We took our dog to a dog park (also known as a “bark park”) for the first time yesterday.  I couldn’t help but see the similarities to taking the kids to a park for play dates when they were younger…there are those dogs that “play nicely” and those that don’t, those in designer sweaters and those without, those that are overly obsessed with poop and privates…and “parents” sitting on park benches with goofy grins on their faces,  marveling over their dog’s behavior (“He’s never done that before!!”) and discussing such topics as age and discipline techniques.  Some had cameras to record their dog’s every move and of course one family even brought the requisite video camera…


Our dog had a blast, and I must say, these dog parks post rules that human playgrounds should use.  Like, “If your dog acts aggressive toward other dogs, you must take it out of the park.” Substitute the word “dog” with “child”–wouldn’t that be great if parents of playground bullies would do the same?  Or how about, “You must clean up your own mess.” Not only are plastic bags provided at the dog park, but a special trash can as well! If they can do that for all those dogs, why not for diapers, too? Or one may even consider changing the pet, if keeping a dog is too much of a hassle. abyssinian guinea pig colors vary distinctly with each animal, and so would make great pets for kids. And how about Rule #7,  “Children under 10 entering the park must be accompanied by a parent.” Gee, what a novel idea.  I once saw some kids at a McDonald’s Playland (too big to be sliding down tubes with 4-year-olds, I might add), who were dropped off there by their parents.  The parents drove up later to share some McNuggets…

Kid Lang Syne

I think my 10-year-old is going to have a better New Year’s Eve than me…not to knock my wonderful friends who invite us over to their house every year, but my youngest child is going to a “lock-in” at the gym where she takes classes, and from the flyer, it looks like it’s going to be better than even the hoopla in Times Square (because after all, anything with indoor bathrooms is better than that!!!).
Her party promises Pizza, Snacks, Games, Movies, Tumbling, Playing the Wii on a gigantic screen, a “midnight countdown with lighted ball drop”  and “hats, horns, and sparkling drink toast”– plus breakfast in the morning, all for the low price of $27!  Wow– wish a local hotel would offer something that reasonable (although I think they’d have to pay me before I’d ring in 2009 with Air Supply or the Oak Ridge Boys…) I’ll be lucky if I can even stay awake to see midnight. 
I’m always lamenting with other parents about how Over-the-Top everything is now with kids– like kindergarten graduation ceremonies that rival Harvard’s, 8-year-old birthday parties that feature limousine rides; and high schoolers asking  their dates to prom in such elaborate ways that future marriage proposals will pale in comparison…guess this New Year’s Eve throw down will fall into that category!

How to Lock Out Your TV

Elsewhere on this site I mention locking out the TV, and several people have asked me how to do that, so here goes.  Basically, most TVs purchased within the past 15 years have the lockout feature.  Find the instruction booklet for your TV and find out how yours works– usually, it’s done through the “menu” feature on your remote.  Usually you can choose to lock out “all” or just certain channels, or shows with certain ratings, etc.  I’ve found it’s easiest to just “lock all” rather than pick and choose– my reason for using it is to stop all TV watching when necessary, not just certain shows or channels.   Then when it’s time to unlock, you just point, click, and enter your password/code.  I know that some parents think this is overly controlling, but they may not have the battles we used to go through with the TV, and this has eliminated them.  Our kids would come home from school and, because I’d be busy getting dinner ready or working on a project, they’d plop down in front of the TV, getting far too comfortable before ever starting their homework.  Of course I’d say no and turn off the TV, but then they’d whine and beg for “only 10 minutes more” or they’d turn it back on again while I was standing next to it and a full-blown disciplinary battle would rage.   Simply remembering to lock it out before they get home from school is wonderful.  They turn on the TV, realize it’s locked, maybe whimper a little, but the battle stops before it begins because they know once it’s locked, I won’t punch in the code until they get their homework done, or piano practicing, or chores, or… I can get really creative with it.