Teaching your children responsibility is one of the backbones of parenting. Why, then, is it so difficult to know how much is too much, and how soon is too soon? Sometimes the hardest thing for an adult to do is to let their child grow up.
Teaching your children responsibility is one of the backbones of parenting. Why, then, is it so difficult to know how much is too much, and how soon is too soon? Sometimes the hardest thing for an adult to do is to let their child grow up.
On BT Montreal, we discuss some tips for helping your pre-teen transition from elementary school to high school.
This can be a challenge for both parents and children who may be nervous and concerned for what lies ahead :
I no longer perceive smartphones as being monsters under children's beds.
Progress has triumphed, as it always does. My sense of realism has allowed me to accept that communication is no longer what it was. It is what it is, and, one day, will be what it will be.
When I watch my kids text their friends—their necks strained toward the floor, giving them a profile of a lower-case "r", like a lamplight with a loose shoelace—it no longer makes me grit and spasm.
"Why don't you just call them?!" I used to shout.
"What the difference?!" They would answer.
I didn't really know what the difference was.
Perhaps it was through watching reruns of Downton Abbey I realized that, in 1915, even the simple telephone was a modern horror.
Present day, when it came to texting and "Facetiming" (that word still evokes images of something one gets done at a spa), I was the problem.
What was it then? Why, despite meditation and a determined sense of acceptance, did social media habits still drive me crazy?!
I pondered that question.
And here are the answers :
You can't leave it alone.
You forget it's on.
- The alarm is set for school days. But, today, there was no school, but we were awakened anyway. That is why I didn't want a dog - because sleep-ins.
- The battery is low, and it is calling to us at 3am from somewhere under a sofa cushion. Which cushion? We don't know. However, in the middle of the night, it is mostly likely under the cushion furthest from the bedroom, necessitating a series of shin-bruising stumbles into ottomans and doorways.
- You promised not to answer your device during a meal. But, you didn't actually turn it off. So:
"This steak is delic-" bleep!
"Remember I said I would speak to my boss today? Well I did. She said, 'If there is one thing I want to make absolutely clear, it's-'" blap!
"I took the pregnancy test and shockingly I-" zing!
People reach out, with nothing to say.
- How does one answer a text which reads "Hey! What's up?!"
Do I write "Nothing." Or, do you really want the whole story?
- Or the Facetime call (do we call them "calls?", or are they "connections?" or "digitizations?") so that we may witness the cat curled curled up next to the bird, who is asleep on the dog, who is asleep on your Ugg, which you just Pintrested. Ugh.
Having something to say should be a prerequisite for any Facetime/Skype/Hangout interaction. Your snoring husband doesn't count. Even a "hysterical" snoring husband loses his pizzazz after I've been watching him for thirteen seconds on my thirteen inch screen.
"Say something," as the song goes, or, "I'm giving up on you."
You can't figure the thing out, so they end up texting me.
I fault no one for not understanding technology. I fault no one for choosing to avoid technology. The fault lies with the person who understands tech halfway, but chooses the deadly-tech-combo of not being curious to learn more, and yet still using it freely.
It produces weird tech math:
1) You reach out to them.
2) They respond to you.
3) You are unaware of, and/or cannot retrieve the text/voice/email message.
4) So they reach out to me.
5) I am now in charge of this project.
This is where old tech trumps new tech.
Just call them.
Use the wall phone and a pen and a wall calendar.
That way we techies are left out of it.
You're at my house...to see me.
Don't know much about history.
Don't know much biology.
Don't know much about a science book.
Don't know much about the French I took...
- Sam Cooke
...And you don't need to brush up on all of that while I'm offering you homemade dates wrapped with bacon, pesto bruschetta, and a glass of that 20 year port you love.
We see each other semi-annually. Put. It. Down. And...
...please talk to me
Won't you please talk to me
We can unlock this misery
Come on, come talk to me
- Peter Gabriel
"Why aren't they answering?!" Anxiety
12:04 pm - Text sent.
