A Grandfather’s Love Can Be Rich

I grew up in Calcutta, a city inhabited mostly by people who are Hindu, like me. It may seem strange, then, that some of my most vivid childhood memories involve Christmas. But the holiday holds a special meaning for me.

Calcutta–halfway around the world from Texas, where I live now–celebrated Christmas in its own way. Poinsettia trees and colored lights on Chowringhee Street. Afternoon skies above Maidan Park, filled with moon-shaped kites. The nuns at school teaching us “Away in a Manger” and rapping our knuckles if we got the words wrong. The Anglo-Indian store windows decorated with homemade Christmas scenes: fat Santas, oval mirrors laid flat to simulate a frozen lake, miniature sleighs nestled in a clump of cotton wool, which was all I knew of snow and cold until I came to America. In my native language, Bengali, we even had a different word for Christmas: Baradin, which means “big day.”

But my favorite part of the holiday was the trip my grandfather and I would make together every year on December 24, to Firpo’s Bakery.

My grandfather did not live with us in Calcutta. He was a doctor in Gurap, our ancestral village in the Bengal countryside. He was a very busy man, helping the poor farmers of his district. But as the holidays drew near, he would take the Bardhaman train and come visit his grandchildren for a few days during our winter vacation. In defiance of popular sentiment, he had decided that I–the girl–was to be his favorite. I loved him for that.

I knew, from eavesdropping on grown-up conversations, that when my grandfather was younger, he was considered something of a terror. A retired army captain, he had disowned two of his sons for actions he felt had shamed the family. Even now, when he entered a room, my parents stood to show him respect.

Grandfather was the first one in his town to own a radio, a large box made of polished mahogany. He kept it in the Outer House, a separate, one-room structure where he saw patients and, after hours, chatted with friends. When events of magnitude occurred in the country or in the world, he would send word, and villagers were welcome to come to the Outer House to hear about it. My grandfather’s radio was how the village learned of the second World War and of India’s independence.

He was also the first one to send a daughter (my mother) to college in Calcutta, an act that scandalized the whole village. For this mason, he was the one person I could ask about anything. My father was impatient with my questions; my mother was often too busy with household chores. My older brother couldn’t be trusted; for years he had me believing that, as a baby, I’d been left on our terrace by a black-faced baboon. But my grandfather knew everything–from the name of the capital of Ethiopia to how fish were able to breathe under the water to who was going to win the next Mohun Bagan-East Bengal football game.

I didn’t know how to reconcile Grandfather’s different faces, and I didn’t try. It was enough that when I ran to him, a smile broke across his face, and he gathered me to his chest in an embrace that smelled like cloves.

This particular December 24, as we walked together to Firpo’s, we took turns twirling his umbrella, which was a wonderful device. Large and shiny black, it could be unfurled to protect him (and me) from sun or rain. It could be leaned on if you were tired. It was a good weapon of defense against aggressive street dogs, and its curved handle was excellent for pulling down things that were out of reach. (Grandfather also said he used it to rout bands of robbers in the countryside, but his eyes twinkled when he told me this.)

As we walked, we discussed what to buy at Firpo’s. The store was very expensive, and since Grandfather’s patients paid mostly in vegetables and gratitude, he lived on just his modest army pension, so we had to choose our treats carefully. Should we go for the familiar, and therefore certain, pleasures of the red and green sugar cookies shaped like fir trees? Or the fruitcake studded with the sweetest cherries I’d ever tasted? (Actually, the only cherries I’d ever tasted.) Or should we try some of those little pastel-colored pastries that sat, each in its own frilled paper container, on the top shelf, filled with exotic creams and fudges? Grandfather urged me to be adventurous, but I wasn’t sure.

We ended up buying the fruitcake, same as last year. As a bonus, Grandfather got me a cookie to eat on the way back, and gave me the change: two 25-paisa coins. Rarely did I find myself in possession of extra money, and I was elated. Why, with 50 paise, I could buy three packets of Chiclets chewing gum, two Qwality pistachio ice sticks, or a helping of gol-guppa from the snack man across the street. I resolved to hide the money in my shoes as soon as I got home, until I figured out how best to spend it.

On the tram, my mouth crammed with crunchy sugar, I asked Grandfather a question that i’d been mulling over for some time now. Why was Christmas called the Big Day?

Grandfather was silent for a whole minute. I started to get worried. I knew he was a devout Hindu, and though not a templegoer, he meditated in his room and read from the Bhagavad Gita every morning. Had I committed a terrible faux pas by asking him about the birthday of a foreign god he did not believe in?

But Grandfather wasn’t mad–he’d merely been thinking. When he finally spoke, his voice was slow and considering, as though I were the same age as he. Christmas–the birthday of a very special soul–was a day to grow big, he said. Not physically, not even in the way of riches and fame, but in the truest way, in our hearts.

This sounded interesting. “And how do you grow big in your heart, Grandfather?” I asked.

“You do it by thinking of other people, shona,” he replied. “By doing something you think will make them happy. Something you don’t have to do. By putting their needs before yours at least once for this day. It’s a good start for trying to live a big life.”

