Kids as Captive Audience

Kids as Captive Audience

Kids as Captive Audience

School holidays are upon us! I don’t mind at all. I can sleep in; there are no lunches to make and no mad running around morning routine to get the kids prepared for school. There’s no homework to be negotiated (wrestled is the more apt descriptor) and the kids can relax and slowly strip away the horrors (according to them) of the school term.

Kids are great! They entertain and are entertained in turn.

One of the best things about having kids (according to the Book of Gabe) is that they are a veritable captive audience. This is no small thing and must be taken advantage of until children reach that period of life – teenager hood – when they transform into extra-terrestrials and parents put on the cloak of invisibility. But let’s not even go there yet!

Yes, let’s focus on the benefits of the captive audience. Kids are pretty much hanging around their parents for large chunks of time – being nurtured and what not. Take advantage of this time to annoy the hell out of them with spontaneous outburst of song and the telling of bad jokes. You can even throw in some totally embarrassing dance moves from the seventies or eighties, so they know that you were once hip to the groove man (oh dear).

I do these activities at every opportunity. Yes, singing is my forte (or they might say – Mum’s greatest weapon in the torture cabinet) and crazy dancing is a regular habit (with or without music). But I also can’t seem to help myself when it comes to targeting the kids with bad jokes and silly skits (including the use of ridiculous accents and actions).

It is important when torturing, ahem I mean entertaining the kids, that you utilise the favoured themes of the under thirteens. By this I mean the incorporation of poo, fart and bodily function themes into the stage repertoire. I will give you an example (this one popped out this morning 😉 ):

My dogs get fed at the same time each day and if I dare sleep past this time in the morning I will be woken to a cold dog nose persistently pushing into my arm or face. Sometimes I wake to two Labradoodle doggies just staring at me in forlorn fashion. What is wrong with pack leader – doesn’t she know our stomachs are empty and we haven’t been fed for days and days (or so it seems).

Sometimes the kids come in to watch Mum being harassed by hairy carnivores with bad breath! The kiddiewinks feed themselves breakfast and like to do their own thing in the morning, so are in no hurry for Mum to get up (in fact they prefer it that way; less supervision = more fun for kids). But they do enjoy the dog show.

I was trying to ignore these canine encouragements (while trying to get back to a nice dream I had been having) and suggested that Tessa might like to feed the beasties.

‘See how hungry Jazzy is Tessa. Do you think you could feed the dogs?’

Jazzy proceeds to start licking her furry posterior (in the under tail region to be precise).

‘Look, she has already started on the entree – residue of dog poo’, I said in bad French accent.

Tessa is now rolling around, laughing her head off. Michael is laughing and shaking his head.

See, captive audience – haha – take advantage while they are too young to escape.

Tessa also fed the dogs (what a darling daughter).

Kids are the best!


Sunflower Power and Happy Day Snaps

Sunflower Power and Happy Day Snaps

Archiving some photos for the Memory Bank 🙂

A while ago now, but worth remembering (Burkes Backyard Magazine, March 2009)
Michael’s super duper sunflowers!
‘smile and the world smiles with you …’
Andy the Great with his son Michael’s Super Sunflowers!
Yes, very tall they were!
Where’s the ball Jazz?
Do you want to play too Bruno?
One of you will have to be the umpire
That game of tennis was a dog’s breakfast – I’m off!
Emu’s are just plain rude (and scary)!


Organic Fortnight

Organic Fortnight

Today is the beginning of Soil Association Organic Fortnight (3-17 September 2010), the United Kingdom’s celebration of organic produce. This year’s theme is ‘choosing organic everyday’.

I found out about this event through Edinburgh based poet and blogger Juliet Wilson (Crafty Green Poet) who invited her readers to blog about organic issues during the two weeks. Here is my contribution.

Toxic chemicals and Developmental Disorders

I keep reading articles in the newspaper where ‘experts’ inform the ignorant masses that we are wasting our money buying organic food because scientific studies show that there is no nutritional difference between the two. What a red herring argument! Why are they wasting money studying the wrong question?

People are buying organic products to reduce the toxic load on their bodies. It is not about the level of nutrients. We are sick of being slowly poisoned by the toxic chemical build-up from our food, products in our houses and workplace, in the air, in our water, in our soils and oceans.

I have a strong interest in organic issues because of the relationship between pesticides/ toxic chemicals and developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

For decades scientists thought autism was primarily a genetic disorder. Recently there has been an acknowledgement that environmental factors such as pesticides and other chemicals play a significant role in the cause of autism.

Dr Phillip Landrigan has been investigating the impact of environmental toxicants on the development of children since the seventies. It was his landmark work with the CDC that resulted in the banning of lead from petrol, gas and paint – legislation which resulted in a reduction in cases of lead poisoning by over 90% in the US.

Landrigan believes there is a relationship between environmental exposure in early pregnancy and autism*. He cites studies which have implicated Valproic Acid and insecticides such as chlorpyrifos in the development of autism. He states that in the past decade studies have shown that phthalates, brominated flame retardants, and certain pesticides are linked to lower IQ, attention deficit disorder and the Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

Infants and children are more susceptible to the effects of toxic substances, due to their size and the nature of the developing brain and nervous system. Scientists are now starting to believe that the genetics of some children with developmental disorders such as autism makes them even more vulnerable to environmental toxicants, including an impaired ability to detoxify the toxins once they have entered the body.

Landrigan will be one of the leaders of the National Children’s Study which will ‘examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of 100,000 children across the United States, following them from birth to age 21’. This study is urgently needed but progress will be slow.

In the meantime I would suggest everyone reduce the toxic load through whatever means possible, for example:

* Buy or grow organic produce and products if you can afford to;

* Look at the ingredients lists on your soap, shampoo, makeup, toothpaste, food, perfumes, medications, detergents, cleaning products and go with the ones that have the least amount of chemicals;

* Filter tap water;

* Think about the toxicity of things around the house and in your car (carpets, paint, mercury-filled lamps, and flame retardant materials) and what you can do to reduce exposure. You can buy non-toxic cleaning supplies and use natural cleansers and germicides such as vinegar and tea tree oil. You can use non-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and avoid carpet (carpets trap dirt, allergens and are manufactured with many toxic chemicals).

It’s hard to make changes to purchasing habits but even small changes have an impact so give it a go.

* Landrigan, P (2010) What causes autism? Exploring the environmental contribution. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 22.