February 16, 2016

A Letter to Every Frustrated Parent (From the Future)

Dear Past Brian,

Hey handsome! It’s me -- well, I mean it’s you, but from 25 years in the future. That’s right. I’m sitting here on my hoverchair, typing this letter on my iPad 13 (though it looks like a piece of paper and you can fold it up and carry it in your pocket). I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately and wanted to tell you something important. But before I do, let me answer a few of the questions up front that I’m sure you’re dying to know:
1. Yes, the Reds have won 3 World Series titles -- and a Super Bowl! I know, right? I won’t tell you how; I don’t want to spoil it. 
2. Your favorite show in the future is Saved by the Bell: The Retirement Years. Zach and Kelly are grandparents who help out at a school where all 18 of their grandchildren attend. Mischief ensues. It’s hilarious.  
3. Anna got a perfect score on her 1st Grade Penguin project. Plus, that Fun Fact she taught you about penguins holding their breath for 20 minutes saves your life. I can't tell you how, but it does. (And yes, Mia still loves photo-bombing.)
4. You finally bite the bullet and start shaving your head with a razor, many, many years after you should have.Those awesome sideburns were hard to part with, but it had to be done. 
5. Grunge is back in style. Unfortunately, you are now too buff and muscular to fit into any of your old clothes. Maddening, I know.  
6. After all that stressing of "when will I find the time," you finally paint the dining room between soccer and volleyball season. It looks nice -- though the blue stain on the carpet does not. 
7. Justin Timberlake is President of the United States. Fallon is VP. Taxes are low, global warming is solved and dance lessons are free for all Americans. Plus, State of the Unions have never been more entertaining.

But what I’m really writing to tell you is this: I know you’re frustrated. I know the kids aren’t listening and are driving you crazy these days. I know you’re exhausted and you feel like you’ve lost all control. But what you don’t know is this: Eventually, in the future, you miss it. 

A lot. 

You know how you yell every morning before school because your daughters spend 45 minutes doing anything other than get ready -- this includes, but is not limited to: staring off into space, lying on the ground for no reason, making rainbow bracelets, checking the weather on your phone in case it changed from five minutes ago when they checked it on your phone, spilling things (MY GOD, SPILLING THINGS) and more? Well, that doesn’t happen any more because the girls are grown and have moved out. They spill things at their own places now. And guess what? You miss it. 

You know how every doorknob in the house has empty hangers on it, obstructing its ability to close -- and how that drives you insane? Well, now all the doors close with ease. And you hate it. 

You know how all three kids sing Wrecking Ball at the top of their lungs over and over and over again, off-key and, if you are really lucky, not in unison, to make a sound that could only be described as noise vomit? Now you’re the only one singing and, trust me, it sounds worse. 

Remember that basement that overflowed with toys? Princess dresses draped over your desk? Legos laying everywhere causing you severe Lego Limp? Barbies who sneaked out of the basement and, magically, ended up in every other room in the house, including the bathroom? 

Miss it, miss it, miss it. 

Now, those princess dresses are tucked away in a tub somewhere collecting dust. Your feet haven’t stepped on anything other than soft carpet. The Barbies are now contained in storage, probably talking about the “good old days” when they ventured upstairs and caught you doing something you shouldn’t like picking your nose or, worse, dancing. And the basement has transformed from a toy room into a man cave with sports memorabilia, a big TV, Lazyboys and a bar. (OK, so that one isn’t so bad. But the rest? The rest is terrible.)

I know you’re tired of having to yell like a madman who is trying to convince a post-Apocalyptic swarm of Zombies to eat over their plates instead of dropping crumbs that, somehow, end up in your underwear drawer. I know you’ve exhausted the phrases “Your coat doesn’t belong there!” and “Stop fighting me and just go to the bathroom!” and “Oh my god, you loved tacos last week when we had them, why in the world are you screaming in tears saying how much you hate them now?” But those phrases have been retired for years and have been replaced by a depressing silence that you try to fill with reading, video games and annoying your wife, who simply doesn’t appreciate it as much as she should. 

While this all sucks, it’s important to know that things aren’t completely terrible. While you stressed about it every second of every day, you’ll be happy to know your kids grow up to be amazing people. (Sorry, I can’t give away the details. Watching it all unfold is part of the fun and I don’t want to take that away from us.) But it’s important that I tell you this because I want you to relax a little bit and soak it all up. Take it in. Know that these times will go by too fast. Know that your hoarse voice and sore feet will heal and that you’ll have plenty of time to paint the dining room after the kids leave. Know that you’ll be sitting here on your hoverchair, wishing that for just a few minutes you could go back in time and get one more off-key, out-of-sync rendition of Wrecking Ball again. 

Know that and relax. Your time of not yelling will come soon enough. 

Don't rush to get there.

Take care,
Future Brian
PS-Take that laundry basket sitting in the living room upstairs. If my memory serves me correctly, it’ll save you both an ankle sprain and a lecture from your wife. You're welcome.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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Jim Weller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Klems said...

Thanks Jim! Hope you're able to get some sleep.

A.L. Snyder said...

My daughter is 25 and on her own... I miss all those things.. Don't blink, right???
Brian Klems international man of mystery lol... I have missed your blog posts

Frank D'Voz said...

I needed those laughs, and those reminders. Thank you ol' friend!

Brian Klems said...

Thanks AL and Frank. I'm doing my best not to blink. Right now I can't because I was up all night with a sick kiddo. If I blink, I won't open them back up!

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Sandra said...

Great blog, truly enjoyed reading it.I, too, really needed a few laughs right now. Thanks for writing and sharing your memories.

Joe P. said...

Great post Brian! I wish my future self had sent me a letter while my kids were still young.

John Mclean said...

Great post, as a relatively new dad to a 1 year old girl, I don't feel so bad about the things that sometimes frustrate me. It's amazing looking back at the last year how much I miss already, but also nice to appreciate how much I have to look forward to. Thanks Brian.



Kathie Bradley said...

Cried...we have 4 girls. My oldest is moving out next month to go to college. Part of me is ready. The other part wants to rip time in shreds and pull her back out when she was about 7.

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