Grist for the Mill - or in This Case, The Slaughter-house

It is Wife Swap time, meaning we watch episodes (from time to time) of Wife Swap. It's a good show in that it [usually] teaches each family to relax a little and meet things more in the middle, instead of being super-neat or super-sloppy, but just normal. By no means do we run around cleaning every day, which is too much; nor do we never, ever, clean but have the house cleaned top to bottom every two weeks. That is normal.

Well, this week, we have the Haigwood family swapping their wife/mother with the wife/mother of the Hess-Webb family. And what an adventure this is...

The Haigwood family, out in the wilds (well, farm) in Massena, Iowa, do not clean their house at all. No exceptions. Not even soapy water and a sponge. I might understand that chemicals are looked upon as poor, for whatever reason, but something - anything - needs to be used to clean the house once in a while. That is rather disgusting and incredibly unsanitary, but this by far not the worst thing about them. No, the raw meat diet and the stocking up the place so that they might survive 10 years in a rabbit hole are the heavier parts of the weirdness. Even the stocking up, while a bit weird, is livable...the raw chicken, however, is not. As in literally not livable. Uncooked chicken will very possibly kill you! And there are no washing of the hands after using the loo, milking the cows and then handling raw meat, and then there is the brushing teeth with old - yeah, you read that correctly - old, raw butter! Oh, and the kids are home-schooled. I know that non-religiously motived parents home-school kids, but mostly we just hear about the over-the-top religious people doing the home-schooling thing. In this case, this IS the case.

When Kim Hess-Webb asked about doing cleaning with any kind of bleach-based cleanser, he answered that these cleaners kill all the germs. Would God put anything on Earth that would hurt us? (I found myself thinking, "Sure he would. Arsenic, cat's urine, all kinds of things that are inimical to human life. Yes, he would. But he was quite confident, that upon discovering arsenic to be a poison, we would figure out that there are plenty of poisonous items found perfectly in Nature that no one should use.

The Hess-Webb family is so obviously the family from San Francisco, California - for one thing, I am not sure very many families take both parents' last names in Iowa. They are stylish, very well educated, overly cleaning-nuts, but basically okay people. They seem far more normal to me than the Haigwoods do, or ever will. 

The Haigewood's teenage kid, 15-year-old Lee, was a complete nutter, a drama queen, who launched himself off the couch, yelling out, "You ARE KILLING me!" Goodness me, kid, go outside, take a deep breath and for one week, survive eating healthy food - you know, the kind of chicken that won't kill you! The 13-year-old daughter, Aleesha, took all this more in stride. The husband cried like a baby, which was rather shocking. I doubt too many men cry with such abandon.

Anyway, I won't give you any blow-by-blow descriptions of these families dealing with the others. It is more fun to tell you that the wives surely came back with a slightly more balanced than they left their own lives. The Haigwood wife came out of this with a nice dress, her legs shaved, high heels, her hair up and she looked so nice. They also tried to learn Fung Shui, and are going to continue to do those kinds of cleanings. She did teach the Hess-Webbs to plant a small garden in their back yard, so that their kids learn where foods come from.

They did try egg whites raw, but that is okay to eat them raw...chicken? Not a bloody chance!

One could say that the episode ended on a different way than the others do, but not in the way you might expect. In fact, I doubt if anyone saw this coming. I found this article on some online magazine:

'An appearance on ABC's Wife Swap reality series almost found an Iowa couple in hot water for child abuse.

Barb and Mike Haigwood -- a couple who raise organic food with their two teenage children on a farm near Massena, IA  -- sparked Wife Swap viewers to contact the Iowa Department of Human Services after an episode featuring the family aired on Monday, February 19, The Des Moines Register reported Wednesday. 

During the Wife Swap broadcast, the Haigwood children -- 13-year-old Aleesha and 16-year-old Lee -- said they don't go to school and Lee's home schooling includes counting the number of eggs the family's chickens have produced.  Barb, the family's 37-year-old mother, also explained that she "believes in eating every two to three hours" -- a belief that causes her to wake the children for late-night drinkings of a beverage containing kefir, a yogurt-like product.  

Prior to their Wife Swap appearance, Barb had told The Register that family's decision to eat "nothing but raw food, including eggs and meat" was part of their way of dealing with health problems related to Aleesha's attention deficit disorder. 

However The Register reported Iowa state officials do not consider "an unorthodox diet and messy housekeeping" to be child abuse, and added the parents have filed the proper paperwork to home-school their two children.  Iowa Department of Human Services spokesman Roger Munns told The Register his department "logged a number of calls" to its child-abuse hotline after the episode aired, and also received "at least 10 messages emailed to its website" as well as a fax. 

"DHS only investigates child abuse and neglect cases when there is a credible report that, if proven true, would amount to abuse.  None of these reports rise to that threshold," Munns told The Register.  "People who eat unusual food and feed it to their children are not abusive, nor are people whose houses are not tidy." 

Steve Pelzer, superintendent of the Cumberland and Massena school district, said that -- as the law requires --the Haigwoods have filed paperwork "proving competent private schooling."  Pelzer added a licensed teacher from the West Des Moines area "monitors the children's progress."  

Bard told The Register on Tuesday that the family could not comment unless reporters "went through ABC's public relations department."  A spokesman for ABC could not be reached on Tuesday, according to The Register.'
Can I just say for my part, I have problems with parents who are hoarders, slobs in a way that is not healthy for the kids or feeding them raw meat and these offenses should allow Child Services come in, check it out and get those poor children out of there? Yes. How is this good for them? Do you really feel that physical abuse is strictly in the manner of striking children? I think not. I was turning green watching the family eat raw meat; I turned green looking at a bathroom I would not consent to sit on. The children here were brainwashed and it made me sick.

You may want to give this a shot: Haigwood/Hess-Webb, aired 11 December, on Lifetime at 18:00. Watch it for yourself and tell me which family you'd rather be with.


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