Monday, February 23, 2015

How You Exit Is How You Live

I have a pretty unique gift for pegging someone's parenting style based on random things I see. Now that little man is two, I've been to my fair share of Disney shows, circuses, and other similar events. I've noticed a really cool phenomenon throughout the past two years. During the show, you'll have typical toddler/baby problems going on. Screaming, tantrums, crying and the sudden realization that that Mickey doesn't look like the one we saw last week are all commonplace. The end of the show, however, is where the money's at.

As soon as there is any hint of the show coming to a close, the real show starts. People immediately begin to group themselves into three categories. As I sit back in my seat and observe, I can tell a lot about your life by which category you're in. I call it how you exit is how you live.

The Early Birds

Forget being off at the sound of the gun. These folks are gone when they even see the gun. As soon as a mention of the show ending comes, they are out of their seat dragging their kids towards the exit. These folks are known for their brutal family efficiency. The schedule is the schedule. You didn't eat your chicken tenders? Tough luck, junior. Next scheduled time to eat is the ten minute slot at 6:15, and those chicken tenders will be waiting. These folks have backed into their parking space out front and have brought along the grandparents so they can use the handicap spot. Ultimately this is their downfall as they try to run out of the theater with grandma in tow. Tough to make good time when someone is using a walker.

The Orderly Crowd

These are the regular folks that get up and leave when the show is over in a normal fashion. They are more relaxed than the first crowd but ready to move on with their day. They tend to let people out in front of them as they go so everyone can get out in short order. They have parked exactly where they were instructed to and have dutifully left their parking ticket right in the left lower corner of their dashboard as instructed. They are communal and like to make sure everyone is taken care of. Their deference creates problems though. They tend to get injured in the parking lot as the first crowd is already gunning it towards the exit by the time they get outside the building. "Is there a fire I didn't hear about" and "how rude" are common phrases to be heard from this group.

The Stragglers

My wife swears I am in this crowd. These folks ain't putting up with the rush. Why run? The car will be there no matter when we get out of here. These folks let everyone clear out first. While everyone else is trampling each other, they sit back and enjoy the scene. This can be a problem when you have toddlers. They have been sitting for quite some time at this point, and keeping them under control while everyone slides by you can be an issue. In general, these folks are more relaxed at home. You want to use the air mattress as a ladder to climb up on top of the dresser? Cool. Just make sure you slide back down instead of jumping. We ran out of super glue, and we'll have to go to Wal-Mart to get some if you cut yourself.

There it is folks. How you leave says everything about you. I tried to grab some representative photos to give good examples but there was no flash photography during the show, and the early leavers were already gone by the time the show actually ended. I'll try to be more prepared next time, as much as a straggler can be that is.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Is It Time to Laugh or Cry?

If you really tried to use social media to follow along with your friends’ lives, then you would be disappointed. Getting honest insight into people’s lives can be pretty difficult. If you log in and scroll through people’s pictures, then it usually looks like everyone around you is living in utopia. Like most folks, I tend to scroll through on my phone more than on my computer. I usually do this while standing in the mall or some other public place with little buddy. 

Little man has some of the best comedic timing of any toddler I’ve ever seen. As I’m scrolling through reams of videos of smiling two year olds doing trick shots behind their back or speaking multiple languages (Little Tommy started learning Portuguese today!!! #kidgenius #goingforlanguagenumber4), my little man is trying desperately to master the fine art of escaping from a five point harness stroller and two parents with graduate degrees. As I watch him succeed and my wife chases him down the hall, I usually try to cheer myself up with the fact that at least he has much better speed than his old man.

I will say that I had a major discovery this weekend though. We were at a mall, and I had commandeered little buddy after an epic meltdown in the Cheesecake Factory to go line. As we were standing there waiting for my wife to come meet us, a two year old girl came in the door with her parents. She proceeded to fling herself on the floor and go for broke. In between flails and screams, her dad managed to pin her down into her stroller and strap her in after about 15 seconds (pretty good time my man, respect). She continued screaming while her parents tried to get their bearings and pretend like nothing unusual was happening.

As I watched the drama unfold and smiled to communicate that I felt their pain, I realized that something magical had happened. Little man was absolutely silent. I looked down and he was staring at this little girl as if she had three heads. During the entire scene, he never moved a muscle or made a peep. Eureka! So that’s the secret. All I have to do is produce another screaming child, and he’ll never misbehave again! 

To you non-parents out there, this may seem like a complete scratch. Why trade one screaming child for another? The parents out there, though, will know the difference. While the sound of your own child screaming is a second by second affirmation of your inability to control your own offspring, the sound of other kids screaming is pure relief that you aren’t the only one. Other people indeed have these less than perfect moments where they try to wrangle toddlers determined to display just how strong willed they really are. Take that little Tommy and your Portuguese. I know your mama photo shopped that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Valentine is Better Than Yours

Valentine’s Day celebrates relationships and gives everyone an opportunity to show love to those that mean the most to them. My message today is short and sweet. My wife is awesome. She shoulders a load daily that most people can’t imagine and does it all with a smile on her face. The many hats my wife wears daily include:
  • Full time physician
  • Mom
  • Wife
  • Cook
  • Accountant
  • Interior Decorator
  • Hostess
  • General organizer of pure chaos
She does all these things 24/7 (literally now that little buddy likes to wake up a 3AM), rain or shine and on holidays. As I get out of the house quickly and efficiently in the morning to head off to work, she puts our family’s entire day on track and gets ready for work, all while trying to keep a two year old from jumping out of a window. There’s no one like her, and I’m blessed to have her. I love you!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Poop Drop

One of the fun parts of starting your own family is establishing what your own traditions will be. Spouses tend to bring to the table whatever you have done with your family at first, but gradually, you start to establish how your own household will handle things. In my view, firming up your household schedule and priorities is a sign of a maturing family.

