It’s a Mystery

Sometime in the middle of that loud argument — and you don’t have to tell me I was loud too — in the Two by Two post, it occurred to me what part of the problem is.

When I was a kid and in a fit of pique about how my 6 years younger (Hi, Valter! (Hey, look, he’s the only other one in the family who was trained in translation and I don’t think so, but he might come by)) cousin was being raised. I started giving my aunt instructions (!) on how to train him and make him better, and she said, “You know what honey? I know you know everything about child rearing. You should enjoy it now, because the minute you give birth, all that knowledge goes away.”

Yes, I knew she was being sarcastic, and I resented it like heck. (I was fourteen, I think.) But now? Oh, dear, she was right. (Ironically what I was yelling at her about was that my cousin refused to eat fruit and vegetables, which my parents — and me — were sure was because they didn’t make him do it. Meanwhile the kid said the texture made him throw up. Um… younger son outgrew it (I don’t know if cousin did) but it was actually a physical thing. He had extreme sensory issues when he was a kid, and in retrospect, so did my cousin. Younger son spent two years eating eggs. Just eggs. It wasn’t for lack of our trying.)

Parenthood is one of those dividing lines behind which everything changes. A singularity you could call it. Oh, you don’t change. Not more than you do with any other experience, like getting married or getting a job. But your understanding of the world and humans changes.

And it occurs to me part of that argument and part of the bloody stupid we see from our government is because these days parenthood is no longer a universal experience. (And it’s rarer on one side of the divide.)

Why should you listen, if you don’t have children and are past the age or interest in having them?

Well, because it really will change your view of reality, of political systems, and of humans in general.

I am very sorry that Leslie Fish, whose songs I like very much, and whose stories I’ve read sometimes with pleasure, and I hit each other’s soap-box spots HARD. It’s not all based on my having children, I think (though it’s impossible to tell, because well, the knowledge changes you) but also on my knowing a ton more about biology (As I’ve said before, Darkship Thieves is hard science on the biology, the rest is rule of cool) having biologists as friends, and having read my son’s books as he went through a BS in human biology and — Okay, I didn’t read his books in med school because he hid them, afraid I’d wander off with them. But I talked to him a lot at that time, as we used to walk miles a day together (in my case to lose weight.) –and therefore knowing a lot of what she was saying was impossible on the biological level.

Beyond which, of course, she comes from a certain time and place (we’re all time travelers) and what she was taught was what she was taught, and she’s never been given any reason to doubt it. (I can also go into IN ANOTHER POST on why the inherent disappointment and rage of the Feminist and Anti-Racist movements, and why they had to invent “systemic” racism and sexism to explain the results. And no, it does not mean — which some people who claim they’re on the right (pfui) think it does — that women or people who tan are inherently inferior. It just means we’re human, not super-beings.) So she came from a place of anger at what she views as millennium-old injustices, while I sat there going “Biology doesn’t work like that. Humans don’t work like that. And children definitely don’t work like that.”

Then I remembered my kids hitting public schools head first and the years the older spent living on salads because every teacher told him he was too fat (he’s always had weight issues, mostly because I had pre-eclampsia while pregnant, but also, I’ve come to suspect, because the school restrained his movement. He was massive but not fat at home, when he could run around till he outran the ADD, then sit and read. We used to joke that sometimes we saw him as he was running a circuit around the house.) Or younger son got notes sent home that he was fat, when in fact you could count every one of his ribs until he was about 20. (He is overweight now, because he is all mine and eats his stress, and the last two years… well.) He was however very tall and…. well, both boys have a massive skeleton and are built on a large scale, something they probably get from sub-Saharan Africa and North Eastern Amerinds. As children both of them looked much bigger than their dainty North European friends, even while they were thin. But the schools… Well, let’s say that I’ve never heard anyone since the seventies tell any child to “eat hearty”. It’s all “Don’t eat so much, you’ll be fat.” To both boys and girls, and it will include things like denying meat to the boys, because “they’ll get big.” Then they wonder why sperm counts are falling.

Anyway, if it’s not obvious remembering this was not happy making. As wasn’t the memory of watching my boys excel and never be recognized, because girls must always have all the honors “to encourage them and level past injustice.” Or the horrific year younger son was bullied by a group of eighteen girls, and the school believed the girls, because “girls don’t bully.”

So, I was arguing from a place which was also less than calm. All of this is a big bolus and will have to be taken one at a time, because the “secret knowledge of parents” (snort giggle) is one part of it. The “We’re all time travelers, and the time in our heads is fifty to seventy years older than us”. And the other is “The war on boys” which is a result of people who aren’t parents (or whose ideology is stronger than their parenting) looking at the world in the light of what they learned seventy years ago, and which was old even then, and then trying to “fix” it. It has to be in multiple parts, because it’s overwhelming.

So, parents….

Husband and I — and I don’t think that’s unusual here — both felt like we were the cuckoo child in the normal bird nest, minus pushing siblings out. And it wasn’t that either of us came from nothing, but that the parent or parents who transmitted Oddness to us had suppressed theirs and thought it would be best to suppress ours.

In my case it was both parents, and dad suppressed his more thoroughly. It only came out in bizarre bits, like the fact he creates epic poetry at the drop of a hat; has read almost everything he can get his hands on; and knows history and remembers it more than anyone else I ever met. You get a sense he goes inside his head to be odd. But on the outside, you’d think he was a very regimented, never a thought out of place man.

Mom is wildly creative and probably the smartest person I know. But it’s all tied together with her growing up in a time and place (it’s always the places, you know? Pockets) where being female and smart was seriously discouraged. It took me till about ten years ago to understand some of the crazier things she did, like throwing ALL my books out the window into a farmer’s field were from a place of fear for me. The same with trying to moderate my vocabulary and get me to clean house more. (Well, guys, I wasn’t pretty. Well, I was as a matter of fact, but not compared to mom when she was young, and who was one of those rare and overwhelming beauties people see once and remember forever. So, in her head I wasn’t pretty. And I had too big a vocabulary. So the only way to convince a guy to marry me (“I pity the man who marries you.”) was if I was “a good housewife.” (It didn’t take.)) Mom was terrified of what the world would do to me as a smart, unmarried woman.

This was mental on many levels, because both she and my paternal grandmother and most of the women I knew had their own businesses and earnings that rivaled men. But she was coming from the past, from what she’d heard at her grandmother’s knee.

In husband’s case, my Father in Law was an Odd, but if his mom was she had buried it beneath everything. And she was a warrior for conventionality. She not only wanted you to keep up with the Joneses, but also down with the Joneses. You were supposed to submerge yourself completely into what your peers were doing. Except she was a feminist and “little boys are monsters.” So….

So, both of us resented having spent the time …. until we married (and still gluing each other together at times) being shoved, kicked and pulled into molds we did not in any way shape or form fit.

Of course, this meant we decided when we had kids we would force them into our mold.

It’s a good thing we were startlingly bad at it.

We were going to read to our kids every day, but when we had older son, Dan was unemployed and I was desperately ill for about a year and a half. And we moved three times in his first year. So… we read to him sometimes. I swear he spent most of his time till two following us around, book in hand, begging to be read to. And then when he was three and a half I found he not only could read, but had been tearing a path through our books. All our books. Including my research books on Rome.

And younger son? We read to him less, because by that time I was selling short stories, and the money actually helped and… He was a very — VERY — quiet child, and tended to play at my feet with his legos, while I worked. I didn’t realize he could read (and I worried a lot about it) until I found that all my mysteries were out of order, and when I started yelling at older son (like most self-taught readers they couldn’t alphabetize until much older) and there was a snickering from younger son’s room.

