I’m going to give some of you the cold hard facts of raising kids and, to fully grasp it, you must first understand this: small children are not morning people. Shocked? It’s true. And I don’t know what all the baby raising books say about morning time with your little tow-headed jewel, but I imagine it has something to do with setting schedules and being repetitive and speaking in a soothing voice to reassure little Jimmy that it’s a new day full of rainbows and grand adventures. Something like waking up to golden flapjacks in the Hundred Acre Wood instead of urine-soaked sheets in your very own bed.
Since C was ready for his first day at day care it has been my job to get him – and then his siblings as they came along – dressed, fed and out the door for their day, and I’m going to tell you now how that gets done. If you have a weak stomach then you may want to stop reading now because this isn’t Baby Einstein and I’m not going to recommend leading your spawn out the door with black and white triangles and rhombi. I did it all with fart jokes. And conversations centering around who will stink the most if they’re the last to eat or to get dressed. Humor has been the essence of efficiency when it comes to getting non-morning little people to obey commands – if I can fool them into thinking they want to do something because it’s fun, then it just may get done without my head exploding. Humor and competition. I encourage The Trio to race each other to see who can get dressed first and who can get into the car first like I’m some sort of Roman impresario putting on a gladiator match for the emperor. I have looked the other way as teeth and hair were ignored. They’ve worn socks with holes and possibly underwear that was past its prime. And I have raised my voice, very likely awakening the neighbors.
Lately the humor angle has taken an ugly turn and it’s one I fear could have some longer lasting repercussions. The Trio, for the most part, aren’t a belligerent group. They’re not hateful or playground bullies (Again, for the most part. The jury is still in deliberation regarding S). However, there is considerable fun being made in the a.m. at the expense of a little cartoon 4-year-old named Caillou and his giant, bald head. Kristy and I find this cartoon particularly irritating because the character of Caillou consistently whines to get his way and this behavior tends to be rewarded by his cartoon parents. But then there is still his head, his beachball of a head, that my kids find hilarious. So hilarious, in fact, that S has begun waking up earlier than she ever has to see his gleaming melon. And she laughs at it. And they all laugh at it. Thankfully I haven’t seen any kids at their schools with a head as disproportionately large as Caillou’s, because I’m afraid they might make the connection. We are constantly reinforcing that they should be nice to other children, all other children, no matter how different they are from themselves. But this is just a cartoon, right? A freakish, globe-headed cartoon. My other problem with Caillou is that they put him on in place of Sesame Street, which is a show I grew up on. There are a lot of freaks on Sesame Street, too, but they’re supposed to be monsters and giant birds and hairy elephant creatures, and not 4-year-old little boys with a bowling ball for a head. Besides, Sesame Street had grown-up guest stars like James Gandolfini, Robert Deniro, R.E.M., and one episode with a hoarse-voiced Natalie Portman dancing around in an elephant costume that made me feel a little conflicted.
So I don’t know if any of the child raising books say it or not, but I’ll say it – throw this book out! Nothing is cut and dry. Nothing but that silly, expensive mobile you got at the shower is black and white and there are no wrong answers. If oatmeal and Grover don’t work, then try farts and boogers. Make them laugh. Make them run. Whatever it takes to get them out that door.