MONEY Shopping

School’s (Almost) Out! Just In Time for Back-to-School Sales

BSIP SA / Alamy—Alamy

If you thought now was the time to relax and celebrate the end of the school year, J.C. Penney, Walmart, and Lands' End have a back-to-school sale for you.

Last summer, retailers raised eyebrows by rolling out back-to-school sales in early July, within a week or two of when kids escaped the clutches of teachers, principals, and algebra homework. “In seven and a half years, I’ve never once seen so much emphasis put on back-to-school before July 4,” National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis told AdAge at the time.

Fast-forward to June 2014, and retailers are at it again, pushing back-to-school sales earlier than ever. Consumers are getting the message that the time to purchase gear for the upcoming school year is before the current school year has ended. Like, now.

J.C. Penney began promoting back-to-school sales last weekend, according to Consumerist. Walmart already has a back-to-school web page for student fashions, backpacks, and other school gear, as well as another page devoted to back-to-college apparel and tech. Target just introduced a college registry program, so that students can try to get other people to buy them stuff. Apple’s back-to-school promotional deals are expected to be announced any day now. And Lands’ End? It started zapping customers with e-mails a couple of weeks ago, pushing the idea that early June is a fine time to buy school uniforms that kids won’t wear until around Labor Day.

It’s totally understandable why retailers try to move back-to-school shopping earlier and earlier each year. Families generally have finite resources they can allocate to back-to-school fashion and paraphernalia, and once the pencils, protractors, glue sticks, notebooks, and a few new outfits are purchased, their back-to-school expenditures are done (in theory). Retailers want to beat the competition to the punch, before the family’s back-to-school budget is depleted.

“Retailers are going to do what they can to try to get consumers into the stores to shop, but the fact of the matter is they might not have much luck,” Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, explained to CNBC. “There aren’t any parents that I can find who have even thought of back-to-school shopping, because for most kids, they haven’t even gotten out of school yet.”

Still, even if shoppers don’t actually buy back-to-school stuff in June, the enticements may get them thinking about their needs for the upcoming school year. Panic sets in for a lot of overwhelmed parents, and they’re more apt to want to cross all of their children’s back-to-school items off their list as soon as possible. How can you relax on a summer vacation when you know there will be dorm rooms to decorate and Number 2 pencils that need to be purchased?

What’s more, early-season promotional efforts are limited mostly to the digital world. It’s much cheaper and easier for a retailer to send out an e-mail blast or put up a back-to-school web page than it is to rearrange shelves and create promotional sections inside thousands of stores. That’ll happen soon enough, of course, during the especially puzzling period when you’re likely to encounter Fourth of July, back to school, Christmas in July, and plain old summer sales in your local megamart, perhaps mixed in with the odd early Halloween aisle.

Of course, retailers risk some customer backlash by taking the expansion of shopping seasons too far. So-called “Christmas creep,” the phenomenon in which the Christmas shopping season kicks off in September and Christmas ads air within a few days of Labor Day weekend, has caused many an observer to groan in exasperation.

When the calendar says one thing and retailers are telling consumers something very different via sales and promotions, the result can be jarring, even off-putting. Yet retailers assume shoppers have short memories, and they hope that whatever bad feelings a too-early sale produces are outweighed by deals that are just too good to pass up.

MONEY deals

Cheap Seats! 10 Best Deals for Pro Baseball Fans This Summer

Philadelphia Phillies mascot shooting a Hatfield Hot Dog into the stands
The Philadelphia Phillies mascot the Phillie Phanatic shoots a Hatfield Hot Dog into the stands at Citizens Bank Park. Brian Garfinkel—Getty Images

With the kids getting out of school, it's time to take the family out to the ballgame. Ideally without breaking the bank.

It costs a family of four an average of $212 to attend a Major League Baseball game, and that doesn’t include premium seating or a single $25 corn dog. But with 81 home games apiece, a team can’t expect fans to happily pack the house and empty their wallets for every outing. To fill the seats, baseball franchises push a wide range of promotions and discounts on tickets and concessions, to sell fans and families on the idea that they can enjoy America’s pastime in person without spending an arm and a leg. With summer officially arriving this weekend, here’s a top 10 list of great pro baseball deals.