Ah, but at least I influenced what they read, right?

Ah! You’d think, wouldn’t you?

I had some influence. But not on purpose. While I was researching for the Shakespeare series, I spent my days, while doing anything, listening to Shakespearean plays (for the language rhythm. I still do this when I want a “feel” for a book. It’s the most assured way to get it.) So, by the time Marshall was four and Robert eight, we had a family game called “Give a Shakespeare quotation and the other people tell you play and scene.” This was not on purpose. We did it in the car, in lieu of counting red cars or whatever.

Also while they both read, their tastes aren’t exactly congruent with mine. Older son is a mostly fantasy reader (his generation, you know?) And younger son likes hard sf, mysteries, comics, and… well, a lot of history. A LOT.

And that’s the easy part, frankly. “Imparting your tastes to your kids” is easy. They see you enjoying something, and they want to try. (I should have gone for runs more and faked enjoyment. No, I lie, I did enjoy running a great deal at one time.)

Imparting personality traits, OTOH, might be impossible. Much less paths in life. When the inevitable 70 something (now) woman at an SF con tells me she would have been a brilliant physicist if her third grade teacher hadn’t told her math was for boys, I smile and nod, because only a fool or a sadist tells the unvarnished truth in social situations.

In “who you’ll be” nurture runs headlong into nature. And while you guys might say “so my kids will be like me” the biologists in the audience can tell you “Yeah, mostly, but sometimes not in crucial ways.” Because you get a lot of character traits from other generations. Genes are a huge pack of cards, and weird stuff surfaces. As far as we know, younger son is actually my father’s clone, even more than mine. (And even more than I am my father’s.) This influences everything including the inexplicable: his taste in women.

Older son… who knows?

But they are both very much themselves. You — and we — can’t look at them and go “They’re this way because they–“

We probably — probably? — gifted them the massive vocabulary, because we both love words. We probably have something to do with older son being very non-aggressive, because he was so tall and strong when he entered kindergarten we put the fear of us into him in respect to hitting other kids. I lived in fear he’d kill a kid by accident.

We probably have something to do with younger son not being a drug addict. What? Well, you see, both of us, and most of our families have wildly addictive personalities. We just do. I was lucky to get addicted to books early. The downside is, I don’t clean or even exercise unless I have an audio book clamped on my ears. Dan… it’s mostly math, really, but he goes through obsessions, at the moment with computer golf (cries. It’s lasted a year, and I can’t get him off it, and it’s eating his life when he’s not working.)

And we both have, in our ancestry, a lot of alcoholics and smokers. (And in his case prohibitionists, which probably was because of alcoholics.)

So we gave Marshall the opportunity to become addicted to non body endangering things like games, comics, books. (And sometimes had to pull him out of deep addiction to a game by the scruff of the neck.)

But apparently the most influential thing we did — and I never did it, not as he remembers it — was telling him to question everything. This is what — without talking much to us. He just doesn’t talk much — turned him into someone who agrees with us on politics and largely religion.

So…. how, if I never said it? Well, the bumperstickers “Question Authority” were all over the bumpers of his teachers, when he was in elementary. Also, I hate driving. These two things are important. Parking lots of schools at kid-picking-up-hour are as chaotic as the universe seconds after the big bang. There are a million women in there, none of them minding the rules (most women don’t. Rules are for the other people) and each of them hopped up on progesterone and guilt of having let the darlings out of her sight and used the public school as a babysitting service.

Now throw an incredibly nervous writer who hates driving, and two mouthy kids into that mix and….

Younger son, in kindergarten, and just learning to read “Question Au-tho-ri-ty” (Yes, I knew he read. I just didn’t know he read well enough to enjoy books till he was 8.)

Sarah, terrified, angry, and just wanting to get home to write, “Yeah, isn’t it funny that they put that on their bumpers but they get furious if you question THEIR authority? If you’re going to question, question everything. Put everything to the test.”

And there you have it. The moment that formed my son. Said out of irritability and sweat and wanting to go home and finish writing a fantasy novel.

Now, part of it, of course, is it fell in fertile ground. He was already a devious and suspicious little bastage, so this clicked with him. I have nothing against the results, but did I expect it, or carefully plan it? Oh, dear. No.

What the Bard said in comments yesterday is right. Kids are black boxes. You put in x and you get back y or p or porcupine or avocado jelly. And you never know what you’re going to get.

Daily life is complicated. You can’t control every interaction the kid has, even when you’re his whole world (which we were inadvertently for older son, in a house with no TV and moving around so much he had no friends.) There are things you’ll do and things you’ll say when you burn yourself in the kitchen. (My sons both have a fluent command of Portuguese swearing.) There are conversations about a friend’s kid that they got all wrong, extracted a conclusion from, and ran with it. There are books they read, and extrapolate wrongly from. (This is normal, because kids have limited experience to extrapolate from.) And. And. And.

I was talking to friends about Hunter Biden and I said “Something horrible must have been done to that man” and they pointed out there are wonderful families that throw out a Hunter. Which I should have realized, because well, yes, this is true. And because I know families where all the kids were raised alike, and one, inexplicably went down that path. (Which is why I found the “Trump raised good kids, he’ll be a good president singularly unpersuasive. Though in the Bidens case… well. There’s a lot of not-right there.)

Even in the most regimented of institutions — say an orphanage in Portugal in the mid thirties — some kids will turn out wildly successful, and some will land in the gutter. (My mom dated the product of such a place, before dad. He went on to be Mayor of Porto and wildly wealthy. Need I say the other kids aren’t all like that?)

Kids are not only tabula rasa. Kids are by and large incomprehensible. You don’t know what will influence them. You don’t know what they’ll want to do.

The only thing I can say is that if you raise them the Jordan Peterson way — don’t let your kids become someone you hate — by curbing their most obnoxious habits and never letting them bully you, you have a good chance of ending up as we did: with adults we don’t fully understand (as you don’t fully understand anyone else) but whom we’re glad are here and happy to call our friends. (That wasn’t our goal. We wanted them to be functional adults, and this implied setting boundaries NOT being their best friend. In fact, being your kids “best friend” i.e. making yourself their peer is the most guaranteed to have bad results. Not always, because kids aren’t predictable, but the most likely.)

And this is good, because the thing that most surprised me in the whole parenthood thing is that you can’t help loving the little SOBs (I know their mother, okay?) It is really, as a facebook friend posted “like having a piece of your heart running around in someone else’s body forever.” Even when they’re big, hairy and very much adult.

And it’s much easier to love them if you also like them, and they’re people you enjoy hanging out with. Not that you have much choice on that love thing.

Oh, and it’s all worth it. For all the frustration, and the fact you can’t control them, you’d never not-do-it if you had the chance to go back.

I suspect this is partly because they’re not tabula rasa. You can’t fully predict who they’ll be. Every day a challenge. And every day a delight, as one of them will do something you can’t do, or never thought of doing.

You acquire tastes from your kids. Older son convinced me to like elephants (without trying.) Younger son has infected me with memes and the lingo of his generation, and made my interest in space exploration a million times stronger.

What they aren’t is little widgets. You can’t plan to dress them all alike, treat them all alike, and voila, in the end they’ll be all alike. (Imagine my mom’s old boyfriend was the pattern. Could Porto have that many mayors at once?)

What you can do, and we did, is let them explore their interests (we bought so many art materials and took so many trips, and signed younger son to a Greek course online, because he wanted to learn Greek, and–)

Discourage the things that will hurt you or them (this requires paying a lot of attention.) Like, you know, drug addiction.

