Skepchick Mailbag: Lentil-Burger Babies

Last week, we received this letter in the Skepchick Mailbag. I was hoping to get it posted sooner, but I’ve been quite busy. I had these conferences to go to and a wedding to help plan (and keep secret) and parties to attend and contests to judge and sleep to not get. Sorry for the delay!

My husband, Danny, and I have decided it’s time to further the human
race and make a baby or two.  Problem being, we are having trouble
finding books, blogs, and other resources concerning pregnancy,
parenting, and the enormity of creating an entire human being all by
ourselves that aren’t completely lentil-burger.  I know you have
recommended Dale McGowan as an author, but he is more about the
“instilling values into your kids” and less about the “Oh my god, now
I have to take this baby home and raise it what am I going to do?”

Do you have any suggestions for an excited, but terrified, future
budding family?


Thanks for writing Teresa! I wish you all the best in your quest to procreate and parent. Being responsible for another human being – a mushy, fragile, blank slate, impressionable human being – is a big deal. It’s a scary endeavor. But here’s the good-ish news: knowing how scary it is and how important your role is as a parent is the first sign that you could possibly be really ready to parent! The bad news? Nothing prepares you to become a parent.

What I really want to do is give you a great Skepchick’s Official Guide® to being a great skeptical parent –  a point by point instructional on how to raise skeptical children. Unfortunately, kids don’t work that way. Skeptical or not, there is not a “right way” or “best way” to raise kids. Parenting skills are something you develop as you go along… and when you have another one, everything you thought you knew about raising a kid goes out the window because… you know, that’s how people work. We’re all very different, even from the very beginning.

And you can’t raise your children to become great critical thinkers. You can only offer them the tools. It’s up to them to decide whether to use them or not. There are great skeptical parents out there with great skeptical children. They aren’t out there by accident. How each of them does it, I don’t know. The best I can offer is a few tips.

“From you, alright! I learned it by watching you!” Live skeptically. Skepticism isn’t something you use now and then. It’s something you do all the time. For the first few years, most of what your kids learn comes from watching the people and things around them combined with their innate curiosity. Kids will try to repeat everything you do. Let them see you asking questions. Let them see you accept that you make mistakes. Be the example.

Don’t indoctrinate your children. As veteran skeptics, we tend to dismiss some things before the question can even be asked (like when we already know the answer.) We know astrology is bullshit, and we don’t have to think much of it. However, it’s important to not teach our children that “astrology is bullshit.” Or that “ghosts don’t exist”. Instead, engage their sense of wonder. Rather than telling them things like “We don’t believe that”, ask them the questions that will help lead them to the answer. Tell them that astrology is a belief that stars affect how we are as individual people. Then ask them questions. Help them come to a conclusion, but don’t give them the answer.

Don’t dismiss their “silly questions”. You can guide them… show them how to find the answers to their questions. And reassure them that there’s nothing wrong with coming up with a different answer than they expected or even wanted.

Embrace change. I think this is the one of the hardest things to do as a human being. We like it when things stay the same. We like our facts to remain facts. But many times, the things you and I learned as kids stop being facts. For some reason, we find this upsetting. In my state, Pluto is legally a planet. WTF, Illinois? As if Phil Plait called all his Astronomers in Charge of the Universe Club members and said, “Hey, wanna really get people mad? Let’s get rid of Pluto!” And they all laughed and tapped their fingers together while everyone on Earth freaked out. There’s no reason to be emotionally attached to Pluto’s planet status other than the fact that we just don’t like change.  Try to show your child that change = learning. Perhaps the change isn’t better, but the change has taught them something. And the change has taught you something as well.

Let them explore. If it’s not stupidly dangerous, let them do it. Sometimes this will get annoying – like when your toddler goes through his pulling everything out of drawers phase. Or when they have to push that same button for the 150th time just to see if it still does the same thing when they push it. But you know what that is? That’s science! It’s the scientific method… don’t stifle that curiosity. At some point we seem to lose it, not completely, but as we grow, it fades significantly. There’s no reason to encourage less curiosity, is there?

Lastly, vaccinate. There’s no reason to let the potential great leaders of tomorrow die off from something stupid like whooping cough or tetanus.

Maybe your future skeplings will grow up to become great minds. Maybe they will grow up to become young earth creationists. You can’t force either one upon them or away from them. All you can do is guide them… the rest is up to them.

Good luck, Teresa!  Parenting is a frustrating, overwhelming, scary and, at times, thankless job… but one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever have the opportunity to experience.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Good post Elyse!

