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The Seven Deadly Sins Diet


Sure, I know we’re all supposed to be acting like grown-ups these days – bucking up, buckling down, toughening up, pulling up our socks, straightening our ties – being more sober than we’ve ever been. And I know a lean, mean look, buffed up like Michelle Obama’s arms, much better suits these tougher times than a, shall we say, softer, silhouette.

Call me a self-indulgent whiner, but I still say losing weight or getting in shape is hard, and I still say hard stuff is, you know, tough. That’s why I had a warm, fuzzy blast to the past – you remember, the good old days when we still thought we could get something for nothing, like maybe 2007 – when I read about this “diet” to lose weight through more sleep. Not getting enough sleep could contribute to putting on the pounds so, yes, of course, just get some sleep and watch the pounds melt away. This is my kind of diet.

Still, it’s not enough. Now, sloth is one of my favorite sins, and if I can indulge it while thinking I’m going to lose weight, sign me up. But what about the six other deadly sins? We all have our personal preferences. There must be a way to tap everyone’s favorite weakness for diet purposes. So, as spring’s warmth and beauty leads to the shedding of our protective layers of big coats, I’m working on some seven sins diet tips.

Wrath is a pretty easy one to use. Pretend your partner has left you for a twenty-years-younger hardbody. How do you feel? Now use that anger to fuel getting into shape. About to slack off on the rowing machine?–more wrath!

And lust? Also easy. I’m not even going to bother Googling “sex diet” for you. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be the calorie burning or if you’re supposed to distract yourself from food, but feel free to let me know if you figure it out.

Envy might work it you adapt those old dieting suggestions to envision yourself as you want to be. This time, envision someone else who looks how you want to. Don’t you really want to look like her? Of course, she probably has better genes. It’s not fair. Not at all fair. Boy is it not fair. Think about it. Go to the dark side. Try this when the brownie pan is calling your name.

Good old fashioned pride, as in pride in your appearance, isn’t usually a lot of help in preventing pound creep in the first place, but like envy it might work if it’s taken to that sinful level. Sure, you want to be proud of how you look, and proud of how you do at the gym, right? You can stay on the treadmill longer than that twerp next to you, right? And that over-muscled guy too. And that rail-thing mother of three – her too! Ha! You can beat all of them. At least until you collapse in a pile of sweat. Then you can be proud of how much more sweat you’ve got.

Gluttony and greed are tough ones to adapt for diet purpose. Too much of them and that’s how you get to the point of needing a diet. But let’s try to stretch it. What about being greedy for attention as you tell a fabulous weight loss story? Being ravenously gluttonous for grapes and celery? No, doesn’t quite work for me either. But are diets really supposed to work anyway?

I better sleep on it.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 12:52 PM | Permalink

It’s Good To Be The (Drag)Queen


While reading the economic news is like taking a trip in the wayback machine (house prices from six years ago! stock prices from the 90s! a contraction like the early 80s!), it’s nice to see areas of society where there is real progress.

Specifically, in homecoming queens. Apparently gender doesn’t matter the way it once did.

George Mason University, in Northern Virginia, just elected its first drag queen as homecoming queen. This is definite progress. Why? Well, for most women, just the phrase “homecoming queen” – part popularity contest, part beauty pageant – has a retro-sexist feel to it. It calls up images of cashmere sweaters over pointy-coned bras, pleated kilts with bobby socks, football weekends where girls work on their M.R.S. degrees. So it’s nice that the students have elected someone whose flaunting of breasts is a stereotype breaker.

The best part of the election of a gay man to represent the school as its homecoming queen is that it seems to have been done almost matter-of-factly on campus. This is a hopeful sign about the decline of homophobia and the possibilities for legal gay marriages. Some day, it just won’t be an issue and opposition to gay rights will be clearly ridiculous, although of course many activists would prefer to speed up that day (or not?). It sounds great for the man elected too, who is described as being thrilled with the election and who had some tough teenage years in his small town after he came out.

It’s a good sign for George Mason, too. For several years the school has been hiring academic big guns to try to boost its standing and respect beyond that of a typical community college – and doing a good job of it, too. Well, a drag queen homecoming queen catapults it up to the next level. Nothing says elite college more than a student body that applies an irony suffused, liberal-minded enthusiasm to traditional institutions (except of course for alumni fundraising and job networking, which are sacred rites at all institutions of higher learning).

