just as not everyone bitten by one will grow to fear them. But nearly 50% of households in the US have at least one dog, and dogs will be encountered in stores, as service animals, on the streeet as strays, at social gatherings, in parks, even in many hospitals. Failure to at least try to overcome a child's dog phobia and teach them how to coexist peacefully with dogs is doing them a disservice. And there is nothing self-preservational about it.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm 2

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

@kinbarichan

I was bit by a dog (not ours) as a small child and managed to overcome it (and thankfully for both me and the dog, my parents used it as an opportunity to teach me how to better handle dogs, rather than having the dog punished or destroyed), just as I've been bit, punched, kicked, and threatened with worse by humans and manage not to quiver in fear at most other humans, the majority of which are not nearly as desperate to please as dogs.

Dogs are everywhere, and an individual's fear and lack of understanding of normal dog behavior increases their risk of a dog bite rather than functioning as "self-preservation". That it also forces the fearful person to suffer needless anxiety, miss out on the pleasures of the majority of well-behaved dogs, and either avoid dog-friendly people or require others to contort their lives around their phobia, is just the sad icing on the sad cake.

Notice I didn't say they were pathetic. And I recognize that these fears usually originate in childhood- that was the entire point of my comment, although phrased light-heartedly- that early parental efforts towards socializing their children to dogs and vice versa are essential to avoiding the unfortunate development of dysfunctional fear towards everyday encounters with dogs. It puts both the fearful people and the dogs they encounter at increased risk for injury.

I was terrified of water as a child after an accidental near-drowning incident, and drowning is a leading cause of death in children (way, way, way above dog bites) but nobody would suggest that a phobia of water is self-preservational or that failure to teach your children to swim was anything other than neglectful. As a scuba-diving, no longer water-phobic adult, I'm glad my parents helped me to confront those fears and become a safe and confident swimmer.

Teaching children how to behave towards common domestic animals is no different than teaching them respectful and safe behavior in every other area of life. That when done properly it also enables them to enjoy the companionship of the most adoring animal on earth is just a bonus.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm 0

On Two People Feel Like They've Got the Answer Where Kids & Dogs Are Concerned

We have a fairly high-energy puppy and no kids, but my friends and relations brought a large assortment of smalls to my birthday cookout and the kids were delighted with the dog and the dog with the kids, and all of them ran around till they collapsed in to exhausted naps while the adults talked, and it made me think having a dog with kids might be a pretty good arrangement. Also, the dog cleaned up all kid-related food messes, which was very convenient.

Also then the children won't grow up as timid, tense, afraid of dogs people, and that's good, because nothing is sadder than seeing a grown human quiver at the sight of an animal that literally lives to please people.

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm 8

On Lord I Lift Your Camp On High

@Anne Helen Peterson

If one of my coworkers catches me humming 90s praise music this afternoon... Well, actually, I live in Baptist country, they'd probably be humming along with me.

I googled my cheap church camp and hey! It's still around. And it was exactly as you describe. I loved it, burgeoning little atheist though I already was. The "Christ Walk" portion- where, near the end, we hiked around in the dark to watch the Passion acted out in vignettes by our by-then beloved young adult counselors (yes, including the crucifixion) was pretty disturbing, though. If I have kids, I'm sending them to Camp Quest. http://www.campquest.org/ Summer camp with secular humanist ideals, yes please.

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm 2