Even Jeopardy! didn't
prepare me for being a dad. Nobody, not
even Alex Trebek, can ask more perplexing questions in a half hour than a
curious five-year-old can. For many
years, I found myself authoritatively repeating all the same things my parents
told me: no, you shouldn't sniff your magic markers. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of
the day. If you have a nosebleed, lean
your head back. Or, wait, forward? One of those.
I talked a
good game, but I honestly had no idea if I was ever right or not. Parenting, famously, doesn't come with an
instruction manual, so if and when we kids, all we have are these
half-remembered bromides from our own childhoods. Last year, I'd finally had enough, and
decided to write my own instruction
manual. The result was Because I Said So!, which uses actual science to verify or debunk over
120 of the most persistent bits of helicopter-parent paranoia I could come up
Do you know
fact-checked parental love when you hear it? Try the Official Ken Jennings Because
I Said So! Quizâ„¢. Which of these
deathless Mom clichÃ©s are actually good advice, and which are parenting
sit so close to the TV."
chicken soup when you have a cold."
flip the light switch on and off"”it wastes money."
need eight glasses of water a day."
gum sits in your stomach for seven years."
on a hat! Most of your body heat escapes through your head."
chew your ice, it's bad for your teeth."
pop your knuckles, you'll get arthritis."
you pee in the pool, there's a chemical that makes it turn blue."
feed the dog chocolate."
- FALSE. Ophthalmologists say any eyestrain will
be temporary, no matter how close you sit or for how long.
- TRUE. Two recent studies show that chicken
soup actually does ease cold symptoms better than other hot liquids.
- TRUE. Whether fluorescent or incandescent, a
lightbulb uses much more power
to start up than it does to stay on.
- FALSE. That's how much you'd need if you didn't
get any water in your diet. Thirst is the best indicator of when to
drink"”it kicks in well in advance of dehydration.
- FALSE. It's true that gum base is indigestible,
but your body is pretty good at getting rid of it in the normal way within
a day or two.
- FALSE. The head cools off at the same rate as
any other uncovered part of the body.
- TRUE. Cold temperatures and hard surfaces are
the two biggest contributors to cracking a tooth. Chewing ice combines them both!
- FALSE. Several studies show no correlation,
though people who pop show a slight tendency toward decreased grip
strength in old age.
- FALSE. Despite what you've seen in movies like Grown Ups and Take This Waltz, there is no such chemical. Pee at will.
- TRUE. If Fido isn't very big, just a few
ounces of chocolate can be all it takes to make him very sick or even send
him to doggy heaven.
0-2 Please do not ever
3-4 Parental guidance
5-6 Growing up brainy
7-8 Home run
9-10 World's Greatest Mom/Dad