With my apology to Dante, if an apology is warranted. Dante could be a pretty creepy guy, but I did reorganize The Inferno a little in my spare time.
When your children are born they are angels. They coo. They smile. They dote on you. Your worst problem is changing a nasty diaper. And then they start to grow up and to your dismay, you find that are completely unprepared for the evils you encounter.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
The Nine Circles of Parenthood
Limbo. Also known as toilet training. The phase where you will repeat, “Do you need to use the potty?” 100,000 times. It is fraught with uncertainty. Do you buy the Pull-Ups®, or do you not buy the Pull-ups? Can you risk a quick trip to the grocery store? Can you let your child in the wading pool, or are you courting disaster and a public shunning? Should you try to transport the soiled underwear home, or should you just pitch it in the trash?
Lust. When you have no lock on your bedroom door, and one of your children finds their way in every night, this one takes care of itself. Nothing vaporizes lust like a small pair of feet lodged firmly in your lower back. (Sure, I could have talked about teenage lust here, but none of us is ever quite ready for that, right?)
Anger. You are an adult. You have a college degree. You endured workplaces where you encountered all sorts of unreasonable behavior. And yet, none of them made you half as angry as the child who stowed a half-eaten sucker under the couch cushions you just cleaned (because someone had previously stowed a half-eaten sucker in the same spot.) Who knew your capacity for anger could be this large?
Gluttony. A growing child is capable of all kinds of heinous behavior, like eating, as an after-school snack, most of a chicken that was supposed to feed the whole family before an early lacrosse practice. Or a child who announces, after a day making Christmas cookies with a friend, which ones she intends to share, and which she intends to eat entirely on her own.
Greed. Nothing motivates greed like candy, especially if you discourage its consumption. A child will eat all his brother’s remaining Halloween candy, even if he has just eaten all his own, and his brother had it hidden in a dirty sock behind his bookcase.
Heresy. Your child roots for the Packers during a Vikings game. The Packers!
Violence. Also known as “horseplay,” although you’ve never seen horses carry on the way a couple of boys will. There is no good end to a violent act. Nothing screams an afternoon at urgent care like a child announcing, “I think (my brother) just broke my neck.”
Fraud. You’ve seen that band practice log, and your child is either perpetrating fraud, or writing fiction.
Treachery. They leave. In the end, they leave. You feed, clean, clothe and drive them around for two decades and then they move, taking with them your linens, your car, and half of your small appliances. Oh, and your money.
And Dante thought hell looked bad.