Parenting Tips and Tricks – #61

Did you read or hear about the Massachusetts ten-year old who called 911 this past Wednesday night because his mother had told him that it was time to go to bed?

The young miscreant apparently felt that his Mom had done him a great injustice and was intent on teaching her a lesson by assuming that the local constabulary would be in full agreement with his side of the story.

Apparently the young man lost his nerve and hung-up on the 911 operator halfway through filing the report on what he believed to be his mother’s unreasonable mandate.  Following normal procedures in such cases, the operator called back to confirm whether or not there was an actual emergency.  This time the mother answered the phone.  I happened to hear this exchange when a local radio station replayed the audio from the 911 call.
As I was listening, it occurred to me that the 911 operator, who happened to be female, must have also been a mother.  You could hear the empathy in her voice and visualize her head shaking in total agreement as the juvenile malefactor’s mother explained the situation.

The 911 operator informed the mother that it was normal operating procedure in handling calls of this sort for a police officer to respond to the scene and that one would be arriving there shortly.

It was at this point, that I believe a brilliant opportunity was missed for teaching this particular ten-year old a very valuable life lesson.

Had I been the parent in this case, I would have taken the police officer aside and asked that he give my son a real dressing down regarding abuse of the 911 system and that he then place him in handcuffs and march him out to the patrol car as if he was going to be taken “downtown.
Please.  No one needs to point out to me that, in these politically correct times, it would be extremely unlikely that  any officer would have been willing to “cuff” a ten-year old.  Just allow me a few moments to savor the thought of it ……… Ah, yes, that was good!

Let’s play out the rest of my scenario.  After giving the policeman enough time to walk the reprobate out to the car and open its rear door, I would bound out the front door of the house and rush across the yard while imploring the officer to show leniency to my son.

After all officer, this is his first offense and I’m sure he’ll go straight to bed and never do anything like this again!  Isn’t that right, son?

Lesson learned, case closed, and most importantly the little blister totally recognizes once again that he’ll never be able to out think his old man.

Alas, just a dream and yet another lost opportunity in creative parenting.


Images courtesy of

There’s Never a Good Time for a Spasm

It was 1:43 a.m.  I know because as I was jolted into an unwanted state of wakefulness, the first thing I observed were the red numerals glowing insistently from my alarm clock.  I lay there for a few seconds wondering what had happened, when that which had first caused me to awaken, convulsed me second time.  A hiccup!

In all of my many years, I can’t remember ever having a case of the hiccups in the middle of the night, but I did last night and it was a world class case of them I might add.
My normal procedure for treating the hiccups is to wait for one to strike, then to quickly take a deep breath and hold it while focusing all of my mental powers on not allowing my diaphragm to move.  It’s as if I were pearl diving while attempting a Vulcan mind meld.

Truth be known, I’m not sure I could voluntarily make my diaphragm move on a good day, so why do I think I can keep it from moving involuntarily?  Beats me too, but it seems to work more often than not.

While I was laying there in the dark attempting self-asphyxiation, I was struck by how little I knew about hiccups and decided then and there to learn more; but to do so no earlier than the next day.

Somewhere back in my grade school days, I had learned that hiccups, or hiccoughs if you prefer the more eloquent European spelling, are simply involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, the membrane which keeps your lungs separated from the rest of the equipment in your body cavity.  Medically speaking, a hiccup is a myoclonic jerk.  Trust me, I’ve known a few of those in my day and I’d rank a good case of hiccups right up there with the worst of them.

In full blown medical jargon, hiccups are known as Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutters or SDFs.

The next time you’re stricken, go up to someone you know and say, “I’m having a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter! Can you help me?” and see what kind of response you receive.  It might be interesting, but be careful of whom and where you ask for such aid.
It came as no surprise to me that medical science really doesn’t know what causes hiccups.  Neither do they know the cause of the brain freeze that you get when you eat ice cream or a slushie too quickly. You’d think that after hundreds of years of poking and probing around inside of cadavers, as well as real live people, they could come up with a few answers.

One proposition is that hiccups are one of those evolutionary left-overs or remnants which are no longer required to allow our bodies to function normally, but which nature has left by the biological roadside in order to stump future generations of doctors and scientists.
It is suggested that hiccuping is akin to the manner in which amphibians, tadpoles and salamanders for example, gulp air in order to push it across their gills thus allowing them to breathe.  Having observed some of my relatives in the act of hiccuping, I must admit that there may be something to that hypothesis.

In any event, I was able to quell my nocturnal bout of synchronous diaphragmatic flutters and after completing my research am a better man for it.

Live long and prosper!

Little Women With Big SUVs

What is it about the people who drive those great big, gas guzzling SUVs?

I don’t know what your personal experience has been, but in the little slice of suburban heaven that I call home, there seems to be a principle at work that goes something like this:

The larger the automobile, the less likely that the driver will pay any attention to other vehicles on the road.

I drive a Honda S2000.

It happens to be the type of car that I lusted after when I was 18 years old, but I had to delay the satisfaction of that particular automotive craving until I was closer to 50. I’ve been driving it for over 10 years now, so I’ll admit to being somewhat biased since I’m used to a smaller vehicular footprint than most drivers.

The largest vehicle that we, as a family, ever owned was a Chrysler minivan. Don’t ask me why we ever bought one. It just seemed like the thing to do during the 80’s if you had two young boys, so we drank the Kool-Aid too.

The automobiles that I’m talking about are the ones which probably are required to pull into those truck weigh stations when they are driving out on the interstate highways. The Chevy Suburban, Tahoe, and the Ford Expedition are the best examples that come to mind.

When you’re at the dealership signing the final papers for one of these monsters, I wonder if the salesman quietly slips you a manual under the table that lists the special and confidential “Rules of the Road for SUV Drivers“?

If not, where do the drivers of these vehicles learn:

  • You are permitted to merge into any lane, to the right or to the left, regardless of whether another vehicle occupies that space.
  • You are relieved of the responsibility of coming to a complete stop before making a right turn at a stop sign or traffic signal, regardless of whether another vehicle is already passing through that intersection.
  • You are permitted to continue through any red light so long as you do so within 10 seconds of it having turned red.
  • You are a very special person and thereby granted right-of-way over any, and all, other vehicles on the road; regardless of the circumstances.

I’m sure that there are more of these rules, but those are the ones which I see applied with amazing consistency by SUV drivers.

I think I’ve also identified another axiom which applies to the drivers of these mondo-land barges.

There appears to be an inverse relationship between the physical size of the individual operating the SUV and the amount of attention which they pay to any other drivers who may be attempting to share the use of the roads with them.

Case in point, when I see a minuscule woman behind the wheel of a Suburban or Tahoe, I generally attempt to find a convenient parking lot to pull into until she and her vehicle are well out of sight.

If I notice that the petit woman driving the monster truck bearing down on me happens to be wearing a skimpy tennis outfit, I simply drive on to the shoulder immediately until the crisis has passed.

Sometimes it’s best to simply concede and live to drive another day.