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“Best for My Child” Unmasking: Like a “No Peeing” Section in a Pool.

August 15, 2021

About 20 years ago, I was driving across Colorado en route to Louisiana, and I stopped in Kit Carson, Colorado, to eat lunch.

I walked into a diner that was filled with the haze of smoking. A quick look around revealed that everyone in that diner was smoking except for me.

The man who waited on me pointed to a distant booth enveloped in the haze.

“That’s the non-smoking section.”

True. I was the only one seated in that section, and I was not smoking. No one else was nearby. Just me and the haze.

As effective as a “No Peeing” section in pool.

Tagging a booth as the “non-smoking section” without taking any steps to seal the area off from the smoke nixes the point of having a non-smoking section.

And yet, here we are in the midst of not just the COVID pandemic but the Delta variant version of the COVID pandemic, and we have parents wanting to unmask their children despite the advice of pediatricians and despite the fact that there are no pediatric beds available in the region, all in the name of parents “knowing what’s best for their own child.”

I realize I’m stepping in it (you know what “it” is) with this post.

I also know that every year, I have to complete professional development on child abuse, mistreatment, and neglect, so there must be some parents out there who either “don’t know” what’s best or don’t care to act upon what’s best for their children. And frankly, readers, parents not always acting in the best interests of their children hits home for me personally.

It’s why we have child labor laws, infant car seat laws, minimum drinking ages, and compulsory education.

Moreover, I believe it is possible for some parents to be so caught up in taking a political stand that they do not see the forest of completely-occupied pediatric ICU beds for the trees of My Rights.

And just like the smoke in that diner in Colorado, the Delta variant will find its way around a room.

You have a right to smoke. I have a right not to smoke. But let’s not ignore the smoky haze that envelops everyone– forcing me to become a de facto smoker. (I’ll forego extending the urine-in-pool metaphor.)

On August 13, 2021, a district court in Texas blocked the Fort Worth Independent School District’s (ISD) mask mandate for going against Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order forbidding Texas schools and districts from issuing mask mandates.

The whole parents-get-to-decide does not work if the parents cannot prevent their children from passing COVID on to other children.

I hate wearing a mask. Hate it. And I am among those who vaccinated and who are miffed at American adults who both refuse to be vaccinated and refuse to mask up. Viruses are able to mutate into worse versions so long as they have an ample, vulnerable population with which to work.

I am vaccinated. As a result, I am much less likely to end up with Delta COVID than is someone who is unvaccinated and much, much, less likely to land in one of those increasingly-scarce ICU beds if I do. But I wear my mask without needing any overtaxed hospital staff begging me to do so, and I apppreciate others who are joining me in this effort.

Still, here we go, America, with so many aiding a potential, new COVID variant that might make ICU-packing Delta look like the good ol’ days.

Parents, I hope that thoughts about your rights will occur in concert with your responsibilities to the children and families of others and to the greater good.

Smoking and nonsmoking sections in a Michgan diner. From “A Non-smoking Section in a Restaurant Is Like a No-peeing Section in a Pool…”


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  1. Dan Wever permalink


  2. Mona Erickson permalink

    I’ve been thinking and saying for years we ought to focus on civic RESPONSIBILITY rather than civil RIGHTS. Notice the difference- one focuses on what individuals ought to contribute as part of the larger human population, and the other focuses on what can I get for myself because I somehow am owed and deserve whatever I aspire to.

    Years ago in a basic human development class as part of my years of study, training, and practice to become a traditionally certified teacher (you know, one of those much maligned and under-appreciated souls who must have gone into education because I’m not smart enough to do anything else), I learned that babies emerge totally dependent on others for survival, hence the ego-centric life view of being the center of the universe. In the course of normal human development and nurturing, the infant/toddler/child/adolescent/teen/young adult/adult gradually learns that the world indeed does NOT revolve around him and he must take his place as a positive contributor in a much larger village.

    How many people have you ever crossed paths with who got stuck along the continuum in an earlier stage of ME and never quite got to the WE stage of life? I venture to speculate many.

    No one should be surprised or shocked at the deterioration of our climate, politics, basic civility, common sense, mental health, common decency, discourse, humanity, etc, etc., as long as so many of us remain in the ME stage of human development.

    I thank you, Mercedes, for your many years of WE.

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