During my morning mom-taxi duties of dropping off my oldest two at their elementary school and then driving into town to preschool and then back home, I listen to a local radio show. Mostly because I like the music they play, notsomuch for the morning radio show hosts.
Every morning, they have a segment called “the daily search for Darwin Award nominees, the news that didn’t make the news.” And it features the stupid things people do in local stories around the country. Usually it involves a Wal-Mart somewhere. And sometimes I laugh and other times, I think it’s cruel because the people involved already feel bad enough as it is, they don’t really need to be made into a joke.
But last week, they told a story that struck a nerve and had me cussing at the radio(thankfully, I’d dropped all the kids off by this point so their ears weren’t assaulted by my rant).
The story went something like this: There was a woman who bought a house for a ridiculously low price- about $5,000, with the intent of fixing it up, flipping it, and making a profit. And now she’s sitting on $110,000. But not from selling the house. She sued the city for not disclosing that there was lead paint in the house, which she found out when her child started showing elevated lead levels. And the radio host said something to the effect of “How about teaching your kid not to eat paint chips?” And then he laughed.
To which I said something along the lines of “Fuck you, you fucking ignorant asshole bastard!” and slammed the off button on my radio.
My kindergarten had lead poisoning. And yes, it came from our former home. Which we had been assured did not have any lead- a big, fat lie.
And he had so many problems from the lead poisoning. The effects of lead poisoning can be: decreased bone and muscle growth, poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system, kidneys and/or hearing, speech and language problems, developmental delay, and even seizures and unconsciousness. Verbal, linguistic, and cognitive deficits. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, short term memory problems, aggression, violence, hostility, inappropriate/uncontrolled behaviors similar to ADD/ADHD, difficult to manage, fine motor dysfunction, irritability, problems with learning, delayed growth, behavior problems, difficulty concentrating, headaches, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness, fatigue, abdominal pain, muscle and joint weakness or pain, anemia. The list of the effects of lead poisoning goes on and on. I get physically ill thinking about it all. And knowing how true it is because we’ve lived with this for years now.
But let me tell you this: my child did not eat paint chips.
Think of a child who is one or two years old and how oral they are. How everything goes in their mouth. So, they touch a door frame or window sill or floor that has lead residue. And then they later put their hands in their mouths as they eat. Or they touch a toy and put that toy in their mouths. Or they suck on their fingers. Lead exposure, right there.
Not from eating paint chips, you asshole radio host. Don’t you think if it were as simple as telling your child not to eat paint, I would have done so?
And I realize that “it’s all in fun” and that there are those who would roll their eyes at me and tell me it was meant as a joke.
I’m sure you have seen the campaign to “spread the word to end the word” to stop the use of the R-word. I especially love what Ellen of Love That Max did to try to make people aware of the words they were using. She so eloquently discusses this issue while I just get pissed off. I need to take a lesson from her, but for today, I just need to vent.
When someone makes a joke about eating paint chips, I take it just as seriously and personally and feel that it’s just as offensive.
Because lead poisoning isn’t a joke.
And now I have to find a new radio station to listen to in the mornings.