Pants on fire: advice for the uncommon parent

 Independent No. 2-Fire Dept., Long Branch, N.J./Edward F. Thomas Collection/from

A visit from the local fire department is always a highlight of a six-year-old boy’s day at home.

As the parent of two Large Smelly Boys, I come by my cynicism honestly.

Tips to prove it:

  • Contractions will start in the middle of the night and will last for weeks.
  • While having contractions, it’s not wise to read about a Caesarian section without anesthesia.
  • When fathers-to-be are asked to get a light, entertaining comedy at the video store to distract from contractions, it’s not a good idea to come home with a foreign film with subtitles.
  • It’s not a good idea to schedule the installation of a major appliance near a due date.
  • Fathers-to-be should not try to convince their wives that a good baby name would be Homer Horatio Hicks.
  • Mothers-to-be should tell their husbands that baby names should not have initials that look like a cow brand.
  • The appeal of naming children after exotic geographical places where they were conceived loses a little cachet with “Chevy.”
  • Sometimes babies smell better than Large Smelly Boys, but sometimes they don’t.
  • Husbands can sleep through wailing cries that are a higher decibel level than a jet engine.
  • Parents will wonder why paint colors are not called “applesauce” and “Cheerios.”
  • Memorize this physics formula: Distance = Poop Squared x Zippo Extra Clothes. Translation: The distance from home is directly proportional to how big a diaper will be blown out times no extra clothes.
  • Children throw up in cars.
  • Children throw up on planes.
  • Children throw up on you.
  • Memorize this physics formula: Distance = Vomit Squared x Zippo Extra Clothes.
  • If children get an ear infection, it will be on a Friday night.
  • If children are scheduled for an adenoidectomy, they will come down with chicken pox late the night before.
  • Toddlers will not tell Mommys when they create a waterfall from a bathroom sink.
  • Toddlers will not understand why Mommys have to clean up floods on three floors.
  • Six-year-olds will put beans in their ears.
  • Beans in the ears of six-year-olds will have to be pulled out by doctors.
  • Three-year-old little brothers will then put beans in their ears.
  • Beans in the ears of three-year-old little brothers will have to be pulled out by doctors who will tell parents that their children are not allowed in the kitchen anymore.
  • Six-year-olds will be ticked when they are told they can’t have the millionth cooked egg that week.
  • The minute Daddys go upstairs six-year-olds will try to cook an egg in a Winnie-the-Pooh acrylic dish.
  • Six-year-olds will think that punching a lot of 3s on the microwave will be enough time to cook an egg.
  • Daddys who sing along with little brothers in the tub will not hear the smoke alarm blaring.
  • Daddys who sing along with little brothers in the tub will not hear the phone ringing in order to reassure the security company.
  • By the time Daddys hear the smoke alarm blaring and the phone ringing the Winnie-the-Pooh acrylic dish will be a charred molten mess.
  • While Daddys open all the windows in the house they will be shocked that a new alarm comes with a very loud rumble from a very red truck.
  • Six-year-olds do not have a problem with standing on the front porch wearing only skivvies and being thrilled at the sight of a very red truck … and with men in heavy coats, helmets and axes.
  • Six-year-olds will attempt to do damage control by calling Mommys at work and complaining that they hurt their head when they knocked over a lamp and broke it and … oh yeah, a fire truck showed up today … and my head really hurts.
  • Mommys will say, “Wait a minute, back up. What was that part about the fire truck?”
  • Six-year-olds already in the doghouse will not have a problem jumping on an elevator in a high-rise hotel and letting the doors close before Mommys or Daddys can get there.
  • When eight-year-olds can’t find Mommys who are around the corner counting squirrels with kindergarteners for homework, they don’t have a problem calling 9-1-1.
  • Eight-year-olds will explain that it was important because they wanted to do a computer game.
  • Ten-year-old boys tell jokes about only one subject that starts with F-A-R-T.
  • When little boys turn into milk-guzzling teenagers, buy a cow. It’ll be cheaper.
  • Hairy-leg-infested teenagers will tease that their moms are just worried about having competition.
  • Hairy-leg-infested teenagers will call their moms “The Old Gray Hair.”
  • Hairy-leg-infested teenagers will call their moms “Backbeard.”
  • Parents will be surprised that teenage boys can still smell despite the fact that they take really long showers.
  • Between really long showers, the recipe for cleaning Large Smelly Boys: Throw them in the cargo hold of a semi truck, drive to the beach, dunk them in the ocean, rinse with bleach, repeat.
  • Pray for the day Large Smelly Boys fall in love with Lithe and Leggy Girls.
  • Don’t care that Lithe and Leggy Girls will break the hearts of Large Smelly Boys as long as the boys take a shower. And use shampoo.
  • When teenagers start asking about learning to drive tell them two words: Bus Pass.

— Laura Grimes, with the real-life assistance of the Large Smelly Boys

Baby Fire Truck (Jan, 1952), Mechanix Illustrated

If I grow up, I want to be a firefighter!