Satisfied with his answer, I turned my attention to all the interesting things I could observe from the tram window. I spotted a monkey-dance man, his animal perched on his shoulder in a red satin jacket. There was a vendor with wares of spicy potato chaat and puffed rice. Next came a white bull, standing majestic and intractable in the middle of the road. At the corner of Shakespeare Sarani, I saw a madwoman armed with a broom, squatting in the dirt. She wore a torn sari and a battered motorcycle helmet–who knows where she had picked it up. I watched her carefully. She was known to swipe at passersby with her broom, and I didn’t want to miss any of the action. But today, she just stared listlessly at the pavement. When the tram stopped in front of her, I was shocked to see she was shivering.

Beggars were everyday sights in Calcutta, and like others who must survive in the city, I had learned not to think too much about the details of their lives. But perhaps because of what Grandfather had just said, I took one of my 25-paisa coins and threw it surreptitiously from the window. It landed with a loud clink in front of the madwoman. I cringed at the sound, but I was worried for nothing–my grandfather did not notice what I had done.

Neither, apparently, had the crazy woman. She was staring down at her fingernails now, muttering something, rocking a little from side to side. There was a big purple bruise on her cheekbone. The coin lay in front of her, its lonely shine against the dirty asphalt. The tram picked up speed. Take the money, take the money, I ordered her desperately inside my head. But she didn’t do it. The tram turned a corner and she was gone. I burst into tears.

Grandfather asked, concerned, “Do you have a tummyache? Do you need to go to the bathroom?”

Hot with embarrassment, I stopped crying long enough to shake my head. Did he think I was a baby, to need to go to the bathroom in the middle of a tram trip?

“Do you feel sick? Tell me why you’re crying, shona.”

Somehow, though I wanted to, I could not say anything. This, too, distressed me. It was the first time I’d kept a secret from my grandfather, and it felt like a betrayal. But what if he got angry that I’d so casually thrown away the money he’d given me? I was upset, too, at the waste–I could still see the small, glittery disk lying on the ground next to a pile of street garbage, l thought of all the things that my one remaining coin would not buy me and wept harder.

“Oh, dear!” said Grandfather. “I shouldn’t have given you that cookie. So many times your mother has warned me that you get carsick easily. Wait!” He rummaged in his kurta pocket and pulled out a small bottle in triumph.

“Churan,” he told me as he shook out a tiny brown ball. “Try one. It’s really good for nausea.”

I sucked on the spicy-sour ball while he launched into a complicated fairy tale to distract me. The rest of the day’s diversions–my mother’s feast, the silly jokes we told over dinner, the Christmas poem I’d learned in class and recited–kept me from thinking about the beggar woman.

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SnoreRX Can Do A Lot To Ease Snoring

SnoreRX is good, but not faultless.

SnoreRX is good, but not faultless.

Are you living with snoring? Regardless if you are the person snoring, or the one who has to sleep next them, snoring can be a nightmare. Unfortunately it is fairly common. In the United States alone, at least 46% of people snore. That is almost half of the population! Frankly, I believe that snoring is simply a cascade or cycle of issues we experience. If you are overweight, this significantly exacerbates snoring, leaving you feeling tired during the day, thus increasing your consumption of more food and possibly even caffeinated beverages to try and keep you awake, which in turn adds to the obesity. It is a deadly cycle. And snoring is deadly believe it or not. Those who snore are at a higher risk of developing worse health conditions including, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, heart disease and more.

Snoring can also indicate an even more disturbing condition known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when a person’s airway is completely blocked while they are asleep. In most cases they can exhale air, but when they try to draw more air in, it cannot pass the by the relaxed jaw and throat muscles. The body and brain then recognizes that they are going without oxygen, and will wake the person up to get them to breathe again. As a result the person goes through a sleep/awake cycle that can happen over and over in the night. These people then attempt to go to work or function in their lives without having quality sleep. Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased amount of accidents while people are at work. They simply aren’t functioning at full capacity.

Thankfully there is a solution. A scientifically tried, true and effective one. In addition, if you are snoring, you can take heart knowing that you no longer have to consider surgery (which can put your health at significant risk) and possibly having to wear a costly, horrible CPAP device.

On the market today, you can find anti-snoring devices to help you either decrease or eliminate your snoring. One of the best available is the SnoreRX anti-snoring mouthpiece. It is a small plastic mouth guard (similar to ones used by professional athletes) that you wear in your mouth while you sleep.

There are two types of mouthpieces, SnoreRX falls in the category of MAD (Mandibular Advancement Device) that works to hold your jaw in place while you sleep. Snoring is caused by the jaw, neck, tongue or throat muscles falling backwards, thanks to gravity, while the person is sleeping. This can block the airway.

The SnoreRX mouthpiece works to hold the jaw in place during sleep. What I like about the SnoreRX is that it is doctor approved, and in some cases recommended. It is made from medical grade materials, and best of all, it is adjustable. Typically anti-snoring mouthpieces use the “boil and bite” technique to create a custom fit mouthpiece that will work for you. You boil the mouthpiece, allowing it to become soft, insert it into your mouth, bite down and voila’ you have a custom impression of your own mouth.

