Overinvolved in health

Do this! No, do THAT! The ultimate guide to parenting healthy kids (parody)

Eat more fish!
But make sure it’s not one of the five bad types or you’ll get brain failure. Eating fish is wonderfully filling, though, and it can be quite slimming.

Eat as many vegetables as you can for your baby!
But make sure it’s not any form of sprout or pre-washed baby carrots, or you will get e. coli and die, or even suffer from suboptimal nutrition.

Eat more honey to fight allergies!
But make sure it is produced within 20 yards of your house. Also, make sure it actually is honey. The organic label is not enough. If you can, chat with the beekeeper and one or two local bears.

Fish is also wonderfully healthy for pregnant women.
But make sure it’s not on the mercury list. If it is, it will make you crazy and kill the fetus as well as any children you have yet to conceive. You may continue to play with your existent children, but only once the glowing stops.

Don’t overbathe your children and wreck their skin by putting them in the tub every single day. But if you don’t, they will look like they have cradle cap, and everyone will think they have lice.

When your children appear to have lice, don’t dump lice shampoo on their heads because it’s poison that doesn’t work. Pay a local nit-salon lady $200 an hour instead. Return every other month as the kids at school reinfect you and your children without hope of any insurance company covering this. (It’s only cosmetic to get rid of bugs living on your head, after all.)

Getting your hands dirty in the garden is good for you — body, brain and soul. But whatever you do, wear gloves or you’ll get toxoplasmosis from cat poop stuck in your fingernails, ingest it, and become schizophrenic, as will your kids. Make sure you wear a face mask, too. You don’t want to breathe in those particles from the soil, although the latest reports last week did claim it was a potent antidepressant.

Sunscreen will not effectively protect you from melanoma. Wear it daily to protect you from the most potent form of skin cancer, melanoma.

Give your kids a large variety of stimulating toys in bright colors. But not red, yellow or orange since those are all tainted with lead if they are not made in the U.S. But don’t worry, there are two known toys that are currently made in the U.S.

Most importantly, have fun as a parent and keep up with the news!

What oh-so-helpful suggestions for parents are driving you mad? Share them in the comments section.

Too chicken to say what they really feed the poultry

“Raised without antibiotics” is a nice label to see on a package of chicken.

As of yesterday, even McDonald’s is joining the pack and pledging to phase out the use of human antibiotics in chicken — gradually — over the next two years. Yes, they won’t use any more HUMAN antibiotics . So that really tells us nothing of the other antibiotics, for OTHER ANIMALS, that they might see fit to continue to pump into their flocks. Feeding chickens fistfuls of chicken antibiotics would still be fair play under the terms they stated in their announcement, of course.

I would like to know why I don’t ever see packages of chicken, or chicken listed on menus, that announces that the poultry has been “Raised WITH antibiotics.” You know, since it’s believed to be an OK practice and healthful and all, let’s just have that info out there for all of us to see.

Like me, for instance. Since I’m allergic to penicillin and sulfa drugs, I would really appreciate that information. Since I’m able to find out lots of fun facts about peanuts and tree nuts in food on FDA-mandated packaging, I’d like to know if penicillin is in the bird I’m going to eat, just in case there’s potential for, say, a life-threatening penicillin reaction with those nuggets.

As well as the potential for destroying the effectiveness of antibiotics in general and thereby hastening the demise of humanity as we know it. But since the industry likes to keep the use of antibiotics in chicken very, very quiet, that’s pretty unlikely to happen any time soon.

One might also wonder why the chickens were so sick in the first place. What have they been using these antibiotics for? Did they all have sinus infections? Bronchitis? Chicken syphilis?

No, it turns out that livestock farmers figured out years ago that animals would gain 3 percent more weight per year if they got pumped full of the drugs that finally gave humanity some mastery over tuberculosis, gonorrhea, diphtheria and other merciless killers. In other words, industry thought it was OK to squander potential life-saving drugs in the food supply, wantonly, to make some chickens fat. (There are other ways to do that, too — namely, feeding the chickens more food. But that would be more expensive, and it’s not like the public or politicians or regulators were trying to stop them from drugging the fat chickens.)

