All posts tagged kids

I just stumbled on this article: Half Singapore children suffer from allergies: study. I had never heard about allergies before 1993, when I moved to the United States. The only ones I knew of were serious, and potentially fatal, like my mother being allergic to penicillin. Seasonal allergies or other common types seen today simply did not exist.

Call me a dirty Frenchman if you want, but the cause seems obvious to me: The modern obsession with cleanliness. Singapore doesn’t surprise me, because it is one of the cleanest cities in the world. Not that I have anything against that, I like cleanliness too. However, when the practice goes too far, it poses a threat to all of us. I think that our immune system, if not challenged once in a while, will not be able to defend us when we really need it. I am not asking you to go lick your toilet bowl or the next stray dog you see on the street! If I didn’t live in Florida, I probably would shower every other day. I don’t use hand sanitizers. I don’t mind getting dirty working outside, eat fruits and vegetables I just pulled from a tree or the ground.. We need to get exposed to germs, the benign ones anyway.

When I was a kid, I spent all day playing outside, getting scrapes on my knees, cutting myself, eating things that should have been cooked or cleaned, and coming back home covered with dirt. My parents didn’t seem to mind. It was just what children do. These days, a child won’t be admitted to school with the sniffles. Let them all catch that cold or chicken pox, and be done with it.

The media has us all in a panic about swine flu. Before, it was bird flu, and before that, Spanish flu.. What is it going to be next, fish flu? We get flu every year. Some people die from it, mostly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions; nothing new here. It’s just the flu. You don’t need to sanitize your hands twenty times a day or stay home because of it.

Allergy medicines are big business. Schering-Plough made billions with Claritin. Doctors will push allergy medicine as much as they can. Are the possible long term effects of those drugs better than the discomfort they treat? For some maybe, but overall, I doubt it.

If you want to stay in good health, have a good personal hygiene, but don’t be obsessive. Let go of the bleach a little, and don’t sterilize everything you eat or touch. If you get sick, well, you’re just exercising your immune system. If you have kids, protect and watch over them, but let them be kids and get dirty playing outside. You will make them stronger adults. Avoid loading yourself up with over-the-counter anti-allergy medicine. If you have a problem, see your doctor, but remember that he wants you to buy the stuff.. Eat healthy and exercise, that is probably the best way to a healthy body and mind.

Most people here in Florida know how to swim. Actually, these days, most people know how to swim, period. Our parents may have loved the water, or imagined us kids falling in a pool and drowning. So, we took swimming lessons, and for most of us, it was great fun. Aside from the undeniable fun factor, let’s look at safety.. You actually have to fall in a body of water to drown. Yet, the thought of drowning is unpleasant enough for people to learn how to swim and teach their kids. Never go near deep water and you’ll be fine. It might not be easy, but you can avoid the risk altogether. Individuals with aqua-phobia are extremely unlikely to ever drown. The same can not be said of violence. It can happen anywhere, at any time. You can die of a knife wound or kick to the head faster than having your lungs filled with water. Why is it then that almost nobody, and especially the most vulnerable people never train to handle violence? The idea is as unpleasant as drowning. We wear our seat-belts, avoid bad foods, take vitamins, exercise.. Why not train in martial arts? Why not teach children simple moves to get away from someone trying to grab them?

Swimming is a lot like martial arts. You do it mainly for fun, especially with your family and friends. Not only is it good exercise, but you gain a skill that can save your life. Just like martial arts, you can’t learn it from a book, videos, or listening to other people. That can help, but ultimately, you have to jump in and do it. The only thing you need to practice either is a somewhat healthy body and some water, though only for drinking in martial arts.

Unlike martial arts though, if you have a bad swimming teacher, you’ll know fairly soon.. Imagine a discipline called “traditional swimming” where you learn to swim on the ground, or laying on your stomach on a chair. Your teacher is a “master traditional swimmer.” He has never been in the water, but that doesn’t matter, right? After years of traditional swimming, you should be able to cross a good size river, if you were to fall in.. Unfortunately, a lot of martial arts schools are like traditional swimming schools.. Just keep that in mind. You can read a lot about that on

A pond, swimming pool, the ocean can be very unforgiving of mistakes and lack of proper knowledge. Yet, they do not actively try to kill you. Some criminals are as cold as an Icelandic lake, and they will murder you without batting an eye. I don’t worry much about drowning or being murdered, mind you. I do however read the news. I could self-deceive myself until the cows came home, but there is no denying that there are people out there preying on others for a living, or wanting to satisfy some sadistic urge. You might say “I’ll just buy a gun,” or “I’ll just kick him in the balls.” That’s pure fantasy. For a gun or knife to be effective, it needs to be right there when you need it, and you must pull it out fast enough, and be efficient with it under stress, that means training. In many places, carrying a weapon is illegal. You need to turn yourself into one. I wish every time someone told me “I would just (insert kick-ass move here)…” I could have jumped them, taken them down and mimic crushing their head before their could move a finger. Then I would ask: “Why didn’t you just (insert kick-ass move here)?” Of course, that kind of argument, though efficient, is rather frowned upon.

If you already exercise, ask yourself, “What other benefits am I getting from this?” I mean, other than an improved health and looking better naked? If you swim, that’s easy, you can save yourself or someone else from drowning.. Otherwise, consider learning to defend yourself. You kill two birds with one stone, better health and acquiring a potentially life saving skill. Sure, you might get bruises and a few aches and pains. So what? If that bothers you, maybe knitting is more for you then, but watch for those needles, they can hurt..