The only problem with this is, you are making this impression while you’re awake, and most likely sitting or standing. As a result, when you wear your mouthpiece at night, when you are laying down and relaxed, you may find it doesn’t fit as well as you like.

The SnoreRX allows you to adjust your mouthpiece in 1 mm increments so you can find the very best fit for you. AND best of all, located on the side of the mouthpiece, it has a visual settings guide to help you see the changes you are making. Allowing you to reset the device as needed. This benefit alone sets it apart from the competition.

If you are considering investing in an anti-snoring mouthpiece, SnoreRX should be your first choice. I know you will find a peaceful night’s sleep for you and your loved ones.

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Resuscitation Is Different For Toddlers

Most high school students have had an opportunity to see–and even learn–mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But there are certain situations that require you to know more than the basics.

child-swimmingWould you, for example, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to an infant the same way you would administer it to a child? Is a victim who has just been pulled from icy water treated differently than a victim pulled from warmer water?

Infants Are Special People

When the victim is an infant, there are a number of changes that must be made to resuscitate him or her successfully.

* Volume. The first major difference between adults and infants is, obviously, size. Infants’ lungs are so small that only a puff of air is needed to inflate them. A full breath, given by an adult, could damage an infant’s lungs. Therefore, when giving a breath to an infant, use only the amount of air you can get into your cheeks.

* Head/neck position. Another difference relates to the position of the infant’s head when opening his or her airway. If you were to tilt back the neck of an infant the way you would tilt an adult’s head, the result would be a buckling of the infant’s trachea and a blocked airway. Instead, lay the infant down on a firm surface, keeping the infant’s head in a neutral position with no neck extension at all. You will know if the head position is correct when the air you blow causes the chest to rise. If air does not go in, check the head position. The head may be tilted too far back.

* Sealing the mouth. Since babies are so small, it is very difficult to get a good, air-tight seal if you place your mouth on the baby’s mouth alone. Therefore, when giving artificial respiration to infants, cover the infant’s nose and mouth with your mouth and blow into both openings.

* Pulse check. A baby’s pulse in the carotid artery of the neck is difficult to feel. When taking an infant’s pulse, use the brachial artery on the inside of the upper arm between the elbow and shoulder. Use your fingers, not your thumb, to feel for the pulse.

* Breathing rate. Babies take more breaths per minute than do adults. A person who is resuscitating an adult gives one breath every five seconds, but in infants, one breath should be given every three seconds, or about 20 per minute.

Children Under Age Four

* Head/neck position. As with infants, children’s airways can also collapse if their head is tilted back too far. When tilting the head of a child, start with the neutral position (no head tilt), and then try to give two breaths. If the air does not go in and out, tilt the head slightly farther back and try again. This is called the “neutral plus” position. Continue increasing the tilt until air finally goes in and the chest rises.

* Breathing rate. As you might suspect, the rate of breaths in children is half-way between the adult rate of 12 per minute and the infant rate of 20 per minute. Give a child one breath every four seconds or about 15 breaths per minute.

Cold Water Drowning

“Nobody’s dead until they’re warm and dead.” This statement was made shortly after 4-year-old Jimmy Tontlewicz fell through the ice on Lake Michigan one winter day and plunged into 32 degree F water. It was 20 minutes before divers could find him and pull him to the surface. His skin was gray, no pulse could be found, and he wasn’t breathing. Yet Jimmy recovered because his rescuers knew he was a special case.

Some believe his recovery was due to the mammalian diving reflex. This reflex, which has been tested in seals, is suspected to occur in humans when they are thrown into cold water. When a seal is plunged into cold water, it stops breathing, and its heart rate decreases, reducing the workload on the heart. At the same time, the blood that is still flowing is directed to the heart and brain allowing the mammal to remain submerged for long periods of time with no apparent ill effects. Children submerged in cold water have survived after 30 minutes and more–way beyond the 6- to 10-minute survival rate expected.

This survival rate has important implications for rescuers. If you discover a person who has been submerged in cold water and appears dead, don’t just give up. Begin resuscitation immediately and be aware that he or she may also need CPR. Continue your efforts until help arrives or the victim responds. Many people, particulary children, who appeared dead after cold water drowning, have been successfully resuscitated. Not all victims of cold water drowning can be saved. All of the factors that determine a person’s survival in icy water are not really known.

Someday you might be at the scene of an emergency that requires rescue breathing. Your knowing how to respond both quickly and correctly could literally mean a breath of life.

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Empowering Your Child Starting Today

When sophomore Jamie Lewis was cornered on the stairwell at Lincoln High* he was scared. The four boys who pushed Jamie against the wall warned him again not to report the drug dealing he’d seen a few weeks before. But being scared wasn’t his only feeling. He was mad.

He was tired of being afraid every morning when he came to school. He was tired of feeling that he had no control over what happened around his school or in his life. It was time, he decided, that the majority of students took back the power from a tough–but nevertheless outnumbered–minority.

