What kind of mother would take her five-year-old daughter for a long session in a tanning salon, subjecting her delicate young skin to damaging UV rays and possibly exposing her to melanoma, a potentially deadly form of cancer?
Can you fathom how a mom could be so cruel as to shave her 12-year-old's head, make her wear a diaper and have her run up and down the street as punishment for bad grades?
With Mother's Day just around the corner, it's difficult to imagine either of these scenarios as being true. But they are.
In New Jersey, Patricia Krentcil has pleaded not guilty to charges of child endangerment after authorities discovered her daughter with badly burned skin. Krentcil, whose unnaturally bronzed skin clearly reveals an unhealthy penchant for fake-and-bake, maintains her little girl got burned outside in the sun.
In Minnesota, a woman and her boyfriend were arrested on suspicion of malicious punishment after neighbours called the cops when they saw the "crying and hysterical" pre-teen marching up and down the street wearing nothing more than a tank top and diaper, apparently a consequence of failing to do her homework. Mom and her boyfriend laughed while the police took them away, apparently thinking what they did was no big deal.
Clearly, not all mothers are created equal.
On Sunday, most of us will celebrate Mom, pausing to reflect on what makes her special and so dear to our hearts. We'll try to figure out how she manages to do everything she does and still make time for us.
If we're lucky to share the same city or live close enough to visit, we'll buy her dinner, bring her a bouquet of flowers or take the kids over for some quality time. If we're unlucky and separated by too much distance, we'll give her a phone call, catch her on Skype or - maybe, just maybe -go for a visit.
At the very least we'll be thinking of her; those comforting hugs when we were feeling blue, the cup of hot chocolate when we came in from the cold, or the steady stream of encouragement when, incredibly, things really did go from bad to worse.
We'll think about the state of her health, her financial well-being and whether she's enjoying her special day. We'll miss her and we'll love her, but chances are not as much as she'll love us -just like she always has.
© Kamloops Daily News