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May 10th, 2012
04:37 PM ET

Breast-feeding: Too much of a good thing?

It's hard to avoid staring at the cover of Time Magazine this week. If you're on social media like Twitter and Facebook, the widely shared image may have arrived on your screen before you ever saw it in the supermarket.

The provocative cover shows Jamie Lynne Grumet, a 26-year-old mother from Los Angeles, breast-feeding her son. This isn't your typical mom-and-baby shot: Grumet's son is 3. In case you were wondering, Grumet told CNN's Erin Burnett that her son is actually breast-feeding in that now-iconic image.

Grumet said her own mother breast-fed her until age 6, and Grumet still remembers it. "I'm proud of her," Grumet said.

The picture promotes an article about the growing popularity of "attachment parenting", a theory first advocated by Dr. Bill Sears and his wife, Martha, in their 1992 best-selling guide “The Baby Book.”

The Searses argue that co-sleeping, “baby wearing” (where the baby is attached to the parent with a sling) and extended breast-feeding will help parents respond better to the individual needs of their babies.

Celebrities such as Mayim Bialik of "The Big Bang Theory" are also promoting ideas about attachment parenting. Bialik said on Friday that she still breast-feeds her 3-year-old son. "He's not done breast-feeding, and I'm not ready to tell him not to," she said.

Many moms and dads have strong opinions about these practices, especially the breast-feeding advice.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives.

"We don't all nurse older kids," Bialik said of mothers who subscribe to attachment parenting ideas. "But the notion that a child's voice matters, that every child is different, that's the basis of attachment parenting."

Heather Curtis, wife of Fark.com founder Drew Curtis, told CNN's Geek Out that she practiced breast-feeding for an extended period, carried her babies in slings and practiced co-sleeping, as Bialik did. So did Caryn Rogers, a science writer for the Preeclampsia Foundation.

"I didn't really choose to eschew conventional care so much as chose to get what I believed was the most evidence-based care," Rogers said.

Grumet said that sleeping with her baby does not affect intimacy with her husband.

Watch: Breast-feeding cover-mom defends pose

"I think intimacy is extremely important in a marriage and I think a strong marriage is going to be a great foundation to show your children how to be raised confident and happy and I had that with my family, too," she said.

Time: Extended breast-feeding is more common than we think

CNN.com readers expressed mixed views on the subjects of the best age to stop breast-feeding and the appropriateness of the Time cover in general. See what they said.

We want to know what you think.  Is it OK to breast-feed well past toddler-hood, or is it too much of a good thing?


soundoff (2,707 Responses)
  1. chattanooga real estate, chattanooga homes for sale

    About Brandi Pearl Thompson and Chattanooga Real Estate

    May 11, 2012 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Loyal Northern Democrat

      slums.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • AsiaAlena1

      That is the nastiest thing I have ever seen. When your child is old enough to come and pull your breast out and talk to you why your breast in his or her mouth is a big problem.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. It's a woman's body and that's not even a real person yet. We have no right to tell her what to do with her body. Wait... that logic only applies to the children we can't see! I KNOW the majority of you who have a problem with this are pro-choice. So please... spare us your judgemental tone.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:06 | Report abuse |
  2. What

    Damn I wouldn't wish to remember the image of my mother breast feeding me. This is ridiculous, a mother's milk helps a baby get strong when the child is strong enough with a well developed immune system that doesn't require a mother's milk it time to transition the child into the next phase. This is just a ridiculous internal wish of hers which if adopted more in any society will bring about a huge heap of issues.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • S

      A child's immune system isn't fully developed until around age 4, which happens to be the average age a human weans. Hmmm....interesting isn't it?

      May 12, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
  3. Loyal Northern Democrat

    Sadly this makes women just look like cows. 😦

    May 11, 2012 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • moo

      Moo MOOOO!!!! (sip sip) MOO (thanks mom)

      May 12, 2012 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
  4. JPoet

    No, no, no.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bad2worse

    If it was up to men, we would breast feed until we are 80

    May 11, 2012 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • j mann

      yes, there is no need to stop. keeps us happy and well balanced.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Loyal Northern Democrat

    Next she is going to teach him how his dates should perform if he pays for dinner and a movie.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. popeye1128

    This is about her and her cause, not the kid.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Are you serious?

