Archive for June 2009

Happy Father’s Day!

June 19, 2009
Fathers Then and Now

Fathers Then and Now

“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers – and fathering is a very important stage in their development.” — David M. Gottesman

“A father is a banker provided by nature.” — French Proverb

“The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage. A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, ‘Daddy, I need to ask you something,’ he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan.” — Garrison Keillor

“When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon, ‘Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?’ He answered, ‘If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.'” — Jerry Lewis

I read a report recently that most people treat Father’s Day like an afterthought. That is such a shame. Some even joke on how kids like Father’s day better than Mother’s day because they don’t have to spend as much money. To all the fathers out there, this is for you.

Like so many men of his time, my father joined the military at a young age. He was a career man, retiring in 1973. During those years, I think I have counted over a dozen schools I attended. There were two years when my father was transferred 3 times. During some of those years, I can recall him taking on one, even two extra jobs to help our family of 4 children make ends meet. I know it was not a fun time for him. There are many times I am sure he would have rather been doing something else. But one of the things I can recall quite clearly is my father working on our family cars. His father taught him at an early age how cars worked, drilling the steps of engine operation into him. My father could fix almost anything. Oil changes? You’d better believe he did them. Engine sputtering? He was under the hood changing the spark plugs.

These days my father is the master of the grill. If it can be seared, put on a rotisserie, or smoked, he can make it taste like something from a 5-star restaurant. He leaves most of the car work to others as age and health have pretty much made that hobby out of the question. It doesn’t mean he still doesn’t ask about our cars or the grandchildren’s cars.

Here’s a typical phone conversation for most fathers:

Child: Hi Dad!
Father: Hi! How’s the car?
Child: It’s doing fine. We had the oil changed recently.
Father: That’s good. How’s the job?
Child: Going well.
Father: How are the kids?
Child: They are doing OK. Johnny had a cold, but he’s better now.
Father: That’s good. Here’s your mother…

I have come to the conclusion over the years that most fathers do their best talking when the child is in front of them. Phones are just not a good communication tool. But that’s OK.

I don’t go very long without one of my relatives saying how much I am like my father. Believe me when I say that is one of the greatest compliments I receive. While I think I have garnered some of the best (and yes, some of the worst) traits of my parents, I am proud to be my father’s daughter. I am so glad he has passed on to me many of his skills and values.

So to all the fathers, grandfathers, soon-to-be-fathers, and those we look up to as fathers, thank you. You are not an afterthought in the eyes of a child, whether they be newborn or 90.

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Summer, Children and Hot Cars

June 5, 2009

Summer time temps can lead to even hotter car interiors.

Summer time temps can lead to even hotter car interiors.


I want to take a moment to remind people that summer is almost here and in some places has arrived already. Your car is equivalent to an oven when the sun is out. Open your car door on a summer day and it feels as though you just opened the door to a blast furnace. It doesn’t matter if it’s even 65 degrees out, your car’s internal temperature can reach alarming and deadly temperatures, even in the shade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “a locked car sitting in the summer sun quickly turns into an oven,” and “temperatures can climb from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes, to 125 degrees in 6-8 minutes.” That’s only 3 minutes to go from 78 degrees to 100 degrees, people. 3 minutes – time enough to run inside a store to grab a gallon of milk… time enough to drop off a bill inside the utility company’s office. Imagine what just 3 minutes can do to a child – time enough to send your child’s temperature soaring, leading to heat stroke, dehydration, seizures, stroke, and even death. But it’s only a moment, you say. It’s a lifetime to them.

I don’t know how many times I have seen this same act repeated year after year. Every summer there are stories reported about parents doing exactly that. And it’s not just the idea of leaving them in there to run an errand. Unfortunately, sometimes it is forgetting the child is in the back seat, thinking that the other parent has taken the child inside, or even a child getting into an unlocked car to hide. Sure, you may say it will never happen to you, but so many others have said the same thing only to wind up grieving at the loss of a child.

I read one of the most heart-wrenching stories from the Washington Post, Fatal Distraction. I highly recommend all child-care givers read it. Hopefully it will stick in your mind and make you more vigilant. Here’s the link. Keep some tissues around, you’ll need them.

Here are some safety tips this year from Vincent Iannelli, M.D.:
• don’t leave kids in a car, which can quickly heat up, especially on a hot, sunny day
• always lock your car and secure the keys so that your kids can’t get to them
• warn your kids about playing in the car by themselves without adult supervision
• install a trunk release mechanism, so that they can’t get trapped in the trunk
• get your kids out of the car first, and then worry about getting the groceries, etc., out of the car when you get home
• make sure that child-care providers and day-care workers have a plan to make sure that kids aren’t left in the day-care provider’s car or van

If you are afraid that you might leave your sleeping infant or toddler in their car seat when you get out of the car, place a reminder on the dashboard or do as some parents do and put a teddy bear on the passenger seat of the vehicle when the child is in the back seat. They say it makes a great reminder. Some parents even make sure that they put their briefcase, purse, cell phone or other reminder in the back seat when they have their child in the car. It forces them to look in the back seat.

Also be on alert for cars that might have an unattended child left inside. If you see a child alone in a car, be sure to call 911 and help make sure the child gets out as soon as possible.

If you think it’s OK to leave your child in the car while you run that quick errand as long as the air conditioner is running, think again. Your child becomes an easy target for kidnappers; your child may put your car into drive; or if your car has power windows, they could even get themselves caught in it. Take your kids inside, even if you think it’s only going to be a few minutes. In fact, don’t ever leave your kids alone in the car. It’s not safe and it is actually against the law in many states.

Here is a site with some great public service announcements and information on hyperthermia: kidsandcars.org
They also have some great tips for parents or other care-givers. Check them out.

One of these years, I hope that there will be a summer where news channels will actually say, “this year, there were no reported deaths of children due to overheating in a car, truck, or van.” One of these years…