Life is bitter and fatal, yet men cherish it and beget children to suffer the same fate.
And when our baby stirs and struggles to be born / It compels humility: what we began / Is now its own.
The hardest part of raising children is teaching them to ride bicycles. . . . A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.
When all is said and done, the act of being a parent involves a set of radically unselfish and often incomprehensibly inconvenient activities. Two adults who could otherwise employ their time and resources in pleasurable activities of various kinds elect to seek housing and provide food and other facilities for completely dependent organisms whose personal schedules, furthermore, could not be at greater variance with adult ones, and who will involve their parents literally for decades in a compromise between a program of work or pleasure and the requirements of their offspring. It is not altogether remarkable that parents may have one child, if only in error or because of confused expectations of bliss. What is truly remarkable is that most parents have more than one child.
Mothers . . . are basically a patient lot. They have to be or they would devour their offspring early on, like guppies.
No culture on earth outside of midcentury suburban America has ever deployed one woman per child without simultaneously assigning her such major productive activities as weaving, farming, gathering, temple maintenance, and tent building. The reason is that full-time, one-on-one child raising is not good for women or children.
After all, in private we’re all misfits.
If worst comes to worst, there is no parenting tool more powerful than a good hug. If you sense that your child is getting into trouble, you must give that child a great big fat hug in a public place with other young people around, while saying, in a loud, piercing voice, “You are my little baby and I love you no matter what!” This will embarrass your child so much that he or she may immediately run off and join a strict religious order whose entire diet consists of gravel. If one hug doesn’t work, threaten to give your child another.
Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.
Lunatics are similar to designated hitters. Often an entire family is crazy, but since an entire family can’t go into the hospital, one person is designated as crazy and goes inside.
Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.
I cheat my boys every chance I get. I want to make ’em sharp. I trade with the boys and skin ’em and I just beat ’em every time I can.
Because children see parents as authority figures and gods, they think that the way you treat them is the way they deserve to be treated: “What you say about me is what I am” is a literal truth to your child. Consequently, when children are treated with respect, they conclude that they deserve respect and hence develop self-respect.
When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments: tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.
As long as I have been in the White House, I can’t help waking at 5 AM and hearing the old man at the foot of the stairs calling and telling me to get out and milk the cows.
The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.
I was convinced you can’t go home again. Now I know better. Nothing is more untrue. I know you go back over and over again, seeking the self you left behind.