Here’s an old joke. A little girl asked her grandmother, “Grandma, can you make a noise like a frog?”
“Why do you ask that, Honey?”
“Because Daddy says we can all go to Disneyland when you croak.”
It might sometimes seem that the best thing we could do for our kids is croak early and leave them a big fat inheritance. But I would actually contend that if we want our kids to have long, healthy, happy lives, the best thing we can do for them is to have a long, healthy happy life ourselves. Albert Schweitzer said there are three ways to teach a child – first, by example, secondly by example and finally, by example. We know that our example counts in so many ways, and it is especially true in the way we model the things that have been proven to lead to good health – good nutrition, exercise, sleep, handling stress well, not smoking and wisdom around alcohol. It is so much harder for our kids to develop good habits in these areas if we do not model them. We can teach wise health advice, but it is our example they will follow, not our words.
It is Men’s Health Awareness Month, and so I want to address a couple of thoughts to fellow blokes. I’m pretty sure most of us would run into a burning building, or leap into a swollen river, to rescue a child. A typical man would fearlessly fight pterodactyls to defend his family. But if you were to show the same man a hypodermic needle or, worse still, a rubber-gloved finger, he would blanch and back slowly towards the door. Too many men avoid going to the doctor and so they miss out on interventions that could literally add years and years to their lives. Which is part of the reason we men live, on average, four years less than our women do. That is four years we won’t have with our kids and grandkids.
So get along to the doctor for a check up. Do it for your kids. If we look after ourselves, then there’s a good chance you will get to dance at your grandchildren’s weddings and, if they follow our example, they will dance with your great-great-grandchildren – and maybe they will tell them about you. Isn’t that a nice thought!