Slices of Life: Universal parenting truths 2.0

Take comfort in knowing you aren’t the only one.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

I’ve written about universal parenting truths before (2015), but there are so many of them it warrants a second column (and perhaps even a third).

There are simply some things we all experience as parents, but often don't talk about because they are embarrassing or uncomfortable or maybe we are just too busy to chat. Here are 10:

No. 1: It will always be a frenzy getting out the door, especially when you have to be somewhere at a certain time and even more especially if you are going to a school concert or church or visiting your in-laws. This will be the exact time that one child can’t find his left shoe while another can’t find her right. You also will inexplicably not be able to locate your phone or car keys or both. Accept the chaos and realize being late is not the end of the world.

Two: The box is often more interesting than the toy inside it, especially if you are 2 years old. Go with it. Run with it. He or she will play with the expensive toy eventually, and probably break it quicker than the box. For now, sing praises to the simplicity of the magical and mysterious cardboard box, as have parents generations before you.

Three: Their firsts are sometimes your lasts (or at least it feels that way). The first day of kindergarten. First prom. First steps. When they take the car on their own for the first time. The first sleepover. The first letter of acceptance from college. As proud as you are, a little bit of you dies with each first because it is gradually rendering your job inessential — or so it seems. Don’t fret. You will never be inessential, even when they are 30 years old.


Four: Anxiety is the norm, and it never gets better. Oh boy, is this true. For reference, look above to "When they take the car for the first time" or when they walk up the big steps of the kindergarten bus. You worry like you’ve never known worry ever in the past, and it doesn’t let up. It continues, I believe, into perpetuity, and that’s a good thing. Confounding, I know.

Five: You’re never ready for them to grow up. You might think you are ready. You might be ready to be ready to be an empty-nester with winters spent somewhere warm, but the thought of them being adults and independent from you still stings. You will miss the days of boo boos and tears and your toddler sons thinking they are going to marry their mama. You’ll even miss the sleep deprivation — well, maybe not, but you might.

Six: On the flip side, even though you aren’t ready for them to grow up, you’ll realize that being friends with your adult child is better than you ever could have imagined. True, I promise.

Seven: If they are 3 years old and want to poop naked while sitting backwards on the toilet, you should avoid a power struggle and let them poop naked — as backwards as that might seem. As long as they do it on the toilet, you are the winner.

Eight: Teenage boys can eat a lot. There’s not much more to say on this topic, but if you have a bundle of hamburger in the freezer saved for Thursday night’s dinner, don’t be surprised if your 18-year-old son finds it and makes the world’s biggest quesadilla in the history of the world. He needs the protein. You can always order pizza.

Nine: If you give one of them a $20 dollar bill to get two or three items from the dollar menu, don’t expect change. The change will simply cease to exist. It will dissipate somewhere between the drive-through and your driveway. It’s one of the yet-to-be explained axioms of parenthood: the mystery of money and the dollar menu. Trust me.

Ten: It all goes much, much too fast. At breakneck speed. Survivors and in-laws tell you this, but hardly anyone listens. Try to listen. It goes much, much too fast. And like a short paragraph, I’ll leave it at that.

Last words? Love them and then love them again. They will grow up — even though this teething thing is making the late nights very, very extremely and confoundingly long. It will end all too soon, so don’t stress about the universal parenting truths. Instead, take comfort in knowing you aren’t the only one. Far from it.


J ill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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