Category Archives: Easier Than Dogs

The Top Five Rejected Essay Prompts for the 2015-16 Common App

  1. Many students and their parents take on significant debt to pay for their college educations. What types of experimental medical procedures are you willing to undergo to help defray the cost of college?
  2. College is a time of experimentation and personal growth. Explain which prescription drugs and controlled substances you plan to try for the first time.
  3. Imagine that you’re a serial killer. How will you select your victims?
  4. You’re applying to at least one college that you have no chance of getting into, just to please your parents. Please list those colleges and explain how you plan to subtly retaliate against your parents.
  5. Discuss a time when you were exposed to a new or different idea, and how you used social media to stifle its expression.


Since new social networking sites are abounding, here’s my idea:  When a child asks for something and asserts that "All of my friends are…" or "All of my friends have…" as justification, you can go to this site and query the parents of said friends (or query your friends who are parents) to confirm or deny the claim.  Not that what a child’s friends do or have should be particularly relevant to one’s parenting decisions, but at least you could verify or refute the assertion.

The Airline Industry, Explained

Ever wonder how the major airlines can have full planes and low customer satisfaction but still lose money?  Then read this excerpt from "Young Fliers See the Film, Be It PG or R":

“Parents have to be responsible for the actions of their kids — whether they shouldn’t look at the screen or look away,” said Eric Kleiman, director of product marketing for Continental Airlines.

and this one:

Mr. Kleiman, of Continental, agreed, saying: “People love Pepsi, and we don’t serve that, so there you go, we just ruined their flight. That’s an accurate analogy.”

Let’s try another accurate analogy:  Eric Kleiman being a director of marketing for Continental is like a moron being director of marketing for an airline.  No, wait, that’s a simile.  But an accurate one.

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

One of the things I learned when preparing to become a parent is that there are hundreds of personal choices you must make in this role.  Because these choices are so personal and thus cast light on who you are as a person, people tend to approach these topics with an inordinate amount of faith and conviction, sometimes at the expense of rationality.
This conviction isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is surprising to the uninitiated.  I’ve remarked that if you’re in dire need of assistance in any public place in Seattle, the cry for help that’s most likely to get lots of people sprinting to your assistance is not, “I’m having a heart attack” but, “I’m having trouble breast-feeding my baby!” 
I’m reminded of this by two articles in this week’s New York Times – a news article and an Op-Ed essay – on the topic of toilet-training infants without diapers, common in most of the world but rare in the U.S.
While I’m loath to criticize anyone’s choice of this practice – as I said, these choices are intensely personal – I can’t help but feel that there’s a degree of one-upmanship to all of this, a notion that you can distinguish yourself as a better parent by doing things that most others are unwilling or unable to do.  With this implicit competition comes continual escalation, so every couple of years there is something new that allows parental strivers to set themselves apart.  Private school surpasses public school, but then is surpassed by home schooling.  Natural childbirth is surpassed by home birth.  (For what it’s worth, I was an early Lamaze birth.)  Co-sleeping, attachment parenting, the list goes on.  And now cloth diapers, superior to disposable, are surpassed by the diaper-free movement.
What amuses me most about this is the inordinate romanticizing of traditional practices, as if something that’s been done a particular way for thousands of years or by people without means is innately superior, ignoring not only the remarkable progress in disease eradication over the past century but also cultural and economic factors.  I mean, good for you for keeping a couple of thousand diapers out of landfills, but don’t forget that cholera is still a major worldwide public health problem.

Tell Your Kids to Drink from the School Toilet

According to this story on NPR, the germ counts in one elementary school’s water fountain spigots were 1,000 times the counts on the toilet seats.  Perhaps your dog is right after all.

“Live Strong™ wristbands are not edible”

Directly from the official web site.

But this is really about neologisms and the passage of time.  The more you learn from your kids, the older you are.

#1 picks up stuff at school, though usually — as with his comments about XBox — it’s not new to me.  However, on a recent trip, he started referring to those now ubiquitous rubber wristbands as "livestrongs."  It was not until he started using this term that I noticed what a fad they’ve become, for example at his school, where it’s common to see kids wearing three, four, or more knock-offs of the original yellow wristband.  Some are for other charitable causes, like tsunami relief, but most are pure capitalism in action.  Another fine trend in the lineage of Baby-on-board signs and AIDS awareness ribbons.

As it turns out, #1 has a tendency to absentmindedly nibble on his livestrong when wearing one, so the above disclaimer is surprisingly well placed.

P.S. Do not go to either or if you’re curious about the trends cited above.

I’m A Fairy

#1 lost his first tooth today, right before bedtime.  If he’s not the last kid in his class to do so, he’s close; he’s been waiting for this day for months.

I still remember the long-ago excitement of checking under my pillow for what the tooth fairy left behind.  Back then it was a quarter.

I don’t know who’s more excited to wake up tomorrow morning, he or I.

“It’s not fair!”

#2 is sick with fever and a sore throat.  #1 is inconsolable because #2 gets to stay home from preschool, watch TV, wear pajamas all day long, and drink hot tea with honey.  The title of this post was #1’s teary refrain for twenty minutes this morning. 

And I completely agree.

Lessons for Teaching Kids to Manage Money

I heard a great piece on NPR this morning about teaching kids financial responsibility.  Short, simple, and, um, right on the money.

Listen to it here.

Long, Long, Long

The two big kids go to Florida tomorrow morning for two weeks.  By far the longest I’ve ever been apart from them.  I miss them already.