Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

November 18, 2002

Teach Your Children Well...

If I knew more of the words, I would write a book called, “The Classic Rocker’s Guide to Life.” I’m sure everyone would want it.

You can learn a lot from classic rock lyrics. For example, you should never stay at the Hotel California. Although you can check out any time you like, for some reason, you can never actually leave.

Another piece of useful classic rock wisdom comes from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tune, “Teach Your Children.”

It’s a good song, despite such awful phrasing as, “Feed them on your dreams, the one they picks, the one you’ll know by.”

Here we have a hummable reminder that, as parents, we are responsible for shaping our children’s minds, and we need to make sure they don't become drug-addled like the ones responsible for that nearly incomprehensible line.

I try to teach Lucy something new every day. Inadvertently, I taught her some new vocabulary a couple days ago. We were driving to the local hospital to participate in a test of Lucy’s developmental progress. One of my mom’s friends is getting her PhD, and she needed a two-year-old to practice on, so I volunteered.

As usual, we were running just a little bit late. And so, as usual, I was feeling a little bit frazzled when Lucy called out from the back seat.

“Mama, my BOTTOM hurts.”

It’s never a good sign when Lucy’s bottom hurts. It usually means that it’s been punished by a monstrous bowel movement. As I pondered what evil could possibly be causing her pain and contributing in stinky ways to our lateness, I quietly muttered a bad word.

Lucy has tiny bat ears that pick up everything, and she promptly used her outside voice to repeat what I’d said. “DAMMIT! DEAMMMMMIT!” she yelled, laughing like a maniac.

Later, during the exam, the psychologist asked if Lucy was good at repeating words and phrases she hears.

“Yes,” I said. Dammit.

I’m not the only one who has taught Lucy some rotten stuff. My sister Susan taught her a camp song called, “There’s A Skeeter on My Peter, Whack It Off,” sung to the tune of “She'll be comin' 'round the mountain.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the week we learned this, a neighborhood family invited us to a birthday party. Adam hadn’t met the parents yet, and as we walked up to the door, I reminded him, “The mom is Andrea and the dad is Peter.”

With that, Lucy started bellowing, “THERE’S A SKEETER ON MY PETER WHACK IT OFF, WHACK IT OFF!”

I can only hope the sound of me gasping in horror muted the sound somewhat. My hopes of that are low; we haven’t heard from the family since.

I have tried to teach Lucy some good things. But it’s a lot harder than it looks. For example, Lucy often says, “Hold you, HOLD YOU,” when she wants me to pick her up.

“Lucy,” I explain, “When you want me to hold you, say hold me. If you’re talking about me, you say you. But if you’re talking about you, then say me. Get it?”

Time is also very difficult. I’m starting on the big concepts, like today, tomorrow and yesterday.

“Lucy,” I say. “Yesterday used to be today. Tomorrow, today will be yesterday.”

She just looks at me quietly. In all likelihood, she’s thinking, “That doesn’t make any sense, dammit.”

I can’t blame her. But the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song does make me feel better about all of this. “Just look at them and cry,” the song says. “And know they love you.”

Lucy has learned to love. She loves the cats. She loves the dog. She even loves chocolate soy milk. Every so often, I am reminded that, despite my many faults, Lucy even loves me.

Love you, Mama. And I can just tell, when she says it, that you means me. So maybe I’m teaching her something after all.


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