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    Poppa's Perspectives

    Chapter 1 Episode 10. August 12, 2017 - "Are We There Yet"

         Ahh!!! This universally acclaimed statement of loving children, flowing needlessly to every parent's ears.  Recited endlessly, over and over again, by every child in every car, on every venture in a vehicle that lasts longer than one (1) hour.  The term "road trip" is a word that is held with great anticipation by adults.  It signals a time of both restful relaxation and wondrous adventure.  It is a cherished and envied term that makes everyone, in one's social circle, a little jealous that they will not be going along.  It is a time to experience the unknown and bask in all its glory. Ahh!!!!  Not if you are a parent of little children.
         What "road trip" really means is first, do a complete check on the modern Conestoga Chuck Wagon, I mean SUV. After the vehicle has been checked start filling it with every contraption devised by overzealous retailers to make sure that the children will be safe, clean, comfortable, fed, and hydrated during the trip and when they get to where ever you are going to.  Modernized wheelbarrows (strollers) to transport the little darlings when not in the vehicles must be loaded. Portable cages (pack-N-plays) to keep the children safe from ever touching the ground must also be wedged into that motorized mini moving van.  Bathtubs and coolers and toys and movies and books and diapers with all accessories and suitcases full of clothes and etc, etc!!! With all of that said, please do not forget the family pet and all of that gear.  It is just a logistical nightmare.  And after all of that preparation you get to hear those famous words, "are we there yet".
         From the child's point of view a road trip is time spent strapped in and confined to a spaceship designed restraint device.  It does not allow the child to enjoy the views outside of the windows of the vehicle.  The result is boredom and a longing for the freedom to be a young inquisitive human being.  This is all being denied to them during this torturous transportation event. These kids have no idea where they are, but none of it is familiar, like their bedroom or backyard, so they are apprehensive, antsy, scared, and downright obnoxious.  Can we blame them?  A road trip is an adult thing.  To a child it is removing me from my comfort zone, throwing me into a moving jail, and telling me not to relieve my bladder or bowels when I really, really, really have to go. 
         The entire road trip with children and senior citizens is planned the same way.  You choose a destination and then map out the route with the most amounts of rest areas available to use on the way there.  It has nothing to do with scenic overlooks, cascading waterfalls, river rapids, mountain passes, or anything like that.  It has to do with potty training.
         I have experience with all of this.  We were fortunate enough to own, with the bank, a weekend getaway.  We traveled 1 hour and 40 minutes, each way about 30 out of 52 weekends every year since 1985.  You would think that my children paid some attention to their surroundings during all those boring and repetitive "road trips".  Well, when my future mechanical engineering, mathematician, and inquisitive child got his drivers license, and after making that trip from the age of 4 to 17, guess who needed directions the first time he had to drive himself to that getaway property.
    (insert from all fairness, there's a couple different routes to go, i was asking which way they suggested....)
        I leave for an unplanned, spur of the moment, no advance reservations, no specific route (except for roads with rest stops with bathrooms), to a specific destination tomorrow morning, I have a compass, a very large SUV with loads of empty space in the back after it is loaded with very little of everything. I have a lot of time to get to where I am going and no one in the back seat saying "are we there yet!  Finally, ahh!!!!   
    Some pics of HighSpeedPoppa on his lifetime bucket list trip cross country...

    Chapter 1 Episode 9. July 14, 2017 - "Mom Always Liked You Best"

