Friday, March 20, 2009

Who needs pets when you have children?

The kids screamed as my wife pulled the minivan to a stop next to a great tree-strewn lawn and slid open the doors. They popped from their car seats, giggled and ran into the park to chase squirrels.

My wife and I stood there, smiling as our four- and two-year-old dashed between trees, fell, scratched behind their ears, got up distracted by something blown by the wind and took off again.

Yeah, it’s nice to let the kids out to run.

The Girl fell and her brother stopped to help her. Good boy, I thought, and was happy my wife had brought treats. Then, as the Girl took off in a random direction, the Boy peed on a tree.

This behavior in children is, of course, normal. However, the following thought might encourage a personal visit from the Division of Family Services, a court-appointed counselor or Jesus. As we stood watching our children do things they’d better not do when they go to kindergarten, my wife dared say that in the first few years of a child’s life, parents treat their babies like dogs.

I was embarrassed to agree with her.

During the course of educating our children, we encourage them to roll over, sit, stand, shake hands, speak, eat out of a bowl and let us know when they have to go to the bathroom.

Children pace at the front door when they want to go outside. They crawl under their bed. We wake up to find they’ve crawled into our bed. They lick. They jump on the couch to look out the window. Their noses are usually wet. They splash in the bathtub then run around the house dripping wet. They hate to have their hair brushed. They whine when they’re hungry. They eat off the floor. They bring you random objects. And, yes, sometimes they have accidents on the carpet.

We parents don’t help. We take the kids for walks, play catch with them, teach them to stay in the yard, encourage them to do tricks, and some parents even put leashes on their children when they go to the mall.

When they’re tired, a small child will crawl up into a parent’s lap. And what does the parent do? Pet them.

We take our children to parks and lakes so they have room to run and some parents even put their kids in shows.

We tell our children how to behave, and tell them, “no,” when they don’t. Then, when the child does something right, we pat their head.

When our son was two, he said he wanted a dog. Instead, we gave him a little sister. I’m not sure he’s satisfied with that; she’s too stubborn to fetch.

Copyright 2009 by Jason Offutt

You can order Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at

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