Mr. Dooley on The Bringing Up of Children

“Did ye iver see a man as proud iv annything as Hogan is iv that kid iv his?” said Mr. Dooley.

“Wait till he’s had iliven,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“Oh, iv coorse,” said Mr. Dooley. “Ye have contimpt f’r an amachoor father that has on’y wan offspring. An ol’ profissyonal parent like ye, that’s practically done nawthin’ all ye’er life but be a father to helpless childher, don’t understand th’ emotions iv th’ author iv a limited edition. But Hogan don’t care. So far as I am able to judge fr’m what he says, his is th’ on’y perfect an’ complete child that has been projooced this cinchry. He looks on you th’ way Hinnery James wud look on Mary Jane Holmes.

“I wint around to see this here projidy th’ other day. Hogan met me at th’ dure. ‘Wipe off ye’er feet” says he ‘Why, says I. ‘Baby,’ says he. “Mickrobes,’ he says. He thin conducted me to a basin iv water, an’ insthructed me to wash me hands in a preparation iv carbolic acid. Whin I was thurly perfumed he inthrajooced me to a toothless ol’ gintleman who was settin’ up in a cradle atin’ his right foot. ‘Ain’t he fine? says Hogan. ‘Wondherful,’ says I. ‘Did ye iver see such an expressyon?” says he. ‘Niver,’ says I, ‘as Hiven is me judge, niver!’ ‘Look at his hair’, he says. ‘I will’, says I. ‘Ain’t his eyes beautiful?’ ‘They ar-re,’ I says. ‘Ar-re they glass or on’y imitation? says I. ‘An’ thim cunning little feet,’ says he. ‘On close inspiction,’ says I, ‘yes, they ar-re. They ar’re feet. Ye’er offspring don’t know it, though. He thinks that wan is a doughnut.’ ‘He’s not as old as he looks,’ says Hogan. ‘He cudden’t be,’ says I. ‘He looks old enough to be a Dimmycratic candydate f’r Vice-Prisidint. Why, he’s lost most iv his teeth,’ I says. ‘Go wan,’ says he; ‘he’s just gettin’ thim. He has two uppers an’ four lowers,’ he says. ‘If he had a few more he’d be a sleepin’-car,’ says I. ‘Does he speak?’ says I. ‘Sure,’ says Hogan ‘Say poppa,’ he says. “Gah”, says young Hogan. ‘Hear that?’ says Hogan; ‘that’s poppa. Say momma,’ says he. “Gah”, says th’ projidy. ‘That’s momma,’ says Hogan. “See, here’s Misther Dooley”, says he. “Blub”, says th’ phenomynon. ‘Look at that,’ says Hogan; ‘he knows ye,’ he says.

“Well, ye know, Hinnissy, wan iv th’ things that has made me popylar in th’ ward is that I make a bluff at adorin’ childher. Between you an’ me, ’d as lave salute a dish-rag as a recent infant, but I always do it. So I put on an allurin’ smile, an’ says I, ‘Well, little ol’ goozy goo, will he give his Dooleyums a kiss?’ At that minyit Hogan seized me be th’ collar an’ dhragged me away fr’m th’ cradle. ‘Wud ye kill me child?’ says he. ‘How?’ says I. ‘With a kiss’, says he. ‘Am I that bad?’ says I. ‘Don’t ye know that there ar-re mickrobes that can be thransmitted to an infant in a kiss?’ says he. ‘Well’, says I, with indignation, ‘I’m not proud iv mesilf as an antiseptic American’, I says, ‘but in an encounther between me an’ that there young cannibal,’ I says, ‘I’ll lave it to th’ board iv health who takes th’ biggest chance,’ I says, an’ we wint out, followed be a howl fr’m th’ projidy. ‘He’s singin’? says Hogan. ‘He has lost his notes,’ says I.

