Protecting Our Kids From The Beatles

Ever since the Internet came along, there have been horror stories of children being lured away from their homes after developing an online relationship with someone. Whether it was through MySpace, Facebook, SnapChat, or any of the other social media that have popped up over the years, it has certainly been a cause for concern from the very beginning, and has been the main consideration in allowing our kids to freely access social web sites.

Yes, we all agree. There are plenty of dangers for kids on the Internet. But if you think any of this is new, then think again.

Now, I don’t have evidence that parents in the middle ages worried about their young children being lured away to dark castles by knights in shining armor. Nor do I have documentation that Aztec priests were going into the fine homes of Tenochtitlan to convince teens to find their destiny as a human sacrifice.

What I do have in front of me is an entertainment magazine from September 1964 called Movie Life. In it is a lengthy article titled “Police Warning: Tear Up This Beatle Letter” that outlines the dangers of a phony letter that was being sent to teen-age girls in both England and the US.

From the article:

You’ve just received a mysterious envelope in the mail. You open it, naturally curious, and, oh bliss! Your eyes practically pop out. Your brain goes reeling. You can’t believe it. It’s from THEM. It invites you, YOU of all the girls in the world, to meet The Beatles for a date. Or perhaps, since you are so beautiful, such a real fab dream of a dish, perhaps you’d like to audition for a role in the next Beatles movie. Sound too good to be true? It is too good to be true. Much too good. In fact, it is a hoax, deliberately aimed at, deliberately trying to victimize susceptible teen-age girls.

Take the recent case of two Virginia girls… Sporting Beatle haircuts, dressed in tight pants, mannish shirts and ties, talking in British accents, calling each other “Ringo” and “Paul,” and carrying flight bags emblazoned with the legend “Liverpool Or Bust,” the pair ran away from their homes, determined to get over to England any way they could to see their idols. The father of one of the girls was frankly afraid they would make it.

“They are so determined,” he said, “that if they could get anything to float them, they would go to the water’s edge and push off, and take a chance of starving to death to get there. The virus of the Beatles struck them, as it did two or three million other teenagers in this country, and has reduced them to people who do not dwell any longer in our midst. They have ceased to be part of their family, their class or their community.”

This particular father, as it happened, overestimated these girls. They got as far as Philadelphia by hitchhiking and there they were picked up by the police – tired, hungry, out of money, and not too unhappy about being sent back to their families. “I’ll never do it again,” one of them promised the next day.

Police fear that the fake Beatle letters may be more than just someone’s idea of a practical joke. The letter-writing could lead to big, big trouble, indeed – to graft, seduction, kidnapping and vice.

So, please, heed this warning. If you should receive a letter purporting to be from The Beatles – much as you want to believe it – don’t! Tear the letter up. Or, if you have to do something with it, run, don’t walk, to the nearest police station, and ask the first policeman you see to answer it for you.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the old saying goes. Parents of every generation have had to be aware of what their kids were reading, hearing, and writing.

It’s all hitting us now at a much faster pace than 50 years ago. Wouldn’t it be nice to only have to worry about a fake letter from The Beatles in our mailbox, instead of the unrelenting avalanche of spam and pop-up ads and spoof websites that we have to battle on a daily basis?

But there’s no need to panic and lock your teen away in a tower. A little caution, a lot of awareness, and plenty of communication is what it takes to keep your kids safe online.

Social media sites don’t have to be scary, for kids or parents. Before you ever allow your children to be on them, establish some rules about who they can talk to and what topics to discuss. Tell them to use common sense. If they have any questions about an online message or picture, they should immediately come to you for advice.

And if their favorite band invites them on a date, just break it to them gently.

The Ghostliest Ghost Town in the West

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Teaching your kids about history when you travel doesn’t have to mean a long, boring day of museums and statues. If done right, history can be more than just artifacts behind a glass case, or a plaque that points out where something used to be.

When my kids were studying the old west, with its wagon trains, gold miners and outlaws, I knew there was no better place for it to all come to life than in a real western ghost town.

My new article about Bannack State Park, the ghostliest ghost town in all the west, is now appearing on Family Vacation Critic, a subsidiary of TripAdvisor. You can expect to see several articles from me each month on this essential family travel site. I hope they give you inspiration for a memorable family adventure!

==> Continue reading about Montana’s awesome Bannack State Park

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Intense In Tents – A Review and Giveaway

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I’ve always loved tents.

One of my very earliest memories of childhood was draping a large table cloth over a folding card table and crawling underneath with a pile of pillows and a shoebox filled with toy cars and plastic soldiers.

