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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for March, 2011

iPads at School

Posted by Barack Levin on 30th March 2011

I received an email today, that my kids’ school has decided to buy the kids iPads to play and learn with at school. I do like the Apple products and I do have an iPhone for the last 4 years. I have no need for the iPad and I was kind of perplexed when I read that email.

I am not so sure that kids who are 5, 6 of even older, should have access to iPads at school. I would rather prefer that school teaches these kids to enjoy reading books for example. I can already see what is going to happen when they introduce the iPads. Each kid is going to delve into his own world, completely disconnected from the rest of the class. All social interaction will be gone, discussions, communication and interfacing with the teacher will go out the window. I truly believe that at this age kids should be exposed to other things rather than stick there noses in another blinking computer screen.

May be when they are 8 or 9 they can be introduced to the iPad, but not so early. For some reason society believes that technology is our savior and kids just have to be exposed to it as early as possible. I am against this approach. Let them understand and experience the reality first before they start with an alternate one.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Responsible Kids

Posted by Barack Levin on 30th March 2011

Our schedules are very tight and having kids only makes it harder. That is why we strongly believe that many of the daily tasks we have with our kids can be done by our kids and not by us.

Here are 2 examples. Last week there was a mix-up with the carpool and the kids overstayed at school. As a result, we were charged $25 per kid for that overstay. I decided that instead of me going to school and pay the fee and wasting my time, my kids can do it for me. I gave each one $25 in cash and told them to go to their teacher and ask her how and who to pay the money for that overstay. They came back today and when I asked about the money they just told me they took care of it. I did not have to waste my time going to school and on the flip side, I boosted my kids’ self esteem.

The second example is about my son. He got strap throat and needs to take his medication 3 times a day. He came back home today and I have completely forgotten about it until my wife called to remind me. I called him over and told him to take his medication. He told me he already did when he came back home. He filled the syringe all by himself with the right dosage and swallowed it. I was not even a bit worried that he took too much or too little. I know that he knows the exact dosage.

It makes life so much easier when you can count on your kids to complete simple tasks instead of you. It frees your time to concentrate on other important things.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

At the Dentist

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd March 2011

Today my kids (6 and 5) went to the dentist. My son had a chipped tooth and 2 small cavities and my girl came there for cleaning only. My parents are here on a visit and since I can not drive because of my transplant, they took the kids to the dentist.

My wife got a call from the dentist’s office. His assistant was on the line: “I want to tell you that I am in this business for almost 2 decades now.” the assistant started “During all of my time working with kids, I have never seen a kid that felt so comfortable and behaved so well at the dentist’s chair like your son did today. Most kids come to our office and when they sit on that chair you can see on their bodies and faces that they are afraid; their whole posture changes. During treatment, they cry, yell and fidge. Your son, was exactly the opposite today. He sat comfortably, let the dentist work on him and never made a peep. I am telling you, I have never seen anything like that. You should reward him”.

My wife came home, called the kids over and told them what the dentist said. She continued on saying that as a reward we will go to eat ice cream. The kids cheered (me too).

The sub title for my book is: A stay at home dad’s quest for raising great kids. I think that my unorthodox ways and different philosophies for raising kids proved itself. When you use the right tools you get great kids.

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Extra Phosphorus

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd March 2011

The kidneys are responsible for cleaning the body from toxins. They basically act like water filters. Blood runs through them and they filter all the filth out and get it out of the body in the urine. It is a pretty sophisticated system and even now, in the 21 century, human technology has not caught up with this marvelous natural design. Even the best dialysis machines still do not filter as effectively as the kidneys.

One of the toxins filtered out by the kidneys is a mineral called Phosphorus. I am not a medical professional so I have no idea what it does in the body, but I do know this – my kidneys do not filter it well and I have too much of it in my blood. I have already discovered a long time ago, that having too much of something in your body, creates horrible side effects. Phosphorus is not an exception.

Before surgery I had plenty of it in my body and the side effects were an itching feeling all over my body. It feels like ants crawling under your skin or better yet, as if you are covered in mosquito bites. The minute you start the scratch, you can not stop. It got to a point where I scratched myself so hard and so often, that I started bleeding. My skin broke and tracks of my finger nails were everywhere. I would get to a point where I would scratch myself in public without even noticing it. The worst was on my back, since there are points I could reach. It feels like burning sensation when you can provide relief to a certain area.