    I’ve found that children grow and learn best in a world with rational and consistent boundaries and expectations, and where parents model respect, friendship and cooperation. And dump all baby talk affected speech as soon as possible, tell lots of rich and fascinating stories and read lots of good books to the kiddo’s!!!

  2. I have to agree with James Fox about the baby talk. We’ve never used it with either of our two boys (five and two). Aside from a word or two they invented, we speak to them as we would adults.

    The vocabulary my five year old has is stunning.

    Rational and consistent boundaries are also the rule. They WILL amaze you how often they test those boundaries, even when you do keep them very clear. They’ll still try to see what they can get away with. Hell, maybe the rules changed when they weren’t noticing. They will probe, for sure.

    Dale McGowan’s got a couple books well worth reading: Parenting Beyond Belief, and Raising Freethinkers. I’ve got to give them best recommendations.

  3. I concur with both James and Skepdick on dropping babytalk. I never did it with my kids and they all are verbally ahead of their peers. But more importantly they think about what they are saying and reconsider. I also ask them lots of questions. “Daddy, why did [xyz]?” “Well, what do you think would make that happen?” I’m hoping to provide them with the tools to think for themselves and critically analyze situations. They may well come to conclusions I disagree with and make choices I disagree with, but that’s their right.

  4. Great post! I would add that a couple years ago I was feeling the same level of parental frustration and set out to remedy that. I started my own skeptical parenting blog and have since discovered that there are new ones cropping up all the time. I’ve got some more info on my blog, and a fairly comprehensive list of skeptical parenting resources on (sorry for the plug, but I figured it’s quite relevant!)

  5. Kids are pretty tough. If they were nearly as fragile as we are led to believe we would have died out a long time ago. Love them. Spend as much time with them as you can. Don’t lie to them, they will remember it. Be honest. Spend lots of time with them. Read to them. Play with them. Let them help in the kitchen. They will just slow you down but they will be much more likely to eat something that they helped to make. Spend lots of time with them. Get a play pen and use it. Safer for them safer for you. Get plug outlet covers and cabinet and drawer locks. Spend lots of time with them. Answer every question they ask to the best of your ability even if that answer is I don’t know. Tell them you love them a lot. Spend lots of time with them.

  6. Well said Elyse, there is no right or best way of parenting. And I with James, Skepdick, and revmatty. Do not talk baby talk, I think that is insulting, those kids are smarter than you and learn much faster. Talk to them like they were adults, that’s right talk to them not at them or down to them. If they don’t understand something they will ask about it.
    A word or two about behaviour as well, kids are going to scream and holler when playing, they are not doing it to aggravate you or the neighbours, let them do it, it just means they are having fun. Children are very good at entertaining themselves, they really don’t need all that ‘educational’ stuff, I would say the less stuff the better, but that’s just my opinion.
    One more thing, inappropriate behaviour, with a few children there is no amount or punishment, reward, cajoling, convincing or whatever that is going to make those children behave moderately. All those times I have seen those children and thought to myself or said to the person next to me, “Why don’t those parents do something with that kid?” Well later on in life I discovered that it wasn’t the parents, but the child that was the problem.
    One last thing, enjoy their childhood to the fullest because at first it seems like forever, but it always over too soon, when they get to be about 8 or so they find their own friends and parents become like appliances that came with the house.
    Good Luck with the parenting

  7. Great post, Elyse! :)

    I especially agree with the “Don’t indoctrinate” part. The process of asking questions that will lead them to the answers makes for some really wonderful conversations with your child. Mine’s four and I find his questions very invigorating. He really makes me think about my answers and can nail any amount of bullshit a mile away. It makes a skeptic mommy so proud!

    Also, as several people have said – no babytalk. My little guy is verbally advanced to the point that I practically have to pull out documentation of his age sometimes, people just can’t believe his vocabulary, sentence structure and how well he puts his thoughts/questions into words. Not that I’m proud or anything. :P

  8. I agree 100% on the baby talk thing. I also don’t think you should go out of your way to correct your child’s “baby talk” unless you’re sure their incorrect speaking is the result of them misunderstanding. Usually they’re still trying to figure out how to create words and language.

    Simply repeating what they’re trying to say and engaging them in conversation is far better than telling them “You’re wrong!”


    I might argue that advice from people who are parents isn’t really much better.

  9. Read to them. A lot. Encourage them to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to tell them “I don’t know” if they ask you a tough one. Then involve them in the process of finding out the answer.