12:08 pm - Check for response (while pouring coffee)
12:10 pm - Check for response (while ironing with one hand)
12:16 pm - Check for response (while sitting on the toilet)
12:41 pm - Check for response (while driving)
12:50 pm - Check for response (while yelling at your kids to put down the iPad and go play outside.)
12:56 pm - Check for response (and become angry that they are not answering.)
13:04 pm - Check for response (becoming worried now.)
13:08 pm - Send the follow up, "Hello??!!" text.
13:14 pm - Send a text to another friend asking, "Have you heard from Rachel lately? I'm worried"
13:22 pm - Begin to imagine scenarios when you have wronged Rachel, giving her cause to unfriend, and generally hate you.
I love my phone. It is my communications tool, my research tool, and a tool for entertainment and diversion.
The difference between the land line and the smart phone—the difference between then and now—is: the "now" device has become an unabashed dictator.
It dictates the user's behaviour, often in countersense to the user's wishes or intentions.
It behaves similarly with the...usee (pronounced yoo-zee), the person with whom the user is supposed to be interacting.
I cannot recall a previous innovation which, along with pleasure, brought so much imbalance, anxiety and unwanted distraction.
Of course, we humans created the machines. There are no ghosts, only programmers and users. If there are phantoms within these pods and pads, they exist only to create the illusion that we will be somehow disadvantaged if we cut the tether.
We are worried that, if we walk away, not only will we no longer be part of an important social media collective, but the device itself may whisper to us from the dark,
"Where are you going? You're not leaving me alone, are you?"
The apparatus is the clown on the chair during heat lightning. It smiles when the lights flicker. And, when it suddenly goes missing, we become frightened.
We spend so much time searching online for what we might be missing, I worry we miss too much by not lifting our chins and searching for what was there all along.
By the way, feel free to take 2 minutes away from whatever you're doing to share this link.
My teeth have begun to fall out. The medicine cabinet is now the Brundle Museum of Natural History. You wanna see what else is in it?
- Seth Brundle, "The Fly" 1986
My night table has become my museum of natural history. It is a display table on which my children witness my slow progression toward old age. As with all life forms that have come before me, I am barrelling towards extinction.
My most recent reminder of this came courtesy of my dentist:
"Do you grind your teeth when you sleep?" he asked.
Maybe I do, I thought. I do a lot of things is my sleep; I fly, I play a key role in abolishing slavery, and I beat Mr. Boitano to win the battle of the Brians and give Canada Olympic gold in 1988.
"Maybe. I don't know. Why?" I respond.
"I see evidence of grinding. There is considerable wear here...and here. I recommend a night guard."
So, now I have one. Another apparatus (in the same family as dentures, I think) that I must add to my daily routine, which is becoming a preparatory school for old age.
Shall we start from the bottom, up?
I'll bundle together my ankles, knees and back; like a cable package. I do this for you, Dear Reader, as an ode to brevity. I'll also bale my joint issues in an effort to attribute them all to my athletic youth: a glorious amateur career in figure skating.
I have degenerated disks and lumbar arthritis, my left knee feels like a melon in a vice when I assume a crouch position, and my ankles...hurt. I don't know why they do, and, as part of the enduring male tradition of denial, I don't seek a resolution, lest I be told I can no longer jog - the only exercise I get.
I am now also one of those middle-agers at whom I used to giggle. If we plan an outing during which we will be walking more than a kilometre, I must wear sensible shoes. Sensible; even the word connotes tedium and decrepitude.
My physical tenderness fosters a complimentary sympathy from my kids: "Can we wrestle, Dad, or is your back sore?"
They used to just tackle with abandon.
I feel I am 45 years-old with a fossil's fragility.
There is one other joint that may soon require attention. Pain killers and anti-inflammatories are now nestled next to my eye glasses on my night table. When I am too lazy to fetch my specs from the place I last forgot them, my elbow performs diligently as a hinge, searching for a focal point as I read four pages before nodding off.
