Why I’m Not Laughing at the Tide Pod Challenge

These cookies look tasty enough to eat:

Tide Pod Challenge

Source: Pinner Punny Garrden

And I have it on good authority that these shots are delectable:

Tide Pod Challenge

Photo credit: Tipsybartender.com

But……….

About The Tide Pod Challenge

I suspect my opinion on this may put me in a minority, as I am taking a fuddy-duddy, somewhat humorless approach. I’ll have to take being in the minority.

If You’ve Been Under a Rock

The Tide Pod challenge is one of the most recent in a string of “kid dare” challenges that have gained additional momentum thanks to social media and the internet. Participants in the challenge put laundry pods into their mouths (usually Tide brand) and film and/or stream themselves doing so. (Facebook and YouTube have begun removing any depiction of someone doing the challenge.) This history is also informative.

Why the Tide Pod Challenge Has Taken Off

Who’s to say what makes one stupid prank go viral while others falter? If I knew what makes things go viral, my blog numbers would be much better. I suppose it boils down, to an extent, to the fact that preteens and teens do unpredictable things for reasons adults often can’t discern. Attention, of course. “Because I can” probably ranks up there.

The Tide Pod challenge is not the first “kid dare” phenomenon of the Social Media age. Innocuous-sounding (but potentially deadly) “kid dares” have probably existed as long as there have been kids.

Cases in point of other kid (and adult) dares:

Chubby Bunny, which involves stuffing your mouth with marshmallows while uttering the phrase “chubby bunny.” Admittedly, I have had the Oprah story about a child’s death that was linked to playing Chubby Bunny in my head for years — this Snopes post provides details that I had not previously realized (like the fact that the progression of the events leading to the child’s death were different from what I had always thought). An adult is also documented as having a Chubby Bunny-related death, which is a reminder that it’s not just teens and preteens making regrettable choices.

The Cinnamon Challenge, which entails consuming a spoonful of cinnamon within 60 seconds without drinking anything (while filming/streaming). The Cinnamon Challenge is not without its dangers.

The Kylie Lip Challenge, one I just learned about today. Participants place their lips into a shot glass and create a vacuum, to achieve their intention of making their lips look plumper. Besides the dangers from shattered shot glasses that succumb to the pressure, apparently some challenge participants have become permanently disfigured (more in this Washington Post article or if you can’t get past the Post’s paywall, this PopSugar piece.).

Why the Collective Humor About the Tide Pod Challenge Irritates Me

The Tide Pod challenge has become the joke du jour on social media.

My beloved alma mater joked that they have made it an admissions criteria (or maybe they really did — I can’t tell if this is serious or not):

Tide Pod Challenge

And, predictably, the Darwin references have abounded. Here’s a favorite (and one of the kinder Tweets):

Tide Pod Challenge

Although I hate to give her clicks or more exposure for it, Tomi Lahren says participation in the Tide Pod challenge is an outgrowth of liberal parenting:

The left, which dictates popular culture, brainwashes young people into believing they live in a world where 64 gender options are up for selection, everything is free, Beyonce is a god-queen and eating detergent is funny. ~ Tomi Lahren

Maybe so, Tomi, but this parent who identifies as liberal has focused more on teaching acceptance, critical thinking and compassion, all of which were sorely lacking in your recent tweets about what our President reportedly termed “S-hole countries.” I’ll take the compassion, thank you very much.

The Biggest Irritant

Before the Tide Pod challenge became a viral social media phenomenon, laundry pods were proving dangerous. By November 2012, the year they were introduced, 500 children’s injuries had been documented related to chewing on or playing with the pods and they were declared harmful by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

I had been aware of the safety issues with pods since pretty much the beginning, since I am on social media so much and in so many parent-blogger communities. I wasn’t surprised – kids get into things they shouldn’t and end up being hurt.

