Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grands make one question what own children did

Here we are creeping up on another Mothers’ Day.  It comes every year, so it should be no surprise, nor should it get to be old-hat, or taken for granted.  Here at Brownspur, we’re finding new emphasis for that holiday, since we are now grandparents, for not quite a year and a half when this Mothers’ Day rolls around.

As we watch Sir grow (Sean Robert Irwin, but the I goes in the middle on his monogram), my most common quote is probably, “Did our kids do that?”  

Although I was Daddy to our three children, during their early childhood I was involved in: 1) the U.S. Navy; 2) recovering from a broken back; and 3) recovering from a badly crushed and skinned right hand.

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Not only was I not around for some of the growing up years, I was coping with major pain and disability, plus, a half-dozen years after our youngest was born, I contracted Lyme Disease.  

The one thing Lyme patients never get over is the memory loss. Therefore, while I may have parented a child through a situation, I have probably forgotten that, and am constantly having to ask Betsy how we got our kids through some stage, or even if they went through such a stage, as Sir is experiencing.  

For instance, I had been running a chainsaw the past couple weeks pruning limbs that my bride said needed pruning, and had cut the saw off to gas up and re-oil. I had just finished that and was setting the gas can and bar-oil jug back in the pickup, when I heard the chainsaw rev back up!

I whirled to look, but my saw was silent. The noise was coming from the cypress swing under the oak tree, where a laughing Betsy sat with Sir, who was enjoying making the chainsaw noise at the top of his lungs: “ROOAAWWWEERR!!  ROOAAWWWEERR!!”

I disremember any of my kids imitating chainsaws, although I recall my surprise when we eavesdropped on them with their friends one evening as they quoted a favorite bedtime poem, while acting it out noisily.

Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwock,” from “Alice in Wonderland” has never been similarly re-enacted, and that was a hint that, as a Daddy, I had to be doing something right. I’ve never been sure what the friends thought, but they kept coming back for more, and several of them became fine actors on the stage themselves.

Although it seems like we briefly studied a couple of books on parenting when we were just becoming thataway ourownselves, I’m not sure any of those volumes made it to the third child.

I actually want to say that one of them was by Dr. Spock, not that I recall using any of his advice, especially if he was the guy who counseled not spanking your children.  

He obviously had never walked in on a seven year-old son and companion teaching a four year-old daughter the finer points of strip poker, the which it was obvious that she had not learnt yet! I chased and whipped children until I was worn out, none of whom even play Canasta now!

I just read a new book on the subject of parenting, and grandparenting, by a friend of mine, a mother and now grandmother who has had a dream for years of making her wisdom on loving children known and available to the general public.  

“Nanna” says to only use spanking “as a way to get your child’s attention, as a form of discipline or learning, but not to hurt or punish. Never spank with your hand.”

I might add, especially if that member has been crushed.

“Use something that you have to go and get that won’t hurt them, but will get their attention.”

She ends that lesson with, “The most important step is after explaining what she did wrong, be sure to tell her the right way you expect her to behave.”

Beats having to go find them for supper, after you’ve chased them out of the house for strip poker!

“Nanna” (she used her grandmother name in her new book “Parenting With Lollipops”) has just published this little fun book, with illustrations by her daughter in-law, with a wish that “You treasure every minute you spend with your children,” and I’m appending myownself to add “and grandchildren.”

I’d recommend that you order one for a Mother’s Day gift, from  If you aren’t compooter-minded, call your Uncle Bob and I’ll put you in touch with this modest Delta Lady we call Dru.  Mothers’ Day: it’s all about raising kids, isn’t it?