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Post-Traumatic Parent Syndrome

By Ray Lesser

I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the baby crying. My beautiful dream of floating on a yacht in the French Riviera fades out as the wailing becomes louder and louder, like an incoming emergency vehicle. Continue reading

Book Retorts

Book Retorts by Eric Per1in

Cartoon of the Week for October 19, 2011

Funny mother horacek science  cartoon, October 19, 2011

10/19/2011

Cartoon of the Week for July 28, 2010

Funny life parents Glasbergen  cartoon, July 28, 2010

07/28/2010

Cartoon of the Week for July 22, 2009

Funny kids parent child  cartoon, July 22, 2009

07/22/2009

The Parent Gene

By Ray Lesser

Somehow or other I inherited the parent gene. I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but I know it was there lurking in my DNA, ready to be activated as soon as I had a kid to yell at.

The parent gene insures the survival, and eventual improvement of the species. When you see your kid is tottering on the edge of a precipice, you are always on the alert to grab him and pull him back; whether the precipice is the edge of the Grand Canyon or the edge of the coffee table, where he’s about to knock over Daddy’s beer.

When I was young and my father was in full-parent mode, ranting at me because of some minor rules infraction like forgetting to turn out a light, or wipe the mud off my shoes, I vowed I would never act like him if I had children. But after following muddy footprints from vacant room to vacant room while turning off switches (the current record is 28 unused lights/stereos/TVs/ computers in one sweep), my perspective has changed. “I’m not going to tell you again! If you don’t start turning off your lights when you’re not in your room, I’m going to take away your lightbulbs!”

It’s scary to say things like this, because there’s a whole section of my brain that knows these arguments and rants by heart. My dad is suddenly reincarnated and yelling out of my mouth, and I find myself agreeing with everything he says. “I don’t care who started it, keep it up and I’ll finish you both!” Dad yells. “What are you, an ape? What do you think this place is, a zoo?” “Quit bellyaching! Life is not a fairytale where you live happily ever after. Life is full of hardship, and trouble, and suffering, until you turn 65 and your children finally leave home.”

Being a father is an impossible task, which you only begin to understand when you become one. I realize I sometimes send my kids mixed signals, but that’s OK because my primary job is to stay on their case, no matter what they’re doing, or not doing. So if they’re vegging out in front of the TV, of course I’m going to say, “Turn that off and finish your homework.” Then later, when they’re up late writing a term paper on how to save the world from global warming, I have to say, “You’ll never be successful in life if you don’t get enough rest. Turn off the computer and go to bed now.”

Another primary parenting function is to help my spouse survive. She is my rock, my inspiration, and the only one who knows how to get Ravi to take a bath. I’ve therefore worked out three basic rules for the children on how they should treat their mother:

1. Leave her alone, she’s trying to do something important, like make me dinner.

2. Leave her alone, she’s not in a good mood.

3. Leave her alone, she’s in a good mood and I want her to stay that way.

The most surprising thing about becoming a father is discovering how much of your time it takes. When I was younger, I thought being a father was more or less a biological circumstance, and men could take kids or leave them, depending on how rude or inconvenient they became. But now my whole day revolves around my children. Partly this is because, no matter what I’m doing, they feel free to interrupt with important questions that only I can answer like, “Why do dogs pee on fire hydrants?” “Can I invite a friend over?” “Can we get a dog?” “Where does electricity come from?” “My feet hurt, when are you going to take me to buy new shoes?” “Dad, do you know what happens when you pour gasoline mixed with turpentine into the lawnmower? Come out to the garage and I’ll show you!” “You promised we’d go see Scooby Doo, and this is the last week it’s playing!” “Why did Grandma and Grandpa decide to have you?”

I’m not sure what Mom’s reasons were, but she always says that Dad wanted to have another kid so that he’d have someone to go bowling with. After 17 years of parenting I’m beginning to realize that this is as good a reason as any for procreating. Having a kid means you get to play ball, ride bikes, go to the playground, build forts, eat cake and ice cream, make fart noises, watch cartoons, blow bubbles, tell silly jokes, and always have somebody to share it all with. I loved being a kid the first time around, and my second, third and fourth childhood have only gotten better. The world is as goofy and fun as it ever was, but now my favorite playmates sleep over every night, plus I’ve got my own credit card.

“Who wants to go with me to the toy store?”

