I wrote this some time ago (I don’t know what possesses me to want to continue dramatically “when times were better” – I suppose I’m having trouble being serious tonight) and am reposting tonight. If you are familiar with the sweet, simple poem “Desiderata,” you will recognize the parody. If you are not, you ought to go read it first.
Go placidly among the legos and hot wheels
and remember that someday they’re going to be driving your car.
As far as possible, without admitting anything,
Be on good terms with the poison control center.
Speak your truth while holding a big stick;
It saves time.
Listen carefully to the quiet and silence;
It means someone is destroying something.
Avoid Saturday morning cartoons, commercials, and malls;
They are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare your children with others,
Their parents may encourage them to TP your house.
Before you send your Christmas letter, first read it as if you had
received it, and count how many times you roll your eyes.
Pay attention to the color of your children’s socks;
It’s the one thing that will drive you crazy at their concert.
Exercise caution; it’s less painful than exercising quads.
Watch 3-year-olds at all times, for they are full of all
sorts of trickery and are frequently sticky.
Do not let her cuteness blind you to the lipstick she has hidden
behind her back. It’s “red-eyed crimson,” just so ya know.
It won’t match the curtains. I’m serious.
Go ahead and tell your children, “Be yourself.”
They will know you mean, “Be yourself, except with manners.”
Do not be disenchanted if you take them out to dinner,
and they embarrass you in the restaurant; soon they will bring dates home
to sit in your living room and look at naked baby pictures.
Practice your stories of their childhood; they are
as perennial as the grass and need less fertilizer.
Take kindly the counsel of teens and gracefully surrender
your belief in your own wisdom. You can parrot everything back
to them when they are paying their own house payment.
Nurture quiet strength within to sustain you when the garage door
is molded to their fender. Count to ten 247 times.
Do not distress yourself with dark imaginings of their first date;
just go along.
Discipline is wholesome, especially in other people’s kids.
When asked how they were born, tell them
“you are a child of the universe,”
and that they better not have any universal children.
Discussions of birds and bees are best handled
when they are fascinated by all things biological.
This ensures that the greatest possible number
of other people know that you’ve had that discussion.
Be at peace with the school, whatever you conceive that to be.
In the noisy confusion of parent-teacher conferences,
always compliment the teacher on her labors and aspirations.
Whether or not it is clear to anyone, your child is learning something.
With all its pack meetings, prom nights, and giggly sleepovers,
It is still likely they will move away and then have children.
Be cheerful. Grandchildren have hot wheels at home.