‘Oh, no. It’s (gasp) them. And they’ve got (bigger gasp) him!’


‘Tales, some rather scary, of Other People’s Children.’

First, let me state for the record that The Dude and I like children. After all, we actually went to a great deal of trouble to have one. It’s just that, sometimes, now and then, really not all that often but often enough, we run into some pretty frightening examples of Other People’s Children. And I bet you do too.

There were the Kids Who Ran Around The House Screaming While Smearing Brownies Into The Furniture And Rugs. The Kids Who Dropped The Cat From A Height. And my personal favorites, The Kids Who Threw Rocks — inside the house — at the dining-room table.

But hey. Let me pause in my semi-rant to share a snap of a Kid Who Can Come Back Any Time. True, this kid is still at that can’t-do-much-harm phase. For one thing, he can’t run around, much less run around smearing. And, as for screaming, heck. Even when he cries at the top of his lungs, all that comes out is a sound sort of like the world’s tiniest baby elephant.

On a scale of 1 to 10, just how cute is this baby?

A decidedly cute, incredibly benign, example of an Other Person’s Child

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect kids to be perfect. Kids are kids: messy and noisy, even whiny and smelly. Why, I remember the time I came home from a ten-day shoot in Rome to a warm (and ripe) welcome from my own personal Child, who had taken advantage of my absence by not bathing for the duration. (The Dude didn’t notice, bless him.)

And, as for noisy, The Child once had a tantrum that was so bad — you know the kind; where the kid makes him or herself stiff as a board and shrieks — that The Dude had to extract her from the scene (we were in a restaurant in North Beach with a friend). There he was, trying to hail a cab on the streets of San Francisco while carrying a flailing, kicking, red-faced little girl who was screaming ‘I want my mommy! I want my mommy!’ at the top of her toddler lungs. Child abduction, anyone?

In fact, my threshold of kid tolerance is actually pretty low. As with many things, I let my own mom be my guide. As you recall, there were five of us Henry Kids, and none of us was what you would call a Shrinking Violet. We were, in fact, pretty messy, noisy, whiny, and smelly. But I do recall that we could be taken pretty much anywhere. See, that was the deal. Mom (and Dad too, but it was really Mom making the rules) expected to be able to take us somewhere — and that we’d act in a manner that meant we could actually go back.

Other People's Children who can come back any time: Just-Two and Almost-Five

Other People’s Children who can come back any time: Just-Two and Almost-Five. Incidentally, they are featured in ‘What’s in a Name?’ from a couple of weeks ago

Pictured above are two shining examples of Kids Who Can Come Back. No, they are not perfect (though perfectly cute, as you can see). They run around squealing, but they do so outside. They’re kind of messy eaters, but they keep it (pretty much) to the kitchen. And, so far anyway, they don’t throw rocks. At least not in the house.

Speaking of rocks, I once announced to my mother that ‘I didn’t throw rocks at the house’. I was four. But why on earth would I bring this up if I actually hadn’t been ‘throwing rocks at the house’? Kids. Whattaya gonna do?

But about that kid who inspired the title of this piece. He was (and no doubt still is, I imagine) the son of one of my mother’s cousins. The one who used to make the incredibly bizarre jello salad concoctions. (I recall one made with green jello, cottage cheese, celery, and, I kid you not, chopped raw cabbage and onion.) Non-welcome kid. Weird jello salad. Coincidence?

This kid was, rather famously, not welcome anywhere. Once, at a family reunion, he bit me. I know, I know. Kids do that. But he was about eight at the time. And I was an infant — an infant with a big ole chomp mark on her tummy. This kid was so naughty, that when my Swedish Grampa would see their car pull in to the driveway, he would say: ‘Oh, no. It’s them. And they’ve got him.

But let’s end on an up note, shall we? This past weekend we got to spend some Quality Time with the Kid Pictured At The Top of This Post (and, um, his parents). He was a big hit, as you can see:

Come back any time, Kid. You too, O Fabulous Readers!

Come back any time, Kid. You too, O Fabulous Readers!

Amagansett, New York. June 2016


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16 thoughts on “‘Oh, no. It’s (gasp) them. And they’ve got (bigger gasp) him!’

  1. I grew up in the era of jello salads. They were everywhere. My mom made a green jello salad with cottage cheese and i don’t know what all. We loved it and called it “Green Stuff”. I think I’ll try to replicate it and see if it is what I remember. So many things from childhood are not.

    My two kids were normal kids, but they showed well. We took them to theater, concerts, and nice restaurants from the time they were very young. It made parenting a fun job.

    • I love that you could take your kids anywhere (come see me!) And I also love that you grew up with ‘Green Stuff’. The (good) kind I remember had, in addition to cottage cheese, drained canned pineapple chunks. Yum! (And thank you for commenting)

  2. Haha, some people’s children should come with a warning label! However, mine started out as sweet little adorable munchkins, however, the older they get, the more likely they are to veer towards curtain smearing brownie monsters! That is when we go home! (I do find that it can actually be the brownies that send them feral!!!!) #weekendblogshare

    • Ah, Pink Pear Bear! I have a feeling that I would like your children very much indeed, brownie smearing or no.
      Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, and most of all, for being a wonderful mother. xoxo #weekendblogshare

    • Thank you! And yes, isn’t that last picture sweet? It’s a ‘borrowed’ baby, not our daughter’s. She’s just 25. And if she waits as long to have a baby as we did to have her, The Dude and I will be (gasp) 80. She probably won’t LET us hold him or her! Anyway, you are sweet to read my post, and to comment. I’ll run on over to #weekendblogshare and check you out xo

  3. Adorable baby – you just know (or hope) he stays that way. My husband and I do not have any little ones to visit us but we sure notice them when we go out and for some reason they gravitate to him and like to talk. Then there are the other ones you described so well, Alice. Keep those kind far, far away.

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