Molding young minds

People are always coming up to me and asking me why I can't be serious. And when I say "people," I mean my children.

I suppose that, since I look like an adult, they naturally expect me to act like one. Ha!

When I sleep, I am very serious. It's the rest of the time that I must be having trouble with.

For her 15th birthday our eldest daughter received a Beta (Siamese fighting fish to you), which had the bad grace to die less than two weeks later.

I asked my husband to please flush the mortal remains, because I just couldn't bring myself to do so.

My 5-year-old saw the empty fishbowl on the counter and got curious.

"Mom! What happened to Stephanie's Beta fish?"

"It died, honey."

"Where is it?"

"Daddy flushed it down the toilet."

Her little face scrunched up, she put her hands on her hips and she said, "I hope he doesn't do that to me!"

I tried not to laugh as I promptly informed her that she was far too big to flush down the toilet so we'd have to find something else to do with her.

She yelped and ran out of the kitchen.

Now please don't start sending me angry e-mails about how horrible it is that I told my daughter we couldn't flush her down the toilet. I'd never try to flush her.

My credo is to have fun with my children while they're young. It's the best time to mess with their little minds.

I also believe in being honest with my children. She really wouldn't have fit down the porcelain throne. Do you know how much plumbers charge? Not to mention the endless questions about how she got down there in the first place.

I wouldn't mess with them if they didn't leave me openings so big a Mack truck could drive through.

For example, take my teenage son. Normally a bright kid, but for some reason he believes everything I tell him.

Case in point: I watch a 1-year-old for a friend during the day. She is trying to wean him from breastfeeding and get him on whole milk. We don't drink whole milk at our house, so she brought a container of whole milk over for the baby to drink during the day.

I came into the kitchen and caught my 13-year-old son drinking the whole milk.

"Chris! That's not ours; it's the baby's milk! Don't drink that!"

Poor Chris turned three shades of white.

"It's the baby's milk? You mean it'''s from Jenny?"

Jenny is the baby's mom.

As he said this, I nodded my head yes, and he immediately ran over to the garbage can and starting spitting.

I turned around so he couldn't see me laughing my head off. He thought he'd drunk breast milk, and I was in no hurry to tell him otherwise.

I didn't actually lie to him; it was Jenny's milk. She'd brought it over for baby Dillon; it just wasn't from her body.

Now every time I see my son I say, "Got milk?" at which point he makes gagging noises and runs away from me.

The joy of messing with their little minds is one of the perks of being a parent, or even an aunt.

My sister has two little girls, Jessica and Nicole. I once casually mentioned to them that eating broccoli would cause them to grow boobies.

First, I told them that eating broccoli would put hair on their chests, but for some reason they didn't buy that one, so I switched to the female version of consuming this delightful vegetable.

"Just look at your mom! She loves broccoli!"

Now one of them won't touch the stuff, and the other one is trying to figure out how to make broccoli milkshakes.

My sister frequently brings up the "broccoli debacle" to me and thanks me for planting this in her daughters' impressionable minds.

I tell her to think nothing of it. Just wait till they find out what spinach does.

Freelance columnist Pamela Troeppl Kinnaird can be reached at needitor@

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