Let’s Reach Back Shall We? by Chris Zito

I’ve decided that from time to time I’m going to republish stuff I wrote years ago when my grown kids were little. They’re from a column called “Family Matters” which appeared in a couple of tiny weeklies, one in Watertown, NY the other in Berlin, NH. I’ve made a few updates here and there, but mostly they’re as they appeared back in the day.
It’s great posting this stuff because:

  • I don’t need permission
  • Younger readers have never seen it.
  • It saves me from having to write anything new today!

BUTTONS

Kids love to press buttons.

Parents roll their eyes in disgust as their children bicker over who gets to press the button on the elevator. We have a system in our family. One kid presses the call button in the corridor, the other presses the floor button inside the elevator. Of course there is still the matter of who presses which one. Thank God there are two kids. How does a mother of three work this out?

A busy mom is stalled at the ATM as her 4-year-old son pushes random buttons and deposits $3000 she doesn’t have into someone else’s account. This could very well be how the bank crisis started.

A young father is amazed when, after an hour of pestering from a child for a soda out of a nearby vending machine, he finds the can unopened. The kid just wanted to press the button!

Why do these mundane activities hold such wonder for children? Because for children, they are anything but mundane. They beg us to do chores they are too young to do. Here is where a parent must have precision timing. There is a tiny window of opportunity where kids are old enough to be trusted with these tasks and are still willing to do them without a fight.

My daughter is constantly begging me to do the laundry and the ironing, but I’m simply afraid she’ll hurt herself. Unfortunately, by the time she can be trusted to pull it off safely, she’ll be more interested in her new boyfriend than in the crease of my pants. Can’t blame her. I’ll also be more interested in her new boyfriend than the crease in my pants. Frankly I’ll be more interested in what’s going on with his pants in general.

My son is on my back every time I cut the grass. It’s hard to believe I once felt the same way. My dad started me off with a small square of lawn all my own. This quickly escalated to me mowing the lawn solo, leaving me wondering why I ever wanted the job in the first place. It wasn’t until years later that I realized Dad would have given me the job eventually whether I asked for it or not. He was a genius at making you think doing any lousy job around the place was your own idea.

When I was a kid there were less buttons to push,  but I still remember the first time my mom let me dial the phone alone. When I was ten she let me type a homework paper all by myself. Pushing buttons made me feel powerful, grown up. It made me more like my parents, which is exactly what most kids under 12 want to be more than anything in the world.

Thanks for reading. Tell your pals.
-Chris Zito

Originally published February, 1993.

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3 Responses

  1. Love this! And so glad you have a blog!

  2. My biggest complaint is that the kids want to help with everything…until they are actually able to do a good job of it. Evidently, at that point, the allure of sorting laundry and picking up toys quickly dissipates.

  3. Ha! I got linked to this by an automatically generated link under one of my posts. If you’re interested, check it out, here:

    http://sillywonderings.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/this-blogging-lark/

    Approaching the whole subject from the other side… 🙂

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