Suzanne Tobias

Anonymous calls, e-mails are mystifying

The caller didn't leave her name or number, but she clearly had some things to say. "You never cease to amaze me," the woman said in a message on my office voicemail. "You're not raising your kids. They're raising you."

Turns out, she was referring to my column last week, in which I shared how my son has a penchant for random questions or comments, especially first thing in the morning.

"I'll ask him how he slept or what he wants for breakfast," I wrote, "and he'll say something like, 'Can you juice a raisin?' "

Well, shame on me.

"You don't ask a 10-year-old what he wants for breakfast," the caller informed me. "Hopefully, you're teaching good nutrition, so you give him oatmeal with some peanut butter, some fruit, a piece of low-fat cheese, and then you say, 'Do you want raisins or brown sugar?'

"And no orange juice or apple juice. Too much sugar," she added. "You're the teacher. Teach!"


It's not that I don't appreciate comments from readers. I welcome them, even critical ones.

When I launched this column more than five years ago, I knew there'd be times people disagreed with my thoughts on parenthood or my ever-evolving strategy for raising my two children. My goal was — and still is — to share snippets of my life as a mother and hope that maybe other parents can relate.

I didn't expect the vitriol with which some callers and e-mailers — usually anonymous ones — espouse unsolicited advice but cut off debate. It reminds me of comments I'd get during those final months of pregnancy, when my swollen belly seemed an invitation for lectures in every elevator or grocery-store line:

You're going to breast-feed, aren't you?

Never bring the baby to bed. Your husband will hate you.

Don't be an idiot: Take the drugs!

Now it's breakfast, or perhaps more accurately, the fact that I give my children choices.

For the record, Jack's breakfast that morning wasn't jellybeans and Pixy Stix. At 10, he knows about nutrition and knows I'd have vetoed a request like that. He likely ate what he eats most mornings these days: A bowl of cereal with low-fat milk and some fresh strawberries.

Perhaps more shockingly, my 13-year-old daughter chose the outfit she wore to school that day and — gasp! —packed her own lunch.

I'm so irresponsible.

Join me

If you're checking out the Wichita Garden Show today, pay me a visit at The Eagle booth. I'll be there from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., so come on by, say hello and register to win prizes.

And next week — 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday — I'm thrilled to be hosting a live Web chat with local author Clare Vanderpool, who recently won the Newbery Medal. Visit during that time to ask Vanderpool questions about her book, her writing process and more.