27 August 2012

Child Transportation Safety Tips

Today on the internets, some of my parent friends started talking about front-facing versus rear-facing child seats. Apparently it's a big subject! The subsequent discussion quickly turned tense; it seemed everyone had an opinion about how best to keep their child -- and everyone else's child -- safe while traveling.

In light of this discussion, and while child safety is on everyone's minds, I thought I'd share some helpful lessons I learned in my own childhood.

Child Transportation Safety Tips
From The Adults Who Supervised My Childhood

1. When driving long distances, make sure the children are safely zipped into their Pound Puppy or Rainbow Brite sleeping bags. 

If you put the seats of your station wagon down and let them stretch out in the back of the car, properly zipped sleeping bags will keep them from pinching each other while you drive, therefore keeping everyone safe and happy. As long as they're lying down, they don't need seatbelts, because they're sleeping, and nobody needs to wear a seat belt when she's sleeping.

This child could totally still ride
on a bicycle baby seat

2. When driving long distances, or into any vaguely wild, remote area, or anywhere, really, be sure to have a cooler* full of cold beer cans available at all times.

These will come in handy in emergency situations, such as a child accidentally stepping on a nest full of yellow jackets after you encouraged her to go walking on some abandoned train tracks in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains while you went to go pee behind a tree. When your child is stung eight or nine times, the cold beer cans will help to soothe the stings while you frantically drive to the nearest Ranger Station.

*Note: If it is the 1980s, feel free to drink while you drive, because apparently that is still legal.

Helpful hint! Teach your child to identify yellow jacket nests at an early age, as well as other natural hazards such as rotting logs, uneven terrain, and bears.

3. When transporting children in a pickup truck, instruct the children to lie down in the bed of the truck as long as it is moving. 

It is never safe for children to stand in the bed while the truck is in motion. Have the children hold a blanket over them, so the cops can't see them. Remind children to hold tight! It gets windy back there.

Fun family tradition! The baby gets to ride in the cab.

4. Never allow a child to drive a car until her legs are long enough to reach the pedals. 

Unless she's sitting on your lap, in which case it's probably totally fine.

5. Children grow quickly! Prepare yourself for the day when your child outgrows the rear-mounted baby seat on your bicycle.

If she's outgrown the baby seat, do not try to squish her into it. Instead, have her sort of perch on top of the seat with her coltish legs hanging over the edge. When she outgrows that, teach her the rules of bicycle safety so she can use proper arm signals as she rides on your handlebars.

6. When tobogganing with your child, be sure to choose the steepest hill in town.

That way, when you suggest she stand in the back of the toboggan "like a dogsled musher," her fall will be swift and she'll have plenty of room to roll down the hill.

7. Teens and cars can be a dangerous combination. Distracted driving is deadly driving! 

If your teen won't stop rolling her eyes, sighing, and listening to obnoxious music on her walkman, make her a nest of pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags on top of all the suitcases in the back of your SUV. She'll have a comfortable spot to write her moody poetry, and you won't be distracted as you drive!

Safety tip: a sudden stop could be hazardous for a nested teen. In case of a sudden stop, warn your teen to hold tightly to the back of the seat, the interior roof handle, the clothes hanger hook, or anything else she can grab. Alternately, gently suggest that your teen try to sleep on her pile of suitcases and sleeping bags, because as everyone knows, nobody needs to wear a seatbelt when she's sleeping.

02 August 2012

Pop Song Lyrics That Make Me Argue With the Radio

It's summer! Still! Which means it's time to listen to the pop station when I'm cruising sitting in horrible rush hour traffic on Lake Shore Drive and/or driving to Iowa every other weekend, which is how I've spend most of my summer. Pop music is great for making long drives seem shorter. It's also great for having insane lyrics. And, well, you know me: when I see or hear something too often, I start to pick it apart.

In this case, I find myself arguing back at the radio, which doesn't look crazy at all.

