Tag Archives: Stress

Why It’s Always The End Of The World For Your Child

In my house, the end of the world came around with a distressing regularity.

With three young dudes growing up in the same house, being ruled over by the meanest, most horrible dictator ever to put on a pair of pants and then jump up and down on poor, defenseless boys who only wanted so very little. . .

Those poor young dudes. It must have been like living in hell. Only, the thing of it is. . . I was there. It wasn’t hell for anyone. Anyone but an adult in the vicinity.


You’ve all seen it. Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve seen it.Pulling an ugly face is a regular occurrence for little dudes during their toddler years. And beyond, if I'm being honest.

Something happens and suddenly the world ends for a young dudette, who starts screaming and yelling and crying and throwing herself onto the floor of the grocery store and acting like the end is not only nigh, but already here and wearing spiked heels to step on her.

On a (slightly) less histrionic level, I and probably most parents in the history of history have heard just about every single variation on the phrase, “This was the worst. Evar!”

I mean, seriously. If I hear that again, I just might be the one who screams.

So, yeah. We’ve all seen this sort of thing happen. Something minor rocks the little dude’s world and he reacts like someone tried to cut off his arm and beat his puppy to death with it. (Although that might be a bit of a harsh simile. Accurate, but still harsh.)

The big question (other than, “How do I stop this? Or, barring that, make a clean get away without being caught?) is why? Why do our little dudes and dudettes react so over the top?

The easiest answer is also the one about which we can do the least. They simply have no basis for comparison. When young dudes aren’t yet six or so, they are all about existing in the now.

If it already happened, it doesn’t matter. If it will happen in the future, it doesn’t matter. Right now. That’s all that matters.

Which means that, if a child doesn’t have something right now, at this very moment, it will never happen. They will forever be deprived, just like they have always been deprived of what they want. That’s a hard thing to face, especially for tiny humans who have so little experience.

Which leads us to a second reason. Being young, they have no basis for comparison. When little J’Amelia is mean to your daughter in school, it might be the worst day of her life so far. Really. She might not be exaggerating. Oh, she will experience worse (much, much worse) later in her life, but being young, she still hasn’t enjoyed all of life’s little jokes.

Young dudettes and dudes don’t have the life experience necessary to really make a good comparison between miseries. Stubbing her toe is bad and hurts, but they can’t ask themselves if it’s anywhere near as bad as that time they broke their arm. Or cut open their thumb. Or, really, anything.

Our ability to compare allows us to realize that it’s just pain and we’ve had worse, which allows us to calm down.

And, that’s another thing. We, as adults, are supposed to be rational, thinking beings. (I’m going to be nice and say most of us are, although, in my heart of hearts, I doubt it.) The brains of young kids don’t fully mature until they’re much, much older, say, around 25 or so for boys.

Unfortunately for the ears around them, their limbic system (which controls their emotions) is fully functioning, firing on all cylinders. Toddler brains become flooded with the hormones and neurotransmitters that cause pain and anger and sorrow and all the rest, but they don’t have the cognitive skill and experience to overcome that and regain control of themselves.

Looking back, I’m not sure I was able to offer much in the way of hope for struggling parents. Other than the obvious: This, too, shall pass.

And, though you doubt it in the midst of a truly epic meltdown, it will get better. All you have to do is stay relatively calm and help your little dude through his current issue.

It’s not personal. It’s just what and who they are at the moment. Keep showing good behavior, being a good role model and talking them through their experiences so they learn the right thing and . . . everything should be fine.

I’m going to do you younger parents a favor and not even bring up the teenage years here. Mostly because I’m a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and there’s some stuff up with which no one should put.

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One Is The Loneliest Number, And Also The Number Of Bills In Your Wallet

Loneliness doesn’t only prey on your soul, dudes, but it also might prey on your finances.

I thought about this as I was down in Florida basking in the sun, the surf and the good friends, along with the memories they bring and the memories we form each year.

It’s not like I have a life filled with friends. I’ve got acquaintances, and lots of them, but very few actual, close friends. And that’s rather the way I like it.

Which means that I’m not all that lonely, for which I am thankful quite often.

And a good thing, too. Because, according to some rather recent research, people who define themselves as lonely are more likely to make risky financial decisions.

People who feel socially excluded tend to make riskier financial decisions than their popular peers. The effects are so marked, says the scientist who led these studies, that major financial decisions such as choosing a mortgage or pension should never be made in the wake of a major social upset, such as a relationship break-up or even a serious argument with friends.

Rod Duclos, assistant professor of marketing at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the findings, which he presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Hawaii, “should come as a word of caution to consumers” and singled out older people as being particularly vulnerable.

