Nurture or Lecture

Trying to get away!

It’s not like those sticky, gooey, crying, pooping, drooling, cooing, laughing, hugging bundles of joy come with an owner’s manual.  Sure, there are plenty of well-intended self-help parenting guides.  But my immediate question is, why are there no “being a proper child” guides?  Parents got here first.  Why must we conform to the new kid on the block?  Why should we delve into the psychology of a three-month-old?  Who are they really anyway?  What is their intent?  Is their mission on earth good?  Shouldn’t their mission be like Star Trek’s prime directive, don’t interfere with your father?

So, it’s all your fault.  Never the kids.  You’re the one who tried bribery to get them to eat broccoli.  Now, they’re hyped up on chocolate, wired for sound and you can’t get them to do the next ridiculous thing, like putting on their shoes.  They were fine before shoes and will be just fine once you give up.  Just remember, you’re the one setting ridiculous expectations.

Instead of another semi helpful manual for parents, why don’t we just hand them an instruction manual.  One that guides them on how to behave in a civilized society?  Sure, you haven’t taught them to read yet, they’re only two-years-old and already you’re on track to becoming the worst parent ever!  Let’s hold out until they’ve read the book.  Wouldn’t that make more sense?  Wouldn’t that make for a better chance of a more meaningful dialog?  For once, let time give US the advantage?  After all, it’s every parent for themselves.  A book such as this should teach your hoodlum the essentials of surviving in polite society.

Every hoodlum should master critical skills such as:

  • How to listen intently during meaningful discussions at the dinner table.  You know, the one where your father drones on and you pretend to be interested.
  • The proper use of the fork.  Emphasis should be on not stabbing your brother while perusing the last pea around the plate.
  • How to go number two without marveling at what just came outside of you.
  • How to pretend to pay attention and nod affirmatively, all the while exploring a whole new vocabulary under your breath.
  • Setting minimum expectations for your parents.  Remind them that half a bite of broccoli is equal to a whole piece of cake WITH ICE CREAM on top.  See, you’re already a math whiz.
  • Helping your parents realize when they make a mistake.  Remember they think they’re teaching you. You’ll need to be as direct as possible.  It is important to point this out every time.  All the time.  Remember, you’re like four-years-old and have been around the block a few times.  Literally.
  • This one’s critical.  Learn to pit parent against parent.  “Mom said it was ok.”  You know, this one’s great.  You score bonus points when the predicate is not even true.  It doesn’t matter.  Soon the attention is off of your heinous crime and on to them.
  • Set an alarm in your head for 3 a.m.  Wake up and begin screaming at the top of your lungs.  When both parents rush in, pretend to be fast asleep.  In the morning reassure both mother and father, “I still love you.”  It will add gravitas if you sigh at just the right moment.

As you can see, I could go on and on.  When I think of all the children I‘ve pretended not to be watching all these years, they must already have read this book.  They already have it, memorized it, and are using it against their parents as I write.  A hoodlum child’s instruction manual has more plays than Tom Brady had for the Superbowl.  Hoodlums are the quarterback calling the plays and we’re just the wide receiver trying to catch the ball.

Apparently, children do come with a handbook.  They all know it by heart.  Parent’s have several.  None of them enough.  None of them appropriate for their particular hoodlum.  Hoodlums are people after all.  Each different.

My book for parents is not long.  It matches the need of every child in every situation.  It works when everything else fails.

“Just love them.” 

That’s my book.

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