Sometimes I feel like I’m a country bumpkin in a big old world that doesn’t make any sense.
And some news stories I saw recently have convinced me that it’s true.
First, students at Oxford University have banned clapping. You know, the age-old tradition of smacking one’s hands together rhythmically to cheer for something? Yep, that’s a no.
Instead, they use “jazz hands,” or the sign language equivalent of clapping which is waving one’s hands. The reason for a ban on this horrific behavior? So it doesn’t overwhelm the senses of special needs children.
Ok, that’s a laudable goal. As a mom of a medically complex child who has numerous special needs friends, I can say that noise does get overwhelming. However, not one of the parents I know deliberately excludes their child from noisy environments.
The world is a noisy place. Cars, planes, trucks, animals, people, machines, the list of noisy things goes on and on. Teaching the child coping mechanisms to deal with the noisy environment is far more effective than expecting the world to quiet down for your child — at least in my opinion.
When I was pregnant, my doctor, Dr. Tinliung Jung, told me not to fall for the advertisements for the spotless homes and allergen-free laundry products. “A child needs to build resistance,” he told me.
I checked with my mom — an expert on child rearing, in my opinion, with her 15 kids and countless friends, neighbors and relatives — to see what she thought. She gave me that face, the face only a mother can make. One eyebrow was raised, her lips pursed, and I knew I would get either the flames-of-hell scorn or the talking-to of a lifetime. Instead, she told me the world was creating problems by trying to eliminate them.
“My kids crawled on the floor. They played outside. They ate dirt. I didn’t use any fancy laundry detergent and they did just fine,” she told me.
She was right. Even though my daughter was born with heart problems, we never sterilized her environment. And she was fine. Common-sense precautions worked.
Now, on to the next story that had me scratching my head. The brand Always, maker of sanitary napkins, removed an image from its packaging that referred to women. They want to be inclusive of everyone, like non-binary genders who may be biologically one sex and live as another.
OK. To each his own.
But honestly, I have been looking at the Always packaging for years now, and I couldn’t tell you what is on it. Methinks this change is more a marketing ploy than a sensitivity to any particular person/gender/group.
It does leave me wondering, what have we come to that people are so offended by something on a product’s package? Maybe we should check with the Irish to see what they think about Lucky the Leprechaun on Lucky Charms. And someone should have a talk with those children in the Trix commercials who won’t share their cereal with the Trix Rabbit.
Personally, I didn’t care for the breast cancer awareness campaign a few years back in which merchandise said, “Save the tatas.” My thoughts, and probably most people’s, were the person’s life is more important.
But I didn’t like it in the wrong way. A friend and I discussed it, agreed that each other’s opinions were valid, and left it at that. I didn’t alert the media. I didn’t take to the internet to make sure everyone was equally outraged. I didn’t protest.
I just didn’t buy merchandise that I didn’t like. And that was that. The world went on.
The more I see stories like these in the news, the more I am glad that I am just a country bumpkin, with country sensibilities.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If a product bothers you, don’t buy it. And when mom makes that face, straighten up.
(Marcie Schellhammer is the Era’s assistant managing editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)