As many of you may already have heard, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines on car seats. The new guidelines state that a toddler should be in a rear-facing car seat until they are two-years-old or they outgrow the height or weight limit for the car seat.
Putting the safety issues aside for a moment, that sounds a little extreme to me. By the time my son was 9 months old or so, he was becoming extremely bored facing the nothingness that is the back of the car. He was getting fussy and impatient during just a 15-minute car ride. Can you imagine what would happen with a two-year-old in an even longer car ride? There would be mutiny!
Now that my son (who is 14 months old) faces forward, he has something to look at. He can watch where we are going through the windshield, he can see the back of my head, and he can see out the side windows easier, too. And it is easier for me to see him. I don't have to use that awkward mirror that faces the front of the car.
I understand that rear-facing is safer, but according the the number crunching I have seen, the number of injuries that would have been avoided over the last several years looks like a rounding error, not some huge number.
What do you think? Is this safety tyranny or good policy?
One of the first Bible precepts that I learned in Sunday School as a small boy was that it is better to give than to receive. Now, as a little guy, I wasnt a big fan of this concept, especially around my birthday and Christmas. In any case, a few days ago, I was thumbing through a recent copy of Forbes magazine and I came across an article by Michael Norton provocatively titled Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness
If you give it away.
Norton is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and he has been researching how changes in income impact well-being. For example, he recently asked 315 Americans to rank their happiness on a 100 point scale and predict how happy they would be if they made ten different incomes, ranging from $5,000 up to $1,000,000. So, for example, he found that those who made $25,000 a year predicted that their happiness would double if they made $55,000. But when he measured their actual happiness, the change was about 7%. Moreover, he found that once people reached the US median income (about $60,000), the happiness return on additional income was very small.
Ironically, he did discover one way to buy more happiness with your money: Give it away. He hypothesized that although making more money helps us accumulate more material things, it does little to give us what the research shows makes us happierquality relationships with others.
To test his theory, he and his team did a little experiment. They approached strangers on the street and gave them different sums of money ($5 or $20) and told them that they had to spend the money by the end of the day. But half were instructed to spend the money on themselves while the others were told to spend it on someone else. At the end of the day, Nortons team learned that those who had to spend the money on themselves bought stuff like coffee and food. However, those who had to spend the money on others did things like donate to the homeless or buy a gift for a loved one.
So, who was happier? Yep, those who gave the money away. Interestingly, there was no difference in reported happiness between those who had to give $5 away verses those who gave $20 away. I guess when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.
So, why I am sharing all this? Maybe because its fundraising season and NFI needs you to give to us until you are in a state of joyous glee. Good guess, but nope. (Although, we certainly need the support and you can donate here
. And, no gift is too large. :-))
Well, it is because I vividly recall that one of the early words that each of my kids uttered was mine. I seems that children are genetically wired to be self-focused and its a dads job to model and teach their children the joy that can be received from giving. And, you dont need to wait until Sunday to start teaching. That is, if you can spare $5 bucks.
Vinny is 7-months-old now. Rather than trying to write a narrative with a profound theme, I will just share some observations on raising our little boy.
His personality is starting to emerge. Overall, he is a very happy guy who enjoys the following activities:
- Eating finger food by grabbing as many pieces as he can fit in his hand and then clumsily smashing them into his mouth area. He usually gets one or two in his mouth.
- Laughing at the dog when he (the dog) is jumping up and down trying to get our attention.
- Smiling. It is pretty easy to make him smile. Sometimes, he gets really excited for no apparent reason, shaking his arms and practically hyperventilating at the site of something he finds amusing. The most recent target was his uncle, Andres.
- Getting angry when you are not feeding him fast enough. The boy loves to eat. If you are spoon feeding him his baby food, you'd better not take too long in between spoonfuls, or he will grunt at you.
- Raising his arms when you reach down for him. He knows when he is about to be picked up, so when you reach for him, he raises his little arms towards you in excitement. This is way too cute for words.
I will leave you with this iconic shot of him sleeping in his car seat after a trip to the county fair.
People Magazine recently reported that the on again/off again engagement of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston is
well, off again. Bristol asserted firmly in the article that its over. Apparently, the news that Johnston may have gotten another woman pregnant was the last straw. She said, Levi was just like, Bristol, there is a possibility that I could be a father of this other baby. Through tears she told the People magazine reporter, The fantasy I had of us three being a family was a game to him. Hes never going to change. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that Bristol is surprised. He posed nude for Playgirl for goodness sake
I remember when I first saw Johnston on stage at the Republican National Convention. He looked extremely uncomfortable in his suit, a bit like a little boy someone dressed up for Easter Sunday. Looked to me like he couldnt wait for the service to be over so that he could go and slide in the mud in his new suit. When youre Levis age, this is usually a co-ed activity.
