For kids' parties, most parents hire a clown or maybe rent a bouncy house; perhaps they'll make it a pool party if the weather's nice. But, pretty soon, parents in Lewisville, TX will be able to host their kids' birthday parties at a firing range. Kids as young as eight will be able to celebrate with cake and presents in one of two party rooms before being handed a loaded gun in the firing range. The owner of the range says that the kids have to be eight, because they need to be tall enough to see over the table. He reassures people that the kids won't be left alone with the firearms; they'll be one-on-one with either a parent or a range safety officer. Many parents are less than comforted by that news, however. As WFAA.com reports, one mom, who's also a gun safety advocate, worries that kids that young have a hard time distinguishing a toy gun from a real gun. She says that putting guns in a fun, party atmosphere, sends a dangerous message to kids, telling them we don't need to respect guns as much as is necessary. Do you think these parties are harmless fun or is the idea of handing a loaded gun to a child at a party a load of...?
The gas can's safe in the car seat. The kid? Not so much
Falling under the "you've got to be kidding us" category, comes the story of the Colorado mom who was ticketed for safely buckling her gas can into the car seat, while her toddler on a bench seat, wearing only a lap belt. As KING 5 News reports, a police officer pulled the mom over and was surprised by what he found in the backseat. While the gas can was enjoying a safe and secure ride, the very young child was in a very dangerous predicament. The officer snapped a picture and cited the mom with a car seat violation. The Colorado Department of Transportation recently posted the picture on its Facebook page, along with a reminder to keep kids properly buckled up. As one commenter put it, yes, gas is really expensive these days, but it's still not more valuable than a child's life. Indeed.
Garbage truck drivers -- picking up babies in runaway strollers along with the trash
A garbage truck driver was on his route when he noticed a woman park her stroller on a hill, then leave it while she went around the corner to meet a group of other women. Almost as soon as she'd turned away, the stroller started to roll down the hill, towards a busy intersection. This quick-thinking refuse man began honking his horn to warn other drivers. Then, he turned his truck and used it to block traffic, before hitting the brakes and running out to catch the stroller. A FedEx truck going through the nearby intersection likely wouldn't have noticed the little tyke or the stroller, if Jeff Blackburn, the heroic garbage man, hadn't been honking so wildly. Blackburn and another woman ran to the stroller and saved both it and the kiddo inside. Luckily, as KOMO News reports, not only was the little tot not hurt, but he actually had a big grin on his face and seemed to have quite enjoyed his wild ride. Phew.
Canadian school fights for its zero-tolerance policy
No, this isn't another story on bullying. It's a story about grades. A high school physics teacher in Canada has been suspended for unprofessional conduct and “negatively impacting student achievement.” What kind of sleazy, unprofessional conduct did he partake in, you ask? Well, if a kid skipped a test, or never handed in an assignment, he gave them a zero for the work they didn't do. He wasn't completely harsh about it, he did give students the chance to erase the zeros by completing missing assignments or asking him to let them make up missing quizzes. Seems to make sense -- except it flies in the face of the district's "zero-tolerance policy," which states that kids shouldn't be penalized for work they don't do, but should merely be graded on the assignments they actually complete. The no-zeros policy is seen as a way to help boost kids' self-esteem. But, along with a number of other teachers, Mr. Dorval disagrees with the policy. He thinks that by not penalizing kids who don't do the work, we're not teaching them responsibility. Mr. Dorval, who's near retirement, decided he didn't have much to lose and he took a stand against the policy by continuing to hand out his zeros. Now, he's been suspended as a result. But, while this physics teacher may be losing his job, he's gained a lot of fans. The Globe and Mail reports that as news of his suspension has spread, he's turned into a bit of a folk hero up north. As The Stir reports, Canada isn't alone in pressuring teachers to inflate grades, it's happening in some places here, too.
Spoiled rotten? Might depend on where you live
Are the kids around you lavished with expensive toys and clothes? Chances are, you live in Manhattan. After all, it just got ranked the Number One city in America for spoiling kids -- with New York parents spending almost twice as much on their kids as the national average. Number two stayed within the five boroughs, with Brooklyn coming in next. Ritzy Miami came in third, but, as Bundle.com reports, the people compiling the data were surprised that the no-nonsense, Midwestern city of Minneapolis came in fourth. Nashville represents the national average, while Madison, WI is home to the country's most frugal parents. To figure out which cities spoil their tots, Bundle looked at how much households with kids spent at stores that sell toys, clothes and other things for kids over a three-year period. How does your city rank?
Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers.