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Raising Kids.....

updated 5/2/98



Here are some places I like.

Some Humor

Books and Movies

...that we like

  Pizza Man

Let me introduce my family: Daddy, Mommy, Katelyn, Lauren, and Pizza Man.

Just lately Pizza Man has been appearing in any recital of family names. When the song has verses for each person, Katelyn beseeches: "Do Daddy." "Do Lauren." "Do Pizza Man."

It doesn't seem to bother Katelyn that Pizza Man, like Santa Claus, looks different each time we see him. Sometimes Pizza Man wears lipstick and brings Chinese.

And on nights when Daddy comes home late, that news outshines all else, to be told first thing - "Daddy, Pizza Man came today!"

I suppose I should be embarrassed that he's considered family now. After all, I would be embarrassed to tell you how young Katelyn was when she first wheeled up to the magazine table in the livingroom, leaned into it and ordered two tacos.

I do cook. And I know my food groups, although I hope this new "food guide pyramid" goes the way of the metric system. I can even spell c-h-o-l-e-s-t-e-r-o-l.

But don't we all feel guilty about the goldfish and hot dogs and chocolate milk and all the rest? I have to remind myself: you and I and everyone else we know were weaned on cocoa krispies and canned fruit cocktail. Remember tearing the crust off that white bread and rolling it up into a ball? And we came out okay!

And the truth is -- I like Pizza Man too. He always appears at the end of a tough day, when my larder, imagination, and patience are all tapped out. And you know what else? Pizza Man takes a check.

So even though he has not yet made his way into our before-dinner grace, I 'm with Katelyn on this one:

God Bless Pizza Man.

A Milestone

I guess it's far enough behind me now that I can bring myself to write about it. Maybe it'll be therapeutic.

Toilet training.

Of course, we don't call it training any more. Now it's toilet learning, because we wait til the child WANTS to do it. But there's a catch to that: they don't make Huggies in size 14.

Because Katelyn is, after all, pretty reasonable. She considered her choices: "Okay, the way I see it, I can interrupt what I am doing and go park my behind on that cold plastic seat for a long time waiting for something to happen. And even after I'm done there's still all this stuff with the paper and putting my pants on and flushing and after that I have to wash my hands, WITH SOAP. Or, I can wear a diaper and go while I'm playing. You can change me whenever you can catch me, it takes two minutes to do and you have to wash YOUR hands."

So much for toilet learning. You aren't going to beat that logic with your star stickers on the calendar.

So we're back to training. That means we wait until MOTHER is ready to do it. Now, you and I both know that the chatty lady in the grocery store's children weren't REALLY potty trained before her milk came in. And we know that taking the line for "diapers" out of the budget will not allow us to insert "Hawaiian vacation". But this kind of thinking is what we call "signs of readiness" in Mom.

You're supposed to watch your child for "signs of readiness" too. Child shows interest in potty. (Yes, wears it on head.) Child is uncomfortable when wet. (Yes, changes entire outfit every half-hour.) Child can follow simple instructions. (Yes, can. Doesn't choose to, but can.)

If I could reason as well as my three year old, here's what I would have seen: "Okay, I can have a child in diapers and be able to finish all my errands knowing we're covered (literally.) I can change her at our mutual convenience, in a warm, comfortable, hygienic place. Or, I can pull the cart out of a long line just before I get to the register and go full tilt boogie for the restroom at the back of the store, where my hysterical child will take one whiff of the air and announce she no longer has to go. And at home, I can read twenty-seven consecutive Golden books while dinner gets cold and my charming waif maintains "Poop's coming. Read."

And there are other joys: Juggling purchases and younger child while while trying to dissuade three-year-old from exploring every surface of public restroom with both hands. Trying never to imagine why the floors are always wet. (They just mopped. Yeah, that must be it.) Finding yourself saying, "No, they don't HAVE a bathroom at Target. You have to go before we leave!"

And it's important to respect a little person's needs for privacy, dignity, and self-esteem during this process. Privacy: "Please shut the door so I can unroll all the toilet paper." Dignity: "You don't really expect me to sit here with my pants around my ankles, do you? Take it off! Take it ALL off!" Self-esteem: "Gimme a gold star!"

Now, I know these memories will fade in time for me to help little Lauren launch herself down the long road to adulthood. They'd have to, or the oldest child in any family would be the only one to use a bathroom.

But I am thinking about waiting until she can read to herself.


This month I am being forced to consider my own prejudices. Because even in this liberal day and age I find my own biases affecting my child's choice of playmates.

I can't handle her kissing snails.

Okay, that one made you shudder, too, didn't it? Why? You know there aren't any such thing as snail germs. And just because I don't find them kissable -- well, lots of people don't care to eat eggplant either; it's a personal thing.

So as I look over my own mental drawer full of rules, I find it full of prejudices based on race and physical characteristics. For example, you can't come in my house if you have more than twice as many legs as I do. Six legs is just good for a one-way trip outside on a paper towel, but eight legs is most likely a death sentence. Or even worse -- eight legs may be okay if they are long and slender with a small body. Daddy long legs are okay with me. But short fat legs and a short fat body and you've had it. Hair on legs is definitely not okay. See how superficial I am? Hairy legs, splattttt.

You can have as many legs as you want to, or none, if you stay outside and don't touch my kid. In fact, my child will now lecture ME about how hard that spider worked to build that web and how we should admire it and leave it alone. Of course, that's a mood thing with her. She's just as likely to throw the ball through it two minutes later to see what happens. The moral lessons of respecting life haven't really jelled for her yet.

