ROOTS AND WINGS

May 13, 2015 by Karin Fuller

in the beginningWhen I started writing these columns, my daughter Celeste was just four months old. For the past 17 years, I’ve written about her first Christmas, first words, first steps. The first time she locked me in a closet.

Her first time at camp. First time on stage.

Her first time behind the wheel of a car.

I’ve learned that as parents, we spend so much time recognizing and celebrating our little one’s firsts and preparing for their nexts that for a long time, we’re nicely distracted from noticing all of their lasts. Like the last time they sneaked into our bed at night or the last time they wanted us to stay with them until they dozed off.

The last time they wanted us to read to them.

The last time they held our hand in public. Or in private.

The last time our titles were “Mommy” or “Daddy” before they morphed into the more adult-sounding “Mom” or “Dad.”

With Celeste’s high school graduation less than two weeks away, the lasts have become hard to ignore. They’ve started gathering at the sidelines, increasing in number, and then rushing me all at once.

So I have to keep reminding myself there will be some lasts I won’t mind.

The last time I’ll have to turn skinny leg jeans right-side out before tossing them in the wash.

The last time I’ll have to scrub solidified milk from a forgotten cereal bowl or scoop a nest of long, black hair from the drain.

The last time my makeup will go missing. Or my favorite flannel shirt. Or my car.

The last time I’ll have to fight her out of the bed in the morning for school.

Although I am going to miss watching her down a bowl of cereal while still completely and deeply asleep.

And I’m so going to miss celebrating snow days with her. And shopping for school clothes. And that first day of school.

I’m going to miss school projects and goofy assignments and her impassioned descriptions of classmates.

And I’m especially going to miss the days she wants to ride with me in the morning instead of taking her car.

I’ll miss her being a kid.

In a few months, she’s going to be leaving me. Maybe short term. Maybe not.

I’ve been fighting this panic of wanting to hold onto every moment with her, and this Mother’s Day has hit me especially hard since it could very well be my last with her under my roof.

I’ve heard one of the ironies of parenting is that if you’ve done your job right, your kids will leave you.

But, dagnabbit. I don’t want her to go.

jan 2015 frame

YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU LIKE, BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE

May 3, 2015 by Karin Fuller

The problem with watching scary movies is that some of us tend to carry those things around long after the movie is through.

Case in point. Said movie fan is a patient in a hospital’s emergency room, shivering with cold under a papery wisp of a sheet when a kindly nurse stops by and asks if there’s anything she needs. Through chattering teeth, the patient manages a weak, “A blanket would be lovely.” Then she resumes the fetal position to maximize warmth until the nurse returns.

But the nurse never returns.

A while later, shortly before two icy toes break off and roll under the bed, a different nurse happens by.

“Can I get you anything?” she asks.

“A b-b-b-blanket,” says the patient.

The nurse says she’ll be right back with a warm one.

But that nurse never returns.

The patient is snuggling with a pair of penguins when a third nurse pokes her head through the curtain and asks, “Is there anything you need?”

“I’ll give you twenty bucks for a blanket,” says the patient.

“Don’t be silly,” says the nurse. “There’s no charge for blankets. I’ll be right back with one fresh from the warmer.”

Yet she, like the others, disappears.

It isn’t until this point that the patient–her normally lightning-fast thinking slowed by hours in subzero temperatures–recognizes the terrifying reality of what’s happening. In her selfish quest for warmth, she’s become the Blanket Warmer Killer’s unwitting accomplice. Sending one innocent nurse after another to their bloody demise.

badnurse-202x300Yet before she can sound an alarm, she must deal with a new terror–The Unrelenting Phlebotomists!

Our patient’s crafty veins dodge and roll evasively, but The Phlebotomists regroup. They stab. They poke. They chisel. But ice water runs through her veins!

Since she never got those darn blankets.

“If you get me a warm blanket,” she says to the needle wielder. “I’ll get my blood to cooperate.”

The Phlebotomist extends her hand, as if to shake on the deal, but when patient extends hers, it’s grabbed, turned and pierced. Her vein is blindsided!