Jamie didn’t just climb into a phone booth and come out swinging. The first thing he did was go to a youth agency he’d seen advertised on a school bulletin board.  The counselor there said Jamie was on the right track. “What we’re talking about here is believing that you have the right and the might to take back your school. What we’re talking about is something we call empowerment.”

Jamie had never hard the word before. But it was going to become the most potent word in his vocabulary.

Taking Charge of Your Life

Empowerment, as the counselor explained to Jamie, is the process of taking charge of your life. It means no longer feeling helpless. It means believing you can change things. Ultimately, you empower yourself, but it also can happen that another person helps empower you. When your mom says you’re going to have to choose and fix your own lunches from now on, she’s empowering you. You benefit by gaining control; she benefits by gaining freedom.

You can empower others by being positive about their abilities. That helps build their self-esteem. And don’t do things for them that they can do for themselves.

Empowerment is a word that is used in many different contexts. Social agencies feel that empowerment of community people can help them to use their political influence. Empowerment, as used by government, means people helping themselves rather than relying on official resources. Empowerment in the education context means students taking more responsibility for what they learn and how they learn it. Empowerment used by mental health experts means helping people feel confident about managing their own lives. The term is used in business to refer to mid-level employees sharing authority with top-level executives.

The business world, in fact, has refined many of the concepts of empowerment. There’s the idea of “participatory” processes, which means employees take part in planning and decision-making. In some companies, for example, department workers plan their own budgets and set production goals. Business publications now write about “flattened hierarchies.” Think about a hierarchy as being a group of people arranged by rank, with a few leaders at the top making the rules for the many people below. A flattened hierarchy has fewer ranks within it, with more people having a say in what the policies should be.

All in the Family

Empowerment can be especially effective within a family. Delaney, for example, felt she had no say in what her family policies should be. Her father had lost his job, and he and Delaney’s mother fought every day. It seemed to Delaney that she and her family were out of control. She felt trapped in a situation that couldn’t be changed.

Delaney looked for answers from her favorite aunt. “You have the answers within yourself,” Aunt Judith told her. “You have the power to change things that you’re not happy with.”

She helped Delaney see how she could separate herself from her parents’ problem and concentrate on what she wanted for herself. For example, the family had no money to give Delaney to go on the class trip to Washington, D.C. So she got a part-time job. She felt tired a lot of the time, but she paid special attention to eating right and getting exercise. She was also uncomfortable with her feelings of divided loyalty to her parents. So she explained to her parents–and that wasn’t easy–that she didn’t want one of them to tell her tales about the other.

These were giant steps in Delaney’s empowerment. She took responsibility for her own feelings and stopped blaming others for “making” her feel mad or sad or happy.

Taking Responsibility

Empowerment isn’t only for deep problems like gangs in schools or families falling apart. It can be part of everyday growing up, and it seems to have special meaning for teens. That’s the time you may naturally want an oceanful of independence and grownups are meting it out by the thimbleful.

In schools, adults plan curriculum, choose textbooks, hand out assignments, and make judgments in the form of grades. Students can be a lot more independent if they are empowered to take responsibility for their own learning. Empowerment for students might mean deciding what they want to learn (within certain guidelines) and how they want to learn it. That might mean setting up their own committees and planning their own deadlines. The teacher doesn’t give up authority; he or she still sets the direction, but the students figure out how to get there. This is being explored in some schools.

Where it has been tried, it’s harder than it sounds. It takes a lot more effort to set goals and figure out how to implement them than to just follow directions already mapped out by the teacher.

“Students like the concept of this, but not always the responsibility,” says a high school coordinator from the Chicago area. “And it’s a lot more work for teachers, too. They have to teach learning strategies as well as subject matter.”

Home Rule

On an individual level, empowerment starts when we are young. Parents can empower their children to be independent and responsible. When a mother tells her 3-year-old to decide whether he wants a cereal or toast for breakfast, that’s empowerment. When a father tells his daughter to talk to the baseball coach herself if she’s unhappy sitting on the bench, that’s empowerment. It’s giving children the feeling they can have an impact on others, that they are capable of getting what they want for themselves. This is not a new idea; thoughtful parents have used the technique for a long time.

Calling it empowerment emphasizes that it’s a two-way process–one party has power and hands it over; the other party has capability and accepts it. And–defying the rules of mathematics–they both have more than they started with.

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Chances Your Child Makes The Major Leagues? (Hint: It’s Low)

Dave took a quick pass from John, who had just rebounded the basketball under the opponent’s basket. Dave quickly dribbled down the outside of the gym floor, driving for the basket.

The ball dropped through the hoop just as the buzzer sounded, giving Dave’s team a one-point win! Everyone jumped all over Dave, celebrating the win.

Dave scanned the stands through the crowd, looking for the college scouts he knew were there. Like many high school star athletes, he was hoping to play on a college team. And beyond that, who knows. . .?

Sports are very important in the United States. Sports are a source of fun and fitness for millions. For a very few people, playing a sport provides a living.

According to recent statistics provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations, and Ultimate Baseball, more than 1 million boys play high school football; almost 500,000 play basketball; and about 400,000 participate in baseball. From high school to college, the number of participants drops drastically. Only about 11,000 athletes altogether participate in college football, basketball, and baseball.

