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Also see Smiles, Tears and Parenting.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my sanity to keep.
For if some peace I do not find,
I'm pretty sure I'll lose my mind.
I pray I find a little quiet
Far from the daily family riot
May I lie back--not have to think
about what they're stuffing down the sink,
or who they're with, or where they're at
and what they're doing to the cat.
I pray for time all to myself
(did something just fall off a shelf?)
To cuddle in my nice, soft bed
(Oh no, another goldfish--dead!)
Some silent moments for goodness sake
(Did I just hear a window break?)
And that I need not cook or clean--
(well heck, I've got the right to dream)
Yes now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my wits about me keep,
But as I look around I know--
I must have lost them long ago!
On the way to preschool, a doctor had left her stethoscope on the car seat, and her 4-year old daughter picked it up and began playing with it. Be still, my heart, thought my friend, my daughter wants to follow in my footsteps!
Then the child spoke into the instrument: "Welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order?"
Every time dad would go on a business trip, all the kids would sleep with mom in the king-sized bed as a special treat. But one time the kids were bad so lost the privilege. Next day when mom and the kids went to the airport to meet daddy one kid ran ahead and hollered to dad, where hundreds of people could hear, "Daddy, Daddy, nobody slept with Mom this time while you were gone!"
One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"
The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."
A long silence was broken at last by his shaking little voice: "The big sissy."
Having to go to the bank vault one day and unable to find a baby-sitter, I was forced to take my four small children with me. There were nine other people in the central room of the vault. Not wanting my children to cause any disturbance, I turned to them and said in a loud voice, "All of you line up against the wall and don't say a word!"
There was a sudden silence. Everyone stopped dead in his tracks. Then came a collective gasp as nine people and the teller were absolutely positive there was about to be a bank robbery! (from Readers Digest)
One day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her brunette hair.
She looks at her mother and inquisitively asks, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"
Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."
The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then asked, "Momma, how come all of grandma's hairs are white?"
My son is a loser.
Granted, he is handsome, popular and semi-intelligent, but he probably is the only child alive who has managed to misplace fourteen toothbrushes in a single year.
He has also mislaid nineteen house keys, six windbreakers, and two athletic supporters. He is the only boy in grade seven whose mother sends him to school wearing mittens attached to each other with a string through the sleeves, and whose teacher sends him home with a PTA notice stapled to his undershirt.
It's not as if I don't sew name tags on his clothes. But since 178 assorted garments have virtually flooded the market during the past three years, many mothers simply assume that "Eric Stahl" is a brand name, like "Fruit of the Loom."
Last night I confronted him as he lay on the floor reading an issue of "Playboy" which he had skillfully concealed inside "Agriculture in the Middle Ages."
"Where are your new boots?" I demanded
"What new boots?"
"The new boots I spent $34.98 on last week."
"Oh. Those new boots." He went back to reading.
"Well what?" He looked up impatiently.
"Where are they?"
"Where are what?"
"Your new boots!" I barked.
"All you ever do it scream at me!" he wailed and stormed off into his room.
I suppose that it all evens out in the end, as I discovered last week that we have three woolen hats belonging to someone else, the bottom half of a strange pair of green ski pajamas and an unclaimed orthodontic appliance.
A friend of mine has an 8-year-old son who is very trusting so his mother has spent a lot of time warning him about strangers. Recently she had him watch a show that illustrated the example of a man promising a child money to help him find a puppy as a way to lure him away. Afterwards he said "don't worry mom, if someone asked me to do something for money I would make sure they gave me the money first."
Have you heard about the next planned "Survivor" show?
Six men will be dropped on an island with one van and four kids each, for six weeks.
Each kid plays two sports and either takes music or dance classes.
There is no access to fast food.
Each man must take care of his four kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, etc.
The men only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done: there is only one TV between them and there is no remote.
The men must shave their legs and wear makeup daily, which they must apply themselves either while driving or while making four lunches.
They must attend weekly PTA meetings; clean up after their sick children at 3 a.m.; make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker; and get a four-year-old to eat a serving of peas.
The kids vote them off based on performance.
The winner gets to go back to his job.
If a poll were taken of children asking why they thought their parents had children at all, twelve percent of them would say they got bored watching television; 26 percent would say it was a 4-H project that got out of hand, and 62 percent would believe adults had kids to get out of doing the dishes.
Despite the fact that fifteen million Americans walk around half sick from eating off diseased dishes and breakage runs into the six figures, it is still the No. 1 chore of kids in the country today.
Early in my mothering career, I saw what I had going for me: a surly child who secretly spit on plates after she rinsed them, laying a foundation for mistrust; a child with kidneys the size of lentils who visited the bathroom fire times during the cleaning ritual, and another who argued about it for so long that the dishes went out of style and the silver pattern was discontinued.
When electric dishwashers came out, I figured it would do for my family what pantyhose did for my condo thighs . . . pull them together as one.
The day the dishwasher was installed marked the first time my children fought . . . yes, fought to see who would load it up first.
The second night, the one who used to spit on the plates opened the door of the dishwasher and said, "How do you expect me to clear the table when there are dishes still left in there from yesterday?"
I had an answer. She didn't like it.
I can't put my finger on it, but there is just something "yucky" about touching all those squeaky clean plates and sparkling silver ware and returning them to the drawers and cupboards that turns the kids off.
I've been emptying the dishwasher now for seventeen years. As I do it, I cannot but reflect on why I had children. What a thing to say! I had them because they would carry on my genes and give me everlasting life. They would fill my life with joy and purpose and give meaning to my very existence.
