Dont forget the kids

After my mother died, my father eventually remarried. My father has six grandchildren. His second wife has one, Dylan, who turned 1-year-old last December. Since Dylan lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., my family had never met him. The three of them drove up from Houston recently. Rosie seemed a little nervous about exposing her only grandchild to a strange town and even stranger people - the family of her husband`s son. So I asked my three children, who are ages 8, 11, and 14, to "be nice." After

Mark Hartley, Editor

markh@pennwell.com

After my mother died, my father eventually remarried. My father has six grandchildren. His second wife has one, Dylan, who turned 1-year-old last December. Since Dylan lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., my family had never met him. The three of them drove up from Houston recently. Rosie seemed a little nervous about exposing her only grandchild to a strange town and even stranger people - the family of her husband`s son. So I asked my three children, who are ages 8, 11, and 14, to "be nice." After all, it had been six years since they had really spent much time around an infant. My children rewrote the definition of nice. I was astounded. They rolled the ball to Dylan. They took turns giving Dylan "rides" around the house on an oversized teddy bear. They let Dylan poke their noses, and they responded by going, "beep." They talked incessantly to him. There was a lesson here somewhere. Dylan couldn`t talk back to them. Their parents can. So I became a Dylan groupie too, mainly to eavesdrop on my kids` conversations.

Then I got to meet Madison and Hayden, this month`s cover models. They are, of course, somewhat more mature and sophisticated young women than Dylan, being six months older than he is.

What a hoot! They were delightful. Since they were posing for dental hygienists, I took advantage of the opportunity, introducing them to a couple of foreign objects - a toothbrush and some floss. The toothbrush was designed for children, and the handle kept changing colors from red to yellow, and vice versa. The floss, though, was even neater, since you can keep pulling and pulling on the thread with no end in sight. The dog, Sierra, proved to be mere window dressing. I orignally thought we might need to go for the Norman Rockwell effect - have the dog lick the twins, have them tug Sierra`s ears or tail, or just lean against the dog in that familiar way kids have for pets. Unnecessary. Madison and Hayden are natural stars in front of the camera. Sierra, though, was such a well-behaved dog that we didn`t bother to snap our fingers for the dog to bound off the set.

These young tykes have prompted me to grin broadly. The emotions go the other way too. The last time I`ve wept, really, was for young kids. The Oklahoma City bombing left my heart feeling heavy for all of the victims. But I wept in solitude for the kids innocently playing in that day care at the federal building. Even after all this time, it`s hard for me to forget that day.

So, for all of the memories children give me, I`m happy to have RDH help publicize National Children`s Dental Health Month.

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