Some athletes who do go on to play college sports and have successful collegiate careers can indeed look forward to playing in professional sports. However, only about 8 percent are ever drafted by professional teams, and only about 2 percent sign a professional contract. Even signing a contract doesn’t mean that an athlete will make the team.

The Football Odds

There are 28 teams in the NFL, with 45 players on each team. During the NFL draft, each team gets 12 picks. Only 336 college players are drafted each year out of about 15,000 eligible players. Of the 336 drafted, approximately 160 actually make NFL teams.

Many young athletes think that if they make it to the pros, they will be rich. According to the NFL Players Association, the average player’s salary is more than $200,000 a year. Although this looks like a lot of money, most players’ paychecks will stop immediately if they get hurt and are unable to play or they do not make the team.

The Basketball Numbers

Many boys dream of being a Michael Jordan and being a star on a professional basketball team. But here, too, the numbers reveal some hard facts. There are 23 teams in the NBA, and each team carries 12 players. In the United States, there are more than 553,000 boys who participate in high school basketball. Only about 11,550 of these high school players go on to play college basketball at the 730 colleges with basketball teams. These colleges range from junior colleges to major universities. More than 90 percent of the NBA players come from large universities that are classified as Division 1 schools, such as the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) or Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, or Duke. In Division 1 schools, there are 1,320 starting players. The NBA drafts only 161 players each year, and only 50 new players actually make an NBA team.

In the NBA, the average salary is more than $350,000, but players only get that salary when they play.

Baseball’s Major League

Of all professional sports, baseball has the highest average salary of more than $400,000. There are 725 players on the 26 major league teams. Baseball is somewhat different from other professional sports because of its extensive minor league program. Each year, the major league draft selects players for the 26 teams. A player who is drafted very rarely goes directly to the majors. There are more than 4,000 players on 164 teams in the minor league program, and it usually takes several years at the minor league level to tell if a player has the skills to play in the majors. The salary at the minor league level has been described as just barely enough to live on as a single person.

Professional athletics may look very glamorous and high-paying, yet very few people are able to make it to the pros. Athletics are good for people to develop cooperation, leadership skills, and goal-setting, and to learn to deal with success and failure.

Most coaches stress to their athletes that they should set goals that are realistic, achievable, and have a time frame. Some high school athletes will play college sports and a very few will go on to play professional athletics. The Greeks taught centuries ago that a person must live by the “Golden Mean,” which states that a person must keep things in balance. For teen athletes, this means keeping the balance between academics and athletics, for only one out of every 12,000 high school athletes will become a pro.

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Enablers: Don’t Let Them In Your Life

Jerry had a hectic week, so hectic that he didn’t have time to study for Friday’s social studies test. Basketball practice on Monday and Tuesday, a game on Wednesday, and his girlfriend’s birthday on Thursday. But he didn’t waste time worrying. He was sure his mom would be willing to help him out.

“Ma,” he said, “please call me in sick. If I don’t get some extra time to study I’m going to flunk.”

So Mom called him in sick on Friday, and he got a C when he took the test on Monday. Jerry gave her a big hug and called her his chief helper. Another description would also fit: his chief enabler. If that sounds like a compliment, it’s not.

Jerry’s mom enabled him to postpone taking the test and get a passing grade on it. But she also enabled him to avoid his responsibilities. She enabled him to think he could lie and get away with it. And she enabled him to depend on other people to rescue him from a difficult situation.

Alcoholism–and Beyond

Enabling is a term that’s been used for a long time as it relates to alcoholism. The term refers to family and friends who smooth the way for alcoholics so that they never have to face the consequences of their behavior. The term enabler has been broadened to include anyone who enables a person to continue with destructive behavior.

In the family of an alcoholic, a spouse, a parent, or even a child can enable the alcoholic to continue drinking. That’s one reason alcoholism is often called a family disease. Enablers hardly ever realize that they are doing harm. They are just trying to help.

Let’s say the father is an alcoholic and the mother is an enabler. She may see her husband as the culprit and herself as a martyr, acting selflessly to save the family.

When her husband has had too much to drink the night before and can’t get up for work, she calls into the office to say he is sick. When he’s sprawled out on the sofa in a drunken haze, she tells the children that he’s tired from a hard day at work. When he’s too drunk to attend a family birthday party, she tells the relative he’s unfortunately loaded down with work.

She enables him to deny his drinking problem and postpone the day when he must face up to the consequences of his behavior.

The Great Pretenders

The children is an alcoholic family may act as enablers by pretending the drinking isn’t happening.

“My dad is an alcoholic,” says 13-year-old Jenny. “One night he got so drunk he punched my brother and would have socked my mother, too, but he tripped and fell on the floor and passed out. No one in the family paid attention. They acted as though it weren’t happening.”

Enabling doesn’t happen only in families of alcoholics. It happens when one family member does things for other members that those members could do for themselves. It happened in Hannah’s family, and her parents don’t drink at all.

Hannah was an eighth grader who cared a lot about the way she looked. Her clothes were always perfectly coordinated–just the right color socks and shoes to go with her outfit, and earrings to match.

