Friday, October 31, 2014

Single Father's SAFE HALLOWEEN

The Incredibles, sort of.
While I acknowledge there exists differing opinion about celebrating Halloween, I think Halloween can be one of the most enjoyable family holidays. This is particularly true for (single) parents/fathers when the kids are younger. Still, when there are thousands of children walking around wearing costumes and masks that may impede their vision and sharing the streets with motorists, well, it’s just a time that safety is more important than ever.

Rather than creating my own list of Halloween safety tips, I’m just going to borrow a list created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heck, it's my taxes that pays for this kind of stuff. Here goes:

Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
They're only children one time.
Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Another Halloween and couldn't find a costume.

Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?
Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:

·         Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.

·         Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.

·         Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.

·         Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.

·         Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely.

Happy Halloween, Single Fathers. (And, everyone else, too!)


Friday, October 24, 2014

Single Father's Movie Review: ABOUT TIME

A film that includes a great father and son story, a cute love story, time travel, and Rachel McAdams? Well, that film has to be just about perfect, right? Well, About Time is just about perfect. (I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a sucker for a good love story.)

After a disastrous party the night before, Tim (Domhall Gleeson) is summoned to his father's (Bill Nighy's) study. According to his father, the men in Tim's family have the ability to travel to and from the past simply by going to a dark place, making his hands into fists, and wishing to return to a moment in his past. To Tim's considerable surprise, it actually works.

Written and directed by Richard Curtis, About Time is one of those cheeky British love stories in the mold of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, which, admittedly, is a pretty good formula. A charming, slightly awkward, but quick-witted protagonist this time played by Gleeson, falls in love with an essentially perfect and heart-breakingly beautiful American, not Andie McDowell or Julia Roberts, but Rachel McAdams, and endures a few gentle bumps as they endearingly amble through the script toward happiness. In the end and with his father's counsel, Tim learns the most valuable lesson he can, and (spoiler) it's "about time."

Technically, About Time isn't really perfect. The plot hole that Tim, in his 21 years on earth, hadn't ever balled up his fists in a dark place and wished he could have done something again, accidentally discovering by himself that he could time travel, is a little hard to swallow. And, at one point, near the end, the story seems to meander aimlessly for a few minutes. Frankly, I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief of those minor complaints for Ms. McAdams, (who, I'm a little concerned, may become type-casted as the female love interest in more time-travel movies, e.g., The Time Traveler's Wife), and the other really terrific components of the film.

Still, About Time is a lot of fun and, if you have a little time yourself, you could certainly find worse ways to spend 123 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Avoiding Accidents at the School Bus Stop

A Bus Driver Pledging Her Commitment to Safety
An average of 33 children die each in school bus related accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About two-thirds of these accidents occur outside the bus, and the majority of the children involved are between the ages of five and seven years old. Many of these tragedies can be avoided if motorists simply obey the traffic laws as they pertain to stopping for the school bus when loads and unloads students.

As single fathers, we've all probably have all seen a car pass a school bus that has its red lights flashing and the STOP "arm" on on the driver's side of the bus extended. The fact is, whether a motorist is simply distracted or believes he or she is above the law, (see the incredible video news story, below), there isn't much we has parents can do to prevent drivers from passing our school buses, but we can educate our children ways to understand potential dangers and take responsibility for their safety when they board and get off the school bus.

Here are some great safety tips you should share with your school age, particularly your early elementary age, children:

