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A letter to the mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone

A letter to the mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

The mothers of the world stand in solidarity with those who are trying to protect their children from war.

Dear mother huddled with her children in the basement in a war zone,

As I sit in my living room reading reports from Ukraine, my thoughts scatter to many places at once. The analytical part of me wants to understand the historical and geopolitical forces that led up to this moment. The middle-aged side of me remembers with visceral tension the nuclear threats of the Cold War era. The American in me ponders what my country's leadership should, can and will do under the circumstances.

But the mother in me—the raw, human heart of me—goes straight to you and your children.


As you sit huddled together in a basement or a subway or perhaps a leftover bomb shelter from another generation's war, my 13-year-old son cuddles close to me on the couch. He looks at me with wide, worried eyes and asks what we would do if we were in your shoes. He's barely old enough to know the truth, but I tell him anyway: I don't know.I honestly don't know.

I know that our children look to us for safety, security and reassurance, so I try to imagine what you must be telling your young children as they hear air raid sirens, explosions, gunfire from above.

"You're OK. We're safe here," you tell them, not knowing if it's true. "It's going to be OK."

You lie to your children because you don't know what else to do. You're scared, but you don't want them to see it. If you can't protect them from the violence on their doorstep, you will shield them as much as you can from fear and despair. You—your body, your presence—are their primary shelter and safe place, so you wrap your arms around your babies, knowing full well that your flesh is powerless against weapons of war. You know you would die for them. You worry that won't be enough.

I am keenly aware that only the happenstance of my birthplace allows me to sit safely in my living room while you hide from violence. Whether you and your children are huddled in Ukraine or Yemen or Ethiopia or another war-torn region, geography is the only real difference between us. I didn't choose any of this and neither did you.

None of us wants this for our children. None of us ever has.

War is hell, and women and children beat the brunt of it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." I've always appreciated his blunt honesty, but I think mothers might hate war more than soldiers. Soldiers are at least trained for the brutality, if not the futility or stupidity. There is no training that can prepare a mother to nurture her children in the violence and chaos of a war zone.

I think back over human history. How many mothers have witnessed the maiming of their children, physically or psychologically, by war? I look into my sweet son's eyes and my heart breaks, knowing not just that he could be hurt or killed, but also knowing that corrupt men with power would eagerly turn him into a killer to satisfy their need for conquest.

Too many mothers have sent their children off to fight in fruitless wars. Too many of those children haven't come back or have come back broken beyond repair. Too many mothers are hiding in basements with their babies in too many places, trying to keep their children's world from falling apart. Too many, too many, too many.

No one truly wins in war, no matter the political outcome, and it's beyond frustrating that humanity has not yet learned that armed conflict causes more problems than it solves. I've often wondered why don't we force the leaders who want to wage war into a boxing ring to duke it out among themselves. It makes no less sense than sending thousands of their people to fight to the death and destroy valuable infrastructure and architecture while they're at it.

I'm so tired of madmen playing violent games with people's lives because they can't figure out how to fill their soul holes. I'm so tired of their attempts to make us enemies, when all that separates us are invisible lines imagined into existence by insecure men. I'm so tired of fallen soldiers being hailed as heroes by those who sent them into battle to be sacrificed as pawns.

Imagine if moms were at the helm instead. Moms who understand that brute force is both immature and unnecessary. Moms who see all the world's children as our own. Imagine that world, just for a moment. What a vast difference that would make.

But here we are in this moment, and all I can do is offer you my solidarity. I hate that you and your children have to go through this stupid and wasteful and tragic and maddening mess that you didn't choose to partake in. I wish I could wave a wand and whisk us into a future where war is obsolete and unthinkable, where we truly accept that we are one human family and where we've chosen as a collective to create real and lasting peace. I have to believe that we'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, you are not forgotten, wherever you are. I am not in your shoes, but please know that I and millions of mothers around the world are wrapping our arms around you and your children, praying desperately for an end to the violence and trauma.

Your children—all of our children—deserve so much better than this.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

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Strengthen their community

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Go above and beyond day-to-day work

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Joy

'90s kid shares the 10 lies that everyone's parent told them

"Don't swallow that gum. If you do, it'll take 7 years to come out."

via 90sKidforLife/TikTok (used with permission)

90sKidforLife shares 10 lies everyone's parents told in the era.


Children believe everything their parents tell them. So when parents lie to prevent their kids to stop them from doing something dumb, the mistruth can take on a life of its own. The lie can get passed on from generation to generation until it becomes a zombie lie that has a life of its own.

Justin, known as 90sKidforLife on TikTok and Instagram, put together a list of 10 lies that parents told their kids in the ‘90s, and the Gen X kids in the comments thought it was spot on.


“Why was I told EVERY ONE of these?” Brittany, the most popular commenter, wrote. “I heard all of these plus the classic ‘If you keep making that face, it will get stuck like that,’” Amanda added. After just four days of being posted, it has already been seen 250,000 times.

Parents were always lying #90s #90skids #parenting

@90skid4lyfe

Parents were always lying #90s #90skids #parenting

Here are Justin’s 10 lies '90s parents told their kids:

1. "You can't drink coffee. It'll stunt your growth."