And then let things run their course and pray for the best. (I pray a lot more than I did when I was not a parent.)

But input–> predictable output is null program with kids.

My dad is mad on sports, but he not only never convinced me to practice (two left hands, two left feet, and the two don’t talk to each other) he never convinced me to watch (ADD, no patience. It has to have a narrative, and even then–) My mom actually put me in seamstress training for a summer at 12, and from things that I learned recently, I suspect if I’d taken to it, she’d have taken me out of school and just put me in the training program. I MIGHT have taken a summer to hem a skirt. Which got me classed as irremediably lazy. (I wasn’t. I was plotting novels in my head, and then I wrote over night, which also explains why I was half asleep all day.) Turns out I enjoy sewing and making things. But it was never going to be my main love. (Kind of like younger son feels about writing. He’s admitted he wants to do it, and is doing it a bit, but it will always be a hobby, as it is for husband.)

They’re not yours to shape and mold. They’re yours to guide and help. It’s kind of like getting a mysterious seed in the mail and planting it. It might be a normal plant, it might be an exotic and fragile orchid, or it might be a Venus Flytrap. And you won’t know till they start showing it. (And your job is to make them the best Venus Flytrap ever!)

What this did to me as a human being was make me doubt forever all planned economies, and any system that relies on “we’ll convince people to–” or “We’ll train people to.–“

That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of it works. If parents can’t fully control who their kids become, how are you going to control that many adult strangers?

All totalitarian regimes are failures. Some of them just persuaded us to keep them alive by making us think they could destroy us. And no totalitarian regime knows what’s actually happening in the country. They think they do, because they control information. Outsiders think they do for the same reason, but it’s all a lie.

The difference between these countries and America is that America doesn’t even pretend. We — bless us one and all — glory in being ungovernable.

Humans are black boxes. And no matter how much you pound the 2+2 keys, you’re very likely to get back kumquat.

And ain’t it glorious?

173 thoughts on “It’s a Mystery

    1. say I’d used turtledove. Not nearly as funny.
      Now replace “It was spring and the voice of the kumquat was heard in the land.” Never mind if the kumquat is a fruit. even it weren’t that inherently hilarious.

  1. F. Paul Wilson had a short story (IIRC it was “The Man with the Anteater”) about a Future Earth’s government program.

    The program took intelligent youngsters who it was believed (with good reasons) would be very good in certain fields.

    “Strangely” many of the products of the program, while good in the fields the government chose for them, found that they enjoyed other activities than what the government wanted them to like. 😉

    1. Just because one is very good at something, it does not necessarily follow that one enjoys that something. But it’s very difficult to get people to see that. “But… you so good at it! I wish I was that good!”

      1. Nod, IIRC that was part of the story line.

        These young people were surrounded by adults who tell them “You’re Good At This, So You Really Really Like Doing This”.

        The program fell apart after the young people met a visitor that by example and actual words told them “Just because you good at this doesn’t mean that you MUST enjoy this”.

          1. This program didn’t fail because of that idiocy.

            The children were able to learn their government-chosen careers, were good at those careers but in spite of being “taught” that they must love those careers weren’t really happy.

            Since they were “brain-washed” into thinking that they should be “happy”, they couldn’t admit that they weren’t happy to themselves or others.

      2. “You love school! You always get A’s!”

        My poor mother. I hope she never realized exactly how hard that hit, or how vividly I recall it, all these years later.

        I like learning things. I loathed school.

          1. I was only passable at arithmetic. (bored, and prone to get distracted and dawdle). Algebra and geometry were easy, too easy, and I coasted through them, until I hit calculus, and my dislike of homework came around and bit me in…well.

            1. I can relate. It isn’t that I didn’t do my homework, or study, between ’74 and ’79. I worked dang hard for those less than fantastic grades. But when it came to the tests, the knowledge just flew out the window. I guaranty that if I came out of a test feeling good about it, and others came out saying “wow, that was harder that I thought it would be”, I was *tanking the test. Worse if I thought the test was hard. OTOH two saving graces occurred once “We’re going to straight curves, now that the C and D students are gone.” Suddenly I started pulling the B’s and some A’s. The problem is on the bell curve, freshman and sophomore year (18 & 19), I was in the middle, which if that was 90, it was a C.

              /* To the point I still do. Even after Ace-ing (mostly) through the two computer degrees. It left scars. The last time this happened was ’89, last computer science test. Open book test. Only had to look up one “I know where the answer is, just on the tip …”. Walked out after the test. The three top students in our graduating class walked out saying “Wow. Harder than I expected.” I knew I had Aced it. My heart just sank. FYI. I did Ace it. But dang it.

        1. Young me: “But you love cleaning.”

          Mom: “And how exactly do you figure that?”

          Young me: “Well, you’re always doing it?”

          I was strongly advised that that is not how any of that works.

          1. Since you’re still around to describe it, I guess we can assume that Mom was rather tolerant. 🙂

        2. Me, too. As with most of my family. We’re introverts and loners, and the group-think and enforced social interactions drive us mad.
          BTW, Sarah – I love that insight – ” If parents can’t fully control who their kids become, how are you going to control that many adult strangers?”
          That needs to be on a bumper sticker or poster.

    2. I’ve always been very good at book work, accounting. It comes easy. So easy, that I forget it, pick it back up, then forget it, again. Working in accounting, OTOH, would have driven me absolutely bonkers. But programming a system that deals with accounting worked. “What do you need it to do?” Was doable. “This is why you are getting the result you are. It is not wrong. Why do you think it is?”

  2. Which is why I found the “Trump raised good kids, he’ll be a good president” singularly unpersuasive …

    Agreed that that’s not a very strong argument: many good parents end up with a kid (or more than one) who decides to make bad choices, while many lousy parents end up with really good kids despite everything they did as parents that should (in theory) have messed up the kid’s sense of moral direction, etc.

    However, it’s not total nonsense, since good parents are more likely to raise good kids than bad parents. What’s far more nonsense is the idea that the traits of a good parent would translate to the traits of a good president. I think I’m doing okay as a father so far (not perfect by any means, but okay), but none of those traits would translate well to doing a decent job in the Oval Office. It’s not like you can just send senators to their rooms for a timeout when they’re being bad, after all. (If you could, the Senate floor would be a lot emptier most of the time…)

    1. I found the combined arguments of raising good kids, knew business, had failed in business, and a lot of other list items, not limited to who hated him, to be persuasive that he might be a good president. Only question was, for who. As it turned out, what is good for America, first and foremost. Which is what the holder of the Oval Office should be. This “what is good for the world”, is bull. What is good for America, is good for the world, that is my stance, I’m sticking with it.

    2. From the little attention I paid to it, I concluded that he had, inexplicably, excellent judgement in picking marital partners – and horribly poor judgement in picking one night stands. The first is important to a POTUS, the second is bearable. (Now, his spotty judgement in picking subordinates is a different matter. The main problem I have with him, in fact.)

      1. His chronic inability to pick good subordinates was a bit of a surprise. You would think a man with heavy construction experience would know how to delegate…and to whom.

        1. Honestly, I think he ran into the government bureaucracy hiring buzzsaw. In business, you can hire quickly and fire quickly, and he did. That’s the basis of “The Apprentice”, after all.

          It always irked me when leftist idiots would call him a “reality tv star” to denigrate him. First of all, the show happened because he was a successful businessman, so successful that others wanted to learn from him and have the opportunity to work with/for him. Secondly, it was a show where people actually did things that required results, not a drama vehicle or even a physical competition type show.