$1 Hot Dogs
Fans can feel free to arrive at Minute Maid Park hungry on Thursdays when the Houston Astros are playing in town: That’s when hot dogs are $1 apiece. Many other clubs, including the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals, also host a few $1 hot dog nights this season. They’re especially good deals compared to the prices faced by New York Mets fans, who pay $6.25 for a hot dog.

$4 Beers
The Cleveland Indians are repeating a 4-3-2-1 concessions pricing deal launched last season, in which 12-oz. domestic (non-craft) beers always cost $4, hot dogs are $3, soda refills go for $2, and, on 13 promotional nights, hot dogs are $1. The Arizona Diamondbacks also sell $4 beers for all home games, more than $2 less than the average in Major League Baseball, and nearly half the price of a beer at Boston’s Fenway Park ($7.75). And the D-Backs special is 14 ounces rather than the usual 12.

$5 Yankees Tickets
During select few games in 2014, a promotion with MasterCard brings New York Yankees seats in the Bleachers, Grandstand, or Terrace levels down to only $5 a pop. Only if you buy with a MasterCard, as you might imagine. If the $5 seats are sold out, another group of games features half-price seats for fans making the purchase with a MasterCard.

$6 Student Tickets
Students ages 18 and under or with valid ID can take advantage of a Washington Nationals discount that makes upper outfield seats just $7. The Baltimore Orioles student ticket deal is even better: $6 seats for Friday home games. (Upper Reserve tickets on Tuesdays are always $9 in Baltimore, as well, and there’s no requirement to be a student.) Plenty of other teams have student discounts—even in New York, where admission to the Mets “Student Rush” games starts at $10 for students (plus a $2 order fee).

$6.10 Saturday Seats
One of the cheapest ticket deals available for all fans, the Kansas City Royals offer tickets starting at just $6.10 on special “610 Saturdays” this season. To score, fans must listen to the local station 610 Sports Radio, get a coupon code, and purchase online before the limited number of tickets is sold out.

$27 All You Can Eat
If you’re going to blow a decent amount of cash at the ballpark, you at least shouldn’t be going home hungry. That’s the pitch behind the many “all you can eat” promotions offered around Major League Baseball. The $30 Astros deal scores you a Mezzanine level ticket and unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, and soda. The Royals host a similar promo for $40 per person. Cheapest of all, the Miami Marlins’ all-you-can-eat special starts at $27, which includes a ticket for certain Saturday games, as well as all the usual concessions you can stomach.

Family Packs
Virtually every Major League squad runs value-laden promotions aimed at families, with baseball owners hoping that doing so will turn your kids into lifelong fans, or at least fill what otherwise would be empty seats. The offers might be free or half-price tickets for kids with the purchase of a full-price adult ticket, or $1 ice cream for fans ages 13 and under, or a wide range of family packages. Called “family packs” or “fun packs,” they might include, say, four tickets, four hot dogs, and four soft drinks for $59 (the Los Angeles Angels), or four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of peanuts, and four drinks for $50 (Oakland Athletics).

Dynamic Pricing Deals
After seeing fans flock to secondary market, dynamic-priced ticket sites like StubHub and TiqIQ, many Major League operations have rolled out dynamic pricing systems of their own. Basically, the way they work is that tickets are priced based on supply and demand. The result is that prices can bottom out when a game day is approaching and thousands of seats have yet to sell. Thanks to dynamic pricing, Kansas City Royals tickets have sold for $10 and under this year, and Cincinnati Reds’ tickets have gone as low as $5. And don’t forget about the bargains on the secondary sites themselves, where tickets in the past have sold for the absurd price of 1¢ (before fees are tacked on).

Any Minor League Game, Anywhere
The simplest way to enjoy a pro baseball game without paying a fortune is by skipping the major leagues and heading to the nearest minor league ballpark, where it’s rare to spend more than $20 for a ticket and the concessions of your choice. And the promotions minor league clubs run are true bargains—$1 beer nights, for instance, and family packages with four tickets and four hot dogs for a total of $20. The minor league Louisville Bats, meanwhile, host occasional wine tastings, with sponsor Barefoot Refresh pouring free samples over ice for guests 21 and up. The (Florida) Fort Myers Miracle packs its season with all sorts of gluttonous deals, including “Sink or Swim Saturdays,” when fans 21 and up can pay $12 for a wrist band that grants unlimited domestic beers through the sixth inning.

