the dad files | joe blundo

the dad files | joe blundo

What doesn't kill you makes you laugh a lot

A lot of the health advice you are giving your kids will be proven wrong. I'm not saying don't give it. In most cases, it's not going to hurt the kids, just as it didn't hurt me to wait an hour after eating to get in a swimming pool.

When I was a child, adults told me I would drown if I dared get near water on a full stomach. I don't know why they believed this, but it taught me several valuable lessons: How to tell time, how to delay gratification and how to wolf down a hamburger without being seen.

They also told me never to go outside with wet hair lest I get pneumonia. This was close to a century after the discovery of viruses, but the news took a while to get to my relatives. You couldn't argue with them. I tried. They told me to shut up and put on a hat before I caught a chill and died.

I was also warned against sitting too close to the television because it would ruin my eyes. As it turned out, my eyes were unharmed, but who knows what happened to my brain from watching Mr. Ed (a show about a talking horse) and My Mother the Car (a show about a talking car.)

So, what health advice will be laughed at by future generations? Here are my leading candidates:

n You should drink eight glasses of water a day. This one has been debunked recently but continues to exert a powerful grip on the population. I never did believe it, having long ago adopted an evolutionary outlook on health advice: If the innumerable generations that preceded me were able to survive without constantly sipping from a bottle of water, how could constant hydration have suddenly become necessary for human health? Evolution doesn't work that fast.

n You must sleep at least eight uninterrupted hours a night. Here again, let's apply an evolutionary test. When in human history would it have been a good idea to sleep soundly for eight hours at a stretch? Back in cave-dweller times, when a snoring human would have been devoured by a saber-tooth tiger? Back in agrarian days, when getting up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows was as common a morning activity as watching the Today Show is now? I think you could just as easily make an argument for insomnia being the reason humans survived as long as they have. Plus, isn't there an obvious contradiction between drinking eight glasses of water and sleeping eight hours? If you drink that much during the day, you'll spend at least half the night going to the bathroom.

n Avoid stress. This has always struck me as a loony proposition because I can't think of a plant or animal on earth that doesn't endure stress constantly. Do cacti sit around complaining about how hot it is? It's impossible to avoid stress, and trying to do so just causes more of it.

Nevertheless, a parent's job is to keep kids safe, so go ahead and dispense the health wisdom of the moment. At worst, it'll seem amusingly outdated someday, and we all know that laughter is the best medicine.