Category Archives: Coffee with Gumba

Those Silly Kids

Petting.  Are your kids doing it? Do you want to know if your kids are doing it? The Mother’s Encyclopedia found petting important enough to spend several pages on the topic.

Dear Gumba,

“I could understand it,” said a puzzled mother, “if it were a question of being in love with somebody. But Phyllis is too young to be in love. Well, perhaps not too young – I know my grandmother was married at fifteen. But marriage is years ahead for Phyllis. And besides, she admits that she isn’t really in love with any of the boys she pets with. I know that some mothers feel that there is safety in numbers. But it’s just the miscellaneousness of it all that bothers me. I don’t think Phyllis is cold-blooded and callous, but sometimes it seems so. Anyway, I don’t like it. Is that prudish and old-fashioned of me? And is there really anything to worry about? Why must they pet?”

-Troubled in Philadelphia

To better understand the situation, we must go straight to the source – young Phyllis, only we’ll sum it up a bit.

“At puberty I began to feel differently. Boys became more interesting to me. I was beginning to grow up… I was excited and disturbed about boys,  but at the same time I felt a little scornful of them…I had a tremendous case on Mr. Smith, my history teacher. He was a kind of love-substitute for Father (??) and a step away from my family. Then I began to have cases on movie actors. They were at a safe distance, you see, and my feeligns could be less and less daughterly… But all that is the spirtual side of love – worship and admiration. And there was the other side of love to be developed, too. It had to be developed at the same time, but it had to be with different persons… Petting was a little hard for me to begin. It was made easier by the fact that it was the thing to do – a girl had to pet sometimes or she was thought stiff and queer… If you only knew it, I’m not as much of a petter now as I was a year ago, in my earnest and dutiful and indiscriminate-petting stage (I’m sure that’s a huge comfort to your mother, Phyllis).”

You know, really these 10 pages could be summed up so simply. There are these crazy chemicals called hormones that will make your teenagers behave like idiots. Raise them well, and good luck. 😉

Coffee with Gumba

Before a couple gets married there are many issues they’ll eventually discuss, but one of the biggest topics is usually family. Will they have a family, and if so, how many kids will they decide to have?

The Mother’s Encyclopedia has several pointers when making the decision regarding family size. Let’s go straight to the source shall we?

“The principal factors that determine the number of children of any intelligent wedded couple are usually the family finances and the mother’s health.

“Mother’s Health: First consideration, of necessity, is often given to the mother’s health. So much “sob stuff” as to the supposed deleterious effect of childbearing has been circulated during recent years that a false impression has been created, which many young women have absorbed unconsciously… In a normal group of women, the ones who live the longest are neither the unmarried nor the mothers of small families, but those that have half a dozen offspring or more.

“Given normal health and constituion, child-bearing is a benefit, not a detriment, to the mother’s health, and a good-sized family, properly spaced, is one of the surest ways of preserving vitality and preventing the premature onset of old age.”  (Sure it is…)

So, as I understand it, I’ll actually live longer if I pop out more kiddos, but if that doesn’t convince you that more is better, perhaps this will:

“There is some evidence that the first-born are somewhat handicapped both physically and mentally, and the the most vigorous, long-lived and healthy children are the fourth to the eighth in order of appearance.  Several studies have also seemed to show that each succeeding child is brighter than its predecessor, although of course the difference is slight and applies only to averages”. 

Ah, so practice makes perfect and eventually you’ll have children that aren’t too dim-witted. 

If that’s enough reason for you to have a large family, there’s a matter of success…

“Dr. Huntington and Mr. Whitney [of somewhere] found that there was a direct relation between their [a group of Yale graduates] success in life and the number of their offspring.

“‘On the average the unmarried men are the least successful-those who are married but have no children succeed a little better, but not very well. The men with one child succeed better, and so it goes, until the most successful group of all is made up of those who have six children or more.’