On the other hand, German Shepherd puppies can lick a dish clean in thirty seconds without moving the plate . . . and they're real pleasant while they're doing it.
For years, the battle has raged on about whether a child is the product of his heredity or his environment.
To me, the division has always been clear-cut.
A child is influenced by three factors: life about him, plus dominant genes from his mother's side and dominant genes from his father's side.
Ironically, all three of our children share evenly in the distribution.
From their environment they gleaned bad language, poor judgment, hopeless dependency on the telephone, lack of motor skills to pick up a towel or replace a toothpaste cap, little realism concerning money, disregard for responsibility and job opportunities, the need for eighteen hours of sleep, impetuous decisions that never work out, a dress code that is substandard and a rash that appears when it is suggested they write a thank-you note.
From their father they inherited shortness, frequent nosebleeds, poor spelling, overconfidence, no memory, toeing in, allergies to dust and mold, uncontrollable cowlicks, weak ankles, inability to conquer math, tendency to put on weight, short interest span, sulking over Monopoly, shyness, a definite weakness for losing anything of value, car sickness, poor taste in friends, the lack of wisdom to know when they've lost an argument and a hang-up about Brussels sprouts.
To many parents, it might seem very discouraging knowing that certain traits in your child are predestined.
But all the mothers I've talked to, without exception, were able to supply the saving genes that gave their children the motivation to go on living.
I know from my side of the family, our children have inherited good skin, good grades, instant comprehension, imagination, coordination, a sense of humor, good posture, straight teeth, sensitivity, appreciation of the arts, moral values, integrity, a good feeling about money, infinite patience, loyalty and are champions of the underdog.
As my husband observed: "Don't forget humility. That's your strongest trait."
You know, I think he's right.
Preparation for parenthood is not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are some simple tasks for expectant parents to prepare themselves for the real life experience of being a mother or father.
Women: To prepare for maternity,
*Put on a dressing gown and stick a pillowcase filled with beans down the front. Leave it there for nine months. After nine months, take out ten percent of the beans.
*Drink a gallon of water. Do not go to the bathroom for 24 hours, or Go to the bathroom every 3-5 minutes with no regard to the "amount" you have deposited. Either way you will get a good sense of what "bloatation" is like.
Men: To prepare for paternity,
*Go to the local drugstore, Tip the contents of your wallet on the counter--Tell the pharmacist to help himself.
*Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
*Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.
Before you have children, find a couple who already is a parent and berate them about their:
*Methods of discipline
*Lack of patience
*Appallingly low tolerance levels
*Allowing their children to run wild.
Suggest ways in which they might improve:
*Their child's sleeping habits
*Table manners and,
Enjoy it--it will be the last time in you life that you will have all the answers.
To discover how the nights will feel . . .
1. Walk around the living room from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly.
2. At 10 p.m., put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1 a.m.
4. Set the alarm for 3 a.m.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink.
6. Go to bed at 2:45 a.m.
7. Get up at 3 a.m. when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs in the dark until 4 a.m.
9. Put the alarm on for 5 a.m.
10. Get up. Make breakfast.
Keep this up for five years. Look cheerful.
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out . . .
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed,
4. Then, rub them on the clean walls.
5. Cover the stains with crayons.
How does that look?
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems:
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.
Time allowed for this--all morning.
1. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and pot of paint, turn it into an alligator.
2. Now take the tube from a roll of toilet paper. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into an attractive Christmas candle.
3. Last take a milk carton, a Ping-Pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Pops. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Congratulations!! You have just qualified for a place on the play group committee.
Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the cassette player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.
Get ready to go out.
1. Wait outside the bathroom for half an hour.
2. Go out the front door.
3. Come in again.
4. Go out.
5. Come back in.
6. Go out again.
7. Walk down the front path
8. Walk back up it.
9. Walk down it again.
10. Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes.
11. Stop, inspect minutely, and ask at least six questions about every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way.
12. Retrace your steps.
13. Scream that you have had as much as you can stand until the neighbors come out and stare at you.
14. Give up and go back into the house.
You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.
Repeat everything at least, if not more, five times.
Go to the local supermarket.
Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a preschool child . . . a full-grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.
Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy.
Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap . . . the other half just throw up in the air.
You are now ready to feed a 12-month-old baby.
Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Disney. Watch nothing else on TV for at least five years.
1. Move to the tropics.
2. Find or make a compost pile.
3. Dig down about half way in and stick your nose in it.
Do this 3-5 times a day for two years.
Make a recording of Fran Fine, from The Nanny saying "Mommy" repeatedly.
Important . . . No more than a four-second delay between each "mommy" and occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required. Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years.
You are now ready to take a long trip with an toddler.
Start talking to an adult of your choice.
Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt sleeve, or elbow while playing the tape made from Fourteen above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.
Put on your finest work attire. Pick a day in which you have an important meeting.
1. Take a cup of cream, and put 1/4 cup lemon juice in it.
3. Dump it on your nice shirt.
Also, saturate a towel with this mixture.
4. Attempt to wipe it off with this towel.
5. Do NOT change. You have no time.
6. Go directly to work. Ahhh the joys of parenthood!
Go for a ride, but first . . .
1. Find one large tomcat and six pit bulls.
2. Borrow a child safety seat and put it in the back seat of your car.
3. Put the pit bulls in the front seat of your car.
4. While holding something fragile or delicate, strap the cat into the child seat.
For the really adventurous . . . Run some errands, remove and replace the cat at each stop.
When you find yourself singing "I Love You, You Love Me" at work, you finally qualify as a parent.