Totally Free MLB Tickets
With age comes privilege. Seniors ages 55 and up have plenty of “mature” ticket deals at their disposal around the country. For instance, the Yankees offer game-day deals for seniors (and a guest) starting at just $5, while the Nationals’ senior tickets are $7. Seniors in South Florida get the best treatment of all, with fans “55 years young and above” entitled to totally free tickets on Thursday home games for the Miami Marlins. No advanced reservations; just show up on game day within two hour of the first pitch. Considering the Marlins’ popularity (or lack thereof) in Florida, plenty of seats should be available.

TIME Crime

Mommy Blogger Lacey Spears Pleads Not Guilty to Fatally Poisoning Her Son

Critics say she did it for online attention

For 26-year-old mother Lacey Spears, the internet served as her support group. The single mom blogged, tweeted, and MySpaced about the physical deterioration of her son Garnett. Spears sought solace in a cultivated online community when she blogged about Garnett’s 23 hospitalizations in the first year of his life to his last month alive in January, when the 5-year-old died with a lethal amount of sodium in his system in a hospital in Westchester, NY.

But law enforcement have come to question the highly documented narrative of a doting mother. Police say that Spears wasn’t helping her ambiguously ill son, but rather was poisoning him for years in a bid for attention and sympathy in a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Following the release of a five-part exposé by The Journal News and the filing of police charges, Spears turned herself in to authorities Tuesday and pled not guilty to second-degree depraved murder and first-degree manslaughter.

Spears’ illness was allegedly fed by online attention, and prosecutors said that the Internet-savvy mother had searched online for the effects salt would have on her son’s health before taking him to the hospital January 17, after she said he experienced seizures. He died six days later after his sodium levels rose sans medical explanation. Investigators suspect that she fatally poisoned him through his feeding tube.

Apart from saying “yes sir,” to a judge in court, Spears remained silent. “She really didn’t show any emotion,” Westchester Police Capt. Christopher Calabrese told CBS News. “She was kind of stoic when she came here. I think that she knew the grand jury was going on. She anticipated this happening, and she turned herself in with her attorney.”

Spears is expected to reappear in court on July 2. She faces up to 25 years in prison.

 

TIME Marriage

More Millennial Mothers Are Single Than Married

Despite the anxiety society still feels about single mothers, most American mothers aged 26 to 31 had at least one child when they were not married. And the number of these millennial single mothers is increasing. In fact, in a study just released by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, only about a third of all mothers in their late twenties were married when all their kids were born. And two thirds of them were single when at least one of their kids were born.

The less education the young women have the higher the probability that they became a mom before they got married. Conversely, the married moms of that generation probably have a college degree. “It is now unusual for non-college graduates who have children in their teens and 20s to have all of them within marriage,” says Andrew Cherlin, one of the authors of the study “Changing Fertility Regimes and the Transition to Adulthood: Evidence from a Recent Cohort.”

Sociologists such as Cherlin have been tracking the decline of marriage as one of the milestones or goals of an individual’s life—the whole “first comes love, the comes marriage, then comes the baby with the baby carriage” paradigm. And it’s clear that an increasing number of young people are just not putting a ring on it. “The lofty place that marriage once held among the markers of adulthood is in serious question,” says Cherlin.

Motherhood is beginning to show the fissures along income and education lines that have already appeared in other aspects of U.S. society, with a small cluster of wealthy well educated people at one end (married with kids), a large cluster of struggling people at the other (kids, not married) and a thinning middle. While many children raised by single parents are fine, the advantages of a two parent family have been quite exhaustively documented. Some of these advantages can be tied to financial resources, but not all.

Among people with kids between the ages of 26 to 31 who didn’t graduate from college, 74% of the moms and 70% of the dads had at least one of those kids while single, Cherlin found. A full 81% of the births reported by women and 87 % of the births reported by guys were from people who didn’t finish college, so some of these single, lower education parents had more than one kid.

The chart below, using data from the National Longitude Study of Youth 1997, which looks at people born 1981 to 1984, shows all the births reported by women who didn’t get through high school, how old they were when their kids were born and whether they were married. Only a quarter of these young moms were married, slightly more than a third were living with someone, not necessarily the child’s father, and almost 40% had no partner at all.