Also, a man in full-on glamour drag points out, to me, the artificiality of some of the ideas about women’s beauty (not to mention serving as a reminder that I really should investigate some more proactive underwear). Homecoming queens, beauty queens, women’s magazines, fashion, Hollywood, and by extension, pretty much every time there’s public comment about a woman’s appearance, the idea is reinforced that women are on display and we should keep that in mind and keep our tummies tucked in and lips plumped out. Your average female homecoming queen is a depressing reminder that women are still objectified way too much and far too early in their lives. In that sense, George Mason’s move to choose a man carries a lot less baggage for women; sometimes wearing lipstick can just be fun.

But we’ll know things have really changed when a Miss America wins in drag.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 12:42 PM | Permalink

Be Like Barack


A lot of parents took notice when president-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle discussed in an interview last month how they would try to keep certain rules in place for their two daughters when they’re living in the White House. Malia and Sasha, 10 and 7, will have to continue cleaning up their rooms and making their own beds, Michelle Obama said.

Terrific, said the conscientious parents who were watching, I can talk about this as a good reinforcement to help keep my kids from slacking off.

Then there’s the other kind of parent. Uh oh, said those of us who take a more slatternly approach. Er, how often are you supposed to make the beds anyway? Are we talking daily?

When a seven-year-old could show up my housekeeping (well, actually it’s not that hard) you know you’re dealing with a family that’s full of disciplined achievers. The girls are also supposed to clean up after their dog when they finally get it, but I’m betting after a few weeks as an Obama, the puppy will have figured out how to hold the scoop in one little paw and the bag in another and then toss the whole mess in the trash all by itself.

Okay, so maybe we can’t all jump completely in on the Obama parenting model. But the president-elect has provided me with another useful mom tool. Obama has written that when he lived in Indonesia, his mother had him doing English schoolwork through correspondence courses.

Well hey, living in Spain, I try to keep my kids’ English up to speed with some work at home. This goes over better at some times than others.

But for those times when it doesn’t go over so well, now I have an annoying mom phrase to use with the kids: The man who’s soon to be president did extra work in English with his mom, and look where he’s ended up! (Of course, Obama writes that he and his mother got up to study at 4 a.m., something that does not happen in my house.)

But while citing presidential qualities is a great, traditional noodging tool, I’ve found you do have to be careful not to carry it too far.

For example, once you use Obama as an example of the importance of studying English, you might then go on to try to generalize it, saying, “After all, how could someone be president if he or she doesn’t use proper grammar?” Or maybe you’ll try to sneak in something like, “A president needs to know how to spell.” But it’s tough to come up with a phrase like that – that’s accurate – if you think about the wide variety of language skills of presidents and wannabe office-holders.

In the interest of minimizing the number of fibs we tell our kids, I recommend cutting off the nagging with just the example of Obama, a particularly skilled writer and speaker.

Besides, it’s no small thing to have a leader who gives you an example you can use in parenting.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 10:52 AM | Permalink

Home Spaces


It’s always been pretty clear that astronaut wasn’t my dream job – mention a spacesuit to me, my first thought is, “What about itches?” – but it’s now certain beyond a doubt that I should cross that one off my potential career list.

You have one little butterfingers move and it’s worldwide news? Is this fair? Forget it, I couldn’t take the pressure. How could you not let a hammer or something go when you’re out there on a spacewalk repairing the thrust decombobilator or whatever? If the astronaut examination board were drinking mai tais one morning and let me go up in space, there’d be so many nails and screws and things flying around out there, astronomers would have to name a new asteroid belt.

Not that it seems that this astronaut really dropped the tool bag. It sounds like it might just have been a knot that came undone, which can happen to anyone too. But as ever, it also comes down to cleaning: astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper seems to have been partly tripped up by a greasy mess, and hey, what woman hasn’t?

The way the whole crowd around my house lets dishes and glasses and other breakables go flying (accidentally) is enough to make the husband check out that rubbery playground flooring to see if it would work in kitchens.

Although there is one really appealing bit to the astronaut gig – I’m jealous of how quickly they can get a toilet fixed. Plus, they’ve got a whole team to do renovations? This is how many thousands? millions? OK, really it’s hundreds, of miles out in space? But they’ve just done some additions, changed a few rooms around, and the team even cleaned up after themselves? And this summer they got someone to come right out to the space station, fix the toilet and they’re all set? I bet it’s really fixed, too, not like some of the “fixes” I’ve seen.

If the space station worked like my household, I’m telling you, there’d be a heck of a lot more space news bulletins. They could even build a TV series, maybe one of those docudramas that National Geographic likes so much.

