Theodore Roosevelt was a dedicated hunter, naturalist, and conservationist (all activities which are importantly tied to dadding... at least my version thereof). Anyway, I spotted the following quotations inscribed in the walls inside the entrance to the New York National Museum of Science. Good solid stuff.
It's late and I haven't got the fuel to rant long. Still, I wanted to scribble down this notion that has been thumb-tacked to the inner wall of my mind for some time: That the right approach to child-rearing (for those of us not lucky enough to come pre-loaded with answers) is to see our children as scientific experiments.
Now, I am sensitive enough to guess the kinds of reactions that a statement like that will elicit. For example...
Here is a common scene in my house... A 2-year old politely asks to borrow an iPhone. An adult obliges. The 2-year old proceeds to open his favorite application and expertly work through a series of puzzles to the amazement of all present. He eventually tires and gives the phone back.
Yeah right! - you say.
OK, alright I admit it. Its not quite that... bucolic. I have... misrepresented (a little) and here is the list of my... fibs.
1- As a pretext to shop for more books (to read together at story-time). There are some gems out there ... Like my recent acquisition: Monsters Eat Whiny Children.
Note: It is a kid-friendly story in which no children - whiny or otherwise - are actually eaten... I have had fun reading it (specially when within earshot of my wife who disapproves of monsters in general, and of childivorous ones in particular) but I must admit that the monsters' dialogue is a little beyond the grasp of my 2-year-old, and the black and white illustrations fail to grip his attention for the length of the whole book.
Toddlers have many uses, not the least important of these is that they can serve as personal pocket comedians. In our dealings with adults, quirks of personality and strange obsessions are sufficient cause for keeping a safe distance. And even the slightest of speech impediments is a torment to both the one afflicted by it and to his audience (though to different degrees, no doubt). But with a toddler, the whole "what the hell is he up to now" thing is usually... acceptably hilarious. It's OK, you can go ahead and laugh.
This morning as we piled the usual amorphous mass of strollers, dogs, kids, and assorted urban survival equipment into our Land Rover in preparation for a trip to the Air Show, my wife suddenly let out a string of Oh-my-Gods, Oh-nos and Poor-things. Her voiced clearly indicating (as only hers can) that she was grief-stricken and grossed-out at the same time. Telltale signs all of these, that she had spotted a road-killed furry creature.
When I was growing up, my dad had a .22 revolver of no particular brand. The last time I visited him, the little thing was still around... somewhat rustier, but still holding on to the title of The Gun of The House, with little chance of being dethroned. If you know guns (I didn’t then... I do now) you realize that a .22 revolver with a 2″ barrel is as close as a firearm will ever get to being a toy. There are smaller guns, but few are less impressive.
For a while I attempted to persuade my wife that we really ought to name our first son Rudy in honor of Rudyard Kipling and on account of two important facts. First, the man wrote many great books, stories, and poems, often on the subject of manhood. Second, I figured Rudy would be an easier sell than Mowgli (and Rikki Tikki was already taken by one of our dogs).
Kipling's poem If is a classic of fatherly advice. I transcribe it here in its entirety. As with other extended quotations... my sincere apologies go out to whom it may concern, in the event a copyright no-no has been committed.
This is a very funny book. I found it while I idled away my layover at an Atlanta Airport bookstore. I read 90% of it there and then, standing by the bookshelf... laughing to myself like a moron.
I say many stupid stuff to my son. Maybe one day he'll remember me like this. That would be very cool.
There is also a website. In case you don't feel like googling it, the picture to the left is linked to it.