Children Should Come With Warning Labels

Posted on February 4, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Look for my latest book, Children Should Come With Warning Labels, this spring!  A humorous look at the realities of parenthood, this book is chock full of true stories depicting my life as the mother of four daughters.  From birth through the teenage years, parenting requires on the job training, the patience of a saint, and a sense of humor which is larger than life.  You’ll laugh as you relate to the many tales in this book, learning why you’ll never be smarter than a fifth grader, and why you should never believe kids when they say they’re doing “nothing.” 

Children don’t come with instruction manuals, but once you read this book, you’ll agree that they should come with warning labels!

Do you have parenting stories? Funny tales and experiences to share? Jump in and get the laughing started!


Chapter 1


Children Have No Warranty or Guarantee


It was right before the first official day of summer, and our first child was three days overdue. My ankles looked like a linebacker’s biceps, growing right along with the heat and humidity. In my misery, I prayed that this child would make her entrance into the world and that she hadn’t taken up permanent residence in my womb. The sooner, the better.

I was prepared. I had the bassinet, the crib, the car seat, carrier, onesies, booties, blankies, and bunnies. The bottles were sterilized and ready. The perfect, tiny infant clothes were neatly folded, unfolded, and folded again as I held them, envisioning the tiny baby I would soon put in


It was all so perfect. Except for one thing—there was no baby yet. I’d seen the ob-gyn that day and voiced my frustration.

“I know it’s frustrating, but she’ll come when she’s ready.”

“But, she was due three days ago!”

I got my first real clue to parenthood when she said, “There are no guarantees with babies.”

That night, though, it happened! A contraction! Then another, and another! I was finally going to have this baby!  It wouldn’t be long before I could once again see what my feet actually looked like. It was something I used to take for granted and was surprised how much I missed being able to see my size tens.

As we left for the hospital, I realized that the next time I came home, there would be three of us. I couldn’t wait.

Pulling up to the emergency room entrance, I started to get out of the car when it hit me. A contraction. A real contraction. This one wasn’t anything like the contractions I had at home. Oh, no. This was BIG.

“Ohhhhh, no one told me it would hurt this much.”

The sympathy and compassion I got from daddy-to-be was touching, “If you think it hurts now, just wait.”

And, wait we did. Twelve hours later, our beautiful, healthy little girl emerged to two families of onlookers and fans. Congratulations fell like confetti on New Year’s Eve.

The next day, we climbed in the car and drove home with the rubbing alcohol, Q-Tips, and complementary diapers, baby wipes, formula, and, of course, our little bundle of joy. We had everything we needed, except for one thing: Instructions.

Fast forward to day ten. Baby is still beautiful. We still decorate her in adorable ruffles and lace, with pretty little barrettes, bows, and headbands. But something is wrong. She won’t sleep at night. At all.

We tried everything. We rocked, sang, walked, paced, and bounced. We begged, pleaded, and prayed. We even turned her upside down when we were told that was what you have to do when babies have their days and nights mixed up. Nothing worked.

My weary, sleep deprived body had no alternative but to call the pediatrician. Naturally, the doctor needed to see the baby, so after packing a diaper bag with enough changes, bottles,

wipes, and supplies to last for a week, an exhausted new mom and her sleeping baby make their first office visit.

“There’s nothing wrong with this baby,” the doctor said, after examining the still sleeping child.

“There must be. She won’t sleep.”

“She’s sleeping now.”

“But she won’t sleep at night. Not one wink. We’re exhausted. Something’s wrong, and you have to fix it.” I begged the doctor, a man I didn’t yet know I would see almost as frequently as I saw my husband.

“You can’t “fix it.” Babies don’t come with warranties. You can’t return them if they’re not working right. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a baby who fits into your schedule.”

“What do you mean you can’t fix it? Other people have babies who sleep at night!”


“Everybody.  Everybody I talk to tells me how good their baby is, sleeping for four or five hours straight every night.”

The doctor looked me straight in the eye and said, “They lied.”

Those words of wisdom were worth the cost of the office visit. It took me years to realize that he was right. Those other parents did lie. We all want everyone to think our child is ‘perfect,’ so we conveniently leave out the bad stuff.

Doc was also right when he said that babies don’t come with guarantees. They are non-refundable, non-returnable, and cannot be exchanged. We can’t trade them in for a model that sleeps more or cries less. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get a valedictorian or the

class clown. And, as they grow older, we find that they are prone to illness and injury. There’s no 90 day or 18 year warranty. They break, and they require repairs.

Our children definitely weren’t immune to injuries.  The first accident was a broken nose caused by a fall. Another fall off a bike produced an emergency room visit and five stitches to the chin. Chicken pox on the eyeballs earned us an entry through the back door of the doctor’s office. Ear plugs jammed into an ear canal almost necessitated surgery. And, then, there’s the human choo-choo. Here’s how it works:

The oldest is the “engine” and the baby is naturally designated the role of the “caboose.” Round and round and round they went, where the track ended, nobody knew. Until somebody cried.

The caboose had derailed and hit her head on the coffee table. To put the caboose back together again required one fast trip to the emergency room visit and three staples in the head.

Ten days later, we return to her regular pediatrician to remove the metal strips which held her wound together.  By now, we’re on a first name basis with the good doctor, and nothing seems to shock him. A brief glance at her head and he said, “Let me guess. She ran into a staple gun.”

Three clicks from what appeared to be a 99 cent office staple puller, and she was declared “good as new.”

How long she’d stay that way, we had no idea. There are no guarantees, I guarantee it.


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