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The kids are alright

As you wave goodbye to the kids today, staggering under the weight oftheir 30-pound backpacks, stuffed with textbooks, iPads/ iPhones/iPods,healthy lunches (which they’ll pitch as soon as you’re not looking andhead for the nearest cheeseburger), gym clothes (which are clean for atleast one day this year), and various waiver forms, consider theinvestment that’s climbing out of the SUV.

As you wave goodbye to the kids today, staggering under the weight of their 30-pound backpacks, stuffed with textbooks, iPads/ iPhones/iPods, healthy lunches (which they’ll pitch as soon as you’re not looking and head for the nearest cheeseburger), gym clothes (which are clean for at least one day this year), and various waiver forms, consider the investment that’s climbing out of the SUV.

According to the usually-reliable sources, it costs roughly a quarter of a million bucks to raise a child, and you really can’t expect too much help from Hillary Clinton’s legendary village. The good news is that you get to spread the costs over 20 years, so the annual touch is only about $12,500.

Your alcohol budget is probably higher than that, especially throughout the teen years.

Of course, expenses vary depending on your specific circumstances. A teenage girl, for example, needs her OWN bathroom and her OWN bedroom, preferably with a swinging hinge on the door so when she slams it with a dramatic flourish while declaring how much she totally hates you, the ceiling won’t fall in.

A teenage boy will sleep anywhere as long as it’s in front of an Xbox 360.

Generally, the older a kid gets, the sloppier he or she looks and the more it costs to get the look. Prior to turning 11, kids look like their parents’ idea of what a kid should look like, all pressed and brushed and scrubbed and sensible. After 11, they look as if they were outfitted by Puff Diddy.

Remember that it is tough being a kid in 2011. There are simply too many role models, all of them Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. The pressure to be cool starts in kindergarten, where you have to make sure you don’t wet your pants and you have to be constantly on the alert to make sure no one swipes Teddy.

Meanwhile, the real competition is hidden in the library (where’s that?) where they are already studying 24-7 and have nearly filled all the pre-med slots for the Class of 2024. It’s a jungle out there, and unless your kid’s a cheetah, he/she can expect to spend the next 12 years at the bottom of the food chain, no matter how much you love them.

So, a quarter of a million bucks may seem like a lot of money to turn out a clerk typist 4 or a travel agent, but they will be the best, most intelligent, beautiful middle managers ever raised. And they’re worth every penny. And all the love you’ve got, which is enough.