Archive for the 'Kids' Category

Say You Like Turkeys!

(Assume a haughty posture and say condescendingly) “Back when I went to school…”  the only piece of paper I remember ever getting sent back home to a parent was a report card. 

My, how times have changed.  The modern parent is subjected to a daily deluge of school papers that seems to imply a misguided belief that education can be achieved by mere dead tree sacrifice alone.  No Child Left Behind seemed to bring this educational fad to a fever pitch, but only exacerbated the existing problem.  My unscientific signal to noise ratio estimate of these papers would be about 1 marginally meaningful paper to 10 unuseful ones. 

But occasionally one does find a rare gem in the mineshaft.  As happened recently when I saw an assignment to make an “Acrostic (a related phrase for each letter)” out of the word “Thanksgiving.”  I should explain that “Thanksgiving” is a rather long word to a 2nd grader so some themes may get repeated.  For instance:  “I (heart) turkeys,” ” No vechtables,” and the rather authoritarian: “Say you like turkeys!”  But see for yourself:

Say You Like Turkeys

Say You Like Turkeys

Mystery Solved

I always wondered how the daughter was able to successfully put hats, glasses, and you-name-it on our pet dog, when the second I tried to touch or place any object on our dog’s head, she would thrash violently until the foreign object was dislodged and summarily disposed of. 

The secret, as it turns out, as in all endeavors, is persistence.  Just keep doing it again and again (say for fifteen very gleeful and entertaining minutes to a child) and resistence apparently gives way.  At that point, the dog resigns to her fate as a dress-up model and will submit to almost anything (well, OK, even at that point, the dresses apparently are still a challenge).

The Whatifs and Other Monsters Under the Bed

The other night while I was lying awake worrying about something that I can no longer even remember, I came to notice my daughter lying on the floor beside the bed (a frightening shadowy apparition in itself until you learn to expect such behavior).  Eventually she presumably found the uncarpeted floor less hospitable than her own bed and returned there.

The next day I asked her why she was there and I got the standard kid answer for such nighttime behaviors: because of “Monsters under the Bed.”

I then wondered what I in the heck I was doing up at that time myself and realized it was pretty much the same thing: going to some cold, hard, dark place and worrying about my own “Monsters under the Bed.”  Those both irrational and rational fears we have when the din of the outside world quiets and we are left alone with our own unique thoughts and concerns.

This is a time and mood captured perfectly by the Shel Silverstein poem Whatif:

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song…

…Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Shel and I just need to keep telling ourselves: those nighttime Whatifs and Monsters under the Bed aren’t real, they’re just illusions of our overactive imaginations and worst fears.  Even our most rational fears only very seldom come to pass and as wittily told in Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen):

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday

So go back to your own bed.  Turn on a flashlight or shine some hope and optimism into your worried mind and let those Whatifs and Monsters under the Bed fade away and melt back into the shadows.  4PM on some idle Tuesday will no doubt come soon enough, so for now appreciate and be grateful for the day you just had and look forward to and be hopeful for those yet to come.

Hash House Harrying and Krispy Kreme Challenging

I heard of a few amusing new “sports” this week: 

I figure such events are only the natural progression of all those supposedly well-meaning matrons forcing junk food on their kids at those youth sporting events.  I can remember at my kids’ soccer league games, I was always a bit peeved by the parents who were compelled to organize the “halftime snack” of juice boxes and Little Debbies.  Especially since I figured that this was probably the only time half of those kids had gotten out of the house away from this junk all week; yet even here in the middle of the soccer pitch, junk food was thrust on them.

On the other hand to look at the positive side, if you figure folks are just going to eat donuts and drink beer anyway, they might as well get in some jogging (and puking).  But be careful, and I am not making this up, one of the few “rules” is “no puking on purpose.”

So move over bowling, darts, and pool, eating and drinking just found a new companion sport.  Krispy Kreme Pizza House Harrying Anyone?  Jog a 5K while eating a dozen donuts, a medium pizza, and drinking a 6-pack of beer. 

In Case You Didn’t Know It

Daddies will do anything for their little girls….

Daddies Do Anything For Little Girls

Cough Medicines Too Risky for Kids but Psychotropic Drugs are Just Fine

Here in the Middling Years of the Nanny State, it is with little surprise that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to ban cold medicines for young kids.  Like most such prohibitions, the ban is not completely without its merits: the argument that adult remedies rarely work the same on kids and that they may not work at all and the fact that 750 kids per year had to go to the hospital for reactions or side-effects (though this hardly sounds like a statistically significant number in a nation of 300 million – 150 children a year actually die from bee stings but we haven’t outlawed bees yet).

So OK, now that we have this evil cough syrup menace taken care of, wonder if the FDA can be troubled to turn its attention to far more serious drugs that are specifically marketed and targeted to children: serious hard-core psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin, Paxil, and many others (which are mostly speed/amphetamines – remember when those things were bad?). 

Sometimes given with good cause, sometimes irreverently referred to as a “straight-jacket in a bottle,” these drugs have skyrocketed in use in children over the past 15 years.  Yet,  no-one (except the drugs companies and medical professionals who profit no doubt) even knows exactly what percentage of kids are on this stuff (estimates seem to place the number at 5 million US kids).  

Far more disturbing are the consequences of these policies of mass medication: 

Government drug policy makers must be on some serious mind-altering drugs themselves when they prioritize relatively benign medicines such as cough remedies before these incredibly potent drugs.  Where is a Nanny State when you need one?

The End of Summer Blues and Promises not Kept

Sometimes even dogs get the blues
I, probably not at all unlike most people at this time of year – most of all students, feel the End-of-Summer Blues coming on.  As I find myself approaching middle age, these post summer pangs are probably a bit worse than when I was merely a student with little else to worry me than another year of bully-induced aggression and education-induced drudgery.  For now, I view the end of summer as yet another milestone from which to measure failure, goals I did not meet, and promises not kept.

So let’s see how I did:

Goal: I’m going to go camping with the family
Result: The camper never made it out of storage and now sits unused under a black walnut tree covered in blackened walnut effluvium

Goal: This Summer I’m going to read more
Result: I read 2 chapters in the book I started on New Years (the last time I had a resolution to read more)

Goal: Take the family to parks more
Result: I took the kids on 3 occasions (we’ll call that partially met)

Goal: Take the family swimming
Result: Again, partially met – we went swimming together as a family 3 times

Goal: Take the boy to an amusement park and ride some really big roller coasters
Result: By some last minute maneuvering, I achieved one! With 2 months of constant prodding – and an almost immaculate confluence of weather, schedules, and finances – I was able to take him to an amusement park and he really enjoyed.

And even though I usually hate the crowds and commercialism, I really enjoyed it too. From the grizzled, middle-aged (and maybe hackneyed) perspective of someone who realizes this: when I am gone special memories like this may perhaps stand out and allow my son to remember me more fondly (than as the distracted workaholic he might otherwise envision) and to set a better example for his kids.

I know this is the true “theme” that these theme parks pimp and have programmed into hapless parents like myself, yet it is probably one of the few advertising gimmicks that has some ring of truth to it.  Spend a day with your kids, don’t think about anything else, and share a memory that might live on a little beyond yourself.

When your daily work, missed goals, and failures are forgotten, this is the one thing that remains and lives on: the fond memories of your friends and loved ones – perhaps at least one reason to feel less blue.