Oh, long live the night-life!
(I also cannot fall asleep without a knee pillow. That's right, like rival siblings, even my patellae can't lean next to each other without being irritated.)
If ever I forget my knee pillow, I'll have to look for it in the middle of the night. No worries, though. I'll have time to do that when I get up to pee, at 1:20, 3:15, 4:50, and when the alarm goes off around 6.
Truthfully, this is not entirely a consequence of waning years. I have bladder sphincter dyssynergia (just click the link if you're interested, I'm too old to explain it to you. Time is life.)
This condition, too, is medically treated. My daily Myrbetriq vial stands next to the anti-inflammatory like a bishop guarding a rook.
My lifestyle is also...aging...but, in a good way, like blue cheese. Stephen King has lost his spot to historical non-fiction (oh, please, I'm not that heady. Historical non-fiction still loses the war to Grisham and John Sandford).
I recently introduced my son to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with the obligatory, "This is when people still wrote great music." Typical. Nothing other than what existed during my youth is worth anything.
When "Billy Jean" was on the radio the other day, I told my daughter, "When I was your age, this was the biggest song on the planet!"
She replied, "You say that every time an old song comes on."
An old song. That's me, now.
Yes, yes, I know. Perspective. Decades to come. I still have my health. Grandchildren to look forward to. First World problems. I know, I know.
But this is my blog. So, shut up. Give me twenty minutes to whine.
There. I feel better.
I'm just saying, aging awareness is a new phenomenon for me.
I am, "by the time-ing" a lot:
"By the time my kids have kids, I'll be retired (I hope)."
"By the time my kids are my age, I'll be almost eighty."
"By the time I finish this post, I'll be ready for a nap."
I love napping. What's with that?
What I don't love is waking up from my nap and dealing with a knee pillow, a night guard, a full bladder, a sore back, and lost glasses.
It is what it is, but I don't have to like it.
By the way, when did I start using the term "night table"?
As a kid, I just threw my shit on the floor. Now, I hate when my kids throw their shit on the floor.
Discussions about women's biological clocks are fairly routine. Interestingly, studies have begun to pop up showing that men, too, experience decreasing fertility sooner than we first thought. When asked, men also admitted to feeling deep regret about choosing career over parenthood.
This was the topic of my most recent visit to Breakfast Television:
I often quote the late Roger Ebert's mantra, "It's not what a movie is about, it is how it is about it."
As a writer, after years of wondering whether I should address any given topic, I finally have come to enough terms with one subject in particular that it was time to ask, "Why am I not writing about this one?"
Why am I not writing about my mental health?
S-T-I-G-M-A: noun, "A mark of shame, or discredit." (Merriam-Webster)
I have been seeing a psychologist for nearly eight months. At first weekly, then bi-weekly, and now every third week. I would prefer to go no more often, but mental health care is not inexpensive.
Why, just a couple of weeks before Christmas 2016, did I decide things had gotten so bad that I needed psychological therapy?
The answer to that question is at the very epicentre of what ails our understanding of mental health: Things had not gotten so bad, and I wanted them never to deteriorate to that point.
I wasn't depressed; but I was occasionally sad. I wasn't suffering from anxiety; but I was anxious.
I wasn't right.
I wasn't looking forward to most of what a week would bring.
I knew others who did suffer from serious anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. What business did I have thinking I needed therapy?
It was one friend who asked me one question that convinced me to call a psychologist: "Wouldn't life be better if you did look forward to things?"
I didn't really think that was possible. But, what if it was?
What if it was?
I had spent years thinking my feelings weren't worthy of being addressed. But don't those who are further down the spectrum of mental illness begin at the beginning? Didn't they, one day, tip from being fine to being not-so-fine? Didn't they slowly teeter from unhappy to depressed?
Ultimately, for many who suffer, "not fine" went unaddressed and ignored, and became "unwell." This, in turn matured into "ill." Mentally ill.
