Category Archives: Education

Hookah, Shisha and Nargileh Embraced!

I am renaming my dogs.

Hereafter Fly will be called Hookah, Luci will take the name Shisha and Cappy will be known as Nargileh.  This way I can  gather my pack and embrace the latest social networking craze:  Hookah Cafes.  Straight from the Middle East….Check it out! There is one near you, unless you live in North Dakota or Northeastern Pennsylvania, which is why I am having to improvise.

Apparently the allure of entering a smoke-filled cafe is that one’s friends are also entering this carcinogenic cloud.  Together you ritualistically prepare the fruit and sugar-laced tobacco in a water pipe–hookah, shisha,  narghila–light it up, and alternately take puffs, laugh, flirt, and chat; sharing your smoke and your germs as the pipe is passed around the crowd.

I am of the generation that nicked their parents’ cigarettes or soaked them in water before stuffing them back into half-empty packs, all in a zealous attempt to make those poor ignorant fools understand that  The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health! I am a bit confused by this generation, who has grown up among health nuts and vigorous anti-smoking campaigns, and their decision to embrace the communal smoking of said product.

I suppose I should be grateful that my child is smoking maassell and not hashish or opium.  But I find myself astonished and concerned nonetheless.

Perhaps this is a push-back to the constant digital cloud that buzzes around and through them?  That by sitting in a real cloud surrounded by real friends talking in real time these young adults are experiencing a kinship and community that my generation got to have, and took for granted?  I applaud the gathering, the talking, the shaping and sharing of cultures from around the world.  I worry though about the unintended consequences of these Hookah Cafes:

In the Middle Eastern studies, hookah smoke has the same amount of nicotine and tar particles as cigarette smoke. There are even unique poisons and evidence of lead arsenics that come from smoking out of the hookah’s heavy metal pipe. The amount of carbon monoxide is also very high and related to heart attacks. Secondhand smoke contributes to breast cancer and has been linked to lung cancer.

One session of hookah smoke (approx. 45 min.) is the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes per day. The blood levels and genetic changes of the bronchial tubes and chromosome changes of hookah and cigarette smokers are about the same. There is just as much damage from both.

Dr. Herman Kattlove, a medical editor at the American Cancer Society

Making an informed decision about joining the Hookah culture means seeing past the myth that the water pipe’s filtration limits exposure to the contents of tobacco smoke; it means moving beyond the enticement of a sweet taste and a communal experience.

Take the time to research what carcinogens and heavy metals you will be inhaling.  Consider what gets transmitted as the pipe gets passed; are you ready to develop tuberculosis, herpes, or hepatitis in the name of Hookah?

All things considered, I would rather enter the kitchen, embrace my renamed pups and pass the kibble.  I hope my young adult friends can find an alternate Hookah Cafe, too.


It’s a Two-Way Street

Remember those little chairs you were directed to sit in at parent teacher conferences?

Remember the heart palpitations as the  teacher described your child?

“WAH…WAH…WAH….this is what the kids are going to do…yada…yada…yada… and your child isn’t fitting in…blah…blah…blah… and not reaching potential….WAH…BLAH…YADA ….you need to practice…yada…blah…blah…demonstrate competency.

And you sit there thinking,”Well, clearly thechild is not ready for the task! Break it down. Celeberate what is going on. Master this part, then move on.”   Oh, I can feel the restless energy gathering even now; the  clenching and unclenching of jaw muscles, hand muscles.  “Resist the urge to frown, shout , run from room blurting obsenities. You have done this parenting gig before.  Calm…..You know your child. You know children,  and this piece of the education profession doesn’t know quite as much as she thinks she does.”  Breathe.

I hated that world, and all its worries and presumptions.  I thought that I had pruned that kind of socializing out of my life. Then came Puppy School.

A tag team of fifty-something women entered the warehouse-turned-canine school. The taller of the two frowned and intoned, “Obedience work is a two-way street. You listen to me, the instructor, and your dog listens to you. Now sit your dog.”  We practice.

“This is the down,” and the kommandante demonstrates with her canine partner-in-dogma. “Now down your dog.”  We all try with varying degrees of  success that  any rational dog owner would expect from puppies in their first group experience. “Now we are going to step away,” and drill sargeant doodle-head proceeeds to describe in excrutiating detail how to hold the leash, give the command, pivot in front of the down pup, and …blah…blah…blah. Of course, puppies break the down as she talks.  SHE WHO KNOWS SO MUCH goes to attend to a particularly large 10 week old shepherd,and  in stern tones alternately reprimands the owner and pup.  Meanwhile my little Luci is down, but certainly not out.  Her attention is off me and taking in the big cavernous space, ever alert to the pup to her left and the little teeny tiny mutt to her right WHO WILL NOT LOOK AT HER!  Luci, a bossy little 4 month old English Shepherd, is like “Gasp! Mom, Mom, he won’t look at me!  Hey, Hey!  You! Do you like it here?  Hey, hey! MOM! ”  To intercept the focus I quickly move to practice the down again. Suddenly I hear this disapproving “I didn’t tell you to down your dog” and realize she is talking to ME! So I quickly move back into the position of owner by pup.  “Now down your dogs.” 

 Thank goodness I remembered the Parents’ Guide to Good Behavior:

Rule #1. Always remember and never forget: At all times, in all places, with all people, comport yourself as a lady/gentleman. 

Rule #2. Pay your lesson fees/tuition in full and on time.

Rule # 3.  Smile.

Rule #4. If your insights are not invited and your collaboration not solicited,  refer to Rule #1.

Which I did.

Resist the urge to frown, shout , run from room blurting obsenities. You have done this parenting gig before.  Calm…..You know your pup. You know puppies,  and this piece of the dog training profession doesn’t know quite as much as she thinks she does.  Breathe.

And so I made it through the night.  Luci and I learned how to travel in the car for a HALF HOUR; learned that a flat collar will definitely NOT do in a class setting; learned that we do NOT want to compete in the two-way street of AKC Obedience Tests. 

Nope. The two-way street I want to travel is between me and my pup, and I want training that encourages us to listen to one another.  I’m a parent.  I know how to travel on.