That Nature Show: Wild and Crazy Kids

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This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

If you have young kids, you have animals living in your house.  With their little opposable thumbs they leave monkey-like thumb prints on the walls of the stairway to the basement, though you have told them countless times: Please. Use. The. Banister.

They don’t understand logic. Or the importance of showing off to the neighbors that you have clean walls, hand towels, and guest soaps in a cute fragile pyramid in the bathroom. To kids you sound like mwah wah wah taxes blah blah blurgle murgle eat your vegetables, co-pay, orthodontics, Home Goods. You sound like an idiot. Or, as Shakespeare put it, you sound like you’re full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Their world makes no sense, either. My daughter, 7, told me, in a very somber voice, with great seriousness, “Fluttershy is going to Cloud Coo Coo Land.” I said, “Great, honey!” in the saccharine, drippy sweet voice that I use when I have no idea what’s going on.

The kids think the banister is to swing from, the nicely folded clean sheets to make (and I quote) “a nest for the dog; we’re pretending we’re all chickens, Mom.” I said, “Great!” Again, I used that honey voice.

While I had my back turned and was attending to paying their school tuition bills, they were as curious and destructive as those Australian parrots called keas that can destroy a car. (This link is narrated by David Attenborough, and I wish he would narrate my life.) They were seeing which things from my cosmetics collection float in the toilet. (Answer: lipsticks. Also: bronzer.)

And then they have their friends over.  That’s a real nature show. The collective noun for a group of free-ranging kids in the summer should be a gaggle. Or a shark attack,  because when I put out the “wrong” “uncool” whole wheat snack crackers, my kids were on me like white on rice.

“You’re embarrassing us, Mom,” they said.

“Yeah, Mom, duh, the only snack cracker that is cool in second grade is Goldfish; I can’t believe you don’t know that.”

David Attenborough’s excellent British English voice-over of me furiously driving to Food Lion before the kids’ next playdate would be, “Poor old lioness.”




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