Polly Peepers / family advice
Dear Polly Peepers –
Our third grader recently announced at the dinner table that he wanted a condom. When my husband questioned him, our son had no idea what a condom was. He thought a condom was a credit card. What should I be more worried about, that he wants a condom or that he wants a credit card?
– Should we be scared? / Boston, Mass
Dear Yes You Should –
I guess it’s actually come to this – third grade condoms and credit cards. First of all, I’m in the camp where educating your child on sex is much like teaching your child to eat lobster … you want them to eventually know the taste, but you hold out as long as you can because you don’t want to pay for it.
But I do believe that once you no longer can get away with telling your children that Mommy and Daddy are wrestling, it’s far better for the conversation to be within the family circle as opposed to the Internet or the peer group.
As far as a credit card is concerned, I’m actually more worried about inappropriate spending than I’m worried about inappropriate sex. With that said, let’s hit the true basics of parenting – for my money, the whole game in raising children comes down to two words, ‘love’ and ‘identity’.
The love part can be tricky. Although many parents may be doing everything they can for their children in the name of love, some never experienced parents who could express their feelings, or didn’t know how to describe their feelings, so genetically launching the love boat can be difficult. On the other hand, and somewhat ironically, oftentimes children can teach their parents how to say and mean I love you. Not all has been lost in modern times.
The key to identity is self-confidence, and here are the four horsemen – pride in family, developing the courage to challenge yourself, not being afraid of change, knowing how to deal with and admit mistakes … along with these accessible ideals, begin teaching your children at an early age about planning, working hard, and dreaming about what makes them happy and fulfilled. After these foundational basics, there will be plenty of time to deal with condoms and credit cards.
Dear Polly –
My husband is unemployed. At this point, he has no choice but to change careers. So now, after I leave for work every day and then come home with his favorite groceries, I find that he’s been spending the entire day on the Internet, which worries me Polly, it worries me a lot. The man lives in GoogleLand.
He says he’s looking at websites for a job and I’m thinking yeh right, a job with big boobs. And then after twenty-six weeks of unemployment research, guess what happens? He finally decides that he knows what he wants to be. So we spend all this money for a big meal and he announces to me and to friends of ours who came with us that he wants to be a guru. I’m not making this up, Polly, I swear.
Specifically, he’s decided he wants to be a part-time guru, three days a week, preferably not on Wednesdays, and he wants to look into renting an open space at Wal-Mart next to loans. Now Polly, on the surface, I know all of this makes sense – he’s a people person, he enjoys being fawned over, and he has Venmo.
But am I missing some piece of the puzzle here? He wants to be a guru at Wal-Mart. I told him sure, if I get to be Meryl Streep.
– In Googleland, The Dalles, Oregon
Oddly enough, there is good money in being a guru. Two of my friends are gurus and the key to forward earnings in guruhood is to teach others to be gurus themselves. It’s sort of like Amway meets Buddhism with a touch of Madoff. And ironically, a good marriage may also include the same formula.
The Amway component is that all marriages are a family business and emotional cleansing products are always useful … the Buddhism component involves mutual respect and the grace of acceptance – a guru respecting the client (partner) and accepting financial reimbursement (praise) when earned … the touch of Madoff is that financially, life has become a chain letter which pays for today at the expense of tomorrow
So my advice is go ahead, encourage him to be a guru. At least he doesn’t want to run for office. And don’t give up on Meryl Streep. Polly
Dear Polly Peepers –
Our three-year-old still does not sleep through the night and we are becoming concerned. I am breastfeeding his six-month-old sister, and it’s been suggested that I also breastfeed our three year old when he has trouble sleeping. Do you have any opinion on that?
– Exhausted, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dear Exhausted –
My forty-six-year-old husband doesn’t sleep through the night either, even though there is enough natural gas in our bedroom to euthanize a baseball stadium. You may want to try some of the things I do – make sure your child doesn’t eat upsetting foods before bed (tomatoes, cheese, fruit, vodka) … tell your child a pleasing story before bed or in my case how I saved three dollars at Food King by buying a body size bag of potato chips.
Of course, breastfeeding is a popular option for calming children as well as putting them to sleep. But I disagree with the popular notion that children will know on their own when to stop breastfeeding. Leaving my husband out of this, I believe a child should be breastfed no more than one year, even if the feeding puts your child to sleep.