 A kindly new nurse (or perhaps the Blanket Warmer Killer himself) takes pity on our newly drained patient and brings her a thick stack of hot blankets. A bit later, he returns and wheels the patient upstairs to a pretty, warm room on the fourth floor with a working television and a private bathroom and a fun bed that goes up and down with the press of a button.

So lulled is our patient with these amenities that she freely offers her veins. They do not waste the opportunity, draining her often throughout the night.

They tell her they must do many tests, apparently even testing her patience by awakening her every 45 minutes or so. The torture agents regularly shove a stick under her tongue and allow a constrictor to strangle her arm time and again. They put square stickies all over her chest, attach them to wires, and then yank the stickies back off her again. They even make her run on a treadmill!

And then they tell her it wasn’t a heart attack, but rather a problem with her rhythm. She tells them she’s known all her life that she didn’t have rhythm. That they could’ve discerned the same diagnosis far faster merely by watching her dance.

Just when she thinks her travails have concluded, she learns they have one final torture—that of being released.

“You can go home,” they say and then pause, cleverly waiting until they can tell by the patient’s expression that she actually believes she’ll be home in time for dinner before they add, “as soon as all the doctors sign off.”

Thus bringing our horror-film loving patient full circle. With a different sort of stress test.

Where the sequel begins.

REALLY FEELING THE (HEART) BURN

April 27, 2015 by Karin Fuller

HEART ARTMy last column was eerily predictive.

I wrote about riding the exercise bike at the gym. Mentioned it was recently nearly the death of me after my new work out strategy misfired. My strategy was to ride at a normal pace while watching a TV show on the bike’s built-in monitor, then go really fast through the commercials.

I nearly did myself in after accidentally changing the channel.

To an hour-long informercial.

On Monday, I wasn’t even doing my race-through-commercials thing when I started to feel a scary sensation in my chest and back.

But it wasn’t the elephant I’ve heard people describe. It wasn’t even a baby elephant.

It was just . . . odd.  Wrong. More uncomfortable than painful. With it were random flashes of lightheadedness, and those I rather enjoyed. Dizzy is something of a natural state for me (or is that ditzy?), and this just wasn’t that bad. A toy elephant and that whee! feeling you get when you hit a rise in the road just right in a car with bad shocks.

So I dealt with it the way I so often deal with unpleasantness. By attempting to ignore it.

The next morning, I was still feeling decidedly off, but went to work anyway. The pain seemed more in my back than my chest, so I chalked it up to having pulled something at the gym.

Until it clicked that I’d only done leg exercises on Monday. Nothing that might’ve affected my back.

So I decided to consult with Dr. Google. I searched for heart attack symptoms in women, since I’d heard they were different from the symptoms for men.

Most everyone knows about the chest and left arm pains being the most common symptoms, but for women, the pain is frequently in the back, arms, neck or jaw, and can feel more like a squeezing or fullness.

And instead of the elephant sitting on the woman’s chest, it sometimes prefers to settle on her stomach, causing symptoms that can be mistaken for heartburn, a stomach ulcer, or a viral-type bug. Nausea. Sometimes even vomiting.

If a woman doesn’t normally sweat, but finds herself become unreasonably sweaty considering the amount of activity being expended—that’s another of the possible signs.

Fatigue is symptom of heart attack in women, especially if they’re feeling excessively tired when they haven’t really done anything that strenuous.

And then there’s shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness. Restlessness. Insomnia. Anxiety.

It’s so easy to chalk it up to simply being out of sorts, which seemed the best way to describe how I felt. But when the dizziness and back pain refused to subside, I walked over to the nurse’s station a few buildings away from where I work. She took my blood pressure. It was high. It’s never been high.

We waited a bit, and then she took it again. Still high. The back pain wasn’t waning, and I was pretty excessively dizzy.

The nurse gave me a nitroglycerin pill. In almost no time at all, the back pain subsided, which she said meant it was likely my heart. My fiancé came and got me (since I’m too cheap to spring for an ambulance) and took me to the hospital, where I was admitted. It’s where I’m writing this now.

A stress test and echo cardio gram are scheduled for in the morning. If it turns out to be something, I’ll deal. If it’s not, I’ll celebrate.

