After some shingles blew off our roof during a windstorm, we called a contractor to repair the damage. Everything was going according to plan until he informed me that the spare bundle of shingles I had in the garage had “expired.” I scratched my head in amusement and amazement and politely asked, “Would you repeat that please?”
My first thought was “How is that possible? Asphalt shingles have expiration dates?” My second thought was “Is this an FBI conspiracy?”
Now, before every roofer and contractor starts calling to criticize me for my ignorance of professional standards, let me say that I would not want anyone, myself included, to get arrested or fined or subject to a congressional investigation for using expired roofing materials.
Without expiration dates, our nation’s economic growth would come to a grinding halt. (I later learned my fountain pen ink had “expired,” along with my lawn fertilizer and a box of bandaids. Expiration dates were invented to keep us safe from something or other, although I’m not sure what.)
I’ve often read that honey never expires and can last for millennia, which I believed until my eccentric aunt made me a cup of Lipton tea and brought out a jar of honey from World War II that she had been saving for a special occasion. It was black. I cringed when she poured it in the tea.
“Is something wrong?” she inquired. “Nothing,” I replied and proceeded to pour the tea down the drain when she wasn’t looking. I neglected to check the expiration date on the tea bag.
I’ve been thinking about expiration dates a lot lately, and I’ve concluded there’s only one thing that doesn’t expire: the never-ending adventure and misadventure known as parenthood. Once a parent, always a parent.
Nevertheless, for the sake of my sanity and that of many other nameless individuals, who suffer in silence, I think we need to institute expiration dates on parenthood. With a clear conscience, I can say that I’ve fulfilled my obligation. Now, give me my certificate of appreciation so I can collect my pension.
If Donald Trump won’t issue an executive order to solve this national dilemma, I’ll go to Nancy Pelosi, whose term should have expired a few years ago.
During my tenure as a parent, I’ve endured emergency room visits, broken bones, broken hearts, bad roommates, bad boyfriends and bad bosses. I’ve paid for colleges, marriages, mortgage down-payments, dance lessons, tennis lessons, winter coats, Easter dresses, vaccinations, cars and car insurance. Someone always needed or wanted something … and will ALWAYS need or want something.
The day will come when you’re eking out an existence on $21,000 in Social Security, and your 40-year-old prodigal son will call you, and with the enthusiasm of Joe Biden accepting the Democratic nomination, ask, “Hey, Pop, can you spare ten bucks for a six-pack of Sam Adams!”
You’ll give him the cash, but he won’t offer you a brewski.
The truth of the matter is you’re a parent forever, regardless of how old you or your kids are. I’m seen proof of my theory. One of our daughters calls at the crack of dawn when she’s walking to work from Grand Central. She tells us about every creepster and crackpot she passes on the street. Another daughter calls at the same time to give us a progress report on our grandson’s latest sniffle.
How is it possible for parents to talk to two daughters simultaneously? Fortunately, a third daughter is sound asleep in California while the fourth is already at work.
Parenthood never ends. Parents are always giving money or giving advice to their kids. The kids take the money, but they seldom take the advice. They didn’t listen as kids, and as adults, they still don’t listen. Instead, they’ll tell you how to live.
When they have problems with their toddlers or teenagers or cars or neighbors or marriages or work or any of the countless challengers they confront, they call us.
Yes, parenthood lasts forever … in this life and probably in the next.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.