Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Learned When to Cheer and When to Put on Socks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Learned When to Cheer and When to Put on Socks

Article excerpt

My daughter is stuck in a tunnel, and I am helpless to free her. OK, she's not exactly stuck, at least not in the physical sense, but she is very reluctant to move either forward or backward. And I am not exactly helpless, but I'm not wearing any socks. And at 5 feet, 8 inches tall, I may, in fact, be large enough to get stuck myself.

Packing for the beach today, I was sure I'd thought of everything: camera, sunscreen, drink boxes, changes of clothes, a magazine to read in the very unlikely event of downtime. But I hadn't thought of socks. Who brings socks to the beach?

Well, here is a piece of advice for any parent with a child who balks at loud noises: Bring socks to the beach.

Why? Because the next noise that spooks your child may, in fact, be the public bathrooms at said beach, and you will find yourself searching for a bathroom with less boisterous plumbing. And this search may lead you to a fast-food chain with one of those indoor playgrounds that look like something out of Jules Verne's imagination. The same child who has to be bribed with ice cream to enter a public restroom stall will beg to climb a 10-foot ladder into dark tunnels that tangle around one another before dropping off at ravine-like angles.

And so, even though she's only 3 and she's never done this before, you will purchase socks at the food counter (no bare feet allowed in the play area) and send her on her way.

Then you will notice that the tunnel she's chosen has a quirky little section made of something that looks like mesh, and if your daughter is like my daughter, she will look down through the mesh with the same look of apprehension she gave to the noisy toilets. And you'll look down at your bare feet in flip-flops and wonder what ever made you think you had the smarts, the resources to be a parent.

In my case, I am evaluating my foreign policy and have decided that I have one strategy: cheering.

"Look at you, Pumpkin. You're doing great," I begin. "Keep going. You can do it! …

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