12.04.2008

The Questionable Behavior Department - Nonchalant Dad


A couple of things have come to the attention to me lately. The first thing that came to us came by way of a friend's cell phone picture. He happened to be in a local Starbucks in Manhattan when he witnessed the activity taking place in the picture above. He posted the picture to Facebook where we soon came across it. Now, the general opinion in the comments section of Facebook was not agreeable, but almost of these people/friends are single and without children. So, we were curious about what other parents might think of this scenario. And, just in case you can't quite see what's taking place in the picture above ... well, let's just say that the little one isn't riding a pony!
I am of the opinion that we have all seen some curious things along the way in parenting. We've seen the roadside pee-pee stops, public projectile vomiting, and even a diaper changing underneath a sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, among other unmentionables. But, this was a first. A mother producing a toilet in the middle of a cafe and letting her little one go for gold.....hmmmm. I never considered doing that with my kids (though I changed a few diapers in situations less than ideal!), and if I absolutely had to, I think I would have at least aimed for a hallway.... but in the middle of a crowded cafe. And, it doesn't appear that this was an emergency or accident. I don't know.... but then, sometimes I think I'm a little old fashioned. Perhaps this is a new trend that I'm not sure of. What do you guys think?

And, in other news, I came across this story that a reader referred to me. The controversy seems to come from a small LEGO figurine, I guess commonly considered a 'minifig', that resembles what many consider a terrorist. Apparently, there is a group of people out there that believe that LEGO's popular range of models and figurines isn't adequate. From what I gather there is a process by which existing 'minifigs' from LEGO can be stripped and polished and then recreated as new figures. These figures are predominantly military replicas, including a whole range of weaponry. The small family firm at the center of this controversy is called BrickArms, LLC. Will Chapman, the owner, has created a minifig that strongly resembles your average armed terrorist or insurgent, and includes custom made accessories such as a LEGO scarf headwrap, RPG, C96 Broomhandle Mauser Pistol, AK Assault Rifle, M67 Frag Grenades. However, the BrickArm website describes this particular minifig as a 'Bandit' named 'Mr. White' and makes no mention of terrorism, preferring instead to refer to the minifig as just another bad guy. I don't know about that....hmmm.... the attention to detail alone is shocking, but to advertise the accessories with such detailed terms as 'Frag Grenades' and 'RPG' is a bit much, especially when children are going to come in contact with them.

Aside from this figurine it appears that BrickArms is mostly interested in replica WWII figurines and a wide collection of proudly detailed weaponry that can grip onto any LEGO figurine. Now, it must be pointed out that the LEGO people make it clear that BrickArms, and any other small company or person that creates similar figurines and accessories, is not affiliated with the mother ship - nor are any of these companies or individuals licensed to carry out any customization. And, for your information, LEGO has a founding policy of not creating weapons or military themes, which means no tanks, fighter helicopters, warplanes, etc. Nonetheless, no one seems to think it a serious enough offense to enlist legal action or cease-and-desist orders - no record at least that I could find information on. The LEGO mothership either doesn't care to give it attention or has no legal basis for stopping the re-appropriation of its original product.

Of course, it is easy for someone like me to complain that a LEGO minifig representing a terrorist or insurgent is inappropriate. And, as much as I'm not a fan of encouraging my children to play with toys that are violent, especially the LEGO brand, I know very well that this is a difficult thing to do when you realize that LEGO has many items associated with Star Wars or Indiana Jones - both of which have some kind of weaponry, and some of which I have purchased for my kids!! ??

I guess the question in both cases above is not whether they are bad, but whether they are appropriate. Tell us what you think, you know we'd like to know over here at Nonchalant Mom. And, if you'd like to see for yourself, follow these links to get started:

brickarms
this will take you to the manufacturer's website and the controversial minifig mentioned above

brothers-brick
this is a blog for adult fans of LEGO, featuring many photos of objects created from LEGO products

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a single, non-baby-having person, maybe I am not the type of responder you are looking for.

But as a medical student, I can chime in that this does not seem acceptable. Bodily fluids are the #1 method of transmitting infectious diseases, and having a child urinate or defecate in a location where food is served and consumed by others is horrible to think about.

dana said...

i am a mom and am absolutely horrified by this. it's completely disgusting and must be a violation health code violations (not to mention common courtesy). who wants a kid taking a dump right next to you while you're sipping your (expensive) morning latte? i hope some called this woman out on this...

Anonymous said...

As a married mother of 4, big-time-having-baby person, I am in agreement with the medical student. This is not acceptable at all. Training a child to use the toilet is not just about having it land in a pot! Timing and hygiene is part of the training too.

As a mother, I have wiped many bums and dealt with many potty issues. As a customer, in that Starbucks, I would have been disgusted to have to eat my lunch next to a child peeing on a potty.

Anonymous said...

As a father of 3 I'd like to think that this particular mother was faced with an emergency. But nothing in the picture seems to point to that being the case. So, I have to side with the other comments that say they disapprove. I would not do this myself, and neither would my friends. What is she thinking? As for the LEGO 'terrorist' - it looks like these figurines are being made for adults who have a fascination with the LEGO toys... but if they are being given to kids then the intent is egregious! And, I would like to add that the 'Terrorist' figurine, even if the manufacturer says it's supposed to be a bandit, is in bad taste and the excuse doesn't fly with me! Thank you for posting.... however 'Questionable' the behavior!! Philip in CA (ps - it made me lose my appetite for lunch today!)

Anonymous said...

I've seen plenty of mothers breastfeeding and have no problem with that. But this: OMG YIKES !!!

MB said...

Ok. #1: I agree with the person who commented on the public health risk above and #2: why the HELL didn't the starbucks manager or employee tell them to STOP b/c of their concern for health dept shut down for letting someone defecate in the middle of their store (child or not!). #3: I am a social worker and can you say psychological trauma for this child?! major social anxiety issues later on if his mother expects him to poop in a store in front of people!

Re: the lego-ish figurine: very racist, very wrong- no child should ever see this or play with it!

Anonymous said...

i'm a mother of three young children (twins 3y/boy 1y) and as i spent a lot of my time with them alone the process of getting rid of diapers has created some uncomfortable situations. one of the twins had a tendency to just pull down his pants and ...well, yes just do it in the bushes at the park and not tell me. and as much as i tried not to make him feel bad about it, i do agree with the earlier comment that getting rid of diapers is more than just that. it is certainly also a question of teaching the child hygiene and timing. and sometimes that means letting your coffee get cold because you have to spent 20 minutes or more with your child in the cafe bathroom, because the little darling had to go, but then can't really get it done. frustrating? yes absolutely - especially if you have other children getting impatient, but hey, the alternative we see right there in the photo and that seems like pure egoism. and why why why wasn't she told to stop this???

Anjanette said...

well, breastfeeding a baby in public and letting your child poop or pee on a potty chair in the middle of a cafe of people EATING are two different things aren't they?! I am a mom of two kids. I am sometimes old fashioned and also modern thinking but THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE. Was there not a toilet there??? I have had instances where my son needed to use the facilities ASAP and I've had to leave a line or NOT buy the things I needed at that moment...but never in a million years would I have sat at a table while my kid did his "business" on a chair in a room of crowded people. Furthermore, doesn't that Mom realize that her child might actually NEED some privacy to do the thing he needs to do?? wow...that picture just takes the cake. I will remember this one for a LONG time.

lesley said...

wow, I am amazed someone would do this! I think everyone should be able to parent in whatever way is best for them... but this is just wrong. I feel bad for the kid.