Hello, everybody! Great to see you.
I guess you can tell by looking that I am a geezer, a crank, a codger, an old fart – as well as a wizened wise man in an age that can’t tell wisdom from information.
After making that profound remark, I’m going in another direction. I know what information is but don’t have the slightest clue about wisdom.
Maybe as a geezer I should, but I don’t. What I know of wisdom wouldn’t fill a single space in a plastic ice cube tray.
But I do know I’m fortunate to have grandchildren. My youngest I’ll call child X here. She is wandering around somewhere.
Child X is three and her mind is – what shall I say? — a fast moving river.
You can’t do anything with X. She’s an unknown. All you can do is follow her as she moves from one interest to another. She’s a toddler Jack Kerouac in Out of Diapers and On the Road, with a new delight and adventure around every corner.
X, modern toddler Beatnik.
So when I babysit X, I follow her around.
I don’t know anything about raising children. I never read a book on it. I did read a book on Italian street children during WWII, orphans, almost all grew up fine.
Terry Gilliam from Monty Python says that it you drop children and they almost always bounce. They are engines of survival.
That’s my theory of childcare. They bounce!
But luckily Karen and Will have written their own Kid Kare book to consult on taking care of their daughter.
I am happy to have this book because I wish to care for X as they themselves care for her.
The book is helpful. Say, for example that X is wandering around and she meets a snake.
I just turn to the index at the back of Kid Kare and look up snake to know their method of dealing with the situation.
Here it is. What kind of snake? The index asks.
I look over at child X and see that she has a rather large blackish-green snake wrapped around her.
How do you like my dress? She asks.
I like it swell, I say. Can I try it on?
No, she says, it’s too small for you.
I need that dress, I say.
Well, child X, that’s a magical shrinking dress you got there, and soon it will begin to feel tight. I tell you what. I’ll trade my hat for your dress.
OK, she says.
The notion of trading to get children to relinquish things is covered on page 3,045 in Kid Kare.
I am learning much from this book.
It’s better than Dr. Spock, who we read in the ‘50s and ‘60s and even ‘70s.
Dr. Spock was an evil man who protested against the Vietnam War and wrote a child rearing book that created a whole generation of dope smoking hippies who nearly destroyed this country. If Ronald Reagan hadn’t been elected we’d be Haiti by now.
But you wouldn’t know anything about that.
Actually, in the end it wasn’t Dr. Spock that ruined America. Late in life Spock got divorced, and in the divorce proceedings his soon-to-be-former wife explained that the ideas for child raising came from her. What did he know about raising kids? NOTHING! He was at work all day, or up in space on The Enterprise..
Being an old fart I sure have seen a lot of changes in child raising techniques. Why I can remember my grandma sending me out to the willow tree to get her a switch when I’d been bad.
I was in Toys”R”Us – that evil monopoly – buying a gift for X, when I saw a man down on the floor in the play area with one of those old fashioned tool kits they had when I was a kid.
He was showing his 3-year-old how to pound a red peg of wood into a hole with a wooden hammer.
He gave the child the hammer to try it out himself. He held the peg for his child, but the child decided it would be more interesting to hit daddy on the forehead instead.
It was a solid whack, and I thought the father might pass out, but he put his hand to his forehead and said, “No, baby, please don’t hit daddy in the head,”
The child smiled at him and then smacked him with the hammer above the ear. Perhaps the child believed the ear area was not part of the head.
Baby, the father said, this is not a good thing to do. It hurts daddy. Please give me the hammer. The child smiled again, and smacked daddy in the nose.
Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’d left the Will and Karen’s Kid Kare book back in the car. I couldn’t check the index, so I just came up behind the kid and grabbed the hammer and pulled it free before the father got smacked again.
I think the father would have given me hell for interfering with his childcare technique, but his nose was bleeding badly. I loaned him my linen handkerchief – something every geezer carries – and told him I’d watch his angel if he needed to go to the rest room to clean up.
Now I did admit earlier I never read any book on raising children and have no idea what I am doing.
I told the Toys”R”Us story to a friend of mine who had quit teaching first grade and gone to work as a clerk in Whole Foods for better wages.
You can’t control the little beasties in class anymore, she said.
I thought, well, anyone who calls a precious child a little beastie needs to be selling organic free trade peanut butter.