Family / Kids / Parenting

Urban myths of parenting

Miguel and Zeca

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH

When I was growing up, people didn’t worry as much about safety as we do today. There weren’t car seats and most people didn’t even wear seatbelts. I remember lying on a blanket reading comic books in the back of my sister’s Chevy Blazer on our road trips to the Lake of the Ozarks. Remember when kids didn’t wear bike helmets? I do. I also vividly remember flying over the front of the handle bars of my 10-speed bike.

When my own kids came along and I thought aloud about safety and the need to child-proof our home, my mom would always say, “You think too much! We never thought about that stuff back in my day and you’re fine.”

It’s true. I survived my childhood, so I tried not to be a complete freak about safety when my kids were little.

Of course, I also thought my kids wouldn’t do those dumb things you hear about, those things that seem like urban myths of parenting.

I had to learn the hard way that, sometimes, urban myths begin in truth.

1. Kids will stick things in their ears/noses/other holes.

I assumed this happened to one dopey kid at some point and, suddenly, parents were supposed to keep all small objects out of the reach of little hands and then I got the call from school.

Teacher: “Vikki, Miguel has a bead stuck in his ear.”

Vikki: “What? How did that happen?”

Teacher: “Well, he put it in there.”

Vikki: “But why would he do that?!”

After an early pick-up from school and a trip to two ear/nose/throat specialists, the red bead stuffed into my son’s ear was freed.

2. In the freezing cold, kids will stick their tongues to poles.

I could not imagine this ever happening because what could possibly possess someone to walk up to something metal stuck in the ground and think, “I want to lick that.” Then, one day, I picked up my son from school and he was toddling along behind me and I put his backpack in the car and asked him a question and he said, “Mrummph!” and I turned to see my adorable child standing on the sidewalk with his tongue stuck to the pole of a street sign. I screamed, “Don’t move!” just as he ripped his tongue from the pole.

3. Kids will stick their fingers in light sockets.

We put the socket protectors in our light sockets but, surprisingly (given #1 and #2 above), Miguel never went near a light socket. So, the whole socket protector thing seemed like one of those modern day parent gadgets that are completely unnecessary. Then, while we were at Luisa’s father’s house in Portugal, we heard sweet little 15-month-old Zeca crying in another room. We ran  to see what was wrong but couldn’t tell what had happened. It became clear later that day when every time she passed a light socket, she would point and whimper, “Owie.”

4. Kids will try walking down the stairs and fall if unattended.

Let’s be real – most baby gates are ugly. Despite Miguel’s impulsivity, he never tried to go up or down stairs without assistance until he was able to do so safely so we never had to use baby gates. But Zeca started walking when she was just nine months old and nine-month-old babies have the common sense of a demented labrador. Zeca tried to walk off landings and stairs into thin air. She would have walked off a cliff with a smile on her face. She is the kind of kid for whom baby gates were invented and probably the kind of kid who inspired the phrase, “May the road rise up to meet you.”

These are the urban myths that turned out to be true for us. What were yours?

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9 Comments

  1. Truth! We have yet to prove any parenting urban myths (T minus 4-6 weeks until we get the opportunity!), but I did once remove an eye from a kid’s ear. A google eye, that is. Needless to say, we were all thoroughly amused.

    And we solved the ugly baby gate problem…local artisans: cabinet maker made the gate & wood sculptor added decoration & installed. I highly recommend. Too bad I can’t add a photo here.

  2. Loved this. Ben was my Harold and Maude kid. The one I remember the most was coming home from Target, trying to steer two-year-old Ben into the house while I carried three-month-old Abby and about two dozen plastic bags of crap hanging off my arms. I dumped the bags on the floor of the kitchen first so I could get the baby installed in her bouncy seat. This took about 90 seconds, at the most. I turned around when I heard a muffled “mrr-mrr” sound that almost could have been “Mama.” Yep. There was my brilliant boy with a white plastic bag pulled so snugly over his head, you could see it getting sucked in where his nostrils were as he tried to breathe. I honestly remember thinking, “Oh, god. I have the kid they had to make the labels for.”

    • Ha! “Oh, god. I have the kid they had to make the labels for.” THANK YOU for that!

      And ouch: 90 seconds. Yep. There’s a reason parents are so daggone jittery while in The Weeds, as I will ever & always call the infant-through-toddler decathlon.

    • I love this, Stacy. Ben and Miguel are quite the pair.

  3. Ugh, light sockets. Teaching at a preschool allows me the benefit of seeing all the myths come true…and then some! Why are fire alarms low enough for 3-year-olds to reach? Why would a child choose to find something in the trash more savory than the snack sitting on the plate? More than once I’ve said, “Friends don’t pour buckets of sand on top of their friends in the sandbox just because they are sitting next to you in the sandbox. Also, why would you put the sand in your mouth??”

    Adorable little beasts, aren’t they?

  4. Oh. I kind of want to know what happened to Miguel when he pulled his tongue off the pole. Total morbid fascination!

    I went down the steps myself three times. Once, I was walking backwards and my parents (silly parents) were trying to REASON with me. I was 2. My sister, a soccer player at the time, took a leap at the last minute, caught me, and held me in the air as we fell down the entire flight! See? True sisterly love. At the bottom, I may or may not have asked to do it again. I was the dickens.

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