 

unmarried mothers high school
Johns Hopkins University

 

Among college graduates, the picture is a little different. These young women account for fewer births—college graduates delay having kids generally—and as the number of births goes up, so does the number of marriages. “If marriage retains its place anywhere, it would be among the college graduates,” said Cherlin, “The difference between them and the non-college-educated with regard to the percentage of births within marriage is so striking as to suggest a very different experience of early adulthood.”

Johns Hopkins University

 

The study points out that unmarried couples have a high break up rate in the first few stressful years after the birth of a child and that this often leads to what’s called “multi-partner fertility” in the academy and “a lot of different baby mamas” in the rest of the world. This kind of family instability, with step-siblings and half siblings and a lot of fleeting parental figures can be tough on both finances and on kids and leads to the calcification of social inequality “The sharp differentiation by education in the transition to adulthood,” says the study, “is another indicator that American society is moving toward two different patterns of family formation and two diverging destinies for children.”

TIME Culture

The Female Superhero May Finally Take Flight

I Am Elemental action figures I Am Elemental

A successful Kickstarter campaign for female action figures and action movies starring women promise a future where girls can kick butt too

G.I. Joe was built to be a hero. His body is engineered for action, not posing. So imagine if certain parts of his anatomy were so large that he fell over. How would he get any world saving done? That’s not a question that anyone seems to be asking about action figures modeled after Wonder Woman.

Why do these heroines look a lot more like Victoria’s Secret models than strong women capable of rescuing civilization (or at least bending their limbs)? Dawn Nadeau, co-founder of I Am Elemental, a new toy company for girls explains it like this: “The few female action figures that are on the market are really designed for the adult male collector. The form is hyper-sexualized: The breasts are oversized; the waist is tiny. When you make the figures sit, their legs splay open in a suggestive way.”

What was missing, Nadeua and her co-founder Julie Kerwin realized, were female action-figures who looked as athletic, powerful and flexible as the male-oriented toys like G.I. Joe and Captain America do. Thanks to overwhelming support from a KickStarter campaign — the company reached its $35,000 goal in the first 48 hours after launching in May and eventually went on to raise almost $163,000 from supporters in all 50 states and six continents — I Am Elemental‘s first group of action figures will hit toy stores this holiday season.

The toys come at a time when female superheroes are starting to invade the zeitgeist but still play second fiddle to men, as with Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men: Days of Future Past or Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers. Most toys are byproducts of what’s onscreen and are a large part of their profit: Last year, the success of the Hunger Games franchise inspired a set of purple and pink Nerf guns and crossbows for girls called Nerf Rebelle. But the swell of financial support for I Am Elemental proves that there is a demand for more strong heroines in both toy stories and our culture.

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Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Alan Markfield—TM and © 2013 Marvel and Subs. TM and © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

What’s different about the I Am Elemental action figures is that they don’t look anything like Barbie or, for that matter, Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique in X-Men, whose entire costume consists of blue body paint. The creators spent months perfecting the action figures’ measurements to make them as realistic, athletic and as non-sexualized as possible. “We were obsessed with the breast-to-hip ratio,” says Nadeau. “We were obsessed with the bum because so many of these figures have these incredible butt cracks on the back. We kept saying ‘Bridge the gap.” The result is a figure that’s decidedly feminine but could still leap into battle.

There are several action figures in the I Am Elemental sets. Each has a theme inspired by a historical muse (the first, based on Joan of Arc, is “courage”). And each figure in that set personifies a virtue and possess a power: For example, Persistence has the ability to push through any obstacle with super-strength.

Though all the characters are women, Nadeau says they hope the action figures can have a place in boys’ toy boxes too. “If you don’t over-qualify it and just say here’s a great toy play with it, the kids will be off and running. I don’t think everything needs to be gender specified,” she says. “I’d like to see them in the girl aisle and the boys aisle, next to Barbie and next to the Transformers. They should be in boys’ toy boxes too because 50% of the human population is female, and shouldn’t women be part of story lines that boys are creating?”

What toys girls play with when they are young affects how they perceive themselves and what they can accomplish later in life. In a recent study published in the Journal of Sex Roles, researchers asked one group of girls play with large-breasted, thin-waisted Barbie dolls and another group play with ambiguously shaped Mrs. Potato Head dolls. Upon interviewing the girls after they played, the scientists found that girls who played with Barbie believed they had far fewer career choices than those who played with Mrs. Potato Head. That was true even when Barbie was dressed up like a doctor.