Here’s what turned me around and changed my gut feeling about Tide Pod Challenge humor:

“Of the eight deaths directly related to laundry pods in the last five years, two were children — but six were seniors with dementia.” (Source: Consumerist)

Coming out of a three-year stint during which my father-in-law, who had short-term memory loss, lived with us, this hit me intensely. Although Dad never tried to eat a Tide pod (that I know of), I would find odd things at unusual places around the house — partially consumed candy bars he had tried to eat in the middle of the night (not that I minded him eating candy bars, of course — but his dental health had deteriorated (and he had a TUMOR blocking his esophagus), which made eating something like a Baby Ruth bar impossible, so I would find melted/degraded/partially digested bars in his bedroom that he had been too embarrassed (or something) to dispose of correctly).

The man tried to “smoke” a Slim Jim once, thinking it was a cigar.

Elderly people with dementia do odd things.

There but for the grace of God go I.

It also kind of bugs me that people are implying that participating in the Tide Pod challenge is all due to parental negligence. Most of us parents are doing our best. Heck, I accidentally allowed my treasured, wanted-more-than-anything seven-week old to roll off a twin bed onto a hardwood floor once when we were visiting relatives and I was nursing (sorry, Tenley). Mistakes happen, parents fail, kids survive (thank goodness).

(I also think some kids who made the poor choice of doing the Tide Pod challenge probably should be admitted, Florida State.)

As Rob Gronkowski notes, it’s best to keep the Tide pods out of the mouth and in the washing machine:

A Challenge to the Rest of Us

Yes, ingesting a chemical-filled, poisonous detergent packet is stupid (very).

Yes, doing so makes Darwin look prescient.

But laughing at it to the degree that is taking place currently diminishes us all, in my opinion, and introduces a poisonous element of a different kind.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

My Holiday Wish List

Since my writing this month has been decidedly on the dark and introspective side, I’m going to take a break today, based on a prompt by Kat Bouska, and share a December wish list.

If money were no object (sigh….)

I would be out of debt

I realize I made this bed myself, but it’s a bed I would happily burn to the ground in lieu of sleeping on an air mattress full of the light, buoyant air of financial freedom

I would be able to give my family a bigger Christmas, checking more items off their wish lists

Frankly, it has been so long since Wayne and I wished out loud for the “big” things that I don’t know what the biggest item is on his list. (Actually, I do know a trip around the world is on his list.) Guess if this wish comes true, Santa is going to need to throw in a cure to Wayne’s fear of flying.

I want to get my daughter this bag without batting an eyelash. Note depending on exactly *who* is reading this — if you’re Santa’s “elf,” I know this is not the right print. Don’t panic. 😉

Holiday Wish ListI don’t know the “big” items on my son’s wish list, but I imagine they are car-related. We’ll just go with a substantial gift card to the Infiniti Online Store. I’m pretty sure that would work!

Clothes!

Because I work from home, and virtually nothing I do right now is client-facing, my wardrobe is pretty depleted. I’ve also thrown out many items that I have given up on losing enough weight to fit back into.

I’ve always been pretty practical about clothes, but I love excellent quality and precise tailoring. This outfit is cute (but with flat or low-heeled shoes for me). With two conferences coming up in 2018 and who-knows-what professionally, I need Santa to help me up my wardrobe game.

Holiday Wish List

Generosity

I truly wish I could give so much more (time and money) to the causes I love. More help to the children our family loves in Central America and sponsors through Unbound, such as Stanley (here’s his most recent picture (he’s in the Santa hat!):Holiday Wish List

Better Spanish

I have totally bailed on my Spanish study after promising in this post that I would do better (I did enroll in the online Berlitz course, but have not been consistent at all). Dear Santa, send me to Antigua (Guatemala) or (better yet), Valencia (Spain) for a couple of weeks to improve my Spanish!

Broadway! NYC! Theatre!

Seventy-five percent of our family wants desperately to see something on Broadway.

