Tag Archives: education

Notes On The Care And Feeding Of Teenaged Boys In The Wild

In his natural habitat, the teenaged boy is normally a sullen, yet somehow docile creature. He seems bent on quietly sleeping away as much free time as possible.

When spotted outside his designated sleeping area, sometimes known as the Pit of Despair or the Garbage Dump, the teenaged boy typically is attempting to sulk through the larger familial environment, speaking only when forced to do so, interacting to the least extent possible by a physical being, and foraging for food. It is this latter activity, consuming almost as much time as the teenaged boys’ attempt to sleep, which takes up the most time during the day.

It is thought by many, this author most definitely included, that teenaged boys have a hollow leg for storage of foraged foodstuffs. While not evident in most contemporary medical imaging technology, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Don’t test me on this. I mean it!

So, yes. The teenaged boy can use his hollow leg (It is there! It is!) for the majority of his time as a teen. Over time, the hollow space gradually withers away, becoming a vestigial, nearly invisible line between several leg muscles.

This, however, is what happens in the teenaged boys’ natural habitat. Despite their best intentions, family members will astonishingly forget previous experiences with forcing a teenaged boy out of this natural environment and into new, strange places which work against his natural tendencies. In other words, teenaged boys do, on occasion, get taken on vacation.

Often it is not a smooth week during the vacation time.

Some parental units will expect the teenaged boy to show excitement at the prospect of traveling to an exotic destination, there to interact with people different than himself, eat unfamiliar foods and attempt to sleep in beds that do not have mattresses conformed to his shape. These parental units are often the most disappointed following the paying of the cost of travel and accommodation for the vacation.

These parents, as many prefer to be called, face further disappointment if they expect the sullen teenaged boy to rise early, be excited and friendly, then go out and enrich themselves with cultural activities not available in its home range.

The typical teenaged boy will face the prospect of cultural enrichment with all the excitement and anticipation a normal person would have for a blunt-edge, sledhammer-assisted leg amputation.

While the idea of strange food normally is met with loud and repeated calls of, “This stinks! I hate this stuff! Why can’t I have a cheeseburger? Everybody hates me. I’m going to my room. Oh, wait. That’s right. I can’t go to my room, can I? Fine. I’ll just sit here and starve to death in front of you.”

Interestingly, at least interestingly to those not intimately involved, these exact words are repeated on an average of every five minutes while teenaged boys and parental units are sitting in a restaurant. Which is much more persistence than showcased by teenaged boys when forced to do, say, homework.

The frustration level of the parental unit will only increase when the teenaged boy decides that he will continue sleeping as late as he wants, no matter the distraction nor the din of people getting ready around him.However, the author of this paper believes he has come up with a method that could be useful to parental units forced to bring a teenaged boy outside of his natural habitat.

For starters, it is recommended that parental units adjust their expectations before leaving for the trip. Understand that teenaged boys have, at least in front of their parents, one facial expression that seems to be used the majority of the time. Teenaged boys spend a lot of time practicing that expression. However, this author has it on good authority, that actual human emotions do percolate beneath that stone-faced exterior.

Which is good, really, because you’d never know it to simply go by the exterior.

So, once parental units understand that smiling is a thing of the past and the future, but not the present, for teenaged boys, it enables them to move forward with their plans without suffering disappointment, frustration or anger. At least about the lack of a smile.

On a recent trip with his own teenaged boy, this author discovered what seemed to be the key to a successful temporary transplantation of a teenaged boy to a new environment. That key being disinterest. In this case, the author’s own.

Many parental units will pack a vacation chock full of wonderful events, fantastic sites and educational exhibits designed for the teenaged boy to enjoy and find elucidation. When these activities are met with surface disinterest by the teenaged boy, parents suffer.

The key, this author has found, is to use that disinterest to the parents’ advantage. While the teenaged boy insists on sleeping very late indeed, it is possible for the parents to go out into the new environment and seek out those stimuli which he or she enjoys and do so without the constant drag of a sullen teenaged boy.

Then, at a time agreed upon earlier, the parents simply return to the temporary sleeping territory of the teenaged boy and wake him up. As is the case with most wild animals, the first thing that should be done upon waking the teenaged boy is to feed him. This should take place as soon as possible.

Having been out enjoying themselves earlier in the morning, the parents will more easily have found a place that serves food they like and that still serves a breakfast-ish food for the teenaged boy. Once the food has been absorbed and the teenaged boy begins to reapproach what might, on a stretch, be called civility, then it’s time for the joint activity.

