Make your infants weird this Halloween … and be proud of it.

It’s scary sometimes what the internet teaches me about myself.
When just browsing on the web, I try to resist clicking links to the teaser articles that have numbers in their headlines.
You know the types of ‘articles’ I’m talking about:
“7 Oscar-winning actors who started out as slasher movie victims”;
“The 12 greatest horror movies you’ve never seen”;
“8 words about 12 high-calorie desserts from 21 greasy spoon cafes in the American south.”
Before you even click the mouse button, you know you’re in for the old bait-and-switch.
The article will be tucked away somewhere in the middle of a page with confusing directions about how to navigate through it. And no matter where you click the page, you’re all but guaranteed to find yourself on the web site dedicated to the latest revolutionary treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.
Speaking of irritations, it is a personal peeve to have to watch an ad before I can watch a movie trailer, which is also known as an ad.
I’m not sure what it says about us, or the internet, that an advertisement can market itself to advertisers. But there are plenty of times I have considered praying for one of Moses’ plagues to fall upon the person responsible for that idea — and a pox upon the Hollywood executive who dares to call that person brilliant.
I wish I could take that moral high road.
After all, this is my column, my personal soap box upon which I ascend to cast an unflattering light on these unscrupulous persons and reveal their obvious lack of shame.
Alas, I cannot walk that road.
I will give myself a bit of credit to recognize my imperfections, my own human tendency to tread the low road.
All it took to remind me of my own shamelessness is when I succumbed to temptation and clicked on a link to one of those infernal internet slideshow articles I complained about earlier: “The Most Hilariously Inappropriate Halloween Costumes for Babies” by Julia Lynn Rubin.
If you have my sick sense of humor, check out the images at blog.petflow.com/inappropriate-baby-costumes.
This article is not nearly the level of bait-and-switch that you get from the more irritating sites like Answers.com, by the way.
But the moment I read that headline, I was hooked as fast as a bass to a nightcrawler.
Oh what sights they had to show:
•A child in a strait-jacket and Hannibal Lector muzzle strapped to a two-wheeler.
• A man in a Jack Daniels bottle costume with his child dressed as a pack of Marlboro Reds.
• A baby girl in a Hooters outfit.
•A child in a Christmas Tree car air freshener costume.
•A child dressed as “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski.
As I viewed these pictures, I had to ask myself: Would I be the kind of parent who would dress my unprotesting infant in a cigarette pack costume for Halloween?
I can’t lie to myself or to you, my trusting readers.

You bet I would – in a flat New York minute.
I’d be the parent staring uncomprehendingly at the school principal while she tried to explain why my daughter’s zombie Cinderella costume probably didn’t need the pulsing veins in her neck.
If I had had four kids, I’d have talked them into dressing as The Ramones from the movie “Rock-N-Roll High School.”
It’s not an easy thing to admit to oneself. But like any good parent, I would have taken credit, and even some pride, for making my kids weird — A cool sort of weird,  mind you.
Especially on Halloween.
And on even deeper reflection, that guy who figured that there are suckers out there whose greed would lead them to drop  good money to advertise on my ads. That twisted individual — if I met him, I’d probably like him.

I got the “moving-my-kid-into-college” blues

I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to move my hostdaughter into her University of Kentucky dorm room last Saturday morning.

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This has been a very event-filled summer for Pam and I as hosts of high school exchange students for the past five years.
For reasons good and, in one case, tragic, this summer, four of our five hostdaughters have returned to their Kentucky home for a period of time.
Because Pam and I have no children of our own, we have a tendency to form strong bonds with these young women and have worked to extend our relationships beyond the exchange year.
Our efforts, apparently, have paid off.
Iris, our first hostdaughter, has spent the entire summer with us. She is doing a work internship until the end of September.
Lea, our youngest from Switzerland, completed her school year at Nicholas County and returned home.
She has vowed to return, and I believe her.
Lotta came back for a week to wish a dear friend rest.
But with the beginning of the new school year, Pam and I are taking a break from hosting a high school student. That does not mean a quiet household, though. Maria, our hostdaughter from Norway, enjoyed her time in Kentucky so much that she has enrolled as a freshman at UK.
If I examined this closely, I think this is a thing Pam and I hoped would happen with one of our hostdaughters eventually. However, on even closer inspection, my wife and I may have wanted this to happen for different reasons.
At least that is the impression I have when I reflect on my unanticipated reaction when we were packing the car Saturday morning to take Maria to her dorm.
It began when Iris and I were figuring out the best way to pack Maria’s dorm stuff in the back of my Ford Escape. Stacking cardboard boxes on top of each other, I found myself recalling how I managed to fit five wooden crates of records, a stereo system and a whole dorm room’s worth of other junk into the back of my Nissan Sentra.
I even bragged to no one in particular about how there was only room for myself in the driver’s seat when I finished.
Arriving on campus, we followed the signs guiding us to Maria’s dorm, unloaded her belongings to a long table, then moved everything in. My first thought upon entering the room was how I would decorate ….
No, wait, that’s not accurate. My first thought was that of a middle-aged curmudgeon thinking about how easy kids have it today, what with a room already equipped with a kitchen sink, microwave oven, stainless steel mini-fridge with attached freezer, and its own full bathroom. And a private bedroom with a mattress that wasn’t a lumpy back hazard!
But my impulse afterward was to start suggesting the best way to lay out the room – the way I would do it. A tapestry across the ceiling, some cool posters, maybe a futon…
And, if she was smart, what she should do next is … at which point I have to give myself credit.
I suppressed that impulse.
In the end, I did the smart thing. I got the heck on back home.
It still didn’t stop me wondering what she was doing, who she was meeting, wishing I could be there to warn her against all the mistakes she’ll make, and being jealous, too. How I’d love to experience the fear and uncertainty that comes with being young and on your own for the first time.
(Okay, I just wish I was young…)
These were my feelings for a young lady I have only known for two or three years. I can only imagine how parents moving their child … sorry, kids, I can’t think of a better term … into a college dorm or apartment for the first time.
Like I said, I didn’t imagine how difficult it would be to keep my mouth shut and let this experience be hers — not mine.
How I would love to be her college guide so that she makes the most of her years at the University. But there is a point where I have to let her make her own mistakes …

Man.
That’s going to be hard.