Monday, January 26, 2004

Answer to IQ Test...

He just has to open his mouth and ask, so simple.

If you got this wrong please - do not pass go, do not breed, just go dig a hole and hide.



1. Introduction: Why Do We Need Humans?

So you've decided to get yourself a human being. In doing so, you've joined the millions of other cats who have acquired these strange and often frustrating creatures. There will be any number of times, during the course of your association with humans, when you will wonder why you have bothered to grace them with your presence.

What's so great about humans, anyway? Why not just hang around with other cats? Our greatest philosophers have struggled with this question for centuries, but the answer is actually rather simple:

THEY HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS. Which makes them the perfect tools for such tasks as opening doors, getting the lids off of cat food cans, changing television stations and other activities that we, despite our other obvious advantages, find difficult to do ourselves. True, chimps, orangutans and lemurs also have opposable thumbs, but they are nowhere as easy to train.

2. How And When to Get Your Human's Attention

Humans often erroneously assume that there are other, more important activities than taking care of your immediate needs, such as conducting business, spending time with their families or even sleeping.

Though this is dreadfully inconvenient, you can make this work to your advantage by pestering your human at the moment it is the busiest. It is usually so flustered that it will do whatever you want it to do, just to get you out of its hair. Not coincidentally, human teenagers follow this same practice.

Here are some tried and true methods of getting your human to do what you want:

Sitting on paper: An oldie but a goodie. If a human has paper in front of it, chances are good it's something they assume is more important than you. They will often offer you a snack to lure you away. Establish your supremacy over this wood pulp product at every opportunity. This practice also works well with computer keyboards, remote controls, car keys and small children.

Waking your human at odd hours: A cat's golden time is between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning. If you paw at your human's sleeping face during this time, you have a better than even chance that it will get up and, in an incoherent haze, do exactly what you want. You may actually have to scratch deep sleepers to get their attention remember to vary the scratch site to keep the human from getting suspicious.

3. Punishing Your Human Being

Sometimes, despite your best training efforts, your human will stubbornly resist bending to your whim. In these extreme circumstances, you may have to punish your human. Obvious punishments, such as scratching furniture or eating household plants, are likely to backfire--the unsophisticated humans are likely to misinterpret the activities and then try to discipline YOU. Instead, we offer these subtle but nonetheless effective alternatives:

Use the cat box during an important formal dinner.
Stare impassively at your human while it is attempting a romantic interlude.
Stand over an important piece of electronic equipment and feign a hairball attack.
After your human has watched a particularly disturbing horror film, stand by the hall closet and then slowly back away, hissing and yowling.
While your human is sleeping, lie on its face.

4. Rewarding Your Human: Should Your Gift Still Be Alive?

The cat world is divided over the etiquette of presenting humans with the thoughtful gift of a recently disemboweled animal. Some believe that humans prefer these gifts already dead, while others maintain that humans enjoy a slowly expiring cricket or rodent just as much as we do, given their jumpy and playful movements in picking the creatures up after they've been presented.

After much consideration of the human psyche, we recommend that cold-blooded animals (large insects, frogs, lizards, garden snakes and the occasional earthworm) should be presented dead, while warm-blooded animals (birds, rodents, your neighbor's Pomeranian) are better still living. When you see the expression on your human's face, you'll know it's worth it.

5. How Long Should You Keep Your Human?

You are only obligated to your human for one of your lives. The other eight are up to you. We recommend mixing and matching, though in the end, most humans (at least the ones that are worth living with) are pretty much the same. But what do you expect? They're humans, after all. Opposable thumbs will only take you so far.


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Remember when...

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow). We didn't have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone's lawn on a sunny day. Some people had a lens taped to the front of the TV to make the picture look larger.

I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza; it was called "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had.

We didn't have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was my grandfather's Ford. He called it a "machine."

I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.

Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was. All newspapers were delivered by boys, and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 4 AM every morning. On Saturday, had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called French kissing and they didn't do that in movies. I don't know what they did in French movies. French movies were dirty and we weren't allowed to see them.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don't blame me if they hurt themselves laughing. Growing up isn't what it used to be, is it?


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Men's Phrases and What They Really Mean

Translated: "I'm going to drink myself dangerously stupid, and stand by a stream with a stick in my hand, while the fish swim by in complete safety."

Translated: "There is no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical".

Translated: "Why isn't it already on the table?"

Translated: Absolutely nothing. It's a conditioned response.

Translated: "I have no idea how it works."

Translated: "I was wondering if that red-head over there is wearing a bra."

Translated: "I can't hear the game over the vacuum cleaner."

Translated: "Are you still talking?"

Translated: "I remember the theme song to 'F Troop', the address of the first girl I ever kissed and the vehicle identification numbers of every car I've ever owned, but I forgot your birthday."

Translated: "The girl selling them on the corner was a real babe."

Translated: "I have actually severed a limb, but will bleed to death before I admit that I'm hurt."