This author found that having one activity, outside of meals, per day to perform with the teenaged boy worked out just about right. Mostly because this author made sure there was another activity in the neighborhood of the first. That way, when the first activity was finished, it could be said with the appropriate degree of surprise and incredulity, “Oh, look. It turns out that (fill in the blank of another activity, this one less attractive to the teenaged boy) is right near here. Why don’t we just head over there for a couple of minutes? Wow. Isn’t this lucky?”

Admittedly, the author’s teenaged boy began to look at the author semi-suspiciously after the author repeated the above verbatim four days in a row, but it still had its desired effect. However, this could be something to watch out for on other vacations.

Finally, after the exhausting day’s events (exhausting to a teenager because it normally wouldn’t involve more sleeping or television) are finished, it is time for the next important step.

Once more feeding the teenaged boy. As this normally would be the dinner meal time, it is best to eat at a restaurant that is more filling for the parents. That way, when the teenaged boy begins the evening feeding frenzy a few hours later and begins turning every adult-aged stomach in the vicinity, the parents already will have eaten and can simply put in the earplugs purchased for just this purpose and turn away for the duration.

Oddly, this author found that being earplugged and facing away from his teenaged boy made for a remarkably enjoyable reading experience. As long as the author kept his eyes focused away from the carnage happening near the previously purchased snack foods.

It is hoped that this author’s travails with his teenaged boy can help other parents survive any temporary relocation of their own teenaged boy.

First published: On Charlotte Parent website.

April 14, 2015 8:33 am
Written by: Richard E.D. Jones


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Dude Review: HighView iPad Hangers

Written by: Richard E.D. Jones
Listed in: Charlotte Parent Stay-at-Home Dudes

Sofia Rodriguez was traveling on an airplane and barely made it through an appalling First-World Problem.But that’s not why I’m talking about her here. And it’s not what happened directly after. You see, Sofia decided to use the solution to her First-World Problem to work on solving a Real-World Problem. And that’s important. Read on to find out more.A First-World Problem, for those of you who don’t know, is something that could only go wrong for people who have more money than the vast majority of people throughout the world. Not being able to find the charging cord for my iPhone 6 Plus. . . That’s a First-World Problem. Not having enough to eat. . . That’s a Real-World problem.

So, Sofia was having a real First-World Problem.

“I was on a flight, watching a movie on my iPad when I realized how uncomfortable I was,” she told me in an exclusive e-mail question and answer. “There was no way to watch my movie, be comfortable, and have space on my tray table for food or drinks.”

Yeah. A real First-World Problem. The thing of it is, though, instead of whining about it and complaining on Twitter or Facebook, Sofia decided to do something about it.

“I decided to create a solution. After several months of sketching, designing, and trying out different options, the HighView iPad hanger was born!”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign that was funded in October, Sofia started up her own company selling the HighView iPad hangers to whoever would buy one.

Which, you know, good and all.

Before we get much further, I do want to say that I’ve spent some time with the HighView iPad hanger and thought it was a really nice solution to the problem of how to use an iPad and still have use of your hands and feet. (Feet, because I’m sure some of my readers more closely resemble chimpanzees than to the rest of you.) The hanger comes in all different sizes, one for every type of iPad. You slip it into the hanger and then, using the straps that come with it, you (hang on, this is the brilliant part) hang it on something.

That way, you get to watch whatever is on the iPad while also filing your nails, or eating or, and this is the case of the young Spawn on whom I tested my HighView, doing unspeakable things with a broken pencil and nasal excreta. While I can’t say I approved overmuch about the activities themselves, we both thought the HighView did an admirable job of making sure the iPad stayed watchable. It stayed snugly attached and out of the way. Really, it was all you could ask for in something like this.

I’d highly recommend this to dudes who do a lot of driving in the family mini-van with young spawn in the backseat, screaming for entertainment that just isn’t coming unless you pull over to the side of the road, stop, hop out of the car and suffer a complete nervous breakdown from all the screaming, with a breakdown consisting of break dancing, twitching like St. Vitus and spewing ball lightning from your ears. Well, come one. No doubt about it: That’s entertainment.

I’m going to suggest, however, that having a HighView iPad hanger on hand to hold the all-knowing source of Spawn-ish entertainment might be better for your long-term electability prospects. I do highly recommend it. I also need to point out that Sofia sent me one for my iPad Mini for free in return for a review. This isn’t that review. That review is going up on Amazon.

This — what you’re reading right now — is because of what I found out while talking to Sofia about the product.

Sofia, being a native of Guatemala, knew first hand the grinding poverty experienced by many living there. Things that we here in America take for granted — access to food that won’t kill us as well as access to water that also has no designs on our lives — isn’t available to large numbers of rural Guatemalans.

