Unexpected death in a book

I’ve been reading The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith, this week, and I have decided I can no longer bear books where a young child dies. The death of the child, while central to one of the story’s threads and to her mother’s behavior and emotions, is by no means central to the story.

And yet, I find myself unable to forget it. The death of a child used to be commonplace, and we can see in contemporaneous fiction that mothers took it with varying degrees of equanimity. Having almost lost my children (at different times and for different reasons), I find that the death of a child is not something I can contemplate with equanimity. It is taking over the book for me. I cannot tell if that is intentional on the author’s part — it may be, but at this point in the book (I have not yet finished it), that is still ambiguous.

It is hard to write accurate historical fiction without including the death of a child,as it was so common before the advent of modern medicine with its vaccines, antibiotics, and scientific knowledge. I am tempted to stick with inaccurate historical fiction, or at least that with only adult characters. On the other hand, that would not have kept me from beginning the book, as the book jacket is inaccurate as to why the painter began her important work that is at the heart of the story. In the book, she begins the painting in response to her daughter’s death. On the book jacket, she is merely haunted by the image of a young girl she saw. Rather a large difference.


Child-Proofing Your Home

See Image:Gold doorknob.jpg

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve all heard the joke, “I child-proofed my house, but they keep getting in!” (Not my words, but I don’t know the source. If you do, let me know so I can provide attribution.)

That’s not the kind of child-proofing I want to talk about. I want to talk about the kind that keeps our children from injuring themselves, our belongings, and our homes when they are small.

First of all, what kind of child do you have (or are expecting)? All children need a bare minimum of child-proofing (outlet plugs, I’m thinking of you) but the more curious and exploration-minded your child, the more you will have to child-proof. And children gradually outgrow the need for most child-proofing (like latches on every single cupboard).

Disclaimer: The advice provided here is meant strictly for informational purposes. Please read all product information carefully and use it as designed. I am not affiliated with any companies making or selling child-proofing devices. Consult an expert if you are uncertain.

Continue below the fold for details on each major area of child-proofing.


Spring Rain

Down come gentle drops
Sprinkling the soil, wetting
Leaves lifted
Up — sky’s gift
Falling on eager
Laughing child.

My Poetry Rally entry.

A Relationship Between Birth Spacing and Autism?

light angel...

Image by Norma Desmond via Flickr

There is some preliminary research suggesting that there is a relationship between birth spacing and autism, that the closer babies are spaced, the more likely it is the 2nd baby will have autism. This is very interesting research, but I am inclined to be skeptical, for now.

Although the study was done on half a million children, the number of children diagnosed with autism was quite low.

The overall prevalence of autism was less than 1 percent in the study. Of all the 662,730 second-born children in the analysis, 3,137 had an autism diagnosis. Of the 156,034 children conceived less than a year after the birth of their older siblings, 1,188 had an autism diagnosis — a higher rate, but still less than 1 percent.

Less than 2,000 second children had a diagnosis of autism. No rate of autism was higher than one percent. It seems to me that with a rate so low, it would be very easy for a confounding factor to appear.

The researchers themselves mentioned that closely born 2nd children might be diagnosed at a higher rate because their parents are paying more attention to their development and comparing it to the close-in-age sibling’s development.

The study did not look at autism-spectrum disorders, such as Asperger’s and pervasive developmental disorder.

In conclusion, this is very interesting research, but I will not put too much stock in it until some confirming studies have been done.

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