It makes a compelling argument for giving girls tools to envision themselves as heroes. “Children feel so powerless, and that’s why they play. And the idea that you could be the person who could save the world is a very powerful story line and fantasy to have,” says Nadeau.

MCDAVEN EC005
Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers Walt Disney Co.

But no matter how popular I Am Elemental gets, it will never be as big as Marvel. The most popular action figures are based on blockbuster films, and Hollywood has been slow to correct the gender imbalance in summer blockbusters. Despite the success of films like The Hunger Games, Maleficent and Kill Bill — all of which feature powerful female protagonists — studios consider female-driven successes to be flukes rather than a formula for success: Recent studies found that women made up only 15% of protagonists and 30% of all speaking roles in the top 100 grossing films of 2013.

There have been plenty of women sidekicks on the big screen: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises; Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence and Ellen Page as X-Men in the X-Men films; Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in The Avengers; and even Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts saved Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. But all of these women take a backseat to their more powerful, quippier and more heroic male counterparts. After all, these franchises aren’t named after the female characters.

Avengers director Joss Whedon, who tried and failed to bring a Wonder Woman film to the big screen in 2007, has expressed his frustration with the lack of female superheroes before. “Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift,” he told Newsweek in 2013.

And even the female characters Whedon does get onscreen, like Black Widow, are too lame to attract some actresses. Emily Blunt says she was up for the Black Widow role in Iron Man 2 and the Peggy Carter part in Captain America and turned both down. “Usually the female parts in a superhero film feel thankless: She’s the pill girlfriend while the guys are whizzing around saving the world,” she told Vulture. “I didn’t do the other ones because the part wasn’t very good or the timing wasn’t right, but I’m open to any kind of genre if the part is great and fun and different and a challenge in some way.”

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL
Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow David James—(c) 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.- U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda (c) 2013 Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited- All Oth

Blunt currently stars in Edge of Tomorrow (an action flick featuring Tom Cruise in a Groundhog Day-like battle sequence), in which she cuts an imposing figure as the best soldier on the battlefield. She even mercilessly kills Tom Cruise over and over again every time the two reach a dead-end in their mission and he needs to restart the day. She’s no pill girlfriend but Cruise’s equal — if not superior — in power.

Edge of Tomorrow isn’t the only film that promises a heftier role for women in action movies. At the end of the summer, Scarlett Johansson will play a ruthless warrior in Lucy — the success of which may be a litmus test for whether Marvel feels comfortable green-lighting a Black Widow spin-off. Jennifer Lawrence will star in another Hunger Games film next year, and producers have hinted that she could also headline her own Mystique X-Men film. The original ambassadors of girl power, The Powerpuff Girls, are returning to children’s television in 2016, the Cartoon Network announced Monday. Wonder Woman will wield her golden lasso on the big screen in the 2016 Batman vs. Superman movie, and — if fans get their way — maybe even carry her own franchise.

On Saturday, DC Comics President Diane Nelson promised greater female representation in upcoming movies: “At DC Entertainment, we talk frequently about how we heighten the presence of female storytellers and creators with our comic books — digital and physical. How do we bring the female characters to light more?” she said. “We have more work to do. But I think if we talk again in a couple of years, you’ll be pleased with the results.”

Maybe then they’ll make a Wonder Woman action figure with a normal hip-to-waist ratio.

MONEY Tourism

Why You Should Postpone That Trip to Disney World

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Summer never fails to attract big crowds to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Peter Ptschelinzew—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

After crunching the numbers, researchers concluded that the most expensive weekend of the summer in Orlando is just about here.

Specifically, the last weekend of June. As for the cheapest time of the summer in theme park central, that supposedly takes place on the second-to-last weekend in August—in other words, the weekend before Labor Day.

This is all according to the folks at dealnews, who asked Priceline to dig into its reams of data and figure out when families would get the best deals on hotels in Orlando for a summer vacation. Based on 2013 numbers, Priceline determined that Orlando hotels cost an average of $93.54 on the last weekend of June, compared to $82.08 on the second-to-last weekend of August. When looking strictly at three-star hotels, the differential was bigger: $94 at the end of June, versus $76 for the August weekend.

