Dave McElhinny: Tips to remember for first-time parents - PineCreek Journal

Dave McElhinny: Tips to remember for first-time parents

Saturday, May 11, 2019 | 1:30 AM


As a friend of mine anxiously awaits the birth of his first child, he asked me to share with him the truth about parenthood. So I did what any good friend would do. I lied.

I told him about all the joys he can expect, such as unconditional love, pride, a feeling of utter completeness that defies description as you hold that slumbering baby in your arms. Those things are all very true. But I left a few things out, such as sleepless nights, projectile vomiting, incalculable expenses, adolescent backtalk, the crippling anxiety of worrying about them constantly and the stress-induced spastic colon that comes with it.

I figure those are all things that first-time parents need to discover all on their own.

The truth is that parenting is like taking a test pass/fail. Sometimes you have the answers, other times … you learn from your mistakes. Here are a couple of tips I learned from experience.

• When your kid is born, buy glue, markers and poster board in bulk and store them away because it will spare your child from your inevitable wrath, because over the better part of the next two decades, it will save you dozens of trips to Walmart at 10 p.m. when your kid “just remembers” about the project he has due tomorrow.

• When a bad word slips out while driving in traffic and the little voice from the backseat starts repeating it over and over, you must spring into action to begin what I have patented as “The Rhyming Reprogramming Sequence.” If done properly, by the time you get home, your son only remembers a colorful story about “the dumb duck” weaving through traffic like a “tadpole.”

• What you find funny can be disturbing to a kid. So when your 6-year-old son asks about the small scar he has on his lower back, you could tell him about the time he fell when he was 2 and got a boo-boo on the edge of the sandbox. In retrospect, that’s what I should’ve done because telling him he was born with a vestigial tail that had to be removed at birth will not get the reaction you hoped for as hysterical crying will ensue and will get Daddy in trouble with Mommy.

• If you want to call a family meeting, don’t bother shouting — it’s not necessary anymore. Simply turn off the WiFi and watch as the entire family emerges out of nowhere, bleary-eyed and dazed like zombies, each holding lifeless devices and with bewildered looks on their faces.

• School secretaries have no sense of humor about excuse notes. I learned this the hard way. “My son missed school Friday because he and his Dad were up late battling ninjas” will result in a return note from the school suggesting that the child’s Mom write all future excuses.

So there it is. A little Parenting 101 from the guy who rarely gets it right on the first try. They say you learn by making mistakes.

If that’s true, then why aren’t I brilliant?