First: “Space station crew says, ‘Toilet seems to be working funny.’” Then, “Crew hopes toilet will repair itself.” And, “Crew agrees, toilet definitely not working, someone should call someone.”

Then the action part of our drama: “Crew searching for decent plumber.” “No good plumber recommendations found, crew calls random plumber, schedules appointment for two weeks from now.”

The climax: “Plumber comes, does something, charges a lot; crew agrees plumbing is a fine career for offspring.”

And the re-runs. “Crew says, ‘Toilet still seems to be working funny.’” And so on.

So maybe I should check out the astronaut career path. Since the astronauts are actually their own plumbers/contractors/carpenters/etc., NASA must train you in these home repair skills – while you’re learning not to scratch.

Now, that would be very handy.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 5:57 AM | Permalink

Merry Thanksgiving


Just for a change, today I’m going to talk about something I like.
I really like Thanksgiving.
I like the menu; I like getting together with family; I like people flying or driving in for a real homecoming; I like the parade; I like the weather – crisp and fally, or even if it’s gray and wet, it’s too early in the season to be sick of it; I like the timing of a holiday followed by a long weekend to recover; I’m even not as annoyed as usual by the football someone might insist on putting on TV (just keep the sound down, please).
For us Jews, Thanksgiving is an uncomplicated treat as we enter the “um” season. “Got your tree yet?” “Um…” “Where are you going for Christmas?” “Um…” “Mommy, is Santa coming to our house?” “Um…” Of course many people assume that everyone else is celebrating Christmas, and that’s fine. I’ve never met anyone who minded being corrected in that assumption.
The compensation for being odd-man-out at this time of year, and excuse me, my frazzled Christian friends, if I gloat a bit, is no stress. Thanksgiving is like a lower-stress Christmas. It’s the “joy” without the “oy.”
No expectations: after November, no more tense or otherwise required family gathering; no need to buy the tree, decorate the tree, hang the lights, tack up the stockings; no presents for everyone (sure, too many for the kids at Hanukah and whatever other friends and family you select, but no big obligatory list); no traditional foods to prepare for Christmas Eve, for Christmas breakfast, for Christmas dinner. No requirements. (And yes I know, many of you of course enjoy it, and yes if we’re lucky we do enjoy an invitation to share parts of others’ celebrations.)
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, gives you the holiday highlights in a pretty simple format. Not too many required rituals – decorating might simply be getting out the increasingly tattered construction paper turkeys made from a hand tracing. Just one huge meal, usually cooked by one beleaguered but uncomplaining person (woman), the family gathering with its pleasures or pains, and then an easy slide through the holidays until it’s time to worry about a New Year’s Eve date.
(Thanksgiving is an important ritual too in Barry Levinson’s movie “Avalon,” about a Baltimore Jewish family, if you’re looking for a good movie to watch while you digest.)
Who can argue with a big meal and loved ones gathering? And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all celebrate it that way? In the meantime, I’m going to think about what I have to be so very thankful for. I wish you all good turkey, or the vegetarian equivalent.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 8:52 AM | Permalink