The main reason given for the price differential is that by late August, many kids are either already back in school, or their families are in the throws of hectic back-to-school preparations, so it’s not an ideal time to haul the brood to Orlando for a big vacation. The July issue of MONEY backs this theory up, in an article quoting Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider, who says that crowds thin out and on-site hotel prices dip 25% to 35% in mid to late August.

The end of June, by contrast, is when most kids are freshly released from the clutches of teachers and principals—the perfect time to reward kids for all their work in school, and also for moms and dads to make their case as Best Parents Ever.

Just be aware that you’ll pay a hefty price for visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the rest of Orlando anytime from the end of June through early August. This is peak summer season in Orlando, and while the hotel rate premium indicated above may not seem like all that big of a deal, lodging is but one vacation cost.

Arguably far bigger “costs” are the ones that don’t technically cost you anything out of pocket: weather and crowds. The Disney fanatics over at MouseSavers.com are among the many theme park enthusiasts who list the peak summer season (end of June to mid-August) as one of the worst times of year to hit Walt Disney World. “Expect it to be very busy and extremely hot, with heavy humidity,” the site warns. Likewise, Frommer’s cautions, “Summer is when the masses throng to the parks. It’s also very humid and hot, Hot, HOT.”

On the other hand, Mouse Savers names the period of late August through September as among the very best times for families going to Orlando, in particular because of “rock-bottom deals” at off-site (non-Disney) hotels and lodging packages that include “free” meals for guests staying at Disney properties.

Many news outlets jumped on the hotel pricing data released by dealnews and Priceline and announced that August was the least expensive and overall best time for visiting Orlando. But that’s misleading. The second-to-last weekend in August isn’t the cheapest time of year in central Florida. It’s just the cheapest weekend in the summer. And hey, based on the hotel rates listed, it’s not all that much cheaper than the most expensive weekend of the summer.

There are generally much better deals to be had—in terms of lodging, as well as lodging-meals-and-pass packages—during the off-season periods of late fall (with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend) and just after New Year’s (with the exception of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend). By visiting during one of these periods, you’ll not only save on lodging and other expenses, you’ll also avoid the end-of-summer hurricane season, when torrential downpours and lightning (if not worse) are to be expected.

Yes, we know that summer is when kids are out of school, and that’s when you want to take the family to the famously family-friendly destination that is Orlando. But there’s so much upside to hitting Disney and the rest in the true off season, it’s worth considering taking the kids out of school for a visit in, say, early December. That’ll make it even easier to stake your claim to the title of Best Parent Ever.

TIME

Watch This Dad React Every Time His Son Gets a New Tattoo

"Ohhh Jeeze"

+ READ ARTICLE

Father’s Day is officially over. For posterity’s sake, a son decided to record his dad’s growing disappointment with every new tattoo he gets. Each new ink Joshua gets is like a punch to the poor Dad’s gut. While we can’t see what said tattoos look like, we’ll take Pop’s word on it. “It’s ugly. GAH.”

(h/t: 22 Words)

TIME Aviation

JetBlue Sorry for Not Letting Toddler Go to the Bathroom

Forced 3-year old girl to pee in her seat

JetBlue apologized this weekend to the Massachusetts mother of a three-year-old girl who peed in her airplane seat because flight attendants wouldn’t let her use the bathroom while the plane was on the tarmac.

Jennifer Deveraux of Newton, Mass, said that when she got up to clean up after her daughter’s accident, flight attendants reported her to the pilot. “I said, ‘Please give me a break,” Deveraux told CBS Boston. “My daughter had an accident because you wouldn’t let me take her to the bathroom. After I clean it up I will sit down,'” The flight attendants reported her anyway, and the pilot threatened to take the plane back to the gate to turn a “noncompliant passenger” over to security.

“It wasn’t about bad customer service at that point,” Deveraux said of the Monday flight. “It was about bad human decency. My daughter was sitting in a pool of urine and I couldn’t do anything about it,”

JetBlue apologized to Deveraux and her family on Saturday. “This incident in question happened while the aircraft was on an active taxiway, when FAA regulations require all customers to remain seated due to the risk of sudden aircraft movement,” JetBlue spokesman Sebastian White said in a statement. “The crew made a safety and FAA regulation-based decision.”

