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From the desk of Dora DePauli: A mother's life

May 18, 2001

Mother's Day was very nice, and I didn't have to cook or do dishes. My daughter Gina fixed a lovely meal for me and some of the relatives. After church I got to put my feet up and read both Sunday papers. I felt terribly pampered.

My children like to see who calls me first for Mother's Day. Some jump the gun and call the night before. There is also a bit of a contest about whose card reaches the house first. Tony usually wins. He is never late and remembers every special day.

Daughter Mary was taken to Ruby's Palace, a favorite Chinese food restaurant in Huntington Beach. It would have been my choice, too, if I had been there. Mary said letting the children eat in a public place with chopsticks "is always an experience." Seven-year-old Devon manages quite well, but 2-and-a-half-year-old Johnny used the sticks as weapons. A huge dragon balloon she received from her husband was a big hit with the kids.

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Debbie's kids gave her some craft items they made at school. Her big surprise was a visit from a Channel 4 film crew from Greenville, S.C. A friend suggested Debbie's name as a good subject for a Mother's Day TV spot. The crew showed up early one morning a few days before Mother's Day. Normally her mornings are quite calm, but this morning there were a couple glitches.

Her 7-year-old son, Bo, doesn't like surprises. Debbie said he "copped an attitude" during breakfast. Ben, 5, surprised her by showing up at the breakfast table wearing fluorescent sunglasses. Kendall, 3, screamed while Debbie was combing her hair. Debbie's biggest disappointment, however, came when she was fixing pancakes. Because she was a bit flustered she burnt a couple. She tossed the rejects into the dog's dish and even she wouldn't eat them, and Piper has never been known to turn her nose up at any food. All this was captured on film by the crew.

A taxi followed Debbie on her various errands that morning to see what the transportation costs would be for a mother chauffeuring three kids. It came to about $28 a day. A commercial laundry came up with an estimate of washing and drying the clothes for a family of five for a month. Then a restaurant came up with the cost of 450 meals for a family that size. All in all it proved again that mothers aren't valued as they should be.

My husband's cousin sent the following things via e-mail:

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY? is answered by children.

"You've got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming." Alan, age 10

WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?

"Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person forever by then." Camille, age 10

HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?

"You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids." Derrick, age 8

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?

"Both don't want any more kids." Lori, age 8

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?

"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough." Lynette, age 8

"On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." Martin, age 9

WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?

"I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns." Craig, age 9

WHEN IS IT OK TO KISS SOMEONE?

"When they're rich." Pam, age 7

"The law says you have to be 18, so I wouldn't want to mess with that." Curt, age 7

"The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do." Howard, age 8

IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?

"It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them." Anita, age 9

HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?

"Tell your wife that she looks pretty even if she looks like a truck." Ricky, age 10

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