Last week, I went to the Eilen Jewell concert at the Hank. She sings with a voice as smooth as whipped honey, as smoky as aged whiskey, and as big as boulders, all tumbled together in the finest crystal stemware. I don’t know how so much soul fits into a single person so tiny—especially when a baby’s already taking up all the extra space.
Between songs, Jewell admitted to having no idea how to raise a child. I thought she was off to a good start by blasting the womb with country-rockabilly-honky-tonk-surfer-waltzes instead of wimpier compositions by hacks like Mozart. Her band nailed every song they played. (Including an audience request for Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” the classiest ditty about two broads duking it out over a man that you’ll ever hear.)
But she opened herself up to maternal advice from anyone with wisdom to share.
And that was her downfall.
At the merch table after the show, CD sales floundered because all the marms and grandmarms in the joint built a Wall of Crazy Motherly Opinions that no mere music fan could breach.
Personal bubbles pop when a baby’s involved. Total strangers reached across the table to caress Jewell’s shoulder and ask about the father. I elbowed around the Great Wall, bought a record from the drummer, and tried to throw Jewell a lifeline.
“Just keep singing those Loretta Lynn lullabies,” I said. “In no time, you’ll have a three-year-old singing about beating up other women—howadorablewouldthatbe?”
Poor Jewell was far too shellshocked from the mom-bardment to show how much she liked the idea. But I know she did. And I felt good repaying her for her band’s outstanding performance.
The whole imparting-wisdom thing got me thinking: I’m like Superman. Except writing for the newspaper IS my superpower.
So I’m through filling La Vida Local columns with selfish ramblings about self-enlightenment and politics and other me-centric topics. It’s time to embrace my lifelong passion and talents which I just discovered, and help YOU out for a change.
Here’s just what you all need: MORE maternal advice about parenting! From a bonafide expert!
It bears mentioning that if you want child labor around the house that is both legal AND free, you should keep your children alive. This aspect of parenting is easily overlooked, because hey, our parental figures kept all of us alive this long—how hard can it be?
Therefore, my first real drizzle of maternal advice is: Don’t stress about keeping your kids alive.
Besides, if your children ever teeter too close to perishing, they’ll just watch “how to stay alive” videos on YouTube. Kids these days are born with such heightened levels of tech savvy. (In fact, I hear Google’s quietly working on cornering the pre-natal consumer market with a new application whose functions and appearance will drastically change the moment I finally figure out how to use it.)
Once you stop fussing over trivial issues like “child survival,” your energies will be freed up to pursue anything you want. Imagine the possibilities. You could climb Everest, or move to a nudist art colony, or binge on all of “Breaking Bad” in a single sitting. Parenting will be the wind beneath your wings!
But—and I mean butt—even the chillest parents must deal with changing diapers. However, I learned a neat trick by having four younger sisters: you can avoid diaper-doody-duty by shrieking and running from the house anytime your tyke fires off a bunker buster.
And when this tactic fails, I simply play pass-the-stink-potato. Pawn the child off to a total sucker. By “sucker,” of course, I mean “loving responsible adult.” Suckers flock to a baby like locusts to a cornfield. The Eilen Jewell post-concert clearinghouse confirmed this phenomenon. So when you see your cherub scrunch and grunt, offer the bundle of cuteness to the nearest cooing, wide-eyed adult-type person. Then, go hike Everest until the crisis passes or the child turns eighteen, whichever happens last.
The other option for avoiding children’s diaper patrol is simply to do away with them. (The diapers, I mean.) The best reason for this method, of course, is that it guarantees mortifying photos to share with your child’s future prom dates and senior yearbooks. But besides the enduring hilarity for you and your family, the embarrassment will also callous your child’s soft-as-baby-bottom skin. If we raised kids with that kind of shame, nothing else could ever touch them. Our children would be… invincible.
Based on my deep understanding of parenting, raising invincible children is the ultimate goal. Parents battle bullies, disinfect countertops, chew out teachers, and spend hours trying to buckle in confounded car seats, just to give their kids a chance at living forever.
Turns out, we could skip all those steps by just skipping diapers! All past, present, and future parenting problems: SOLVED. You’re welcome.
What’s that? You want qualifications to back up all this awesome advice from an expert who doesn’t technically have children of his own? Listen, I’ve got creds way better than “experience.” As an outside observer unflustered by the perpetual demands of precocious booger-eaters, I am perfectly poised to offer objective and constructive insights. Think of me like… like a U.S. Congressperson legislating poverty.
If you take umbrage with any of my advice, remember that at least I turned out normal and balanced. Clearly, my mom raised me well. And if you’re still not convinced, she has some classic lullabies—for your face.
This piece originally appeared in the Durango Telegraph.
(Featured image of a baby’s fists copyright Antti T. Nissinen on Flickr via a Creative Commons Attribution License.)