I want to see Hamilton (duh) but I am going to be in Chicago in September so am hoping to see it there even though I would love to see it in NYC (I would also love to see Lin-Manuel Miranda perform in it in Puerto Rico in 2019).

Tenley wants to see Sarah Bareilles and Jason Mraz in Waitress (so do I but I was fortunate to see Waitress last December so at least that itch got scratched a bit) and  Anastasia.

Wayne (husband) wants to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway.

BUT

You didn’t think I could *just* do a wish list without a message about what really matters, did you? Admittedly, I want every single thing I listed above, but echoing in my head as I write this is a passage from Well: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa that details a young boy’s battle with a bone infection that almost led him to have to have his leg amputated. Apparently people in Togo are at risk of these infections because they don’t have toothbrushes, so they can’t brush their teeth, so they get life- and limb-threatening infections.

Perspective in the form of a $1.00 (or less) oral hygiene implement.

Holiday Wish List

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Women, Don’t Wait. Change Our World Now!

I was recently participating in a thread on Facebook. It was a thread on the personal page of someone who is a co-moderator of one of the extremely fun running-based Facebook groups I’m in. I knew if he asked for honest political opinions, and requested that those of us participating in the thread be respectful, we would be deleted (or our comments would).

One person on the thread explained who he is voting for, specifically because of that candidate’s position on mandatory vaccines. He went on to explain that it may seem “laughable” to others that he is a single-issue voter, but he feels THAT strongly.

How Many Issues Do We Have to Have?

While I do not agree with the individual on the thread I referred to above about the issue that has resulted in him being a “single-issue” voter, I understand how one single issue, when it affects your family, will drive your political choices. But I have a choice to make: how to use my voice to impact multiple issues.

MomsRising is a group of more than a million moms who take on the most critical issues facing women, mothers, and families by educating the public and mobilizing massive grassroots actions to:

  • Bring the voices and real world experiences of women and mothers straight to our local, state, and nation’s leaders;
  • Amplify women’s voices and policy issues in the national dialogue & in the media across all platforms (from print, to radio, to blogs, social media, and more);
  • Accelerate grassroots impact on Capitol Hill and at state capitols across the country;
  • Hold corporations accountable for fair treatment of women and mothers & for ensuring the safety of their products.

Throughout the recent We Won’t Wait 2016 conference (read about it in the Washington Post here.), which I participated in as part of the MomsRising delegation, we were encouraged not to be single issue voters, to educate ourselves about the broad array of issues facing women, especially women of color and low-income women. Issues of emphasis included access to paid leave, the right to good jobs and fair wages, high-quality and affordable child care and elder care, care giving (yep, I could relate to that one!), immigration reform, reproductive healthcare, and racial justice.

Back when the awesome Sili Recio of My Mamihood asked me to consider being on the Moms Rising Steering Committee for Florida, I didn’t question the power of moms (as IF!), I didn’t mind adding one more thing to my plate (because the issues Moms Rising espouses matter). But I explained that some of the issues Moms Rising advocates for are ones I feel more passionate about than others. In fact, I am not always fully aligned with their position.

Her advice? “You’ll get info about all the issues but you run with what’s in your heart.”

Setting the Tone

Although Kelly Tsai, Spoken Word Poet/Filmmaker was the official first performance, the literal first performance came from the hundreds of members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who made an unforgettable entrance to the breakfast hall, chanting “We Won’t Wait! We Won’t Wait!” This was the first conference I’ve been to where we’ve been told “no chanting on the way from breakfast to the conference area”!

Political Advocacy

An attendee with the National Domestic Workers Alliance enters the room.

Wages

I learned more about the move to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, and the #FightFor15 movement. The minimum wage would be at least $15 an hour if the minimum wage we had back in 1968 were adjusted for inflation and for the productivity gains we achieved since then. (The previous fact and more can be found at MoveOn.org Petitions.)