    @socialhistory

    You're a fookin kook amd I truly feel sorry for your kids because they are going to have a long tough road of disappointment ahead of them. You're setting them up to become depressed at an early age when they cant handle the real world.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Yeah, Are you serious? We should just let kids cry it out and give them formula from day one. That way they learn from an early age that no one really cares about them. What a great way to raise an empathetic well-adjusted kid.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Robnoxious

      Sorry, but I wouldn't want to be that kid in fifth grade when someone brings that magazine to school. That crap will haunt him for the rest of his life. All breast feeding aside, this was a stupid stunt by a mother who must have no clue how this will screw up her kids life.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Robnoxious – I agree with you. This was a stupid stunt by the mother in the picture. The reason why I am trolling this chat page, though, is to respond to the many (male) readers who seem to think that breastfeeding into toddlerhood is morally and medically wrong or that attachment parenting is adequately summarized by this TIME cover photo.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:37 | Report abuse |
  9. ruemorgue

    Whatever. Hey, it might keep him from being gay!

    May 11, 2012 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. onebro5

    This is so wrong on so many accounts

    May 11, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Wrong from experience

    My mother did this and i hate her for it. I got made fun of constantly growing up and to be honest im pretty effed up in the head now. I have trouble dealing with real world problems and am on lots of medications to help. Parents i beg u not to do this to your children.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pwned

      Im sorry for you, this is definitely awful for children

      May 11, 2012 at 23:44 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      I call BS on your post, WFE. Even if true, are you really going to side with your bullies on this one? Should parenting decisions be made based on what bullies will or won't do?

      May 12, 2012 at 00:07 | Report abuse |
    • Wrong from experience

      @socialhistory

      I dont personally care whether you believe me or not, i know the truth and theres no way of proving anything to you. Im also not siding with my bullies, im giving my honest opinion and reactions from someone whi has firsthand experience. Whether bullies (who are awful) agree or disagree i dont care. Stop your ridiculous defense of this because of self pride.

      I dont expect a response bc when someone such as yourself is proved a fool they typically never respond.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:21 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      I am sorry you were bullied. I am sorry that you were breastfed when you didn't want to be. I am not sure what either of these things has to do with attachment parenting or the WHO recommendation that children be breastfed (supplementally) into toddlerhood if mother and child are game.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:24 | Report abuse |
    • Pipy

      Troll.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:40 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      That's right, Pipy. I am trolling here, because the frat boy crowd is out in force this evening. Join me. Hey – your screen name might even be adopted by Pwned. He's looking for new ideas, I gather

      May 12, 2012 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
  12. Carole Clarke

    In nature, animals are pre-programmed to know when to move on to the next stage of parenting. The goal is to raise an independent strong creature who can survive on their own. The initial stage of breastfeeding conveys colostrum to the child to assist the immune system as well as providing basic nourishment. Then you move on to other substances such as water, juice, etc that are recommended by the pediatrician. Once the child can walk they need a portable container which can be a bottle up to a sippy cup. At this stage they are uncoordinated but you will know when they can handle an open container and then utensils. It's a step by step process of liberation FROM the mother. You have to prepare the baby bird to fly. You have to let them go – that's your job as a mother.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Pwned

    Htler was breastfed until he was 12.....enough said.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Pwned – yeah, that post was made already. It was ridiculous then, too. Hitler wore hats, too. If you wear a hat, are you then Hitler? Try thinking a little before you post next.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:58 | Report abuse |
    • Pwned

      How bout u address the post directed at you aboce socialclown? I said it in jest, guess you were too busy breastfeeding your 10 year old to learn about sarcasm.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:02 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Thanks for clearing things up, Pwned. I thought your Hitler joke was offensive. Now I see that you intended it to be funny. I am laughing. Not.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
  14. TDHawkes

    I expected hate filled comments on this topic, and sure enough....

