Dante had it all wrong. The circles of hell do not
correspond with sin. They correspond with the stages
of children and I know what the first three levels are
like from experience.
Level one — Your task is to dress and feed a child.
This is your only task and you have all day to do it.
The child is two-years old and absolutely refuses to
wear anything. When you do succeed it looks very much
like you were drunk when you did it. If you have
nothing better to do for the day, you can afford the
time to wrestle, plead, cajole, threaten and
inevitably give in to the child and let him wear
whatever he wants. If you need to leave in fifteen
minutes, call up and cancel your appointment. It’s
not going to happen.
Feeding this little hellion will only amount to the
child throwing the food on the floor and screaming
that he hates it. Or, you’ll finally create a dish he
desires and he’ll scream because the peas are touching
the macaroni. Or, you’ll have cut his sandwich in
squares and he’ll want triangles.
By the time you finish feeding him, you’ll have to get
him into a clean change of clothes. Simply repeat the
episode from the morning. This will get him good and
hungry for the next meal that he will refuse with
great enthusiasm no matter how hungry he is.
Level two — You will be assigned a three-year old to
follow you everywhere. No place is sacred. From the
kitchen to the bathroom this child will repeat
everything you say in the form of a question.
“Please don’t stand on the cat.”
“Don’t stand on the cat?”
“Stop picking your nose.”
“Picking my nose?”
“Why is there jelly in my slipper?”
“Jelly in your slipper?”
Level three — You are escorted by two kids, ages four
and five. They are bright enough to think up their
own questions. The four-year old asks why pumpkins
rot, why crayons melt in the car and what makes Jell-o
jiggle. Be prepared to be a walking encyclopedia
because you will need to be an expert on everything.
The five-year old will just ask one question five
MILLION times a day.
“We’re going to the store.”
“To buy groceries.”
“Because we need food for energy.”
“Because God made us that way.”
Before the five-year old can say anything…along
comes a smarmy seven-year old to ask. “Who’s God?”
There are more than nine circles of hell and they
continue right on through the teen years. I think
Dante was just being kind. But he got one thing
right. Raising kids IS a divine comedy.