This year my son and his wife presented me with a beautiful baby boy.
Hey, it occurred to me, this makes me a grandmother!
Then, just as quickly, I calculated that no one could be less qualified for the job. Back in the 1970s, you see, we raised children differently:
Early childhood activities
Now: Swim classes at 6 months, cognitive-development coach at 1 year
Then: Eating, drinking and pooping, often simultaneously
Now: Fat-free, carb-free, gluten-free. The organic produce is locally grown, the water distilled
Then: Whatever could be easily mashed, including last night's spaghetti with spicy meatballs
Now: "You want to hold the baby? Sure — do you mind wearing these surgical gloves?"
Then: "Please don't let the baby eat anything that's been on the floor longer than three hours."
Now: That Dolce & Gabbana outfit was only $575?
Then: Hand-me-downs from friends and family. Maybe the pink tutu wasn't appropriate for my son, but the price was right.
Now: Once an applicant has been vetted by Homeland Security, her every move is tracked by nanny cam.
Then: Once you hired the high schooler next door, you prayed the house wouldn't smell too strongly of weed on your return.
Now: Responsible adult chaperone on all excursions until the child is walked down the aisle
Then: For his 12th birthday, we gave our son a subway map. "See you at your high school graduation, sweetie!"
Now: No screen time before age 2; studies show it impedes healthy brain development.
Then: Unfettered access to the world's cheapest babysitter
Now: Soccer, ballet, band practice, tae kwon do, app design; I'm telling you, Mondays are just packed!
Then: A couple of piano lessons, then lots of unstructured time for creative pursuits (leaning out the apartment window to drop yogurt on passersby, for one)