The invariable mark of wisdom is seeing the miraculous in the common.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
The Terrible Twos …
“You may have to negotiate with them about their Christmas wish list,” a child-raising guru just pronounced in a TV interview, this 25th day of November 2007.
She was talking about children whom a spin-doctor labeled “the terrible twos” a while back.
Now negotiating with a two-year-old is a topic to set Grandmas and Grandpas off like Mount Vesuvius. Grandpa hollering at the television, Grandma hushing him up, though agreeing with the message, “One Xmas present was enough in our day, and would be good for them today if they thought about it. Keep that up year after year and their expectations will be so high they’ll be set for a big fall one day! Oh, and by the way, we’ll be putting up an Xmas tree, using Xmas, Merry Christmas, or whatever else is banned by interfering mandarins and teaching kids to do the same.
“I didn’t go overseas to get shot at to come home and be told my way is the highway, and besides that the guru who originated that Terrible Twos urban myth should be sentenced to a-year-and-a-day at a daycare full of two-year-olds. He’d learn something, well, if he or she knows how to listen.
“There’s a lot of wisdom in the advice. ‘When the world’s got you down with all its hustle and bustle take the hand of a child and go for a walk.’ That’ll do more for you than all the special pick-me-ups you can find anywhere.”
Grandpa does go on once he gets on his soapbox, but he hits the mark once in a while.
Why, before you turn around, he’ll be telling you about Willy’s first day-care lady who asked him to “name one important thing we have today that we didn’t have six years ago.”
And him as quick as a wink him saying: “Me!”
Or when the teacher asked Elizabeth, “Didn’t you promise to behave?
Elizabeth: “Yes, sir.”
Teacher: “And didn’t I promise to punish you if you didn’t?”
Elizabeth: “Yes, sir, but since I broke my promise, I don’t expect you to keep yours.”
Just about then, Linda interrupted to tell me Google was now an official word in the dictionary, so the Guru of Gurus must be consulted.
The single word ‘children’ goes into the question slot and it tells me there are 142,000,000 possibilities to search. Back to the books we went, and met budding one-day-to-be-famous negotiator Harold, with the final lesson of the day: “Miss Anderson,” he asks, “Would you punish me for something I didn’t do?”
“Of course not.”
“Good! I didn’t do my homework.”
The internet is a wonder all right, although I’ll hang with Grandpa. It can’t equal the wonder of children. Or books either, for that matter, but books and even bookshelves are under threat.
Amazon.com’s new electronic book reader, Kindle will “do for books what Apple’s iPod did for music,” they bragged in last Thursday’s Vancouver Sun.
It’s the size of a paperback, holds 200 books on its new ‘electronic paper,’ and with its rapid wireless downloading you can get new books from their 90,000 titles in minutes.
You can put it on your book shelf for US$399, and join Amazon.com aiming at getting a piece of the big dollar book pie, which brought in $24.2 billion for US publishers last year. Electronic books accounted for less than one per cent of that pile.
Before investing I wonder how Kindle will fare against Omar Khayyam’s 2,000-year-old poem, and the image it creates?
Two flasks of old wine,
A book of verse,
And a cozy corner in the garden.”
Not a good time to have the batteries go flat on your Kindle, eh? I think I’ll stick with thou, children, wine and books of verse.
A tip of the hat to children of all ages, and books of all ages too. And by the way, Grandpa, being Irish, tells us he never had a problem raising their seven sons.
“Yes indade,” he said, “they are just about the finest boys in the world. An’ would you believe it, I nivver laid violent hands on any one of them, except in self-defence.”
May your Xmas shopping be as smooth as November’s weather.