    Encourage them to try new things – foods, sports, cultures – so that they develop an appreciation of different perspectives.

    Similarly, don’t be afraid to admit that you were wrong about something – it can be difficult, but in the long run, they’ll be better served by that than they will by years of “because I’m the parent”.

    Finally, teach them early that actions have consequences – some good, some bad – and that they have an obligation to accept the consequences of their actions.

  10. I disagree with everyone about the baby talk. Kids will learn to talk regardless of how you teach them, and baby talk is not necessarily condescending. Kids will learn to talk whether you talk to them directly or even if they only overhear you talking to other adults. Your anecdotes are not enough evidence to convince me that avoiding baby talk made your kids learn faster. Show me some evidence that baby talk makes kids speak wrong or that it delays their speech, and then I’ll believe you. So each parent should choose to baby talk or not depending on their preferences, and just not worry about it.

    However, I completely agree with Elyse that you shouldn’t correct wrong language unless it becomes a major problem. Kids just aren’t perfect, and criticizing them can be counter-productive and discourage them from trying. To teach them any skills, including language, it’s usually best to reward good behavior and ignore wrong behavior. Temper tantrums go away pretty fast once the kid realizes you’ll ignore the tantrum. It can be hard to ignore your child’s behavior while they are crying and screaming, but giving in to their demands or even just giving them attention isn’t good for anyone.

    My advice to being a good parent is to practice by baby-sitting other people’s kids. It might sound cruel to use other people’s kids as experiments, but it can really help you, and if you mess up, their regular parents can more than make up for it.

    For very basic childcare stuff like diapers and feeding, I think baby-sitting classes are more useful than parenting classes because they don’t come with all the moralizing and woo that parenthood seems to invite. If you can get past your embarrassment of being in a class with 13 year-olds, it’s a great way to learn basic care.

  11. @JayK: Reading definitely! My parents read to my brothers and I until we were in middle school. It was great family time and we all had vocabularies far beyond our grade levels.

    My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for close to three years now. I’m 7 weeks along now and starting to look into the baby side of things instead of just the conception part. The amount of information out there is totally overwhelming. It’s hard to sort the bad advice from the good. I mentioned this to my mom and she said “What kids really need is parents that love them. Everything else is secondary.”

  12. Play with your kids, not just using real toys but also with their minds. Try to get them to imagine new worlds or different environments, to pretend to be doctors or astronauts or pirates, and don’t be afraid to be silly right along with them.

    The key to any scientific endeavour is being able to imagine what isn’t apparent or visible: to be able to make that superrational leap from where we are to somewhere else. Prediction, exploration, comprehension – they all require a healthy imagination in which to play, where we can bring up scenarios and test them out. As long as the difference between “real” and “fantasy” is understood, the best thing you can do is teach a child to enjoy both fantasy and reality.

    Logic, math, and reason are all necessary for the proper execution and understanding of science – but without imagination to point the way, the others are useless tools.

  13. @catgirl: I disagree with everyone about the baby talk. Kids will learn to talk regardless of how you teach them, and baby talk is not necessarily condescending.

    I never said anything of the sort or even implied that too much baby talk hampers language development in children. To me it sounds stupid, I think your friends think it sounds stupid and eventually your kids will think it sounds stupid, and they will no doubt be at higher risk of early pregnancy/impregnating, substance abuse issues and moderately irritating chronic mental health problems. No research or evidence involved in those reasons, just my opinions.

  14. Perhaps I should clear up what I mean by “baby talk”. I don’t mean talking to your child in a higher pitch or being cutesy with them.

    When I say “baby talk” I mean that you stop using the correct English word for something and replace it with the toddler pronunciation. Moose doesn’t call “ducks” “gucks” because that’s what he THINKS they’re called. He calls them ducks because he’s still trying to figure out how to form the sounds. If I were to start calling ducks “gucks”, I’d be doing a disservice to him and it IS demeaning.

    Using your “baby voice” is not the same and is something we do without knowing it. Maybe it sounds silly… but you know, being silly with your kid is pretty important. And I’d never want to send the message to him that he shouldn’t do something because other people might look at him funny.

  15. And me, I was just trying to be funny. However here is some evidence in support of the silliness of baby talk and infantile affected speech. ;)

  16. @Elyse, we agree with you on not going out of our way in correcting our boys’ speech. Gamma, the oldest, makes the occasional usage mistake and responds well to correction. He had pronunciation difficulties with some words, but they self corrected as we thought they would. Epsilon, the youngest, is just starting to try out words, earlier than Gamma did.

