Tag Archives: Mom And Dad

Will You Still Need Me, When You’re Twenty-Four?*

I knew there was going to be trouble the first time I had to wag my finger in admonition and look up at Sarcasmo.

Physically, it’s been apparent for a long while that I was going to be the shortest male in the family. Sarcasmo, our oldest, is around 6′ 4″ now and should be finally stopped growing at 21. Zippy the Monkey Boy is 6′ 2″ or so and Hyper Lad is 5′ 9″, but he’s only 14 so has a lot of growing left to do.

When I realized they were going to be all taller and probably bigger than me, I quickly realized that I would have to come up with a catch phrase that would establish my authoritarian position as the leader of our little clan. It would have to be persuasive and showcase the innate superiority of the position of listening to their father and doing what he says to the idea that they can go haring off on their own and do whatever comes into their swiss-cheesed brains.**

Here’s what I came up with: “You might end up being bigger and stronger than me, but I will always be sneakier and meaner.”

And it’s worked. So far. Of course, it’s meant in jest and I made sure my young dudes know it, but the meaning behind the joke is somewhat more serious.

It’s not that we parents tell our children what to do because we’re control freaks***, but rather because we have life experience and understand how there might be a better or safer way to do something. The problem with kids ageing is that I can’t expect to have them do what I tell them to do just because I said they should do it. That works when they’re younger for a variety of reasons.

Little dudes start off doing as they’re told because Mom and Dad are infallible, but that goes away pretty quickly. They’ll also do as they’re told because, to be blunt, they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t. Not that every kid is worried that their parent will hit them, but parents are, after all, in charge of who gets the TV or the computer, the person who will take them to the park. Parents hold a lot of keys to a lot of different treasure chests.

As the little dudettes get older, though, these subtle threats begin to lose their force. The words “You can’t make me” or “You’re not the boss of me” begin to make the first of their years-long lifespans as a major part of her vocabulary.

And, once she gets past a certain age, she’s right. We can’t. Legally, if a young man 18 or over wants to do something, there’s precious little a parent can do to stop him.

Which, again, is bad news because, as much as the young dudes wish it weren’t so, parents really do understand more about life and really do know better.

Parents are a marvelous resource for young sons and daughters. Unfortunately, there are too many instances in which those resources go untapped and unrecognized.

So. We’ve got that all set up. Come back tomorrow and we’ll discuss what you can do to make sure your son or daughter not only asks for, but listens to your suggestions.

Footnotes & Errata

* With my apologies to the Beatles, but the song lyric just fit too well to ignore.
** Not really Swiss cheese. I just use that as a visual shorthand for the fact that (and this is science, dudes and dudettes) the male brain doesn’t fully mature until at least 25 or so. If you’re lucky.
*** Which you will certainly believe. As long as you don’t listen to any of my children. Or my sister’s. Or my neighbors’. Or that dude over there. You get my point.

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Baby’s Reach Exceeds His Grasp

It’s a huge day in baby’s life.

On the day the little dude figures out just what — exactly — the wriggly things on the ends of his hands are for, it marks a major turning point in his relationship with his parents.

Whereas, before the epiphany, mom, dad and little dudette were living in a state of blissful harmony, marked by glances full of love and adoration, it’s a whole different ball of goop after.

Before, you could put the little dude in a high chair next to a table and

Babies tend to grab stuff as much as possible once they realize they actually can have an effect on the outside world.
Gimme!

have him sit there blissfully playing with whatever happened to be in front of him. Which let Mom and Dad eat relatively leisurely and without much incident.

And then the little dudette gains the smallest extra bit of self awareness and realizes that she can cause change in the environment around herself. And she can do it with her hands because they — holds up hands in front of wide eyes and wriggles fingers back and forth like a stoner realizing for the first that the four fingers are like a highway and the thumb is a little off ramp and whoa! Dude! doesn’t that just blow your mind?  — allow her to grab stuff.

Even better, those two hands and ten fingers allow her to grab stuff and then throw it anywhere. Or knock stuff over. Or, best of all, grab stuff, use that stuff to throw and knock over more stuff and watch Mommy and Daddy freak out, jump up and start talking funny and blotting at their clothing with napkins.

And here’s the thing. Even when new parents accustom themselves to the idea that their little dude can now grab stuff, it still takes a while before the really understand that he can lean farther than they think and knock over stuff a really big distance away.

It happened to me. When Sarcasmo was a young ‘un, maybe a year or so, his grandmother, Kaki (who was my mom) went away for a week or so. This was during the time he discovered the wriggly things and grabbing stuff.

