Gifts We Give Our Children

As parents we are given, first and foremost, the gift of our children.

They are a gift in and of themselves, one that is given to us each and every day in heaping helpings of joy, sweet wonder, and wide-open smiles. Even on the challenging days, the days when we feel as if we’re swimming in the deep end and wondering to ourselves how we got there, we could never for a second seriously consider or imagine our life without our children's profound and cherished love.

(I know, I know…stay with me here.)

And along with the each extraordinary life, we as parents are also given the privilege and responsibility of passing along to our children the gift of our knowledge, all that we have learned through our own experience, through our own life’s trials and errors. We are entrusted with the formidable and sometimes daunting task, as well as afforded the profound pleasure and - let’s face it, personal satisfaction - of interpreting and translating the world as we know it to another human being, one of the most physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually complex organisms to ever wander the planet (exceptions being, of course, dolphins and some cats on the high end of the psycho-biological complexity continuum, and anyone who bought one of these

on the low end.)

And each piece of information we pass along, each meme, each moral and ethic we instill can also be considered our attempt to better the world through our children; in our children rests not only the possibility of some genetic ersatz-immortality, but also the potential to continue - through education, nurturing and counseling of another soul - our own ideals regarding the shifting and shaping of the mores and behaviors of society as informed by our own beliefs and philosophies, our hopes and dreams, our positive vision for the continuance of human race and, as corny as it sounds, our definition of “peace on earth“.

Parents hold an awesome power, and yet more so, a solemn obligation, and oftentimes more, are the sole reason that Excedrin Migraine is still on the market in the industrial drum size.

Or am I thinking of gin?

I’ll have to go check my doomsday supply. I have plans for my family surviving most end-of-the-world scenarios, but if I need me some gin and limes on a normal day when the electricity is still turned on and the gas is still flowing and the sky is blue; if I need me an evening G&T because my profoundly loving children are driving me round a pole on a happy day, I’m definitely going to need more gin and more limes when we’re huddled in the dark, hiding from the real-life cast of Mad Max, living on peanut butter and canned garbanzo beans and my kids are still complaining about who just breathed on whom, she touched me, no she touched me first, and mommy, my underwear are up my butt (ref. previous post.)

Gin: a gift I give myself.

And the limes? Well, those are for scurvy.

Anyway, I was trying to be all serious here…for once…eh-hem.

Okay, so, gifts we give our children....

Let’s forget all that high-falutin’ talk up there. I try to get all introspective and then I dump my gin on my copy “How To Write All Deep and Serious Using Five-Dollar Words So People Think You're Really One Of Those Cool and Smart Women Who Actually Know What They Are Talking About” and pfffft, we all knew I blew it with the photo of the toilet paper roll hat. Because that’s a photo of me.

So...among the many gifts I give my children - teaching them good manners, self-discipline, empathy, love and care of animals and the environment - today, I also gave them this:

I allowed them to spend two solid hours on our driveway pounding catkins - which, if ya don’t know, are strands of oak tree flowers, some of which contain high concentrations of pollen. I let them pound pollen. With a rock.

At one point, Prima asked for a hammer, but I had to draw the line there.

Now, some parents would go on and on and on about “what a mess” and “you girls have $56,000 worth of Barbies, Ponies and Polly Pockets in the house and yet you’re out here pounding pollen with a rock, just you wait until Christmas, oh boy, is this going to be a cheap one for mom” and “fer gol’s sake, at least fix your skirt so the world can't see your gotchies!”

But not me.

No, not me, I didn’t say all that to them and I’ll tell you why:

First, my husband already said all that to them, and he might as well have asked the cat to peel him an orange. At least I convinced the rock-wielder to wear a helmet and protective eyewear and the younger daughter to take some Benadryl. And then I convinced my husband to take some Benadryl. For the past week, he's been blowing his nose so loudly that we have female elk wandering into our backyard looking for a date.

Second, do you know how much yard work I got done while my “helpers” were engaged in pollen smashing? Lots.

But third - and perhaps most importantly - I was giving my children a gift.

That’s right. Along with barefooted fancy freedom, encouraging creative experimentation without interruption or adult interference, and allowing for sisterly commune on their own terms - along with all that I gave my daughters a more important gift, one that they will very likely be most thankful for, that they will put to the best and most frequenet use.

I gave them the gift of someday being able to say to their own children - some sunny, whiny, “I’m boooooooreeeedddd, there’s nothing to dooooooooo” day - I gave my daughters the powerful and argument-ending gift of being able to answer those whines with

“When I was your age, I had to spend the entire afternoon pounding oak pollen. With nothing but a rock. And my bare hands. So quit yer griping and find something to do. Dear.”

And it won’t matter that I didn’t make my children pound oak pollen, that they chose to do it themselves. What is important is that there will be just enough truth in their statement to impart an air of authority on the matter, to be able to provide just enough detail regarding the activity of pounding pollen with rocks so that my grandkids will wonder, “Jeez, is mom joking about this one? It sounds like she really did spend afternoons pounding pollen. Holy cow, grandma was a fruitcake.”

And my grandkids will respect - or at least feel sorry for - my daughters. And they will make my daughters something extra-special that Mother’s Day, maybe a macramé tissue box holder embroidered with the phrase “We’re Glad You’re Not As Nutty As Grandma”.

Although, true to my first statement, no gift is given without ongoing return. My children are a gift of love given to me, and so with each gift I give them, I am immediately reciprocated. The return to me on this one will be, I hope, as follows:

After the wacky though, really, basically harmless things I “made” them do, my children won’t think twice when I choose to spend my golden years drinking gin and eating butter pecan ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wearing pink house dresses silk-screened with Che Guevara’s half-profile, letting my unibrow run free, and donning my toilet paper roll hat to church. And they will allow me this freedom because, you see, I've already spent years establishing myself as one who does not blink at goofiness.