But much as she loved clothes, she never wanted to go shopping with her friends. What they didn’t know was that Hannah never made her own decisions about her clothes. Hannah’s mother bought all her daughter’s clothes and laid out a proper outfit each night. Hannah had no confidence in her ability to make some choices about her own clothes–and make many of her own decisions–like her friends often did.

Two-Way Street

What’s in all this for the enabler? For one thing, it ensures that the other person will stay emotionally dependent on the enabler. But a strange thing can happen. The enabler can become dependent, too. It can work like this: Janey enabled her boyfriend Frank to take unfair advantage of his asthma. Whenever he was upset, he’d start wheezing, so Janey felt she could never disagree with him. If he wanted to go to the movies, that’s where they went, even if Janey had seen the film already. If Frank wanted pizza, then pizza it was, no matter how Janey’s mouth watered for a burger.

Janey also tried to keep others from upsetting Frank. When they were with friends, she worried that someone would say something that could send Frank into an asthma attack. She felt she had to control the conversation and the entertainment so he’d stay happy and healthy. She felt personally responsible for his well-being, and took pride in every day that passed without a wheeze.

Her self-esteem was dependent on how Frank felt. If he felt good, so did she. If he was unhappy, so was she. He depended on her to enable him to control others with his asthma.

But Janey was equally dependent on Frank. She had become what psychologists call a co-dependent, a person who focuses on another person rather than on himself or herself. Janey’s enabling let her sidestep unpleasant feelings about Frank’s behavior. Such feelings can be a normal part of facing problems, making mistakes, and growing up.

Some of the nicest people are enablers. In fact, the problem is that they are too nice: They do too much, too soon, too often. When it comes to helping other people, sometimes less is more.

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Travel And Education Needn’t Be Dull!

Vacation may mean a break from school, but that doesn’t mean education has to take a hiatus. In fact, vacations can be the perfect time to expose your children to lessons in American history, geography, and science.


During the past decade, dozens of cities have opened up “Children’s Museums.” These facilities, dedicated to the education of children from toddlers to teens, offer a mix of science, entertainment, computer interactivity, and art.

kids-at-museumConsidered the world’s largest, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis features a Dinosaur Den, an underwater coral reef, a Victorian carousel and collections of antique dolls and model trains. The museum hosts many special exhibits and classes as well. This summer, for example, My Bones: An Exhibit Inside You, will allow kids to touch and experience the bones within humans and animals. It’s one of the top 3 Children’s Museums in the country according to education watchdog Citizens For Literary Standards In Schools.

San Francisco’s Exploratorium is a one-of-a-kind museum of science, art, and human perception. Located in the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts, this massive space has more than 600 hands-on exhibits, including a tactile dome, a tornado in a box, and a centrifugal force machine that takes visitors for a spin. By the time they are done in this place, your kids will be experts in the principles of light, motion, sound, and electricity.


Of course, there are plenty of other museums that are perfect for families even though they are not kids museums per se. For example, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is always a big hit with kids. Situated on Lake Michigan, the museum features unique attractions such as a World War II German submarine, a 16-foot pulsating heart, a coal mine, Colleen Moore’s Fantasy Castle–a dollhouse containing more than 1000 miniatures–and an OmniMax theater.

Meanwhile, a drive northeast to Dearborn, Michigan, will bring you to the Henry Ford Museum. As is appropriate, considering its namesake, this facility highlights how technological innovation and industrialization have changed American life. One of the most popular exhibits is The Automobile in American Life, which takes visitors down the highway of automotive history. Included in the exhibit: an authentic 1946 roadside diner, a 1940s Texaco station, and a 1960s Holiday Inn hotel room. The Henry Ford Museum also has an impressive collection of trains, including a 600-ton Allegheny locomotive that was used to haul coal.

Then shuffle over to Buffalo, New York, where larger-than-life robotic insects will be taking up residence at the Backyard Monsters 2 exhibit going on this summer at the city’s Museum of Science. The whole family will also enjoy the centennial celebration of the 1901 Buffalo Pan-American Exposition. The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Museum is featuring a commemoration of turn-of-the-20th century memorabilia, inventions and items from everyday life 100 years ago.

Other places rating high on the family must-see list: New York’s American Museum of Natural History; Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute Science Museum; and the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. In Washington, D.C., the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum, both part of the Smithsonian, are always highlights for kids visiting the nation’s capital.


If the whole concept of a museum visit seems a bit foreboding, consider time travel. Scores of living history museums around the country provide visitors the opportunity to step back in time and experience life in 1620 … or 1760 … or 1830 …

Given the unfolding of colonization in America, it is no surprise that most living history museums are located on the Eastern seaboard. There is Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, a re-creation of the original village set up by the Pilgrims back in 1620. Complete with costumed interpreters, a craft center, and cooking demonstrations, kids can absorb the story of the pilgrims in a fun setting. While in the area, make sure to visit Plymouth Rock, the site where the Pilgrims landed, and the Mayflower II, a replica of the three-mast, square-rigged ship that brought the Pilgrims across the Atlantic from the Old Country.