Many patients find that it’s a good idea to bring along a friend for an especially important medical appointment, someone who can listen with a bit more detachment to what the doctor is saying. This second pair of ears can often hear the important things that a more emotionally involved patient might miss.

In the same manner, Duclos recommended that people might want to bring along a friend to important financial appointments. Not so much as to provide a second set of ears and eyes, as in the medical model, but so that the feeling of belonging could combat any sense of loneliness, which leads to making risky decisions.

There’s your practical application. But what’s really going on here?

Duclos explains that in a world where there are two basic means to get what we want, popularity and money, the unpopular place a stronger emphasis on cash to smooth their path through life, and are thus more willing to take big risks that carry bigger potential rewards. His findings add to a series of studies from all over the world, showing that our love affair with money varies according to how socially connected we feel.

Compared with the “in-crowd”, those who feel socially adrift are less inclined to donate to needy orphans, show a stronger desire for money, and feel more anxious when thinking about their last spending spree. The lonelier you are, the more likely you are to splash out on accessories signifying group membership, such as branded clothing or leisurewear with sport logos, to boost a sense of belonging. Fascinatingly, that anxiety and stress can be partly relieved by allowing people to touch real money.

A very important bit of advice there. I’m thinking the young dudes and dudettes might need to be insulated from this a bit. Not that we should sit them down and tell them they need to make sure they’re popular so they will make good financial decisions, or, even worse, the opposite. Can you imagine?

“Son, you’re not a popular kid. In fact, most of the other dudes run the other way when you come near. So I’d like you to be especially careful when you decide to spend or make money. Okay? Good talk. Good talk.”

Bad parent. No cookie for you.

Still, it might be something for us, as parents and as people, to keep our eyes on.

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Dude Review: Despicable Me 2

Short version: If you loved the first one, you’ll love going to see Despicable Me 2.

The filmmakers did a great job of remembering what made the first movie a success: Gru is his cantankerous self; his daughters, Margo, Edith and Agnes are sweet, aggressively ninja-ed and overloaded-sugar cute, respectively, Kyle the, uh?, dog?, is back and, yes, the Minions are back, playing a larger role than before. Which can only be a good thing.

In addition, Gru has a new job. As a former villain, he is in the perfect position to spot other villains. And so he is recruited to the Anti Villain League by it’s leader, Mr. Ramsbottom. Yes, really. Okay, yes, fine. It wasn’t the only thing that was juvenile about the movie. However, I defy you to find me another summer blockbuster that didn’t have something even more juvenile.

At least this movie had the virtue of being astonishingly funny. I was in danger of snorting Coke Zero through my nose several times during the flick and that doesn’t happen often.

Zippy the College Boy, Hyper Lad and I went with my wife, known to me at the time as She Who Must Be Trying Hard To Keep Looking Respectable With Coke Zero Squirting Out Of Her Nose, who delayed our viewing until Fourth of July so she could come to the show with us. That, dudes, says something about this movie.

Mostly what it says is that it’s appallingly great. I mean, it makes a lot of the other movies out this summer look like they weren’t even trying.

While I wish Ms. Wilde, the lead agent from the AVL, Gru’s reluctant partner and, a woman, had been a bit more substantial for the duration, rather than disappearing into the damsel-in-distress role during the finale, I still thought it was a nice movie for girls. Smart, funny and tough. Not to mention quite capable of kicking more than a little butt when they want. Not a bad thing to which they could aspire.

As is the norm for movies released lately, especially animated ones, Despicable Me 2 is offered in 2D and in 3D. I’d recommend you not waste your money on the 3D version. I did and wish I hadn’t. Other than a few of the standard shove things into the audience face for full comedic 3D effect, it didn’t do much.

On the plus column, there’s explosions, familial love, gooshy love, cute kids, Kyle the uh? dog?, bad guys, car chases and lots and lots and lots of Minions. (I really want a couple hundred of them roaming around my house. I’ve really been wanting a super-secret cave of Evilness working under the house and I have the feeling the Minions are just the lackeys to get it done.)

Of course, easily the best thing about the movie and the one thing that needs to be ported to real life, has to be the chip sombrero filled to the brim with guacamole. That thing was the bomb, yo. For reals.

On the minus column. . . Um. . . Well. . . Too short, maybe? Not much minus stuff there we haven’t already talked about.

It’s a good movie, yo. Check it out, you guys. And gals. And guys with gals.

Go see the flick. It’s a solid four dudes out of five (if only because it wasn’t perfect. I mean, I didn’t have free recliner seats in which to enjoy the show. So. No perfection.). Well worth the visit with the little dudes.

What are you waiting for? Get going, dudes.

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