Editors note: Due to several technological glitches involving my camera phone and a pack of evil Vegas midgets, there will be no weekend mix this weekend. I know, I know. I'm scum. All I can say is the last few days has been a vortex of living hell. While I recover, I'm again recycling an old column for you. For those of you who know me and have read this before, DEAL WITH IT. For those of you who haven't read this before, pretend I slaved all day to write it JUST FOR YOU. I promise to be fresh and funny tomorrow.
But just because you love your kids, and think they're special, don't expect others to.
For example, I think it's really cool my 12-year-old stepson can shoot Milk Duds out of his nose. That's a God-given talent that shouldn't be ignored. The boy is a prodigy, I say.
But I understand others may not share my view of flying Milk-Dud boogers. That's why I have instructed my stepson not to "share" his talent willy-nilly, like during weddings, at fancy restaurants or in front of company that wouldn't appreciate his special skill.
Other parents aren't so realistic. I know one proud father and mother who, whenever I went to their house, would have their daughter play her recorder for me. I don't care how good you are at playing a recorder, it still sounds like nails on a chalk board, or a flock of mangy cockatoos dying. And an 8-year-old girl who is trying to master "Farmer in the Dell" is not going to change that.
Some parents also think it's adorable when their children run around nice restaurants and put their sticky hands on other diners who are trying to eat their $18 swordfish in peace. And when little Billy's terrified screams drown out Vin Diesel gunning down an entire army of blood-thirsty renegades, other moviegoers do not oooh and ahhhh at the little darling.
Listen up, parents! None of these behaviors are cute or endearing. They are annoying. They make people think of getting their tubes tied. Or of coming over and slapping you for reproducing. If you can afford to take your entire family out to a nice restaurant or to the movies, you should also be able to afford a baby-sitter. It would save you and the rest of the people at the restaurant/theater a lot of anguish if you did.
I once threw a barbecue at my house, where a 5-year-old boy thought it great fun to stick his hands in the ranch dip and lick the dip off, reinserting his hands when he was done. His mother was right next to him at all times, and just giggled.
"They're so cute at this age, aren't they?" was all she had to say.
"No, they're not," I could only reply, as I told her to restrain her rug rat and took the remaining dip inside, where it made a hasty exit down the sink. Try as I might, though, I couldn't get mad at the kid, just his mother. After all, he didn't know any better. She should have.
The next time I threw a party, I decided to bypass any chance for a repeat of the above incident and made it clear the event would be adults only. A few parents got very angry at me, saying I was sending a message I didn't like their children.
That's not necessarily true (although I have to admit in a few cases it is). It's just there are places and events kids don't belong. We were serving cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, not beanie weenies and Kool-Aid, I tried to explain. We also didn't have a child-proof house, nor anything for them to do. And bored children usually means something is going to break.
What I didn't tell them was I also didn't want to be a baby-sitter. I had too many experiences where people insisted on bringing their kids, but refused to supervise them. That left me to keep little Johnnie from putting his fingers in light sockets or flushing one of our cats down the toilet. This is not my idea of a good time.
But some people refuse to go anywhere without their children, and are offended if you indicate you want to see them unencumbered by offspring. I, however, feel any parent who wants to keep a vocabulary that wanders outside the words "binky," "boo-boo" and "na-na," needs to explore "adult time" away from their kids. It makes children more independent, and parents more sane.
I know some people don't agree with me, and I guess I'll have to learn to live with that. I just hope they realize the next time their son or daughter puts gum in my hair, I'm sending my stepson over to their house with a box of Milk Duds.