MONKEY THINK, MONKEY WRITE | The Old Man was a true pioneer in parenting
December 3, 2008 · Updated 10:29 AM
Today’s column is about changes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about changes lately. Especially when it comes to this column.
You see, there is a bit of confusion in the community about the “Monkey Think, Monkey Write” column. Some readers have the mistaken belief that it takes a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters to produce each one of these columns.
That is not true. It only takes one monkey.
I was thinking of adding a “Certificate of Authenticity” to each column as a way of letting readers know that only a singular simian is responsible for the content herein. Certificates of Authenticity are impressive. Every time a product comes on TV that has one, I have to fight myself not to buy it.
I’ve always loved the word herein, by the way. I think about it when I look at the hair brush in my bathroom drawer. Herein, hair out. And as I continue to age, that brush will become habitat for the great gray herein, (hair out).
Such is life’s changes. I really started to think about changes when a former co-worker brought her toddler into the office last week. She started talking with another mom about raising kids.
Not being the intrusive type, I leaned in to listen without saying a word.
“I’ve been told that the way to get your child to cooperate is to offer them choices,” she said. “Would you like Cheerios, or oatmeal?”
Choices for children. Wow.
I suddenly realized the Old Man was way ahead of his time when he was rearin’ the brothers Kelly. He was ahead of the curve on childhood psychology.
The Old Man gave the brothers Kelly choices all of the time. In fact, in hindsight, he gave us choices every single day.
“My way or the highway.” That was one of his favorite choices.
“Like it or lump it.” That was another one. I remember trying to learn to “like it,” because I was afraid to ask where the lumps would come from.
“Do as I say, not as I do.” That was another fine choice often offered to the brothers Kelly.
And who could forget the wisdom of the choice, “You snooze, you lose.”
“Don’t cry, or I’ll give you something to really cry about.”
One time, I called his bluff. “OK, I want something to cry about,” I said bravely.
Sometimes, 11-year-olds can be too courageous for their own good.
The Old Man had the last laugh. He popped in one of his Roger Whittaker eight-track tapes into his home stereo system and sang at the top of his lungs the rest of the afternoon. Repressed memories do not allow me to recall the exact name of the album, but it was either “Reflections of Love,” “Special Kind of Man” or “Mirrors of My Mind.”
Back in the office, my former coworker was getting more parenting advice from her fellow mom. They started talking about how parents should to read to their children every day.
Once again, I had to admit my folks were ahead of their time.
I remember the Old Man reading to us all the time. I can’t remember the author of his favorite tract, but I was told by a neighbor that he heard us getting read “The Riot Act.”
Again, I can’t recall the particulars, but I think the story ended with a chase scene.
Next time: The perfect cabinet.