Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 25
Mommy knows bestParenting isn't hard; it just takes practice
BY ROB KRIDER
Doctors aren’t dumb and here’s why: they slyly refer to their craft as “practicing medicine” and not “game day medicine.” Of course, I think most of us will agree that when the doctor is about to complete orthoscopic knee surgery, we are all looking for a determined and focused “game day” doctor. Nobody wants a lackadaisical “practicing” doctor. But since doctors still claim they’re “practicing medicine,” it isn’t their fault when they accidentally operate on your one good knee and leave the pus-filled bad knee untreated. “Sorry, just practicing on the healthy knee. Maybe later (after the lawsuit) we can operate on the other knee; the one you came here to actually receive treatment for. Please come again and sit in my waiting room for six hours while I surf the Internet.”
Even though I’d rather not have orthoscopic surgery on the wrong knee, I have to hand it to these doctors. They are on to something, something us parents should also get on board with.
Instead of “parenting,” I am now “practicing parenting.” As parents, we really don’t know what we’re doing. Most of us didn’t earn a degree from college in child development. We make this parenting stuff up as we go. When my kids popped out of my wife’s uterus, there was no how-to manual wrapped around the placenta. My wife and I were completely on our own when it came to figuring out how to parent these strange new beings that suddenly appeared in our lives. And if we ever got lucky, and sort of figured out how to parent the kids, those same little kids grew up to be different, older kids that required completely different kinds of parenting, thus we were again totally winging it.
Parents certainly don’t have the answers. When my 13-year-old daughter asked me, “Did you ever drink beer before you were 21?” I didn’t know what to say. So I did the next best thing a parent can do; I told my daughter, “Go ask your mother if she ever had any beer before she was 21.” My wife, whom I love, was completely caught off guard and said something really lame like, “Who wants ice cream?”
Obviously my wife and I don’t have a clue what we’re doing, so we’re embracing this whole “practicing parenting” thing. Lord knows my mom certainly practiced on me growing up. Here are two of her greatest misses as she practiced some of her parenting skills.
Motherly practicing moment No. 1: The mashed potato incident
When I was a kid I refused to eat my vegetables. So my mom used to hide vegetables, namely lima beans (yuck!), in my mashed potatoes. Back then I barely liked mashed potatoes either, so it didn’t take long for me to figure out that if I didn’t eat my potatoes I wouldn’t be surprised with a disgusting lima bean filling.
I went on a potato strike. I wouldn’t take a single bite of spuds. My mom told me, “You eat your potatoes!” I stoically refused. My mother, who didn’t take kindly to her 7-year-old son telling her no, said, “You eat your potatoes or you will wear them!”
Foolishly, I didn’t believe her. I was sitting at the kitchen table, happily being rebellious, and the next thing I knew my mother dumped an entire plate of mashed potatoes onto my head. Ironically the potatoes lacked the surprise veggie filling. Afterward, to add insult to injury, my mom threw me into the bathtub and scrubbed the mashed potatoes out of my hair. I remember sitting in that tub, having my mom rub my head raw, seeing mashed potato remnants floating in the water while I cried my eyes out. The end result of my mom’s parenting practice: now I love mashed potatoes. Heck, I love anything made out of a potato: skins, fries, twice-baked, chips, salad, soup—you name it, if it has potato in it, I’ll eat it. It beats wearing it, that’s for sure.
Motherly practicing moment No. 2: The Frisbee incident
Back in the day, when I was a kid sitting in the back seat on a long road trip, my brother and I didn’t have iPads or DVD players to entertain us. We had our imaginations (which lasted about 30 seconds) or whatever toy came out of the cereal box. One summer my family and I embarked on a very long drive from Northern California to Disneyland. The morning we left town I scored a green, four-inch Frisbee as a free prize in my cereal box. Unfortunately there was only one Frisbee stuffed in the box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which meant my brother and I would have to fight in the backseat over the Frisbee for eight hours straight as we drove down the long and monotonous Interstate 5.
My mom didn’t have the patience for our backseat bickering. Twice she told us to stop fighting, or maybe she told us 76 times, either way, she lost it. In her next act of “practicing parenting” she reached into the back seat, ripped my new favorite toy in the whole wide world right out of my hands, rolled down the window and sent that little green Frisbee on a perfect trajectory flight into the center divider of the vast freeway. “That fixes that; now the two of you have nothing to fight about!”
On our way to The Happiest Place on Earth she stole my new toy and then littered on the freeway. As far as crimes go in a kid’s mind, littering is almost as offensive as murder. My mom was a litterbug. For the rest of my life, anytime I drive down I-5, I look out the window and think, “My Frisbee is out there somewhere.”
They say “practice makes perfect” but I think the term should be “practice makes parents.” My mom, who raised me, did the best she could. She didn’t know any better. As my own kids challenge me every day and I practice parenting on them, it makes me realize that I should give my ol’ mom a pass for the felony Frisbee and the potato hat. I’m sure someday my kids will have their own stories about their dad. Hopefully they don’t become columnists.
Rob wishes his mother a very happy 60th birthday and wants her to know that he still LOVES potatoes, but he does cry uncontrollably when he sees small green Frisbees.
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