You know that phrase that starts with the dreaded words, “Just wait …”
Just about everybody uses that phrase at some point. It’s that constant reminder from someone older or more experienced than you that life is harder, more difficult than you know it now.
Kids in middle school warn their younger friends still in elementary school. “Just waitÂ until middle school.”
And then the kids in high school will warn the middle school students, “Just wait until you’re in high school.”
And then the kids in college say it to the high school students, and then the recent college grads will warn the college kids, and so on.
And each time they say, “Just wait,” they are really saying: “You think you have it hard now? Think again.”
This phrase beginning with “Just wait” is really just someone seeking recognition, isn’t it?
But behind wanting that acknowledgement for having succeeded and survived another level, there is a friendly warning. “Enjoy it now because things will only get more difficult and complicated.”
Now that I’m a parent, I’ve never heard the “Just wait” phrase so much in my life. But when parents say it to each other, I find it’s more of a threat than it is a friendly warning.
Last summer, I was taking Ellie for a walk through the neighborhood. We passed a woman in her driveway and she looked down at Ellie with a big smile and said: “Oh, how cute!Â She’s precious!” And then her eyebrows furrowed, she lowered her voice and said, “Just wait until she starts talking,” followed by a little devilish chuckle.
I felt a chill run through my body as her words pierced me. It’s like she wanted to frighten me. I smiled politely and said I had some time before that happened with some nervous laughter and moved on. She smiled back with a look on her face that said, “This idiot has no idea what’s coming, does he?”
The parents start with the “Just waits” from the very beginning during pregnancy. It’s much worse for moms than dads. There’s that grace period women get when the pregnancy is just announced and everyone is excited. But pretty soon that wears off.
My wife, Aya, would come home from work and tell me all the “threats” she started to get at work. “Just wait until the cravings start and you blow up.” “Just wait until your third trimester when you’ll be buying Preparation H wipes in bulk.” “Just wait until your uterus drops.” “Just wait, you’re body will never be the same again.” “High heels!? Just wait until your feet swell up and look like walrus hooves.” “Natural childbirth?! Just wait until that first contraction hits!”
The “Just wait” dads get from other dads are very different. “Just wait until the weird cravings start.” “Just wait until she wakes up every five minutes to go pee.” “Just wait until she starts crying for no reason.” “Just wait until labor. You’re gonna see some stuff.” Women have it much worse.
Right after the baby is born, it seems you get another brief, free pass. And then the “Just waits” start to pile on again.
They start out disguised as questions at first. “How is she sleeping at night?” And if you answer, “Awful,” you’ll get more of a pity response. “Aww, just wait, it’ll get better.”
But if you are a parent with a newborn who is sleeping great, watch out. When you say confidently with a well rested smile, “Oh, she’s sleeping great,” that’s like asking to be punched in the face. “Oh yeah? Well, just wait until she starts teething, just wait until she’s colicky, just wait, just wait, just wait!”
It never stops. There is always someone nearby to say “Just wait ….” Everyone does it. I do it too! It’s inevitable. You don’t mean to, it just comes out. We all have to accept and go through it. It’s like hazing the freshmen.
When I feel a “Just wait” coming on, I try to diffuse it or maybe put a positive spin on it. But most parents have a sore spot and mine is when parents have an infant who sleeps really well. I think of all the sleepless nights my wife and I had, and all the pain we went through during Ellie’s teething phase, and I think, “Just wait ….”
Just as the “Just wait” worked at every level in adolescence, it applies to every level of parenthood. Just wait until she starts crawling. Just wait until she starts walking. Just waituntil she goes to school. Just wait until you have another kid. Just wait until she’s a teenager. Just wait until she starts dating. It never ends.
And then, one of the final “Just waits” I heard. “Just wait until you are a grandparent,that’s when it’s all worth it.” Is that supposed to be comforting?
So for all of you parents who are now grandparents, congratulations! You’ve made it. You’ve completed the circle. And to all you parents who aren’tgrandparents yet or may never be, I’m sorry. I’ve heard that this was just a colossal waste of time for you.
I hope that’s not true, but until then I guess I need to, you guessed it, JUST WAIT.