I was asked recently by a young man whose wife is expecting their first child, what he needs to know as a parent. I immediately replied, “The beeper number of a good shrink.”
We laughed and went our separate ways but on the way home I starting thinking about what it takes to be a good parent. I decided to make a list and send it to my friend. After an hour, I decided that wasn’t such a good idea. Too many trees would have to give up their lives for me to compile such a list. So I decided to narrow it down to just a few, all-encompassing items that would help him in his quest for knowledge.
Okay, let’s see, to be a good parent you must. . .
. . .be able to exist on very little sleep and still go to work and present a halfway decent image to your coworkers.
. . .be willing to unwrap a diaper containing something so nasty it would gag a buzzard, and still use your baby talk voice to tell your little one how proud you are of the pretty poo-poo.
. . .take a full load of puke in the chest and still maintain an air of dignity when you ask the convenience store clerk where the restrooms are.
. . .avoid throttling the convenience store clerk when he says the restrooms are for employees only.
. . .repeat yourself constantly and loudly and receive in return some of the most blank, in-one-ear-out-the-other-what-an-old-man-you-are-I-hope-I-don’t-grow-up-to-be-so-crazy looks you’ve ever seen.
. . .enjoy talking to walls because that’s what it will be like talking to your child.
. . .be able to push a shopping cart with one flat wheel, compare prices, read labels, find specials, bag fruit, thump melons, examine meat, and keep your angel from climbing displays all at the same time.
. . .accept graciously a ton of advice from non-parents who know exactly how to raise kids because they read all about it in books written by experts who have no children of their own.
. . .sit and watch a video for the 125th time and still be able to nod and say things like “Wow! Did you see that?” and “I’ve never seen anything like that before” and mean it.
. . .not let the words “are we there yet?” push you over the edge and make rabbits and other small animals sudden targets for your frustration.
. . .be able to assemble toys after midnight on Christmas Eve with just a pocket knife and fifty pages of instructions written only in Japanese.
. . .believe that “Because I said so!” IS a good reason and is the only one your child really needs to understand.
. . .accept the fact that “I don’t know” is the answer that comes standard with each model of child.
. . .have a soft wall in the house that you can beat your head against and not worry about hurting yourself.
. . .keep a smile on your face and ignore all the accusing stares from others as you slip and say something like “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to sell you to the next gypsy caravan that comes through town” in a crowded department store.
. . .keep your head held high and proud as you drag a screaming demon out of the store because some pinhead of a manager decided to place a giant sucker display right next to the cash register, and it’s too close to supper time.
. . .be able to buckle a squirming, screaming child into a car safety seat created by a sadistic inventor sitting in a dark tower somewhere who obviously has never studied the shape, size, or weight of the human child.
. . .deal with that strange phenomena commonly known as “boomerang child,” a condition in which the child is placed securely in bed, kissed, tucked in, settled down, but then suddenly appears at your elbow as you try to unwind on the couch.
. . .start a search for the number of the sadistic inventor in the dark tower and tell him to put his energy into finding a way to keep kids in bed.
. . .be able to sing every Disney song ever created from start to finish at least twenty times in a row while still keeping the car between the ditches.
. . .not break down and cry your eyes out when your child looks at you and simply says, “I love you.”
You know, on second thought, it can’t be narrowed down too much. Oh well, looks like a lot of trees will be dying tonight.