Category Archives: Raising kids

4 Things That Can’t Be Taught

The word "sand" written in sand

 I’d like to take a brief time-out to review several things that you just can’t teach with words.  Oh, you can try.  But it won’t do any good.  Kids insist on the full experience.

 1.      Don’t eat sand 

Within ten minutes of putting a small child on the beach, they will be wearing sand lipstick. 

 You can pick them up and clean them off.  You can make an icky face and shake your head NO.  You can even say something parent-like: “We don’t eat sand.  Yucky yucky.” 

 It doesn’t matter what you do, though.  Not long after plopping them back on the beach towel, you will be cleaning off a sand-coated tongue.  Keep in mind that this isn’t harmful.  A mouth full of sand just causes them to go into slow motion-mode; opening and closing their mouth repeatedly, and slowly moving their head from side to side like a confused turtle. 

2.      Don’t grab the cat’s tail

No verbal warning can thwart the overpowering desire to yank that thing.  On the up-side; there’s no better way to figure out that the other end of kitty really means business.  I thought our cat had a broken tail until I realized that she was keeping it tucked down and swooshing from side to side in order to make the target more difficult to locate.  A challenge kids find irresistible.

3.      Step away from the kitchen counter before you sneeze

When you are as tall as a countertop, this is important information.  I’ve come to the rescue many times, snatching our kids back from the counter as they inhale deeply with the here-it-comes-ugly-sneeze-face.   Despite the narrow escapes, however, using words to explain why sneezing next to the kitchen counter can be dangerous isn’t as effective as actually experiencing the all-out tomahawk chop, head-butt into the counter top.  (Don’t worry; the eyes eventually un-cross.)

 4.      Don’t roll your eyes and make a face when your mother tells you something

I don’t think I can really elaborate on this.  Although, if you’d like to make things worse just make a face and toss your head back and forth while you silently mouth the words of whatever she just told you.  (Results may vary.  I can’t be held responsible.)

 Anybody know of any other things that just can’t be taught?


Yell At Us

Rear-view mirror showing cars parked behind th...

Oldest, 9.  Youngest two, 6. 

When you are a kid, getting yelled at by your parents is just part of waking up.

It was the start of third grade and kindergarten at our house – a very exciting time.   Our elementary school was having an open house so that families could stop by and visit the classrooms; three kids, three rooms, three teachers. It was a rainy, cold night and we had a lot to accomplish in a very short time.  Despite what could have happened, however, this night was one of those times when our kids made me proud with how well-behaved and polite they were.  It was almost as if they had been paying attention somewhere along the way. 

People at the open house even commented to us.  “Boy, you have great kids.  They’re so well-behaved.”

We smiled, thanked them, and tried to think of a way to spend the rest of our lives outside the house, because they certainly didn’t act like that at HOME!

At home, my wife and I roam the house like referees. 

Knock it off.  Stop it.  That’s enough. Didn’t I just say that’s enough?  Nope, can’t do that in the house.  Stop it.  She was sitting there first.  No kicking.  You already had a two brownies. Don’t kick.  Put it back.  Put it back.  Put-it-back.  I thought I said knock it off.  Watch the lamp!  All right, everybody outside. 

What we need is a whistle.

The open house ended.  We left the school and headed for the parking lot.  After we loaded everyone into the mini-van, I noticed something very odd.  The well-behaved children I was standing next to in the school were gone.   Now, my rearview mirror revealed brothers and sisters doing what brothers and sister do, bugging each other.

I was driving and they were in the very back seat, poking and making faces and shouting and squashing each other as we went around corners.  Finally, I glared into the rearview mirror.   

“It is too dark and too slippery on this road for me to be yelling in to the back seat!” 

“Well, can’t mom yell at us?” one of them said.

Technically, they had a point: there were two of us in the car.   I yielded to the head referee. 


“Hey, dad?”

Sorry – got to go.  More later.


Only child, 2-ish.

 When a toddler moves out of their crib, you assume that they will move to a bedThey don’t.  They start off with a toaster-bed. 

 Toaster-beds are easy to identify; you tuck the kid in, they pop back out.  You tuck them back in again, they pop right back out again.  At the end of a long day, this can be anything but a delightful exercise of their new-found freedom. 

 One evening, our daughter’s toaster-bed was in fine working order.  

 First, she came downstairs because she was thirsty.  I got her some water. 

 Then, she was hot.  Her mom helped her change PJs. 

 Next, it was the bathroom – can’t really argue with that one.   

Then the cat was bothering her.  Although, judging by the cat rocketing through the living room, clearly the opposite was true.      

 Then, she came down the steps to tell us that she was cold.  Her mom helped her change PJs. 

 Next, it was the bathroom again. 

Finally, she came down to complain loudly that our stupid house was too hot.  My patience poofed into thin air.  I picked her up and gave her a personal escort back to her room.  Along the way, she decided that she didn’t want to change after all and started playing you-can’t-catch-me. 

 She was wrong.  I did catch her and attempted to change her PJs.   

 She wriggled and twisted and kicked and fought and then shouted that she wanted her mom to change her PJs.  She emphasized this by yanking the PJs out of my hand and throwing them across her room, knocking some things off her dresser – including a lamp. 

I grabbed her by the shoulders, looked her in the eyes, and said something brilliant at the top of my lungs like, “Whatever!”  She stood stunned, silenced by my volume, and crying.  I stormed out of the room and her mom came in to finish what I couldn’t.  In all the confusion, the toaster-bed must have come unplugged because she finally went to sleep.

Sometime during the night, I felt a soft tugging on my sleeve.  I opened my eyes.  Her tiny face was directly in front of mine, at the edge of the mattress, chin propped up on her folded arms. 

 Before I could speak, she said, “Sorry I got mad at you, dad.”  She patted me gently on the head and ran off to bed. 

 I felt like a dirt crumb. 

 The next day, I got a small piece of paper out and wrote on it; “Sorry I got mad at you, dad.” 

I taped her words to the inside of my wallet to help remind me that, when it comes to kids, I’ve got a lot to learn.


“Hey, dad?”

Sorry – got to go.  More later.

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