A therapist was recommended to me by a close friend. She explained, "The psychologist begins with a half-hour phone consultation during which she will decide whether she thinks she can help you."
The therapist's website extolled meaningfulness, lasting relationships and self-healing. As men, we are taught to belittle what is perceived as daytime talk show language. We don't watch Oprah, though we may want to. We don't emote, though we should. We don't seek help, even when we must.
Ironically, my physiological reactions as I dialed the psychologist's number mimicked my behaviour under stress: dry mouth, palpitations, perspiration, tightness in my throat and rapid speech.
This, I would learn weeks later, is my body engaging its fight-or-flight reflex. It determined--while I was calling a therapist to ask for her help--that I was under attack.
That is how men have been conditioned to react to weakness: fight it, or run away. Don't succumb; don't seek solutions; don't share. Fight, or run.
"How can I help you?" She asked.
I explained how I didn't look forward to things. I could fake it, but, in almost all situations, I would look forward to just being home.
And I craved alone time, always.
It was not a question of whether this was 'normal', it was a matter of this psychological need being unhealthy for myself and my family. I am a husband, and a father of two, and a son, and a brother, and a friend, and an employee, and a school volunteer,
I want to be eager for the days ahead. I envy those who are excited about parties and barbecues and having a drink with friends.
Slowly, therapy is teaching me how to summon the strength to ask for what I need: an afternoon away, or half-an-hour of reading on the couch in the evening instead of watching TV with the kids. I have gotten over the prejudice I held towards meditation. I can lie on the floor of my bedroom listening to my meditation apps (Buddhify and Meditation Studio), and feel more rested and peaceful after only twenty minutes.
I am also learning that I can allow myself to enjoy things within my own framework. If I don't want to socialize at a party, I can sit and listen.
I have to change people's expectations of what I bring to a room. I am more of an introvert than an extrovert, and I have to give myself permission to behave accordingly.
There are rough patches as I work on myself. I am changing the person my loved ones and peers have come to know over decades. This is an adjustment for them as well. And that's okay. It is okay for there to be moments of strife and disagreement. This does not mean I am failing, or losing, or neglecting. It means I am human and am demonstrating qualities that many others have already mastered: self-assurance and independence from expectation.
Talking about mental health has become "splashionable." It is fashionable to splash around in a cause's puddle for a while, along with our "friends" on social media. There is Bell's Let's Talk Day, and the World Health Organization's Mental Health Day, and National Child and Youth Mental Health Day, and many other days of consternation.
But then what? Hundreds of days of advocacy disappearance.
I have written before about depression, especially in men, and how those affected by a family member's suicide have tried unique approaches to reach those who are reluctant to reach out.
The resources are in place. What is not established is a systematic change to the perception that psychological hardship should not be addressed in the same fashion as physical discomfort. When your joints are sore, how long before you pop acetaminophen and mention it to your family practitioner? Do you hesitate to mention to friends an appointment with a physiotherapist to strengthen your back?
Contemplating suicide is not the only gateway to picking up a phone. And S-T-I-G-M-A should not be allowed to shame you into keeping quiet. Worry about the perception of seeking talk therapy is valid, and it may not release its grip. Asking for help concerning your mental health is difficult, and uncomfortable, and is often dismissed by family and peers. But, wouldn't it feel good to feel good? Wouldn't it be healing to speak with a professional who brings with them none of your history, or knowledge of your habits, or judgment about your behaviour?
I spent years wondering whether I was a worthy candidate for therapy. Wondering wasn't helping. Thinking wasn't healing. Hiding was hurting.
So I talked. And now you know.
Yesterday on City TV's BT Montreal, Joanne Vrakas and I talked about Father's Day gifts. What was ironic was, just before going on, the make-up artist said to me, "I don't know what to buy my husband for Father's Day!"
"Why Don't you ask him?" I said.
That seemed to be a new concept.
