This week’s column

Orange County Register; North County News-Tribune; August 12, 2021, Page A2

What can I possibly tell you?


Sometimes I talk to young parents and attempt to connect with what they are experiencing by saying, “I know what you mean. I have a son.”

Then I have to add, “He’s 28,” which makes me feel like I raised him in the Jurassic Age and nothing I say is relevant.

After all, we didn’t have cell phones, nothing was computerized, and we hadn’t quite figured out where the kiddo should sit in the car and in what kind of seat.

It wasn’t much different from when I was a kid, except there were no child safety seats. There weren’t even seatbelts.

What kind of wisdom could I ever impart to today’s parents?

I can tell you that “maybe” is now part of every event on your calendar. Maybe you’ll go to that party if your child isn’t sick. Maybe your day will go as planned if no one forgets to tell you about their concert tonight—it’s a bonus day if you can find their uniform and get them into it by the time they walk on stage.

I could tell you that kids are constantly growing, inside and out, and that some changes you’ll want to stop and hold onto, and others you’d like to shoo away like an angry wasp. You can take photos of every moment, or you can put the camera down and live it. I recommend the latter.

I could tell you that every hair-brained idea your child has was a good idea at the time, and when you ask them why they did it, “I don’t know,” is the truth. Okay, that was from my childhood. Drawing a single, small letter of the alphabet in crayon on each wall made such good sense at the time, until my mom asked me why.

I could tell you that kids need love and consistency and sometimes consistency looks like a lot of yelling and pouting and tantrums. Hold that line, Mom, and give extra hugs, even if you’re picturing yourself as the python with a goat.

I’ll definitely tell you that no matter what you’re going through, it is all temporary and you’ll wake up one morning as the parent of an adult. The only advice you can give now is the advice they ask for. Stuff as many memories as possible into your body. Never forget the feeling of holding that baby in your arms.

Hopefully, these are still useful words. Marcus grew up pretty well—we’re still renewing his contract. He is an adult, running his life and finding his way in the world. The best proof I have that we did okay as parents is that he still enjoys our company.

Last Wednesday, I had a full day planned, when I got a message from him. Could we get together and work on a plot for his Dungeons and Dragons game? Months ago, he expressed interest in doing a D&D mystery and could I help?

I jumped at this chance to create something with my son. I know nothing about D&D, but I came up with a plot that involved an ensemble, magic, and treasure. We worked on it for a couple of hours, then went to Craftsman for dinner.

I can tell you, as the mother of an adult child, moments like this will be your definition of heaven.

Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at