Though I don’t know this for certain, I think my parents started going to Mr. and Mrs. LaQuiere for advice on how to handle my handful-of-a-sister. They were at their wit’s end at that point, and desperately needed to find “The Answer” to how to have a well-behaved child. Such a stroke of luck it was for them that someone recommended Joe LaQuiere, who had a beautiful family of five perfectly-behaved children, all with names starting with J (Mr. LaQuiere’s first name started with J). I always felt sorry for Mrs. LaQuiere, because her name did not start with J, and sympathetically felt that she must feel bad about being the outsider in her family. They were a wonderful and happy family, and their child-raising-methods clearly worked, because they had grown children, as old as twenty, and not one of them had ever rebelled, or gone through “difficult” teenage years (they didn’t believe in the word “teenager”, because it was steeped in worldly rebellion). Not even as little toddlers did they ever so much as go through the horrible misnomer of the “Terrible Twos”! Their toddlers (and children, and young adults, and grown adults) all were as sweet and obedient as any proud parent could wish for, and it was all through a secret method of training that Mr. LaQuiere would share with us, if we wanted. (I mean, if our parents wanted. Children’s wants don’t matter, haha!)
Naturally my parents were very excited, and so were we. Here were these very cool kids (they were older than us – older kids are cool just by virtue of being older) and something that sounded tantalizingly like an adventure! We would get to start coming to Mr. and Mrs. LaQuiere’s home to observe them, and they would visit us at our home to observe us, and we would get to see first-hand how this magical method of child-training worked. Most importantly, in my mind, they had a miniature barn in the backyard and ducks! And the kids got to gather and eat the duck eggs, and how often do you get to do that as a suburban child? Never, that’s how often. But now we were lucky, and got to gather and eat duck eggs too; which, for the record, are quite strong-tasting, and I wouldn’t recommend them at all. But still, the novelty was the thing.
So we went to their house to observe them, and they came to our house to observe us – actually, as it turns out, they were observing us the whole time at both houses, which was rather unfair, I thought — and they sat us down and gave us their observations, which wasn’t nearly as fun as I had initially thought it would be. It turned out that we were doing all sorts of things wrong. A lot of them were things I didn’t even realize were wrong, and I was rather crestfallen to realize that while I thought I was being especially good, I was actually being bad. I had thought that I would know the difference at least, but here was the bona fide list of crimes we had committed; things like “talking back to parents” instead of instantly and cheerfully obeying. Or acting disappointed (“having a fallen countenance”, they called it) when we were called away from something fun and told we had to go home.
I don’t really remember the other things on the list, but I left the initial diagnosis feeling quite ashamed and shown-up in front of the cool LaQuiere kids, and I wished their parents wouldn’t have paraded our faults out when they were right there listening, because now they wouldn’t like us. Actually I don’t recall them really liking OR disliking us – they were just dutifully cheerful and happy with everyone, and treated us all the same.
It turned out that we were not the only family seeking Mr. and Mrs. LaQuiere’s help (I’m just going say “Mr. LaQuiere” from now on, because while Mrs. LaQuiere was a most dutiful wife, and supported everything her husband said, she really didn’t add anything of her own to the discussion). Lots of other families needed their help too, and they would all meet together on Wednesday nights for training times with the LaQuiere family, and now, we were invited too! It was like being invited to join a special club. Definitely exciting enough to forget my initial embarrassment over my list of character deficiencies! We started attending on Wednesday nights, and so did my mom’s brother and sister and their families. (I think that one of them was actually the connection that encouraged us to meet Mr. LaQuiere in the first place.) So not only did we get to join a special club, but our cousins were all a part of it too. Life couldn’t get much better for a 7-year-old.