"Ask him at night, away from the children." I continued, "Tell him you really want him to be honest about three things he would like."
That was part of this more philosophical conversation Joanne and I had about the evolution of Father's Day (which has been a pet topic of mine for a while), and the gifts that go with it.
The article's headline reads "The More Chores a Husband Does, The More Likely The Marriage Will End in Divorce." It is safe to assume, in a clicks-equals-revenue world, that the Medical Daily website, which posted the article, is relying on a lot of reposts without read-throughs.
When I found the article Facebook, there were already the "Ha! See, honey?" comments from husbands, and, no doubt, a lot of face-palming from wives.
The article is based on an Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences report entitled "Gender Equality at Home." This report is based on two previous studies.
As with—I will assume—everyone who read the headline on the Medical Daily, I did not read the entire Norwegian report, nor did I peruse either of its parent studies. Regardless, reading the "Chores" post carefully gives the reader insight into how many parenting studies (especially once they are sifted into click-bait) offer more questions than answers, and follow those questions with very few concrete conclusions.
For example, the opening sentence on the Medical Daily site (if you manage to wrestle past the convenient 90-second video produced for the even shorter attention span) reads:
Couples may be better off living in a "traditional" household where women do all the housework if they want to stay together, according to a report from the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science.
"May be better off." Through scientific reasoning, one can extrapolate that this also means, "May NOT be better off," however, this would not bode as well for Facebook shaming of the opposite sex.
The results showed 65 percent of couples equally or near-equally divided childcare, but not housework: Women reported doing all or almost all of the work in 11 percent of couples and "somewhat more of the work" in 60 percent of couples.
Here are some details not defined by those statistics: within that first group of 65 percent of couples who near-equally divide childcare, who shoulders more of the child-caring? Is it the husband, since his wife is busy completing household chores? We don't know.
The other big question, which is often left unanswered when debating housework, is: What defines housework? Laundry? No doubt. Dishwashing and vacuuming? I assume so. Lawn mowing, plumbing, or other home repair and maintenance tasks? Umm...oops, usually not.
I have written before about the many household tasks which are never considered "housework" for the survey monkeys. But, trust me, repairing foundation cracks and installing wall tiles are, indeed, chores.
To support the article's unjustifiably definitive headline, the report's author is quoted further down the article:
"The more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate," said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled "Gender Equality At Home," according to AFP. While researchers found no or very little cause-and-effect, they believe that the observation could be due to "modern" attitudes.
In other words, the division of domestic labor may have NOTHING to do with divorce rates. The stand-by hypothesis is that, within more modern (read: younger) couples, men and women feel more confident expressing their displeasure. This more quickly results in one, or both halves of the couple stating, "I want a divorce."
This could be because of snoring, drinking, infidelity, or a hatred of cats. We...just...don't...really...know.
The article continues with a lot of "Could-be's," and "Maybes," and completes its "We're not really sure," dismount with the following sentence:
The results from the latest survey appears to contradict a recent study carried out by researchers at Cambridge University earlier this year that found men were actually happier when sharing the housework.
Oh. Soooo....okay, then. As you were.
And, women, in case you were looking to seek revenge on those guys who posted the article's headline along with an "In your faces, women!" emoticon, the article wraps up in fine emasculating form:
The Cambridge study was based on previously collected data from 30,000 people in 34 countries. Researchers found that men had benefited the more they contributed to household chores, but researchers suggested that this could also be because they preferred a quiet life doing housework than having a disgruntled other half.
In other words: men can't possibly be happier sharing household chores, right? It must be that these indecisive Cro-Magnons just nod and smile and do what they're told because there is nothing worse than being scolding by the missus.
Researchers often spend years deriving conclusions and battling to be published. What a massive disservice to academia—as well as to any understanding we hope to glean from it—when click-bait sites reduce one-hundred pages of research into four-hundred words of non-commitment and misunderstanding.
And then we repost that drivel for them.
Increase your folic acid intake.
