One kid is not enough

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

On Mother’s Day the News-Herald reported the touching story of Tim and Lynne Copeland and their beautiful baby daughter, Maggie, whom they recently adopted from China.

Rebecca Hill, the News-Herald’s advertising director, and her husband, Michael, a teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School, are immersed in the same tedious process. The Hills are attempting to adopt a child from Guatemala and it must be frustrating.

From one day to the next, Rebecca is flying high on news of being moved up for a referral, to moping around because of news from her agency that all adoptions have been stopped in Guatemala because of a leprosy epidemic, unseasonably warm weather or something.


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Both the Copelands and the Hills desperately want or wanted to become parents and both couples will no doubt provide excellent homes for their adoptees. However, while I hate to be the one to burst anyone’s bubble, they can delude themselves all they want into thinking that they are &uot;parents,&uot; but with only one child, it just ain’t so.

We have two children, one of which we recently shipped to West Virginia to spend a couple weeks with his grandparents. Next weekend we will go get the boy and drop off the girl.

The past one-kid week has been among the most peaceful and relaxing we have spent in the past 10 years.

Let me back up a bit. Our home life is typically hectic and rather loud. Adam, the older of the two, takes particular delight in teasing Catherine. He knows just which buttons to push to quickly evoke a scream, a wild swing, or a projectile launch from his little sister. They fight over the TV, over toys, over dinner, even over the dog, or at least they did until Adam sold off his stake in the family pet recently for sole ownership of a small TV with a built-in DVD player that his grandmother gave to both kids as a Christmas present.

We don’t usually step in until violence erupts. Cathy does her best to break it up, but most of the time they merely turn on her. No, when things get really crazy, I have to step in with my &uot;mean man voice,&uot; to get control of the situation.

We decided early on that we were not going to beat them to punish them. That’s not to say we never want to, and the few times that I have lost it and spanked, it’s hurt me more than them.

No, we hit them where it really hurts. We take things away from them that are important. At any given time, one could look in our closets or car trunks and find any number of video games, video game controllers, entire television sets or kittens hidden away, awaiting a lesson to sink in.

Anyway, almost immediately upon Adam’s departure we were amazed that we found ourselves being able to hear the television. I had even forgotten until last Sunday that there was a button on the remote control that would actually turn the volume down.

We forget that the girl child is even there and have to get up every half hour or so to go looking for her to make sure. She plays quietly in her room with her little people, watching a movie, drawing or writing. This doesn’t mean Adam is the culprit. I have no doubt things will be no less tranquil next week when he is the only child in the house.

My wife and I were discussing the situation a couple nights ago – which in and of itself is amazing since it’s usually too loud to have a conversation – and decided that having only one child is really more akin to being a dog owner than a parent. You can pretty much effectively manage one child by simply taking it to the bathroom occasionally and putting some food out in a bowl. To be a real parent, it takes at least two children, along with plenty of free closet and trunk space and fresh batteries in your remote control.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.