TIME Family

A Brief History of Father’s Day (and Why I’m Against It)

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Girl Giving Dad Father's Day Card Fuse—Getty Images/Fuse

I’m just going to come out and say that Father’s Day makes me a little uncomfortable. Ambivalent. Always did as a kid: “Sweet! A new opportunity to disappoint as a son!” And it still sits uneasy now that I’m a dad. What’s the big deal? I had kids. So too, statistically speaking, do most grownups at some point.

I never know what I’m supposed to do. Spend more time with my girls? I’d love to, thanks. After all, time is in short supply as we grind unswervingly back into the eternal dust from which we came. Hey, thanks for the tie.

Or, as with some dudes I know, should I use it as an opportunity to spend the day away from my kids? As if to commemorate the day by doing the exact opposite of what it’s all about. Like singing “God Save the Queen” on the Fourth of July.

Certainly the concept of fatherhood is a powerful — albeit loaded — one. The very word conjures every mythological titan from George Washington to Heathcliff Huxtable; from Darth Vader to God. We all, in one form or another, have daddy issues.

Given the conflicting range of emotions Daddy Dearest can sometimes evoke, it’s little wonder that spending on Father’s Day gifts is significantly lower than on Mom’s Day swag. The National Retail Foundation reports that just 64% of consumers plan to spring for a card for Dad. Compare that to 81% who said that they’d gotten one for Mom.

That’s not to say that brands aren’t actively trying to get you to part with your cash this Father’s Day (something that the Collective Dad, in His fiduciary wisdom, would no doubt frown upon). This week Dove launched a feel-good campaign celebrating all the things real dads do. This is ostensibly to remind us that dads are more than just the two-dimensional buffoons we see on TV and in the movies. It tugged at the heart strings, just a bit.

It is also part of a Unilever mission to sell soap products. Unilever, which owns Dove, also owns Axe body spray, which has taken a different marketing route with hypersexualized and arguably misogynistic marketing. Are we to believe Axe Bros grow up into Dove Daddies? What’s the deodorant for the midlife crisis set?

Fact is, Father’s Day was derided as a Hallmark holiday from almost before there was a Hallmark. One of the earlier groups to lobby actively for its creation was the National Council for the Promotion of Father’s Day — which was organized in 1938 by the Associated Men’s Wear Retailers in New York City. The holiday was finally signed into law in 1972 by Richard Nixon, who it turns out was a pretty good dad.

Bah, humbug, I know. Look. I love being a dad. It is the best thing I’ve done in my life to date and it will probably be the best thing I ever do. But most of us are simply genetically hard wired for this stuff. So how about some more progressive paternity leave laws, instead?

I decided to ask my favorite interview subjects what they thought: my daughters. I asked my 9-year-old what the difference is between moms and dads.

“A mother is sweet, soft and gentle,” she said. “A father is rough, funny and kind. And brave.” (For the record, she’s wrong: I am not brave. I am, however, soft.)

She also wanted to know why kids don’t have their own day. I told her that they do. It’s called summer.

I asked her younger sister, who just so happens to be turning six on Father’s Day this year, what the holiday means to her.

“It’s a special day,” she said, “because it’s my birthday.”

That, as much as anything, is what might turn me into a believer.

TIME Parenting

Do Fathers Love Their Children Less Than Mothers Do?

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Sam Edwards—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

Moms report getting more happiness from their children whereas fathers ranked kids no higher than their career.

Women in relationships got a happiness boost after having children. Men only seemed to derive well-being from the relationship.

For example, a 1997 Pew Survey found that “ninty-three percent of mothers think their children are a source of happiness all or most of the time. Eighty-six percent of mothers of children under age eighteen say their relationship to their children is crucial to their personal happiness (10 on a 10-point scale).” On the other hand, for men, children often rank no higher than career as a source of happiness.

And:

…Additionally, Kohler, Behrman and Skytthe identify a substantial and significant male-female difference in the effect of children on well-being—after controlling for the effect of a current partnership. “Females derive happiness gains from children even after controlling for current partnership status. The happiness of males, however, depends primarily on partnership status; once current partnership is controlled, men’s happiness does not vary systematically with fertility.”

Source: “The New Battle of the Sexes: Understanding the Reversal of the Happiness Gender Gap” from Ave Maria University, Department of Economics, Working Papers, number 1004.

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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