When my wife was pregnant with our first child, another couple dropped by to congratulate us. As we chatted the husband said, "Enjoy those house plants while you can!"
"Why is that?" I asked.
"Oh, the baby will tear those things to pieces. You won't have one left," he answered.
Recently, I went to a Buffet restaurant and upon entering my ears were greeted by a small child, let us call him Eggbert. Eggbert was sprawled out on the floor throwing a tantrum while his mother and another woman and child continued undisturbed with their meal. Eggbert then got up and began climbing in and out of the booth where they sat, still screaming and shrieking while the mother did nothing more than cover up to protect her plate. Then...aww, it was so cute, you should have been there. Little Eggbert ran from the booth and grabbed a chair and began to drag it through the crowded restaurant which was full of people walking with plates of food.
The mother, quick to spot the danger, got up and grabbed Eggbert, for apparently she feared one of those careless adults would stumble over the chair and drop hot meatloaf on little Eggbert's head. That had to be her reasoning because she was otherwise immune to the eyes that were burning into her. Eggbert did what you would expect Eggbert to do; he screamed at the top of his lungs. Eggbert didn't get his way and Eggbert didn't like that.
Shay was the loser, as the mother would get home after a long shift and try to raise a child fed on chocolate milk and pop tarts all day. A child whose answer to every request was, "Nana says I don't have to!"
In my entire childhood I was never spanked more than four or five times, and I remember them. In some cases I even remember why I was spanked at age five or six, but even if I don't remember the exact charges against me, I remember the fundamental law. Rule number one: we are your parents, we are in charge and you will do as you are told or else. Because of rule one and its enforcement my mother was able to direct us by remote control. As we would reach for the biggest piece of cake at Aunt Dorothy's, suddenly our eyes would meet and through some form of ESP she would send me a message, "Don't you dare go for the biggest piece of cake!"
She would have these informative little chats with us before we went into the store. "Don't touch anything. Do you understand? Keep your hands to yourself and do not touch anything. Do you understand?" Because these ground rules were set ahead of time, all my mother needed to say to me in the store if I became unruly was, "Do you remember what I told you in the car? Do I need to take you into the bathroom?"
These little minds are a fertile playground. Children run wild with imagination, but whether they are raised by me or by wolves like Romulus and Remus, there is still rule one. We are your parents, we are in charge and you will do as you are told or else.
Once, in California, my wife and I were staying at a hotel with a Marie Callender's Restaurant across the street. We had seen the frozen products in the grocery store and decided to give the genuine article a try. We were seated and given menus. Across the restaurant was another family with a seven- or eight-year-old boy that we will call Little Adolf. Little Adolf started by telling the waiter, "I sure hope this food is good 'cause my mom's cooking sucks!" They all laughed at Little Adolf's humor, but after their order was taken Little Adolf was bored and began to get up and prowl around the room.
So he went over to the salad bar, which he didn't order, and began to make himself a salad. Unfortunately Adolf wasn't tall enough to reach most of the toppings and he grabbed a chair and pulled it over to the bar. Like the climax scene in a Buster Keaton silent comedy, Little Adolf juggled his over-topped salad while balancing on top of the overstuffed chair with the expected calamity.
He went over the back of the chair the salad went up in the air and came down on everything. The salad plate shattered into a million pieces. The parents ran to Adolf asking, "Are you all right? That's why you should stay with us, so you don't get hurt."