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Right now I should be worried about things like whether Simon is delayed in his gross motor skills, whether his nutrition is up to snuff, and whether his language development is on track.

But I’m not. How could I possibly worry about these things when a much scarier prospect looms on the horizon; namely, tha one day my sweet little boy will be, to quote writer Dan Savage, a sociopath. Specifically, an out-of-control little sociopath until or unless I metaphorically beat it out of him.

This observation comes courtesy of This American Life, which this week rocked my world with its show on how to talk to children. Act One detailed how hard it is to talk to children about, well, about almost anything. Don’t say “how’s school?” the kids told host Ira Glass.

“Don’t assume if we laughed at the joke once, we will again later.”

“Don’t talk down to us.”

“Don’t talk about things we don’t understand.”

Fine, but that leaves me pretty much at “don’t talk”, which may be what kids really want anyway. Sigh.

Now feeling thoroughly inadequate in my kid-talking skills, we move into Act II, which is all about how to talk to kids about sex. Oy. I’d really prefer to not have to think about this one at all. And so, in an act of mind control unusual for me, I tune out and don’t hear much of this essay.

Next up is Dan Savage making the case for screaming at your kids. In fact, he argues that since that literal beatings are unacceptable by today’s standards, verbal ones are more important than ever. They are, he claims, “all we have left.”

This essay was interspersed with a tape of Alec Baldwin yelling at his 11-year-old daughter, which  someone in the Kim Basinger camp clearly leaked to make Alec look as bad as possible.  And bad he did look! I mean, he called her a “thoughtless little pig” and sounded homicidal throughout. Except, according to Dan, nearly all of his friends confessed to having said something as bad or worse to their own kids of the heat of the moment at least once. Dan himself thought the tirade was par for the course for parents-even the very good ones.

So here I am. Getting ready for Simon’s first birthday party this weekend, and having the distinct feeling that this first year is a true honeymoon in parenting. The hours may be long, but my baby has been just that-a sweet baby-who hasn’t needed anything beaten out of him in the literal or metaphorical sense. Next come toddler willfulness, potty-training battles,  and then a long stretch of living with a short sociopath.

Maybe this is why so many parents cry when their babies turn one.

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