It would’ve been easy to ignore how I felt, to try and push through, but I wouldn’t want my mom to ignore these symptoms, or my daughter.

Or any woman who thinks not having an elephant means she must be ok.

FEELING THE BURN

April 19, 2015 by Karin Fuller

I was peddling into my fifth mile on the exercise bike at the gym when I realized the world needs to create a new system of measurement.

This realization occurred while watching a TV program about weather, which I was able to do since the recumbent bike I was riding has a built-in television, as do the gym’s elliptical machines and treadmills. These televisions are fantastic for people like me who need to be distracted from the fact they’re exercising. Kinda like how pediatricians distract little kids with toys when they’re being given a shot.

The display screens on gym equipment are multi-functional, so in addition to watching Judge Judy, users can adjust the amount of resistance, monitor their heart rate, and track the approximate number of calories being burned.

Which are shockingly few.

exercise bikeThus the need for some new system of measurement. One that’s along the same line of thinking as wind chill factors and heat indexes. By how many calories it feels like we’re burning.

Granted the monitor should still display the actual calorie numbers as well, but how encouraging would it be for us former couch potatoes to have our efforts recognized with a second set of numbers? Maybe even have those numbers in a bigger, more fierce-looking font.

In a country where kids are forever getting participation trophies and ribbons for simply being part of a team, isn’t this a natural progression?

Yeah, it’s actually 20 degrees outside, but the wind chill has it feeling like 0.

Temps are in the 90s, but that heat index has it feeling like 110.

You’ve only walked 3 miles and burned 110 calories, but it feels like that Twinkie has been paid back in full!

In the past, my most common method for burning calories involved not hearing the oven’s timer go off. But for the last year or so, I’ve been hitting the gym three or four times a week.

I’ve noticed my best workouts seem to happen when someone sits at one of the bikes right beside me. They might not realize it, but we’re racing.  If they’re riding at 4, I’m at 5. If they up it 8, I do 9. If they push it to 12, I order a pizza to pick up on the way home.

Mostly, though, I’ll have the bike area all to myself. It’s especially good if I arrive a few minutes after the hour, since I usually end up getting so involved in whatever HGTV show I’m watching that I keep riding until that show ends. Will they Love It or List It? Is it a Flip or a Flop? I’ve even come up with a strategy that makes the station’s many commercial breaks work to my advantage. To maximize my workout, I’ll pedal as fast as I can during the commercial breaks and then slow down again once the show comes back on.

Although this was nearly the death of me once.

When I accidentally switched the channel to an hour-long infomercial.

And burned enough calories that I picked up a pizza on the way home.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BROWN

April 14, 2015 by Karin Fuller

qtI was busy squinting at labels in the lotion section of Rite Aid when bits of a conversation between two ladies further down in the aisle drifted my way.

“The way I do it is I hit the bottle every day, first thing in the morning and then again at night,” said the one. “Then I walk around naked for a while. At least half an hour.”

“Sounds more like margaritas than ‘tan in a can,’” said the other.

The first to speak handed the second a gold and black bottle. There was some grumbling over the cost of the home tanning spray, and then second one said, “Promise I won’t end up looking like I rolled in Cheetos.”

I’d been there. Done that. Several times.

I remember the first self-tanner I ever tried—a bottle of QT back in the late 1970s. Not only did it smell horrible, but it left me looking weirdly streaked, with my arms and legs as orange as an Oompa Loompa’s. Yet most every spring, when a new tanner arrived on the market, I’d gamely try it again.

And turn weirdly orange every time.

Not long ago, a friend was telling me about her daughter’s spray tan experience.

The daughter, who is in her mid-20s and was a fairly new mother at the time, was one of eight bridesmaids in her cousin’s large and rather elaborate wedding. So thorough were the preparations that the family had even arranged for the bridal party to start out the big day at a spa–a perk likely intended to ensure a certain level of consistency among the girls. Same color fingernails and toenails, same upswept hair-do, same color of tan.

Since my friend’s daughter is a redhead with porcelain skin, she was especially excited about the tan, as she (like me) generally only collects freckles if out in the sun.

