Corvallis Parents: Hot Weather Comes Back, Monkeypox in Schools, First Haircuts, Powerful Poets, & Philomath Book Ban Controversy

It’s going from pleasantly warm to too darned hot again with predicted heat in the Corvallis area expected to rise to the 90’s again. So we wanted to remind new parents to let their kids breathe a little.   

The best advice out there says to dress your baby the way you would prefer to be dressed. Loose and light weight clothes are best. If you’re outside, make sure your baby is slathered in sunscreen – it’s a must to avoid skin cancer. And put the little ones in a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off of their face and arms. Also, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.   

And for older kids? Well, when the weather starts hitting the 90’s and 100’s, kids get lethargic. Don’t worry too much. In the heat – especially when that heat is excessive, kids just don’t sleep as well. When they don’t sleep, tempers can spike and energy can lull. Again, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you’re doing. If you want to wear the least amount of clothes possible and sit still in the shade, then your kid probably does too. So give all of yourselves a break, live in your skimpiest clothes, and enjoy being miserably hot together before those school bells start to ring again. 

The New Medical Concern for Our Kids: Speaking of school, there’s a new health concern out there.  

Just when parents thought all the worries over a communicable disease infesting the classroom, we’ve got monkeypox. And if you hadn’t already heard, one child in Oregon has contracted the disease – although the state is not saying in which county. To date, the Oregon Health Authority has found only 148 confirmed or presumptive cases of this disease in the state.  

So here’s what we need to watch for as the kiddos get back into school.  

Look for a rash similar to chickenpox – small pustules that itch, scab over, and are painful. A cough, sore throat, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and other generalized “not feeling well” kinds of issues are also on the list of symptoms. 

Unlike Covid, monkeypox is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. So the best recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to keep your child home if they are having any flu-like symptoms. 

State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger told KOIN-TV that at the moment there are no plans in place for Oregon schools to slow the spread of monkeypox, but they are strongly encouraging schools to continue their cleaning routines. 

Come back here for further updates as they come out. 

Time to Trim That Hair: For many parents, that first time their child gets their hair cut can be traumatic for both the kid and the mom or dad. So we called our publisher’s favorite barber to get the skinny on the best ways to make this experience happier. 

Brady Magid of Mel’s Barber, located at 962 NW Circle Blvd., is the third generation of barbers to stand behind the chair. Mel’s was founded by his grandfather, Mel, in 1971 and was passed down to his mom and dad in 2000. Brady is a recent addition to the club, beginning his work cutting hair about seven months ago after seeing his friends dealing with college through the pandemic.  

And how does he feel about the decision to join the shop? “I enjoy it a lot,” Magid said. “I’m very glad I went the way I did.” 

So what should you know before that first haircut? 

Plan to keep the kid distracted. If your kid is watching cartoons or something fun on YouTube, it will keep their mind busy so they don’t fret about someone they don’t know yet touching their hair. Once they’ve learned that a haircut doesn’t hurt – and that their hair will grow back – things will get easier. 

Stay close to your kiddo. Most parents stand nearby as the clippers buzz as a way to comfort their child if they need it. Some parents will actually sit in the chair with their child – a good idea if your kid tends to grab at things.  

“I’ve had kids kick me, had kids spit at me,” Magid said. He’s also had them scream and cry. He’s found that when he lets children who are afraid of the clipper touch it while it is off to see that it isn’t sharp, they tend to chill out a bit. One kid “was fully laughing. He was amused and totally fine after that.” Magid wants to show the kids that nothing is going to hurt them during a haircut. 

Magid remembers one kid whose father took a chunk or two off his hair between visits to the shop. Magid’s father told the child to not let dad touch your hair. “And so the kid came back and said his dad tried to cut his hair, and he said ‘No, my barber says to not cut my hair.’” Which could be taken as a smart lesson to all parents. Most of us know a lot about some things, but not necessarily about cutting hair. 

And for the kids with long hair, Magid said that they are able to do simple hair trims and some layers, but “you probably don’t want our layers.” So he tends to send kids with more complicated styling needs to one of his many friends in the area – Adore, Honeycomb, and Safe Haven all have stylists who are pros at handling kids’ cuts. 

So the $18 Mel’s charges for your child’s haircut pays for a lot of care and consideration from the family that’s been serving Corvallis for over 50 years. 

For Older Kids: Grassroots Books will be hosting two remarkable poets on Aug. 27 at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, located at 645 NW Monroe Ave.  

John Sibley Williams is a 27-time Pushcart nominee with a slew of other awards to his credit. He studied writing at Rivier University and publishing at Portland State University. He currently lives in Portland where he runs a poetry workshop and a small press called The Inflectionist Review.  

Emmett Wheatfall is an Oregon poet and jazz musician who has helped to choose the state’s Poet Laureate since 2014. At the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, Wheatfall was selected to read his original work titled “Miles to Go Before We Sleep” and was the keynote speaker at the Oregon Historical Society’s screening of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 2013.  

Being able to hear these poets in person will be an enlightening and moving experience for parents and kids alike. The reading begins on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.   

Will Books Be Banned in Philomath:  

Oregon Moms Union (OMU) is a political action committee (PAC) which has recently stepped up to “provide statewide leadership for parents involvement” in K-12 public schools. They came to the attention of many in 2021 when they sued Governor Kate Brown for her executive orders to require some in-person classroom time and to extend the state of emergency for Covid; They wanted to require full-time in-person education and end Covid restrictions. Both executive orders were upheld by the court. If you’ve seen political advertisements recently, they are the PAC behind the “Oregon is failing our children” campaign.  

Why are we bringing them up now? Because OMU has recently targeted the Philomath School District, asking them to remove the book “Flamer” by Mike Curato from the middle school library. “Flamer” is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about a boy leaving middle school for high school while he is coming to the realization that he is gay. Perhaps the lines from this book that best illustrates the importance of it are: “I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel… unsafe.” Curato has also written several children’s books involving a kid elephant named Little Elliot.   

Two parents from Philomath sent emails to the board, one reading in part: “The fact that the book titled ‘Flamer’ is available to check out at our middle school library is very disturbing and makes some of us wonder what other disturbing books are readily available.”   

The other email read in part: “‘Flamer’ is not only ‘explicit in content but it also has pornographic pictures.” This parent went on the write: “our children are so oversexualized in society and we’re sending them to schools to learn reading and math and social studies — not how-to alternatives to regular sex.”  

In late April, OMU made the news for their links to gubernatorial candidate Stan Pulliam and his wife MacKensey – who co-founded OMU. The issue at that time was about Oregon Trail Elementary School in Clackamas teaching fifth graders about gender identity and sexual orientation.   

If you have an LGBTQ+ child and want to transfer them to the Corvallis School District, the window for regular transfers is closed. However, they have been known to approve transfers on a case-by-case basis under certain circumstances. To contact the CSD Enrollment and Transfer office, call 541-766-4857. You can see which CSD schools may have openings on the district’s Enrollment website.  

By Sally K Lehman 

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