Originally Published: September 22, 2016 5:59 a.m.
“I wish I’d found you 10 or 12 years ago!”
No, that’s not what I said as I brushed the lint off that succulent M&M from my winter jacket. Okay, it is; but it’s also what I sighed after giving a quick read to the new book “Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids,” by Asha Dornfest (who founded ParentHacks.com in 2005).
Oh, sure, some of the advice in this breezy volume from Workman Publishing Co. may leave you saying, “Well, duh”; but other tips on diaper blowouts, sleep rituals, organization and improvised repairs could well pay for the book by themselves.
The book really brings the generations together with chapters such as “7 restaurant items that double as toys.” “AARP Magazine” used some of the same research on stir sticks and drinking straws for the article “7 restaurant items that double as Social Security increases.”
One of the chapters in “Parent Hacks” provides weary parents with “7 pretend games you can play lying down.” Been there, done that. When nieces Claire and Emma were little, I would provide low-impact entertainment by sitting still and letting them decorate me with blush, fingernail polish, hair ribbons, etc. Of course those were simpler times. Afterwards, I could wash up and go about my business. Nowadays, Target would be beating down my door and imploring, “Please use our bathroom! Ten percent discount on anything in the store! Pretty please! Handsome please! Whatever.”
Yes, lots of recent changes make good advice essential. It’s no longer enough to assure your kids that Momma and Daddy would never allow monsters to live under the bed. After all, Airbnb might accidentally RENT the space to a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater.
In this age of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” it’s just too easy for parents to commit an inadvertent “microaggression.” Questions as innocent as “Would you like a night light?” could trigger traumatizing flashbacks to “Oh, say can you see…?”
How do you explain it to your youngsters when the Tooth Fairy goes all Wells Fargo on them and spreads their baby tooth money over multiple accounts?
A simple “excuse me” used to make everything okay when you inadvertently dismissed Junior’s unseen playmate. Now there’s a whole Imaginary Lives Matter protest march to worry about.
Kids grow up so fast nowadays! There’s a never-ending need for hacks to help them cope with Too Much Information and Too Many Responsibilities. The nation’s infants shouldn’t have to lie awake agitating over thoughts like, “Mom keeps asking me ‘Who’s the cutest baby in the whole wide world?’ every time she sees me. How am I supposed to pay for dementia care for her?”
I’m glad so many just plain folks can band together and share advice learned via the School Of Hard Plastic Soldiers. It gets complicated when politicians get involved. (“Feel the Bern! Um, I mean, label the faucets so you DON’T feel the burn. I always get those slogans mixed up!”)
Of course politicians COULD inspire parents to repurpose simple items. Maybe campaign posters could be reconfigured to help with toilet training. (“Make boom-booms great again!”)
Check out Dornfest’s book – and pray that the Russians don’t try to HACK the hacks and make them seem toxic. (“Comrade, these tips were all stored at Chernobyl. No, wait – these loving hints all come straight from your MOTHER-IN-LAW.”)
Danny welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.