was cornered in the doctor's office by a woman who said her 'sweet' child suddenly turned into a 'monster' at age 16 and mine will, too. I seem to have this conversation a lot with people from outside my culture, especially when they see me with my 'well-behaved' daughter. Something about her behavior sets their teeth on edge, so I will address it.
To the woman in the doctor's office who claims her kid pulled a Jekyll & Hyde at age 16, I call bullshit. Madam, assuming there are no mental defects or other extenuating circumstances, I don't believe your child suddenly turned on you. Maybe your child was 'sweet' of his own accord when he was young, but I ask you, did you require that he be 'sweet?' Had you set any behavioral expectations, or were you just relying on his natural tendencies? Since you're cornering strangers like me in the doctor's office with tales of woe, I'm guessing you did the latter.
If you have ever been a new or expecting parent, you have probably experienced the temporary insanity that comes over people who are hearing the news for the first time. I'm talking about the psychosis that causes people to say odd and offensive things about you and your child. They may call into question the child's parentage: "That baby doesn't look anything like you. Are you sure it's yours?" Or they act as if babies come with exchange policies: "You had another girl. Didn't you want a boy?" Or they are downright rude: "A baby? Can you afford that?"
Adoptive parents are not immune to this syndrome. When my husband and I announced that we were adopting a child, reactions varied from sheer disbelief --"Stop kidding around; you know you don't want children." -- to the incredible --"You're adopting? Can't you get one of your sisters to have a baby for you?"
I've been watching a few television shows lately and I'm noticing a disturbing trend in which kids roll their eyes and zap their parents with caustic one-liners. Seriously! If my daughter did that... well let's just say I frequently remind her not to try that a home.
I'd like to see someone write a TV sitcom with a character like my mother. She came from a tradition where mouthy kids were met with swift retribution, where speaking to your mother like she's a junkyard dog was, frankly, not worth your professionally straightened teeth. My mother wasn't interested in being her child's friend. She didn't care whether you "liked" her or not. She only required that you respect her.
The number of times a day I am required to put my hands in shit is staggering.
We have a toddler and a cat. The toddler thinks the cat is a dog. The cat thinks the toddler is a monster. They are afraid of each other. Neither is potty trained.
A diaper change is like a surgical procedure involving precise preparation. Remove the subject's shoes, street clothes, and anything that might possibly get contaminated. All items needed for the procedure must be lined up in easy reach. A fair amount of hand scrubbing will be involved.
"Is that your daughter?"
I get this question all the time: On walks through town, at the grocery store, standing on the street.
"Is that your daughter?"
On a scale of annoyances, it's up there with, "Are you her real mother?" and dragging fingernails across a chalkboard.
The first time I got hit with this question, I was actually asked, "Is that your granddaughter?"
t's back to school time. That means it's time to stock up on school supplies. No, not pencils and crayons, although you'll need those, too. I mean the unofficial list of items needed for special theme days. Theme Days, like Farm Day, Arkansas Day, and Halloween are designed to make learning fun and interactive. Unfortunately, they put the bulk of the work on the grownups, and all the students have to do is dress up and show up. There's not an official school schedule that tells you which theme days are coming or what you as a parent will be required to contribute. (A cake? Money? Blood?) You'll have to rely on other parents for this information, or just wait for the official announcement that comes a few days before the event. Depending on the event, that might not be enough time to prepare, so this year, I'm preparing in advance with the following items.
It's the start of a new school year, which means it's time to start thinking about school clothes. A lot of schools in our area allow students to wear street clothes, while others require uniforms. My daughter's school requires uniforms. While shopping at the only store in town that sells uniforms for my daughter's school, I noticed something curious: All the uniforms the store carried featured a colorful check or plaid pattern, whereas the uniform separates at the big-box stores were a solid color, mostly navy and khaki. What was the meaning of this?
Hal Hutchison, M.Ed.
Hal Wofford Hutchison, M.Ed., is a former columnist, writer and editor for the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette newspapers. She has also been a secondary educator, and a university counselor and administrator. She lives in Little Rock, Ark., with her husband of 23 years and their daughter.