    Gamma was later speaking than most, interestingly enough. A developmental interferer at the local military hospital was terribly concerned about it once while we were waiting our perfunctory 15 minutes after immunizations. She thought he was behind in “breaking the code”. We were more than a little annoyed with her, but we knew very well what Gamma understood or not. Personally, I think she was trying to justify her phony baloney job.

    Nonetheless, catgirl, I agree that kids will learn language anyway. It’s just an issue of which language you want them to learn and how that language works. We figured it best to let them learn our proper language first instead of learning gibberish-speak, then moving on to English.

    I wonder what the Skepbitch has to say on this subject?

  17. Superb post, Elyse!

    I’m not (to my knowledge) a procreator, and I don’t really plan on that changing, but I have always thought about how I would raise my hypothetical children to be free thinkers; to help instill in them an unbridled sense of curiosity (dead cats and opened boxes notwithstanding) and give them the tools to seek for themselves.


  18. I correct my kids when they mispronounce or misuse a word, but usually do it in the form of “wait, what did you say” in order to get them to correct themselves and learn how to figure out language problems for themselves.

  19. @Elyse: I never said it was, just wanted to throw that out there, and see who would ponder it. As I am not a parent, if you took my advice, you would be not, and if you didn’t take my advice, you would.

    All part of my evil plan…throw out paradoxes to people who are smarter than me, they theink about it till their brains explode, I become the smartest person in the world. MUHAHAHA

  20. I was usually more concerned with volume control (the indoor voice versus the out door voice) as opposed to language development. My wife is English and has a great accent; and when the kids were small they would pronounce many words like their mum when talking to her and switch back when talking to me. There is a lot of good research that shows telling your children stories with complex story lines and rich vocabulary does benefit language and thinking development. Capacity is innate in humans but complex skills require modeling, repetition and situational practice. My wife and I found that if we used words that were sometime just out of reach of the kids current understanding they would ask more questions and engage in the narrative more.

  21. James Fox said: “My wife and I found that if we used words that were sometime just out of reach of the kids current understanding they would ask more questions and engage in the narrative more.”

    Yes. This. I have had the exact same experience.

  22. My daughter taught her kids to use ASL before they could talk to ask for simple things. Kids are quite bright enough to learn it.

    Once they start talking, listen to them. They have more to say than you might as first suspect. They understand much more than we adults give them credit for, too.

  23. @QuestionAuthority: “My daughter taught her kids to use ASL before they could talk to ask for simple things. ”

    My sister-in-law did this as well and I was most intrigued. It’s supposed to get them an early start on language skills. Has anyone ever tested this in a rigorous fashion?

  24. If only threads such as this were around when we had our kids. The whole skeptical parenting routine was made even more difficult because finding others trying to do the same thing seemed impossible here in one of the belt loops on the bible belt.

    Now that they are 22 and 26, I can proudly say they are both strong, caring, and skeptical adults. It’s exciting to see your kids be successful and happy, all while keeping a good head on their shoulders.

    Just 11 weeks ago, the oldest made us grandparents. Along with her husband, they are taking what we did and making it better since they have far more options to reach and out and connect with similar type parents. The information is far easier to find than it used to be, and just having others to talk with is helpful. She (the baby) already has her own bookcase filled with books in various languages, topics, pretend ones, ones about jobs, others about animals, a few on science related things. Stickie notes are finding their way onto various things around the house with the word for the object printed on them. But it’s not all academic either. They spend a lot of time just talking with her about why mommy is putting her in the I Love Daddy pajamas – so when he gets home tomorrow morning and comes into her room, there she is, all ready to smile at him (he is a firefighter who works 24-hr shifts). I’ve heard them explain why they had to put her down so they could make a bottle, “I don’t want to drop you, but I also don’t want to get this sticky powder all over the floor.”

    For those of you that are trying to be the skeptical parent PLEASE KEEP TRYING! It’s well worth it.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle the holiday “stories” or things like the toothfairy, other than the obvious one of not presenting them as fact, but as the stories they are?

  25. @davew:

    I do ASL with Moose. I’m in the middle of writing about it… I’ll try to get it done when I’m not hung over or jetsetting to skeptic events around the country.

