I noticed a piece about the tooth fairy, with the headline claiming that the days are gone of a quarter under the pillow. Supposedly, US tooth fairies leave an average $3.70 per tooth. I seem to recall receiving a nickel or a dime. The article went on to say “Six percent of tooth fairy representatives—otherwise known as parents—shell out $20 per tooth, while two percent leave an outrageous $50 or more.”
I fall into the outrageous category. At the time of my first child’s first loss of a tooth, I was working for an advertising agency. One of my clients was Royal Canadian Mint, whose only product was the Gold Maple Leaf coin. So, my children found a 1/4 ounce gold coin under the pillow, after placing a tooth underneath. Gold was much cheaper in those days, but the price was still above today’s average for a lost tooth. Those coins now rest in a bank deposit box, forgotten by my children. They are certainly worth more than on the days they were discovered under the pillow, when they had no idea what they were or what they were worth. This is one more example of parents’ wasted effort...
Overheard at the pool restaurant. Parents with one young boy, perhaps 3. From the accent, could be from Scotland or the Midlands of England or Northern Ireland (all sound the same to me). Father engrossed in menu. Mother engrossed in menu. Child quiet and well-behaved.
Mother (obviously speaking to child, but stares at menu). You could have a cheese sandwich.
Child: I want a cheese sandwich.
Mother and father stare at menu. Child continues to wait patiently.
Mother. Why don’t you have a cheese sandwich?
Neither of my children are even close being obese and have never suffered from being over weight. I take some credit for that.
If you ask my children, they will admit to hating me at times. Each time was probably in a restaurant in Germany. I would let them order a drink with the meal. When it arrive, I would let them take a sip and then put the glass out of reach until the food arrived. Children tend to drain drinks out of boredom, rather than thirst. That can be an expensive habit for a parent in Germany, where drinks were small and prices high.
For that reason, my children loved to visit the Land of Big Drinks and Free Re-Fills. I never moved the glass (paper cup) out of reach during our visits to the United States. Despite the a weakness of free re-fills, I have some sympathy for Michael Bloomberg.
I recall reading somewhere that dogs will keep eating until they gorge themselves. I guess that humans are no different, as proven by fast food and drink consumption statistics from the United States. And, once again, it’s all about the money: bigger drinks and portion sizes mean more profit for someone.
I particularly liked this line from the above-linked article in The New Yorker:
“The consequences of those extra ounces don’t matter to the market—as we learned from the tobacco industry, killing your customers is just fine for the bottom line, as long as you don’t do it too quickly.”
One thing I’ve learned is that parenting never ends...well at least not before one ends up in a nursing home or a grave. The burden (or joy) does not end with feeding and diapering, playing ball in the park, putting up with teenage mood swings, expensive college education, and so on.
No, one must continue to perform tasks, which children have observed you doing from an early age. There is renovation work in his or her apartment, the garden needs tending--which only you can do--and the need for cash never stops. I have always told my children that I plan to die poor, but they are helping me drain my funds. They do not need to look forward to an inheritance, because each have already killed the golden goose, metaphorically speaking.
On the positive side, one still has a relationship with one’s children, when many others avoid their parents...
_ The below article on parenting is rather interesting. I learned that we did most things correctly, albeit without knowing it at the time. It was merely common sense.
Unfortunately, this article—which appeared in a US publication—will have no positive affect. Americans are too stupid and/or arrogant to learn anything from foreigners, in particular the French. Too bad: ethnocentricity provides its own punishment.
In parenting, there is no right way or wrong way. There is only the way that children want or how they interpret what their parents did, do, or will do.
It is somewhat similar to what I wrote the other day about government officials and natural disasters: you can’t win for losing. You think that you are doing something useful and positive, only to have it thrown back in your face as the worst possible choice of actions. Passing on experience and knowledge is labeled as “trying to dictate how I live my life”. Being generous (ie. spoiling) is exploited and interpreted as a form of control or manipulation.
There is a saying: make it easy for your children when they are young and you make it difficult for them when they are old. I have noticed some truth in this. Perhaps, the most harmonious families are those, where the children leave home, make their own way in the world, and visit only at Thanksgiving. Complaining about lack of phone calls, letters, and emails must be less stressful than frequent confrontation, accusations, and hurt feelings.
I could not find a New Yorker in South Beach, so I bought an Atlantic. I needed something to read that could handle sun lotion, sand, and sweat (I have too much respect for books).
There was an article about parenting, which was very interesting. Now, I understand why my children are often unhappy. It’s my fault; I was not tough enough. All parents should read the article and determine how they did (if you believe psychologists!) I also understand why I have observed so many unruly children on this (and other trips to the US) vacation, acting as if they are the center of the universe. There were also plenty adults of that ilk in the current hotel (more later).
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.