A New Floss-iphy


Does anyone else get a little tense when they read/watch/inject the news these days? Even when the economic and business news these days isn’t unremittingly bad, it’s still so uncertain.
Uncertain times can keep many of us closer to home. It’s either an instinctive nesting/hunkering down in defense, or gee, maybe the fact that who has money for trips and going out these days anyway? Even if you do have money (and can I have a loan by the way?), this nouveau poverty ethos being preached in many parts is an encouragement to lay low and practice those economical domestic arts, like handcrafting furniture out of nothing more than flour, water and shoe polish.
Stressing about the economy can only be bad for us, which is something else to worry about. But wait – there’s good news. As Slate’s Jack Shafer points out, journalists get bored with reporting the same old same old – and even the worst news becomes same old awfully fast these days. So even amidst the teeth-chatteringly scary items there’s some cheer to be found. You know this global financial crisis that makes you wake up sweating in the middle of the night? Well hey, it might actually be good for your health.
That’s right. Remember when people used to fret about the huge portions of unhealthy food they were eating too much of out at restaurants, and feel guilty for not staying in and whipping up some healthful home cooking? Well, no more. Now, we’ll be eating home to save money and getting healthier meals as a bonus. So hooray for the crisis. Because I’m sure everyone’s cooking up healthy beans instead of pulling out the frozen chicken fingers made with mystery oils that were on sale, or the bargain-priced instant mac ´n´ cheese. And for a little comfort food soothing, baking bread instead of hitting up the half-price donuts the grocery puts out at the end of the day.
Well, OK, maybe only some of us are hitting up the half-price donuts. Others of us, I know, have a better attitude. It’s like in The Waltons, that 1970s TV show about a warm, close-knit family pulling together to get through the Depression on love and not much else. The last scene in most shows was of the house with the lights mostly turned out and the family all saying their goodnights to each other. Well, some of us would be calling out those loving goodnights and some of us would be the window with the light on, still burning electricity, yelling out, “Could you all shut up, I’m trying to read here.”
No, no, I’ll join in on the making lemonade out of lemons too. I mean, I have a background in economics, I’ve covered international financial markets as a journalist, I think I really can help provide a useful answer for our current troubles, one inexpensive domestic detail that can provide a small measure of comfort as we’re tending our home fires against the unknowns in the outer darkness. I have just one word: flossing.
First of all, flossing your teeth is a pretty cheap activity – less so if you use those handy little sticks with the floss built in, but that’s between you and your budget, or you and your manual dexterity. I’ve read it mentioned as something couples can do together too to promote mutual good health – and hey, that really sounds like a way to spark that loving feeling – staring into a mirror together with slimy bits of blech-covered string hanging out of your mouths. Flossing might also promote all sorts of good health benefits, which is good for future savings in health costs, and if you’re sure what kind of health insurance coverage you’ll have in the future then congratulations to you and your psychic.
Most of all there’s the psychological benefits. One small exercise of willpower, like flossing, may help to develop willpower in general, and now that shopping’s no longer a patriotic exercise (well, it still is, but everyone’s hoping the Chinese will catch on to it first), you can use that willpower to keep on moving past the stores.
Hey, it’s not like you’re going to have to be working out those big chunks of expensive meat that get stuck between the teeth anyway; a bean skin is a lot easier to flick away.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 5:00 AM | Permalink

Changing My Stripes


The last thing any of us need right now is any more uncertainty in life, any more shifting sands under our feet, any more treasured truths thrown by the wayside. Unfortunately, there’s a new reality we all must now face.
Brace yourselves: Horizontal stripes do not make you look fat. And vertical stripes do not slim you down. Apparently, it’s the reverse that’s true – horizontal stripes actually make you look thinner. Really – it’s been scientifically proven. A psychologist at York University in England recently presented the results of a (small but I’ll buy it) study showing this. However, he does still back the idea that black makes you look thinner, so at least the whole world hasn’t gone topsy-turvy.
If you’re like me, you figured the time you wasted absorbing stupid fashion “rules” (in magazines in the old days; now whenever I’m tempted to an errant click) at least would be compensated for by a better appearance, and – or so conventional wisdom has it – that is supposed to offer some kind of concrete payback in the real world. Every so often I’d be tempted by some cute sailor stripes, or a multi-colored sweater, but steer myself away or eventually purge it from my wardrobe (when it comes to worries about looking fat it’s a lot easier to get rid of the stripes than the brownies).
And now it turns out I should have trusted my instincts. And just worn what I liked. What’s next? I suppose now I’ll find out I’m not really a winter – or that those colors are all wrong anyway. Or that a good bra doesn’t really matter? That no matter how hard you shop there isn’t a flattering pair of jeans for everyone? The right piece of jewelry can’t perk up an outfit? The only way to look ten pounds thinner is to – lose ten pounds? Believe me, I am no slave to fashion, but I always figure a few tips can’t hurt (like, if you wear a t-shirt with a stain that didn’t come out, can you pass it off as the pattern? can you wear white sweat socks with clogs if the socks are super cozy and keep your feet warm?); still, it looks like my secret vice – checking out Oprah-type makeovers – is even more of a waste than I thought.
Here’s another annoying part – researcher Peter Thompson was inspired to do his study because of an idea about optical illusions from the 19th century. The good old Helmholtz illusion shows that for two same-sized squares, the one with horizontal strips looks taller and thinner than the one with vertical stripes. Thus, notes Thompson, 19th-century German physicist and physician Hermann von Helmholtz was backing totally different – and more accurate – fashion tips than nowadays. So what happened? We all got confused? I wonder just how much popular wisdom (in all areas) is simply wrong, or what other (arguably) useful knowledge was once common but is now buried. Just when I was hoping Google and Wikipedia were the way to find all the answers, now it seems we’ll have to look further. Of course, there’s always the all-black wardrobe.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 11:44 AM | Permalink