Eliminate tobacco and alcohol.
Reduce caffeine in your diet.
Maintain proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Congratulations, you're pregnant!
There have been many debates surrounding the type of lifestyle changes which need to be implemented and/or maintained during pregnancy.
"What harm can it do?" and, "My babies were fine, and I didn't really scrutinize my lifestyle," are common refrains when justifying being more lax with one's pre-natal health than is suggested by physicians.
However, a new study suggests that, despite giving birth to an apparently healthy baby, the conditions in utero may have lasting effects which can influence a child's health into adolescence and adulthood.
A team from Quebec-based Research Unit on Children’s Psychosocial Maladjustment had the results of their study published in Human Brain Mapping.
Their subjects were pairs of identical twins, which they followed from birth, through to their teenage years.
They found that, despite having identical genetic profiles, one twin presented with different birthweight from the partner in the uterus. The twin with the higher birthweight also showed more advanced brain development as the children grew older.
In an article, published on Montreal's Concordia University's website, Linda Booij, associate professor of psychology in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science and a researcher at Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, explained the results:
By the time our participants had reached teenagehood, differences in brain volume were present in the cortex, which is where much of our regulation of emotions and cognitive processes takes place. Interestingly, twins with large differences in birth weight and cortical structure also had epigenetic differences. This means that what happens in utero may affect a person’s brain development by the time they reach their teen years, and that epigenetic processes may play a role in this relationship.
The article describes epigenetics as changes in the activity of how a gene is expressed through environmental experiences, rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.
This means that there could be factors affecting one fetus more than the other, which may be extrapolated and manifested as differences in the children more than a decade later.
Dr. Booij explains to Concordia University:
Since the twins in our study are genetically identical, this difference in birth weight must be due to specific factors acting in utero. For instance, one fetus might have a better placement in the womb or better access to nutrition.
The study focused on in utero conditions affecting one fetus, positively or negatively, more than the other. However, as any parent with more than one child can attest to, no two, or three, or four siblings are alike. Wouldn't the parenting style and external factors after delivery also affect a child's emotional and physical health? For example: parents are often more nervous and strict with a first child versus their younger siblings. Children from one family also may have drastically different nutritional and/or lifestyle habits--i.e. be more inclined towards a healthy diet or athletics--than the other sibling.
Wouldn't these factors also explain the differences in sibling brain profiles through the teenage years?
I posed that question to Dr. Booij:
In general since the twins were raised in the same family and all still lived with their parents, many measures are similar (e.g. Eating habits). We have measures on parenting (in which the parent fills in a questionnaire for each child how e.g. Strict they are with each child). We noted that these measures were very similar.Nevertheless, we can expect that factors after birth play a role, and that the differences within twin pairs may become larger once the twins are more apart. In fact, we continue to follow the twins and hopefully can repeat the epigenetic and brain measures in a new data collection when they are older.
What does this mean for a woman and her pregnancy? It may be further evidence that all that advice and caution one receives prior to, and during pregnancy, may not only mean a healthier baby at birth. It may also be the gateway to a healthier adolescent and, therefore, a happier and healthier adult.
Dear Family Pediatrician,
Thank you for your suggestion that I put all of my concerns into one letter so that you may give them proper consideration.
As I had (briefly) mentioned during my son's last exam, I find some of my children's new behaviors worrisome. I have listed them below, in no particular order:
THEIR EYES: I am ignorant as to the musculature associated with the eyeball, and how it interacts with its socket and the surrounding nerves. Having admitted that, I am fairly confident both my children's ocular regions are malfunctioning.
During times of emotional stress, or even mild displeasure, they seem to have trouble focusing their vision straight ahead. Their eyes seem to wander towards the ceiling, or towards either side of the room. Sometimes this rolling of the eyes seems so extreme I worry they may lose consciousness.
Is this normal?