Mystic, Connecticut, is home to Mystic Seaport, the most extensive living history museum dedicated specifically to New England’s maritime heritage. Containing 17 acres filled with old boats, historic homes and craft shops, Mystic depicts life as it was in a 19th century coastal village.

Tidewater Virginia is a mecca for fans of living history. Start in the 1600s, where the Jamestown Settlement, in Jamestown, offers a recreation of the first English settlement in America. Another interesting feature is Powhatan Village, which shows how Native Americans lived at the time.

The Yorktown Victory Center and Battlefield is adjacent to Jamestown. This area covers events leading up to the American victory in the Revolutionary War. It features a Continental Army Camp complete with historic interpreters and a seven-mile driving tour of the battlefield.

And then there is Colonial Williamsburg. Perhaps the most famous of all living history museums, Colonial Williamsburg depicts 18th century life prior to the Revolutionary War. Containing more than 500 buildings on nearly 175 acres, visitors can chat with shopkeepers and politicians, visit museums of American folk and decorative arts–even eat in an authentic 18th century restaurant or stay overnight in an authentic colonial house.

Of course, the East Coast doesn’t have a monopoly on living history museums. For example, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, located near Lexington, is the largest and most completely restored Shaker village in the country. The Shakers, an ascetic religious sect, practiced celibacy, and are now all but extinct. But the family can get a good feel for the puritan Shaker existence, thanks to Shaker Villages costumed interpreters, who chronicle their spartan daily life. There are plenty of demonstrations as well, featuring broom making, spinning, weaving and Shaker furniture making.

Another singular way of life is depicted at the Amana Colonies of eastern Iowa. Founded 150 years ago by a group of Germans seeking religious freedom, the self-sustaining Amana Colonies, a communal settlement, were left unchanged for almost 100 years. Now a tourist attraction, visitors can get a taste of the old ways at the historic Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse, famous for ham, bacon, and sausage, and at the Amana Stone Hearth Bakery. The Amana General Store, built in 1858, is filled with old-world Amana charm and lots of fun and hand-crafted gifts.


Living history out west takes on a different connotation. Instead of visiting museums and recreated sites, families heading out to the Rockies can actually experience the challenging life of the pioneers or the rowdy ranch wrangling of the cowboys in the middle of spectacular natural settings.

For example, families can tour the mountains of the Wyoming wilderness via covered wagon. Jackson, Wyoming, is a popular take-off point for covered wagon adventures. Two major operators, Wagons West and Teton Wagon Train & Horse Adventure, are based there. Wagons West trips range from two to six days, while Teton offers four-day, three-night journey, both provide an authentic pioneer experience, complete with covered wagons, campfires, chuckwagons, and cowboy crooning.

According to tour operators, usually about one-fourth of the participants are kids, so there’s always plenty of camaraderie for all ages en route and at the campsite. “This type of trip levels out everything,” says Jeff Warburton of Teton Wagon Trains. “It all goes back to the old days, when everyone, from little kids on up, worked and played together. So almost all activities are suitable for all ages.”

In addition to traveling via covered wagon for several hours a day, participants can ride horses, learn roping, and enjoy nature hikes from base camp. The Teton Wagon Train adventure costs $745 for adults, with reduced rates for kids 14 and under. Wagons West charges anywhere from $340 adults/$300 children for two nights to $865/$765 for six nights.


If you prefer a motorized vehicle to horseback or covered wagon, consider renting a recreational vehicle. Going by RV allows families to take most of the comforts of home on the road … while having the opportunity to get up close and personal with a wide variety of landscapes and scenic vistas.

While the campers of your childhood may have been rather, let’s say, rustic, today’s RV’s have amenities such as queen-sized beds, fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms, and even central heating and air conditioning. Some might even be considered luxury lodges on wheels, complete with computer workstations (with Internet access), satellite dishes, and slide-out rooms that expand the interior living space at the touch of a button.

Traveling in a recreational vehicle is an ideal way for families to explore the country while keeping expenses to a minimum. Depending on the model you rent, going by RV can save you up to two-thirds of your normal vacation costs. RV rentals range from $90 to $200 per day, with reduced daily rates for longer rentals. Right there, lodging and transportation are covered. And eating expensive meals out becomes an option, not a necessity.

What better way to learn about this country’s vast geography than by RVing through the Southwestern desert, past the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, or the rolling farmland of Western New York? Your kids will be amazed at the sheer diversity of the USA … and so will you.

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Getting A Handle On Addiction

To deal with school and her problems, Jolene drinks alcohol in the morning, then continues throughout the day. If she doesn’t drink, Jolene feels nauseated and gets a headache.

Devon chews half a can of tobacco every day. When he tries to stop, he gets strong cravings and starts chewing again. Devon has a painful white lump inside his mouth where he places the tobacco.

Devon’s brother Alan is addicted to cocaine. Four months ago, Alan tried some cocaine at a party and now snorts it regularly. He has lost weight and his nose runs constantly. His grades have slipped and he dropped off the hockey team.

