Monday, October 11, 2010

Reality Bites

I came across a book in our main level powder room this morning.  I had stopped in for a quick powder.   I guess that’s where the expression “take a powder” comes from.  The book was titled, Words Every Child Must Hear.  It was a miniature book, about 4” x 4” in size, and obviously a gift from some thoughtful friend or relative at a baby shower long ago.  The book contained touching images of mothers and babies, surrounded by words of childhood encouragement and positivity.  The giver of this gift did not want us to forget to say nice things to our children when we were sleep deprived or publicly embarrassed by their deviant and disrespectful behavior. 
Among the Victorian era paintings of little cherubs on the high gloss pages were heart-warming expressions brimming with self-esteem, such as “I would never do anything to crush your spontaneity”, and “I’ll pay attention to your verbal and nonverbal messages.”  Lovely thoughts, but the writer has obviously never had children.  The language is a bit unrealistic for everyday use around the kitchen table and the playroom.  My preferred response to my children when they have done something worthy of praise can sometimes elevate to “Good job.  You may continue to live here rent-free for another week, and then we’ll re-evaluate.”  Oddly enough, I did not find this statement of affirmation anywhere in the book.  Perhaps a sequel is planned.

The book got me thinking about a complimentary edition, as yet unwritten.  I respectfully make my copyright claim right here and now.  My title will be Words Every Child Will Hear.  This would be a slightly more pedestrian tome, with a healthy dose of reality sprinkled onto every page.  My illustrations will favor more of a Baby Blues flavor than the Michelangelo style.  I mean, as a parent, you have to laugh just to stop from crying, right?

Here are some of my draft entries for Words Every Child Will Hear:
  • I’m going to count to 3.  1…2…
  • Take that out of your mouth right now.
  • What was that noise up there?
  • That is not worth crying about.
  • 3 more bites first.
  • We don’t have dessert every night.
  • What’s the magic word?
  • I said “Maybe”. 
  • “We’ll see” means “we’ll see”.
  • Stop it.
  • I will not tell you again.
  • OK, fine.  Go ahead and do it your way.  You’ll learn.
  • I am not your friend.  I am your father/mother.
  • I don’t care what the other kids are doing.  I am not their parent.  I am your parent, and you will do what I say.
  • Turn that off – now.
  • I never said that.
  • If you listened the first time, I wouldn’t have to repeat myself.
  • If you spent half as much time doing what I asked as you do arguing about it, you’d be done by now.
  • Don’t you dare.
  • I don’t want to hear any doors slamming up there.
  • How would you like it if someone treated you like that?
  • Loading the dishwasher is not torture.
  • Who left this out?
  • Who put this in?
  • Is this yours?
  • Well OK, but next time…
  • Don’t make me come up there (or back there, or over there, or down there).
  • That wasn’t very nice.
  • Too bad, that’s what’s for dinner.
  • Who said you could do that (have that)?  I know I didn’t.
  • Does that have your name on it?  Then why are you reading it?
  • Because I said so, and that will have to be good enough.
  • I am sorry that I am ruining your life.  Someday you’ll understand.
  • Pick that up and put it away now or I’ll just throw it in the trash.
  • You are not the only one who lives here, you know.
  • Go ask your father/mother.
  • No.
This could become a full-time career enterprise for me.  There could be a whole series of books, suitable for that special someone in your life.

Words Every Child of a Tea Partier Must Hear:
  • I would gladly provide you with an allowance; however, I did not raise you to become a dependent ward of the nanny state, and an allowance would only hasten your journey towards socialism and its’ evil philosophy.  As a true patriot, I cannot let that happen.  I am raising a capitalist, and your freedom isn’t free.  (Editor’s Note:  This one might be a bit extreme…)
  • Child, you are taxing me emotionally right now, and I will not stand for it.
  • How would you like it if I dumped you into Boston Harbor?
  • Hitler never made his bed, either, and look how he turned out.
  • You’d better get those chores done before I decide to water that tree of liberty with you, young man.
Words Every Republican Child Must Hear:
  • No.
  • Wait til no one is watching, dear.
  • Do as I say, not as I do.
  • Never apologize, son.  It makes you look weak.
Words Every Democratic Child Must Hear:
  • Stop digging in that dirt.  The Earth is your friend, not your personal playground.
  • I’m sorry.  I gave your allowance to all the other kids in the neighborhood.
  • You will always be indebted to me, my child.
Haiku Every Child Must Hear:
Sit up straight my child
Or else you will grow up curved
And need surgery.

Vegetables are good
You must eat them all up
To grow big and strong.


  1. Good one Joe, shall I call a publisher? Cherie

  2. Ok, Now I have my own Google account and I do not have to use Marra's. I really like this post.