2. "If you pee in the pool, it's gonna turn blue."

3. "Chocolate milk comes from brown cows."

4. "If you eat those watermelon seeds, you'll grow a watermelon in your stomach."

5. "Don't swallow that gum. If you do, it'll take 7 years to come out."

6. "I told you we can't drive with the interior light on. ... It's illegal."

7. "Sitting that close to the TV is going to ruin your vision."

8. "If you keep cracking your knuckles, you're gonna get arthritis."

8. "You just ate, you gotta wait 30 minutes before you can swim."

10. "If you get a tattoo, you won't find a job."

Internet

Lawyer explains how and why she refuses to sign waivers of liability forms for her child

"I do not waive my child's rights when it comes to liability or catastrophic events."

Representative photos by RDNE Stock Project and João Rabelo via Canva

Lawyer refuses to sign waivers of liability for her child

Every parent is familiar with the standard liability waiver for children to do just about anything. Going on a school field trip, sign a liability waiver. Playing a sport, sign a liability waiver. Going to a birthday party at a trampoline park–you got it, sign a liability waiver. The form is so common that parents often sign it without thinking about what they're actually signing.

The assumption is that if you don't sign the form, whoever "they" are will know and your kid will be left out of whatever activity they wanted to do. But do you actually have to sign those things? Shannon Schott a mom, criminal defense and personal injury attorney says declining is an option.

The attorney took to TikTok to explain how she gets around signing the liability forms for her child and it's much simpler than one might think. According to Schott, she's never been questioned when she simply crosses out the things she doesn't agree with and writes decline next to that particular section. No secret liability waiver police jump out from behind the nearest bush, and her reasoning is quite simple.


Blindly signing on the dotted line essentially waives your child's rights to take legal action if an accident occurs that severely injures, maims or kills your child, Schott explains. The mom tells her audience that as a lawyer who handles personal injury, she would never agree to sign away the option to sue, reminding others that liability waivers are a mutual agreement. Keeping this in mind she only signs what she's comfortable with.

"First and foremost if people are not paying attention, I just don't do it. If someone says you have to go online and sign a waiver I say, 'okay thanks' and I don't do it and no one checks and that's not on me. That's me being smart and not waiving my child's rights," Schott reveals, immediately clarifying that she and her family are safe and not trying to trick someone into a lawsuit.

While many people didn't realize that you had the option to decline, some did and explained how they do it in the comments.

"On my first day of torts, my professor taught us to cross out all of the negligence/death clauses. 10 years later with 2 kids, I've never been questioned (no one noticed)," someone writes.

"I always wrote, 'unless under negligence.' No one ever rechecked my signature," another says.

"I always do this!! My mom did it when we were kids so it became a habit," one commenter shares.

@shannonschott.esq #jaxfl #jaxlawyer #floridalawyer #juvenilejustice #juveniledelinquency #juvenilelawexpert #personalinjury #personalinjurylawyer #personalinjuryattorney #personalinjurylaw #personalinjurytips #personalinjurylawyers #personalinjurylawyerflorida ♬ original sound - Shannon Schott

Schott makes it clear in her video that while she is particular about arbitrarily signing her child's rights away, she's not looking for litigation and she's fine with having her child sit out of an activity if needed. The attorney also reassures a commenter that parents always have the right to revoke a waiver and ask for a new form if they've signed thinking they didn't have a choice. Parents are thanking her for the information with some admitting they need to take a closer look at those forms in the future.

Steve Martin's 2000 novella, "Shopgirl."


Over the past few years, book bans have been happening in public libraries and schools across America. In the 2022-2023 school year alone, over 3,300 books were banned in 182 school districts in 37 states.

Most books that have been banned deal with LGBTQ and racial themes. According to a report from PEN America, Florida has been the most aggressive state regarding book bans, accounting for about 40% of those taken off the shelves.

On November 5, Collier County, Florida, announced that it was banning 300 books from its school libraries out of an effort to comply with state law HB 1069, which says books that depict or describe “sexual content” can be challenged for removal.


Among the books banned by the school district was “Shopgirl,” a novella by author Steve Martin published in 2000. Martin is also the star of the hit Hulu show, “Only Murders in the Building,” featuring Martin Short and Selena Gomez.

Upon hearing about his book being banned, Martin responded with his iconic wit on Instagram, saying, “So proud to have my book Shopgirl banned in Collier County, Florida! Now, people who want to read it will have to buy a copy!"

“Shopgirl” is a story about a young woman who works in a luxury department store and has an affair with a wealthy older man. It was made into a movie in 2005 starring Claire Danes and Martin. It’s believed the book was banned for its mild sexual content. On Amazon, the book is recommended for readers ages 13 and up.


This article originally appeared on 11.11.23

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash (left) and Dan Renco on Unsplash (right)

The staring is part of the competition.

A video of kids waving a narrow rod in front of a pig while hunching like Dracula and giving someone a death stare has taken the internet by storm, leaving people scratching their heads.

"What did I just watch?" seems to be the primary response to the video shared on the @dadsonfarms TikTok page, followed by various versions of "Where am I?" and "What is happening?" and "How did I end up here?"