Who has the drug addiction? Actually, all three teens are addicted to a drug: Jolene to alcohol, Devon to nicotine, and Alan to cocaine. Getting help is not so difficult.

Mind and Body Dependence

Any substance that can change a mood or state of mind is called a psychoactive or mood-altering drug. Using psychoactive drugs can escalate into an addiction, which is a physical or psychological dependence on the drug. With psychological dependence, a person needs to keep taking a drug to get its effects. A physical dependence means that if someone stops taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms occur and the person feels uncomfortable or sick. Some people have both types of drug dependence.

An addiction takes time to develop, usually weeks, months, or years. The drug addiction process follows a typical pattern:

Relief–If bored, lonely, unhappy, scared, angry, or feeling pressured, some people try a drug or drink alcohol for quick relief.

Increased use–To feel the same relief, the person must take more of the drug or alcohol more often.

Preoccupation–The person frequently thinks about taking the drug and/or about its effects. Daily use becomes the norm. Problems with parents, relationships, or school increase.

Dependency–More of the drug or alcohol is needed just to feel OK. Physical signs such as coughing, sore throat, runny nose, weight loss, and fatigue are common Blackouts and overdosing may occur. The person now has an addiction.

Withdrawal–If users can’t get the drug, most experience withdrawal symptoms: itching, chills, feeling tense, nausea, sweating, and stomach pain.

These physical effects vary, depending on the drug, but are signs that a teen is smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, or using other psychoactive drugs.

Watch Out!

Use these questions to detect drug use or addiction:

* When faced with a problem or stressful situations, does the person drink, smoke, or use other drugs?

* Does the person drink until drunk?

* Does the person miss school, work, or fun times because of alcohol or other drugs?

* Is the user preoccupied with how to get drugs?

* Does the person drive while drunk or high?

* Can the person have fun only if using drugs or alcohol?

* Has home and/or school become intolerable because of drinking or drug taking? Or is the person drinking or taking drugs because of a miserable home life?

* Has the tobacco, alcohol, or drug user tried to quit and failed?

Teen drug users may hide or carry cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs; have abrupt mood or attitude changes or unusual flares of temper; steal, or borrow more and more money from family members or friends. They may skip school or let grades slip. Also some teens start hanging out with a new group of friends who use drugs.

Heading Off Trouble

People who take drugs or alcohol for fun or to deal with unhappiness may find they can’t stop and end up addicted. Teen drug abuse often starts with alcohol or tobacco. Although legal for adults, these drugs are illegal for teens. Users may next try an illegal drug such as marijuana, then possibly others. Use of other illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin is unusual in those who have not previously used alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. So, the surest way to head off an addiction is to not use these psychoactive drugs:

* Alcohol, a depressant, is the world’s most widely used drug. It slows down the brain, body systems, and reactions. More people are addicted to alcohol than to any other drug. This addiction is called alcoholism.

* The addicting ingredient in tobacco is nicotine, a stimulant. Users find nicotine addiction difficult to break because nicotine is a potent drug with painful withdrawal symptoms. More teens are addicted to tobacco than to alcohol.

* Other psychoactive, drugs include marijuana, PCP, and solvents. Marijuana remains the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. People can become psychologically dependent on marijuana and find it hard to stop using it. Cravings to smoke marijuana are very intense. Withdrawal from PCP also causes extreme cravings for the drug. Although inhalants are legal products (glue, hair spray, paint thinner, etc.), some people use them illegally. Inhalants depress the central nervous system. They can affect liver function and can kill.

* Stimulants or “uppers” are powerful and highly addicting. They include cocaine and methamphetamine (speed). Cocaine acts directly on the “pleasure centers” in the brain so that users want to feel this pleasure again and again. This triggers an intense craving for more cocaine. Many people who try methamphetamine also go on to compulsive use.

* The opiates, another type of mood-altering drug, include heroin. Heroin induces addiction by causing users to crave the drug. When they try to stop, they experience great physical pain.

Breaking Addictions

Addiction treatments vary according to the drug and are sometimes combined. Some people try going “cold turkey.” That is, they stop drinking or taking the drug all at once. Going cold turkey is not easy. When the body becomes physically dependent on a drug, it goes through withdrawal when the drug is absent. The physical and mental pain of an abrupt withdrawal can be difficult.

Another technique is to taper off. The addict gradually stops taking the drug or drinking. This method reduces the effects of withdrawal, giving the body time-to adjust.

Another approach is to use different substances to help people withdraw from their addiction. Alcoholics can take Antabuse, a drug that makes them sick if they drink, or a once-a-day pill that dampens alcohol cravings. Nicotine gum or patches help smokers ease away from smoking.

Twelve-step and other support group programs such as Rational Recovery have proven successful for many. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the first 12-step program and is now used worldwide. AA has been adapted to many other addictions, including stop-smoking groups and drug-withdrawal programs.

Other treatments include crisis intervention, and hospital, clinic, and private programs. One-to-one or group counseling works for some people, too.

The long-term goal of treatment is to change the person’s life so that drug use is no longer satisfying. But it’s tough work to break a drug addiction.

External resource for individuals seeking help with opiate addiction:

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