And Still About Sarah


If you’ve just gotten back from an interplanetary voyage, first, welcome back to Earth. Second, you might not know that Alaska governor and mom Sarah Palin has gotten a bit of news attention since she was revealed as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
Palin’s the “fun” choice so everybody’s been weighing in on her. This is partly because talking about someone else’s babies and family details is a lot less depressing than trying to sort out a war and the economy these days.
So she’s a mom and we all like to talk about other moms, but away from the sound and fury I can’t see that her being a mom means anything. The fact that both Palin and I fit in a category of “moms in their 40s” shows just how meaningless that category is, because as far as I can tell, she and I hold opposite views on just about everything except possibly the pleasures of Alaska salmon, but she’d be fishing it first and I’d just take it straight from the grocer. After all, what does being a mom mean (besides having a child)? Being nurturing? So is that supporting policies that protect the environment, or that make sure you can defend your home with a machine gun?
Over in Spain, as I’ve mentioned, the defense minister is a new mom, and coincidentally this weekend the Sunday magazine of the leading national newspaper had a cover story headlined “Mother and Minister” with a cover shot of Minister Carme Chacon cuddling her baby. Here or in the U.S., it’s an irresistible image to explore – a woman in power who’s also a mother of young children. So there was the picture of Chacon getting something from her refrigerator and the anecdote about Chacon zooming upstairs in the ministry elevator from a meeting to her private apartment, unbuttoning her jacket as she goes, to nurse her crying baby. Vaguely interesting, like the stories about Palin combining breastfeeding and work. But meaningful? The Spanish Socialist minister, who is quoted saying, “I’m a pacifist and the armies of the 21st century are also,” seems unlikely to have much else in common with Palin.
Palin’s also gotten lots of commentary on her personal choices, questioning how and whether a mother with five kids, one a special needs infant and one a pregnant teen, can or should take on the 24-7 stress and time of a vice presidential campaign, not to mention possibly the office (it’s been repeated so much it’s starting to sound like a line for a song in “Sarah: the Musical”). How it will affect the kids is interesting but irrelevant (although Palin has made it a fair topic by making being a mom a main part of her image), how it will affect the job is relevant but unknowable. An average mom probably couldn’t do so well, but an average mom wouldn’t even be in the position in the first place. And let’s get real, we’re talking about kids who now have no more than one degree of separation from U.S. presidents, whose mom, win or lose, can set up a nice trust fund from book royalties and speaking fees. This is not the upbringing the likes of your kids and mine will have. Sure, it’s schadenfreude-ish fun to tsk at the children being neglected (abandoned to their own father?), but although mom might not have time to help decide between the red or the blue back-to-school notebook, she’s sure giving them a different kind of edge in becoming successful adults. Their therapists can sort it all out one day.
So Palin can raise her kids her way, and let me raise mine my way. But that’s of course the real problem and the piece of legitimate interest in the exaggerated examination of her mom-o-rama life: extrapolating from Palin’s personal choices to policies that affect us all. She went back to work three days after giving birth? Does that mean we don’t need parental leave policies? Kids run around the office while she works? Does she understand that doesn’t go over so well in most workplaces? Conservatives have applauded the consistency between Palin’s opposition to abortion rights and her 17-year-old daughter having a baby. If her personal is to be made my political, or perhaps her political to be made my personal, I just might have to check out the Spanish army.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 11:04 PM | Permalink