Another critical wage-related issue I learned about was the continuing challenges faced by those who work for a tipped minimum wage. The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United had a large and vocal delegation at We Won’t Wait, supporting one fair wage. On their website, they share:

…most restaurant workers earn the bulk of their income through tips. With the federal tipped minimum wage being $2.13 an hour and lower than the regular minimum wage in most states, their base pay results in $0 paychecks. Although some restaurant workers do make great money living off tips, they are the exception.

The majority of tipped restaurant workers live shift-to-shift. The national median wage for tipped workers (including tips) is $8.75 an hour. They are dependent on the generosity of customers for their livelihood.

More than 70% of servers are women. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is all too often undermined as being ‘just part of the job’ in the restaurant industry. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges. Hundreds of our members have shared stories with us about being touched or treated inappropriately by their customers, and not being able to do anything about it because they depended on those same customers for a  decent tip.

Child Care, Elder Care, and Caregiving

Women often have to choose between their paycheck and caring for their child (or their elder in my case). Four in ten private-sector workers and 80% of low-wage workers cannot earn a single paid sick day. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, women are likely to spend an average of 12 years out of the workforce raising children and caring for an older relative or friend. Learn more info about the impact of caregiving for elders on women here.

I heard Emily Uy say, “Getting sick in America is very difficult. I was a caregiver unable to get my own care,” echoing the voice in the back of my head that says, “who’s going to take care of Dad if you get ill/hospitalized?”

I learned about the Fair Care Pledge, a joint initiative of Hand in Hand, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Care.com. The Fair Care Pledge is taken by people who employ others in their homes to provide fair pay, clear expectations, and paid time off.

Immigration Reform

Ana Cañenguez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who faces deportation, accompanied by her young daughter, asked “what will she do if I leave?” Since We Won’t Wait, I’ve learned more about Ana’s story, visualized her life in El Salvador (remembering the time I spent there in 2014 and the conversations I had with people who face gang violence and corruption juxtaposed against a BEAUTIFUL country with beautiful people) and the perils of her journey to the US, and come to admire her tenacity and true grace in the face of a horrible conundrum. (More about Ana here.)

canenguez-daughter

For more from MomsRising about their efforts to protect family unity, ensure our public policies address the concerns of immigrant women and children, and end human rights abuses in the name of immigration law enforcement, click here.

Voting Rights

Infused through all the passionate speakers we heard was the one action almost all of us can take to make sure we elect leaders who will advance our agenda: VOTE.

When states make it difficult for qualified voters to vote, we can advocate for change. (A review of current challenges to voting rights here.) As speakers at We Won’t Wait shared about challenges voters face now, in 2016, my mind kept going back to Edwina Stephens, who told me about black voters being forced to count soap bubbles or solve complicated mathematical equations in order to prove their suitability to be registered voters. How are we still having discussions that echo THOSE scenarios in the 21st century?

One speaker urged us to implore Walmart (among other large employers) to allow their employees three hours of leave to vote. To me, this is a no-brainer. If it’s too much of an economic burden for Wal-Mart, I’ll go to WM and be the warm body with a pulse that keeps the ship afloat for three hours. Surely they can spare that. Get involved by educating yourself and signing the petition here. I did.

Gun Safety

I have been virtually silent online about my opinions regarding gun safety, Black Lives Matter, and the plethora of policy and societal issues inherent in these topics. The one single time I posted a black friend’s commentary on Stop and Frisk, about how he was stopped on the way to church for no discernible reason, about how his 5 year old piped up from the back seat, “did he stop us because we are black?,” a loved friend who is a law enforcement spouse pushed back about her disagreement and her contention that law enforcement officers and family, having families of their own, truly want the best for everyone whose paths they cross. I feel utterly stuck in a mushy middle ground between people who are pointing out systemic issues within our law enforcement community as they relate to the treatment of black people, and my many friends in the law enforcement community, who I love and respect.

