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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Raising children properly

Uncle Doc, at the time a bachelor, didn't approve of the way my parents were raising me. My hair needed combing, my face was dirty, my toys should be put away, in general I made too much noise. At one point, he examined my head and chastised me for not washing behind my ears. I was five years old, and I still feel embarassed about it. Every time I wash my face I make sure to wash behind my ears.

Uncle Doc informed my parents in no uncertain terms that when he had children, a different regimen would be in place.

Well, he got married when I was six, and in due course had a family of his own, three fiends from hell who came to live at his house. Up and down the stairs they chased each other, screaming. One of them had taken a dictionary belonging to another. Uncle Doc alternately promised new dictionaries for everyone and yelled at them loudly to stop that meshugas. But he could have yelled twice as loud and they wouldn't have paid attention. They considered his protests background noise, like the radio.

Eventually, when his face was bright red with veins popping out of his forehead, they sensed he had started to mean business. He would threaten them with dire punishment, and they would start crying. This called for hugs and chewing gum all around. My aunt would go to bed with a migraine. Even I, a mere observer and a child myself, would have a headache.

But Uncle Doc and the girls seemed, if anything, refreshed by all this activity. A good time seemed to be had by all, except those of us with headaches.

Such was Uncle Doc's reasoned philosophy of raising children.

The girls actually grew up to be (relatively) sane, graduate from college, and stay out of jail. So Uncle Doc's child-rearing methods worked. And my aunt stopped having headaches and took up canasta.


Anonymous said...

Sitting here with my two boys, age 2 and 3, I am refreshed.

Dick Stanley said...

I've never understood why/how dirt is supposed to accumulate behind the ears. It must be just a general expression of untidiness.