“This is not merely because of the additional responsibility assumed, the extra stimulus to achievement, but the successful, able, vigorous man is the man who is likely to have the same kind of wife; and they are both likely to want to have a normal family of children.

“The weakling, the inadequate man, the defective may not have the ability to make a success in life or to attract a desirable wife – or any wife at all.

“Healthy and intelligent parents, according to all the evidence available, find it beneficial to have families considerably larger than the present average. The figures show that they are beginning  consciously realize this, and I have no doubt that families of four, six and eight children, will during the next generation, be more fashionable among educated people than they have been in the one now passing.”

So… in order for my husband and I not to appear as unsuccessful weaklings we should probably hurry things up a bit more. I mean, I’m almost in my 30s and I’ve got 6-8 kids to push out!  I suppose it’ll be worth it to know that by the 4th kid or so they’ll be smart, though. 😉

Coffee with Gumba

The Mother’s Encylopedia  covers a great deal of topics, so let’s start in the A’s. Ah, yes, here’s a good topic and one we’re all familiar with…

Awkward Age

It’s recommended that “youngsters should be warned, perhaps, of the awkward age before it arrives.”

Basic things such as how “too much eating of sweets when a child is in the fifth and sixth grades, predispose to the acne that goes through high school with him” are common knowledge, but were you aware of the nervous habts of this age as well? Such things as “head-jerking, eye-blinking, knuckle-cracking, and body-twitching are not uncommon.” You know, I can honestly say I don’t remember a whole lot of body-twitching going on in Junior High. I think I’d remember if a bunch of pubescent kids were walking around jerking and twitching and excessively blinking their eyes…

Parents are also warned to be “as unyielding as Vermont granite” when it comes to sleep habits as your teens should be getting 9 to 10 hours of rest a night.

Don’t forget glasses either, which can be terribly trying for a young girl. If your daughter should get glasses, “hair styling becomes especially important… anything that softens the features, frames the face, and tends to balance the glasses, will improve the effect.” If you’re a young boy with glasses… well, there’s no advice for you. You’ll just have to make do with your bad luck.

Let’s not forget good posture either. “It is futile to accuse the child of clumsiness. this simply makes him hopelessly self-conscious.” Who knew? Instead you should encourage your child to join in “rhythmic exercises such as dancing, figure skating, swimming or fencing… The stocky boy should be encouraged to go in for such sports as wrestling, boxing, and ju-jitsu. The girl of this type needs corrective exercises and games, too. Often she is embarrassed by her enlarging breasts, and hunches her shoulders forward in an attempt to conceal them… Get her a well-fitted girdle and brassieres.” We wouldn’t want to forget our girdles, now would we? Nothing will give a young girl more confidence than a girdle.

As for that overtall girl, well, “you cannot make her any smaller, but you can dress her to minimize her height.” Also, if she feels awkward, “take her to a model school and let her watch how the glamorous fashion models are taught to walk. She will discover that her slimness is a trait that she can capitalize.” Hmmm…

For more information, feel free to find your own copy of The Mother’s Encyclopedia. Our printing is the 1952 version, but the first printing was in 1933 in 4 volumes, rather than 6 of the latter editions.

Just Ask Gumba…

I love old books, and after acquiring some over last weekend, it was Josh who had a great idea for the ‘ole blog. I have several books from the 50s that cover all the important things a woman from the time might need to know, and my latest find, A Mother’s Enclopedia, prompted Josh to come up with the idea to share this knowledge. This handy little set covers everything from Accidents to Maternity to Prostitution to Smoking and Worry, everthing a parent might need to address. It’s interesting how some advice has never changed and humorous reading the advice of the times when it comes to other topics. So, starting tomorrow, I’m beginning Coffee with Gumba. Why Gumby’s mom? Why not?

Okay, the real reason is because when Josh and I were reading about how to talk to your kids about prostitution, we both simultaneously heard the voice of Gumby in our heads. “Mother, what’s prostitution?” It was all downhill from there…