The morning of the wedding, she and the bride and the other girls hopped into a rented mini-bus and went to the spa, where they were shuffled in trios from one alternating station to the next. My friend tagged along to care for her granddaughter, who was still being breastfed and had trouble with bottles so couldn’t go far from her mom.

The spray tans turned out fantastic, and when the last of them were finished, they all headed out to the bus to be transported to the hair salon. The girls were wearing the special robes they’d been given so their clothes wouldn’t get stained.

They were about halfway across the parking lot when the skies opened up.

“It wasn’t just a few raindrops,” said my friend, “It was more like they were getting hosed down at full blast.”

The girls raced back inside the salon, where they dried off and some were partially re-sprayed. They tried to wait out the rain, but there simply wasn’t time. The bus was brought close and they squished together under the only umbrellas they could find, but the rain was blowing sideways and most everyone still got a little wet. Even the baby was unhappily damp, but the baby’s newly tanned momma calmed her the way that nursing moms do.

“When she handed the baby back to me,” my friend said, “It looked like someone had colored a big, brownish-orange circle all the way around the baby’s mouth.”

The bride and her maids didn’t fare much better. The rain left them all splotched.

“It sort of gave them a cheetah effect,” said my friend.

Rather than fall apart, like most brides likely would have, this one found it hilarious. She decided to just roll with it. She said, “That’s what Photoshop’s for.”

So while you might always hear that cheetahs never win, I think this one actually did.

oompa

BUNNY TALES

April 5, 2015 by Karin Fuller

rabbit_coatIt seems an appropriate time of year to talk about rabbits, especially considering I’ve known quite a few.

I’ve learned they can make fabulous house pets. And horrible house pets. They can be loving and affectionate. And they can pack a powerful double fisted slap-punch that is shockingly fast, leaving you stunned and mumbling, “Did I really just get smacked by a rabbit?”

I’ve learned not to underestimate their intelligence. They can learn their name quickly and come when called. And I’ve learned not to underestimate what they consider edible. Like the book resting on your belly as you nap or the cords on essentially every electrical apparatus in your home. Or your hair. A snooze with a rabbit in the room carries with it a risk.

Most of all, I’ve learned that while you might believe both rabbits are female, that wascally business is extensive. Or perhaps it was, when I looked, retractive.

It was most certainly productive. And repetitive.

And my efforts to restrain them–ineffective.

Life with rabbits provided much material for a writer, and while looking through old stories recently, I tripped over a few I’d nearly forgotten.

One came early on in our bunny-owning days, after the girls (there were only two at the start) got semi-infested with fleas. I couldn’t find a treatment that was safe for rabbits, so I decided to give them a bath. Turns out they loved the water. They kicked back and relaxed, sort of wiggled down low, like they understood it would help get rid of the fleas.

The following day, after telling a friend about bathing bunnies, I got curious whether other rabbits liked water, so I looked online and found one expert after another warning of the dangers of dampening rabbits.

Oh crap. I thought. Do they shrink? Do their colors run?

Even worse. They’re dry clean only.

Apparently, most rabbits fear water so bad they can go into shock if immersed. Plus, it takes so long for their coats to dry there’s a danger of them taking ill if exposed to cold or wind while wet. Which kind of makes sense—until you consider that rabbits are meant to be in the wild. Where there’s water and cold and wind. And few public outlets for them to plug in their little hare dryers.

My favorite rabbit tale, though, is historical. It’s something I read about in The Book of General Ignorance.

According to The Book, back in 1807, Napoleon had just signed a landmark treaty between France, Russia, and Prussia and wanted to celebrate by taking the Imperial Court on an outing to shoot rabbits.

Napoleon’s chief-of-staff, Alexandre Berthier, was put in charge of arranging the hunting party. Berthier feared there wouldn’t be enough rabbits for the men to shoot and was so determined to impress Napoleon that he purchased hundreds of rabbits to make certain there was plenty of game.

On the day of the hunt, which was led by Emperor Napoleon, the party arrived at the appointed place, escorted by Guardsmen, kings, marshals, barons, generals, counts, and the like. But when the gamekeepers released the quarry, rather than flee in all directions, the rabbits headed straight for Napoleon.

