Editor's note: Hey! I like both writers and kids!

I enjoyed Christine's description of Chad's interests: 'Clapping, laughing, and not falling!' Although I'm ancient compared to the lad, I think I pretty much have the same interests.

Lawyers, cops, doctors, and, yes, dental professionals always gripe about how Hollywood depicts them. Editors apparently are not very exciting characters, since we're not in very many movies. When editors do appear in one, they seem to drink too much and relish the ability to insult perfectly nice people. When editors are villainous, they do everything they can to suppress freedom of speech. If this were realistic, you would, of course, be getting your daily news from the lists of ingredients in the groceries you buy. There wouldn't be any magazines, newspapers, books, etc. But the evil editor has to behave like this in order to define clearly the plight of the hero, who is trying to inform innocent citizens of a danger in their lives.

In short, writers and editors don't like each very much, according to the movies.

I like writers. Even though I'm not particularly good at it, I've been known to peck away at a keyboard myself. Maybe that's why I can empathize with them. I thought of RDH's writers as I sat down to write this. It's February, and I wanted to say something about kids. Although the articles about pediatric dentistry in this issue are inspirational and informative, I just couldn't get going - that old "block" writers talk about. Instead, I thought about every other possible topic that had nothing to do with kids. So I guess I know what I'm going to write about for the rest of year.

With this issue, I thought I would just introduce you to our writers' kids.

Cathy Alty's twins, Tom and Samantha, appeared on the August 1991 cover as young tykes. They're now sixth graders. Samantha plays the clarinet and contributed vocals to a Christmas CD compiled by Michigan musicians. Cathy's description of Tom was, "Dramatic, creative, and argumentative, he keeps our household teary-eyed from laughter." Her youngest son, Dan, is in fourth grade and has "never met a sport he didn't like."

Cathy advised me, "They're all going to need orthodontics, so I may need to write more articles for you to help pay for it all."

Kristine Hodsdon is the proud mother of Catherine, 5, and John, 2. Catherine battles her mother for "computer time" and John's "accomplishment is wrapping his parents around his little finger with his expressive blue eyes."

Michael is the name of Dr. Joen Haring's 4-year-old son. "When he's not in constant motion, he loves to color, play board games, and watch the Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet."

Judy Sulik's two daughters - Emily, 13, and Rachel, 9 - are voracious readers. Judy says, "They both now read in the car while on vacation and tell their father and me to talk more quietly." They also dance, play the piano, and perform in local amateur productions.

I met Jane Weiner's charming daughter, 26-year-old Robin, last summer when I joined the family during a tour of the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. Robin is a well-known occupational therapist. Jane's 23-year-old son, Seth, is a Florida State graduate who has turned his love of music into an opportunity, managing the bookings of bands in the north Florida area.

When I first met Shirley Gutkowski, she told me about her family of five sons. Since our introduction to each other was near Thanksgiving, I tried to visualize a table sturdy enough to hold the food for five young men (the youngest is now 18 years old, and don't forget about Dad).

Apparently, I'm not the only one trying to imagine life with so many kids. Shirley says, "People would come up to me in the store when the kids were little and ask if I had ever heard of birth control or comment on how full my hands were. Not one offered to help put the groceries in the car!

"We lived in a small town then. I used to pack them up, and we would go for walks all over town. It was a real sight to see one on Big Wheel, two in the buggy, one hanging onto the buggy, and one strapped onto my back marching to Piggly Wiggly to get bread and milk. Ah ... empty nesting! To keep on the dental topic, I have to say that out of all those teeth, only six had to be restored."

Dianne Glasscoe home-schooled her two sons, Terry, 20, and Brad, 19, for eight years. They both later graduated from a military school and are weighing their options for the future. Terry likes hunting and fishing "and wishes he could do that for a living," according to Dianne, and Brad likes "spending money and girls." She joked, "I hope they both grow up before they make all of my hair turn gray."

Christine Nathe has three kids: eight-year-old Rhen, five-year-old Marissa, and one-year-old Chad. I enjoyed Christine's description of Chad's interests: "Clapping, laughing, and not falling!" Although I'm ancient compared to the lad, I think I pretty much have the same interests.

Joanne Sheehan's two sophomores are Jenny, 19, and Jed Joseph, 15. The latter is a sophomore at Sparkman High in Huntsville, Ala. He enjoys fencing and writing for a science fiction Web site. Jenny is a sophomore at Georgia's Covenant College. Jo suspects Jenny "secretly would like to run an orphanage and save the animal world."

Jo says, "My daughter stuck me with two fighting fish, two black-and-white cats, one boa constrictor, and a dwarf baby bunny named Zig while she ran off to Virginia for 10 days to visit friends. Arghh!"

I mistakenly thought Cathy Seckman had kids. But I enjoyed her response so much that I conclude with it.

"We did once have a cat who was deaf and blind in one eye," Cathy said. "She fell down the stairs, over the back of the couch, and off the balcony regularly. We called her Lucky. Seriously, we do enjoy other people's children. We just took my 13-year-old niece, Laran, to Tennessee with us on our annual New Year's trip to visit friends.

"On the plane she kept saying, 'Oh, I'm so scared! We're all going to die! I can't look out the window! You'll have to hold my hand!' When we came home, she said, 'You know, maybe I could be a pilot when I grow up.' "

I guess you know by now why I like these folks and am glad they write for RDH.

Editor Mark Hartley can be contacted at markh@pennwell.com.

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