It was my space. Mine. Everyone else had to stay out. Except for the occasional imaginary friend or an unsuspecting curious cat. Continue reading

A Child’s Guide to Vegetables

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My kids have always loved their veggies. But only under certain conditions. Long ago, when they were younger, I developed this simple Child’s Guide to Vegetables to help me avoid mealtime rebellion.

1. Carrots must be raw, not cooked.

2. Broccoli must be cooked, not raw.

3. Celery must be 2 inches or longer, never chopped into small pieces.

4. Corn must be on the cob, never loose on the plate.

5. Tomatoes are evil, but ketchup is heavenly.

6. Beans are gross, while refried beans are delicious.

7. Green beans are tolerable by themselves, but disgusting when mixed with macaroni and cheese.

8. Peas are fun to eat, but if one gets smashed, the party’s over.

9. Mixing different vegetables together is forbidden, as it’s simply too much work sorting them out to eat individually.

10. Brussels sprouts. Are you insane?

None of these rules made much sense to me at the time, except for the one about brussels sprouts (yuck), but at least the kids ate their veggies in one form or another.

These days, as my son and daughter have grown into maturing teens, only a few of the rules still ring true.

I’ll just stay quiet on which ones.

Calling Dr Cocoa

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“I can’t wait to get sick again!”

That’s what I expected my kids to say once I showed them Dr. Cocoa, a new children’s cough and cold medicine made with real chocolate.

I grew up with the usual cherry-flavored cough syrup. To this day, anything with a strong cherry flavoring brings back unpleasant memories of childhood illness. Cherry Coke is the worst. It might as well be a glass full of Robitussin in my mind.

So, I was immediately intrigued by Dr. Cocoa when they sent me a few samples. Who doesn’t like chocolate? And why was it never added to cough medicine before?! Continue reading

Hang Time

I’ve thought about this for a long time, and I’m sorry to have to say it.

It’s time for me to hang it up.

There are various reasons, but number one is I’m tired.

Very tired.

I’ve been tip-toeing around the issue for weeks now.

It’s just getting harder and harder to come up with the right words to express myself.

Sometimes I feel like nobody is even listening!

So, that’s it. I am decided.

There’s no talking me out of it.

I’m going to hang it up.

Kids, next time why don’t you just do it yourself so your dad doesn’t have to constantly be hanging it up for you!

Okay? Thanks.

Oh, and if it smells funny, please DO NOT hang it up. Toss it in the laundry room and I’ll wash it.

Top 6 “I Have A Bad Feeling About This” for Parents

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As parents, it seems like not a day goes by when we don’t get some sense of dread or disappointment involving or surrounding our children. Thankfully, these feelings are usually minor. We get over them quickly, or at least with very little pain and suffering.

With apologies to George Lucas, here are my
Top 6 “I Have A Bad Feeling About This” For Parents

1. The most common one occurs while sitting on the toilet, usually after you’ve concluded your business, when you look over to see that there is no toilet paper on the roll. How many times do we have to tell our kids to replace the paper after they’ve used it up?
Continue reading

10 Cool Things For Kids In North Idaho

It’s that time of year to start thinking about road trips and family travels for the coming spring and summer. There are few better places to find fun with your kids than North Idaho.

The northern panhandle of Idaho is my family’s stomping ground. Over the years, we’ve discovered a great number of cool and exciting places to take the kids. So, when people ask what there is to do around here, I always have a ready list of sights and activities that will make any family vacation a memorable one.

Ten Cool Things For Kids In North Idaho

1. World’s Longest Gondola Ride

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In the town of Kellogg, you can board the longest gondola in the world for a 20 minute ride to the Mountain Haus terminal at the top of Silver Mountain, a climb of 3400 vertical feet. In the winter, you’ll find some of the best ski runs around, but in the summer you can hike the nature trails, go mountain biking, or ride the chair lifts for more scenic beauty even higher up the mountain. Continue reading

Let’s Hear It For the Dads!

1927610_43638708793_7776_nAfter seventeen years of being a stay-at-home dad in a stay-at-home mom world, I’m used to it now.

Back when I first adopted this role, I would easily get flustered and angry.

But now I just laugh about it.

We were at an end-of-the-year homeschool picnic when one of the organizers started calling up the kids by grade so we could give them a round of applause.

After she finished up with the high schoolers and we clapped, she looked around and said, “And now, let’s hear it for the moms who worked tirelessly all year to teach these wonderful children. Yay moms!”

And that was it. She thanked everyone for coming and told us all to have a good time.

I looked around to see if any other dads were thinking what I was thinking, but then I realized there weren’t any other dads at the picnic.

And rather than get upset, I simply shook my head and smiled. Continue reading