Crib notes: Are car DVD players the best or worst invention of all time?

April 18, 2012 at 9:46 PM ET

Vehicular DVD players: the greatest thing since sliced bread or the root cause for the downfall of civilization? Love them or hate them, DVD players in minivans and SUV's can be found at every stoplight in America. For many parents, they're a welcome sanity-saver, allowing them to peacefully focus on the road, rather than squabbles in the backseat. Others however, worry that we're simply increasing kids' screen time and providing them constant entertainment, rather than letting them experience being bored or finding ways to entertain themselves on the road. Writing at Babble, one dad says he won't be buying a DVD-laden car anytime soon. Fondly remembering childhood drives playing license plate bingo, he complains about the expense of the pre-installed players and worries that they're nothing but couch potato-inducing machines. Do you have a DVD player in the car or have you resisted the temptation?

Tots in cuffs
Six-year-old girls love to wear shiny bracelets. Unless those shiny bracelets are ones the cops slapped on them after they pitched an epic temper tantrum at school. Those types of bracelets aren't fun for anyone. A kindergartener in Georgia was recently handcuffed by police after she threw a tantrum that involved tearing things off walls, throwing books and toys and even throwing a shelf that hit the school principal. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, school administrators called the police after the girl's teacher and other school administrators were unable to calm the child. A police officer arrived and was also unable to calm her down. That's when the cuffs came out and she was taken to the police station. The girl's family is now demanding that the city change its policy so that other kids aren't treated the same way, calling the treatment "horrifying" and "devastating." The girl's aunt claims that the child was kept in a holding cell and complained that the handcuffs were so tight they hurt. The police counter that she was actually kept in the squad room and was given a Coke to drink while the officers waited for her family to come pick her up. Do you think the police were just doing the best they could with an unruly kid or are there no circumstances that warrant handcuffing little kids?

Best cities in America for families
Parents in Grand Rapids, Michigan are patting themselves on the back right now. And why not? Forbes just ranked their city as the best city in the country for families. A low cost of living, good schools, easy commutes and low crime are said to all contribute to make the area a family haven. Boise, Idaho and Provo, Utah also got top marks. Youngstown, Ohio and Raleigh, North Carolina round out the top five. Forbes didn't release the names of the worst cities, so parents don't need to start fretting about whether or not it's time to move

Is there really a chance that U.S. maternity leaves will get longer?
As a mom, you probably already know how short maternity leaves are in the U.S. But, did you know that a public policy center, the National Center for Children in Poverty, is recommending that policymakers extend our leave to 14 (paid!) weeks? As Mommyish reports, the NCCP is advocating the extended leave because of the obvious benefits to both parents and children. Among other benefits, it is believed that more moms would breastfeed or would breastfeed for longer, if given longer leaves. The group director said, “In 2012, the United States remains the only industrialized nation without a national paid family leave program that supports workers who need time off to attend to important family needs, such as caring for a new baby or sick child.” In what could be a real change, the group's advocating that the longer leave policies would also apply to part-time workers, people who work for small businesses and moms who are self-employed.

Caine can take his arcade to college
Oftentimes, the internet brings out the worst in people. Trolls let mean and snarky comments fly and judgment can reign. Sometimes, though, it unleashes our generosity. Last week, a little boy named Caine Monroy, wowed America with his cardboard arcade. As we watched the video highlighting his creativity, determination and entrepreneurship, we were so impressed that many of us opened our wallets to help fund his college education. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, nine-year-old Caine now has $164,000 in that fund (he should probably think about grad school with that bounty). Amazingly, the generosity doesn't stop there. Nirvan Mullick, the filmmaker who discovered Caine and made him a star, got the Goldhirsh Foundation to match the funds, up to $250,000, to help other kids like Caine. You can now go about your day with a smile on your face.

Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at