the Fire Dog, as interpreted by Patrick Reitz, Idyllwild Fire Chief

The Town Crier welcomes another new columnist to the paper. Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz is sharing some of the thoughts from Roscoe, the Fire Dog.

First, I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming to my master and I. What a great community and dog-friendly too! The cats are not too happy about it, but hey, they are cats. Are they ever happy about anything?

We are very happy to meet all of you, so please introduce yourself. Remember to be patient with him, there is only one of him for you to meet and remember his name, and all of you for him to meet and remember your names.

My master, the Fire Chief, is honored to serve the community, alongside the good men and women that are your Idyllwild Fire Protection District. He looks forward to seeing what we all can do — together!

But enough about him. I have some ramblings to get to …

It’s back-to-school time. And time for some thoughtful reminders for this time of year.

Before they head off to school, are the kids current on their shots? While schools are not letting kids start the first day of elementary school without a current shot record, this is often overlooked as they get older, even if they are getting sports physicals.

What about their eyes and ears? Have they had baseline sight and hearing tests? Often falling grades and inattention can be indicators of seeing or hearing problems. Sometimes the child is too embarrassed to admit the problems or does not want to risk the ridicule children can dish out.

Do your children need to take medication during the school day? If so, it is important to know the school’s policy for students taking medication. This applies to sting kits as well. Most require keeping it with the school nurse, office, or teacher. Be sure that the medication is current, not expired, and that there is enough of the medication for its application. It is also important for the person controlling the medication to understand what it is for, what it does, and if the child understands (if possible) the same to avoid problems in the future. Do you know what your child is taking and why?

And now for my soapbox — medication and over-medication. There are some very good studies out that indicate our children are over-medicated. The studies further indicate that diagnoses of Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) & Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are over-used. They have found several reasons for this including treating the symptom and not the problem. This is not to say that ADD & ADHD are not real, just that they may be applied improperly at times.

Traditional schooling is not for everyone, and the child may just be bored. They are not slow or unintelligent, just bored and not challenged. The problem may go away when the child’s energy is channeled in the proper direction and medication may not be needed.

Have as many contact numbers as possible and keep them current as the year wears on. It is especially important to keep the medical history current, including allergies as they are identified.

Take the time to get to know the teachers and staff that are assisting and influencing your child’s development. Your child spends six to eight hours or more, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve to thirteen years being influenced by these people. Talk to other teachers, parents and kids who have dealt with them before to find out more about them.

Ask questions, and get answers. If you don’t like the answers, be a part of the solution not the problem. If you have a problem, let the appropriate people know so that action can be taken to correct the situation. The problem may not be the teacher or school, it may be your child, you, or your spouse. Be open and objective. Let’s face it, we are all human and no one is perfect.

Most important, get involved. The school system is not a baby-sitter and not a substitute for good parenting. It is important to be involved, even if it is just going to open houses, parent-teacher conferences, concerts and sporting events that your children are a part of, and helping with their homework.

Listen to your children. A lot of problems in the future can be avoided by just listening and paying attention to, and spending time with your children. They really are our best natural resource and the hope of the future.

Next issue — sending your kids off to school.

We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact us c/o the Town Crier or [email protected].

I’ve got some smells to sniff. …

Remember to play it safe in all that you do!