          1. “Honestly, I think he ran into the government bureaucracy hiring buzzsaw. ”

            Dialed up to 11.


            “Having spoken to several high-ranking officials in the first Trump administration, it’s clear that the “Russian Collusion” hoax was drummed up in part to scare off potential members of Trump’s nascent presidency. Long-time Washington Republicans didn’t want anything to do with a presidency that would eventually end up under the scrutiny of a special prosecutor. They took a pass on joining the administration for fear of endless subpoenas and committee hearings.

            Because of this, many of Trump’s appointments never got confirmed, and many of his administration’s jobs never got filled. For those who did stand up and dedicate several years to his presidency, they’ve been rewarded with stigma from the corporate world and subpoenas from Congress.

            Part of the Jan. 6 hearings is to provide a two-year-in-advance, preemptive strike against Trump’s prospects to staff his administration in January 2025. “

            Now, Mike M, how do you propose Ron DeSantis or any other Republican avoid exactly the same treatment?

  3. “…the school believed the girls, because ‘girls don’t bully.’”

    It’s as if the people whose lives are dedicated to pedagogy don’t know the first damned thing about children, or something. sigh

    1. Yep. And when we pulled him out of school to homeschool they became life-endangering. They came into our garden and attacked the kids. You’d have to have met older son who REALLY is a brick sh*thouse. Younger son was a strappling at 13, tall and thin but not so his brother. And this pack of girls physically attacked them to the point older son grabbed younger, ran for the house and locked the door. When we came home the scene (including strewn garden implements) told us how ridiculous these — 18. It was a feral pack — girls had been.

      1. There are entirely social media channels full of feral girl fights and mobs. There have been quite a few murders by girls of this type, and quite a lot of them aren’t in inner cities. And of course Peter Jackson did a movie about the New Zealand case, and the beta girl who turned out to have grown up into a quite good mystery writer.

        Except they’re not really feral. They’re smart and evil about it. But they’re also drunk as bacchantes, on power and sadism, and teenage hormones. (Which is why they can become normal people later, in some cases.)

        1. That’s… terrifying.

          I think I’m going to have to become a whole lot more social for my daughter’s sake (and figure out how to teach her how to social) and I’m kind of dreading it.

          1. 100%

            Better? Make online social a team activity. Regardless, you MUST have unrestricted access to all your children’s accounts, social or otherwise. Including phones and texts. Period. 100%. The response to “You don’t trust me!” is “I don’t trust the rest of the world.”

            As I was told when I was that age “you have no privacy as long as you live in this house”.

            Note, this is Before social online media, cell phones, oh heck, before computers were in the office, let alone in the home. Mom did listen in on phone calls, 100%. Especially those at 1 AM (not that I was awake to understand it). We went immediately to the main office to “discuss” inappropriate phone calls from other students at 1 AM … Well she talked, I sat there, and TPTB had to take it.

              1. We tried to make our home the central gathering place. Didn’t fully succeed. At least we were in the rotation. (Just sold the Pool Table.) We were friends, with the kid’s friends parents. We were the ones doing scouts and coaching sports, well dad coached (I don’t do sports, but I was there). We didn’t know directly personally everything that happened, but we got told, eventually. Good and Bad. We found out. I did back off on some scout outings, for reasons. But when I did that scouts (including dad) managed to lose the kid. Temporary, but still … Wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d been there (three of the 4 kids who took a right instead of a left, had at least one parent there). This has given me material over dad, and now that he is an adult, the kid. So there is that. Their response is always “One little Mistake” 😉

                1. Mom’s still unhappy about Dad and me accidentally tossing what we thought was an empty chocolate truffle box. It wasn’t empty. One Godiva™ truffle, the real ones, not the “truffles” in colored cello-wrap. One. [mutter mutter] years ago.

                    1. In my defense, DadRed picked it up from where it wasn’t supposed to be, hefted it, and didn’t hear any thumps or feel any weight. I didn’t remember it being there in the first place, so I accepted his declaration of empty. Mother was Not Amused.

            1. “Well she talked, I sat there, and TPTB had to take it.”

              Not any more. Unless you homeschool, your daughters especially will be aided and abetted in escaping your parental control.

              1. I know.

                This was prior to 1974. Even so. It was transitioning when our son was in HS, if not already done so. My great-nieces/nephew and any grandchildren will definitely in this category. Any grandchildren, definitely will figure out a way to help home school.

  4. You’re so right.
    Heck, I can’t even accurately predict what I’m going to become in the next few years.

    I met with a college advisor this week, and I’m in the process of scheduling more meetings with at least two more counselors, because I retire in a couple of years from the military, and I’ve accumulated enough academic credit over the past quarter century to (depending on how it shakes out) triple minor in completely unrelated subjects?
    I just got my second Associate Degree awarded this month, and I’m actively working on three Bachelor degrees from three separate universities.
    Heads very nearly exploded at the advisor’s office.

    But my post-military career should be very lucrative, if the corporate recruiter I met with was even close to accurate. I’m pretty sure I saw him start salivating when I gave him a 30 second rundown of my history. I just need to finish this game of three-card monte I’m playing with academia.

    And I need to get the transmission back in the old truck this weekend… LOL

    1. I THOUGHT I’d be a translator. Multinlingual scientific translator. I was, for about a minute. (Okay a year and a half) And then life intervened.
      Then I thought I’d be a fiction writer, and I am. But blogger? It didn’t even exist when I set out.

      1. That’s one reason I love your blog. It lets me know that the madness is manageable, and I’m not alone. And periodically I read it to my wife to let her know that her husband does have a method to said madness. LOL

      2. Funny how life shapes you. I have incredible linguistic ability, but a childhood illness destroyed about 37% of my hearing, wiping out any chance for being a translator, or communication electronics repair for the military. But it probably is one of the reasons I do very well in coding. One door closes, another door opens.

            1. Honestly, I’d love to see the kinds of bridges and buildings our hostess would design. I’m imagining Lothlorien and Rivendell architectural patterns mated to science fiction colors and materials in a way that somehow manages to be breathtakingly beautiful and slightly unsettling at the same time. As in, you look at them and think: ‘That really shouldn’t be as gorgeous as it is. How does that make any sense at all? Does not compute…’

                  1. Um… possibly. Also a lot of weird machines for things like: holding your book and turning pages while you’re scrubbing the kitchen floor. 😀

                1. > “MECHANICAL engineering was my passion”

                  Well, Inkulinati still isn’t out, but perhaps I can interest you in Opus Magnum:

            2. > “The Reader thinks you would have made an interesting engineer. For various values of interesting…”

              I’ve said before that it’s probably for the best she didn’t go into programming. I’d expect things like this:

  5. When I became a father, I gained a whole dimension of understanding of what my own dad went through. My older son was rather scarily like I remember myself being. The tantrums, the meltdowns, the drama, the stubbornness….they all look different from the other side of the Dad fence. I was still determined to do some things differently “what is hateful to you, do not to others”, but in other respects, he provided an excellent model. I compared it to being a basketball referee: If the situation is fast moving, you make the best call you can, and even if it’s the wrong one, you don’t stop the game to go back and fix it, you just keep on playing and try to do better next time. And sometimes it’s necessary for the good of the whole family to put on hard-nosed tough guy…I don’t like the situation either, but you’re never going to get your way with a screaming fit.

    1. More than once my son would throw a tantrum in a public situation, but not a lot compared to other children, who did/do so All The Dang Time. Asked “Why don’t you remove him from the store?” Answer “Because that is what he is throwing a tantrum about. He is tired. He is cranky. The sooner he is done. We can finish and leave.” Since, even as a toddler, son wasn’t stupid, he tested resolve more than once. But not even half a dozen times. Even when it might be easier to give in, the point was, “No. Decision made.” But make a point, without throwing a tantrum, and the response could be “Okay. Point made.” But … No. Tantrum.

