Monday, October 26, 2015

How 'HAPPY' is Halloween?

Typical scenario goes like this: kids are in costume an hour beforehand, constantly asking, Is it time to go yet?" Parents are trying to get supper over with, tending to a crying infant, and deciding on who is going to run after their trick-or treaters, and who is going to stay at home distributing candy.
The unlucky person who was chosen by default to follow their kids as they run from door-to-door is finding it extremely difficult to keep tabs on three kids taking off in different directions. No amount of threatening to return home will deter them, since they can't even hear you above the screams and howls of the night. After two grueling hours of traversing the neighborhood, you and your ghosts and goblins make it home amidst arguing that Halloween wasn't over yet since there were ten more minutes until curfew. Once inside, the masks come off, the sacks are spilled on the familyroom floor and real trouble begins. First off, the kids begin unwrapping candy at the speed of light, shoving gobs of it into their mouths at one time, and eagerly search for more! Mom or Dad insists they've had enough, and that's when the whining begins. Finally when these poor, beleaguered adults are at their wits end, they snatch the goodies off the floor, throw everything into a huge pot, and demand the kids go upstairs, get ready for bed, and not make another sound. Unfortunately because of all the sugar that's been consumed in the last five minutes, plenty of sounds of disapproval will be heard well into the night.


I'll let that be a rhetorical question that I don't expect to be answered!

I'd like to propose a different scenario from the typical that goes like this: Talk to your neighbors about having a Halloween House Party for the first hour of the time scheduled for local trick-or treating. Once deciding on who will host the party, talk to your kids at least two weeks beforehand about how Halloween will be celebrated this year. Tell them everybody will have dinner together first, then play games, and maybe make a craft. Nobody will be in costumes during that time. When the party is over, they can have a 'get-up gig' where they help each other get into costume and head for the streets! Ask them for suggestions regarding the types of food, games, and crafts they'd be interested in.

Next get together with the host. Have each involved parent present the list he or she gathered from the children, and vote on exactly what food, games, and if necessary, craft will be best-suited for the party. Allow each adult to choose which of the duties they would be willing to prepare and preside over.

On the night of Halloween, families can gather half an hour earlier to share dinner together. Pizza, hot dogs and beans, tacos, and chili are kid-friendly foods and simple to prepare and eat. When finished eating ask everybody to clean up their own space and hurry to the games area. Some of the traditional choices may include: Scary Pumpkin (Hot Potato), Musical Chairs with Halloween tunes, bobbing for apples, Taste Test (identifying certain foods while blindfolded), and many more that I'm sure you've played when you were a kid. If a craft is involved, make it quick and simple.

Before the 'get-up gig' insist each child use the restroom. Give the children ten minutes to get dressed in their costumes, tell them which parents will be accompanying them on their travels, and ask that they try to stay together as best they can. For the ensuing hour, Halloween as usual.

Upon returning to their respective homes, lead each one to their own designated space where they can dump their booty. Allow them time to inspect their treasures and pick three pieces they can consume immediately, plus five more they can hide away and enjoy all week long. The rest will be contributed to a common stash which they will have access to once a day until finished or they don't want anymore, which ever comes first!

Consider the two scenarios I've presented and decide for yourselves which is best. I'm not going to influence you in any way, but if you're looking to put the 'HAPPY' back in Halloween, I'd strongly suggest the second one.

Have a safe and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Helicopter Moms, Stay Grounded!

In a recent article, a student relations administrator at Stanford University lamented over the fact that so many freshmen entering college for the first time couldn't function from day to day without constant communications with their parents, especially their moms. When issues arose such as what electives should be considered, should  they choose the earlier lunch period versus the later one, or which clothes went with which when doing laundry,these otherwise academically brilliant young adults were at a complete loss.

How could such intelligent students be so inept at such mundane choices, you may ask? And did they just become so needy since entering the higher halls of education? I doubt it.

It seems to me that moms of today are so over-involved in their children's lives from day one, that allowing them to make even the simplest of decisions is completely foreign to them. If an infant suddenly  rolls over by accident and is somewhat startled, mom immediately rushes to aid and abet her little darling before even a whimper can be sounded.