And because the voices in my head tend to quiet down when I share them, here are a few of the songs that are currently making me stop and argue whenever I hear them:

Song: One Direction - "What Makes You Beautiful"

Lyrics in question: "You don't know you're beautiful / that's what makes you beautiful"

Argument: This is a very charming idea, I suppose. The song WANTS you to think, "Hey, maybe I'm beautiful! And I don't even know it!" But look, just because someone doesn't know they're beautiful doesn't automatically make them beautiful. I bet Marla Hooch doesn't know she's beautiful.

Is that what makes her beautiful?

Song: Nicki Minaj - "Starships"

Lyrics in question: "Jump in my hoopty hoopty hoop, I own that / I ain't payin' my rent this month, I owe that"

Argument: Honey, I get that you're trying to prove what a carefree badass you are, but look. Pay your rent. Just pay your rent. Otherwise, you're going to be living in your hoopty hoopty hoop, and there's nothing sexy about living out of a car.

Song: Bruno Mars - "Grenade"

Lyrics in question: "I'd catch a grenade for ya / Throw my hand on a blade for ya / I'd jump in front of a train for ya / Take a bullet straight through the brain"

Argument: Whoa. Settle down, pal. Maybe just buy me a beer or something, and we'll be good.

(My friend Christy asks, "What is the likelihood that someone would ever throw a grenade at you, and that, because of me, you would need to catch it?")

Song: The Killers - "Human"

Lyrics in question: "Are we human, or are we dancer?"

Argument: Are we... dancer? That is not English, Brandon Flowers.

The funny thing about these lyrics is that apparently Brandon Flowers was really upset that people were so confused about them. "I really care what people think, but people don't seem to understand 'Human.' They think it's nonsense. But I was aching over those lyrics for a very long time to get them right." Well honeychild, maybe if you had spent less time aching and more time, you know, writing grammatically correct lyrics, more people would have understood what the hell you were trying to say.

Song: Justin Bieber - "Boyfriend" 

Lyrics in question: "If I was your boyfriend, I'd never let you go"

Argument: You mean "If I were your boyfriend," kiddo. I know you've been living on a tour bus since you were a tiny baby, but that's no excuse not to learn your native language. Even Canadians use the subjunctive.

Song: Britney Spears - "Circus"

Lyrics in question: "When I put on a show / I feel the adrenaline moving through my veins / Spotlight on me and I'm ready to break / I'm like a performer, the dance floor is my stage"

Argument: That is not a simile, Britney. You got it right earlier in the song ("I'm like the ringmaster / I call the shots / I'm like a firecracker / I make it hot") -- you're not actually a ringmaster, nor a firecracker, so it makes sense to construct similes comparing yourself to them. But you're not "like a performer." You're actually a performer. Not a simile. The dance floor is actually your stage. It's not a metaphor.

Song: Ke$ha - "Tik Tok" 

Lyrics in question: "And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger / But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger"

Argument: First of all, Mick Jagger looks like an animated corpse.

Really, Kesha? You kick anyone to the curb unless he looks like this guy? 

Here's the thing. When Kesha was born in 1987, Mick Jagger was already 44 -- really, too old even to be her father. Let's say Kesha became aware of boys around age 12 -- Mick would have been 56, or old enough to get the senior citizens breakfast at Perkins. When "Tik Tok" was released in 2009, Mick Jagger was 66 years old. My dad is 66, and he mostly sits in his recliner all day. Not exactly who I want to go clubbing with. Though I do like to imagine Kesha on the dance floor, surrounded by an army of Zombie Mick Jaggers.

(My friend Michael argues that "The One True Mick Jagger is always 22 and unsatisfied." Fair enough, though in that case I would argue the lyric should go, "We kick them to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger used to, twenty-two years before we were even born.")

Lyrics in question: Blah blah PAYPHONE blah blah PAYPHONE

Argument: Every single time I hear this, I imagine a 15 year old asking, "You're at a what? A... what? A pre-paid phone?" 

Extra Credit: Wiz Khalifa's rap break, which begins with the line "Man, f*ck that sh*t." Sorry, Adam Levine, I know you're trying to sing this totally wistful song about payphones or whatever, but Wiz is having NONE OF IT.