I still haven’t figured out how to navigate that divide, to be honest.

What I do know is, as I stood among the 750+ people at the “Our Families Are Worth the Fight” vigil at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, that the grief of the mothers who have lost their black sons in law enforcement-related situations that have gray areas at best … that grief WAS PALPABLE. In that moment, I wasn’t a policy advocate, interested party, or generic fellow American. I was a fellow mother, someone who had brought someone into the world and held big dreams for that someone. I felt their pain. I determined to learn more and form a more strongly articulated position, while trying to remain respectful to everyone in my universe. More about the vigil here.

Political Advocacy

NOTE: Her name is correctly spelled “Lucia.” My apologies!

Representative Donna Edwards, of Maryland’s 4th District, a speaker at the vigil:

There’s much work to be done. You have to be the ones to define that work, to say “here is what our priority list is.”

The greatest leverage that you have right now is the leverage and the power of your vote. As black women, we are the most powerful and consistent voting block in this country, but we need to make sure that our elected officials know that we understand the power of our vote. When we give it over on November 8, we’re gonna come knocking on November 9.

I am the proud mother of a young black man and that means something for me.. that HIS voice needs to be heard on Capitol Hill too … for the sons and the daughters that we have to have our conversation with  and we have to say to them “be careful what you do when you go outside” and sometimes it doesn’t matter how careful you are. You are still in harm’s way.

Political Advocacy Is Not Just About the Specific Issues; It’s About Your Approach

In one lengthy blog post, I have seriously only TOUCHED on the issues affecting women and the strategies for resolving them. But I need to comment on something that is not an issue; rather, it’s a way of being in the world.

At the Freedom Square vigil, one of the speakers was Monique Harris of Hand in Hand, who lives with Cerebral Palsy.  She talked about living with a disability as well as her fears for her son, a black man with autism whose behaviors can be misunderstood. Due to her Cerebral Palsy, she has difficulty communicating verbally. BUT the organizers created a scenario where she spoke, then a facilitator repeated her words in the event that we had experienced difficulty understanding Monique. That sounds minor, but it wasn’t to Monique and it wasn’t to me. I have been at many other conferences where this type of message would just have been read by the facilitator, or printed in the program. It mattered to hear Monique’s OWN VOICE.

Another of the speakers was Aber Kawas of the Arab American Association of New York. As she spoke eloquently about facing anti-Muslim prejudice in America, someone with a mental disturbance tried to disrupt her speech. She kept speaking, completely nonplussed. The organizers of the vigil took the man aside and tried to de-escalate him. Simultaneously, a group of women lined up between Aber and the disruptor, a solid line of sisterhood, giving her space to share her message safely while demonstrating, visually, SOLIDARITY.

Women, Succeeding Together

I was blown away by Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s speech.  While there were many quotable sound bites, this one sums up the point of We Won’t Wait.

Political Advocacy

How to Get Involved

There are so many ways to get involved! As Feminista Jones explained, there’s a role for everyone: from the foot soldiers who make a difference by showing up, through the guides who support, the visionaries who write/document/photograph, the funders, through the change agents, who affect direct change.

Whether you’re a foot soldier or a change agent, or any of the roles in between, take that first step today. Do it for your daughter, your friend, your sister, your aunt, any woman (or man) in your life who needs your voice to be heard on any or all of the issues mentioned here.

Take that first step by going to www.momsrising.org and adding your email address:

Political Advocacy

(If you prefer Spanish, Moms Rising is available as MamasConPoder here. Si tu prefieres español, haga click aquí.)

In one of these week’s prompts, Mama Kat encouraged us to write a blog post inspired by the word “change.” I’m so grateful to MomsRising and We Won’t Wait 2016 for the opportunity to be inspired by continue learning, supporting, and advocating for my fellow women and moms. Because, indeed, every mother does count.

Political Advocacy

Political Advocacy

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.