“I believe education is very important to end poverty, and, unfortunately, one of the main reasons why Guatemalan children miss school is due to drinking unclean water,” she said. “These water-borne diseases can also create a strain on a family’s finances. By providing clean water to children, we are able to help them stay healthy and in school.”

The question remained, though: How to address the issue of providing clean water to children in need? Which was when Sofia had her epiphany. She decided throw money from her solution to the First-World iPad problem at it.

HighView partnered with Ecofiltro, a Guatemalan company with designs on providing safe drinking water to more than 1 million rural Guatemalans by 2020, to give a month’s free water to a class of school children with the purchase of every HighView iPad hanger.
Ecofiltro’s business model consists of selling water filters to rural villages and then having the new owners charging a small amount to receive the safe, filtered drinking water. It’s basically the same as the city pumping water into your home, for which you’re charged, only it’s out in rural Guatemala, it isn’t pumped into your home (yet) and means the difference between life and death.

When someone buys a hanger from HighView, the company donates enough money to Ecofiltro to pay for one month’s free water at schools in the rural areas of the country.

“I’ve always admired companies that are able to be profitable and also give back to individuals or communities that are less fortunate,” Sofia said. “An example of such a company is Toms. We decided to follow their model which is One for One. In our case, it’s One HighView for One month of clean water to Guatemalan children in need.”

So, yeah, I’m a big fan of Sofia and HighView. I love the idea of socially responsible corporations making money for themselves, but also making sure to spread some of the wealth around to those less fortunate.

If you’re looking for something to keep the Backseat Spawn busy and — oh, please, FSM — quiet, give the HighView iPad hanger a try. Of course, you’ll need to have your own iPad, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

Unless you’re suffering from out-of-date-iPad blues, which is, really, sort of a definition of a First-World Problem.


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Answering The Unasked Questions

Death sucks.

Yes, I realize that I am courting the obvious there, but I thought we needed to restate where we stand on the issue. Sure there are some occasions, some deaths, where the cessation of breathing is cause for celebration and I would not try to argue that.

For the most part, though, people who die don’t want to die.

Again, blindingly obvious, but stick with me. I do have a purpose to this.

See, we as civilians only have to deal with death on a fairly irregular basis. It’s not like we see it every day as part of our job. Because we, as civilians, are not doctors.

Shara Yurkiewicz is a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School where she’s learning what it takes to become a physician. She’s taking classes about anatomy, about chemistry, about diagnosis of disease and all of that.

However, it’s what she’s going to learn outside of the classroom that will determine how good of a doctor she becomes. My wife, known to many as She Who Must Be Our Best Chance, also is a doctor. She’s an OB/GYN and she’s one of the best doctors I’ve ever met. Not only is she a dedicated physician, who continues her medical education every day, but she’s also got a tremendous stirrup-side manner. She connects with her patients as people, as sometimes friends.

And patients appreciate that. She didn’t learn that in a classroom, but it’s a big part of why she’s such a great doctor. Shara Yurkiewicz has plenty of time to work on her bedside manner, but, right now, she’s still learning some powerful lessons.

Thankfully, she shares a lot of those lessons with readers of her Scientific American blog “This May Hurt A Bit,” which follows her trials and tribulations as a medical student.

In a recent column, Ms. Yrukiewicz transcribes a conversation she Diversity can be accomplished with tiny, little steps and it's not all that hard, now, is it?had with a patient following his hip-fracture repair. It offers we civilians a gripping view inside the real-world learning medical students must go through to become effective doctors.

She thanks the patient for allowing her, a medical student, to watch as the surgeons worked to fix his hip. It’s a relatively bland conversation and I began to wonder why it was in her blog. Until we neared the middle and things — through no one’s fault — began to go downhill.

Very badly downhill.

I watched as they kept your eyes shut and handled your body just as gently as they had a few hours ago.

I listened to the final zip of the body bag. I don’t know who had the time to switch off the radio, but I’m glad they did.

I listened as the nurse asked God to rest your soul.

I watched you leave in a different kind of bed, to a different place. I’m not sure where.

You can learn a lot from watching. Thank you for letting me watch.

We fixed your hip, sir.

The operation was a success, but the patient died. It’s not an oxymoron, but a notice that physicians must understand the different values for success.

To become a good doctor, medical students need to understand that patients are not simply a presentation of diseases and symptoms. They are people, with lives and loves and desires all their own.

What Ms. Yrukiewicz doesn’t mention in her post is the next most important lesson a good doctor must learn: How to learn everything you can about what happened so it doesn’t happen again and then move on to the next patient, fully confident that the surgery will be a success and the patient will survive.

Her blog provides an interesting look into the world of student physicians. I’d recommend you dudes and dudettes go and give it a read. It’s always interesting to learn what the person on the other side of the white lab coat is thinking.


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