Shame on the Boy Scouts of America.

There are few things in life that render me speechless. But I’m pretty much without words after hearing of the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to continue with its policy of denying membership to gay boys, and forbidding gay and lesbian parents to volunteer within the organization.

Really? REALLY?

I acknowledge that BSA is a private organization and, as such, they have the right to decide who’s allowed in. What bothers me is that the BSA is supposed to be all about raising future leaders.

Future leaders of what? Hate? Discrimination?

In its mission, the BSA claims to believe that “helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.”

How, exactly, does setting an example of bigotry create a responsible society?

Cooper’s been a Cub Scout for a couple of years now, as are many of his friends. They seem to have fun and it always struck me as a good program — skill-building, having fun, learning how to be confident and how to do good things for others and the community as a whole. But I must have missed the asterisk after that last part — helping others, unless those other people happen to be the gays. Then, not so much.

I don’t know if any of Cooper’s peers are gay; I don’t know if any of their parents are. I don’t really care. But it’s outrageous to me to imagine a scenario when, a few years down the road, as one of these dedicated Scouts working toward his Eagle status comes out, and is summarily thrown from the program he’s been committed to for his whole young life. Or that a kid’s parent might be denied an opportunity to lead and teach, just because of who she loves.

Ray and I had been wondering lately if Cooper was going to do scouting next year — last year, there were so many conflicts with his other activities, he hardly got to participate. Did it make sense to sign him up again?

I found my answer. I don’t want my son to learn lessons of bigotry. I don’t want him to learn a culture of hate. I refuse to let him belong to a group that discriminates.

I know that our local pack has nothing but the best intentions and goals, with dedicated volunteers, and an awesome group of parents and young people involved in the program. This is not about those people. They are good people and they are kind and teach my son fine lessons of volunteerism and character; they are not the problem.

But by keeping my son in scouts is hypocritical. Would I allow him to play on a baseball team that only let white kids join? Or attend a school that said “no Asians”?

I won’t do it.

Shame on you, Boy Scouts of America. And, you just lost one incredible kid.

On distracted driving: A teen’s conviction, and what we should learn from it

Earlier today, a Haverhill, Mass., court convicted teenager Aaron Deveau of  motor vehicle homicide for texting while he was driving. It is one of the first cases of its kind following the state’s new law that bans texting while driving. The 18-year-old was allegedly texting, and it was this distraction which caused his car to veer across the center line and crash head-on into another vehicle. That car’s driver, 55-year-old Donald Bowley, suffered massive injuries and died after 18 days in the hospital. The court judge sentenced Deveau to one year in prison, suspending the rest of the concurrent sentences from the verdict.

The only positive thing in such a horrible situation is that maybe, just maybe, people will start thinking about their actions behind the wheel. To me, the idea of texting — which requires the use of both hands — while driving is just plain dumb. But then again, I’m not a teenager who uses texting as a primary form of interpersonal relationships. Maybe some of those teens, also new to driving, will hear of this case and see the possible consequences of this kind of distracted driving. I hope so.

Then again, maybe it’s not just teens who need to pay attention. Even if you don’t text, you are probably just as distractible when you’re behind the wheel.

Think about it. How often do you glance away to change the radio or fiddle with your iPod settings? Or turn to talk to your passengers — or the kids in the rear seats? Or let your eyes linger over a neighbor’s pretty new landscaping? Or peer through the sunroof at the amazing sky at sunset?

In that instant, the world can change.

A number of years ago, I had just picked up the younger kids from preschool. It was an almost unbearably beautiful day. I had to drop something off at Town Hall, and took an atypical route home, up a pretty main road, the sort that garners my town all kinds of notice. The kids were bouncy and ready to get out and play. We were listening to music, singing along, laughing. Mitzi was unusually active, unbuckling herself and standing up a few times, ignoring my eyes in the rear view mirror and my repeated command to sit down.

Finally, I couldn’t take it — I turned around and raised my voice. And that’s when the crash happened.

The car in front of me had stopped short because the car in front of him had stopped to suddenly turn into the library driveway. I had looked ahead in just enough time to know that, despite slamming on my brakes and turning the wheel, there was nothing I could do to stop the impact. Nothing.

In the end, luckily, blessedly, no one was seriously hurt. Though I was driving at about 30 mph, the airbags did not go off. The kids had a few seat belt bruises, and I had a cut on my leg. More fortunate were the passengers in the other car — my car was bigger, heavier and I really smashed the holy heck out of the rear end. The passengers were all seniors, and a couple were taken to the hospital as a precaution (thankfully, none were hurt).

That accident lingers in my mind every day — I am even more cautious behind the wheel, and am a little paranoid about driving. I still have the occasional nightmare about it, and never take for granted that we all walked away.

Because, instead of hitting a car, it could have been a person I struck while distracted behind the wheel. I could have killed someone.

Today’s verdict is a sad one. One life lost, another irrevocably damaged, just because of a little stupidity, a bad decision, and a moment of distraction.

I hope at the very least we can all learn something from this story. When I first sat behind the wheel of a car, excited and eager, my mom, who was teaching me to drive, put her hand on top of mine and said, “This is a deadly weapon. Never forget that.”

She was right.

Parent Fail Update….

Well, it came to light yesterday that the Camden, New Jersey, man who put the baby in the washing machine — an incident making headlines following a surveillance video posted online — was not in fact the baby’s father. He was the boyfriend of the baby’s babysitter.

So, there you go.

I’m going to stick with giving him the award, though. A dude like that totally deserves an ass-on-a-plate recognition — the babysitter does, too, for that matter. Though in her case, I’m not sure whether she deserves it for what happened, or for dating a guy like that.

The WTF? Parent of the Day winner!

Congratulations to the anonymous Camden, New Jersey, father on winning my

WTF? Parent of the Day  contest!

WTF Parent of the Day Award

Genius dad thought it would be fun to put his toddler inside a washing machine at his local laundromat. Hey, why not? It’s the perfect place to play peek-a-boo (except for the oven, which kids really love, too, unless you can squeeze them into the microwave, ’cause that’s way better).

It’s all fun and games — until you happen to shut the machine door. Which then locks. Which sets off an automatic wash cycle in which your baby is spun over and over like a dirty sock. Woo-hoo! Bring on the party! Seriously, better than Space Mountain.

Fortunately for dad, workers at the laundromat were able to free the child after a few minutes. The child was not hurt, but police, who say what happened wasn’t criminal, are looking for  the family to make sure. And, why don’t they already know who the family is?

Because the story came to light after a surveillance video was posted on the Internet and garnered over a million views.

Which makes me wonder — did the laundry staff who discovered the video really think it was better post it online instead of, oh, I don’t know,  calling the cops? Maybe they called the cops first, then posted the video while waiting for the cruiser to arrive? “Ha, baby in a washer, a regular laff riot!”

for stupidity above and beyond

For this, the laundry workers earn a Special Medal of Stupidity!

It’s a mystery, what goes on in the minds of people who care more about online guffaws and website hits than they do for other people.

In all seriousness, I’m really glad the child wasn’t injured. And I’m sure the father feels horrible beyond belief about what happened. All parents make mistakes — but when it comes to our kids and major appliances, well, I’m pretty sure that knowing to keep the two separate is a no-brainer. Isn’t it?