Thinking of raising your child in Forest Park?
Here’s a primer explaining the various stages of

STATIONARY: During the first six months, your baby can’t move very far under its own power. So, if you’re looking for your baby, always check the place where you last saw it.

HORIZONTAL: As the child grows, it begins to move about horizontally. Now, if you set the infant down, it might be gone when you get back. But, unless the child is wearing corduroy pants, it won’t be able to travel more than a block or so.

VERTICAL: After about a year, the child gets tired of being at ground level and learns to stand on its own two feet. Vertical children can be a lot of trouble to keep track of. They will also make sudden returns to the horizontal stage, which will often result in an “owie.”

VERBAL: The child next enters the verbal stage. Their entire vocabulary consists of demands and refusals. When they’re not demanding something to eat, they’re refusing to sit in their car seat. Parents may want to call for police backup but even heavily armed police officers will not risk injury by having contact with a 2-year-old. By the way, whenever you say “no” to a child, their automatic response is “why?” Get used to it.

SCHOOL: Your child will reach a stage when they will stop demanding and refusing at home, and will instead chatter away inside a classroom. Remember, parents, if your child isn’t home, chances are they’re at the local school. Try to learn their schedule.

SOCIAL: At school, your child is bound to meet other children and sooner or later bring some of them home. Hide your valuables and breakables before they come over. And never allow a child into your house if they’re carrying their own hammer, saw or felt-tip marker.

SULLEN: After years of being happy and carefree, your child may become sullen. The warning signs are a pouty expression and a constant refrain of, “I’m bored.” Do not have any unnecessary contact with the sullen child and don’t offer any solutions to their boredom. Have them do household chores until they take their sullenness outside.

DEFIANT: After years of being passive during the sullen stage, the child will return to the verbal stage and begin to exert his or her own will. Demands and refusals will fly faster than dead leaves on a windy day. Parents should avoid physical confrontations during this stage. Especially if their children are more vertical than they are. For example, do not try to force the child to go to their room. Even SWAT teams have suffered unacceptable losses trying to get children to go to their room.

Instead of confrontation, parents should use reason and compromise. For example, “Yes, you can go to the R-rated movie, but you have to wear these ear plugs.” Or, “I don’t mind if you get your tongue pierced, as long as you never again open your mouth in my presence.”

With these kinds of firm guidelines, there will be mutual respect between parent and child.

And, if there’s not, you can always hide the car keys.



John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.