It was election day. I got up early as usual, did my morning meditation and got ready to vote after dropping my kids off at school. I had my morning tea walked out the door.
(Actually who am I kidding? I had possibly two or three shots of expresso after that tea in order to get me through the daunting task of having to help choose a president. Politics aside, it was a very stressful day for the majority of us, wouldn’t you say?)
So my polling place is in one of the public schools in Chicago’s North Side – one that is ranked amongst the best in the city, mind you. I walked in (holding my fourth cup of espresso in hand) to polite greetings. Polling place employees handed me the dreaded ballot and I got to it. I marked my choice of president and ancillary staff of each “bench” and I felt a sense of relief. Mainly because I did my part.
But as I was turning in my ballot, a colorful wall called my attention. At first glance, it looked like a magical wall filled with colors and decorations. I take it as a sign that this country will be okay because, after all, there are plenty of wonderful kids doing wonderful projects and enlightening the world of adults. My wife was turning in her ballot at this same time, and I saw her staring at the wall herself. Her face looked angry and furious. I told her that we will be okay. The country will hopefully be okay. But at this point she quickly turned in her ballot and walked closer and closer to the decorated wall. She seemed more preoccupied with the kids’ projects than with the election itself.
I don’t know if it was the amount of espressos I had that morning, or if the stress of the election was finally catching up with me, but I started seeing blurry names on each of the projects.
“Are these names of the students? Or names of cities?” I asked my wife.
Finally, we got close enough to the wall to find a horror. Quite frankly, I don’t think there is any other way to describe this wall. It’s unthinkable. There were several projects done by different kids of the school. They had each chosen a brand name drug (Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Advil) and done a project with it. Each brand name from a drug was written in the center of the project paper and decorated and colored. And then it seemed as though the instructions of the project were to translate what the box says about each drug and write it on the poster. Take a look at the pictures here for some examples.
So kids had to copy down “this drug helps with this and that,” and “this is the dosage of the drug,” and “ask your doctor if this or that happens to you”. And all of these messages are colorful and happy-looking, hanging in one of our K-8 “best ranked” Chicago schools.
And I stood there staring at these projects that a kid no older than 14 could have done, jolting at statements like “it’s the law” if you suffer from indigestion and nausea, or bloating and fullness then Pepto Bismol is “your savior”. And I simply got sick. My wife and I went through all the subjects a kid learns in elementary school and it seems like pharmacology is not one of them. We call my sister-in-law, a regular medical doctor, to see if she had to learn any of this drug nonsense when she was 14. She is horrified by the pictures as well. With the last straw of hope and positive vibes we hold all but gone, we then think it could have been taught during “health class.” We even thought they could have been ordered to do during “art class” since all these posters were happy looking?
Regardless, we left the polling place with a sense of defeat. All the hope we had about the future of our children being thinking beings was trashed at the thought of an institution teaching them that to not feel “acid in your stomach” there was a magical thing called “Zantac” that could cure it. Is it just me that thinks this is absolute INSANITY? What are you teaching OUR kids, please tell me? I would bet that there is no other institution in the WORLD that would spend valuable classroom time teaching kids about the BRAND NAMES of drugs. This only happens here. Of what value, please tell me and enlighten me, would it be for a CHILD to learn drug BRAND NAMES and their uses?
Duh, I just answered my own question. So that next time Johnny is bloated because his mom packed a Lunchable or “fill in the blank with any junk you can imagine,” he will say, “I know Mommy, I can take a Pepto Bismol and not be bloated anymore.” And Johnny’s mom will go to CVS on Southport and buy Pepto Bismol because, after all, Johnny’s mom is not at fault, since someone once taught HER that bloating has a magic cure.
I am not in education, but I can easily think of so many subjects that kids need to learn that I could probably write my own curriculum and still never come up with anything related to brand name drugs. You want to teach kids about modern medicine and how in some acute settings it can do miracles? Yes, please. By all means. But don’t you dare take my smart, healthy, vibrant, innocent, PURE child and stuff him with this nonsense idea that if you don’t take banana-flavored Rolaids you will burp your guts out.
I was mentally sick for that entire day. I was furious and angry, just like my wife’s face. But I have recovered from this illness – and no, I didn’t take any prescription meds! And while I still marvel at the magnitude of the shift we have created in the health of so many Chicagoans, I recognize that there is still a LOT of work to be done.
We at McKinley Chiropractic have been changing the paradigm of health for 15 years. Yes, we clearly have a lot of work to do. But we have a clan. A clan of enlightened, smart, proactive, inquisitive patients that say NO MORE to this nonsense. A clan of parents that stared at these posters with the same complete horror I did. Parents that cannot be fooled. Their AWESOME kiddos cannot be fooled. To all my patients: YOU give me hope.