After the transplant, everything changed. The new kidney got read of this mineral and that ever lasting urge to scratch myself stopped almost over night.

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Posted in State of the Kidney | No Comments »

Crazy Parents, Crazy Kids

Posted by Barack Levin on 22nd March 2011

I look around me, over the sea of parents and kids I know and I can not believe my eyes. How far have we gone in protecting our kids? It seems to me that almost every kid has a problem.

This kid is shy while this one has anger management problems (who ever imagined that a 6 year old would have such a problem?). One kid does not eat fruits another does not eat vegetables and the third one does not eat either of this food groups. One kid will play with only one friend while another demands that his mom carries him on her arms. One kid watches unsuitable TV programs and threatens to kill another kid with a knife while another kid still pees in bed at the age of 6. One kid refuses to speak and another has to redo kindergarten (when I heard about this one I could not even believe my ears).

How crazy have we become as parents? What kind of a future generation are we raising? We as parents became soft, lost our authority and control over kids and most importantly, just like the 3 monkeys, we cover our ears, eyes and mouths and ignore the problem. We will pay dearly for that. In essence, we are raising a generation of dependant, soft, spineless, clingy, emotionally disturbed and physically unfit kids. If we do not change our ways, within 10-15 years we will all suffer the consequences.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 2 Comments »

The Surgery

Posted by Barack Levin on 22nd March 2011

After many sleepless nights and tons of anxiety, the blessed day has finally arrived. March 15 would be the day that will change my life (again). My instructions were not to eat the night before, but I have completely lot my appetite already at 5PM the day before. As a matter of fact, even up to 5PM I barely touched anything. 

I think that the hardest task I had to perform that date was to sit with my wife and go with her over all of our financials in case I do not make it alive out of surgery. I was almost in tears.

March 15 arrived and they wheeled my donor to the operating room. 1 hour later, I was sedated as well. The next thing I remember was waking up in a bed with the light in my eyes. I signaled my family to cover my eyes. They were talking and I was signaling. I was tired and in and out of consciousness (until the drugs wear completely off). Even through the fog I was in and despite the pain I was in, I already started to feel great. I have immediately noticed that I do not have my regular headaches and that I am not cold.

The transplant was a success and 3 days later I was discharged home to complete my recovery.

Posted in State of the Kidney | 5 Comments »

Bicycle and crying

Posted by Barack Levin on 20th March 2011

My kids already know that I do not put too much emphasis on them crying. As a matter of fact, any time they come into the house crying they are met with the same answer: Either you stop crying and tell me what your problem is so that I can help you or go to your room to cry. It is a very simple trick and it works every time. I see other parents handle their kids crying and I can not believe all the fuss they are making about it, especially, when their kid is injured. It starts with the panic dash towards the kid, lifting him from the ground while he sobs, checking his tiny body from all angles in a hysterical way, carrying him back to the bench, trying to calm him down and the worst of it all, getting out of their beg all sorts of lotions, sprays, ointments and other first aid contraptions to treat the wound. Once the wound is treated (if they do not rush back home to apply even more drastic measure to the little scratch), they hold their kid as if he was china and consult him for many long minutes.

Me? I use a completely different approach and here is an example. My little girl started learning to ride her bike without training wheels. It was expected that she would fall and I of course let her know in advance that it is most likely that she would hurt herself, but that this is an integral part of the learning process. One afternoon, she was riding her bike in our street. She was already riding by herself. She tried to make a turn and did not make it. Instead, she fell and her bike fell on her. Now, I was probably 200 feet away from her. I saw her falling and heard her crying. From that distance I told her to stop crying and get back on her bike. She continued crying. I weighed my options and cried out to her one more time to get up, but again nothing. So without any hysteria, I walked down to her. I did not run or rushed to her. Just walked. It took me probably 15 seconds or so to get to her. As I did, I asked her what the problem was. She answered sobbing: “I fell”. “Ok” I said “We have 2 options. Either we go home or you continue with your bike. You decide.” You know what she did? She got up, cleaned her pants and with her puffy red eyes got on her bike and waited for me to give her the first push to start the bike. No creams, no band aids, no lotion, anti bacteria ointment or any first aid for this matter. She had a scratch that we cleaned with some water when she got back home 15 minutes later and that was it.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 2 Comments »

Listening to Kids

Posted by Barack Levin on 20th March 2011

I hear it all the time from so many parents. We need to listen to our kids. And it does not end in that, they continue and count the other things we need to do with our kids. We need to tender to their emotional problems, care for their sensitivities, hear their complaints and answer their needs. This makes me laugh. Yes, as parents we need to do all of these, but there is just one little thing missing in this equation and this is the basis to almost anything I do as a parent. Before I listen to my kids and before I subdue to all of their caprices they need to do just one thing, one simple thing – they need to listen to me.

