Opinion: Take a Lesson from “Sled Dog” Brinkmann

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Colin “Sled Dog” Brinkmann


Elmhurst Funion Opinionist Kevin Flanaganby Kevin Flanagan, Elmhurst Funion Advice Columnist and Opinion Writer

Elmhurst ranks as one of the best sledding destinations in Illinois, based on data from the Sledding Hills of the Greater Midwest Region of the United States of America in the Western Hemisphere of Planet Earth (more commonly known as SHGMRUSAWHPE).  According to SHGMRUSAWHPE, Elmhurst has three lighted sled hills available for use (Berens Park, Crestview Park and Eldridge Park) while Ben Allison Park provides a fourth option in the form of a junior sledding hill.  I decided to embark on the adventures that Ben Allison Park has to offer over the weekend, and what I uncovered could only be described as a microcosm of what is wrong in this world.

Most sledding experts consider it a cardinal sin to walk up the middle of the hill after your run.  Conventional wisdom dictates that after your run, the side of the hills should be used for ascension.  According to local sledding enthusiast Colin “Sled Dog” Brinkmann, there is no exception to this unwritten rule in the sledding world and “take outs” are the only way to curb this type of behavior from happening.

“I’ve seen this happen at other hills in the area,” said Sled Dog.  “It starts with a young child walking up the middle of the hill, and soon everyone is doing it.  Next thing you know, no one is sledding because everyone is walking up the middle of the hill.  I’m not going to let that happen here in my hometown.”

Had this unwritten rule been followed, young Mitch Fafinski may still be sledding today instead of being carted around in a half body cast.  On his fateful run, Mitch decided to take the most direct path to the top of the hill, turning 180 degrees and hiking straight back up the center of the hill.  That was all the excuse necessary for Sled Dog to take Mitch out with his Sonic Snow Tube.

“What happened to that kid is a tragedy, but it had to be done,” boasted an unforgiving Sled Dog.  “Maybe he should go back and watch a few more episodes of Blues Clues to figure out those boot prints along the side of the hill are the path to the top.  He’ll have the rest of this sledding season to figure it out now.”

While Mitch’s parents Heidi and Mike were being restrained by the Elmhurst Police Department 20 minutes after the incident, Sled Dog continued to taunt them.

“Sorry, but not sorry.  Little kids are resilient.  Find him a good ortho and I’m sure he’ll be back to 100% in 6-8 weeks.  We’ll see him next season and hopefully he’s learned his lesson.  If not, Johnny’s coming back to sweep the leg one more time!”

The likes of Sled Dog and Mitch aren’t the only people who taint the sledding experience.  Non-participants on the sled hill are just as bad.

Take for example the coven of mothers who gather at the top of the hill, donning their latest fashions from Canada Goose and Ugg.  They block half the hill from sledding, locked in a debate worthy of the days of Plato and Socrates about why pumpkin spice lattes aren’t available year-round while sipping their Tito’s Vodka-infused chai teas from Brewpoint.  If they would just move 10 feet further back, the backlog of sledders they’re creating would be alleviated by that side of the hill becoming available.

Then you have the “athletic dad” at the base of the hill causing a commotion as frozen blood seeps from underneath his daughter’s lifeless body.  She is clearly suffering from a compound fracture and yet is being told to “slap some snow on the wound and get back on that hill.  I didn’t raise a quitter!”

So when the next snowstorm hits Elmhurst and you take to the sled hills, let’s be mindful of our neighbors and try not to be one of “those” people.  Have fun and remember to use the side of the hill when returning to the top.  But if you do have to take someone out, just know that the Fafinski family is offering a $500 bounty on the head of Sled Dog.

‘Just Ask Kevin’: Child Causes Sleep Deprivation for Elmhurst Parents

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The “Toe Monster” is a proven way to keep your kids in bed at night.

Knowledgeable of many topics, expert in none.  Just “Ask Kevin”, and have some fun!

Elmhurst Funion Opinionist Kevin Flanagan

by Kevin Flanagan, Elmhurst Funion Advice Columnist and Opinion Writer

Dear Kevin: “My 4-year-old often wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to sleep in bed with my husband and me.  We either have to let him join us, or we have to spend upwards of an hour getting him back in to bed until he falls asleep again.  Do you have any suggestions on how to curb this behavior?” – Sleepy on Saylor Avenue

Dear Sleepy on Saylor Avenue:  I can relate to your situation, as we have a 5-year-old that went through the same phase.  We took a “tough love” approach that we found to be very effective.

We created a character called the “Toe Monster”.  The basic premise is that the Toe Monster sneaks under the beds of children every night.  When a child gets out of bed or makes excessive noise, the Toe Monster grabs them and pulls one of their little toes off to add to its collection.  My mother happens to be diabetic and had a toe amputated several years ago, so we capitalize on this coincidence to sell the story to our son about how she was once “caught” by the Toe Monster at a young age.

The key to this approach is to make sure your son understands two things:

  1. He has to quiet once he goes to bed – no yelling for Mommy or Daddy.
  2. He must remain in bed until daylight, no matter what.

My wife and I have had so much fun with it that we often take it to another level:  When there’s nothing on TV, we’ll set up a hidden camera, grab some monster gloves (you can pick up a cheap pair on Amazon for less than $15), hide under his bed and haunt him for part of the night.

He didn’t believe us at first.  But we now have this hilarious video of him looking down from his bed and seeing the monster hands sticking out, and just freezing in pure terror.  My wife even adds sound effects by shaking a half jar of pretzels to mimic the sound of the Toe Monster’s collection.  Around Halloween time, you can find fake toes at the store and leave them out on your son’s floor every now and then.  Just tell him that the Toe Monster must have “dropped” them while waiting to catch his next child.

It took only a couple of days for this to work.  We did have one incident in which we forgot the monster gloves hanging out from under his bed and we didn’t realize he was stuck up there until after lunch the next day.  After a few counseling sessions and some new sheets, we now make it a point to get the gloves each time.

If you’re interested in picking up our fake toes, head over to Elmhurst Area eParents and search my name.  You’ll see I have them listed for sale as a “porch pickup” item.  We’ve been interruption-free at night for the past eight months now, and we no longer need to explain why Mommy and Daddy are “wrestling” at 2:00 a.m.

Good luck!

“Just ask Kevin” is written by Kevin Flanagan, who peruses Wikipedia and is a self-proclaimed expert in all subjects and fields.  If you have a question or issue and would like Kevin’s advice, please email him at elmhurstfunion@gmail.com

“While Kevin’s methods are considered unconventional, they are no doubt effective.  But the long-term effects of such trauma remain to be seen.”


– Anonymous psychologist who wishes to protect his/her reputation.