      Even now. I’ve been known to comment, to the air mostly, because telling the parent directly sure is worth the cost of the advise ($0) “You are arguing with a toddler … and Losing!”

      1. As I later learned, both of us are on the autism spectrum. Tantrums and meltdowns are part of the standard package. But that makes it all the more important to learn self control. He was never going to learn that without Dad showing him that there were boundaries on acceptable public behavior and where they were. Trying sweet reason with a toddler who is all emotion, few words, and no logic is futile. “Because I’m your Dad and I said so” has to suffice, along with “It’s part of my job to tell you what’s what until you’re grown up enough to figure it out on your own.”

        1. Never “because I’m bigger than you are”. I my case because I knew that well before the kid was 18, that would be 100% false. Now “I’m older than you are”, “Because I’m the mom …”, or “at least right now, I know better”, will always be true.

  6. “The difference between these countries and America is that America doesn’t even pretend. We — bless us one and all — glory in being ungovernable.”

    Some American koans (these aren’t real koans, koans don’t work that way? Proving my point…):

    I don’t care.

    I don’t want to.
    You can’t make me.
    If you try, you’ll regret it.

    Where’s my better? That sumbitch ain’t been born…

      1. Englishman to ranch hand: “Where’s your master?”

        Ranch hand to Englishman: “He hasn’t been born yet.”

        [Very Big Grin]

    1. There’s this… I’m not sure what to call it. Perspective? Character? Voice? Something… living in my head. He’s basically a book character that I haven’t yet written enough about. (He might also be some strange combination of my dark side and the person I wish I could be – really, no one should ever try to get in my head. Here be dragons even I don’t quite understand.)

      He’s of the opinion that when told to ‘kneel before Zod,’ he should go ahead and kneel. Why not? It lures Zod into a false sense of security, and provides him the perfect angle from which to stick a dagger where the sun don’t shine. Pride is a weakness that he’s a little too prone to, and the virtue of humility can be far more dangerous than one would think.

      1. Chuckle Chuckle

        One David Weber novel (Out Of The Dark) has a US governor “‘kneeling before Zod” (alien invaders).

        What the leader of the aliens don’t realize is that the Governor has made contact with the rebels and the Rebels (correctly) know that the Governor is doing his best to “stick it to” the aliens. 😈

        1. Malcolm Muggeridge’s job, post DDay, was to hurry around France assuring local authorities that the guy who claimed to work for British intelligence really did, so they should let him out of jail.

  7. What frustrates me is that my other half sees so much of himself in our son, but in so doing misses all the ways our son is different from him. Starting and ending with being absolutely unsuited to college until he’s a lot older.

    I can see all the ways my daughter is like me, but she’s also so different that I’m usually floundering.

    I don’t know what I’m doing with either of them, but damn it, I’m doing my best.

      1. Number two son is very like me. It’s frightening sometimes. Number one son is my wife. Everyone sees it but them. Made for an interesting life. My daughter is placid and well adjusted. God only knows where that came from.

        One thing number two son and I have in common is we were bullied by teachers more than fellow students.

      2. He might not have a clue what’s bothering him, really. I am a passionate, emotional person who knows very little about my own motivations and goals. It’s all just swimming around under the surface somewhere.

        Of course, I don’t remember my dreams, either, because I’m asleep. I was reading a LitRPG novel where the game was played while you are sleeping, and I thought, “Well, what good is that? Maybe my sleeping mind would be having fun, but the rest of me wouldn’t know anything about it!”

        1. Haven’t you ever solved a work problem in your sleep? And then you try your idea the next day — AND IT WORKS!

          Shouldn’t you get overtime pay for that? 😀
          “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here — this is the War Room!”

          1. I’ve woken up knowing the answer to problems, but I don’t remember thinking about it in my dreams.

            I’m intuitive anyway, so I’ve got no problem with that. But I draw the line on paying a subscription to a game I can’t remember playing, much less giving my dream self access to my credit cards.

            1. Heck. I still do this. I’ve been retired for 6 1/2 years, dang it. Yes. I have woken up in the middle of the night, and stated, “Not my problem! Remember, retired! Dang it.”

    1. I look at my kids and see the parts of myself and my wife in them, in addition to the majority of them which is just them. The oldest is only mildly annoyed when someone compares him to me. The youngest absolutely HATES it.

      1. My cousin is the spitting personality image of her paternal ***grandmother. This is not a compliment. Part of the influence is genetics. Part was, cousin spent winter holidays with these grandparents, between age 6 to age 8.

        Until main streaming, cousin was enrolled in the *blind school in Salem, and parents couldn’t get over the mountains to bring home and take back safely. Grandparents lived in **Portland (not any safer for grandparents to travel over mountains either). Cousin would spend summers at home, but was a fish out of water. She was never going to do the horse/calf raise 4-H. She was never hunting, or fishing. But OTOH her parents did listen to the school. They got her a piano, other instruments, other interests, and summer tutors so she wouldn’t fall behind. Her parents didn’t do everything 100% correct, but they did the best they could.

        /* Not 100% blind. But legally so. Could be corrected, for degrees of corrected, with glasses. Also partly deaf. Cause – Aunt had measles when she was pregnant with her.
        /** Why not spend the holidays with us and maternal grandparents? IDK. Holiday dinners, yes. But not the entire two weeks at Christmas. Uncle was an only child as his older brother died from polio when they were very young. We called them grandma and grandpa (we had 3 grandmothers, and two grandfathers).
        /*** My opinion of her as an adult is way, way, different than my opinion of her as a child.

        1. *** Sorry to read it. When the next generation is a clone (ish) of a beloved elder it is a weird joy. Especially if that kid knew the eld in question and so has share in the memories.

          Magical resonance effect.

          1. Yes. My son LOVES my dad. Part of what we’re trying to figure out is how to send him over to see my dad. (I’d also like to.) Since dad is in his nineties.
            You know, the scary part is weird things they both do NO ONE ELSE does. Like collect card decks. Son started it before he knew my dad did it, too.

        2. I’m apparently spitting image and personality of grandad’s mom on dad’s side. Down to the voice. Things manifest differently, is all. She knit very fast, I write very fast. Both of us read everything, etc.

  8. I can honestly say I had no idea that my kids would end up where they are in life and doing what they are doing.

    Hubby and I spent 3 and a half decades raising our family and I think the best thing we did was homeschool, mostly because it taught the kids they didn’t have to rely on a “teacher” to learn stuff. They could get information themselves on anything at all they wanted to learn about. I don’t know that I actually taught them anything specific other than a love of learning new things. And we definitely gave them permission to follow their own interests. It did not endear the boys to the school when we sent them to high school after being homeschooled though. They all had to make the transition from getting through the basics to get to the good stuff, to never getting to the good stuff because the rest of the class is stuck in the basics. Boys have less tolerance for sitting around and doing make work. The girls were much better at going along to get along.

    In retrospect, we did the best we could at the time and the kids know we tried. And so they are doing the same with their kids. But I definitely feel it gets more difficult to raise kids as time goes on. At least people used to think it was a worthwhile pastime. Now people look on it as a horrible imposition and a punishment.

    Witness the current feminist meltdown about abortion. It used to be that it was considered a last resort for a young girl in trouble who wouldn’t be able to raise a child. Now it is a RIGHT for every woman no matter what not to be FORCED to have a child. Children are no longer considered a blessing.


