This issue of Seattle Met is about family in more ways than one. There are, of course, the activities splashed all over our top story: a panoply of swimming pools, pinball machines, and zoo animals that doesn’t just stop at the fun. The feature, written by Allecia Vermillion, also dials in on what it means to be a parent in Seattle in 2017—or aunt or uncle or anyone else in on the upbringing of a little one. Short version: You can safely expose your child to more screen time than pediatricians had formerly believed; this city boasts way more sensible spots for a mother to breastfeed than one (okay, I) thought possible; and bars, yes bars, are the new kids’ playgrounds.
The adolescent plaintiffs in Kathryn Robinson’s “Kids v. Climate Change” are proof that Seattle parenting is a special kind of parenting—the kind that just may allow human life on planet earth to thrive.
Finally we touch on the meaning of family in another way. The living witnesses in writer Ciara O’Rourke’s examination of unexplained jail deaths (“While in Custody”) are the families of the deceased. In the cases O’Rourke details, loved ones wind up behind bars on relatively minor charges—reckless driving, suspended license—then perish on a jail cell floor or in a nearby hospital. There’s a lot of finger-pointing. Lawyers blame corrections officers. Corrections officers blame the deceased.
Our state officials do make valid points: Namely, jails have become the de facto homes for citizens with untreated mental illness and drug addiction; and those jails are overcrowded and underfunded. But, for the surviving families, such explanations offer little solace.
And so in the face of tragedy, they set out like any family would. They wonder aloud what it means for a society to not care for its most vulnerable. They challenge their own decisions (“I have to live with that for the rest of my life,” muses one mother). They do the work that every good parent and caregiver does. They insist that responsibility and compassion prevail.