At two, God forbid the child refuses to eat fruits and veggies and opts for chocolate chip cookies exculsively! Forty years ago when my own kids went through the same phase, our pediatrican said that eventually they's switch to hot dogs, so just ride it out.  In my opinion, he was a very wise man in additon to being a first rate physician.

When starting Kindergaten, these ill-equipped youngsters are actually frightened when asked to say their names in front of the class or explain a Show-N-Tell item. They haven't be afforded opportunites to make their own decisions and accept the consequences for them. Moms and dads speak for their children, make choices they believe to be in their best interests, and accept responsibilities for their actions rather than allowing them to be held accountable.

I'm sure these parents are well-intentioned, but not allowing very young children to make their own choices makes them insecure and deters developmental growth. Decision-making like walking, talking, and feeding one self is a skill that is learned only when permitted to practice over and over again. If a child is carried, spoken for, and fed by an adult, it will take that much longer for him or her to gain competence in these areas.

By no means am I advocating that a three-year-old be let loose to roam the neighborhood unattended. That would be considered child neglect by today's standards. Albeit, my brother and I did exactly that in the Fifties, however times were different then, Life was so much simplier, people were so much more authenic and lived close to family where everybody watched out for each other.

What I am saying is to provide your children with opportunities to think and act for themselves. So what if they choose to wear stripes and polka dots to preschool at the same time. What matters is that they were the ones to decide what looked good together and they would be the ones to endure the strange stares of the other parents as they walked into class. Perhaps their classmates would find their outfits appealing, and appear in similar attire the next day. Perhaps not, but in either case the decision-making process is what's important here, not the fashion statement.

As the years quickly pass and your youngsters become teens, having allowed them to make their own decisions along the way will produce huge benefits. Their skills will be nicely honed, and they will be more than likely to make better decisions since they've been practicing for years. Those who have been over-protected by helicopter parents will oftentimes find themselves inadequate when it comes to choosing the best possible scenerio in certain instances. Sometimes making wrong choices can have devastating consequences, and as parents we have the responsibility to prepare our children long before our teens are ever faced with such dilemmas.

From birth, if we adults stay grounded and realize that even infants can and should be allowed to choose their own toys, their own food preferences, their own environmental surroundings, our college-bound sons and daughters will have no trouble deciding upon an elective, picking a lunch period, or doing their own laundry without having to make frantic calls to you.

Come on, parents, land those helicopters and stay grounded and watch your children become self-sufficient, independent people who are destined to change the world.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pittsburgh Pirates: LET'S DO THIS!

Yesterday our Pittsburgh Pirates secured home field advantage for the wild card game against the Chicago Cubs. Beat them on  Wednesday and the Pirates play the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Beat them and Pittsburgh would play the New York Mets or the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL title.

That would bring our well-deserving home boys to the World Series! We've been in the playoffs for the past three years and now is the time to move ahead for the ultimate prize. Clint Hurdle and his boys of summer are ready and able. The milllions of Pittsburgh fans are ready and waiting. In my opinion, the world is ready and eager to join us in this long-awaited celebration!

Every player on the Pittsburgh Pirates team has contributed to their current success. They've played their hearts out, they've danced in the dugout, they've pitched like cannons on the battle fields of every ball park from the East coast to the West coast. The Pirates have swung their bats with the speed and power of mighty meteors. They've fought until bloodied, argued with umps until rudely ejected, and got into some heated confrontations with the opposing enemies.

Every fan has contributed to their success as well. They've purchased tickets to fill the stadium time and time again. They've poured their hearts into every pitch and every hit. They've been saddened by every loss, but never have given up the thought of going the distance. Those of us who couldn't be at the ballpark have been glued to our TVs doing exactly the same as those in attendance. We believe winning the World Series this year is not only possible, but written in the stars.

Come on, Pirates, this is our time to shine. You're in the driver's seat, and we've come along for the ride of a lifetime.