“Whin we got down-stairs Hogan give me a lecture on th’ bringin’ up iv childher. As though I needed it, me that’s been consulted on bringin’ up half th’ childher in Archey Road. ‘In th’ old days,’ says he, ‘childher was brought up catch-as-catch-can,’ he says. ‘But it’s diff’rent now. They’re as carefully watched as a geeranyum in a consarvatory’, he says. ‘I have a book here on th’ subjick,’ he says. ‘Here it is. Th’ first thing that shud be done f’r a child is to deprive it iv its parents. Th’ less th’ infant sees iv poppa an momma th’ betther fr him. If they ar-re so base as to want to look at th’ little darlin’ they shud first be examined be a competent physician to see that there is nawthin’ wrong with thim that they cud give th’ baby. They will thin take a bath iv sulphuric acid, an’ havin’ carefully, attired thimsilves in a sturlized rubber suit, they will approach within eight feet iv th’ objeck iv their ignoble affection an’ lave at wanst. In no case must they kiss, hug, or fondle their projiny. Manny diseases, such as lumbago, pain in th’ chest, premachoor baldness, senile decrepitude, which are privalent among adults, can be communicated to a child fr’m th’ parent. Besides, it is bad f’r th’ moral nature iv th’ infant. Affection f’r its parents is wan iv th’ mos’ dangerous symptoms iv rickets. Th’ parents may not be worthy iv th’ love iv a thurly sturlized child. An infant’s first jooty is to th’ docthor, to whom it owes its bein’ an’ stayin’. Childher ar-re imitative, an’ if they see much iv their parents they may grow up to look like thim. That wud be a great misfortune. If parents see their childher befure they enther Harvard they ar-re f’rbidden to teach thim foolish wurruds like “poppa ” an’ “momma.” At two a properly brought up child shud be able to articulate distinctly th’ wurrud “Docthor Bolt on th’ Care an’ Feedin’ iv Infants,” which is betther thin sayin’ “momma,” an’ more exact.

“’Gr-reat care shud be taken iv th’ infant’s food. Durin’ th’ first two years it shud have nawthin’ but milk. At three a little canary-bur-rd seed can be added. At five an egg ivry other Choosdah. At siven an orange. At twelve th’ child may ate a shredded biscuit. At forty th’ little tot may have stewed prunes. An’ so on. At no time, howiver, shud th’ child be stuffed with greengages, pork an’ beans, onions, Boston baked brown-bread, saleratus biscuit, or other food.

“’It’s wondherful’, says Hogan, ‘how they’ve got it rayjooced to a science. They can almost make a short baby long or a blond baby black be addin’ to or rayjoocin’ th’ amount iv protides an’ casens in th’ milk,’ he says. ‘Haven’t ye iver kissed ye’er young?’ says I. ‘Wanst in awhile,’ he says, ‘whin I’m thurly disinfected I go up an’ blow a kiss at him through th’ window,’ he says.

“’Well,’ says I, ‘it may be all right,’ I says, ‘but if I cud have a son an’ heir without causin’ talk I bet ye I’d not apply f’r a permit fr’m th’ health boord fr him an’ me to come together. Parents was made befure childher, annyhow, an’ they have a prire claim to be considhered. Sure, it may be a good thing to bring thim up on a sanitary plan, but it seems to me they got along all right in th’ ol’ days whin number two had just larned to fall down-stairs at th’ time number three entered th’ wurruld. Maybe they were sthronger thin they ar-re now. Th’ docthor niver pretinded to see whether th’ milk was properly biled. He cudden’t very well. Th’ childher was allowed to set up at th’ table an’ have a good cup iv tay an’ a pickle at two. If there was more thin enough to go around, they got what nobody else wanted. They got plenty iv fresh air playin’ in alleys an’ vacant lots, an’ ivry wanst in a while they were allowed to go down an’ fall into th’ river. No attintion was paid to their dite. Th’ prisint race iv heroes who are now startlin’ th’ wurrould in finance, polytics, th’ arts an’ sciences, burglary, an’ lithrachoor, was brought up on wathermillon rinds, specked apples, raw onions stolen fr’m th’ grocer, an’ cocoa-nut-pie. Their nursery was th’ back yard. They larned to walk as soon as they were able, an’ if they got bow-legged ivrybody said they wud be sthrong men. As f’r annybody previntin’ a fond parent fr’m comin’ home Saturdah night an’ wallowin’ in his beaucheous child, th’ docthor that suggisted it wud have to move. No, sir,’ says I, ‘get as much amusemint as ye can out iv ye’er infant,’ says I. ‘Teach him to love ye now,’ I says, ‘before he knows. Afther a while he’ll get onto ye an’ it ll be too late?’”

“Ye know a lot about it,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“I do,” said Mr. Dooley, “Not bein’ an author, I’m a gr-reat critic.”

(Dissertations by Mr. Dooley)