    1. The problem is that the laws make it much, much harder. We couldn’t leave the kids alone at home until older was 14. Even though at 6 we would have to leave them with a babysitter (only one available at the time) whom he had to actively babysit.

      1. Hmm. Tell you what, Young Relatives were -never- left alone with a babysitter. One or the other parent was always there until age 16 pretty much. That’s just how it was.

        Different world from how it was when I was a kid, for sure. We went anywhere and everywhere. These days, letting a 14 year old run around at will? Not a chance.

        1. Yep. We ended up bringing the kids with us ALMOST everywhere. That was fine for our kids, but– There were times we couldn’t. Usually monetary reasons.
          Honestly? My parents left me alone, no babysitter, at eight. No more than 3 days, but all the same. I was not stupid. I was fine.

        2. And yet, and yet, you’d be surprised to find out how many kids are basically left to live on their own by the time they are in high school. It’s no joke. Mom’s new boyfriend doesn’t like this kid or that and so they are staying at various friend’s houses and sleeping on couches wherever. Or he’s a “creep” and Mom won’t see it so her daughter moves out to get away from him. Or the parents are addicits. Or who knows why in some cases. The family breakdown has really accelerated. Our little school district graduated 38 kids this year and 6 of them were living in a one bedroom apartment together because they didn’t have “real homes”. We had several others who were on their own too. One I know is living with the family across the street.

          It might be just here but I bet it’s even worse in the big city. Here we have so few kids our school secretary knows what’s going on with all of them. The ones that haven’t dropped out anyway. In this instance, like everything else, the bureaucrats hassle the families who are doing well but letting kids have freedom, and the real trainwrecks get a pass. Words cannot express my contempt for Child and Family services here.

          1. It’s honestly better for the kids out on their own to be on their own than to have been under CFS control. TRUST me on that. I have had…experience. With being the kid in question. There’s a reason I am a leave-me-the-hell-alone libertarian.

            1. Yes it is better for kids to be on their own than to become wards of the state.

              Of course school employees are mandatory reporters which means that if we have evidence of abuse or whatnot, we have to call the authorities.

              We don’t call the state on some kids who are not living at home when we know that the state will put them in foster care if they find out. We also know what foster care does to kids and being ground up by the system.

              The young lady living across the street should would have been in the system for the last three years and who knows what would have happened to her. Instead, she is living with people who treat her like an actual daughter and not getting paid to do it. If we think the kid is safe where they are we keep our mouths shut.

              1. We ran into that with a scout. Process is to report it to the council, who have to mandatory report. What the troop did was find a solution first, with the scout’s relative. THEN reported. At the same time, the relative reported child abandonment. Younger sibling had already been left with said relative. But the older sibling, the scout, was left to fend for himself at the former rental.

          2. Interesting.
            I’ve always thought fostering children could be done better without government “aid”. The problem lies in whether the guardians/foster parents are decent people or not. And providing a good escape route/protection for the children in case they aren’t.

              1. I think they can find…but the Government has come to treat adoption and such as a right. Of the adopter. Meaning it is an insanely rich hunting ground for pedophiles.

                1. “to treat adoption and such as a right.”

                  Well, except they don’t. They treat it as a privilege, only granted to those who check off all the currently popular boxes. It’s why you have effective bans of “cross-racial” or “cross-cultural” adoptions while children sit in limbo in “foster care”.

            1. Never underestimate the government’s ability to muck things up. There’s no way to make a government form for “are decent people”. There will always be people that qualify on paper that shouldn’t, and people that don’t qualify on paper that should. Whether getting the government involved helps the situation or not, it always complicates it.

      2. One of the most useful classes I had in high school was the one that taught me a distrust of abstract nouns and the process of abstraction. Copper pennies, to coins, to currency, to money, to wealth. The higher up that ladder you go, the more detached from reality you become. This is one of the (many) things that’s wrong with Marxist’s all about classes of people, “the bourgeoisie” or “the proletariat” and makes no allowance for individual variation or real people, or that they might not act according to theory. The tendency of politicians to think in terms of homogeneous voting blocs leads to inanities such as “If you don’t vote for Biden, you ain’t black”, or “if you aren’t a liberal Democrat, you aren’t a woman”. It confusticates, bebothers, and baffles the political experts when people don’t act according to type. If blacks come up with, for instance, a Clarence Thomas instead of an Al Sharpton, or Hispanic voters throw up, for instance, a Myra Flores instead of an AOC, it terrifies the stuffing out of Party leadership, as well it should. “Anomalous data. Does not compute. Ignore bad input. Initiate data purge.”

      3. There is a book about various science and technology subjects, published in 1960 (I think) with a Foreword by Vannevar Bush (in WWII, head of the Manhattan Engineering District, under which was the Project). This book had a few warnings about some stuff that one needed to be careful about: the making of solid fuel rocket propellant, using proper shielding on the X-ray, etc. But it was NOT “this is too dangerous for you” but “here’s how to do it safely.” I think the thing that I found jarring was not that stuff, but the wind tunnel. The smoke trails were provided by then readily-acquired by most anyone items: cigarettes. And I encountered this book when there were still cigarette vending machines in some places.

        And today? Never mind the cigarettes, lighters are age-restricted, as is WhiteOut.

        1. Damn, can’t find it just based on the author of the foreword.

          I hate it when you tease us by mentioning these books you learned from but never identify them.

          1. I’ve been search for it with the same annoying result. If I could give proper title, etc. I most certainly would. It also has stuff like nuclear magnetic resonance, Hilsch vortex tubes, and I forget all what else. It was a really neat book of…stuff.

  9. “Why should you listen, if you don’t have children and are past the age or interest in having them?”

    Speaking only for myself, the before/after of that particular dividing line is so big I would argue that they can’t. Their interests are limited to themselves and -maybe- their spouse, -maybe- their siblings.

    I find this to be a pretty big thing in places like New York City and Toronto, where the childless yuppies seem to congregate. (Or did anyway, they do seem to be fleeing NYC.) The culture demands less of a filter, you get leeway to say hateful things about other people’s children. So I’ve heard people make all sorts of arguments about the utility of boarding schools or the “efficiency” of separating children from parents early in life to stick them in the kibbutz school.

    So efficient! So social! No child left behind! Onward to the Bright Future, comrades!

    That used to be government policy in Canada. Residential Schools. The government took the kids off the Indian reserves and put them in church-run boarding schools so they could have a proper Christian education. Kinda came back to bite the government on the ass lately.

    The reason this keeps happening is that people without children do NOT understand what a child -is-. They don’t remember much from their own childhoods either. They don’t remember when grownups were SO BIG. You can tell because they are the people who remain standing and look down on the child when they speak.

    I’m weird, I remember that stuff. I sit right on the floor when I speak to a child. I’m careful and I move slowly. Because I remember what it was like being surrounded by giants who weren’t careful. When you have your own, stuff like that is painfully obvious.

    The other thing the childless do not, cannot understand is that parents will definitely become unhinged where their kids are concerned. They think a kid is like a pet. It’s sad to see Fido go to the kennel, wave bye bye Fido. They don’t get it that a kid is like your arm. Take the kid, that’s the same level as cutting the arm off. What will a human do to prevent you from cutting off their arm? Almost anything.

    So in places like NYC and Toronto you heard talk about curfews for under-20s, harsh punishments proposed, one-size-fits-all education (and you better be grateful!) and all the rest of that happy-slappy battery farm chicken factory type of policy making. They don’t know enough to be afraid.

