I first became acquainted with the “Just Wait” people when I was six-months pregnant and a couple of friends and their gastrointestinally-challenged 3-month-old came to visit.
The baby, let’s call him Nigel, christened our furniture, floors and front porch with his watery, but no less noxious, brand of spit up. As I leapfrogged from one crime scene to the next with towels, carpet cleaner and a strong desire to send these people back to Connecticut, the harried mother simply said, “I’d be more apologetic but since you’re having your own baby, your house will be covered in vomit in no time. Just wait, you’ll see!”
Great, I thought, my child wasn’t even on the outside yet and already he or she possessed the remarkable regurgitating powers of that kid from The Exorcist. Was it too late to register for a wet dry vac instead of a bassinet? Working on a stain with a fresh bottle of club soda after Mini-Mount Vesuvius had gone home, I said to my husband, “You know, I thought that was kind of rude and unnecessary when she said that our home would basically be blanketed in baby barf. It was almost like she was taking pleasure in warning us. Wasn’t that weird?”
Well, that was just the beginning. Before we knew it, people who had previously seemed kind, or at least not mean-spirited, came from far and wide to warn us of all the impending hardships that awaited us.
“It’s all ahead of you!” The Just-Wait-ers loved to say, guffawing. You could hear the implication, “All the money wasted on music lessons, all the Mother’s Days without flowers, all the armed robberies.”
As time passed all the warnings seemed to grow more dire and menacing. When a friend of my mother’s came to visit and get a gander at our infant, she wasted no time in saying, “Oh just wait until you’re changing the diapers of a 2 ½-year-old! You think you’ve got it rough now!” she snickered. “Well, let me tell you, my grandson gets up and runs away the second you get his Pull-Ups down and then we have to chase him around the living room! It’s a nightmare. See what you have to look forward to!”
Somehow there is no bodily function too foul, no story too graphic to share with new parents.
Another favorite question of the Just Wait people is “So, is he eating solid food yet?” and before I even have a chance to answer they forge ahead with, “Just wait until he starts on the real stuff! You won’t believe the mess you’ll have on your hands... the floor... and walls! And the diapers, oh man!” (Again with the diaper talk!) They tend to follow this up with “Just wait until he refuses to eat the meals you’ve made; all that time and food wasted.” Then they shake their heads in disgust. It’s the old “misery loves company” multiplied exponentially.
When many of these people go out of their way to warn us of the imminent adversities, I can’t help but want to ask, “Isn’t your child only two years older than mine? Surely in that small amount of time they haven’t managed to take the SUV for a joyride and simultaneously destroy your credit rating, have they? Why so bitter?”
At first I assumed that these soothsayers were only trying to help. I believed the perpetual prognostications were their way of preventing me from skipping town at the first sign of trouble. But after a while, I no longer appreciated being told to get my barbecue tongs ready to pry a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of the mouth of a VCR. Nor did I enjoy the habitual recommendation that I purchase some super-long gloves for the inevitable toilet retrievals. Now, I am not saying that I possess special prescient powers that will allow me to prevent magic-markering on wallpaper before it begins, but can’t I just learn these things as I go along?
For some reason, these scenarios don’t seem as bad when I think of them myself, but then random people stop me in the supermarket to tell me that once my son gets bigger I’ll barely be able to afford all the groceries I’ll need, I begin to take offense. It’s like when I admit that I am horrifically unathletic, it is amusing when I talk about it, but when my husband brings it up, it is the ultimate act of betrayal.
Last week, a man from an oil company came to clean our furnace. Taking a look at my son cuddled in my arms, he said, “Sure, he wants to be with you now, but just wait until he’s 13 and wants to pretend you don’t exist, and when he’s 23, you’ll have to make an appointment to see him!”
I can only imagine what the Just Wait folks have in store for us as my son approaches his teen years. “Just wait until he leaves town, joins a cult and takes only your credit card with him! Then just wait until he shows up again around Thanksgiving brandishing a whip with the FBI hot on his trail!” I can hardly wait!
I wonder, will this continue throughout my life? Will I be rocking on the front porch of my assisted-living facility when someone will turn and say, “Just wait until your son retires, he’ll forget about you completely. Stop visiting entirely.” Is that what I have to look forward to?
I now spend nights trying to think up clever quips with which to arm myself, so I might be ready for the next Just Wait-er in waiting.
For one family of repeat offenders, I’m prepared with the comeback “Isn’t Minnie (the beloved family schnauzer) getting on in years? Just wait until she loses bladder control. Boy, are you in for a tough time!” Then “Just wait until you try to sell this house! That smell, let alone the damage to the woodwork, well, that’s just going to be a bear to hide!” Then, “Just wait until you have to tell the kids she’s been put down. Oh, that’ll be just heartbreaking.”
I feel that if I hit them with a three-fold— “Just Wait” speech— “The Trifecta,” if you will— my point will be heard loud and clear.
Have I become bitter and slightly deranged from all this? Possibly. But if you’re reading this and thinking “That can’t really be. No one’s told me those things.” Then to you I say, “Just wait!”