lettuce - Column for 8/4

Ask Baby Wizard

Your Baby Care Expert

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This Week: The Terrible Threes

Dear Baby Wizard,

There's no stopping my three-year-old! He rips up any paper he can find, enjoys the sound of glass breaking, and seems to have forgotten every word but "no." That cat's in hiding, his day care provider is close to giving him the boot, and I am at wit's end. The terrible twos should be over by now, right? Will he ever calm down?

Sally in Denver, CO

Dear Sally,

Not to worry. Some of the greatest people in world history were brats back in the day.

  • Nobel Prize winning author Theodore Bikel could vomit on command, and often did so on his grammar-school classmates.
  • Using his "Davy Crockett" bow and arrow set as a make-shift lever, a young C. Everett Coop caused the collapse of the South Fork Dam, and thus the infamous Jonestown Flood of 1889.
  • Hollywood sweetheart Julia Roberts was thought to be responsible for more than 6 embassy bombings before her 8th birthday.
  • Meanwhile, compare them to:

  • Kyle Mclachlan was a very "quiet and calm baby" according to mother Heather, and yet he grew up to star in "Dune" and "Showgirls."
  • Environmental activist Julia "Butterfly" Hill was a "Student of the Month" at Baywood Elementary School in San Mateo, Californa. Yet, as an adult she has used her death-ray vision to viscously execute such notables and Mother Theresa, Princess Diana and Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush.
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    Dear Baby Wizard

    I'm in the final trimester of a fairly easy-going pregnancy. I've heard a lot about the importance of reading to, or playing classical music for my baby while she's still in the womb. Is it really helpful for child development, or just a myth?

    Kathi in Edison, NJ

    Dear Kathi,

    Have you ever listened to music while floating underwater in a bathtub or jacuzzi? Did it help you develop into a better, or more clean, or more 70's-era porn star-type person? If anything, it probably sounded all freaky and warped, like something frustrated rescuers might hear emanating from a sunken submarine. Do you want your baby to have such water-related nightmares? Maybe, if you don't want to pay for sailing lessons later on.

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    Dear Baby Wizard,

    We have a bouncing baby girl due any day now! But as we prepare, our first-born, an emotionally-needy four-year-old has become sullen and withdrawn. How can we make him feel more involved, and less likely to be jealous?

    Gary in Santa Fe, NM

    Dear Gary,

    It's common for older children to feel jealous of new arrivals, and afraid that Mommy and Daddy don't love them as much anymore. True as that may be, parent's are often unaware of things they do to perpetuate that fear:

  • Referring to the older child as "Practice Baby 0.1-beta."
  • Turning the baby's crib into a spaceship-themed wonderpalace, with tubes and slides and actual heat-seeking missile launchers, trained onto the older child's bed.
  • Offering the older child a respectable, but obviously dispiriting early retirement package.
  • Within earshot of him or her, arguing with the leasing agent demand a refund based up on the obvious inferiorities with the older model.
  • Creating a religion around your children, with the baby as the messianic return of the One True Lord, and the older child as a camel.
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    Dear Baby Wizard,

    I'm expecting a baby girl in just three months. But every time my friends throw me a shower, I get the worst, most sexist gifts. Pink dresses, girlie dolls -- I don't want my baby stereotyped into gender roles before she's even born! What can I do to help them be more sensitive?

    Maureen in Madison, WI

    Dear Maureen,

    The baby industry, like the bridal industry, the funeral industry, and the Copper Producers of America, is notorious for it's gender archetypes. But it's all for good reason Maureen. Without color-guiding, casual strangers who feel the need to come up to your stroller and cast generalities about how you should raise your only offspring will have nothing to go on! The color of your baby's clothing and toys sends a clear message of who your baby is, and what he or she is going to be:

  • Blue: Boy
  • Pink: Girl
  • Hot Pink: Hot Girl
  • Navy Blue: Trendy
  • Green: Political Spoiler
  • Orange: British Loyalist
  • Yellow: Incontinant
  • Purple: Straight, but with lots of Gay friends
  • Plaid: Into That Whole "Catholic Schoolgirl" look
  • Black: Evil
  • Grey: Nineteenth Century Chimney Sweep
  • Brown: Wolfmanly
  • Mint: Insufferable
  • Newsprint: Investigative Journalist/Cheap
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    Dear Baby Wizard,

    Where did the "Peek-a-boo" game come from? Are there any benefits?

    Pete in Toronto, ON

    Dear Pete,

    Peek-A-Boo is actually one of the oldest recorded games of strategy.

    Believed to have been first played in India, legend has it two warring princess invented the game while trying to avoid being eaten by a Bengal Tiger. During the great formula monsoon of 1134, it spread to the Middle East, where citizens of ancient Byzantium would use it to amuse rampaging huns as they pillaged and destroyed the city.

    In medieval France, the courts of King Henri III was the first to hold "Pique-Au-Bieux" (literally: Point At The Scab") tournaments, during which champions of noble birth would meet on horseback, and beat each other with iron poles -- all the while avoiding metal traps which would send razor-sharp spears flying into the air, impaling both horse and rider. Elsewhere in Europe, the Italians used it as the basis for gnocci recipes, while the Dutch believed the game would ward off the plague. It did, but no one yet knew how to play it right.

    Today, Peek-A-Boo teaches children the valuable skills of seperation anxiety, how to flee from commitment, and thermal dynamics.

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    Have a question for Baby Wizard? Pass it along to lettuce@lettuce.org. Remember: Emails must be phrased in the form of a weasel.

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