Stupid Is As Stupid Does

“Stupid is as stupid does.”  Those are sage words from the fictional Forrest Gump.

And stupid does some interesting things in America.  Here are two great recent examples of stupidity:

Before I tell you the first story, I want to preface it with a memory from my middle school years.  We Long Island neighborhood children took the bus to school.  I walked two blocks to the bus stop.  In the winter, it was freezing, but fortunately, one of the kids I went to school with lived in that corner house right where the bus picked us up.  The mom would leave the garage door open (the cars were already gone) so we could all huddle out of the wind and chill until the bus came.  It was very kind of her.

Now, to today’s story:  A mom in Michigan allows the kids from three families to hang out before school at her house for about 1 hour before the school bus comes.  She’s not getting paid, although I sure hope she’s getting appreciation from the families who have to go to work before they can get their kids off to school. 

Believe it or not, she receives a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continues, she’d be violating a law aimed at the operation of unlicensed day-care centers.  She’s not getting paid!!  And she’s doing the neighbors a favor!!

This law says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers.  The Department of Human Services warned her without even finding out the facts.  This is stupid.  Never mind that these kids, if left by themselves for an hour without adult supervision could be food for predators.  It seems also that this stupid stretch would preclude regular baby-sitting when parents go out to dinner and the movies.

There is good news here, though.  After the news media got hold of this story (and embarrassed the heck out of the state of Michigan), Governor Jennifer Granholm instructed the agency’s director to work with the state legislature to change the law. 

Since when is simply being a good neighbor a criminal activity?  Some neighbor (and we’ve all had this kind of neighbor) made a complaint, and started this non-common sense ball rolling.

The second stupid story is from Saratoga Springs.  Adam Marino, a 12 year old in seventh grade, and his mother are defying Saratoga Springs school policy by biking to Maple Avenue Middle School.  The school has a rule that kids can’t walk or ride a bike to school.  Adam’s mom and other parents want their kids to be less sedentary and to get exercise by walking or riding to school as a fitness activity. 

After Adam’s mom thought she had an understanding with the school board on this issue, she rode a bike with her kid to school, only to be met by a state trooper and school administrators.  You’d think she had been beating her kid or helping him play hooky.  Sheesh!

In reaction to this, other parents joined them in riding and walking their kids to school.  Once again, this got the attention of the news media, and the Board of Education is going to vote to amend this policy this week.

These arbitrary rules are just stupid, and frankly, ignoring the bigger picture of neighborhood safety and exercise for children.  Fortunately, however, thanks to the media spotlight, it’s all going to change.