Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Other People's Animals

Do you know what the real key to successful parenting is? Getting your kids to make mistakes at home! You don’t want the kids making mistakes at the pool, library, or neighborhood cookout where other people can see them. You want all those life lesson mistakes to occur at home. Now, that doesn’t make much sense so let me explain.

Most parents, not all by any stretch but most, recognize their children aren’t perfect. While I would love to have perfect children, it’s good to see they are normal and make mistakes just like the rest of us. But the real reason you want the kids to make mistakes at home is because parents, both Mom’s and Dad’s, gossip. If you think you left high school behind, you haven’t seen anything until you start comparing your children against other children! There’s been more than one night that I told my wife, “little Tommy’s an animal. He’s going to jail.” Or “Judy’s gonna be a real good exotic dancer some day. Let’s not invite her to playtime again.” I know it’s been said about my kids and that’s ok. It’s just the way parents are.

What brings this sudden revelation on? Well, we went over to a friends house for a cookout the other night. And, Lady is a very, very nice person. She’s one of those people who never says anything mean about anyone. She’s scary nice and makes me feel guilty just for having bad thoughts. But, she has twin boys, Dee and Dum, who are absolute animals. I think they make each other eat bugs when she isn’t looking.

We organized the cookout because Lady’s husband was away on a business trip. It was something nice to do, and would give her at least one night of relief from her little animals. It was fun and we were all having a good time. The adults were drinking wine. The kids were all getting along wonderfully. Then Girl came down the stairs.

With a scowl, and her most serious voice, “Dum took all his clothes off!”

For those that don't have children, let's be clear that all kids take their clothes off at the oddest of times. I don’t know why but they do. But, you always hope that they do it at home when no one is around. Now, because the kids are still relatively young, you also don’t know the full extent of the phrase “took his clothes off.” Dum could have taken his shorts off. Dum could have taken his shirt off. There was no way to know just how many clothes had actually been removed.

No matter what the real answer was, I’m sure Lady was hoping for a simple explanation. I’m sure she was embarrassed, but at least the situation wasn’t out of control. That was, until Tiny appeared, “Dum threw his underwear at me. Yuck!”

Lady, obviously mortified, said, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.”

And there you have the mistake!

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