As I snuggled in my bed to take a well deserved afternoon nap, I could hear the child below my apartment screaming and the sound of furniture being tossed about. If I didn't know better, I'd swear someone was abusing the hell out of him. It continued for over ten minutes.
It's getting worse, I thought.
I walked to the living room where my children sat.
"Do y'all hear that?", I asked angrily. "What in the hell is really going on down there?"
My daughter replied, "I'm on chat now talking to Danica. He's having another one of his fits."
"I don't know," I said, "I've never heard it this bad."
"Come down there with me," she answered. "I guarantee you he's attacking his mother."
This was dilemma; on one hand, no one wants to meddle, on the other hand, if the kid was being severely abused, ignoring it could result in injuries.
I recalled my own son's temper tantrums at an early age that worsened at 13, when he got into alcohol, inhalents, drugs, later with gangs, and was literally crazy. The last house I lived in was a constant reminder of this: broken windows, holes in the walls... even the deck suffered from his taking a sledge hammer to it one day when no one was home and he was in a snit about something.
They both know me like a book and we have this painful, shared memory. Cassie ran out the door before I could say a word. She has a good relationship with the family because she plays there often with their daughter. I don't, because the mother speaks little English and the father's is only passable. Even though we only speak and smile in passing, they strike me as gentle people.
She returned five minutes later. "Yep", she said, "he's having a fit. Attacking his mom and throwing stuff around. He's as mad as a hatter."
Throughout all this, Xavier sat impassively and unconcerned. I looked at him quizzically. Mr. Might Makes Right gave a small frown.
"Kid bettah be glad I ain't his daddy. I'd crush his lil' azz."
I can't count the number of times he said years ago that he wished he had a father to put the brakes on his behavior. It was so extreme that whether or not it would have helped is questionable. Turning 20, being off drugs for two years, and finding good outlets for his energy has, but he still has a long way to go.
The thing is, the kid downstairs has a father, right there in the home and my daughter says he acts the same way with him. I've worked with too many other two-parent families where a solid, stable, involved father was present, yet the child still had major behavior problems which crossed the line into irrationality.
I thought about this the following day when I could hear this seven year old kid go off again. My mind wandered to the reasons scientists and sociologists have considered, from vaccinations that have toxic ingredients to too much time spent with video games.
Today I read this new report, US Researchers Find Traces Of Toxic Mercury In High Fructose Corn Syrup.
Damn. This stuff is EVERYWHERE. Corn syrup is a major ingredient in many of the foods we eat and has been widely used as a replacement for sugar.
A researcher in this article said, "We went and looked at supermarket samples where high fructose corn syrup was the first or second ingredient on the label... These 55 different foods included barbecue sauce, jam, yogurt and chocolate syrup. We found about one out of three had mercury above the detection limit."
Also stated was, "There is no established safe dose for elemental mercury, the type discovered in corn syrup. But the US Environmental Protection Agency says an average-sized woman should limit her exposure to 5.5 micrograms a day of methylmercury, the kind found in fish. If that same woman regularly ate corn syrup contaminated at the highest level detected in the study - 0.57 micrograms per gram - the researchers estimated that she could end up consuming an amount of mercury that is five times higher than the EPA's safe dose."
Word up, mothers, and ladies of child-bearing age...
Eating fish with high levels of mercury has been the major source of exposure for most people in the past century. It's also been in mascara, various medicines, and vaccinations for your kids.
From wikepedia: "Since the 1930s some vaccines have contained the preservative thiomersal, which is metabolized or degraded to ethyl mercury. Although it was widely speculated that this mercury-based preservative can cause or trigger autism in children, scientific studies showed no evidence supporting any such link."
Well, that ain't what I heard over the past ten years, and I checked that one wiki link. There are plenty of other links out there that say otherwise, just google those two words, mercury and autism, and see what you pull up. This June 2005 article, Deadly Immunity, is about an investigation by Robert Kennedy, Jr. and enough to make you angry.
And if you know much about autism, you know there's been an explosion of cases in the past twenty years, along with learning disabilities - both linked to mercury, and oddly in sync with the increase of high fructose corn syrup used in this country.
Hats off to Barack Obama, who "in response to a 2005 Chicago Tribune series about mercury hazards, introduced legislation that would force chlorine plants to phase out its use or shut down. One plant in Wisconsin later vowed to switch to a mercury-free process by this year, leaving four others - in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia - that still use the older technology."
Speaking of hats, in the mid-18th to 19th century in Western countries, a chief source of mercury poisoning came from making certain types of hats. The solution used and the vapors were toxic. Correct or not, it was associated with driving the hat folks insane. Remember the Mad Hatter character in the story, Alice In Wonderland? That's where the author, Lewis Carroll, got it from.
So now we have the Corn Syrup folks having a fit over new research and are in denial mode. Has the fear of future lost profits made them as mad as hatters in wanting to keep doing business as usual, or are they correct and there's nothing to this new research report?
Who do you believe?
And do you become vigilant at the grocery store, and give up your favorite processed foods for the sake of you kids and maybe yourself?
I think of this, as I also think of how the underclass and working class populations consume more processed foods in the black community nearly any than other.
This evening I look at the photos of my son with a few of his hardcore homeboyz. Their eyes are cold and faces hard, from both profiling for the camera, but also from the insults to their minds and bodies while growing up, their learning disabilities, school failures, the loco lives they've lived, and often being unfairly targeted by cops when they weren't doing anything wrong, and I think of mercury and corn syrup, their addiction-like love for processed foods, and I wonder if it's a newly revealed enemy for our people...
Meanwhile the Asian child downstairs, who was born in this country and refuses to eat the food of his parent's native culture, continues to act as mad as hatter.