It turns out the hundreds of rabbits Berthier had purchased were tame, not wild. And they mistakenly believed that instead of being hunted and killed, they were about to be fed.

“Rather than fleeing for their life, they spotted a little man in a big hat and mistook him for their keeper, who they happily thought was bringing them food.”

The rabbits stormed toward Napoleon at top speed.

(Fun Fact:  A rabbit’s top speed is 35 mph.)

“Unable to stop the stampeding rabbits, Napoleon had no choice but to run, beating off the hungry hares with his bare hands as he fled. The rabbits did not relent and drove the emperor back to his carriage while his underlings thrashed vainly at the rabbits.”

Making this perhaps the one time in history that men got upset over a hare line that didn’t recede.

IF IT WEREN’T FOR BAD LUCK

March 28, 2015 by Karin Fuller

luckI once had the world’s most efficient accident. (In case anyone wonders, there’s no trophy for that.)

It happened when I rear-ended a tow truck with a police car directly behind me. I was a block and a half from my insurance agent at the time. The only way it could’ve been better would’ve been if I’d been across the street from a car rental agency that doubled as a junk yard.

I was telling a friend about that wreck, as well as a few more recent incidents, and she commented that I have about the worst luck of anyone she’s ever known.

“Surely there are lots of people with worse luck than me,” I said. People who’d make my lot look like Job Lite.

A little online research was all it took to discover that there are many for whom karma comes calling. And it turns out that compared to them, I’m looking rather lucky.

Lucky not to have been Roy Sullivan, for instance.

Sullivan was a Virginia man who gained notoriety for having been struck by lightning seven times over the course of his life. The odds of a person getting hit by lightning a single time is 3,000 to one. I don’t have the math skills to calculate the odds of seven separate hits, though it must be astronomical.

Many of Sullivan’s strikes occurred at his job as a park ranger in a storm prone area in Virginia. His lightning strikes happened while fishing, while hanging laundry on the line to dry, and while in the lookout tower. One strike even happened when he was <I>inside<P> the ranger station.

That lightning would go to the trouble of traveling indoors to track him down and hit him suggests a deeply offended and seriously vindictive Mother Nature.

One account about Sullivan’s strikes suggested he was an “undiscovered X-Man with the worst superpower ever.” A graph that accompanied the story illustrated some of the things that hit Sullivan over the course of his life (lighting) versus some of the things that hadn’t (foul balls, naked girls, and gold bullion).

I also read about Jeanne Rogers, a woman with a gift for trouble. She’s been shot at, strangled, mugged, and stuck twice by lightning. She even walked right into an open manhole. And once, while on a cruise, she fell off it. Rogers’ misfortune was apparently contagious—the friend who witnessed her falling overboard went running for help and slipped, knocking herself unconscious. She eventually came to and managed to get help for Rogers, who was blessed with buoyancy rather than luck.

Rogers was quoted as saying she isn’t afraid of dying, “but living scares the crap out of me.”

And then there’s Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped less than two miles away. He returned home—to Nagasaki—just in time for the atomic bomb to fall there. He survived both bombs, and lived to the ripe old age of 93.

I read about a woman who lost five different homes to five different storms.

About a woman who was a passenger on three different ships that sank.

About a couple with an uncanny penchant for arriving at their vacation destinations just a few hours before the terrorists.

But somewhere along the line, while reading all these stories, it occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t bad luck these people all had, but outrageously good. Most folks die from lightning strikes and atomic bombs and falling off ocean liners. These survived.

Likewise, most people involved in a car wreck have to wait around for a while for help to arrive. Mine was already there.

I’m just lucky like that.

JOINING THE BIG BLUE NATION

March 28, 2015 by Karin Fuller

rupp cuppleI’m still a bit new to basketball fandom. It had never been my sport, neither to play nor to watch. Football, I got. I understood its strategies and was familiar with its penalties and was born near the birthplace of the Terrible Towel.

But the appeal of basketball eluded me until I met Didier, who hails from Lexington, Kentucky. And therefore bleeds blue.

