Touch of Spice

If I knew then ...


I was a model parent until I actually had children. I was one of those "that's not how I would do it" people.

I knew, for instance, how to keep children from running wild in restaurants. I knew how to move children to action with a few well-chosen words. I knew that love and attention would conquer all obstacles. I knew my children would instantly respond to the word "don't."

Now that I get caught dragging Katie kicking and screaming from the kitchen at Village Inn, I can say (in a very small voice), I was a little bit wrong.

Parenthood completely erodes the values you establish in pre-parenting years those I- know-more-than-anyone-who-actually-has-children years.

You say things you said you'd never say. You do things you said you'd never do.

I thought those cruel parents who looked at their bruised and bawling children and said "I told you so," were horrible in my pre-parent years. They didn't deserve to have children if they couldn't offer a little loving consolation after a fall.

Now I realized I missed the 23 times they said, "if you keep doing that you're going to get hurt."

I admit, I'm a great follower of the "you didn't listen, so you got what you deserved" philosophy.

I'm not very good at it though. It takes about 37 seconds before I cave and offer a cuddle.

I've got years to improve.

My eyes used to roll when I heard how people talk to babies it's just a speech impediment waiting to happen, which was what I'd tell anyone I caught talking in that condescending, high-pitched, the-same-way-you-talk-to-dogs tone.

I'm over that. I don't know what it is about babies that brings out those nasal tones and total disregard for the proper use of the English language.

Now, I'm as much a victim of the baby-talk bug as the worst of them (although I do not talk to the dog in the same way ... well, almost never).

In the privacy of my own home, I don't have to own up to my promise that I'd never talk to babies like that. Unfortunately, baby talk isn't limited to the privacy of my own home. It's not even limited to my own baby. Not even babies in general.

I'm starting to talk to my co-workers that way.

"Does you want my help? Oh-tay I will help you."

Luckily I work with other mothers who understand the language and at times, don't even realize I'm using it.

The men in the office, though, respond with the same blank stare they'd give a babbling two year old. Worse, they race for the gym to kick start the flow of testosterone that is being sucked out by baby talk and conversations about child birth, breast-feeding and who has the better baby sitter.

They're in the minority, though. I have met many men who could baby talk with the best of them.

One in particular taught me a very important lesson don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge a person because the only inch of untatooed skin you can see is on his nose.

This man had a look that would make me want to swim the river before passing him on the shore, and when he asked if he could hold the baby, I was, to say the least, leery. But, we were surrounded by people, and there was a kind look in his eye.

Besides, my arms were killing me.

By the time he was done telling her how "purty" she was and "yous is the sweetest widdle fing," we were making plans to go to baby gymboree and he was teaching me how to fold a cloth diaper.

I gave up on the no baby talk stricture because if I didn't, I'd be the only one.

I also gave up on this whole theory of requiring Katie to do what she's told to do. I always thought myself strongwilled until I came face-to-face with a toddler.

I can stand directly behind her and say in my firmest voice, "Katie, no," and she doesn't even flinch. I'd say she's deaf, but she always wins when she plays hide and seek with the telephone and she passed her hearing test with flying colors.

Apparently, the only tone she can't hear is mine.

I was always of the mind that discipline needs to be consistent. I believe that. Experts say it's true, but real life is not the same as books.

While children do need consistency, adults need quiet time. If putting her Easter candy in the VCR amuses and keeps Katie from screaming, throwing, whining, pulling, poking, crying, sitting on the baby or pooping, so be it. We'll watch our next movie on pay-per-view.

Here's the situation at my house:

"Katie, no."

"Katie, no."

"No, Katie."

"Stop it, Katie."

"Katie, don't make me get up."

"Katie, please don't make me get up."

"Fine. Do it."

I've come to the conclusion that the only way to make her mind is electroshock therapy. That way, I won't even notice when she ignores me and in my own shock-ridden world, I'm the parent I'd always imagined I'd be.

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