Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a variety of local newspapers in Canada and the United States. Here's this week's:
I love children. At least, I love my own. But as much as I love kids, I really don’t understand them.
For example, why is it so important to know who farted? As soon as the odor becomes obvious, kids immediately start asking the “who did it” question. I’ve witnessed four-year-olds crawling around on their hands and knees smelling each others’ bottoms just to uncover the offending creature. I still fail to comprehend why this is worthy of such detective work. Wouldn’t people’s energies be better spent by opening a window?
I also don’t understand kids’ coordination issues. Why is it that children who can
balance on a gymnastics beam or skate on one leg can’t remain in a chair for an entire meal without falling out? I don’t fall out of chairs. Do you? And my kids have better balance than I do. Yet children are forever toppling off of furniture, especially when they are overcome by fits of laughter after somebody farted. Perhaps the two are interrelated, and the balance part of the brain is linked to the olfactory senses. Whatever the case, it would be lovely to enjoy a meal where everyone sat still occasionally.
Relating to the balancing issues, I’m also at a loss as to why preteens fall up stairs. I can understand falling down the stairs, but my daughter is forever landing on her behind as she moves along an upward trajectory in our home. Maybe this is common to this age group; my nephew, who is also thirteen, falls up the stairs quite frequently, too.
Perhaps it’s because children’s nerve endings don’t develop until the age of eighteen. If children did have nerves, wouldn’t they feel cold occasionally? Yet as soon as the snow melts little ones demand to turn on the sprinkler. I'll be shivering and my 10-year-old will want to wear shorts. On any given winter day, look outside a high school and you’ll see kids who are woefully unprepared for whatever the weather has to dish out. The oddest, to me, are the Catholic schoolgirls wearing their skirts hiked up way higher than regulation in the middle of January. Who wants bare legs when it’s -15 out? Yet fashion takes precedence.
And now that swimming pool weather is upon us, children also reveal their lack of nerve endings by assuring us that 68 degrees is plenty warm enough to frolic underwater. To add further indignity to this aberration of nature, they then insist that we should join them, as if the fun cannot be complete unless Mother’s lips are turning blue as well. I suppose I should be flattered by the attention, but I’d really rather read a book.
Not only do children not mind the cold; they also make the heat worse. Any time I’m feeling miserably hot and sweaty, it’s almost guaranteed there’s a child nearby who has decided that the best way to deal with the heat is to lean up against me. Don’t they realize this just makes them more hot and sweaty?
Perhaps this is also a male failing. When I’m hot and sweaty, I don’t want my husband touching me, either. But heat doesn’t deter him. Come to think of it, very little deters the male gender. My husband is also the one who will gladly jump in a pool when it’s 68 degrees. Actually, he also laughs at the kids when they fall out of chairs, and participates in the conversations about who farted.
Now that I think about it, that explains a lot. It is not that I don’t understand children. It’s that I don’t understand men, either. At some point a switch must go off in little girls’ brains to turn them into women who aren’t amused by farts, tumbles, or extreme fluctuations in temperature. Yet nobody else seems in possession of such a switch. So we mothers will forever be the party poopers in our families, while our husbands egg the children on. Maybe that’s just the way it was meant to be.
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Labels: columns, humour