Mommy Olympics


Dara Torres is of course the official Olympic hero for middle-aged Americans. She’s 41, she had a baby not so long ago in 2006, she started winning Olympic medals as a swimmer way back in 1984 – and here she is again, not only competing in the Olympics but winning – a silver medal so far.
Whether you’re a regular exerciser, a wanna-be or a channel-clicker, this is a great story – expanding not only what’s considered possible with a somewhat older body, but also showing that there’s all sort of ways bodies adapt to pregnancy and childbirth, and not necessarily for the worse. Like with the New York City Marathon winner, who trained throughout her pregnancy. (Cookie Magazine found a couple of other Olympic moms). Maybe one day these women won’t even be stories.
As terrific and stereotype-busting as these elite athletes’ accomplishments are, most of us won’t ever compete at these kind of levels. And I for one would have been in big trouble if it were the norm to jump from the delivery room to the training pool. (Just because maternity doesn’t have to define a woman’s condition, just because she can jump right back from birthing to banking, doesn’t mean she wants to, and certainly shouldn’t be required to.)
But there are some daily feats of average moms (and dads) that would work great as events in a different kind of Olympic competition:
The Sleeping Baby Car Transfer: Parents must transfer a sleeping baby from crib to car seat – without waking the baby up. Even if awoken, parent must soothe crying baby, change diaper, and still get the group to the appointment/school/playgroup on time. Extra points awarded if performance includes a dog jumping around and barking or cat weaving between feet.
The Grocery Shopping Marathon: Parent must buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family – with a child or children in tow. Shoppers without children can substitute small, active chimps or baby goats. Points subtracted for in-store breakage, groceries on the aisle floors and unwanted items in cart. Extra points awarded if you’re not too embarrassed by the performance to return the next week.
The Young Child Schlep: Parent juggles children, including one who doesn’t yet know how or refuses to walk, and all the equipment needed for a 12-minute excursion from the house, including diaper bag, change of clothes, snack, drink, favorite toy, book, spare baby carrier, etc. Stroller not allowed. (You were just running out for a minute.) Extra points awarded if total strangers don’t offer major pitying looks.
The Public Toilet Germ Avoidance Dance: Parent must change baby’s diaper and/or assist older child on the toilet while simultaneously preventing any part of child and/or baby/child equipment from touching any part of the public facilities. Shoe bottoms an exception. Extra points awarded if family can exit restroom without anyone touching the door with bare skin.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 3:34 PM | Permalink

Family Flights


Call out the epic poets to ply their craft, contract a bard to sing of my merits, light the ceremonial fires high on the hill, for I have flown with my children.
Not with my own wings, which would really be an achievement to be heralded. No, I simply flew on a plane, long distance, across sea and land, as the lone adult in charge of two kids. Before I did it, I kept trying to fish for awed recognition of the major task I was about to undertake, but I kept mentioning it to people who had flown alone from Buenos Aires to Moscow with triplet infants with stomach flu. Not a lot of sympathy, in other words.
And now, having flown from Spain to California and back to visit family I realize it really isn’t such a big deal. Anyone going into a flight these days should be expecting the worst, so if it isn’t completely horrible, you’re ahead. After all, our luggage was only missing for a day, and the “customer service” person we called about it wasn’t completely snippy, and that man at the check-in counter on the way back wasn’t actively rude. And we did manage to wade through immigration and luggage and customs and more luggage “lines” and hit a bathroom and change terminals using the bus that almost never came and still make the next flight, barely, but close enough counts in this case. And not every flight had someone like the gentleman in front of us who kept his seat all the way back during the entire flight because, hey, he’s entitled to every cubic inch he can take. And we only had one bottle of water that I had forgotten about thrown out by security and the TSA guy who was auditioning for a stand-up slot in “Adolf’s Authoritarian Comedy Club” could be carefully negotiated.
So the trip was fine, and next time I won’t make such a big deal of flying alone with the kids. (Not to mention it’s not really attractive to complain about going on vacation.) Compare it with, say, climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. Not a big deal. Of course, other people do tend to make it one. Despite the large variety of annoyances from all classes of people (see seatback aggressor, above), kids get singled out as a special transgressor class. Yes, they can be annoying, but who among the people you encounter on a plane trip, on the ground or in the air, can you be sure won’t be?
I have no special survivor techniques for flying with kids. Some parents tout the sleep-inducing qualities of Benadryl, but 1) it can have the reverse side effect and make kids especially hyped up, and 2) drugging my children just so they don’t possibly disturb some other airline passenger seems…a bit much. If you really want to drug someone, I’d suggest tranquilizing darts for the other passengers, but you probably wouldn’t be able to get those past security. If you do Tai Chi or meditate or something and have strong mental control, you can follow a suggestion I got one time and think of the trip as a chance for quality time with your kids.
Really our family’s only drug of choice for children is a portable DVD player, but that brings up battery issues – and if airlines can’t give us all individual seatback video, couldn’t they at least give us places to plug in? This player sounds like it could help solve those issues if you want to spend the big bucks. Portable game players are supposed to be a good narcotic too, for as long as those batteries last. We haven’t let the kids get hooked on those yet, but I have a feeling we won’t be able to put it off much longer.
Still, my best strategy is to go in with rock-bottom expectations and reminding myself it’s just not that big a deal to fly with kids. Well, maybe for that guy who had his seat leaned all the way back and kept getting it kicked, er, accidentally, but I’m not absolutely sure a kid is to blame for that one.

Posted by Deborah Klosky at 11:10 AM | Permalink

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