  • Children should carry belongings in a backpack so that they won’t drop things on the way.
  • Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early; students arriving late may be tempted to run across the street, causing them to possibly trip and fall in front of the moving bus or other vehicle.
  • Walk young children to the bus stop and when possible, have older children walk in groups, which are easier for drivers to see.
  • If a child must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic, and stay as close to the edge of the road as possible.
  • If a student must cross a street, then remind the student to stop, look left, right and then left again.
  • Always cross in front of the bus, never behind, and maintain eye contact with driver. Make sure that child is at least 10 feet, five giant steps, ahead of the bus before crossing.
  • Remind children not to cross until the bus has come to a complete stop, the RED stop lights are activated, the STOP sign “arm” extends, and the driver signals that it is safe to cross.
  • Let children know if they drop something, never pick it up and never crawl under the bus. Instead, ask your child to tell the driver and to follow the driver’s instructions.
  • When exiting the bus, look to the right before stepping off the bus. Impatient motorists may try to pass the bus on the right. Cross in front of the bus and maintain eye contact with driver.
  • If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child is discharged. A child can be so excited after school that they forget safety rules and run across the street.

School bus drivers and student management aides often receive 40 hours or more of training each year to safely transport our children to and from school each day. Take a few minutes to review school bus safety rules with your kids, single dad. It's a worthwhile exercise.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Favorite Son Saga: Zombie Apocalypse Redux & Driving a Lamborgini

Zombie Clown
It's been a while since I posted an installment of The Favorite Son Saga on The Single Father's Guide Blog. For all of my readers jonesin' for one, here it is.

On the drive home from soccer practice on Monday after I delivered one of his teammates to his home, The (ten year old, zombie-obsessed) Favorite Son began:

THE FAVORITE SON (TFS): I can't wait for the zombie apocalypse.

ME: Oh, yeah? Why?
The Zombie-Obsessed
Favorite Son

TFS: Well, I could drive a car when I'm like, 13.

ME: If the zombie apocalypse happened right now, why couldn't you drive a car right now?

TFS: Yeah. But, how would we get gas with all the power out?

ME: There'd be plenty of gas. We'd have to syphon it out with a hose from other cars.

TFS: You know how to do that?

ME: Yeah. We could do it.

TFS: (Pause, considering the implications.) Could I drive a Lamborgini?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Single Father's Guide to Ray Rice, the NCAA, & Dorial Green-Beckham: A Tale of Two Programs

Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice
Sadly, I think there’s something been missing in the aftermath of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice’s very public domestic assault and it’s not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s bungled handling of the video revelations of the assault. Frankly, I believe a lack of integrity among some NCAA programs and a win-at-any-cost philosophy among coaches to the detriment of the college athlete have propagated a culture of entitlement among many players.

A case in point is the tale of two major college programs and how each addressed the case of Dorial Green-Beckham, arguably the best NFL wide-receiver prospect in the country.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops
In April 2014 while a member of an SEC Conference Missouri Tigers football team that finished the previous year's campaign with a 13 – 2 record and a #5 national ranking, the 6’ 6”, 225 pound Green-Beckham broke into a Columbia, Missouri apartment and assaulted an 18 year old female student in the process. What was the response of Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel? Green-Beckam was dismissed from the team.

Dismissed from the team.
Oklahoma Sooners' Wide Receiver
Dorial Green-Beckham

Meanwhile Norman, Oklahoma, Big 12 Conference powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops opens his arms to Green-Beckham after his dismissal from Missouri. While the NCAA denied Green-Beckham’s waiver request to play for Oklahoma in the 2014 season rather than waiting a year after transfer, the student-athlete will return to the gridiron in 2015 and likely enter the NFL draft in 2016.
Missouri Tigers'
Head Coach Gary Pinkel

While Gary Pinkel, I'm sure with a heavy heart and knowing his decision would diminish the on-field talent of his football team, attempted to impart a life lesson to his former player by showing the talented young man that actions have consequences, Bob Stoops did the opposite. By offering a scholarship to Green-Beckham, Coach Stoops communicated through is actions that no matter what you do, Dorial Green-Beckham and other blue-chip college and high school athletes – you can break into apartments, you can assault an 18 year old women, you can punch your wife so hard that you knock her out – and you can get away with it. Nice work, Coach Stoops and Oklahoma. Thanks a lot.

But, really, nice work Coach Pinkel and Missouri. Thanks a lot.

O.J. and Nicole