Friday, February 15, 2008

Holidays and Kids: Parental 'Mine' Clearance

Ok, the day after Valentine’s Day and I’m still on my feet. This is, in itself, remarkable not because Valentine’s Day was anything to write home about but because I am suffering from the quintessential worst cold of the season. Still, while stumbling out of Valentine’s day and seeing Easter looming ahead (early this year, folks, BTW) I figured now is probably a good time to go over some basic survival tips I’ve learned in my short time as a dad. So, without further ado let’s start laying down some bullets for range and accuracy shall we?

  • Keep your radar up: What this means is always be on the lookout for things that might go towards certain events, be they gifts, tableware, clothing, etc. especially when they’re on sale. If you see something in June that would look great on the table for next Easter or your daughter’s next birthday (and you have the cash) snag it. I guarantee you it won’t be there when you go looking for it later on.

  • Spare ammo: I always try and keep something in the closet (yeah, next to the skeletons and my old Mark IV Combat boots) for the kids. These things don’t have to be expensive (often between $5-10) in value but they do come in handy for any number of things (stocking stuffers, Easter baskets, sudden birthday parties, etc) I usually keep my eyes peeled for sales. At the end of the year anything I haven’t used goes to Toy Mountain (local kids Charity).

  • Avoid dissention in the ranks: For all those of you who had the strange urge to reproduce more than once (yes, I was afflicted with it too-at least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it) it can be easier to shop for one kid and not the other. Sometimes their likes match yours better, maybe it’s due to age, or gender, regardless, practice egalitarianism. You don’t want it to be Christmas day and have the piles beneath the tree significantly unequal.

  • No inspection ready unit ever passed combat: If you’re crazy enough to try the “formal event route” and by that I mean Church, formal dinners etc. plan accordingly. Make sure the clothing your kids wear doesn’t itch. Test it first. If you find it scratchy, chances are it will drive them mad and you’ll be stuck next to a smaller version of yourself break dancing in the seat next to you all night.

  • No combat ready unit ever passed inspection: Again with the “formal”. Pack accordingly. Snacks, toys, mp3 players loaded with their favourite music, pajamas if it’s going to be a late night. It ain’t rocket science folks.

  • The Aftermath (Who’s in Charge Here?!): Once the debris and the wrapping has cleared now is the time to get in there with your kids. Why? ‘Cause the unwrapping/egg hunt/party games etc. are over and for a kid it’s just become like the Mad Max movies. There’s a scarcity of resources and everyone wants to see what the other guy’s got. They’re going to need a peacekeeper and they’re going to need help with all the “some assembly required” gifts. Look at it this way. The sooner you get those GD things built the more there are to go around to distract them until dinner time.

  • Eject: This one’s on an 'as needed' basis where I come from. Why? 'Cause I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario where the local weather/insects will happily try and kill you ¾’s of the year. Still, if necessary, don’t underestimate the allure of tobogganing to the vertically challenged. I also try and keep a bevy of water pistols handy for the summer months. At the very least it’s a great way to vent your frustrations.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vaccines? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Vaccines.

Actually, we do. This particular debate was driven home rather forcefully of late when James (my youngest) came home with a series of scabby spots all over him. Uh oh. Looks like the Chicken Pox, says…well…everyone. However, three years ago his mother and I shelled out for the Chicken Pox Vaccine. So…WTF? Granted, it was a mild case, 23 spots in all, but it still caused us to quiz the doctor who shrugged and told us that 20% of recipients are immune to the vaccine and poor James just happened to be one of them. Of course, upon hearing the news everyone within earshot of the situations pulled pin and lobbed their opinions at us; a full spectrum of, “Vaccines are necessary,” to “See, vaccines don’t do anything,” right down to “They’re evil, I tell ya!. Eeeeviiillll!”

So, what’s a dad to do? Simple, trust in logic. Try and block out those helpful individuals who always seem to “know a guy who knows a guy who had a kid who…” That’s hardly scientific evidence. Also try and avoid the new age group who sneers at medical procedures that have been practiced for centuries and have raised life expectancy to unprecedented highs. Most vaccines these days aren’t given as accessories. These things are deemed necessary for a reason. You want your kid to go to school? Vaccinate. Daycare? Vaccinate. Community programs? Same goes. Sure these things might not work for some individuals. My son was certainly one of them and, whereas I was irked, I still understand why these things were created in the first place. Most vaccines given under the age of three were designed not just to help the individual but also to help the population at large. In event of an outbreak it helps to have vast segments of your population who might be immune, not just for their own benefit but also for those who might not be immune who live in proximity. The logic goes something like this. If people in town (a) are infected and not vaccinated and people in town (b) are vaccinated then there ‘s a good chance that might block the spread of said virus to town (c) who might also not be vaccinated. In short, more of your population has a better chance of living longer. Ah well, that’s my rant for today. I should probably cut things short with it being Valentines Day and all.

Oh, on a side note, “Enough with the snow already!” Some of these drifts are getting taller than I am. Another Valentines day in the trenches…..sigh.