  26. @Cammie: I just went with all of the toothfairty, santa clause, easter bunny stuff until they were old enough to ask if it was real. They would ask if it was real. I asked what they thought. They said that they didn’t think it was real and I told them they were right. It was fun for a few years when they were much younger and we kept up easter for a lot longer because hunting for eggs is fun and candy is yummy.

  27. @catgirl: I agree with you that babytalk need not be detrimental. We probably did an average amount of babytalk or less, but our daughter had speech delays that seem to be more related to a combination of mouth configuration and perfectionism than to any babytalk we did. Kids are listening to you a lot of the time, not just when you’re talking directly to them, so they’ll hear lots of adult speech.

    I also agree about the babysitting as practice. We did some of that before deciding to have a kid, and we still went for it lol.

  28. @davew: Not that I know of. It was the first I had heard of it. Both of my grandkids could ask for simple things like food, a drink of water, diaper change, etc. before they could talk. :-o

    I was fascinated watching them. I wish we had known that kids that young could do that – we would have taught our two. Our kids were way ahead on language skills anyway – many of the kids on both sides of the family are – must be good genes. ;-) My wife’s brother is a real genius (as in, scary smart…He would sit in the back of advances math classes reading comic books. When the teacher would ask him to solve and equation on the board, he would look up, answer it verbally, and go back to his comic book! :-o )

    We are the only ones (other than her sister) that provide the grandkids with books – TONS of books, including books above their level. (Sneaky, aren’t we? ;-) ) Bargain outlets are great for finding kid’s books at a discount! As we are all voracious readers, we want to make sure the grandkids are, too.

    @elyse: I very much would like to read your article(?) when you’re done.

  29. When I read the heading , all I could envision was pod people babies popping out of burgers made from alien spawned lentils.

  30. Sounds like good advice from one and all. Thanks everyone, especially Elyse!


  31. Hmmm….

    Theresa, one thing you might want to check into for babyhood is the AAP. They used to have some texts for dealing with young’uns that were fairly free of all the moralizing and stuff you see in a lot of those “bringing home baby books. I think their newest one might be American Academy of Pediatrics Baby and Child Health. For pregnancy, I think the Mayo Clinic has a guide. Both of these suggestions, obviously, are going to run more toward the clinical, but they should have some good, sound information in them.

    You’ve received a lot of good tips from others already. One of the things I’ve found works for me is involving the kids in the response to problem areas. If the kid dumps something all over the floor, I don’t go for time-out, I go for having them help clean up the mess. Similarly, most problems that they have with each other involve human “mess” that needs to be cleared up and I’ll act as arbitrator. Again, this errs on the side of involvement with you and with making them do some problem-solving. This doesn’t mean no firm boundaries, but consequences are sort of built-in.

    I don’t have much of a suggestion on the ASL/baby talk divide. I didn’t baby talk as I don’t like hearing it, but that’s me. My kids both talked earlier than most people seemed to start the sign language.

    Cammie, what I’ve done with the Tooth Fairy and the like is just treat them like I do most other stories, only, well, with presents attached. I don’t sit the kids down and tell them Barney’s not real. I let them enjoy the stories, I read a variety of books where these creatures have different appearances and customs associated with them, and let the kids play the game. I make clear that you can still play the game even if you don’t believe, if you want you can even make the game more interesting by participating on both sides (hey, you can help me fill daddy’s stocking!!).

  32. Ihave some big news for you. Children are not born “a blank slate”. They are born with distinct personalities intact and nothing you do will change it. You can teach them, feed them, shield them but they are who they are. Your job as parent is to keep them healthy and alive and provide them with an education. There are scads of criminals raised by pacifistic, wonderful parents. There are lots of wonderful, altruistic people raised by selfish jerks. There are givers raised by takers, takers raised by givers. If you think your child can be molded by you and your ideals you are in for a sad shock. Dressing your baby in organic cotton, eating only local food and spending every holiday at the soup kitchen will not produce a new, improved version of yourself. You will probably not be much of a better parent than your parents were. You will not be your child’s friend. If you try to hard you will become that wierd parent who acts like a doofus and uses slang while your kids friends laugh behind your back. You do not create a child, nature does. Your are the vessel and the caretaker for this creation of nature. You are not a god put in place to dictate a childs’ every moment. So relax, go screw, give birth, enjoy the messes and raise them in the hopes they will be self sufficent adults who no longer need you in 18 years.

  33. I guess the one thing I didn’t comment on was how we treated the fictional characters.

    We did tell them what was real and what was fiction from the start. The tooth fairy, easter bunny, and the other minor characters never had a role in either of our childhoods, so it was no leap to omit them from our boys’ lives.

