So, I have a kid or two or three — wait ...

Yup, three, definitely, now that I count them all up.

Still, I’m by no means a parenting expert. I have, however, in the past 14 years learned some stuff.

As my oldest is working toward completing a minimum of 20 hours of community service for National Junior Honor Society, I felt compelled to do some self-reflection and see how I, too, could do good and contribute something meaningful to society.

But honestly, I’m pretty tired — from working, driving kids around every day to sports and community service activities and running a household of seven, if you include two big dogs who are as needy as kids but can be left outside unattended for hours, something — helpful tip — that will get you on a Child Safety and Family Services watch list if you try it with kids.

Given my jampacked schedule, it should come as no surprise that I am a master at multitasking. So I’m going to do that now: I will get paid for doing my job while at the same time imparting parental wisdom. Probably takes away some of the selflessness, but I am OK with that because if parenting has taught me one thing, it’s that it’s OK to have lower expectations … of yourself.

For all of you just embarking on this amazing journey, good luck. Suckers.

The bigger the kid, the bigger the problems.

A friend — who reached the brink of teendom before I — told me this once and it rings true. I remember the grand ol’ days of preschool, where the biggest social problem was probably biting.

It is a bite, er, right of passage to get a note sent home that your kid either chomped or was chomped by another. Back in the day, I, ahem, was known to appreciate a little toddler tartare (ask my cousin Robert). Two out of my three were biters. The third, however, preferred to lick, which is infinitely grosser.

But in middle school, you have to worry about shifting alliances and who’s best friends with whom, because even though a group of girls started off the year as best buds, they splinter off and invariably someone feels left out and hurt. How has “Survivor” never taped at a middle school? This demographic has that whole ruthless “outwit, outlast, outplay” thing down.

Wait, did I say I knew how to deal with this? I do not. And I even lived through it once, a thousand years ago.

Parents know nothing.

Just come to terms with it now; you’ll be happier. You may have been around for three times as long as your kids, but that doesn’t mean they believe that you know squat about life. They won’t listen to advice.

(Along the same lines) Parents are dumb.

It doesn’t matter what kind of grades you got in school; you’re completely stupid now. It really isn’t all your fault — those darn textbook writers completely make up new math terms every year just to mess with us. Are numbers even called numbers anymore?

You know how you always hear about adults who never learned to read and you wonder wow, how could they hide being illiterate for so long? Well, it goes something like this: The other day, No. 2 plopped her math workbook in front of me and asked me to check her work. It looked like fraction Sanskrit. “Uhhhh,” I quickly pulled open the refrigerator door. “I have to get dinner ready. Why don’t you ask your sister to look it over?” Whew. Close one.

Kids don’t get neater.

When they’re sweet, chubby little babies, they slop food everywhere and poop all over the place. Guess what? This does not improve. Do not bother to get new carpet or couches or anything that costs more than $100 until they move out.

Kids do get cooler.

Grin and bear it while you have to listen to Dora the Explorer songs until your ears bleed. One day, they will grow up into real people, and they won’t play with toys and they’ll recite Monty Python skits and appreciate old Will Ferrell “SNL” bits. It’s neat to have conversations about interesting topics — and not why Swiper is such a klepto. It’s also a bit soul-crushing to pack up “Click Clack Moo” and donate the Legos.

Kids are expensive.

Aging out of the kids’ menu is just the beginning. If you thought Disney polyester princess dresses were pricey, wait until your kids discover real fashion — and instead of outgrowing clothes in 2½ hours, things are no longer trendy 15 minutes after you buy them.

It’s a given you’ll pay for things like club sports and braces and college. What might not be as expected is shelling out money for special computer programs designed to boost attention spans and orofacial myofunctional therapy. What the wacka is that? That’s therapy, not typically covered by insurance, to retrain how to swallow and use your tongue correctly so that it doesn’t push those beautiful, $4,000 orthodontically corrected teeth smack out of alignment.

Bottom line: You smile and hand over the Mastercard, because they’re worth it. Every penny. Because you love them more than anything, even more than bacon.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. Cook thinks that one of the coolest perks of parenting is picking out all the best jelly beans while filling Easter baskets.