Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 08.16.04
Stanstead, Quebec


Spare the meat, spoil the child

Some readers may recall that sometimes in the past I wrote about our youngest daughter Abby's health issues.

(Long story short, she has a metabolic condition called tyrosinemia, that, untreated, makes certain proteins toxic. It is controlled with medication, specialty foods, and a highly restrictive diet, allowing her to live a normal life. Abby also had a stroke a year and a half ago but recovered quickly.)

Because of that writing, people sometimes ask me how Abby is doing.

The answer? Spoiled like month-old milk.

Coddled like Michael Jackson's monkey.

Indulged like Courtney Love's habit.

Pampered like a diaper factory.

We're not exactly sure how this happened.

Deb and I are raising Abby, now 3, the same way we raised the other three kids (that is, when she's 10, she too will scream at me, "You're the meanest dad in the world!"). But somewhere along the way she started getting away with murder. Like O.J. Simpson in oversized gloves. Like Courtney Love in Kurt Cobain's oh, never mind.

Mostly this indulgence manifests itself in the form of bad habits.

For instance, at bedtime, one of us has to either lie with Abby or sit and read until she falls asleep. I used to scoff at my brother who for years did this with his kids (it finally came to an end shortly after the children moved out of the house). And now here we are falling asleep on Pooh Bear pillows.

Later in the night, Abby usually pads down the hall and hops into our bed. This is not what I imagined when I first heard about "threesomes."

Abby's siblings have to share some of the blame for spoiling her. They are a bit older and tend to treat her like a queen. For instance, they have a hard time saying no to her. Consequently, she has a very easy time saying no to them. Or rather, "NO-O-O-O-O!" If she stumbles and hurts herself, all three flock to her like seagulls to a fishing boat, like paparazzi to JLo's behind, like Courtney Love to a heroine... now stop that!

The kids may also be to blame for her language development. She can talk, of course, but she doesn't have to; she has others to do the talking for her. Example:

"What color is this?"


"Yes, what color is this?"


"Is it red?"

"Yeah, wed."

Her bad habits may also have to do with the tyrosinemia, or at least indirectly. Take mealtime, for example. Abby doesn't sit down for meals. We chase her around the house saying, "Have a bite. Have a bite." Then we actually have to spoon-feed her. At 3 years old! It's ridiculous.

Though, if you're diet consisted of steamed vegetables and peanut-free peanut butter, you wouldn't be too excited about eating either. (Her bread mix does, however, have hydroxypropylmethylcellulose in it. Yum!)

Then there are the habits that have nothing to do with anything. They just are.

For instance, Abby is still in diapers, or rather Pull-Ups. We have to get Pull-Ups because they have pictures of Buzz Lightyear and Disney princesses on them. What a scam. How do they expect kids to be potty trained if they make diapers so enticing? They even glow in the dark.

Heck, I'd wear them if they came in my size. Abby is so addicted to them she has a screaming fit if she doesn't get the Pull-Up with all three princesses on it.

She comes running to the TV when the commercial is on, and can sing the "I'm a big kid now" song (except the kids have taught her to sing "I'm a big fat cow").

By contrast, there is no interest in the toilet. And who can blame her. Things get sucked down there and disappear forever. She has, however, learned from watching her cousins how to pee on the grass.

Yes, at least we have that: our daughter is house-trained.