Editor’s Note (March 2011)

Nature’s Cruel Jokes


Children. What would we do without them? Or better yet, what can we do with them?

After years of following parenting concerns and dilemmas there are certain truths I have come to accept. One is that some odd childhood behaviors are universally hardwired at birth.

For starters: never say never. If you don’t want your child to put their finger in the outlet socket telling them “Never, put your finger in the outlet” is perhaps the only way to assure that that is exactly what they will do. Substitute any other word for outlet socket and you’ll get the same result. Say “Never stand on the chair” and before you have turned your back, up they go.

Another oddity involves the phone. Let’s say the home phone rings and you are delightfully engaged in grown up conversation, this is a sure-fire guarantee that your little (or big) one will desperately need your attention. Children have been known to stage fights just to lure parents off the phone. I have taken to yelling out: “Unless there’s blood I don’t want to know about it.” Once caught at their game they seem to settle down, until the uproar starts all over again in five minutes.

Mother Nature has played her fair share of cruel jokes on mankind, none being as cruel as the matter of children and sleeping. My darling daughter did not sleep through the night until she was 3 years old. And yes, I did the Ferber Method. We had nightlights and black out shades, we read stories, we didn’t rock – all without success. And then, almost to the day, she turned 3 and slept like the baby she had never been. Here’s the joke part. She continued to perfect her sleeping habits so that by the time she was a teenager she had to be literally dragged from her bed.

Or perhaps you’ve seen this scenario: A parent, a baby and a jar of pureed green beans. The cooing and wonder and delight are palpable. Baby, desperate for anything solid, adores the beans. And the parent is convinced their child is exhibiting the first sign of being a natural food gourmand. My child is extraordinary – they love their veggies!

Ah, I wish it were so. Just as the sun comes up in the morning most of these little tykes will turn their nose up at anything green in very short order. All of a sudden they put themselves on the White Diet, and they didn’t read about it or hear about it on Oprah – it just comes naturally. There are many children who continue to grow despite spending years eating nothing but chicken nuggets, plain pasta and a slice or two of white cheese. I tired calling broccoli “trees” to make them appear friendly or explaining how fun it would be to eat the rainbow – green is for pea, red is for tomato, but veggies were still shunned. That is, until the day many moons later when my preteen declared that she’d become a vegetarian.

What’s a parent to do? Glad you asked. This month, writer and mom Laura Amann takes a look at how meat-loving families can live happily with a vegetarian child. There are pertinent questions you should ask your teen and nutritional guidelines that should be met. And even more, there’s a spirit you might like to adopt to get through the phase (even if it lasts a lifetime – some of them do) with as little rancor as possible. After all, a vegetarian lifestyle can be great for overall health if followed properly with attention to getting the right vitamins and minerals.

We’ve addressed other sticky situations this month as well. Read how to toilet train a toddler or what questions to ask so you can select the right camp for your child. And after you have digested all of that, be sure to turn to our calendar of events and plan some family fun. Because that’s what parents and children do best – they spend loving time together. Even if it it’s a challenge at times.

Have fun, Jean Sheff