As the FDA points out on its website, “Antibiotics are added to the animal feed or drinking water of cattle, hogs, poultry and other food-producing animals to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.” Right. So the producers spend less on food, and you get more traces of antibiotics.

The FDA introduced a voluntary plan in December 2013 to phase out key human antibiotics in livestock. The deputy director for science policy at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine Flynn said that the participation was voluntary because it was a more efficient way to change manufacturers’ approach.

But I beg to differ. I think industry might volunteer to get the drugs out of the food animals faster if they all got nice little mandatory stickers advertising what was really in the meat. “Fed with antibiotic water.” “Now with even more pharmaceutical feed.”

If they label the antibiotic-tainted meats with their real origins, the companies will see what the market will bear pretty darn fast.

People might not be excited to shell out extra money for organic poultry, but most families are not willing to spend a dime on drumsticks if they’re reminded they have extra pharmaceuticals.

Am I in a tizzy over nothing? How do you feel about drugs being fed to livestock you will eat later so that companies can save money on feed?

 

 

Hello, tooth fetishist! Please sneak into my child’s room tonight

It’s Throwback Thursday. This is a post from 2011 from The Two Boys Club (http://twoboysclub.com). This lady makes no more sense to me today than she did back then.

I almost blew the whole Tooth Fairy thing already, and The Elder is a few years away from even getting a loose tooth.

“Mommy, is the Tooth Fairy REAL?”
“Um, yeah — um, so, uh …. well, why do you ask?”
“You said fairies aren’t real!”
“Oh, uh, see, that’s because she’s like, a different kind of fairy. A, um, metaphorical fairy? She’s in the fairies … union, like the, uh, elves, but not exactly a fairy, per se?”

“Well, does she have helpers?”

“You mean like a staff? Uh-huh. Yeah, I think she has some employees. Possibly elves.”

Next up, he’s waiting to hear how Santa can live at the North Pole if there is no land at the North Pole (as he learned from “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Ice is Nice”) and why Mommy and Daddy have to be from another country, called the East Coast, where parents don’t allow toddlers to play “Angry Birds.” Ever. Or so his parents say.

I’ve also got to come up with a better explanation for why this lady wants his teeth. What does she do with them? Does she eat them? Study them? Wear them? Sell them?

When I was a kid, my mother very cleverly told me the Tooth Fairy was building a big house, and I bought it, briefly, but today’s savvy kids might just put in a call to the FBI. A house … made out of teeth? What is it decorated with, hair rugs? Fingernail mosaics? Is she a serial killer, or just your run-of-the-mill fetishist?

As a society, don’t we owe it to our kids to find better reasons to put body fragments under pillows? Let’s start today.

 How do you answer questions about the Tooth Fairy?

If you kill the sugar, you kill the party

Kids love class parties. They love the tiny mass-marketed Valentine’s Day cards that train them to be dutiful consumers (“You are a Super Friend, Valentine!”).

They love that they get to glue things up and cut things out when they would normally be struggling to pay attention to some grownup inexplicably talking about something at the front of the room.

And they love the food — the junkier the better.

I don’t normally feed my children Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip and Pixy Stix for dinner, but I am certainly not opposed to them receiving these items at a class party, or chugging them when the party monitors aren’t looking. And I certainly do not mind them partaking in treats other than fruit and cheese at a party. But I hear that many class parties are being thrown with absolutely no sugar. Just fruit, thank you. A little cheese, merci. 

Grownups, let’s be serious. If we were at a reception and someone offered us just fruit and cheese, they’d better be damned certain there was some wine to go with that.

For kids, the cupcakes or cookies would be that main event. Because a party without cake or cookies is just a regular old snack time. The kids know this, and they know we know this. And they know that we know that they know this.

So, barring a few health issues and allergies, please, please, let your kid have a cupcake this year.