    1. Well, I’d love to see more under-16 year olds with curfews. Said curfews should be instituted and enforced by parents, not the state, but nothing good happens involving unsupervised teenagers late at night.

        1. I get that. I’ve also been in an upscale shopping district when literally hundreds of unsupervised (and playing the odds on their melanin content, fatherless) teenagers between 13 and 17 or so mobbed the place on a lovely summer evening, pushing the elderly into traffic and other delightful pursuits.

          The problem is that if parents won’t police their children, someone has to. As such, I completely understand the impulse to create government curfews, even if I think it’s not an effective solution to the problem of child barbarians.

    2. They think a kid is like a pet.

      I think that’s because so many people these days think their pets are like kids. They call them “furbabies” and themselves “furmommies” or (less frequently) “furdaddies”. They reenact things like baby’s first birthday or Christmas or Halloween with their pets as if they were kids. So it’s easy for them to start thinking the reverse, particularly and especially when they don’t have children themselves to compare against their pets. Pets can be loved and beloved, but they aren’t in the same category as children. Even other’s people’s children.

      1. Anyone uttering the word “furbaby” as part of a serious conversation gets stricken irrevocably from my lists. If it were possible, I’d get a restraining order.

          1. There’s an outdoor cat on my block that we call “Bunny” because her tail is just a fluffy stump. I’ve no idea what her mistress calls her ….

            1. well, in my case it’s because they’re soft fuzzy and little.
              But because I have an accent, people look at me funny. “Does she know that’s not the word?” LOL

        1. You’re not alone in that Mike. I’ve got out cats trained to do SOME things. These two cats seemed a bit brighter than any we had had previosly. I reasoned (although likely incorrectly) that like having a bored intelligent dog, bored intelligent cats would raise havoc. They have learned several tricks (and forgotten or ignored others) but their level of distractability is far higher than I have experienced in dogs of roughly similar intellect. Still it is amusing and at least the void cat thinks its the best part of the day, though he is fond of treats…

        2. My parents had three parrots and a dog. My father taught all three birds to whistle, pause, and say, “Dumb dog.”


        3. My daughter managed to train her cat, a little,. All the workers at the vets office thought it was cute. She’s a very doggish sort of cat.

          1. Cats are trainable (e.g. However there seems a difference in the dynamic from training a dog. With dogs they seem to be members of a pack that includes the family and the humans are higher in the pack hierarchy than the dogs if the dogs have been properly trained. So like chain of command they know they’re not supposed to buck commands from higher ups.

            Cats although they form groups do not seem to have a strict hierarchy within their groups. Every relationship is its own thing. Cats do usually attach to one (or more) people, and do seem to have favorites. Some speculate that the relationship is like a cat to it’s mother, though I’m not quite sure I buy it. In any case if you are one of their favorites you can often coax them (perhaps with food or other things they enjoy) to perform behaviors which are natural to them. There is a bit of distractability it feels a bit like training a dog with ADHD, and there is also far more “willfulness”, some days if they don’t feel like doing something you aren’t getting it or you get something else. One of our cats I have taught to sit fairly repeatably and to lie down (less repeatably). But sometimes I say and signal “Sit” and I get “lie down”. Nothing I can do will change his mind in that session, and in fact some days I’d swear he’s doing it just to be petulant/annoying and show who is in control. I am a person he likes but not his favorite. For his obvious favorite (elder daughter) he does the right thing 95%+ of the time only failing if he becomes confused. Reverse the cat and handler, e.g. elder daughter trying to get Void cat of whom I am the favorite and sometimes he’ll do things for her, sometimes he strolls off with a perfunctory tail flick (which body language I over time have come to interpret as the cat equivalent of being flipped the bird).

      2. I take the track of “JC”, aka The Farmer in the Sky. (JC – Junior Citizen)

        Did having pets influence how we treated our baby? Yes. Why? What happens when you lose it with a pet who doesn’t understand? Teaches one to take a deep breath and deal with the situation, not the emotion, no matter how tired or frustrated you are. Pets will never “outgrow” that stage. At best they are equivalent to a 3 year old toddler. Teaches patience. Teaches not the same method works with different animals, even when they are all cats. By the time our child came along, we were well past losing it because things weren’t going our way, when having an infant, toddler, small child, along, with no fault of said child.

      3. We remember our cats’ birthday, but only because they were born maybe an hour before my wife’s honorary niece. The call with the news woke my now-wife, only for her to hear the meows of the litter her mother’s cat had just birthed.

        1. I remembered my German Shepard’s birthday. She was a month younger than my maternal cousin. It was their dog who had pups. She was essentially raised with him and his two older brothers until I got her when she was 7 months old. Who am I kidding. It is how I remember how old those cousins are now.

          1. The dog we had as a kid was born on February 13, in a year that was a Monday. I remember this because we were highly entertained that this must have been Garfield’s Most Hated Day.

    3. Yep. Don’t threaten my kids unless you have a death wish. I don’t care if I go to prison for life, or I get killed or injured in the process, as long as my kids are safe.

      1. I’m honestly surprised none of the Uvalde cops have been assassinated by aggrieved parents.

  10. Well, not all of us without children are without by absolute choice. Things happen that are beyond our control. So, I have nieces and nephews who get the benefit of my wisdom. 😀

    I’ve seen the damage done to friends who’s parents insisted that child be identical to parent. Some fought their way out and managed to keep relations with their parents while others couldn’t get out and are deeply unhappy, and still others fought their way out and got cut off by parents who were angry that child went his/her own way.

        1. Oh. My ONLY GTFO is “do not make policies that will affect other people’s kids and try to regiment them.”
          I can’t imagine you doing that. 😀

      1. Oh, he doesn’t get over-stressed. He knocks me out before that can happen. After your panels on Friday, I caught a five hour nap. And then once I was home on Sunday night, I probably slept at least 24 out of the following 36 hours. And even now, he’s demanding 11 -12 hours of sleep every day.

        Considering my only pregnancy symptoms are fatigue and the various problems that come from changing shape (still haven’t actually gained much weight yet), I really can’t complain.

        As I was telling my husband before crashing for a five hour nap after church on Sunday, I’m not enjoying pregnancy so much I want to sign up to be a surrogate so I can experience it all the time, but I’m certainly not suffering so much (yet, at least) that I would never go through it again either.

        1. Sounds exactly like my pregnancy with younger son. I didn’t enjoy it that much, because as he grew bigger he spawn camped on my bladder. Which um…. led to issues. But yeah, slept SO MUCH and sleeping was so much fun. And I emerged SMALLER.
          If I hadn’t caught pneumonia and the treatment hadn’t screwed up my metabolism (and thyroid) forever, I’d probably still be a size 10 and very confused on how people gained weight. 🙂

        2. Oooohhhh! So excited for you!

          What great pictures!

          Rest up now. Being a mom is a lot of work. While you’re making them and then after they get here. So worth it.

  11. What I love the most about other people is that they’re different than me. It would be damned odd to see my clone. Too much like Twilight Zone or Pod People. And having to listen to my own bad jokes from another critter’s piehole…

  12. Well … I certainly don’t want to waste anyone’s time or attention with a long, long tale of my family’s experiences, because once getting started and rolling, it is SO difficult to stop … so suffice it to say: Thank you, Sarah; I needed this essay. It will be saved to a permanent folder and consulted when necessary.