THEIR PHYSICAL STRENGTH (especially as it pertains to the lower back and arms): When each of my children was a toddler, their strength seemed unusual for such a small child. They would be able to heave large toys across the room, inflict pain on a full-grown adult either by grabbing fistfuls of skin or hair, or kicking them in the stomach or groin area upon being lifted.
Now, nearly a decade removed from this stage, they exhale a groan of pain while lifting even the smallest of items; a sock from the floor, or a plate off the table, for example.
Sometimes the pain seems to even precede the task. My son actually began groaning on his way to his school bag, before even attempting to carry it to the front door. Should I give them Tylenol daily, perhaps with breakfast, to relieve this symptom?
Is this normal?
THEIR MEMORIES: From what I have read online, the different sections, or lobes, of the brain are responsible for different cognitive abilities. For instance, I have read our long-term memories are stored in one area, but our capacity to perform daily tasks (such as eating, writing, walking, etc.), are governed by a different cerebral mechanism entirely. This would explain the problem my children seem to encounter where selective reasoning and recollection are concerned.
This morning, they asked what was for supper. I told them it was Tofu Stir Fry with Rice and Vegetables. When they returned from school, they asked again, and then yet again once their homework was done. They really seemed to have trouble remembering what was for supper. This wouldn't normally be of any concern, except that they have nearly photographic recall when it came to reminding me that the 21st and 28th of this month are pizza days at school.
Also, I had to remind my son three times to feed his guinea pig (the poor thing, I believe, is horribly malnourished. You don't treat family pets, do you, Doctor?), yet, he was able to recall all the showtimes for the 3D viewing of Dr. Strange this weekend at our local cinema.
Is this normal?
THEIR SPEECH & GRAMMAR: I remember, when my kids were younger, they were constantly asking me to explain things. I would have to speak very slowly, and use repetitive, simple language to be sure I was understood. Recently, though, we have been experiencing role reversal on that front.
Their speech velocity has increased dramatically, while their enunciation has become so muddled, I have difficulty understanding them. Sometimes I ask them to repeat themselves, and to slow down (which, once again, triggers that weird ocular reflex I mentioned earlier). But, even then, their language is nonsensical. They say things like "Get wrecked," or "BooYa," or sometimes they just look at me and yell, "Ohhhhhh!" when they have made an argument they are particularly pleased with.
When I seem to have the upper hand during a family debate, they sputter quietly and mumble unintelligibly. Perhaps their brains are suddenly having trouble understanding my point of view?
Is this normal?
THEIR SPATIAL AWARENESS: Finally, Doctor, I may have to phone your receptionist and book an appointment for myself. (Do you see only children, or will you examine parents of children as well?) I have sustained several injuries lately, which, I'm afraid, I must blame on my kids.
Last week, the kids and I pulled into the driveway, after having been grocery shopping. I exited the vehicle, went around to the trunk, and grabbed two bags full of produce. I turned to head into the house, and tripped over my daughter who was suddenly standing right behind me. The celery flew onto my neighbor's lawn, and I hit my head on the uni-stone. My daughter claimed to have not seen me. Isn't that strange?
On Monday, I was emptying the dishwasher. When I stood, I smashed my head (fortunately on the opposite side from the uni-stone contusion) on the cupboard door, which my son had opened while I was gathering soup spoons from the cutlery tray. He, too claimed not to have seen me. Weird, no?
I would not mention this at all, except that yesterday, during family movie night, my son was scrolling through our collection of shows on our PVR when he asked my wife whether he could erase the Godfather trilogy I had recorded last month. My wife suggested he ask me that question. My son's reply was, "Well, when is Dad getting home?"
Doctor, I was sitting right next to him!
I'm not sure if this "parental invisibility syndrome" (PIS?) would be categorized as difficulty with spatial recognition, or vision.
I suppose first I would need to know: Is this normal?
Thank you very much for your time, I am eager for your opinions on these matters. Meanwhile, would you recommend heat or cold for minor head wounds?
Kenny Bodanis, "Parent."