Oh man. For our son’s afternoon nap, my wife likes to stroll his ass around the retirement community across the street. The grounds are beautifully maintained, and the whole place is as peaceful as a graveyard. (Okay poor word choice.)
The only drawback is that the old people can’t resist the stroller. They always want to peek inside, like our son might be the latest incarnation of the Dalai Lama. They also have a habit of leaning in way too close, as though proximity confers some rejuvenating life force.
Finally, they pepper my wife with small-talk. (What’s his name? How old?) The exchange inevitably ends with some parting wisdom or advice. It’s well meaning but always comes out as cliché.
My wife reports the most common refrains which, to be fair, are hardly exclusive to retirees. In fact, the residents at Brookhaven seem really cute. They all wear super-cushy Asics with marshmallowy midsoles.
More alarming, plenty of young parents can be heard reciting these same inanities. Herewith, the five most frequently– oh wait, this calls for a heading. Ahem.
The Five Most Frequently Heard Parenting Clichés
Babies are miracles. Please. Babies are so not miracles. Miracles happen once every hundred years. Babies happen like, every forty seconds.
Enjoy every minute. If it’s okay with you, I’m just gonna muddle through the predawn. Also inflight tantrums. And despite strenuous effort, I am incapable of deriving pleasure from that magenta dentured buttmunch from the triassic period: Barney.
I just want my kid to be healthy. Liar. You also want your kid to go to Harvard. And become a doctor. Or else become a lawyer who sues doctors. Hey how come no one ever hopes their kid grows up to be a comptroller? Just thinking out loud here.
It goes by so quickly. I hate to nitpick. But if Einstein demonstrated anything it’s that time is relative. He probably formulated that theory while up with one of his kids between the hours of 1:30 and 6:00 a.m., when time slows down to the approximate pace of oral surgery.
Or how about the first time your baby has a high fever? Those few days last an eternity, like waiting for the results of an AIDS test.
Parenting is the hardest job you will do. Um, I hear coalminers have it pretty tough. I’ll bet no parent has ever thought, This paddy-cake routine is really getting to me… I wish I were down in the mines, chipping away at rock and keeping an eye on the canary.
Then you’ve got rodeo clowns. That looks way harder than parenting. “Oh hey Mr. Bull! Why don’t you ignore that fallen rider and focus your blind fury on me instead? Here, I’ll jump into this barrel while you try to gore and trample me.”
At Gymboree last week a woman nodded in the direction of the cavorting toddlers, smiled at me and said, “Which one’s yours?” I shrugged and began to tell her, “No kids. I’m just some sketchball.” But I stopped myself in time to curb that impulse, and indicated my son. Point being, I’m not very reliable in super normal situations. Next weekend my wife goes out of town and I’ll be strolling our son through Brookhaven. Here’s hoping I play nice with the locals.