Now, I was a bit sympathetic to his plight. I even wrote this article
in my Washington Times column to help folks get a better understanding of what I think is going on in a teen fathers head. You see, I have a some experience in this area. When I was about Levis age, I got my girlfriend pregnant. But, I married her because I knew instinctively that fatherhood means the death of boyhood. Indeed, the difference between boyhood and manhood is the ability to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right ones. I have a feeling that Levi has yet to learn this lesson.
And thats the problem. By the time he does get schooled on the fact that his actions have consequences, chances are that Bristol will have built a nearly insurmountable wall of resentment that could make it very difficult for him to see his son. Moreover, his son too may have years of hurt and anger built up because his dad valued reality TV more than the reality that he needed to be an involved, responsible and committed father.
Alas, despite Bristols firm declaration to the contrary, when youre a father, its never over. I have taken more than enough calls from fathers in his situation to know that this is just the beginning. And there is no fantasy about that.
Last week, I had an opportunity to speak at a briefing hosted by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL). The purpose of the briefing was to present these findings
of the Commission on Paternal Involvement in Pregnancy Outcomes, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. A key aspect of the commission is to determine ways to reduce infant mortality, which is surprisingly high in the US.
As a member of the commission, I had an opportunity to share a pretty personal perspective on how, as a very new dad, I first learned just how important fathers are to the health and well-being of infants. A reporter wrote this story
about my remarks. Are you ready for some football?
There was a lot of pressure on Vinny and I to make mommy's first Mother's Day memorable. I knew that getting a Hallmark card and some flowers would not be enough. The "thought" only counts for so much...
So, we (notice how I am attributing rational thought to a 4-month-old) decided to make mom a homemade card and other hand-crafted items instead.
So, I headed over to Michael's to pick up the materials the Friday before Mother's Day. I wanted to make a cast of Vinny's footprint or hand print, so I bought the kit to do so. I also wanted to make a card with his hand and footprint on it, so I bought construction paper and finger paints (nontoxic, of course; do they sell toxic finger paints?).
The next step, of course, was to go retrieve Vinny at day care so we could make the gift together in the one place where mom would not be around - my office.
When we got to my office, I was ready to create. Vinny was asleep. Had I fully read the instructions on the footprint-making kit, I would have known that it was best to leave the child asleep while making his footprint. Instead I woke him up, and upon inserting his foot into the plaster gel, he began kicking, squirming, and crying. I tried to do the same with his hand. In seconds, he had space-age gel between all of his fingers.
I knew I had to act fast. The gel was hardening. My co-workers (Renae, Jason, Mike, Amy, and Natalie) were doing their best to help, but it was too late. The gel hardened and the project was lost.
Good thing I had a Plan B. The finger paints. I decided to use red, because it stands out on light-colored construction paper. It also stands out on clothing. Mine and the baby's. All of my co-workers had deserted me at this point, except Renae, who must like crying babies trying to make handmade Mother's Day gifts.
Nevertheless, after much more kicking, squirming, and crying (mine and the baby's), we were able to get two decent footprints and two decent hand prints onto the paper.
I was sweating by the time it was over. After many paper towels, we were able to get all of the paint and gel off Vinny's hands and feet. There would be no trace elements left for mom to ask about when we got home -- "Why does the baby have red paint on his feet? And why are your pants covered in that same red paint?"
Alas, mom did not suspect a thing. Baby was clean, and I had changed my clothes by the time she got home. Whew...
So, on Mother's Day, when mom opened her card, the hard work paid off. She loved it. Vinny and I did a telepathic high five. To prove that I did not make any of this up, here is photographic evidence of happy mom and baby, with handmade Mother's Day card. If you stare at the picture long enough, Vinny will give you a telepathic high five, too.
This morning, my wife and I dropped off three-month-old Vinny for his first day in day care. It is also, of course, my wife's first day back at work since January. It was an emotional morning, especially for my wife. Really, this episode highlights one of the differences between moms and dads.
For the most part, I was excited to see the little guy in a new environment with all kinds of new things and people to learn about. I, of course, was a little sad to be leaving him with someone other than mom, who has been the greatest caretaker he will ever have.
But while I was "a little sad," my wife was very
sad. There were tears. She is going to miss the baby very much. She has been caring for him every day and night for three months, and now someone else is going to be in charge of that. I imagine she is going through some very complex emotions right now. I did my best to comfort her, but I know it is going to take a few days, or even weeks, for her to get used to leaving her "prince" in someone else's hands.
Or maybe she will never get used to it. In fact, it is probably a healthy sign for a mother to always believe that she is her own baby's best nurturer. After all, I would not want to live in a society that is too comfortable with the idea of parents offhandedly leaving their children for other people to take care of in their place.
For now, we simply understand that this is an economic reality for our family that we both have to work. Fortunately, the baby is in very caring hands. But it still does not make it easy...
Does anyone remember the first day they left their little one in day care? Any stories?