10 Existential Questions For Parents Of School-Age Children

by Lauren Paige Kennedy
Originally Published: 

1. Why do I bother folding my kids’ clothing?

Laundry is a fact of life. Every week I sort. I wash. I fold. Then I neatly place the folded clothing inside the dresser drawers. Later that same evening, or maybe the next morning, when I open the same drawers in my daughters’ rooms, it appears as if a rabid raccoon has scavenged through my careful work in search of something decent to line its warren.

2. In fact, why do I buy them cute clothes at all?

Speaking of my daughters’ outfits, please don’t gift them with any more. It was helpful when they were babies and toddlers, back when I picked out their daily ensembles. But now they’re big, in school and dress themselves, and their closets-full of sweet dresses go abjectly neglected—some sadly still have the tags on them—while the same four ratty tees and jean shorts are rotated almost religiously. My pleading, muttered asides are met with eye rolls, of course.

3. How is it possible school districts can’t better align morning start times (or random furlough days, early dismissals or delayed openings) to help a parent out?

It seems clear administrators who toil within the same school district never actually speak with one another, because some of us have kids in elementary as well as others in middle or high school. If they did communicate, they wouldn’t force us to break a sweat running in between drop-offs and pick-ups, or, conversely, waste 30 minutes standing around waiting for the school bell to ring when we could be commuting to work.

4. Do my children comprehend that my ovaries are not internal tracking devices?

No, I do not know where you set down your iPhone. Why would I know?

5. Are they deaf? Or merely dumb?

I am not referring to the world’s mutes. I’m questioning my kids’ IQs when I must repeat the same three-word question—simple queries such as “Are you ready?”—four, five or even six times without my children offering any sign of reacting to or processing the English language I’m fairly sure they speak. Brick walls can be more responsive.

6. Is it feasible to expect my children to get through a single 15-minute stretch of time without sniping at one another?

Don’t touch your sister. Don’t look at your sister. If you say one more word to your sister, you won’t have the computer/TV/iPad/playdates/any life at all, for one full week. Do you hear me? Hello? OK, now a challenging four-word question: “Do. You. Hear. Me?”

7. Will my kids ever seek me out to ask me something, rather than screech my name from two floors down in a tone that suggests a bloody homicide is in the midst of being committed?

Come and talk to me, child. Like a human being. In the same physical space. You remind of those uncouth American tourists in Europe who speak English louder, as if volume alone will aid in the translation. If I don’t answer you, it’s not because I’m not listening. It’s because I’m ignoring you.

8. Who is ‘Jaden’?

Substitute “Jaden” with “Franny” or “Mabel” or “Fred”—this is the ghost kid your child frequently mentions, one who’ve you never once laid eyes upon, not in your yard or at the school, whose equally amorphous parents let him or her do all sorts of things you wouldn’t dream of allowing, from taking the train into the city to walking around the mall without a chaperone. Proving how dismally out of touch and unfair you truly are.

9. Why do I have to sell anything?

It might be for Brownies or the school’s bake sale. It could be magazine subscriptions their grandparents most definitely do not want in order to fund some class trip. Sometimes I dream of yelling: I bore a child, not a sales rep! Because we all know who’s closing the deal—and it’s rarely the kids. Giving a sales job to a kid is automatically adding two more for his or her mother (sometimes, it’s Dad…but not usually). First, there’s the actual transaction we parents must oversee, and then there’s the inevitable post-sales fallout: distributing the cookies, tracking down who didn’t get theirs, fetching the bake sale dishes that were left behind in the classroom, and calling customer service when those dumb magazines never show up (because the grandparents don’t feel they should have to, since they opened their wallets for a good cause).

10. Where can I get a drink?

If you need me to explain this one, I’m guessing you either don’t have kids or you have a single newborn who hasn’t yet learned to speak. In which case, I’ll turn the tables and ask you a question: Are you ready?

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