When we have our babies, we stock up on the guides and the girlfriends’ advice and the blogs and the calendars. We look out for the developmental milestones and we compare absorbency of diapers and flow rate of synthetic nipples. We put protective gates up and cushion the corners of furniture with foam.
But what about when the kids start talking? Asking questions like “Why did that person kill somebody?” or fighting with their siblings and saying things like “You suck!”
Nobody really tells you what to do in those situations. The “Mom, is Santa real?” conversation happened to me way before I was ready. I literally had to Google it so I could see how other people handled it. (In the end, I managed to skirt the technicalities and preserve the magic with a wink and a smile. Just one more year. That’s all I ask.) I know the bird and the bees conversation is just around the corner and I dread it immensely.
Luckily, and just at the right time, there IS a book for that now. And my friend is the one who wrote it. (Why didn’t I just have him come over and talk to Kyle about Santa?)
The Parents’ Phrase Book is a glossary of situations. Whit Honea, a fellow writer and one of the first friends I made in real life through blogging, has assembled a guide of the most common things a kid might say or ask that need to be handled with a little bit of wisdom. The book is arranged in broad sections like discipline, self-confidence, play and creativity, etc., with more specific theoretical instances of what a kid might say, and how a parent should respond.
Here’s what he says it is: “The Parents’ Phrase Book is perfect for parents, but it is also great for non-parents and anyone else that has ever talked to another human being. It is for the future in the nicest way possible.”
There is, of course, a section about death and dying. These are questions that come up far too early, or maybe right on time. I remember walking Kyle to preschool and discussing my beloved Uncle Stephen, and where he might have gone after he had recently died. I did the best I could.
Whit gave me a copy of this book the day after his own mother was killed in a car accident. It was an untimely, shocking loss that still causes tremors and upheaval. And it made the death and dying section of his book incredibly emotional to read.
We’ve all lost someone dear by now, haven’t we? We could use a little help making sense of it. Whit’s treatment of loss comes from tragic places. “These are the holes that never entirely fill, and it is our job to make sure the kids don’t suffer so badly that they cannot recover.” He gives us the words to say to the kids, but we say them to ourselves, too.
I think of Whit and his wife Tricia, and their children, two young boys, similar in age to mine. They do a lot together. They go off on great adventures that seem really fun, while I would rather stick my kids in front of the TV so I can take a nap. I have seen their boys grow from toddlers into respectful, kind, and lively boys, wide-eyed with wonder. You don’t have to agree with everything Whit says – not all of the suggestions will work for everyone. But when someone’s kids turn out great, it’s smart to at least pay attention and take a little wisdom from their parenting methods.
The Parents’ Phrase Book
by Whit Honea
Paperback, $11.52 on Amazon