Thursday, January 5, 2017

The case of the Utah twins...

For the past couple of days, my Facebook feed has been blowing up with the story of toddler twin brothers, Bowdy and Brock Shoff.  It seems the two year old boys, dressed in matching onesies, were playing in their room when they decided to climb an empty IKEA dresser.  It fell on them.  Bowdy was able to escape being pinned under the dresser, but his brother was not.  Somehow, the boy summoned superhuman strength (adrenaline maybe) and pushed the furniture off of his brother.  Both boys are fine now.

Kayli and Ricky Shoff, parents of the twins, were upstairs in the home and did not hear the dresser fall.  Their nanny cam captured what happened.  They are now on a crusade, telling other parents to bolt heavy furniture to walls so that something similar won't happen to their kids.

I have read in more than one article that some people think this story raises red flags.  Some have even stated that the parents may have set up this scenario.  They point to the fact that the dresser was empty and the nanny camera was aimed at the dresser rather than the boys' bed.  Ricky Shoff works for Vivint, a home security company that has a troubling history of high pressure sales.  I blogged about Vivint a couple of years ago.  The nanny cam that caught this incident happened to be a model sold by Vivint.  Some are saying that this might have been an attempt to advertise the nanny cam (although personally, I think that's a bit far fetched).

Honestly, I don't know where the truth lies.  I certainly don't blame parents for not standing over their kids 24/7.  Furniture can and does tip, especially when active little boys play on it.  And no parent can watch their kids constantly, nor should they be expected to.  I would not necessarily assume the Shoffs were "negligent" because this happened-- if it truly was an accident, that is.

What I saw when I checked out the video was a story that will probably be retold in sacrament meetings for years to come.  I can't be positive, but I'm pretty sure this family is LDS and this kind of stuff is par for the course.  This is not the first time I've read a story about a Mormon family whose child was snatched from the jaws of death and then promptly took to the media.

Many members of the LDS church seem very intent on promoting their faith as "true" and legitimate, so these kinds of stories, where someone (especially a child) is somehow "miraculously" saved, often end up in the news.  If the stories don't end up in the news, they end up being circulated in church lore.  Bill has told me several old and well-known Mormon stories about how temple garments supposedly miraculously saved someone's life.  Those stories usually end up being passed down and passed around until they become familiar to the members and accepted as truth, even if the details are ridiculous.  Mormon crickets, anyone?

Consider the fact that every first Sunday of the month, most observant Mormons fast for two meals and go to church for hours, where they publicly declare their faith to the church.  They're hungry and emotional, perhaps even a bit malleable due to a lack of protein.  Members stand up in their meetings and offer testimonies that show that the church is "true".  In their weakened and hungry state, perhaps many members are more willing to accept what they hear at face value.

As this story about the Shoff twins is being pimped in the media as a tiny toddler miraculously "saving" his twin brother, trapped by a fallen dresser... well, it makes for prime fast and testimony storytelling.  The fact that it's a story that people around the world are hearing makes it especially attractive as a faith promoting tale.  The press makes the story more legit.

Now... I am not saying that this incident couldn't have happened exactly as the Shoffs claim it happened.  It could have been a totally freak thing.  Stuff like this does happen, although it does seem odd that it would be caught so perfectly on a nanny cam and that the parents would be so eager to share what happened on social media.  I think if it were me, I'd be embarrassed... or even worried that someone might call CPS on me.  Indeed, the Shoffs have gotten some backlash over their video with some people saying they were negligent.

Certainly, this could have been a fluke thing and I'm glad to see that the boys were unharmed and the Shoffs are able to educate other parents about the dangers of falling dressers.  I just think that this will end up filed in the faith promoting Mormon lore that gets passed around every month...  Just me being cynical once again.  Don't mind me.


  1. I caught this when i was in Europe. I had many of the thoughts you've shared. I don't know if it's real or not, but the positioning of the nanny cam was peculiar unless they have multiple cameras in the kids' bedroom. The story will certainly be used to promote faith among the faithful.

    This is totally off topic, but I REALLY hope I don't have twin boys. Twin boys get into twice as much trouble as twin girls, male/female twins, brothers a year or two apart, or same-age, same-gender cousins or friends. There's something about womb-mates and their innate ability to communicate their conjured ideas, and when both womb-mates are male, those ideas are not going to be good ones. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but I see a disproportionate number of boys who are male twins who are patients in the ER.


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