Just don’t do it every day, and I promise they will all live to be safe, happy adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 reasons why you (maybe) don’t want measles

 

  1. Unsightly red spots.

  2. Might get pesky brain inflammation.

  3. Eyes could stop working.

  4. You’ll look like a throwback to the mid-1960s.

  5. Doctors younger than 70 won’t even know what you have.

  6. Makes it easier to pick up ebola when that hits.

  7. Anti-vax families will keep inviting you over for playdates (so they can inoculate the old-fashioned way — by catching it).

  8. Probably have to stay home from Disneyland.

  9. Eyes hurt and you feel like you might die.

  10. Oh, yeah. You could die.

So you need to use the booster AND the seat belt?

Most parents are good about getting their kids to stay in car booster seats at least until state laws tell them they can do otherwise. But there’s no accounting for HOW they put the children in those seats.

Or for the common sense of photographers and other professionals on the set of car rental company photo shoots.

It’s great that an ad campaign on Alamo car rental buses is letting us know that the company can give us access to child safety seats (usually at a cost per day above the price of outright purchasing a seat from a store, that is). But then they advertise that convenience service for a kids’ safety device with this photo:

 

Why not make the seat belt extra comfy and loose? What harm could come of that?

Why not make the seat belt extra comfy and loose? What harm could come of that?

Whoa, there. That seat belt is looking might nice and comfortable. And unsafe. You’d think someone at the company might have noticed that this is not the best way to tout safety to American parents — reinforcing images of a highly ejectable child sitting lounging with a slack seat belt, ready for optimal toss-around.

He also looks like he’s on the younger side for sitting in a belted booster.

Yes, you could say I have a few issues with this stuff. It’s not rocket science, but 93 percent of parents bring home newborn infants either incorrectly strapped into car seats or in safety seats that were installed flat-out wrong, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And this photo campaign is reinforcing an image that says it’s all right to keep the belts loose, when all usage rules indicate that the strap needs to be pulled close to the body in order to work in a crash.

It seems we could use a little more guidance on this stuff, and clearer instructions all around. For everyone.

Sure, there are a lot of dumb Americans breeding, but the idea that a full 93 percent could be idiots is a little ungenerous.

The instructions in the manuals just aren’t sticking with the general public, and this needs to be fixed.

This is how the Graco booster manuals say to belt your kid.

This is how the Graco booster manuals say to belt your kid.

I have made my share of mistakes with safety seats over the last few years. What mistakes have you made? Have you noticed others putting kids in wrong? 

No shots, no school: It’s that simple

Measles are back. And I blame Sherwood Schwartz.

Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, “The Brady Bunch” was the rerun show to park your kid in front of while you made dinner. And from that Schwartz-produced show, we have today’s measles mini-epidemic.

For today’s parents, those six kids made measles look fun. A lark. A reason to act really bratty and ring dinner bells as your parents and the family maid were at your beck and call. It was just a rash, right?

No. That’s a sitcom, people. Real measles might be almost fun, and it might also result in blindness, brain damage or death. Those after-effects are proven. By science. The stats.

One thing that hasn’t been proven is the supposed link that autism has to MMR vaccines. Not proven, and please don’t say the name Andrew Wakefield. It’s unbecoming to cite falsified results. If there’s a connection, there would be proof from other sources. There’s not. People have looked.

I’m a firm believer that if you don’t want to get your kid vaccinated, you don’t get to send your kid to public school. You want to be off the grid as far as vaccinations go? Then go ahead. And it’s my right to keep my kids away from people who don’t believe in preventative care for their kids.

Do you really think that modern hygiene is the reason we no longer have this disease around much, and that perfectly coincided with the widespread introduction of measles vaccines? Did hand washing appreciably improve in the late 1970s? Should we thank Ivory soap? No. It’s the vaccines, stupid.

You want to go off the grid? Then go do that. But it’s our right not to be part of your measles-, mumps- and rubella-carrying herd, so please stay the hell off the grid once you do go there.

Turning down a shot does affect my kid and other people’s kids, and grownups, and I could go on. The vaccines work by breaking the chain of contagion, and when you turn down the shots, you are volunteering to be one more link in that chain. Immune-compromised people who cannot get the shots for actual medical reasons would be protected if you would stop being so ignorant of history and human disease.

