July 2013


Sara had a dinner meeting Monday night, so I had to take Olivia to piano practice and figure out what to do with Amelia for half an hour. I had intentions of taking my truck to the carwash because it was filthy, but on the way I saw a Dairy Queen.

Fearing that taking Amelia out for ice cream without Olivia would cause an apocalyptic meltdown; I looked back at Amelia in the rearview mirror and asked, “Hey Amelia, can you keep a secret?”

“What’s a seecred?”

“It’s when you know something and don’t tell anybody about it.”

“Like when you see somebody really old, but don’t tell them that they’re old?”

“Yes, something like that.”

“What’s a seecred again?”

“Do you want to go to Dairy Queen?”

“I can keep a seecred!”

It’s funny how a tiny bit of context facilitates dramatically improved comprehension. That’s something that I’ve always tried to apply when training or teaching, but it’s also something that’s easy to skip out on.

Lesson learned: always provide context.

After finishing the ice cream, we went back to pick up Olivia. I had a very brief conversation with her teacher, during which time I saw Amelia and Olivia whispering. Olivia then looked at me and asked, “You took Amelia to Krispy Kreme?” This was obviously Amelia’s effort to brag about getting ice cream.

Second lesson learned: never trust a four year old.

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Immediately after eating a full dinner (which included dessert) Saturday night, we stopped by a bakery where I got a second dessert.  The bakery was called “The Sweet Shoppe”.  You may have heard of them because they won Cupcake Wars recently on the Food Network. 

We were just going in to look, but I saw their French toast cupcake… cinnamon cake, cream cheese icing, bacon, and real maple syrup on top.  That’s right… I had bacon on my second dessert.  It was delicious.

Then the guilt set in.  Not so much over having a fat bomb after a fully satisfying meal, but the absurdity of our obsession with food while so many have nothing to eat.  With my own eyes I have seen children fighting with dogs so they could eat trash in Nicaragua.  At the same time, we have “Cupcake Wars” that are broadcast via satellite on channels dedicated to food.  It’s really kind of crazy when you think about it. 

Now I know that people around the world would be hungry whether I ate that cupcake or not… and I mean come on – it had bacon on it, but it did make me think about how much we have and how much more we think we are entitled to.  I heard a report just this week that there are 101 million people in the United States receiving some sort of assistance when it comes to food (food stamps, free or reduced lunches, etc.).  That number is startling enough, but it was followed by another – there are 97 million people in the US who work full time.  That’s right – we have more people receiving governmental assistance to get food than we have working full time. 

I know some of those recipients are children and some are very worthy of assistance, but many are not.  How is it that the same schools that offer meal assistance also have problems with childhood obesity?  In many cases, it is the very same children who get free lunches that are obese.  I’ve been to Title 1 schools and seen this firsthand.

My biggest fear is that we may have passed the tipping point when it comes to getting handouts.  Again, I know there are some very worthy candidates for government assistance, but there are growing bodies (literally) of people who take free stuff because they think there are entitled.  Why do I think we have passed the tipping point?  Think about it.  In this example, four million more people get handouts than work full time to have income to provide for their families.  Those people vote (or will soon).  What political platforms will they support?

This is scary stuff.  What happened to American pride?  I firmly believe that if our country was like this seventy years ago, I’d have to write this in German. 

So where do we go?  I say we get rid of about 90% of government assistance and privatize assistance programs.  Hear me out.  There are a lot of non-profits that do great things to help people… and with the exception of our military; I believe private organizations are more effective at doing anything when compared to the government.  These organizations will be competing for funding.  This is a good thing because the people who contribute to them will have the opportunity to choose the organizations that are most effective at delivering on their mission.  You may have heard of this concept before – it’s called capitalism.  It used to be a popular idea in our country.

Without our taxes going to inefficient government programs that fail to deliver results, people will have more money to donate to non-profits (and receive a tax deduction).  Yes, people can choose not to donate.  That’s why the non-profits have to be efficient and effective – that’s a good thing.  My experience is that people are very generous when they see someone devoted to a cause and producing results.  But then we come back to that tipping point issue.  There are more people getting assistance than there are doing the assisting.  If I were a politician running on this platform, I would be reduced to doing commentary on Fox News after a failed campaign.

There are a lot of books out there that explain in great detail how to get children to sleep. While many of these are worthwhile, I have found a simpler and more effective method. See the action plan below if you have any trouble with children waking at night.

 

Step 1:  Pump the kids full of sugar (temporary hyperness leads to a subsequent crash)

Step 1: Pump the kids full of sugar (temporary hyperness leads to a subsequent crash)

  

Step 2:  Send on rock climbing expedition (which one is the daredevil?)

Step 2: Send on rock climbing expedition (which one is the daredevil?)

Step 3:  Hike up to 11,000 feet and deprive of oxygen.

Step 3: Hike up to 11,000 feet and deprive of oxygen.

Step 4:  Make them pose for multiple photos while acting like they like each other.

Step 4: Make them pose for multiple photos while acting like they like each other.

 

Step 5:  ... and more photos

Step 5: … and more photos

Step 6:  ... and more still

Step 6: … and more still

 

Step 7:  Refuel on sugar and hike some more.

Step 7: Refuel on sugar and hike some more.

 

Step 8:  Dress up in 4th of July attire and go out to dinner.

Step 8: Dress up in 4th of July attire and go out to dinner.

 

Step 9:  Stay up waaaaay past bedtime watching fireworks.

Step 9: Stay up waaaaay past bedtime watching fireworks.

 

Step 10:  Deposit on practically any somewhat horizontal surface.

Step 10: Deposit on practically any somewhat horizontal surface.