         Like a pack of wolves, a pride of lions, or a troop of monkeys, we humans learn to fight, wrestle, push, shove, and negotiate first with our siblings.  If not brothers and sisters, then with cousins or other members of the family group that are close to our age.  We, little kids, are always vying for the most attention from mommy and daddy and are willing to put on quite a show to get it. We learn valuable social skills during these early development years.  The best wrestlers or the oldest sibling may at first, end up being the leader for a while by just using brute force.  This may not last long, as kids grow to larger and larger sizes, as they get older.  Sex makes no difference as to who is the leader in the sandbox either. The difference, eventually, is who is the best negotiator.  What we learn before the sandbox and interaction with kids, who are not relatives, is the lessons of "sibling rivalry".
         A brother and sister fighting over the same toy is not about that toy.  It is over whom mom says she will give the toy to, so that the fight stops. It is about who wins the attention from mom.  We humans are very competitive by instinct.  We want to win at everything.  "Who ever dies with the most toys wins" is a famous quote.  Oil, cattle, money, spouses, slaves, land, natural resources, power, water, and any other item deemed of value to someone else are worth negotiating, fighting, or eventually killing for. All these things of valve started off as my brother's toy, that I wanted and schemed to get my mother to take it away from my sibling and bestow on me, her favorite. In that historical fiction novel called the Old Testament, Cain killed Abel his brother over "sibling rivalry".
         So, what do all these references to genetics mean?  Simply, Mommy and Daddy and their decisions, in the living room, in front of the TV, after a full day of stressful decision making, on which little crying brat gets that damn toy, may be helping to shape the decisions of the future leader of the free world.  Remember to keep it simple (KISS).  It is the same rotten deal for all.  Let them find their own way.  Land the helicopter mommy and let them fight it out.  It is only normal.

    Chapter 1 Episode 8. June 12, 2017 - "Hail, Hail, the Gangs All Here, Uh Oh!!"

         Ticks, mice, rats, and bats are examples of the terrible things that we try to keep our children away from, so that the diseases they spread will not infect them.  How about the fact that most air-borne and blood borne infectious pathogens, are spread by relatives and friends?  The dangers surround our kids and us with loving kisses, hugs, and handshakes.  This is terrible but good at the same time.  The support they offer outweighs the sicknesses they pass on. 
         Newborns are kept on breastfeeding as long as comfortable for mom and baby to take advantage of antibodies.  Then there is a birthday party in the family and the next week everyone is sick with the latest new malady going around.  Every kid gets the same illness and parents, who are in a weakened immune system condition, because they are parents, also get to join the sneezing brigade.  Oh, the joy of family, friends, and good times for all.  The good part is that those that care about you and yours the most, are also there to share and support us in our time of need with advice and information gathered through the friends and family network.  Doctor's advice paid for by one family member is passed on, symptom relief that works gets forwarded, and grandma's home cure is shared.  All the younger members of the network get exposed to these inevitable childhood maladies at the same time and build their own antibodies prior to going to the infamous snake pit of disease, school.  None of this unsought misery is done on purpose.  It is just part of the fact that we humans are social animals and through evolution the system developed this way so that the strongest tribes, clans, and families survived while the weakest perished.  So be sad that you and yours are sick, but be happy that they will end up stronger after they recover.  Like the saying goes, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
         Remember, when the gang is all here at the Okay Corral not everything may end up being okay!!!

    Chapter 1 Episode 7. May 12, 2017 - "Cave Entrance Security"