The shot isn’t perfect, but it is effective, and that’s proven by the fact that we haven’t all had measles, and that a sizable portion the general U.S. population isn’t blind, deaf, brain-damaged or dead as a result of it. Before vaccinations began in the early 1960s, hundreds of people died of measles each year, and more than 45,000 were hospitalized.

This isn’t eczema.

And this shouldn’t be optional.

If your kid isn’t vaccinated and can be, you’re simply not doing your part.

Comments, please. What do you think about parents who choose not to vaccinate? What do you think about parents who do choose to vaccinate?

Parents’ bully phobia might build better victims

In the winter, many people find themselves unwillingly stuck in the house with a pack of sugar-jacked kids unless they get out and go to the one of the hell holes known as a “children’s museum.”

Or better yet, a “science” museum, where kids jockey for position gaping at naked mole rats and narrowly avoiding stepping on butterflies.

It’s also a great place to go if you want to watch people from all walks of life demonstrate the latest techniques in helicopter parenting, also known as raising the passive child.

My five-year-old was playing with discs at a bizarro station that looks like a conveyor-belt sushi place. He was taking a bunch off the belt and stacking them up.

And then I heard a parent angrily chewing him out for taking too many and not leaving enough for her precious offspring, who was also 5.

(One might ask why she was so close to a contraption that provides hours of entertainment to kids who clearly do have a knack for stuff like factory work. If you want to know why those mean adults in Lowell, Mass., hired 19th-century children for endless menial tasks in factories, just take one look at a kids’ museum. They love it. Forget the basement foosball table and just put a sweatshop down there. But I digress.)

Why was she not — at the very least — advising her five-year-old to tell my five-year-old that he was being over the line?  Did she really think she was the only capable person in the pair? Are we training kids to be so conflict-averse and non-bullying that they can’t even stand up to a nonthreatening peer? Why?

I’m wondering if I’m living in some kind of twilight zone where I expect my kids to talk to other kids about how to share and play, and everyone else is intent on training their children to roll over and whimper. Meanwhile, the parent takes out any faintly aggressive child in his or her path. I’ve seen this happen many times at many kids’ play areas over many years.

Kids know the rules, and usually can be counted on to hash out a deal. And if it gets too volatile, well, then an adult or police officer or EMT can be called in. Since about three people left in the country send their kids outdoors to play alone together, where else can kids practice these skills but at a simulated factory?

I suspect that the main reason The Other Mom was intervening was that she felt her child was a victim, and that she was standing up to the more assertive child. I’m here to tell everyone today: just because bullying exists in society does not mean that children who look out for their own interests and don’t hand everything away are bullies. These types were once known as showing leadership potential, before society got bogged down with wanting all children to compete in a passivity/sweetness contest.

That day, this child learned that only his mommy can stand up to pushy kids. He needs her there to wade through the morass of scary, assertive kindergartners. And where does that leave his development? When will he get a chance to do this on his own if not at age 5? Will he magically be left alone by all slightly more aggressive children because he has been shielded from all conflict? Or does he perhaps need to develop a few social skills to tell other kids when to back off?

But on another note, since when do adults tell off kids in front of their parents? Was she unaware that I was about to metaphorically drop-kick her? She’s taking a big risk in the first place that her kid will not grow up to know how to get a job or make a friend, but also that other parents are going to go nuts on her.

Or merely blog about her.

Have you encountered a parent telling off your kid? Have you told off kids? What do you think about this issue? Share your story in the Comments box below.

First posted in December 2014

The real reason kids’ pajamas are ridiculously tight

Every parent learns that you have to buy kids’ cotton pajamas two sizes too big. We’re not supposed to, according to the yellow hang tags from an unidentified authority, but that is how it’s done in reality.

Otherwise, kids look and feel like they’re wearing too-tight body stockings, and no one wants to sleep that way. (What if you get an itch? You’d then need to completely undress, sliding off that clingy cotton peel just to scratch your thigh.)