Well done me.

And so, in conclusion...

Everything we give to our children comes back to us.

It all comes around again before spiraling-off through continued generations, before traveling on toward making the world as we know it a more peaceful, enlightened, and gloriously absurd place.

And I wouldn't exchange that gift for nothing.


Om.powered said...

Two things:

1. I love you.

2. Well done you.


(btw, I almost did a Diet Coke baptism on my monitor over the female elk thing... again, well done you.)

Renée said...


Jess Riley said...

Thank goodness I have lips, because they barely stopped the rapid escape of a sizable wad of chewing gum from my mouth as I read this.

This post has it all: References to gin AND scurvy! A toilet paper dispenser hat! Adorable children pounding pollen with rocks! Female elks looking for dates! Clever orange-peeling cat images!

Bravo. :)

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

So much in this great post - but I too choose to comment on the elk thing too.

Few things in nature are more disappointing than the bugle of a male elk. Gazing upon the great majestic monarchs of the valleys I expected a low, booming, masculine
utterance. Something to set the female's tails a twitching, something to make them dab their best parfum behind their ears and loiter with intent to be seduced. (Best nonchalance and come-hither cud-chewing at an elk-loiter wins the favour of the big bloke. In fact the collective noun for elk is A Loiter Of Elk, 'strue).

What I heard though, was the herniated wail of one of God's creatures suffering great loin pains. Throughout history, similar wails have been heard from the New Eunuch tents of the Egyptians, from the barber-shop surgeries of medieval Europe, and from Prince when he cuts himself shaving.

That great big chest - that thin and reedy noise? What's so big-antlers-on-the-block about that? How do these creatures ever score harems? It's a watsit, aural-visual disconnect, innit.

Great blog! I'm glad I happened upon it. Expect me back!

nadzent said...

I can't get over the toilet paper hat. Did Anne have one too?

Sandra said...

I love your train of thought. And the toilet paper hat. And the Gin. Oh yes definately the gin.

I'll smile about this post all day :)

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, I really could use a toiletpaper hat during allergy season. It'd cut down my walking time significantly!

My super duper fun thing when I was little? Playing with bugs. ALL the time. Rollie Pollies, beetles, grasshoppers, lightening bugs - anything that would sit still enough for me to catch it! And I loved it! :)

Great post!! (LONG comment - sorry!)

KK said...

You rock out loud! I love you more than double fudge brownies. Thanks for the giggles and stitch in my side.

Anonymous said...

owwie. my tummy hurts from all the laffing.


here's a question: why would you ever want to bother writing trite, lacking-in-wackiness "deep" stuff, when you can put prose like that together, all a la carte 'n shit?


because, and I swear on my child's feet here (you know that means some biz-nass), I will hunt you down and take away your writing implements if you ever stop scribbling down the funny. I mean it.

p.s. your grandkids' grandkids are lucky because of you.

Imzadi said...


You funny monkey.

Mom101 said...

I think I need that toilet paper thingie. I'm snotting from laughing. This is one awesome ost.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant stuff.

One question (from a childless man): On the assumption that parenthood is enobling and can be analogised to the passing on of precious gifts why does telling my wife that she is daily becoming more like her mother guarantee me a sharp blow to the privates with a stick?

wordgirl said...

Oh. My. Hell...what a truly inspired gift: "Git yer butts out on that driveway and pound me some pollen, ya worthless kids!"

And the natural and unposed!

lemony said...

Must have toilet paper hat. The middle Lemon and sole carrier of Mr. Lemony's y chromosome will go nuts and laugh for, like, a year. I will regain the favor I lost denying a motorized mini-scooter.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. And I bow down to you at being able to have such an amazing train of thought and have it all make good sense. :-)

Momma Star said...

I don't know, doll. Are you sure you don't want to consider that career in real estate?



Katie Burke said...


And my laugh-out-loud moment: "blowing his nose so hard, an elk came around looking for a date." Love it.

anne said...

Wonderful post, sis!

Now it all kind of makes sense - you know, how mom used to let us fill shopping bags full of acorns to roll them down the church parking lot over and over again.

Or did she make us do that?

Her Bad Mother said...

You'd think that the toilet-paper roll hat would be my favourite part of this post. Or the gin references.

But, no, it was the helmet and the Benadryl. Safety first!

(Please tell me that you were a few feet away in a lawn-chair, drinking a gin martini while your helmeted children frolicked in the pollen...)

WebGuy said...

Nice post, Jozet. Nice pics too - that neighborhood looks familiar! said...

Aw, thanks ya'll!

To answer some questions, yes, I had a drink in hand during the pollen-pounding, but it was most likely an Ovaltine. I'm saving my gin intake for the final month of this pregnancy. ;-)

Yes, ny seestor has a hat like that, except she a toiletpaper cosy in fedstive colors to wear over it.

I have no idea how weak-whistling elk score big harems. However, my husband has more to recommend him than just his nose and antlers: he makes great garlic pasta.

Uhhh, Moobs? There is no rhyme or reason to it. I love my mother, but comparisons are...uhm...odious. Just invest in an athletic cup.

Seestor, Mom made us do a a lot of things that I'm just uncovering after intense regression therapy. You don't want to know. But, let me put it this way: fi you thought we only wore those long 1970's polyster gowns on New Year's Eve, you're wrong.

And the neighborhood is West Shore; township, not borough. Lot's of trees and also up-in-arms against cell phone towers. NIMBY, baby!

Anonymous said...

Just delurking to invite you to add your supermom card to the mom's day salute

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