Rant and Rave

Raising Your Kid 101 - A Prerequisite to Pregnancy

A Rant and Rave by Raymond Magliozzi, Father


When my brother and I become Philosopher Kings, raising kids will be a topic we'll have to address right away.

Some 20 years ago, when my wife and I found out that she was pregnant, the medical profession insisted that we go to Lamaze birthing classes. Where you do what? You learn how to pant. Now, excuse me, but I think that any woman in the throes of childbirth would figure out how to pant. It takes eight, two-hour lessons to figure that out? C'mon! (Yeah, yeah, I know, millions of women out there are saying, "Oh yeah? You try it, wise guy!")

What they didn't teach us, however, was what what to do for the next 20 years after you got home with the baby.

Maybe, just maybe, we could improve our society tremendously if everyone who had the potential to be a parent was required to go to class to learn about child rearing. Prospective parents could learn some rather important things--like how not to whack their kid when he does something wrong, or the proper method of administering a dope slap.

Too many people screw up their kids--and you know what? The rest of us are the ones that suffer for it! Let me give you just one example. I was at the mall a couple of weeks ago, and observed a mother with her little one-and-a-half-year-old kid in a stroller. And what is she doing? She's screaming at the tyke, "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?" Now, this was definitely a toddler--a little, tiny kid with no conception of what Mom was trying to communicate. The poor little kid had no clue what's going on, and Mom had no clue that her kid wasn't understanding a damn thing she was shouting at him.

So, here she is: yelling at this kid because he's crying, and who knows why? He's probably got a rash on his ass the size of the state of Utah because she hasn't changed his diaper in 10 hours. I really wanted to go over and say, "Get a life, will you? This is a child, first of all. He can't understand a word you're saying, and you're scaring the friggin' daylights out of him. You may alter that kid's behavior for your own benefit. Out of fear, the kid may stop crying. So, that's great: you've satisfied yourself, and you've terrified the living hell out of your kid. Parents like that end up creating a monster--another Charles Manson. Furthermore, he's probably going to grow up to abuse his own kids. After all, kids tend to rear their children the way they were reared. (It also makes you wonder what's going on in the privacy of her own house, if she's this brazen in public with her verbal abuse.)

Somewhere, we need to break this cycle. We need to teach parents, "This is what to expect from a 1-year-old, this is what to expect from a 2-year-old," and so on.

Therefore, Tommy and I will implement the following requirements as soon as we become Philosopher Kings:

Child-Rearing Rule #1: If you want to have a kid, you're going to have to take a course.

Let me give you one more example from our own family, of some interesting changes in a kid's life about which parents should be aware. My son Andrew is a great, absolutely wonderful kid. Of course, he undergoes hormonal changes like every other kid does. One night, we were going out to dinner, and he said, "I'm not going with you." I said, "What are you talking about? Your mother and I discussed this with you an hour ago." He said, "I'm not going." I said, "Why not?" To which he answered, "I hate you."

I refused to leave. My wife, Monique, was outside waiting for us, but I really wanted to hear what was going on. And you know what he said? He said, "I don't know what it is, Dad, but right now I can't stand the sight of you. Just the thought of looking at your face and listening to your voice is enough to make me sick, and I know I wouldn't be able to eat."

So I asked him, "Well, do you love us?" He said, "I love you more than anything else in the world, but I just can't look at you right now. There's something about you and Mom that's making me sick to my stomach."

And Andrew convinced me. There was no motive; he didn't know what was going on, but we had to leave him alone. So, we left him at home, Monique and I went out to dinner, and when we got home everything was fine. Looking back on it, I remember times in my own life when I hated my parents. Everything they said was either stupid or ignorant, or they embarrassed the hell out of me.

It was all just a normal part of growing up. But a lot of parents wouldn't accept it as such, and would probably whack their kid into submission. A parenthood course would teach prospective parents to be ready for things like this, and not to freak out and go ballistic on your kid.

Now, speaking of courses, here's the other thing that's getting me torqued off when it comes to raising kids:

We teach everyone how to do algebra--can't we teach them how to be a decent mom or dad?! I mean, c'mon, it just goes to show you how messed up our society is: We make our educators teach our kids how to read, write and do arithmetic, all so they can be, what? Good workers. But, we spend little time teaching them to be good people. Schools should be much more interested in teaching students to be good people. It's all the more important these days, when there aren't enough parents paying attention to their kids.

Which, coincidentally, leads me into a nice segue for...

Child-Rearing Rule #B: Schools should spend their time teaching their kids to be good people and good citizens, not good arithmeticians! It's hardly that important, damn it!

I guess the message of this Rant and Rave is to love your children, and to learn how to do it correctly. Let's face it: raising kids is an awesome responsibility. I think if most people had to go to class before they went out and had a kid--a class in which they told you all the things you'd have to endure, such as sleepless nights, hours and hours of supervision, the college tuition--a lot of them simply wouldn't do it. Raising a kid can be downright terrifying. But if you're going to do it, you should be taught to do it right.

I rest my case.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to change from my briefs back into my boxers.

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