“Why use a napkin?”

November 20, 2013

Notable Stats

Stains per square inch (SSI) – The amount of dark sauce on an article a clothing your child is wearing relative to the amount of clean space left. A one to one ratio means he or she just jumped into a kiddie pool full of BBQ sauce, fully clothed.

Mitten Time (MT) – A time-based concept that eluded Albert Einstein’s research. It is how long it takes a child to put on that final article of clothing as time closes in on when you are officially going to be late to school. It is measured in molasses pours per gallon of molasses.

Let’s face it, kids know a lot of valuable things that we don’t understand. Maybe it is time we let them lead the way. A parent knows that it is clearly obvious that we impose artificial constructs on them because our society deems it to be the way we need to live.
Clothing, for example. I am convinced that this must be a force-fed concept to these beings. I am not sure when in their world it will be moderately acceptable that our kids need to be wearing clothing when someone is at the door, or when we are expected to leave the house. It appears that at around five, they kind of accept clothes enough that they are willing to use their shirt and pants as a napkin. If we must wear clothes, then let’s make it a multi-purpose necessity. Fair enough.

Then again, graduating as a parent to when your kids accept that they must put on clothing is a big step, but keep in mind, shoes are a whole other animal. I am not sure when shoes will be acceptable, but clearly it is not before your child is 5. Shoes are highly inconvenient even after getting splinters on both feet, or after you stepped on a Lego for the twelfth day in a row. The Lego should not have been there, the splinters were planted as a conspiracy, and below freezing weather is some parental attempt to prove a twisted point about toes and frostbite.

Kids want to be naked, plain and simple. Long after we are comfortable as parents for that to be an executable state. But, it isn’t only about clothes, it is all these random constructs we create for them. Like plates. Our son uses a plate as a docking station for food to wait before he completely misses his mouth that is at least two feet away from the plate in the first place. The chasm he leaves when he sits down to eat is large enough to lay our two year-old daughter between his plate and his mouth. If he is attempting to provide a secret code for ants and wayward hamsters to find their way to his mouth through sauce drops, then he is absolutely handling it the right way.
Hey, these tables are too high anyway. The world of grown-ups does not often account for how tough it is to sit at a monster-sized table. I respect that. Enter booster seats, I guess.

I always love when our kids move the plate out of the way so they can put the food on the table. Well, what was the plate for exactly? I dream of inventing a plate that lays flat on the table and then you can fold up the edges. You can stick it on like contact paper because I am confident that most young children see a plate as the enemy unless it has some cartoon character on it.

Forget about living in an area of the world that has winter. My son had a solid 7 ski hats left at his school to go with the plethora of gloves and mittens after a few weeks. Half of them were mine since I didn’t want him to freeze going into school.

So the socks come off in the car, the jacket is nowhere to be found, the gloves are divided up all over the city until you just give up and use one sock and one purple mitten that was yours 26 years ago, to complete the ensemble for their hands. Gloves, hats, shoes and socks are the most evil invention ever made to parents. If you want to torment a parent, for a gift, send them one of those appendage-based clothing articles or send them a musical toy that has no off-button. It is a wash for the insanity it will wreck on their household.

Parents, worry not. These items will always pop off their bodies. You will put them on, and they will come off in the snow, they will disappear for weeks after the baby hid one glove under the dog food. You will dig through random piles of snow gear looking to no end for Dora the Explorer’s right hand or Lightning McQueen’s left shoe. They mock you through cute brands knowing that finding two of anything is as euphoric as seeing your child walk for the first time.

Maybe we should just let them avoid the itchiness of clothing, let them flirt with frostbite. Let them take off their shirt at the dinner table and use the shirt as a napkin to wipe the table down after dinner. Let them eat off of the dog’s head or drink right out of the dog bowl. Let them wear one shoe, let them walk to their neighbor’s house naked. Let them play basketball without pants. Who is it really hurting anyway?

And maybe then, they will beg us for socks and shoes, gloves and hats, and all will be well. But what if they never ask? You are on your own.

- Doug Glanville


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