We do have to control pests in our vegetable garden, but we have an organic system. It's called a husband. Mine scatters eggshells and goes on late night flashlight snail hunts. When he captures one he sails it over the fence into the street. Katelyn is fascinated by this and insists on inspecting the snails through the window before he chucks them. I don't know what she thinks is at the end of that wild ride for Mr. Snail. She hasn't asked.

I try not to smush any spiders in front of her. I can't defend my own prejudices well enough. She knows I like ladybugs and butterflies and caterpillars. (And I like snails. I just like cucumbers better.) But admiring and respecting them doesn't extend to petting and kissing them. Most of the relationships in life lie somewhere on the continuuum between squashing and kissing. It's a matter of degree.

Love can be painful for bugs, too. We've said goodbye to a few unfortunate snail playmates. Sometimes they don't want to be picked up, so you have to pull a little harder. You can predict the results of that. Katelyn says that when they die it just means they have to start all over again. This sounds like a Far Eastern belief, but is actually Orthodox Video Game. I can't argue with the concept. I don't know what God does with his snails.

I haven't really had to consider this before. I've always been able to run on a kind of gut-level instinct; I can sort bugs on sight into the okay/not okay categories and behave accordingly. But now I have to explain my actions. And with luck, raise two children who don't have my own irrational prejudices (let 'em get their own.)

Motherhood always seems to have us grappling with the Big Ones. Love, birth, death, and why you have to keep your clothes on in Wal-Mart. I don't have many answers but personally I'm squishing fewer bugs these days.


I have to go to K Mart tomorrow to buy a hat.

This is an important thing, this hat. I hope it's still there. I really need it, you see. Not for me. For my daughter. It's an apology, and only that hat will do and no other. Because of the shoes.

Today was Shoe Day. Shoe Day got scheduled when I noticed that Katelyn's socks peeking out of the bottom of her current tennis shoes. It wasn't her idea; Katelyn LIKES these tennies, and she's never one to part with something she likes. She also hates shopping and the very mention of Target puts her into a sulk. She would rather do anything than try on clothing or shoes. So given all this, I arranged to leave the baby home and make the Shoe Day expedition with a four-year old who was less than enthusiastic.

On the way to Target, we went through KMart to look for an item in the garden Center. As we passed through the accessories area, Katelyn reached out and removed a hat from the rack and said, "Look, Mom! This is pretty!" And she actually put it on her head and said,"How do I look?" You have to understand that this is the child that doesn't notice her clothing unless it's uncomfortable; the ONLY thing she has ever asked me to look at on her head was the laundry basket. And here she is looking in the mirror and agreeing with me that she looks adorable. But this is the most Godawful hat. It has three very colorful plastic flowers right in the front. So I suggest that maybe they have others with less garish flowers; that I have seen similar hats in other stores; that maybe we'll look on our way back from the garden center, and on we go. Predictably, garden doesn't have what I want, we exit that end of the store, and the hat is forgotten and would have stayed that way.....if it weren't for the shoes..

Next Scene, About a Half Hour Later. Katelyn is sitting (sometimes lying) on the floor in Target's shoe area, whining. We are surrounded by seventeen pairs of shoes in all colors and sizes. I have gone through reasoning to imploring to hissing through my teeth at her to get her to try on the shoes I bring. Several pairs looked hopeful - well enough made, solid colors that will not look filthy the first day, enough-but-not-too-much room in the toe, so on - but the only pair she finds acceptable are a garish floral print in red and blue. Knowing that when my daughter gets a pair of shoes she likes, she will wear nothing else, I have been vainly trying to talk her into a more generic solid color. I have brought her every pair that Target has in her size, some way out of my price range, to find something we can compromise on. But she decided ten pairs ago that she can tell just by looking that all the other shoes will hurt. My choices hurt her feet and her choice hurts my eyes. She owns absolutely nothing that will go with these shoes. I don't want to feel like the kind of mother that would buy those tacky shoes. I HATE those shoes. We buy the shoes. She won, I lost, and I lose with no grace at all. We drive home barely speaking.

And of course, over the next few hours, it started to dawn on Mom exactly who caused the problem here. Oops, another little Life Lesson coming my way: a reminder that my child is not an accessory I wear to demonstrate my taste. (If I want to make a fashion statement, I could better spend my time finding matching socks for myself in the morning!)

She didn't want the shoes because they were the In Thing to Wear, or because someone else had them, or because they had the right brand name. She wanted them for exactly the right reason. She wanted them because she liked them.

I didn't. Well, I don't have to wear them. They were safe shoes, tennis shoes, well within the budget, and they fit. At that point, my job was done. Next time, I just have to remember to quit there.

So now you see why I need the hat. I'm not in the habit of giving gifts as an apology, but this hat sang to my small daughter, and I want her to hear again what it said: Your choices and taste reflect who you are. They are as right for you as mine may be for me. You have a right to dance in shoes of your choosing.

As for me, I'll just admire the dance -- and love the dancer.

Books and Movies We Like

....yet to come!

Links to Sites for Kids

KidPub - where your child can publish stories
Esmerel's Collection of Educational Resources and home of UnicornQuest
Rainy Day Site

This page comes with thanks to K & L (my two wonderful inspirations), RDS, Chris for laughing at all the right times.

Alzheimer Page
Helping Kids Deal with Dementia
Bits and Pieces