My wife and I haven't had many fights about child-rearing yet. This is mostly because all our son does so far is sleep, eat and poop at the precise moment I hand him over to Cassandra.
However, we did have a major disagreement about vaccination. Unlike Cassandra, I feel it's important to overload our child with toxic levels of chemicals, risking permanent damage to his nervous system. At least that's how she saw it.
Her concern about the safety of vaccines is not unique, at least not in the liberal, wealthy part of L.A. where we live. Several friends have not vaccinated their children, and we know pediatricians who recommend avoiding some or all shots. And I know almost no one who is willing to get the swine-flu shot, and not because everyone here is Jewish. It's because while the far right gets a lot of crap about not believing in science, the left isn't crazy about it either. Only instead of rejecting facts that conflict with the Bible, it ignores anything that conflicts with hippie myths about the perfection of nature. That's why my neighborhood is full of places you can go to detoxify with colonics, get healed with crystals and magnets and buy non--genetically engineered food. We complain less about the liberal side of antiscience because the women who believe in this stuff are generally hot.
I totally get that the idea of injecting a tiny bit of a disease into a child is weird. It's freaked people out for more than a century, often for religious reasons, causing riots in England in the 1850s, a huge uprising in Brazil in 1904 and a polio-vaccine boycott in Nigeria in 2001. Such rebellions against vaccination typically lead to disease outbreaks that put unimmunized kids at elevated risk, and, unless someone does something to stop it, endless New Yorker stories.
To try to be open-minded and stop our fighting, I went to a seminar about inoculation at Cassandra's yoga center. Along with about 50 other people, we paid $30 each to listen to Dr. Lauren Feder. I was doing a pretty good job of distracting myself until Feder told us that a good case of whooping cough can protect your child from asthma, that measles cure eczema and that only 1% of the mere 15% of prevaccine kids who got polio became paralyzed. Feder really sees the good side of life-threatening diseases. I bet she believes Ebola cures wrinkles.
After an hour, I asked a question about whether putting off the vaccine for hepatitis B until puberty was completely safe, or if a child could get the disease from being bitten by another kid. "You go with what feels right," Feder told me. This confused me, so I asked again. "I don't see hep B in my practice very often," she said. "I see hep B--vaccine side effects. Which is multiple sclerosis. I respond to what I see." She added that she doesn't worry about improbable scenarios like infected children biting each other, saying simply, "I don't go there." I do not believe Jonas Salk ever told a questioner to talk to his hand. At the break, we left and got the largest, least organic burgers we could find. I didn't see anyone dying of heart failure, so I responded by getting the onion rings and fries.