    May 11, 2012 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. onebro5

    Bad Parenting in America is validated by justifying everything. When most people should be concerned about this particular photo, instead we have all these people on this blog justifying it. Breast Feeding is not the issue here... this boy (obviously too old) breast feeding is. The Cover is offensive and unattractive in the way it is displayed.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      If you read closely, onebro5, you will find that most people have a problem with the photo. The problem is that the photo has nothing to do with attachment parenting and everything to do with selling TIME magazine. If you want to understand AP, then pick up a book on the subject. If you want to understand the benefits of breastfeeding beyond 6 months, and yes, even into toddlerhood, then pick up a book on the subject. If you just want to reach snap judgments on attachment parenting based on a silly cover photo, then by all means, get down in the sandbox with Truth and the like.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:00 | Report abuse |
  16. moiraesfate

    Breastfeeding is one thing, but this is gross. The fact that he's 3 is just disgusting. And that she was breastfed until she was 6 is extremely disturbing.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cs

      Ditto!

      May 12, 2012 at 00:58 | Report abuse |
    • S

      Why is it gross? There are numerous health studies showing the health benefits of nursing well past infancy. A child's immune system isn't fully developed until age 4, which is around the average age a human is meant to breastfeed.

      You know what I think is gross? Cow's milk. Now that's some disgusting stuff, but no one thinks twice about shoving that down down their kids throat. But a human child drinking what humans his age are biologically designed to drink is wrong? That makes no sense.

      May 12, 2012 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
  17. popeye1128

    The cover is all about her, she could care less about her kid. She is the adult, or not.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      This is perhaps the one intelligent thing you have posted, popeye1128.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:01 | Report abuse |
  18. hector

    It is just normal to see a woman breast feeding her baby in public or watever. I prefer to see that, insted of two unshaved man kissing each other in public, that is desgusting and is not normal, please don't try to be polical correct!

    May 11, 2012 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • popeye1128

      That ain't no baby!

      May 11, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  19. Summer

    Who am I to judge? Everyone needs to do what they feel is best for their family, right?
    The media sure is making a big deal about it though.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cs

      The mother is making a big deal out of this. Me thinks she loves the attention she is getting. What an ugly sick sight.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:00 | Report abuse |
  20. dopeman

    theres nothing wrong with a woman breast feeding her child. would you be offended if a chimpanzee or gorilla were feeding her young? cause its the same thing were all great apes

    May 11, 2012 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pwned

      Its not the fact that shes doing it dipshlt, its the age.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:00 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      No animal breastfeeds their babies at age three other than needy attachment moms who recreate themselves as iconic mothers when they are unsuccessful in the real world or can't face going back to work.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:08 | Report abuse |
  21. Tommy Bones

    Some women just LOVE attention. A lot! She's getting her 15 minutes of fame.

    May 11, 2012 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. DB

    It is entirely her personal choice, but for the sake of her son she should have kept in a private family matter.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. vinny

    get a grip people! I breast fed my daughter till she was almost 3... no big deal. She is uber healthy ( 6 yrs now)
    Starting at 1 year we added regular food in addition to the breastmilk. The bottom line is screw society.. do what will give your child the best health and immunity.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pwned

      Yes because you know exactly how your chilld will turn out in the future. I smoked crack yesterday and Im fine! See, no harm done!

      May 12, 2012 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I am betting that you didn't immunize them as well.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:09 | Report abuse |
    • popeye1128

      Society sucks! The old days were so much better. Disease and pestilence rule.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
  24. SocialHistory

    I'll breastfeed my children until 10 if necessary. Im normal, atleast thats what my mother tells me because I still live with my parents at age 35. Who said not working and living at home was a bad thing?

    May 12, 2012 at 00:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Pwned – very funny. You are not actually SocailHistory. I am. Also, it would be kind of hard for me to breastfeed my son. I am his dad. Let me guess, you have a perverse response to this. Please, post as SocialHistory.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Im social history too! Will the real social history please stand up?

