I have recently been informed by my wife, that on November 20th’s blog, “The Annoying Things That People Say to Me,” I forgot the most annoying utterance of all. Apparently, I left out that most people insist on us putting whiskey or other various alcoholic beverages in my son’s mouth in order to fend off his teething pains. Although no one has ever suggested this to me, many have suggested this to my wife who finds the idea utterly obnoxious. I can’t say that I don’t agree with her either. Wouldn’t that have the opposite effect of what I wanted to happen? I assume that if I soaked a rag in whiskey and made my son chew on it for a little while one of three things would happen, or probably all three would occur. First of all, my son would probably cry harder than ever because whiskey is not what one would call a pleasantly flavored drink. I happen to like it, but I am not an infant. My baby would probably feel violated by that awful stuff and scream for eternity. Secondly, he would probably get sick from it either by screaming or due to the fact that infants are not supposed to ingest alcohol. Thirdly, I am sure that I would be arrested for endangering the welfare of my child. So, whoever told my wife that she should put alcohol on a cloth and have my child chew on it until he stopped screaming must have been slightly off kilter because that sounds like a horrible idea. Even if all we did was rub a little whiskey on his gums like someone else suggested to my wife the result would probably be the same minus me being arrested because apparently it is hard to arrest someone for being stupid. Anyway, what is wrong with giving a teething child children’s Tylenol? That seems perfectly reasonable to me. Why would people automatically jump to the whiskey solution?
The only reasoning that my wife and I could come up with is that most of the people who suggest this to her are either elderly or at the very least middle aged. You know who I am talking about. These are the people that were still alive when smoking was supposedly healthy for you and good for your lungs especially. These might not be the people you would want to turn to for parenting advice for a number of reasons. One of which being that they are so far out of the loop that they couldn’t catch up to modern parenting techniques even if they wanted to. Another major reason is that back in their day you could still smack your kid for just about anything. You can’t do that anymore. Nowadays we kind of like to use our words to let our children know that they took a wrong step or made a wrong move. But, maybe we have just gone soft or something.
I know that a lot of us can see the appeal to the good old days where you could have smacked your kid around for being a kid, but that doesn’t mean that the good ole’ days were really all that much better than now. I am sure that both eras have their good points and bad points, but I, for one, am awfully glad that society has progressed the way it has. Sure, maybe youngsters behaved better then, but what about all the other problems that kids and parents had then that we conveniently don’t remember or don’t want to? Think about it. How many middle aged to elderly men do you know? Now ask yourself how many of those men had a decent, loving relationship with their children as they were growing up. If you cannot hazard a guess then ask them yourself. I have had the opportunity to chit chat with numerous old geezers and the consensus is that the majority of these gentlemen feel like they were cheated of really enjoying their children during their formative years. From what I have heard, it was practically unacceptable for a man to be loving and caring with his children then, let alone being a primary caregiver. Apparently, it just didn’t happen. I guess men were supposed to be providers and disciplinarians and nothing else. I don’t know how many times an elderly gentleman has stopped me while I was hugging and kissing my son in public to tell me that he wished he’d had done that when his kids were young. I do know that each time I have heard this I feel a little more privileged to have such an opportunity with my son, and it is an opportunity that I do not intend to waste. Who wants to be the parent that looks back on their children’s childhood and regret not being affectionate enough? I don’t, and I am sure you don’t either.
Yes, I am glossing over an issue that stems over multiple decades, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. Things of changed. Our society has changed, and we have changed as parents. So, when my wife tells me about all the times that people tell her to give our son whiskey for his teeth, it kind of makes me feel glad. For one thing, I now know that people really do bug her about our kid and it is just as hard for her to listen to other people’s advice as it is for me. For another thing, it makes me think of all the times that I have heard the whole whiskey thing and I feel lucky to be able to show affection for my son in public without feeling awkward about it. Just think, not that long ago men weren’t expected to really parent their kids. Boy did they miss out, and I am going to make sure that I don't too.