         "Wake up Grog, the dog or "friendly wolf" is barking at the cave entrance".  How many wives have said similar sentences to their husbands or "designated warrior protector".  These words were spoken long before any new fangled robotic security cyber systems came into the marketing arena. Many of these systems offer a false sense of security to all who have spent their hard earned money to purchase.  In today's environment of hi-tech everything, the term "keep it simple stupid", KISS, has faded into the picture of a beautiful sunset on your laptop screensaver.  When it comes to early warning devices to protect the family, how can anyone argue that the barking dog has not proven to be the most reliable solution?  Yes, there are many flaws in this not so perfect security system.  So, let's compare them against technology.
         Dog's, like any animal, may cause allergies or other negative medical situations to human's they are exposed to.  Electrical security systems may cause fires or electrical shock.  A dog needs to be fed and cared for. This may cost more money than the monthly electrical voltage, maintenance, and monitoring system cost.  The electrical system set up costs; depending on how elaborate your needs are, can be really expensive.  Door and window sensors, cameras, recording systems, audio alerts, HVAC controls, offsite Internet viewing availability, etc, etc, all are extra costs.  The cost of the dog also varies on the pedigree of the animal.  I, personally, have never paid for a dog and have had many throughout my life.  Both electrical security systems and dogs operate in all weather conditions, unless the electrical supply ends, then only the dog will continue to operate.  The electrical systems are not mobile, in other words, they will not load into your vehicle and travel with your family to continue to offer protection while you travel and set up their protective services immediately when you get there without any additional professional service costs.  Electrical security systems only have one function, monitoring the security of your one main "cave" or home.  Dogs have multiple functions.  They may help you provide food for your family, if you are a hunter.  They monitor and at times help control pests and vermin.  They provide comfort and calming during times of stress.  They help keep you and your family members in better physical condition by demanding to be walked or offering their bodies as toys for your young children to punch, pull, fall on, run with, swim with, pet, scratch, etc, etc.
         There is much more that can be said about dogs, but, the hardest thing to say to a dog is goodbye.  They are members of the family.  I always got up early and fed them, cleaned their pen, and gave them water before I took care of my kids, once they were no longer babies.  I did this because they are family members who will never grow up to be able to take care of themselves, whereas my kids will.  They are with us for a shorter period of time, in normal circumstances, than our kids.  It is for this reason that our kids must be exposed to the darker side of life, which is how to handle death.  Each family has a method and means to come to grips with this unfortunate fact of life.  The important thing is to convey this life lesson as one that applies not only to our pets as family member, but to all of our family members.  This will happen.  It is unavoidable.  Our obligation is to think about how we are going to convey this to our kids before we get this dog, not after it is already part of the family. 
         After all it is only a non-electrical security system that will viciously attack and offer it's own life to protect your loved ones from whatever dangers come through that cave entrance. It is just a dog.

    Chapter 1 Episode 6. April 20, 2017 - "Get outside "NOW", but be home for dinner"

    Whatever happened to the command "go out and play and don't comeback until dinner and don't be late"!!!  This wonderful parental method of creating space between mothers and her children seems to be a thing of the past.  Nowadays, it has been replaced with scheduled play dates, paid use of athletic fields, indoor playgrounds, professional coaching, and licensed babysitters.  Gone are the days of getting on a bicycle without a helmet and enjoying the freedom of adventure that was found exploring the "neighborhood".  It seems that the media enjoys professing the fact that danger is lurking around every corner in the lives of our children.  They force that mommy into becoming the pilot of her own helicopter and constantly hover over her brood members to guard against all those unforeseen catastrophes about to happen to her precious little chickadees.  Some modern all knowing daddies are even worse.  Am I a heartless old grouch who talks like he knows it all and pines for the "old days"?  The answer is a definite "maybe".  Times have changed.  Neighborhoods have changed.  Mommies and daddies have changed.  Through all this flux only kids have remained the same. Much of this subject matter is more applicable to city and suburban areas of our country.  This is where the majority of our population lives and works.  These child-rearing dilemmas affect all kinds of family structures. Some of these changes are good and some are not.  Basic family unit values have been altered to meet these changed structures.  The key is to make sure the kids are still "home based".  Successful parents should make decisions with their children's well being always in mind.  Examples of this are things like should you accept a different job offer, should you move to a new home, should I make my kids change schools, should I change their diets because I want to lose weight, should I have pets, what type of heating system should I have in the home, etc, etc.  Many parents would not consider some of these things as important in the raising of children, but they are.  Example, hot water, steam or electric heat means potential burns; hot air heat means more respiratory pollutants.  Don't just jump at the cheapest price or the biggest salary without first thinking it through.  Many of your families' decisions should be decided at that dinner table.  The entire days events of everyone in the family should be discussed at that time.  The children should have input into many of these decisions so that they feel they can contribute to the bonding of that family's structure.  It makes them feel more important and it builds a higher sense of self-esteem in them.  They then know that they always have the family to fall back on and that allows them that sense of risk and adventure that is so lacking in today's fear mongered environment.  Kids have not changed but us parents sure have.  That is why mommy always said to enjoy your freedom but "be home for dinner". -Poppa