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‘90s parenting: a sport far too competitive

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Author's note to Molly: I promise. This is not another article about baseball.

All right. Now that I have taken care of that, I can get started.Because this column is in the Family section of the Deseret News, I get a certain amount of family-related material forwarded to me from the paper. Mostly, it's information about new products that manufacturers are hoping I'll promote in print.

Oh, right. Like I'm Ms. Ralph "Smartypants" Nader. Like I'd know a good product if it hauled off and smacked me in the face. Like I'd care about a "good product," even if it did haul off and smack me in the face.

Have any of those manufacturers actually read this column? Don't they realize that a "plug" from me is less than meaningless? Don't they realize that I'm just a mom who spends a lot of time wondering which league (American or National) historically has had the cutest pitchers? (Answer: American.)

Oh. Wait a minute. I wasn't going to write about baseball again.

Sorry.

Occasionally, some of this product information does catch my eye. Take, for instance, the press release I received last week from the NYA (short for the "National Yogurt Association").

Right away I was intrigued. For one thing, I had no idea there was a "National Yogurt Association." Did you? Naturally I wondered how you become a member of the "National Yogurt Association." Do you have to pledge? Go through rush? Have a candle-passing when a sister in the National Yogurt Association gets engaged?

I also liked the NYA's motto that appears (along with a little logo) on the bottom left-hand side of the press release: "Live and Active Cultures!" (as opposed to a "Dead and Inactive Culture") is a good thing in the highly competitive world of professional yogurt making.

Anyway, the NYA apparently wants me to inform you, the Deseret News reader, that "renowned pediatrician and best selling author" Dr. William Sears has named YOGURT to his Top Best Five Foods for Families list. Here are the other four foods (in case you're interested):

1. Whole grains ("rich sources of protein!")

2. Tuna fish ("contains two essential omega-3 fatty acids!")

3. Avocado ("a good growth food for children!")

4. Papaya ("adds a touch of the exotic to everyday meals!")

Well, as soon as I read this list I started feeling bad because, of course, I have NOT been driving to the papaya store to buy my kids a bunch of papayas lately. I'm not even sure what a papaya looks like.

Just one more way I've messed up as a parent, I guess.

Actually, there are a lot of ways to mess up as a parent these days.

That's because parenting in the '90s has evolved into a highly complex, competitive sport where you are judged on how busy you are shuttling your children from one enriching activity to another. I should know. With five kids, I'm certainly in the thick of the medal hunt.

Still, there are times when I think that what we're doing with our children, all this frenzied running around, is stupid beyond words.

My friend and I were talking the other day. She said her dad once commented that his own parents never went to the things he did outside of home. Ball games, choir performances, awards assemblies: His parents weren't there. He didn't care, though, because what he got from them inside the home -- the talking, the listening, the reading, the hanging out, the laughing, the being quiet together -- was enough.

That's what I think is missing these days. Quiet non-quality time together at home when nothing -- and everything -- happens.

Enough!