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`MY MOM'S THE BEST' LIGHT SECOND-GRADERS FROM MISSION HILLS GIVE US AN EDUCATION IN MATERNAL LOVE.

Byline: CHRIS WEINKOPF

ACCORDING to the wonks at Salary.com, who recently crunched the numbers and compared salaries for people doing similar work, stay-at-home moms should be paid $134,121 a year. That just goes to show how little wonks know. The work moms do is priceless -- and no one understands that better than kids themselves.

A few weeks ago, a manila envelope from Lupe Bailey's second-grade class at San Jose Street Elementary School in Mission Hills found its way onto my desk. Inside, written with the classic candor and exuberance of children, were eight beautifully crafted, personally illustrated essays, each one a testament to motherhood.

Mrs. Bailey's students know full well that it would take a dozen ordinary people to do all the jobs Mom does in a single day, and that a mom's value in the life of a child is simply incalculable.

For starters, mom is the household spirit-lifter. Or, as Celese Gutierrez, age 7, puts it: ``My mom is the best because when I am sad she cheers me up.'' Antonio Martinez, age 8, writes, ``When I'm not happy (Mom) asks me why I'm sad and we talk about it. Next we play or read together and she gives me hugs and kisses.''

For most families, Mom is also the chef -- a role too often disparaged by some women's libbers, or taken for granted by some of us insufficiently grateful dads, but one which children hold in properly high regard.

Michael Neff, age 7, recognizes that the hand that cooks the dinner ought to be revered. ``My mom is the best because she cooks the greatest meals in the whole wide world!'' Michael enthuses. ``She cooks all different meals every day of my life! My mom cooks big, small, large, wide, and long meals. She likes her job which is cooking food for my big family. She cooks whatever I want! My mom makes me happy by cooking!''

Now that's gratitude.

And why not? Children understand that in providing three squares, parents are meeting fundamental needs that they can't meet for themselves. ``My mom is the best,'' Ara Ramos, age 7, explains, ``because she cooks meals for me because I can't cook.''

There you have it.

``My mother is the best because she gives me a big meal when I am starving!'' writes the wise-beyond-his-7-years Johnny Parada. Johnny knows the importance of a full stomach: ``Food is special so I will not die.''

And not just any food. Johnny salutes not only mom the cook, but also mom the nutritionist. ``My mom is the best because she lets me eat more vegetables than junk food!'' (Yes, they even appreciate the green beans. Who knew?)

They also appreciate the discipline. In homes with multiple siblings, moms are the peacemakers -- a role not lost on Megan Carbajal, age 7. ``My mom is the best because she tells me what to do when my sister and I are fighting,'' notes Megan. ``When we fight she helps us apologize to each other. Then I feel happy that my mom helped my sister and I work things out. Then my sister and I play together fairly.''

Of course, sometimes sibling spats or other rites of childhood can be physically painful, which is why it's a good thing moms also double as family-health practitioners. ``My mom is the best because when I get hurt and get purple bruises, she hugs me and kisses me,'' says Peter Inzunza, age 8.

Family health care, by definition, includes spiritual health. As Peter explains: ``One time when I was next to thorns I fell in the thorns and I went to the hospital. While I was in the hospital, my mom prayed for me because she wanted me to feel better.''

Thank God for moms.

Above all else, they give kids what kids need most, and that's love. ``My mom is the best,'' observes Pablo Lorenzo, age 8, ``because she loves me. She loves me by kissing me when I need it.''

Even youngsters recognize that love isn't so much about emotions, kind words or feel-good gestures, but the sort of sacrifice for which moms are famous. ``She also shows her love for me when she watches over me,'' Pablo writes. ``For example she gave me her own lunch today because I'm allergic to some school cafeteria lunches. She is the best because she loves me.''

Indeed, she is.

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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 14, 2006
Words:744
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