“How was school?” I asked my 5-year-old as she buckled herself into her car seat with tiny, dimpled baby fingers.
“I had a great day!” she replied. “I made a cloud out of cotton balls, and Peter kissed me on the mouth!”
Hello darkness my old friend…
I’d heard about this. I believe it’s what’s commonly referred to as an “out-of-body experience.” The minivan spun out from under me and I hurled through time and space into a bright light, where my dead grandma stood before me wearing a long white robe and a satisfied smirk.
“Just go ahead and take me now,” I said, clamoring to get past her. “They’re trying to kill me!”
“Oh, I know, honey. It’s called parenting.”
And with that she put her heel on my forehead kicked me back down into the driver’s seat to deal with yet another parenting situation for which I am ill-prepared.
This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. Practically since my three daughters were born I’ve been behind the 8-ball in meaningful conversation prep. Now that they’re 4, 5 and 6, here’s a peek into my files of 12 conversations I didn’t anticipate until they were at least 12 years old:
Thank you, car radio, for molding snappy backtalk into repetitive, addicting lyrics. Yeah, girl, I know you were “born this way.” I was there. Now take off that belly shirt immediately.
Last year, we attended my husband’s great uncle’s funeral. I’m now stuck in the hard place between reassuring them something better awaits, and my daughters begging to go to heaven where they can “finally do anything they want.”
3. Girl Drama
Oh, it starts early, this one. And trust me, experience is of no benefit. Your kid getting dissed at recess sucks just as much as when it happened to you 30 years ago.
4. Body Image
“Mom, I don’t want to wear my winter coat because it makes me look fat,” my 6-year-old said, as I heard my own voice coming from her body and broke into a cold sweat, realizing that I am now someone’s self-esteem role model.
I don’t know where they picked it up, but it might have been when I responded to her coat comment with, “Naw, girl, you look good. Damn good!”
6. ‘The Talk’
Mommy how did that baby get in her tummy?”
“How about instead let’s discuss how that baby is going to get out of her tummy?”
Five minutes later: “And that’s why we don’t kiss boys on the playground.”
7. Real Life Bad Guys
Sadly, intruder drills are a common thing now, and if you have a way to explain to your kids why that shouldn’t give them nightmares, please share.
No, you can’t have a cell phone for your 7th birthday. You have two friends (who also don’t have cell phones).
9. Social Media
According to my friends, the going age for Instagram is 10. Ten. When I expressed my concerns, they assured me that their kids’ accounts are set to private and all they do is post selfies of weird faces to their two followers. It took a lot of restraint not to launch into a good old-fashioned “the problem with kids these days” lecture.
10. Sports Rejection
Last year, my kindergartner rode the pine nearly the entire soccer season. She hated it. My husband got into a fight with the coach. We quit. The end.
According to our finance guy, college will cost approximately 5.2 billion dollars a year by the time our eldest graduates from high school. What I thought would be a few dollars occasionally thrown into a savings account when they hit high school has become a major monthly expense that is majorly cutting into my Ann Taylor Loft emergency fund.
12. From My Friend Who Has All Boys: Mood Swings
You think you’re immune because you aren’t dealing with girl hormones that look like a mile-long line up of emojis, but boys buckle into the mood roller coaster just as fast as girls.
So to my fellow parents, good luck. It’s a different world out there than when we were kids and everything has advanced about five to seven years, except for the belly shirts. Thank god there was no Instagram back then.