Jewish World Review Dec. 3, 2003 / 8 Kislev, 5764

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

When tots control the world | Researchers have discovered that toddlers are just as obnoxious as teenagers.

According to a survey commissioned by Mother and Baby magazine, 42 percent of 3-year-olds have a television in their room and 50 percent have a CD player. Furthermore, two-thirds of mothers say they have bought designer clothes for their toddlers and 86 percent say they spend more on their child's clothes than they do on their own.

Lastly, 93 percent of mothers say they travel to and from work in a stroller while their young offspring tool around in a minivan equipped with a VCR and airbags.

I am making that last part up, possibly, but the point of the matter is that toddlers are enjoying the kind of lifestyle one normally associates with Tyco International executives, only without Jimmy Buffet and an ice sculpture spouting vodka.

It is one thing to be intimidated by a 16-year-old with a nose ring and size 12 sneakers; it is another thing entirely to have your life dominated by a person who eats his meals in a high chair and insists that you read "Goodnight Moon" to him a minimum of six times a night.

I think we all need to take a step (or possibly three) back from this subject and discuss how we can regain control of our universe from people who still think of crayons as a food group:

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1) Under no circumstances should 3-year-olds be given charge cards. One Big Bird sock puppet may be intellectually stimulating but 300 of them are simply excessive. Plus, very few toddlers can give you an accurate explanation of APR with or without a pocket calculator.

2) Toddlers do not need their own personal computer. If they express sufficient curiosity, you may let them log on as a "guest" on your computer but only if they agree not to use your charge card for any "inappropriate" ads. (See above.)

3) According to the survey, 61 percent of tots will eat Italian food but only 3 percent like sushi. Just to show him who's boss, you should force your toddler to eat raw sea urchin at least once a month.

4) There is nothing wrong with giving your 3-year-old his or her own TV because that means it's less likely that their little jelly-smeared fingers will gum up your remote control. But you need to instill in them at an early age that TV is not intended for entertainment purposes or anything remotely associated with fun. Program your child's TV (don't ask me how) so that all he receives is "Jeopardy" and home-improvement channels. A child who is re-shingling your roof or building you a new deck is a child who is not running up your charge card on 900 numbers or gorging on manicotti.

5) Do not under any circumstances eat your meals in the same room with your toddler. It is hard enough maintaining a romantic relationship with your spouse without dodging a volley of lima beans every evening. Your marriage will be much better off if you feed your 3-year-old in the middle of an open field or in a neighboring state. Wash him off afterward with a high-pressure hose and let him air-dry. When he lets you know that he's developed a taste for sashimi, you may let him back into the house.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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