Translated: "And I sure hope I think of some pretty soon."

Translated: "It didn't fall into my outstretched hands, so I'm completely clueless."

Translated: "What did you catch me at?"

Translated: "I haven't the foggiest clue what you just said, and am hoping desperately that I can fake it well enough so that you don't spend the next three days yelling at me."

Translated: "I am used to the way you yell at me, and realize it could be worse."

Translated: "Oh, God, please don't try on one more outfit, I'm starving."

Translated: "No one will ever see us alive again."

Translated: "I make the messes, she cleans them up.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Time, warmth, intimacy and love are all fundamental to our children’s happiness and well-being. So are standards. Letting your children know the standards that are most important to you, and expecting them to be honored is a critical step in creating a peaceful home. This doesn’t mean autocratic rules and an unwillingness to compromise; what it does mean is deciding what’s most important, being completely clear on what it is, and following through.

When I was raising my kids as a single mom, these were the standards I held highest:
- We treat each other with love and respect.
- We don’t hurt each other physically or verbally.
- We listen to Mom and speak to her respectfully, whether or not we agree with what she has to say.

At our family meetings, when we put together guidelines for a peaceful family, these standards were interwoven with guidelines my children suggested. Being clear on what was important to me, helped them understand what I expected. We can never assume that our kids automatically know what our expectations are. Expectations can change from day to day, mood to mood, so it’s essential to get clear on what yours are in your own mind first.

The majority of parents I’ve talked to who’ve had trouble with their kids’ behavior admit that they’ve been inconsistent in conveying what their standards are. They’ve also been inconsistent in sticking to them. If one of your standards is “There is no physical fighting,” be one hundred per cent clear that this is non-negotiable. Then even on bad days when your nerves are shot and you’re energy’s drained, don’t ignore a physical fight. Physical fighting, like put-downs, has no positive purpose and does not belong in our homes.

Explain why your standards are important so your children don’t see them as arbitrary. For example, “Physical fighting only makes things worse. Can you imagine if your dad and I belted each other every time we got mad, or if I punched my boss punched each time we had a disagreement?”

Try this exercise: What standards are most important to you? Reflect on this, and write about it. Brainstorm a list of standards and then choose the top three or four. As much as possible, frame them in the positive, e.g.: We treat each other with kindness and respect. We work out our differences using words, not fists. We listen when Mom and Dad ask us to do something. Now have a family meeting and tell your children what your standards are. Find out what’s important to them too, and come up with some guidelines for a peaceful home.

By having clear, consistent standards and limits, you’ll cut back power struggles and extended periods of nagging. When I was teaching first grade many years ago, I still remember one child turning to a boy who was used getting his way by badgering his parents, and saying, “Nagging doesn’t work with Mrs. Drew so you might as well forget it!” Children learn very quickly not to waste energy nagging and whining when they don’t get what they want from it. By honoring our own standards and sticking by what we say, children start to see that manipulation doesn’t get them anywhere.

Our standards and limits create the firm ground that our children walk on. Each time we ignore our own standards it’s like the ground beneath our children’s feet opens up and their foundation becomes shaky. Renowned child psychologist, Haim Ginnott once said, “Children depend on the adults in their lives to set limits for them until they are old enough to do so for themselves.” By consistently setting fair limits and honoring our own standards we teach our children that the ground they walk on is solid.

Does that mean never compromising? Absolutely not. The trick here is to compromise when you think it’s the best thing to do, not when your children have worn you down. In fact it’s a good idea to think ahead of time about areas where you are willing to compromise. This is particularly important with teens and pre-teens whose growing independence is nurtured by a balance of compromise and limits. Discussing decisions and hearing out your kids is so important. Even if you don’t plan to change your mind about a decision you’ve made, give your child a chance to air his or her feelings (respectfully). Listening, more than anything gives kids a sense of being respected. What we give out, we get back.

I remember talking with a spirited teen named Quinn when I was writing my last book. Her words have always stuck with me. She said, “I’ve learned by my mom’s example to do what’s right. I completely respect her. She negotiates with me instead of just telling me what to do. She helps me understand her reasoning. I want to do what she asks because I love her so much. You do things out of the heart.”

Positive discipline requires us to walk a fine line between laying down the law and negotiating, sticking to our guns and compromising, being caring and being firm.

In this regard, here’s an exercise you might want to try:

What current discipline issue are you dealing with? Go to a quiet spot, close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths. Ask your wise self (your most intuitive place) what to do about this particular issue. Breathe deep and invite the wisest part of yourself to provide insights. When you are finished, write down whatever came up.

Peaceful parenting requires true intentionality, just a peace in the world does. As we know all to well, peace doesn’t just happen spontaneously. It needs our help. And it’s critical that we nurture it on every level - within ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world. Home is the place where peace starts, and the person it starts with is you.

From the Peaceful Parents Newsletter.