  13. yelling at her about was that my cousin refused to eat fruit and vegetables, which my parents — and me — were sure was because they didn’t make him do it

    Like my mom with my cousin. She ended up staying with us a lot at about age 5. Because her dad was working, then with her mom at the hospital with her baby sister (born spina bifida, 1967, survival questionable, initially …. she did survive infancy, 1987 – 1980). Cousin would only eat soft items, like creamy peanut butter, bananas, applesauce, etc. Mom was sure it was because she was spoiled. Not diagnosed until she was in college, but she was swallowing incorrectly. The only things she could get down without choking on initially were soft foods … Took physical therapy to solve the problem.

    Children and food issues. That is something that I was militant on. We had no “clean the plate” policy at our house. Neither of us practice it. Me because that is one of the tenets of weight loss programs, “leave some food on your plate”. We also didn’t force feed something that to him is yucky to him. I don’t buy what hubby doesn’t like. I won’t buy what I don’t like. We also didn’t do the whole “you’ll get fat” routine. When he went through the “see food” diet age 14 – mid-20s, just took advantage of it. I actually could get what I wanted, and he’d finish it off. Now I have to take leftovers, which he finishes off for lunches, or did (there is a drawback to him changing from swing to early morning days, sigh). We ended up with a carnivore, who will eat his fresh or frozen vegs and fruit, but has little use for most sweets. Not sure where the last came from because definitely a failing of dad and I. Although I can’t eat the sweets dad does, I just can’t.

    I went through the “too fat, lose weight” enforced diet. I was never, ever, fat as a child, despite the perceptions. (I know what triggered this in mom, the neighbor was wrong, and a bully.) Not even overweight. I’d almost kill (maim?) to be 126#s, the weight I was on our wedding day, at age 22. I will never see that again, ever, wouldn’t be healthy, not at 65. I’m 5’4″. (Immediate goal is < 200#s, ultimate, somewhere between 160#s and <180#s. Depending on how I feel at the lower goal weight, might go lower, but achievable goal first.)

  14. Leslie Fish is a wonderful talent, and has done a lot of great things with her life that have enriched other people’s lives.

    Also, she has an amazing talent for torquing people off and pushing them until they are torqued, even when she is consciously trying to be non-aggressive.

    I mean, the first time I met her, I was really wanting to fangirl her, and we ended up in a fairly nasty socio-political argument within about three minutes. It was crazy. Personality clash on steroids. It was like we had anti-pheromones, even though historically we had gotten along really well online.

    Kinda made me wonder if we were secretly related, because usually it takes close relatives who’ve known me from childhood to torque me off that much! Ha!

      1. I don’t know whether I’m sad or glad to have missed that whole discussion, but clearly, she did not read the room on this one, at this time.

        For what it’s worth, species where females are dominant in size and strength are usually species where the males are pretty much a sperm delivery system, sometimes with added speed as hunting systems. A lot of raptor species, for instance, where the smaller male is smaller because the eggs are so darned big, and the food requirements for a mated pair with chicks are so darned big.

        If human babies got any bigger, women would have to get bigger. Arguably this is already happening. But there still doesn’t seem to be any evolutionary pressure for men to get smaller, especially since our society still includes a lot of physically difficult tasks that birds don’t have.

  15. I enjoyed reading about your family and your struggles raising your kids. I have three sons in their twenties and it is very much like you said, we purposely did certain things and hoped for a result, and meh, pretty much random results, except that my wife and I are “Reformed ” drug addicts/ Alcoholics and some thing we did with the kids was right, because none of them are so afflicted. Honesty perhaps, we raised them with our Twelve Step principles. They aren’t perfect but they are a helluva lot smarter than I was at their ages…. and Oh, so different.

  16. Sarah, the time travelers column is not showing up when I hit the comment button. FYI.

      1. Of course, we are.

        Generally, one way forward because going back in time is so boring.

        We can only see dimly the past and can’t change the past. 😉

      2. I think it’s the other tomorrow post. It’s for the blog that gets published on the computer in the room with the door we used the polka-dot paint on.

        Don’t use the computer in the room with the plaid painted door. That’s for the internal mobius network.

    1. Got the post in normal email. When clicking the top title line the link takes one to the main page, but does not bring up the post. Post is not listed where the blog pages are listed. Something is broken somewhere. Suspect a premature release of a post from WP (?).

    2. Got the post in normal email. When clicking the top title line the link takes one to the main page, but does not bring up the post; same if you click on “comments”. Post is not listed where the blog pages are listed. Something is broken somewhere. Suspect a premature release of tomorrows post from WP (?).

  17. I never had the desire for children of my own, but I love and appreciate my sisters’ children and grandchildren.

    When I was in the first grade, my friend, David, made an announcement to the class: “When I grow up, I’m going to marry Donna.” I stood up and stamped my foot, “NO. I’m never getting married.” I’m sure it had something to do with my bio-dad deserting his four children and their mother.

    Mom remarried. Her new husband adopted us. Then, they had three more children. I admit I admonished Mom when I realized she was pregnant for the 7th time. Much of the burden would fall on me. I remember being resentful. I yelled at Mom more than once, “he’s your kid, you deal with it!” But most of the time, I helped guide my baby brothers and little sister, and patiently answered all their questions.

    One day, I overheard Dad talking to another dad. The other dad was crying softly. Dad sympathized and consoled him. They were talking about how hard it was to raise another man’s son. Dad said raising children was the hardest thing he had ever done. Considering Dad’s several hard-won accomplishments, that’s saying something.

    1. Raising children well is the hardest thing most people will ever do. It’s also the most rewarding.

      1. Yes. Hugs to all the good parents out there.

        Both my parents worked. Dad was an attorney. Mom owned a bookstore. We kids helped out at the bookstore after school and on weekends. Even my little sister toddled along beside me and dusted shelves. Being industrious was a given in our family. We also did volunteer work in the community.

        Then, finally, we could afford a part-time nanny. She was a wonderful and patient woman – she made it look easy.

        I expanded my music business, joined the union and worked all over town. Then headed out for college.

        When Dad retired he volunteered as a family consultant. Mom lobbied the legislature and promoted music and the arts.

  18. Yes, mysterious. I liked the little bit of Portugal I saw. I was courting my second wife, who was living in Vigo, Spain. We went down to Porto and spent a lot of time sitting in the cafes along the river, enjoying the cuisine, the wine and the buskers. I’d like to go back but the language (and I think I have a flair for language) sounded intimidating, like a mixture of Spanish and Russian. Yeah, families, marital spats, raising children… I’m trying to interest a publisher in my latest book, a ‘novel in story.’ It’s difficult ‘submitting’ you work to people who don’t seem to give a shit about good writing and stories of relatively normal people. (I know, define ‘relatively normal.’) Here’s a poem I wrote.

    Pretty White Easter Lilies
    Paul Clayton
    (c) 2022

    I was ten and watching TV, hardly listening,
    in the kitchen my sister was insistin’,
    “the boys have to be there too!
    That’s what Connie said, so did Sue.”

    My mother looked perplexed; my dad was mad.
    “You’d better hurry and get dressed,” he said.
    Little did he know how prescient his choice of words.

    My sister and I got in the car;
    to school did Dad recklessly race,
    to the rehearsal for our confirmation into the Catholic faith,
    a formal affair, white suits and dresses required.

    I felt anxious and stiff, when we got there, tired.
    My breathing rapid, my sister right behind me,
    I pushed through double doors into a sea
    of little girls in frilly white dresses…
    auburn permanents, long blonde tresses.

    My sister was wrong and I was right;
    there was not a boy in sight.
    Girls stared in shock; girls laughed with glee
    at the embarrassment they saw in me.

    I glared at my sister, ran all the way home,
    spent the rest of the day in my room alone,
    ashamed to go out; lying in bed
    dissipating rage; a coal glowing red

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