Children
Saturday, January 18, 1997
Listen

GK: It was a hard week for parents, a week when another one of those studies came out showing that something you did for the good of your children actually may have harmed them --- we're all used to these studies --- studies that show that holding small children on your lap and reading books to them may cut off circulation in their legs in a way that makes them walk funny the rest of their lives --- when you have babies, people try to reassure you that babies are not fragile, don't worry, they're resilient, take it easy, Dr. Spock says to trust your own parenting instincts, so you relax and do what seems right, and twenty years later, out comes a study of young people who were given pacifiers as children, which shows a much higher tendency toward body piercing, particularly the piercing of the lips. Showing that young people who used pacifiers for more than fifteen minutes per day when they were babies grew up and pierced their upper and lower lips and inserted wooden discs, gradually increasing the size of the discs to the diameter of a pie plate. Your Melissa, your Lindsay, your Amy ---- you gave them pacifiers because it pacified them and now they're walking around with lips that stick out ten inches, unable to speak clearly, unable to get good jobs, and it's your fault.

The day was dark and bitter
The sky resembled zinc
A Minnesota January,
So cold, I couldn't even think.
I bundled up my little child
He looked all bright and eager-eyed,
And then I stopped in indecision:
How could I let him go outside?

Will there someday be a study
Of men who back when they were small
Played outdoors in January
Showing they turned to alcohol,
Showing they suffered from depression,
And winter caused a tendency
To wander around making howling sounds and spit running down your chin,
Guess whose fault it will be?

I was blessed with beautiful children
And raising them all is a breeze.
I hope they'll get into good grade schools
And score well on their SATs.
And so far they all seem contented
All of them doing okay,
So why do I wake up at midnight
And look out the window and say:

Will there someday be a study
Showing fruit juice makes you short?
A tendency toward tendonitis
If you go out for a sport?
Maybe vegetables cause vagueness,
And cereal a serious decline,
If my kids should grow up weird and slow, two bricks short of a load
I know the fault would be mine.

Lord, I'd like to talk a minute:
Just as soon as you are free.
I'm this guy down here in the kitchen,
The one in the bathrobe, yes, that's me.
I'd just like to ask a question
That I could not ask in church.
Will there be some bad surprises,
Lord, in future child research?

Will there someday be a study
Very clear in its results:
If you fed your children oatmeal,
You caused them anguish as adults.
That tofu caused tuberculosis,
The chilly mornings made them ill.
For all my sins, Lord, please forgive me.
I know my children never will.

© 1996 BY GARRISON KEILLOR

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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