Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hooray for Captain Spaulding!

Being a man without kids, I am often in the position of amused observer at how people raise their own broods, with varying levels of success.  I am prepared to state that the most successful parents are the ones who work at it.  Children rarely go to the library to check out books on etiquette, responsibility, manners, and how best to handle life's day-to-day activities.  They need to be taught, they want to be taught, and they look to good ol' Mom and Dad for the teaching.

I am thinking of two families I have recently observed. (Suddenly I feel like this is taking the turn of the journal of an African explorer, who takes to the wild to observe a family of jaguars in their rituals and child-rearing techniques.)  But here is my non-clinical report:

Family one was a mom and dad in their early 30s with two kids, a male about 8 and a girl about 10.  I saw them on the sidewalks of Hampden as they left the 7-11 and proceeded down The Avenue Which Is A Street (36th, in fact.)  The parents were embroiled in a discussion over the mores of a friend of theirs, a female who was currently enjoying the attentions and affections of two males, and was unable to choose between the two gentlemen.  In graphic detail, in front of the children, the mother laid it out for the dad: their friend enjoyed doing the horizontal hoo-hah with both of her swains, but only one of them had a "@!%$ing job" at the present time. while the other was a layabout, a neer-do-well, quite possibly a rakehell.  (My translation).  At some point, the mother turned to the children trailing behind and bellowed, "Eat your dinner!" and the kids, chastened, renewed their foraging through their bags of Cheese Puffs and guzzling their grape sodas.

The other family, I saw the other night at the hospital.  Peggy and I went to get some dinner in the cafeteria while Mom had an MRI.  A young (30s) female doctor, in scrubs, was dining with her husband and their three youngsters, girls about 7 and 5 and a boy about 3.  I got the impression (and I rarely do impressions anymore) that the dad brought the kids over for some mommy time while she worked the night shift.  The parents made sure to get decent food for the, with some veggies on the side and water to drink.  Of course, the kids wanted soda and ice cream and made these preferences known, setting off a round of a game that's been played between parents and children since the first caveman dragged home a wooly mammoth and grilled it up for the brood:  "Come just this much and then you can have dessert."

Times three.

And while negotiations raged on with the girls, the boy gave up on eating altogether in favor of darting around with a toy helicopter.  And the girls would not touch their corn.  And the father went off to round up the little helicopter pilot and the mother nibbled at her food while cajoling the girls to "just try the corn!"

And then her dinner hour was about over and she hurriedly finished her chicken sandwich while the dad shepherded the kids into one eddying mass for a minute.

And I pictured both families, times 365.

So where did they get "Whitey" for a nickname?
They say that environment and parental raising are not the only factors that determine our suitability for later life, pointing out that the Bulger family of Massachusetts had a son who became a college president and another who became a mobster, currently on trial to explain nineteen murders.

I guess we'll have to see.  I remarked to the weary doctor that the time would come in a few years that she and her husband would be sitting home on a Saturday night while all three kids were on dates, wondering why it was so quiet!

And she said she would miss what's going on right now.  That's the difference, right there, as I see it!

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