      May 12, 2012 at 00:17 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Go ahead, Pwned. To quote another rap song – "the fake can't create." If you were proud of your posts, you'd post under your previous screen name.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:28 | Report abuse |
    • Socialhistory

      We all know what you mean about breast feeding your son.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:42 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      That was funny, Pwned. That took you, what, 14 minutes?

      May 12, 2012 at 00:44 | Report abuse |
  25. DeltaDelta

    LOL. I just have to laugh, a 26 y.o mom breast feeding her 3 y.o son.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. TheRationale

    That kid is going to hate her when he's older. If she actually cared about intimacy and personal connection she wouldn't be using her son to get publicity. Way to achieve the opposite.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Good points, TheRationale. The problem most of the hateful posters are having, though, is separating this silly photo stunt from the issue of breastfeeding and attachment parenting. The latter can be good (medically etc.) even if the former is questionable.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:13 | Report abuse |
  27. ieat

    it is the mom's and only the mom's business. I don't care what they do. Stop pitting women against each other.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aloisae

      I agree it is the family's business.. but when they put a picture on the cover of a national magazine showing it (choosing the only one from the photo shoot of the ones online that make the child look uncomfortable) and in prominent print on the cover ask "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH" then it becomes the business of every woman who chose not to nurse her son in public until almost 4 years of age (since the implication is that you aren't then "mom enough") and anyone else who is concerned about using a minor child's controversial image to advance what is the mom's cause, not his.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:21 | Report abuse |
  28. Marcia

    OK 3 years old may be a little old I fed my kids until 20 months they were eating solid food and getting a drink from me before bed.when they quit. They also used a sippy cup before they quit . I did not need to feed them that long 18 months would have been a fine time to quit but I never gave my kids a pacifier or a bottle to suck on to misform their mouths. To see a kid sucking on a pacifier like it is the end of the world is much sadder than breast feeding a kid, which is compleatly normal.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

      May 12, 2012 at 00:27 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Pwned – will you ever grow up. By the looks of it – no.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:32 | Report abuse |
  29. Hmmmm

    I'm always hoping to see evidence that Americans are evolving... then I read these posts, so judgemental. There is no harm being done here folks, just a mother who is doing what she believes is best. Live and let live.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Amen, Hmmmm.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
  30. Lol

    I used to beat up kids like this, and for good reason too!!

    May 12, 2012 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      You sound very well-adjusted Lol.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
  31. Bananaland

    I I wish Salma Hayek was my mother 😦

    May 12, 2012 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Dude posters – I know it's hard to wrap your minds around a breast as something other than a sexualized body part, but please, try to expand your minds a little here.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:20 | Report abuse |
  32. JackWagon

    I'm in my late 50's and I still breast feed.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Thats a lie. On a serious note, I was breastfed until 9 and I have every intention of doing the same to my children. My mother (their grandma) will help out also if necessary since we still live at home.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Pwned, you are so funny? How long did it take you to think of adopting my screen name? By the looks of it, over 10 minutes. Why not post under your actual screen name? I guess I won the open debate with you, and all that is left for you to do is to discredit my screen name by posting your ridiculous nonsense under my screen name. Go ahead. All it confirms is that you are a coward and an imbecile.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:30 | Report abuse |
  33. John

    My only thought looking at the cover: I call sloppy seconds

    May 12, 2012 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Who's the pervert?

      May 12, 2012 at 00:28 | Report abuse |
  34. Mike

    Weird... but who am I to tell someone how to raise their kid? To each their own.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ignore

    If I were her kid, I'd be breast feeding until I was 25.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. wisdom4u2

    It's only those with 'filthy' minds who considers breast 'feeding' 'a sexual' act. However, everybody 'should' knows that wives breasts are also for their husband's enjoyment..."Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." Proverbs 5:19 YES.....God is so Good, He supplies our every need! : )

    May 12, 2012 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. James PDX

    When should a mother stop breastfeeding? Well before a boy's old enough to remember it into adulthood. Once you become sexually aware, those memories of you sucking on your mother's breasts are too likely to turn to sexual memories and then guilt will follow. Unless your mother was really ugly, then you can just drag her along to your highschool baslketball games and use her to hydrate during timeouts.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Socialhistory

    While I was breast fed until I was 9, my father taught me about anal and my mother taught me about eating fish.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Pwned – I guess you like my posts so much that you decided to duplicate my screen name. I won't respond in kind, as I don't care to be associated with your Hitler jokes. Be a man, use your own screen name.

