Editor's note: I was too busy hunkering down and writing about plague and insurrection to conjure up anything new and semiamusing this week. Here’s an updated one from back in the late ’90s, lightly edited to make sense now. Stay safe and do good deeds, my friends.
When my daughter turned 3 years old, making the progression from wrinkled newborn to unpredictable preschooler, I automatically qualified as a child-raising expert, despite taking her to numerous monster truck rallies and feeding her a steady diet of bacon along with whatever sugar-soaked cereal TV recommended.
Many people came to me after that toddler milestone with child-related questions, such as "What time does the monster truck rally at the county fair start?" or "How do you get bacon grease out of a child’s ear canal?"
In a Q&A format, I will offer some common-sense advice on raising a child, which I hope will lead to a nationally syndicated advice column, a series of best-selling books and a wildly popular call-in radio show (or 20 years after this was originally written, a podcast) dispensing such folk wisdom as "Spare the rod and spoil the milk" or however that goes.
Q: Me and my husband, Junior, took our boy, Junior Jr., to the monster truck rally at the county fair last Saturday night, and when Truckasaurus the Fire-Breathing Diesel MonsterMobile came out and incinerated two Nissans and a Subaru, Junior Jr. looked up at me with sno-cone juice all over his little chin, his bottom lip a-quivering either from fear or cherry-flavored ice, and said, "Momma, do you reckon Truckasaurus will burn up Daddy's truck?" Not knowing exactly what to say, I decided the best response was, "Shut up and eat your sno-cone." Now, he pitches a fit every time he has to ride in the truck. What can we do?
A: The childhood fear of Truckasaurus is a common one, much like being afraid of the dark or fearful that the washing machine will suck you into an alternative universe where the radio plays nothing but bro country. The best course of action is to help Junior Jr. overcome his fears through positive reinforcement, such as, "Get in the truck, and we'll ride down to the store for some bacon" or "Get in the truck, and I won't tell your daddy you burned down the outbuilding."
Q: A little girl named Rainbow, who lives down the road, told Junior Jr. that she was a vegetarian and that eating animals was wrong. Yesterday, I had to tell Junior Jr. that bacon grew on trees before he would eat breakfast. I am afraid Junior Jr. will not get the nutrition he needs to properly develop his mind and body without eight to 10 bacon, egg and cheese biscuits per week. What should I do?
A: Explain to Junior Jr. that we, as humans, are near the top of the food chain, right below Truckasaurus. That means we get to eat anything we like, as long as it tastes like bacon or we have a discount coupon.
Q: I think Junior Jr. is gifted. He can already count to 12 just by using his fingers. How can I help him develop his intellectual abilities?
A: I would suggest reading to him. Some of my favorites are Beetle Bailey in the newspaper, the best-selling biography “Truckasaurus — My Journey from Despair to King of the County Fairs” and the label on the bacon package. Also, try flash cards and repetitive math drills. If he shows no interest, tell him Truckasaurus eats dumb kids and vegetarians. It worked for Albert Einstein's parents, according to Truckasuarus’ book.
Scott Hollifield is editor of The McDowell News in Marion and a humor columnist. Email him at email@example.com.