If the pajamas you buy in your kid’s size fit more reasonably, it’s because they are made of synthetic fibers (which may or may not have been chemically treated long before the fabric became pajamas) or have been made thoroughly coated in flame retardants that must make it through at least 50 washes in all their chemical goodness.

How did these pajama rules come about? And how many kids in loose cotton jammies were truly in danger before these regulations first came into effect in the 1970s? (And couldn’t that risk have a lot to do with the vastly greater numbers of parents who had cigarettes dangling from their lips in 1975?)

The tight fit is considered protective because no loose fabric means less of a chance that a sleeve or pant leg will be set ablaze.

And the rule change in the 1970s did result in a significant reduction in fire injuries to children. That was back when the manufacturers were using a few flame retardants that were so obviously hazardous to health that they were swiftly banned in 1977.

Today, I can safely say I seldom hold my children over an open flame. Particularly not when they are wearing pajamas. But then again, mine hardly ever wear pajamas anymore since they’re are so darned uncomfortable. The synthetic fibers are too heavy, and the cotton versions are too clingy. I like fire safety, but I also like having kids who will fall asleep at night.

But these fire-safe jammie laws mean nothing if everyone buys a bigger size or ditches the clothes for loose T-shirts and shorts. It’s common sense to avoid clothes that smell like chemicals. It’s common sense to buy clothes that fit. And it’s common sense to keep the kids away from things that make fire.

Until recently I was under the impression that these laws existed to protect kids who woke up in burning homes, but I was wrong. In 2000, a memo from the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that children should only wear cotton pajamas when they are snug because loose garments catch fire fast. The press release notes, “Children are most at risk from burn injuries that result from playing with fire (matches, lighters, candles, burners on stoves) just before bedtime and just after rising in the morning.”

It sounds to me that rather than changing the clothes, fire prevention experts need to work on looking into households where kids routinely play with fire before bedtime. Limiting access to matches and lighters and teaching kids not to turn on the stove might be, say, a whole lot more effective. Guards that prevent young children from being able to turn on the stove would be a good move, too.

And maybe the parents could just make sure they occasionally look in on the kids. (Sadly, I know, that’s sometimes too much to ask.) I’d have to say that tight cotton pajamas and chemical-coated polyester blends certainly do seem to be a Band-Aid here.

They aren’t really doing the job, either, if most people avoid buying the products. It’s a little like banning brown wooly coats so children don’t get shot by hunters. It’s the free-ranging gun that’s the problem! Just like it’s the free-ranging fire sources that prompted these rules.

Let’s start a movement instead to get the lighters and matches away from kids, and outfit every home with a stove guard.

Do you break the fire safety regulations, too, or do you follow every last rule to the letter? Let’s discuss that in the comments.

Sit down! This is P.E.

Twice this year, I received notes home that informed me that my child had refused to sit still and listen during his P.E. class. You know, GYM class.

The time when our children are supposed to get a state-mandated amount of running-around time at school, lest they grow up to be morbidly obese people who, say, sit still and listen all day. (And maybe work in five hours of TV, too.)

I know disciplining grade-school kids can be really tough for teachers, and I know my child is no angel, but I am pretty sure he’s entitled, by law, to be as active as he can be when it comes time to go to a course that exists so that children will grow up to be as active as they can be.

It’s his fourth year in school, and we’ve never had anything other than glowing reports. But this year, there is a new emphasis at his school on listening to painstakingly detailed game rules and practicing drills.

As one very talented soccer fanatic boy I know recently shared, “They actually found a way to make soccer boring!”

Are teachers now so attentive to getting our kids into shape that they are implementing rules and curricula that make it necessary for kids to hear lectures about how fitness is awesome, while getting almost no opportunity to get physically fit?

What a mistake. To sit and listen in their academic classes, kids need time to run like banshees. Or they’re going to be pure terrors when they get back to reading and math.

The solution? “If he won’t sit still,” I wrote, “you could try having him run around first.”

I’d love to hear what’s going on in other P.E. classes. What are your thoughts?

 

%d bloggers like this: