Review Feature

The art of raising babies

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WARNING: When you are expecting your first child, every friend, relative and total stranger you encounter will have baby-raising information to share or advice to offer.

Do not believe a word of it.

What you will be told contains approximately the same fact content as a supermarket tabloid story headlined, "Bush Says Something Really Nice About Clinton Administration."

Here are just a few of the myths, exaggerations and outright lies you can expect to hear:

"HAVING A PUPPY IS GOOD PRACTICE FOR HAVING A BABY."

Get outta here. I have yet to meet an infant who will consistently use the newspaper you've thoughtfully spread out on the floor. And I've yet to meet a neighbor who fails to arch at least one eyebrow when you say, "We're going away for the weekend ... would you mind filling the baby's water bowl once or twice?" (It can be said, however, that when you drop food on the floor, both puppies and babies will eat it.)

"CHILDBIRTH IS THE MOST NATURAL THING IN THE WORLD."

There is a degree of truth to this one if your definition of "natural" encompasses sweaty, miserable women who scream obscenities at their husbands while begging for the strongest pain-killing drugs known to medical science as their bodies threaten to recreate the final moments of the Hindenberg.

"NAP WHEN YOUR BABY NAPS."

Yes, it certainly sounds good on paper. But 1.) if you nap when baby naps you won't get anything done ever for the rest of your life, since wide-awake babies demand constant attention, and 2.) babies stop napping and start demanding attention the very millisecond they hear your eyelids slam shut.

Little-known fact: Babies possess a sense of hearing that is almost as keen as their ability to track down the most disgusting items imaginable to put in their mouths. Their hearing remains sharply acute until they become teenagers, at which point they will not hear anything you say until they reach their mid-30s.

"BABIES AREN'T EXPENSIVE."

Yeah, right. If your wealthiest relative was a baby-products magnate who died and left you a fortune in maternity clothes, cribs, strollers, high chairs, car seats, diapers, diaper rash ointment, pacifiers, cotton swabs, toys, mobiles, babysitters, baby bottles, baby powder, baby lotion, baby formula, baby blankets, baby clothes and more Kodak film than is sold at the Grand Canyon during peak tourist season.

"SPARE THE ROD, SPOIL THE CHILD."

This is dangerous and outdated thinking. Besides, as most Moms and Dads discover early on, spoiling your offspring is one of parenting's greatest pleasures. Of course, when you've finished, no one will want anything to do with the overly-pampered little monster ... but that just means more hugs and kisses for you.

"IT'S JUST AS EASY TO RAISE TWO KIDS AS IT IS TO RAISE ONE."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I can't believe I actually fell for this one. The lunatic who coined this fantasy obviously meant to say, "It's just as easy to raise two goldfish as it is to raise one," but was so rattled by the difficulties of multiple child-rearing he confused his own offspring with aquatic pets.

"GIRLS ARE EASIER TO RAISE THAN BOYS."

My son is afraid of heights. My daughter thinks the elastic band in her underwear was put there to facilitate bungee jumping off the roof of our house. Case closed.

"BOYS ARE EASIER TO RAISE THAN GIRLS."

My daughter thinks of her big brother as a god. My son thinks of his little sister as an evil robotic super-villian from the planet Flezix who must be destroyed at all costs. Case closed.

"BOYS AND GIRLS ARE EQUALLY EASY TO RAISE."

My son believes that his parents were put on Earth to be his personal, full-time servants. My daughter believes her parents were put on Earth to be her personal, full-time slaves. Case closed.

"YOU CAN TELL IN INFANCY HOW BRIGHT A CHILD IS LIKELY TO BE LATER ON IN LIFE."

Scientific researchers have examined this notion by conducting studies in which the same children were tested from the first weeks of life into adulthood.

In every single case, the babies were stumped by the question, "How are you today?" But once they had matured into adults, each responded to the identical query with, "Fine, thanks, how are you?"

Case closed.

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