Through him, I’ve learned not only to understand and appreciate the game, but to love it, though for different reasons than their winning record and that their particular shade of blue is more flattering with my complexion than Mountaineer gold. What pushed me from like on over to love were the players. That they seem to be even better and more interesting off the court than they are when they’re on it.

It started with the reading a story about Blake Hundley, a little boy battling brain cancer who was befriended by UK star basketball player, Willie Cauley-Stein. Hundley gave Cauley-Stein one of his TeamBlake bracelets, and C-S has been wearing it ever since, even in the SEC Tournament games. (Bracelets aren’t allowed to be worn during play, so C-S put it in his sock.)

During the tournament, C-S texted Hundley to tell him, “You’re playing with me out there on the floor.”

I liked that this story wasn’t leaked by the coach or hyped by the University or through some public relations firm, but rather came from a call made to a radio station by the little boy’s family, who simply wanted to express their appreciation for the quiet kindness C-S had shown.

ky flatJust days earlier I’d read of another of Kentucky’s star players, Marcus Lee, whose altruistic acts were brought to Coach Calipari’s attention through a letter from a nurse practitioner. The nurse, while treating Lee for a minor medical issue at UK’s student health center, mentioned that her stepson, a college freshman, was suffering from severe depression and homesickness following an illness that prevented him from participating on his school’s soccer team. Lee wrote him a letter of encouragement, and the young man was so thrilled and touched that someone like Lee would take the time to do such a thing that it completely turned him around.

That Lee would do something like this has become sort of the norm. UK’s athletic department is accustomed to getting letters from people touting the many random kindnesses of Marcus Lee–to the point where they joke about him moonlighting as a do-gooder. He’s coordinated blanket drives, filled backpacks with food and supplies, worked with a charity that provides shoes for the poor. Turned syringes into makeshift squirt guns for water fights with young leukemia patients.

It’s impressive when you think of the insane schedules these student athletes must keep, the juggling they do in order to keep up with their class work while practicing and traveling to games. Yet Lee and some of his fellow players still make time to stop and visit these young cancer patients and play with Legos or have Nerf battles. Whatever it takes to make the kids smile.

Another of the team’s players, Karl-Anthony Towns, might be one of the top NBA prospects, but he wasn’t too proud to scrub the feet of dozens of Bahamian children, which he did as part of a community service project with Samaritan’s Feet. The organization provides new socks and shoes for impoverished children.

The team’s coach John Calipari deserves some credit for the part he plays in instilling in his players a desire to give back and stressing the importance of charity.

“We want them to leave here with a kind heart,” Calipari told USA Today. “Being a player here is signing autographs, taking pictures, spending time, meeting a child, going to the elderly home, doing things that take you 30 seconds to change people.”

His plan works. Since it’s managed to change me into one of their fans.

THE SISSIFICATION OF AMERICAN KIDS

March 9, 2015 by Karin Fuller

freeWhen I think “free range,” I generally think chicken, not children, but apparently there’s a new movement afoot, that of Free Range Parenting.

I first encountered the term last week in news accounts about a Maryland couple who were in trouble over allowing their children, ages 6 and 10, to walk a mile home from a park. Someone saw the unaccompanied minors and called the police, who collected the children and drove them home. The officers reprimanded the father, a physicist, and Child Protective Services was called. Threats were made of taking the children away, but after an investigation was completed, no charges were brought.

The parents are staunch believers in Free-Range Parenting, a movement that (according to the website), was created to “fight the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.”

Free Rangers are essentially the polar opposites from Helicopter Parents, the term given to hovering parents who help complete every assignment and analyze every decision and seek to eliminate every possible danger, be it bacterial or social or hyper-imagined.

The Maryland parents had educated their children about possible dangers they might encounter, and they’d practiced walking the route from the park to their home. But the outcry from online hordes of protectives was fierce, angrily listing the many risks the children had been exposed to on their walk.

Sometimes, when I think about my own childhood, it seems a miracle I survived. We played for hours in the woods, built dams in the creek, climbed trees, hung upside down from branches, slept in tents pitched in the back yard. We got scratches and bruises and stitches and casts. But we knew not to go in a stranger’s house or car, knew to be home before dinner or dark, knew we had to tell our folks where we’d be.