      May 12, 2012 at 00:46 | Report abuse |
  39. toadears

    "And today our guest is ....uh...well whatever her name is, you just know her as Dairy Queen. We have managed to hook up a machine to her and let you watch us make soft serve right here on TV. Ahhh modern technology. Because as ewe all know, mother's milk soft serve is much better for us than all those nasty chemical additives. Hook 'er up, Maestro! Time's money and she ain't free ya know!"

    May 12, 2012 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. lopez

    insane smh. These women have some need not being fulfilled when they need to insert a defenseless child to make them feel more needed. Let your children grow up nut jobs! Have another child if you have issues.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. wisdom4u2

    It's NOT just baby 'boys' who breast feed, duh! I'm guessing baby 'girls' don't count....what a bunch of &*^%$!!

    May 12, 2012 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Snickers

    Once you have teeth, off the breast period.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. capergirl14

    This has got to be an American mom.....can someone say "attention seeker"??? Poor kid....

    May 12, 2012 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. CJF

    when I was 16, my neighbors visited, and wanted a "snack, she was 5 I was 16, I don't think it affected her but scarred me for life.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      ???

      May 12, 2012 at 00:53 | Report abuse |
    • CJF

      I played with my neighbor. we rolled, we laughed, we are kids, when we were done, I want to get a drink of water, I have a 5 year old requesting my breast, and I'm only 16

      May 12, 2012 at 00:57 | Report abuse |
  45. popeye1128

    At least he is bonding to a MILF.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sarah

    Why is this even a big deal? Oh right, because Americans are puritans and confused about the functions of breasts. Nursing at 3 is fine. This picture is a bit odd, but if you are sexualizing it then it's you who are dirty, so grow up.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      Agreed.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:03 | Report abuse |
    • wisdom4u2

      Yup...agree.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:06 | Report abuse |
  47. popeye1128

    I wonder what the comments would be if she was a robust black woman.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      You just love those counterfactual conditionals, popeye1128.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:04 | Report abuse |
  48. ZIna

    And when was the last time any of you read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" there is an excellant example of breastfeeding; and then stopping when the child was getting to old. I've not read it in years and the memory still makes me laugh. We've become, as a general society, less tolerant of old practices, and mothers who have the opportunity to extend the physical closeness of their children, that nurses are telling new mothers that babys should sleep in cribs face up, no blankets, pillows, baby toys, etc., due to the slight chance of crib-death. Where has the physical comfort, the touch of a parent, the kiss on the head gone? To the suspious minds who think that any of our humanity is all really a subversive effort to abuse our children.

    May 12, 2012 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Susie

    Why do they insist on calling this child a toddler,,, Toddlers are defined as children at the stage where they are learning how to walk....one to two years of age. this kid is a preschooler too old to nurse.

    May 12, 2012 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • popeye1128

      Not a toddler when I imagine I am him. Never had the thought with a baby nursing. I wonder what the comments would be if she was a robust black woman instead of a good looking white woman.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:09 | Report abuse |
  50. revolting peasant

    My rule of thumb is that it is time to stop breast feeding when the child starts getting erections while feeding.

    May 12, 2012 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SocialHistory

      I can see that you have thought a lot about this, revolting peasant, while reading "books" one-handed.

      May 12, 2012 at 01:06 | Report abuse |
    • SocialHistory

      Congratulations, revolting peasant – you've managed to sexualize both the mother and the child in this one. Pwned – are you taking notes here? Are you going to be outdone by revolting peasant? Hey – maybe you could take his screen name too?

      May 12, 2012 at 01:08 | Report abuse |
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