Kaki asked to hold Sarcasmo while we were out to eat for a friendly lunch at a Gainesville diner. I warned her about his newfound propensity for grabbing stuff. She glared at me, silently reassuring me that she managed to raise me and my sister and she knew what she was doing thank you very much you young know-it-all. Mom had very expressive eyes.

What Kaki had forgotten was that reflexes, if not used, will sometimes decay. She stood Sarcasmo up in her lap, facing the table, and having fun.

He managed to get a salt shaker and mostly full glass of Diet Coke before I could get him free from Kaki’s lap and into his car seat, which we were using as a high chair. Kaki insisted on having Sarcasmo sit next to her.

He managed to get the refilled Diet Coke and a very mean look from the waitress who had to clean it up. Again.

Even experienced parents can misjudge the reach of a newly grabby little dude. Much less those new parents who have no experience to fall back on in their panic.

And this is before we bring in poisons and cleaning supplies and the like into the equation.

All is not lost, though.

To combat a little dude’s propensity for grabbing stuff, you only need to remove from his immediately surrounding environment anything that you could grab with your arms. And lock up all cabinets with the most parent-annoying security system imaginable, and then use them.

No worries.*

Footnotes & Errata

* That was a lie. There are a lot of worries. It’s not until you get to your third or so kid that you stop worrying and begin to think you know it all. Of course, that’s when everyone around you begins to panic because they just don’t understand that a toddler juggling razor-sharp knives while riding a kiddie unicycle is just little dudes being little dudes.

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Money-Grubbing Moochers

Money.

Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money.

There. I said it. Money. Like sex, money is something parents need to keep talking about with their little dudes and dudettes.

For something so many dudes and dudettes stress out about so much, money is an interestingly semi-taboo subject. Does anyone feel comfortable discussing how much you paid for a high-ticket item with, for instance, your neighbor? Like telling her how much you spent on that landscaping?

Do you want to try and justify the sparkling upgrades you paid for on your new phone with your dad?

Heck, many companies will do just about anything to prevent employees from knowing how much the other people with whom they work are actually making every other week. Although, I’m sure that’s less out of the taboo nature of money and more because the company doesn’t want someone to compare paychecks and realize they’re being appallingly shortchanged by working for the company.

Still, despite the uncomfortable nature of discussions of wealth or the lack thereof, it’s something we as parents need to talk to our young dudes and little dudettes about early and often.

When they little dudes are babies (and shouldn’t you be out purchasing another copy of A Dude’s Guide to Babies right about now ?It’s the perfect Christmas present for the new dad or dad-to-be. Go buy it. Now.*) there’s not much call for them to understand about money.

However, as they start growing older and understanding that there are different ways with which they can interact with the world, knowing what money is, where it comes from and how it works becomes more and more important.

When the little dudettes are toddlers, they think they know all about how the world works. Ask mom or dad for that thing you want and, in the fullness of time, it shall be given to you. From this perspective, Mom and Dad pretty much own everything in the world and it’s only a matter of asking for them to give it to the little dude at the right time.

Which can be, frankly, a pretty dangerous perspective to have.

And that makes the fact that they pretty much keep thinking this sort of thing straight through to their middle teens a horrifying proposition. Of course, they can be trained to forget this mistaken impression, but it’s going to be tough and it mostly involves a lot of tears and runny noses. Sometimes the little dude will tear up a bit as well.

Seriously, one of the best ways to teach your young dudette the power of money is to say — early, often and loud — no to requests for, well, just about anything. Don’t make the mistake I might have done and say to the kid, “I’ll give you this, but, in return, you need to do that.”

Go with that sort of logic and you’ll soon have a child with an armful of this, but be waiting forever for that to get done. Young dudes need to start working just like the world does (or should). That is, if they want something, they have to pay for it (be it through actual money or through sweat equity) before they can get it.

Whether or not the child gets an allowance is something parents need to work out for themselves. Included in the discussion is whether the young dude gets an allowance no matter what, or if money is earned from chores done, or if there is a baseline allowance and they can earn extra bucks with more chores. That sort of thing.

If the young dudes don’t feel the occasional pinch of poverty, they’re going to grow up with some severely whacked ideas about how money works. And, considering how easily almost anyone can get a credit card these days, that can be a very dangerous thing, indeed.

Money talk: important.

We’ll talk more tomorrow on a specific aspect of that discussion, namely what to say when your kid asks you how much money you have.

 

*Please!?


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