The befuddlement is only matched by the curiosity and confused laughter that naturally result from seeing something so…unbelievable? Unexpected? Unusual? Uncanny?


How else should one describe this?

@dadsonfarms

Krew and Karis at The Revival livestock Show! #showpigs #pigshow

"This is the weirdest thing 😂😂🤣 I have so many questions!!!" wrote one person.

"Why do I feel like this is a staring competition and the pigs are just a added difficulty 🤣," wrote another.

"Yay!!! I’m back on hunchback death stare competition while also showing pigs tiktok!" exclaimed another.

"Again. What did I react to, to end me up here?" asked another.

If you've ever stepped foot in the world of 4-H or FFA (Future Farmers of America), you likely recognize there's a livestock showing competition happening here. But if you're a city slicker with no rural or agricultural ties, you may not know that "showing" animals is even a thing.

Not only it it a thing, but it's a highly competitive endeavor with specific rules and guidelines and expectations. It does help to have the showmanship requirements explained, however, and thankfully the kids' dad explained in a separate video.

The kids showcased here are Karis and Krew, twins who compete in the 13 to 16-year-old category of pig showing. The pigs are Smack Down and Greta. The reason the competitors stare so intently is to show they are paying attention to the judge and also to show how much control they have. (And according to one commenter, they get extra points for keeping eye contact with the judge the whole time.)

More questions answered here:

@dadsonfarms

@Lawrence Johnson I tried to answer all your Questions about showing Pigs 😊! #showpigs #pigshow

People have been fascinated to learn about how much goes into these exhibitions. Who knew pig showing was this intense? And with judges being flown across the country—there's an official Livestock Judges' Association and everything—this is clearly serious business.

Except when you add the music to it, it just comes off as seriously strange hilarity.

@dadsonfarms

Great night to show at western regionals #showpigs #hogshowman

So what exactly is the point of all of this?

When livestock showing began in the 1800s, the primary purpose was to improve the quality of livestock. These days, it's more about helping young people developing character qualities through programs like 4-H and FFA while learning about farm animal care and preparation for selling. They learn about responsibility, self-discipline, hard work and professionalism through these competitions.

And they clearly master making eye contact as well. You can follow @dadsonfarms on TikTok for more.

Palestinian and Israeli whose family members were killed sit face-to-face to talk peace

One man lost his parents. The other lost his brother. Their dialogue is moving people to tears.

Photos by cottonbro studio/Pexels (left), and by Ahmed Abu Hameeda on Unsplash (right)

Hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians

Conflict between Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for many decades, with scholars around the world spending years analyzing and explaining why and how. But regardless of how we got here, the violence we saw perpetrated on Israelis on October 7th and the violence we've seen perpetrated on Palestinians in the months since has been a drastic escalation with unspeakably tragic results.

People of goodwill everywhere search for hope in times such as these, for evidence that humanity hasn't been completely destroyed by vengeance and violence, that real peace is in fact possible. And there is no better pair to offer glimmers of such hope than Palestinian peacemaker Aziz Abu Sarah and Israeli peacemaker Maoz Inon, who sat down face-to-face on a TED stage in April of 2024 to share their personal stories and talk about what peace requires.

Unlike those of us watching war unfold from half a world away through the lens of media spin and social media algorithms, these men have lived this conflict up close. Sarah's brother was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces when he was just 19 years old. Inon's parents were killed by Hamas on the October 7th, 2023 attack. They both have every reason to be angry—and they are—but the way they purposefully process their anger into peacebuilding is an example to us all.


Inon begins their conversation by sharing how his parents and childhood friends were killed on October 7th, then shares how grateful he was that Sarah was one of the first people to reach out to him even though they'd only met once before. Sarah shares how his brother was killed by the IDF and how all of his friends have lost family members to Israel's bombardment of Gaza, yet praises how he Inon has processed his loss.

"When I sent you that message to offer my condolences after your parents were killed, I was surprised by your answer," Sarah told Inon. "Not just to me, but your public answer. Because you said you're not only crying for your parents, you're also crying for the people in Gaza who are losing their lives, and that you do not want what happened to you to be justifying anyone taking revenge. You do not want to justify war."

"And it's so hard to do that," he added. "So much easier to want revenge, to be angry. But you are a brave man."

Sarah said it took him "much more time" to reach such a place after his brother was killed. "I was angry, I was bitter, and I wanted vengeance. I was 10 years old and I thought there is no other choice. And only eight years later, when I went to study Hebrew with Jewish immigrants to Israel, that's only when I realized that we can be allies."

Both men have been peace activists for years. What's particularly beautiful about their conversation is that they are talking directly to each other, not to the audience, offering an example of what sitting down with the "other side" can look like when you share the goal of peace. They tell their personal stories and explain what has driven them to seek reconciliation over revenge. They listen to and learn from one another. They acknowledge the difficulty but are unwavering in their dedication to build peace.

The division stemming from the historical reality and current politics of Israel and Palestine may feel intractable, but if these men who have lost so much can find common ground and a shared vision, then hope remains. Their dialogue is moving people to tears and is well worth a watch: