Why Parents Do What They Do

8 Feb 2009 /
And I know a father who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he’d done
— Paul Simon, “Slip Sliding Away”

This story needs a quick setup . . .

My son’s two-year-old birthday party was a festive event. The whole neighborhood was there!

Birthday cake

We had a bounce house, a clown . . . the only thing that marred the day slightly was that as everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” his mom lifted him up so he could see the cake, and he stuck his finger out and touched a lit candle.

It wasn’t a bad burn but he did cry for a while.

We have a video of this. That’s why he remembers it.

So — we’re having a late lunch today at Souplantation. A kid who looks about four years old runs down the aisle, turns the corner and runs back up the next aisle over.

I ask, “Why is it a good idea as a parent to let your kid run through restaurants?”

My son, totally off topic, says, “Why is it a good idea to let your kid stick his finger in a candle?”

I say, “I don’t know. You didn’t do it again though, did you?”

His mom says, “Maybe you shouldn’t have a birthday party at all if you want to complain about it.”

“A two-year-old shouldn’t have a birthday party?!” he asks in disbelief.

I say, “Mom makes a good point, if you’re just going to stick your finger in a candle and ruin it for everybody.”


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