It seems to me that many parents simply do not enforce this so very basic and crucial part in a parent-child relationship. In my view, as long as my kids do not listen to me, I will never listen to them. My authority as a parent comes first because I know better. When they follow my rules and behave the way they should then I am more than willing to start listening to their wants and needs. I am not saying I will honor them or give them to my kids on a silver plate, but I will at least consider them and decide if I want to act on them.

When parents do not have their kids listen to them, all hell breaks loose in the house. There is no structure and the kids feel as if they are special (which they never are) and demand all kind of things while eroding their parents’ authority.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | 2 Comments »

Music Class

Posted by Barack Levin on 3rd March 2011

My son started keyboard music lessons last August. The beginning was very promising. He liked it and practiced at home. Recently, however, I find myself almost forcing him to practice the material he learned during his lesson. He always comes up with excuses: not now, I am tired, tomorrow or I do not feel like. I called him over for a talk 2 weeks ago: ”You need to practice more so that you are able to progress with your keyboard lessons”. He agreed but nothing has changed.

2 days ago, my wife and I called him over for another talk. I am not one of these parents who force their kids to participate in something that they do not like. If he decides that he does not want to continue with his lessons, it is fine with me. I am not planning on him being the next Mozart. My wife was in control of the conversation: “We need to understand if you want to continue with your music lessons” “Yes” he answered “So you need to know that you also need to practice. I am not asking you to practice 7 days a week but only 5 and only for 5 minutes each time. That is the deal”. My son got back at her: “But I do not feel like practicing all the time”. “It is not a problem” she said “We can cancel the whole thing all together”. “But I like to go to music class” he said. Here, she got out the final argument: “Your classes cost us money. Lot’s of money so we make the decision in this matter. These are the options you have. You either practice 5 times a week for 5 minutes, same as when you do your homework or we cancel the whole thing. It is up to you. Sleep over it tonight and let us know tomorrow”.

He thought about it and to my relief decided to continue with his music classes.

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Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Parents and School

Posted by Barack Levin on 1st March 2011

I am not one of those parents who need to constantly be in touch with his kids’ teacher. As a matter of fact, I believe in the philosophy of “live and let live”. I want to send my kid to school and not hear from his teacher and on the flip side, I promise not to bother her with requests for progress reports, answering my developmental questions, having her deal with behavioral issues and so forth. As a matter of fact, besides meeting the teacher at parent-teacher conference days, I do not want to hear or see the teacher at all.

I am not writing this post because I hate teachers or because I think they are useless. On the contrary, I believe they are doing an extremely important job. However, my role as a parent is to send my kid to school ready to learn and with the ambition to be there and acquire more knowledge. It is my responsibility to check up on him, to make sure his behavior is up to par, that his developmental needs are met and that he is doing fine socially. As a result, I do not expect the teacher to contact me because she has no reason to do so. I prefer that she invests her time and resources in teaching my kid than in preparing progress reports or monitoring his behavior.

The first time I met my kids’ teachers this year and after the small talk I told them about my philosophy. I was not sure how they would accept it but surprisingly enough they agreed. I am only assuming that they also do not want to be bothered with the every day chore of keeping an eye on my kid and updating me. They just want to teach.

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Having Children

Posted by Barack Levin on 1st March 2011

Some of our friends are thinking or already in the process of having a third child. What surprises me the most is their attitude. They all complain about their kids not being obedient or in their terms “monsters”. They all seem to be dragging around their feet, screaming and yelling at their kids and getting frustrated by their behavior every day and still, for whatever reason, they want more.

I am not sure exactly why. If I had a headache, I would surely not want to add to it a back ache. I can not understand the logic behind it. If you complain about your kids all the time then why have more? If you are unable to control your kids and get frustrated by them, what makes you think that another one will make things better?

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