Now, if a kid climbed a tree and then fell, would the parents be cited for neglect?

At what point do we make it illegal for them to be children at all? So many kids are already living such scheduled lives, going from school to after-school programs to music to soccer to dance. They have organized play dates and meet with college planners starting in middle school and are pressured to achieve in a way that can’t possibly be healthy.

At what point is someone going to call CPS to report paranoid parents who are essentially holding their children hostage indoors, where they aren’t getting proper exercise or sunlight, where the develop obesity and diabetes and fearfulness? Isn’t that also a form of neglect?

Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world where kids can roam as freely as others once enjoyed, but at the same time, all this micromanaging is going to make them weak and frightened and incompetent. But if a parent attempts to step away from the uber-organized madness and let their kid be a kid, it’s considered irresponsible and dangerous.

This isn’t a contest to determine who loves their kid most, and we don’t get credited with a win simply by having so thoroughly bubble-wrapped our offspring that they make the passage from infancy into adulthood unscathed. The goal is to create self-reliant, capable adults.

Not a generation of Peter Pans, who don’t only refuse to grow up, but aren’t able.

LADY MACGYVER

March 3, 2015 by Karin Fuller

macgyver1It was an interesting thing to find out about myself, to learn one of the identifiers that apparently comes after my name in the minds of my friends.

I think of identifiers as those bits of information people hold onto about you that prompts them to send golf jokes or writing contests or panda pictures your way. Apparently, my friends identify me as a duct-tape loving jerry-rigger. This I learned after no less than a half-dozen people forwarded information my way about the search to find the next MacGyver.

For anyone not familiar with the show, MacGyver was a wildly resourceful secret agent who was forever saving the day with his rapidly rigged gadgets. He could escape most any situation with his ever-present duct tape, paper clip, and Swiss Army knife. He became so popular that the name “MacGyver” became synonymous with the act of coming up with a creative solution to a problem via cobbled together and unusual means.

Now, the show’s creator has pa
rtnered with the National Academy of Engineering to host a contest that will come up with ideas for a female version of the character, and they’re hoping to create a character capable of out-MacGyvering the old male MacGyver.

The goal of the show’s creators is admirable. They claim they’re hoping to encourage more females to become interested in engineering, though I’ll be shocked if Lady MacGyver doesn’t also just happened to be blessed with an ample chest as well as a crafty intellect. (I know it’s possible to have both, but I’m aggravated by having seen one too many shows with stiletto-wearing size 0s with fake lashes and acrylic nails chasing down criminals.)

The idea of a female MacGyver seems a natural for women, like me, accustomed to carrying a multi-tool in her purse (and another in her car, and one in her desk). But I think the woman version would be even more fun if they made her a mom.

Imagine the fun to be had in Lady Mac disabling a barefoot criminal by scattering Legos and Barbie shoes on the floor.

Or staving off starvation with all the Cheerios and Goldfish crackers that have accumulated at the bottom of her purse.

I’d love to see the female MacGyver using common kitchen ingredients to test clues from a crime scene while also preparing dinner for one gluten intolerant kid, one with peanut allergies, one that’s simply picky, and one militant vegan. All within the 30 minute window between piano lessons and soccer practice.

Or see her disabling criminals with Molotov cocktails made by using hairspray and tampons.

Or making a child’s Halloween costume on the fly using only the contents found under the seats in her car while simultaneously, and surreptitiously, tailing suspects.

It’s fun to envision the Mommy MacGyver melt-down that might ensue after her kids announce no interest in entering the school’s annual Science Fair.

Or see how she safely sanitizes a dropped and dusty binky with a crying babe in one arm while trying to land a sputtering plane on a Little League field.

Or how she’d use science to explain why the tooth fairy didn’t actually forget to put money under the pillow.

Whatever character they choose, I hope that at least once every episode, they have her solving something using either chocolate, a hot glue gun, or wine. Since, as most women know, there’s seldom a time when one of those three isn’t just what we need to fix most anything.