Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Hug your children
I mean, recent comments aside, I'm not the type to send kitschy touchy-feely e-mails to a few hundred of my closest friends, but some days it just seems like open season on children. And because I have a couple of whom I am very fond, these things affect me strongly.

Take this story, in which a 17-year-old girl, just "playing around", put her two-year-old niece into a front-loading coin-operated washing machine. She had no idea that the door locks when the cycle starts... The child is fine, I hasten to add, thanks to an alert attendant who pulled the machine's plug and broke the door to get her out.

So are the children who started this fire playing in the closet with a lighter. About 20 people are temporarily homeless, though.

Less fortunate is 19-month-old Hunter Neel, who fell from a ninth-floor balcony at Atlanta's Omni Hotel. The more you read, the more disgusted you'll probably get. Mom was in the exercise room with a male friend (there's no innuendo-free way to say that); Dad is a soldier in Afghanistan (on our side); Mom paid for the party (the trip from Savannah, three adjoining rooms, assorted alcohol and marijuana, eight children total -- some hers, some just friends) with Dad's hazard pay. Sounds like a real piece of work.

At this hour, I won't wake my kids, but I'll hug them extra hard before I send them off to school tomorrow...

I'm trying to decide whether to show them these stories. On the one hand, I've always thought we should learn from other people's mistakes: We won't live long enough to make them all ourselves. And, in two of the three cases, the kids are OK. On the other hand...

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