    The BIG ONE, Santa Claus, was also easy, but after we read Tom Flynn’s book, The Trouble With Christmas.

    We weren’t atheists for our oldest’s first three years, but we started examining things much more closely when he got to the age where he cared about things like Santa Claus.

    We don’t shield them from fiction. Far from it. But we never imply that something fictional is anything else.

    A little off the subject, we took Tom Flynn’s advice and gave christmas a complete miss last year. It was perfectly wonderful. Totally stress free. I recommend it highly.

    Our annual celebration and gift giving observance is February 12th, Darwin Day. This year, I got a really cool gyroscope and my boys got a real stereo dissection microscope (10 & 30X). I think next year is a binocular microscope.

  34. We did ASL with our daughter pretty early on. Just simple signs: milk, more, Mom, Dad, eat, bottle, cat. We felt like total idiots for the longest time, because she never used a sign and never responded to one of our signs. Nothing. Then one day when she was about a year old, she toddled in as I was making lunch in the kitchen. I looked at her and said, “Hey, kiddo. Go tell Dad it’s time to eat.”

    The little stinker toddled back into the living room and made the signs for “Dad” and “eat,” like it was the most normal thing in the world. It works. It really does.

    As for the baby-talk thing: We never did it. Higher-pitched voice, probably, but we used proper words and syntax from the beginning. Here’s a little trick: Instead of correcting the child when she says something incorrectly, repeat it back to her in the proper form. Our daughter had a really hard time with subject/object/possessive pronouns, which is pretty typical. If she pointed at a kid and said, “Her has a pretty raincoat,” one of us would say, “Yes, she has a pretty raincoat.” We found out this does two things: Lets the child know that you were listening and you value what she said, and gives her the proper form to file away for next time.

    My only other advice would be good luck, have fun, and realize that your kid(s) will never remember how clean the living room was. Don’t let small, inconsequential stuff get in the way of spending time with them, just having fun and hanging out. (Yes, I wish my husband the militant cleaner read this blog.)

  35. A book review by Harriet Hall at SBM :

    “So many of the posts on this blog are critical and deal with examples of poor science or other problems. I’d like to offer a breath of fresh air in the form of a book by Mark Sloan, MD: Birth Day: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth. …”

  36. Thanks for that suggestion, James. That looks like a good book!

    Really, there are a few modes of thought on Santa. As I mentioned, I let the kids play the game and we did the presents but didn’t make Santa a big deal. I answered questions about Santa with questions until asked (or, in the case of my kids, really told) point-blank if Santa wasn’t real. Both of mine have let go of Santa by now, and the youngest is 5 yo. Really, you can play the game and confirm the idea of Santa when asked, you can tell the kids Santa’s not real, or you can play (or not) the game to a certain extent and answer questions with questions, making the kids think about it. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. I understand the idea that some people would consider this lying to the kids. I’m not sure I consider the Santa presents that much more of a lie than giving my oldest’s stuffed animal kung fu lessons so it could beat up the monsters or not immediately dismissing the hordes of invisible friends and creatures they believed they had.

    I let mine play with religious and mythological ideas as well, though. We teach them the Biblical stories as well as stories from other mythological traditions, and treat both similarly. My oldest is very, very into myth right now, almost compulsively focusing on Greek and Egyptian mythology, which he thinks is cooler than the Christian stuff.

  37. “From you, alright! I learned it by watching you!”

    I’m sorry; did you just quote Clone High?

  38. Just bear this in mind: If, discovering your toddler patiently creating little mountains of flour on the floor, you say: “Dude, what the hell?” he will repeat this phrase endlessly, to the dogs, to the cats, to your spouse, to your friends, to your parents, to strangers and caregivers alike, whenever anyone does anything that seems a little out of sorts to him.

    And you will be amazed at the number of things that seem out of sorts to a 2 year old.

  39. @SQFreak: No, no, that’s an old PS commercial.

    Parent: “Is this pot? Where did you learn to do this?”

    Child: sullen silence

    Parent:”Answer me? Where did you learn this?”

    Child: “From you, allright?! I learned it by watching you!”

    Parent is crestfallen and unable to respond, cue announcer.

  40. here’s the anti-drug PSA.

    Drugs are a terrible thing, and parents who use them have kids who use them… but they also apparently have nice jobs, nice homes, nice clothes, and can afford nice things for their kids (including, possibly, private music lessons!)

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