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Children's Impact on Parents' Priorities

Instead of thinking of just yourself, the children become the number one focus.

Calling all Freudians: if you can’t find the Oedipal Complex within this week’s column, it’s time to find a new career.  

When my wife’s favorite cousin (I don’t know if she is her favorite but that will start family tension. If I have to be miserable, so does everyone else.) asked during her recent BBQ, “Will we be in next week’s article?” I mulled over the possibilities and found my muse in Franklin Lakes, NJ.

To give a proper sense of setting, when we arrived at their home my daughter asked, “Does a princess live here?” The other said, “Why do they have two swimming pools?” One was the pool….the other was their private lake. Private Lake? I don’t even have a private toilet!

The interior of their Gothic manor has a whimsical aesthetic: King Arthur meets Alice in Wonderland. The aesthetic of my hovel is Ralph Kramden meets Sanford and Sons.

My girls spent the day frolicking in the pool (At 3, frolicking is cute. At 16 I lock them in their room). They also explored the multi-tiered patio. (Each tier could double as a NASA launch pad).

I’m not sure what he does for a living, but I’m fairly confident he isn’t a comedian or writer. Did I mention he is only thirty-something? And it pains me to say they are really nice. No snobbery, no pretense and we only had to genuflect once upon arrival.

As I write this, my angels are playing in our $15.99 inflatable pool next to our “patio.” (A handful of bricks pushed together over a patch of weeds).

I want to be clear: I don’t begrudge people their wealth. Money or the lack of doesn’t make a good or bad parent nor does it make a child feel loved or unloved.

I am comfortable with the choices I made in my life. I made a very good living while following a dream and I didn’t squander my money…unless you consider hookers and drugs squandering.

But here is my point. When couples have children early on, their priorities naturally shift.

Every decision made is with their children in mind. Earning and saving is about their children’s lives.

For many years, I was able to take career risks and do certain things because any negative consequence only affected me. Now that I am finally a parent, I want to give my perfect daughters everything. But at fifty-two, my earning potential is a thing of the past. Unless I hit the lottery or one of you wants to publish my novel, there ain’t no windfall coming down the pike.

Yes…they are healthy and get tons of love, affection, kindness and support in a safe and nurturing environment. But I have no idea how we will afford college. I can’t imagine buying them cars or bailing them out of jail or paying for a really good rehab. What kind of inheritance will I leave? “To Ren, I bequeath my entire collection of videotaped performances of my comedy. To Stimpy, I leave my unpublished manuscript.”

I must end here. I have an appointment to donate several of my organs so I can afford summer camp for the girls…or maybe I can send them both to Franklin Lakes for the summer…to my wife’s favorite cousin.

Randy Levin June 05, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Although it's really a humor column, I truly appreciate your suggestions. Ironically, I have worked for WorkForce teaching resume workshops for the unemployed. I still write resumes among other things. Interesting point about AARP....I have been afraid to join....it's lot Shingles....I thought you have to first be 80 years old. :) You just talked me into joining. THANKS . Email me anytime. BTW...nothing personal but no one over 12 should be called "Scout." LOL
Randy Levin June 05, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Good luck to your son. I wish I knew a lot sooner. I tutor students on their college application essays. If your daughter wants advice, you can email me anytime. I have MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. I am an award winning playwright as well as a novelist. Plus of course business writing and obviously articles and the like. All in all...tell your daughter to become an accountant. LOL. Seriously....feel free to email me
Julie Johnson June 07, 2011 at 03:28 AM
My best advice is this........make sure you have a really good life insurance policy, because with all this worrying, you are going to stroke out before the girls make it to kindergarten. Seriously though, Jane Grogan is right, things do work out. If you want to help things along, you have at least 15 years to find wealthy young men whose families practice arranged marriages. BTW, my best friend & I got our AARP cards when we turned 50 in April. I wave that bad boy everywhere I go, asking for my discounts. Embrace it all, it happens whether you want it to or not. P.S. Our backyard swimming pool was an aluminum tub when we were little!!
Jane Grogan June 07, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Julie-I bet you will agree with this as well- When all is said and done, if you want to worry about something, worry about your children growing up to be good, kind and compassionate human beings. That is what is going to count in the long run, what is going to make the difference in their lives all the way through. This is really more important than the college they graduate from, how fancy the car is they drive, or how expensive the house is they live in is. Yes, we all want our children to be successful, but being a successful human being is more important. You do the best you can do. And in the mean time, seize the moment, because before you know it, it is gone and you don’t know where it went. Looking back, I would not have wasted so much time wanting my canned goods to be in alphabetically order in the pantry. LOL ! I would have let my first child wreak havoc on the pantry like I let my second son do 12 years later. What is it they say, Live and learn…..
John Bordeaux June 11, 2011 at 02:33 PM
The kids will be fine. I just married off my second and last daughter, ending my Marriage Obligations (the son will enjoy a nice rehearsal dinner at a Taco Bell drive-thru). Somehow, I found myself renting a Florida beach house (no pool, but a nice private swimming hole called the Atlantic), and all my grown kiddies, plus grand people, were under one roof. This from a kid who grew up looking forward to desserts of buttered white bread with sprinkled sugar. Who knew from chocolate? We're all carp, buddy. We grow into our circumstances. With the love you obviously have for the pishers, you'll just find a way - or they'll be thrilled with a fine SUNY campus nearby. Don't let the world put pressures on you that reflect someone else's expectations. The love is all that matters in the end. And your girls know that. Also, chocolate.


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