Friday, April 23, 2010

Can I Buy a Hormone Surge Protector?

Two of my children turn 12 this week. Nora and Thomas are twins, the best of friends (reluctantly)and as different as they are similar. A common sight is Nora running out to remind Thomas what he forgot on the way to school.

Having opposite sex twins provided me the opportunity to embark on a ground breaking sociological experiment, with a remarkable conclusion.

Men and women are different.

Please, before you leave this page to email Drudge or Huffington,read on as to my methods.

You see, from the beginning I to exposed them together to everything. We played catch together, attended dance and music shows together, went to the mall together. P.C. baby, all the way. Equal opportunity.

It didn't work.

I should have known early on. On their first birthday we gathered for candles and cupcakes, which were carefully placed on each high chair.

Nora delicately reached at a few sprinkles, raising each in the air and placing it on the tray before eating them.

Thomas thrust his face straight into the cupcake.

I guess it's not about sex as much as personality. As a child Nora would sit for hours with her books and dolls, while Thomas preferred to chase the dog and go one on one with the seat cushions.

Some would argue that young kids are like kittens. Everyone loves cute, cuddly kittens. So soft, purring gently.

Then they turn into cats.

Don't get me wrong. I adore my children, and every age has had it's share of joy and challenges. They are not shy about what's hip and what's an OMG moment.

As an aside, I have taught fifth grade religious ed (Sunday school) for years. I love kids at age 10 because they are on the cusp of adulthood, and close to attending church because they want to, not because Mom and Dad drag them there.

Each year I predict that for half of them the light will go on...they will discover that the opposite sex is good for something besides target practice. Each year, bingo, about half are smitten.

My kids are no different. Their experience is somewhat unique in that they watched me date and marry my wife. I still have a framed, signed note from Nora, age 6, which reads "Dad is going on all of my dates."

Twins make great spies. Nora gives me the scoop on her brother and vice versa. When Thomas was in first grade he spent a good half hour in the bathroom slicking his hair like Bowser from Sha Na Na. Quite a hit with the ladies, I learned.

And then, a few years ago, the hormones kicked in. Now I have a son who wants to buy Axe because "It's chemically guaranteed to attract women." Or flies.

I will never forget the evening when, while barbecuing, I asked Nora, then 9, to please get me a spatula. What ensued was a child writing on the kitchen floor, screaming that I did not understand her.

She's right, I didn't. Then again, she didn't either. The hardest part of parenting these days is recognizing the times when they have no control. Their bodies are volcanoes, erupting at any moment. To parent a tween is to experience "push pull" on a daily basis. Up to age 8 or so you are the center of their universe. Now the switch flips between affection and mortification.

Oh, and I did I mention that my son's party includes GIRLS?

And then you are a man, my son.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Call Congress for a Band Aid

March 22. Monday. I could not believe my eyes. First of all I opened them, which meant I was breathing and the world had not come to an end.

There were some clouds, but the air was relatively clean, the train ran on time, and when I walked into the office nobody greeted me with "Good morning, comrade."

We're all here. No apocalypse.

Could have fooled me. I thought the world was sure to end with the health care bill. We were on our way to bread lines, gun toting IRS enforcers and military parades led by men in fuzzy hats.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like the bill, at least what I believe to be in it. Do any of us really know what's in this thing? As for the politics, both sides are full of it, as usual. Good idea, bad bill.

Citizens of this country should have access to quality health care. Radical concept? Hardly. But is an insurance system subsidized by employers really the best method?

Many would argue that we give citizens full access, and I would agree to a point. We spend zillions on care for seniors, for the poor, in subsidies for all types of patients and facilities.

And we continue to spend. Like a drunken sailor, which of course is an insult to sailors who are spending their own money.

We spend away, while our resources are drained by abuses. The other night I watched a segment about 911 paramedics in Washington DC (go figure) who spend most of their time responding to head colds and stubbed toes.

I have also lived first hand, as a special needs parent, the nightmare of insurance companies kicking consumers in the gut. Experience taught me an important lesson; all insurance is good until you get sick.

And we all feel the strain of increasing health care costs. As our population ages, the problems will further tax our system. For proof, spend time with a group of seniors engaging in an "organ recital."

So the system is busted like a three legged chair. We need a fix, yet the health care bill seems like too much, too fast.

And while I hardly expected complete bipartisanship, I thought we might see an olive branch instead of a two-by-four.

Hopefully the new plan covers splinters.