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Please Don't Eat the Daisies - and other Adventures in Parenting

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Many years ago I read a wonderful memior book by Jean Kerr (another Erma Bombeck), titled "Please Don't Eat the Daisies". It was later made into an equally hysterical movie starring Doris Day.  Kerr (and Day) is flabbergasted to realize her young son needs every rule spelled out, including - don't eat the centerpiece. I loved the book (and movie) and laughed at the concrete lunacy of her son. 

Then, years later, I had a son of my own. Now it all makes sense. And it's less funny ha-ha and more, "I need to sit down and have a stiff drink - now!" I began blogging when he was about five. Because others needed to know when he took off running in a crowded mall - at Thanksgiving. Or when he drew signs on Grandma's perfect closet doors. I knew five-year old boys do these things - and I simply needed to survive until he aged a few more years. 

So now he's ten. And I'm beginning to understand why so many mothers laughed at my preceding statement. He doesn't run away anymore, write on wooden surfaces, or even throw a hissy fit when asked to do some actual work. He seems like an intelligent, helpful boy with a love of Star Wars and video games. 

Except that he's trying to kill me.

For example, we finally gave in and gave him a teeny, tiny pocket knife. Doll-sized, almost. He was given strict guidelines: no destroying property, never point at a person, don't stick it into an electrical outlet and so on. 

He didn't. 

What he DID do: cut a neighborhood boy's hair with the teeny, tiny pocket knife. Kid had to be shaved so he wouldn't look like a dog chewed on his head. The rules now include: don't cut hair - yours or anyone else's. 

I've always been overprotective with my kids, never let them out of sight, etc. But now we live in a small private community - and we know almost everyone. They all have the freedom to roam - and I'm pretty sure I've made them all aware that they don't go onto private property without my knowledge. 

But maybe I forgot to tell the boy - or maybe he's just brain-damaged. Hard to tell, really.  Because last week I sent him to the beach to get some exercise before he zoned out with another video game. When he returned he informed me that it was cold out there - but someone had invited him inside to get warm. 

Me: (my eyebrows knitting together tightly) Who invited you? 

Son: (shrugging) I don't know.

Me: (my voice several octaves above normal) What do you mean "You don't know"????

Son: (shrugs, bored with the conversation)

Me: (squeaking) Do I know them??????

Son: I dunno. They live where Bud used to. (Bud's family moved and recently rented out their house)

Me: (trying to pick my jaw up off of the floor to continue speaking) You went into a complete stranger's house??????? Are you funny in the head???? (all rhetorical questions, obviously)

Turns out no one in our house had met the new people - who have no children. So a complete stranger invited my chilled son inside to get warm. Um.....I'm a middle aged woman with school age kids - and I would never invite a strange child inside. Heck, if the kid needed medical attention I might even keep them outside while I call 911. So...I'm a little shocked that someone invited him inside - and I'm totally slack-jawed with horror that he ACTUALLY WENT! He wasn't hurt, so apparently the neighbor was just trying to help out - but still....

So NOW when he leaves the house we chat about pocket knives, staying away from the water and NOT to get close to complete strangers! Even if they offer candy, warmth or video games. I can't wait to discover what other tidbits of knowledge are missing from his sweet little head. 

This will all get better by the time he's 15 or so, right????? [STOP LAUGHING!]

Don't tell my son about this article - he thinks I'm over-reacting!



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