Raise ‘em right
Parentology is all the rage right now. Parentology? Yeah, you know, our accumulated mass of codified wisdom on the art, science and craft of parenting. It seems not a week goes by that there isn’t some new book or study touting a magic formula for properly forging the souls of our kids. And these days, you can shop for those parenting styles as easily as you would socks. Want to dry-farm a crop of math and music prodigies? Try the Tiger Mom. Want to raise self-sufficient kiddos who conveniently do their own emotional care and feeding? Try the free-range, laissez faire method that seems to work so well for the French. Are you an emotive doter who wants your kids to handspring through childhood’s oneiric fields of love? Helicopter parenting might be the thing for you!
Now, I don’t presume to know which method works best — or whether even the idea of “methods” can or should be applied to the scattered, entropic joy that is raising children. But, on the other hand, I figure you can’t go wrong with a few broad planks. This can’t be too far off the mark can it?: 1) Keep the kids busy 2) Do it with a broad, brain-stretching array of activities and 3) Maybe get out of the way once in a while. That’s it! (CHILD REARING COMPLETE. FLAWLESS VICTORY.)
Of course, that’s not all there is to raising a healthy, happy brood, but I suppose it’s a good launching point. And it’s only part of what you’ll find in our second annual bonus Desert Companion Family Issue — everything from a how-to piece on kick-starting your kids’ aesthetic appreciation to a guide to the valley’s water attractions to — back by popular demand! — recipes for budding gourmets to tackle in the kitchen (chant it with me, like a dark invocation: honey-apple bananwich ... honey-apple bananwich). Whether it’s dendrite-growing activities on the home front or splashy outdoor summer fun, our second annual family issue has something for everyone.
Of course, family is about more than keeping the kids from gnawing the legs off the kitchen table. (Though sometimes, it seems, not much more.) The word family isn’t a noun so much as a verb, an unfolding story of possibility and potential — and one rich with memorative texture. Family evokes and resonates as it breathes and moves, and some of our pieces explore that liminal space — pieces such as Greg Blake Miller’s “ Under the Eggshell Sky, 1975” a lyrical reminiscence of the sensory impressions of a Vegas boyhood, and Stacy J. Willis’ “ Babysit, Inc.,” in which she checks in with a Red Cross babysitting class. In our text-and-Twitter age of hyperconnected, digital-native teens, Stacy isn’t quite sure what to expect of the babysitting skills of Gen Z — but what she finds truly surprises her. (And I’m not just talking about the creepy baby dolls.) And we’ve got something for the parents, too: a humorous pet guide that’ll add some much-needed laughter to the process of getting your family’s first furry companion. Building a strong family will always be an inexact science, a harrowing, intrepid art. I hope our family issue plays some small part in the process — whatever your preferred parentology.