In terms of our daily routine, we don't vary too far from the norm. Both parents work in our house, so both of us have responsibilities at home after we get off work. I will openly admit that my wife outworks me in this arena and is generally better at it than I am. I give as much effort as I can to keep up with her and help out.

One of my daily duties is bath time. Early on, I just happened to be the one that gave him his bath, and it has evolved into one of the set times after dinner in our house. While my wife does other chores around the house, I get little man washed up and teach him new ways to goof off in the tub. 

There is usually a dirty diaper involved somewhere around bath time. We use the indispensable diaper bags that will mask the smell to dispose of little man's stink bombs. It just so happened that I was busy chasing after him one day with one of these in my hand. I decided to just toss it down the stairs to save time. After I did it, an idea struck me, and a tradition was born. Check it out:

How awesome is that? Little buddy insists on disposing of his poop in this way anytime I change his diaper upstairs. In case you were wondering what happens next, we just about have him trained to pick it up and take it to the garbage can. Video to follow of course.

I know there are some "parenting experts" out there shuddering at this. Yes, I have taught my son to toss his feces over a second floor landing onto a hardwood floor. But, you have to have a little fun in life. At least he now knows that the stuff that comes out of his rear end has to make its way to the garbage can somehow, even if it does involve getting airborne. Most little boys his age just try to figure out a way to smear it in their hair. Think how far we've come!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Madness Uncertainty

My kid is a ham.

Yeah, we have mastered saying hi to ourselves. If only we can extend this greeting to other people. Rome wasn't built overnight...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

So You Wanna Be A Doctor?

Interviews, particularly med school interviews, become more and more silly the further I go. I firmly believe that the vast majority of admissions decisions have already been made before an applicant shows up on campus. The interview is really just a way to see if you can walk, talk, and not do anything resembling a sociopath for at least a few hours in a row.

Despite the grandiose stories you may hear, my own interviews were relatively benign. No one made me go through virtual patient scenarios or grill me on difficult ethical situations. I was fortunate to interview fairly widely, and there were some real characters on the interview trail.

One particular school paired me up with the most introverted interviewer I had ever seen. His opening bid was telling me his name, specialty, and asking how I envisioned myself connecting with patients. I was enthusiastic because that was by far one of the most interesting questions I had been asked to that point. After my answer, though, he just stared at me. We looked at each other for about twenty seconds before he said,"OK, are going to tell me anything else about yourself?" He actually expected me to fill up the entire interview by myself while he simply listened! Needless to say, I didn't get into that school. But I did get a wonderful idea of what kind of person I wouldn't admit to medical school if the tables were turned.

This story is one of the extreme examples of ineffective interviewing, but I see it in all forms. Many people doing the interviewing for medical school are faculty that are simply volunteering their time. They are squeezing applicants into their schedule and are often unprepared to really learn anything about the person sitting in front of them.

This amateurish approach to interviewing seems particularly egregious to me. Fortune 500 companies spend large amounts of dollars and resources on making sure that they select good people to work for them. Why would selecting future physicians be less important? I realize that big corporations often have more resources to commit to this task, but that's not an excuse for cutting corners in my book.

The result of our poor interviewing is that the admissions process comes down to who can perform the best academically and then suitably pad their resume. I have no problem with making sure that future doctors can perform intellectually. I have a big problem, though, with our tacit suggestion that how you interact with people isn't just as important. Patients don't visit an encyclopedia. They visit a real, human being who can understand their problems and help them. We should make our selection process reflect that.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Loud Reader

I don't remember the first book I read. My memory is good but unfortunately not that good. I am sure, though, that my first reading experience was probably different from my son's. Like his mother and I, little buddy enjoys good literature. It's fun to watch him rifle through his collection until he finds the perfect one that he is looking for. Usually a squeal of delight follows, and he sits down to enjoy himself.

Some of you probably can harken back to the good old elementary school days and remember "that kid that read aloud." You know the one I'm talking about. The teacher gave out an in-class reading assignment. You'd settle down in your desk to get started and realize that some kid is just yammering away next to you. You turn to tell him to be quiet and realize that he's not talking, he's reading. I had several of these in my classes throughout the years. Invariably, the teacher would bring it up to the kid's parents, and they would proudly say that they taught him that! I understand that you want your kid to enjoy to read, but we have some social constraints that should at least be considered along the way.

Given my experience with these kids at an early age, you can imagine my feeling when I see my kid doing this:

Yep, my kid is a loud reader. This feels like God laughing at me right now. He is, isn't He? Needless to say, we have a few things to work on here in the HumorMD household. I must say that I suddenly feel much more sympathetic to those parents that were pulled aside by the teacher back in my day. Hey, at least the kid is reading, right?