Archive for the ‘Not Really Suitable For Anybody’ Category

Have You Seen This Child? Or Cat?

OPK: Most of us know what this stands for – Other People’s Kids. Usually, it’s not a positive term. It’s often got an underlying, even sinister meaning, like “You can’t take them anywhere (except church, heh heh heh…)” Of course, since Other People’s Kids have names and, since we don’t use their names when giving them the umbrella term of “Other People’s Kids,” it also implies a less-than-positive meaning.

Of course, we have all used this term, even if we haven’t done it in so many words. For example, we could have thought “Oh my God, when will it stop crying?” Or “I’m glad my kids aren’t like that,” or “Someone needs a nap/a bottle/attention/a diaper change/a timeout or a-good-swift-kick.”

Once, when I was a baby – so the story goes – my mother was out and about with me when some old biddy told her “Cover that baby’s head…” From then on, that woman’s comment, proclaimed her belief that my mother was an incompetent parent and that, if “that baby” were hers, such a shameful, tragic thing would never happen.

More likely, it probably also belied the woman’s sense of envy at not having kids, or having them any longer because they’d long since grown up and, grandma or not, her own kids don’t want her anywhere near their kids. My opinion? Even though I was just a baby, and this woman apparently spoke up on my behalf, as an adult I’m more inclined to think she was simply unable to find a man willing – or drunk enough – to inseminate her.

Every parent probably has a story such as that regarding their kid, and some careless or cutting remark a stranger made. It’s equally likely that every parent has also experienced a positive remark made about their child. As people, we are inclined to remember the positive remarks about our kids – “My, you are mommy’s beautiful baby,” or the negative ones “My, you are a handful today,” – based on our frame of mind.

If mommy or daddy didn’t get much sleep because their kid was up screaming all night, it’s possible that the parent will be more inclined to go with the “handful” remark. If everything seems rosy, even for just a moment, given how quickly kids’ moods change, then the “beautiful baby” remark fits best.

Of course, one fact that has not slipped my mind is that all of us, myself included, we were once OPK. As the firstborn in my family, my mom and dad were brand-new to the job of parenting. “Cover that baby’s head” remarks aside, they took, I’m sure, their share of “beautiful baby” remarks about me.

Then, as I grew older and began talking and walking, I was probably downgraded to “cute” because, next to the newborn kid the neighbors just had, I could no longer compete. Eventually, the remarks stopped altogether because, let’s face it, there isn’t enough time in a day for people to make remarks, even snooty ones, about every child they see.

You know, it’s funny, because it just crossed my mind that it’s also the way people tend to look at puppies. First, they’re “priceless, the way they are all curled up next to their mommy like that.” Next, with a little bit less enthusiasm, they become “so cute, the way they try to stand on their wiggly little legs and wag their little tails.”

Then, like their human counterparts, the puppy’s increased mobility (and lack of bladder control) gets them into more and more trouble. Soon, they become “terrible toddlers.” Then, parents or puppy owners alike say things like “I turned my head for two seconds, and look what he did…”

Next thing you know, they say “There’s a puddle on the living room rug,” or a once-spotless kitchen floor now has “…creamed carrots, peas, or spinach, etc. all over it.” And, of course, it’s all likely accompanied by a funny smell in the air. In time, a savvy parent or puppy owner can usually “tell by the smell” about 90% of the time which of the above it is.

Since the smell of a poopie diaper and doggie-doo is so similar, only the most masochistic new parents would have both a baby and a puppy at the same time. No matter what the TV commercials show, like those for carpet deodorizer and fabric softener, that curiously fun and happy and loving and sweet baby and puppy together seem too to be true. That’s because it’s BS, and unwary parents learn it-or will learn it-in a hurry.

My advice? If you absolutely have to have a pet, get a cat. Not a kitten, a cat. They are pretty low maintenance and can figure out how to use a litter box if they don’t already know how. Best of all, get an outdoor cat; you probably won’t see it much and, by the time you realize it was a mistake to get a pet in the first place, you’ll be happy you don’t.

If you’re lucky, it’ll bury its crap in the neighbor’s yard but not in their kid’s sandbox, so you won’t have to hear about it later. Think about it: your kid finally is taking a nap and, voilà!, You have a minute or two to yourself. The last thing you’ll want to hear is the doorbell ringing because little Jimmy from next door – with his mommy right behind him – wants to tell you he found a nice, warm lump in his sandbox just after he saw your sweet little Morris leave his backyard.

Depending on how much sleep you’ve been getting, you might wish to tell little Jimmy’s mommy to cover his head, not because it’s cold, but because you are seriously considering leaving a five-fingered tattoo upside it.
Remember, though, it’s not little Jimmy’s fault. His mommy is the one who knows damn well what you’re probably going through at that moment, and that cat shit is the last thing on your mind. My advice? Don’t do anything rash, tempting though it may be.

After all, no matter whose head needs to be covered – little Jimmy’s or his mommy’s – you’ll end up in the Big House, and your own child will likely grow up not knowing who his mommy or daddy is.

Which brings me to my next subject: OPP, or Other People’s Parents…