Cartoon of the Week for June 25, 2003

Funny brad veley family  cartoon, June 25, 2003

06/25/2003

Cartoon of the Week for January 10, 2002

Funny mother mom parent  cartoon, January 10, 2002

01/10/2002

Parenting, Then and Now

By Ray Lesser

Family life was simpler in the 50s and early 60s when we baby-boomers were beginning to overrun the living rooms of America. The manic postwar consumer culture was only in it’s early stages, and we were used to having far fewer choices about everything from what clothes to wear (white shirt or blue shirt), to what games to play (Cops&Robbers or War). But when it came to doing what our parents told us we had no choices at all.

When our parents said, “Do your chores,” we would stop whatever we were in the middle of and go rake leaves, chop wood, cook dinner, paint the atomic bomb shelter, or do anything else we might potentially be held accountable for. The threat of barbaric punishments involving wooden paddles, leather belts and castor oil always hung over our existence, along with our mothers’ constant reminders that “There are children starving in China!” This phrase wasn’t just invoked if you failed to clean your plate, it was used as an all-purpose final say. “Mom, can I wait till tomorrow to mow the lawn. It’s starting to rain.” “What do you mean, rain? Don’t you know there are children starving in China!”

But now that we’re parents, we find ourselves groveling and begging our children to perform even the simplest requests. “Please, honey, I know you have a page of homework, and there’s a really good TV show on, and we just bought you that new Playstation game, but you promised three days ago you would pick up the 3000 baseball cards in your room so I could come in and vacuum your floor.”

We are a generation who promised we would never be like our parents. And, boy were we right:

Then: If we did our chores our parents would say nothing. Or perhaps they would acknowledge our accomplishment with an enthusiastic, “It’s about time!”

Now: When our children finish their chores we say, “This is the best job you’ve ever done of putting away your laundry! Let’s celebrate by going out for pizza. Sure, you can invite your friends to come, too, but no more than six will fit in the van, OK?”

Then: If we asked our parents for ice-cream they’d say, “What do you think, I’m made of money!”

Now: Our children know we’re made of money. They’ve seen the Gold Card. When they ask for ice-cream and we say, “I just bought your three favorites and put them in the freezer: chocolate chip, cappuccino crunch, and pistachio.” They reply, “But, Dad, we don’t have any macadamia nut white chocolate swirl. I want to go out to Ben and Jerry’s.” So we say, “Well, can you wait just a few minutes until I’m done gluing together your science project that’s due tomorrow?” They proceed to argue with us until we just hand over a $20 and hope that they bring back some change.

Then: Our parents said, “Do your homework.”

Now: We say, “Have you found a place on your Palm Pilot schedule for homework after piano lessons and before your internet chat meeting with your ski club? Do you need me to help you with your homework? Or I could ask Dr. Wilder to help you, he’s a professor of botany, he might know the answer. If there’s any supplies you need, I could take you to the 24 hr. store. I know you’re mentally exhausted, dear, would you like some cookies first?”

Then: If we needed money our parents would say, “Why don’t you set up a lemonade stand or mow the neighbor’s lawn.” We got paid for mowing other people’s lawns, not for mowing our own lawn.

Now: Our pediatrician offered our kid money to do drug testing of a Pertussis vaccine. Uncle Mark offered one of them $5 a week to stay away from his car. If my son is really broke, he’ll steal his siblings toys and sell them on E-bay. And if he wants to make a large purchase he can always tap into his mutual fund, “Lemonade Stand Aggressive Growth.”

Then: Our parents would say, “Go to bed.”

Now: We say, “Honey it’s way past 10 o’clock on a school night and Daddy has a big meeting tomorrow and he needs to go to bed, so could you please go into your room and promise to turn off your TV right after South Park?”

Then: “Get off the phone! Don’t you know it costs money!”

Now: “Of course we’ll get you your own cell-phone, but you have to promise to take it with you wherever you go in case we need to get a hold of you. Like if I’m at the grocery and I can’t remember whether it’s Coco-Puffs or Reese’s Puffs that you like I can call to ask. Maybe you’d like two phones, that way they can match your different outfits. Would you like them with text messaging and MP3 players, or with web-access built in?”

Then: “Because I said so!”

Now: “Look, I’ve read quite a few books on this subject. In fact I took a couple of courses on it in college. And I’ve talked to several people who are experts in this field, although, naturally, they don’t all agree. But the majority of them agree, and so does the rabbi. And I checked with a priest too, just to be on the safe side, as well as a doctor, and a lawyer. I’m trying to be as fair as I can about this, really. So based on all my research and inquiry, I believe that I’m going to ask you not to do that. Although I’m perfectly willing to have further discussions with you about it, if you think I’m not being fair.”

Cartoon of the Week for July 17, 1996

Funny love kids bannerman  cartoon, July 17, 1996

07/17/1996