Childhood in the rearview mirror

Back when blogs were still referred to as weblogs, I publicly detailed angst and dismay about all the things I swore would never happen on my parental watch. Suitably dubbed “The Crayon Is On the Wall,” the blog featured the often embarrassing lessons of humility taught by our three children.

We lived through the one year hot dog-only diet our oldest demanded — and, with a little help from Flintstone vitamins, so did she. Our bank account was worse off, but still better than the fish, when Mr. Bubbles was unexpectedly introduced to the saltwater tank.

Despite one of our angels dropping trou in the middle of the produce section and removing a softball sized wad of toilet paper from her backside (forgotten during a “magic potty” flushing scare), we weren’t banned from the Hy-Vee.

With enough elbow grease, gasoline will mostly free spray paint from brick. Turpentine is required, however, when curious youngsters discover a neighbor’s leftover roofing tar. And, yes, the purple tinge of fabric dye will eventually fade from the dog’s coat, but the paw prints will live on the stairs forever.

Neighbors may forgive, but will never forget an incident of public defecation in the alleyway. They’ll re-enact their frantic phone call to you at the child’s high school graduation.

The doctor is anxiously awaiting the perfect moment to hand your son the Barbie shoe fished from his nose.


As the kids have grown, such incidents have dwindled. The blog, and the fellowship it provided with other dismayed parents of mischief makers, became less important. And, what once seemed like sublime mortification is now the inside jokes and lore we haul out for the holidays.

Our youngest officially became a teenager this week. The event was marked with the addition of two parakeets, placing us one species closer to an unintentional competition with Noah. While I approached the birthday with a mix of trepidation and elation, anticipating the possible end of humility lessons, the worry was needless.


Before the wax cooled on the cake icing, our newly minted teen provided his initial written list of demands. The single sheet of paper, folded in half and hand delivered amid the haze before my first morning gulp of caffeine, begins: “Things I Need.” The legend indicates some should be relinquished immediately, others before the next school year.

Accessories for the parakeets are present and stand in contrast to his earlier, verbal edict that “you people” shouldn’t expect equal access to his room and the feathered entertainment therein. It seems, I’m responsible for, but will not be rewarded by, their happiness. While most of the list advances our son’s history of practicality, the fact that it was presented in writing marks a new era. I blame the 24-hour news cycle and wall-to-wall terrorism coverage.

There’s been no indication of what may befall us if demands aren’t met, but I hold secret concerns for his sister and the dogs. The boy has long been in cahoots with the cats, who I believe are at the root of this maniacal bird plan as well as his newly discovered fondness for grooming.

I’d opine about it some more, but there’s clearly some shopping to be done.



Family childhood

This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on May 30, 2015.