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Ruth: Parents pay any price, bear any burden

$230,610 to raise Skippy?
That sounds awfully low.

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$230,610 to raise Skippy? That sounds awfully low.

There are some facts and figures in life we probably don't really need to know: like when we're going to die, or how long the brother-in-law intends to stay at the house, or perhaps the final tally for the remodeled bathroom that began as a sink installation and wound up resembling one of Saddam Hussein's palace loos.

Now comes a recent U.S. Agriculture Department report titled, "Expenditures on Children and Families," which notes that by the time Muffin or Skippy turns 18, the average middle-class family will have spent (sit down for this) $230,610 raising the little dickens.

Even more dizzying is the $230,610 figure does not include college expenses, which of course eventually mount to $10 million.

And for this we still run the risk of the rug rat pursuing a career as a street mime.

Researchers broke down the costs to deliver Bubbles into early adulthood — housing (30 percent), food (16 percent), transportation (14 percent), clothing (6 percent), health care (8 percent), child care and education (18 percent) and miscellaneous (8 percent).

And for all of that, we still run the risk of Poopsie pursuing a career as a ghostbuster.

Clearly the fine folks over at the U.S. Agriculture Department grossly miscalculated the true tab for raising a child. We can probably all agree that the $230,610 for bringing up Bubba barely scratches the surface.

Only about $20,000 for food? Really? That would seem to be the Mountain Dew budget. That figure does not take into consideration the thousands of dollars wasted on discovering vast quantities of uneaten fruit and vegetables thrown under the couch by finicky boys who think this stuff grows on trees.

Nowhere in the report is there any accounting for the vast sums frittered away on Legos, Magic Cards, video games, snakes, frogs — and mice to feed the snakes and frogs — which certainly have to reach well into six figures.

Doors slammed so often in fits of adolescent pique over curfew restrictions that they needed to be constantly replaced — at least $2,000.

There are, of course, intangible costs that are difficult to calculate. How do you put a value on the time explaining to a tearful Biff that when the coach of his youth baseball program told him everyone was there to just have "fun" and every kid would enjoy equal playing time it was all just a big honking lie by an overbearing adult trying to relive his childhood?

And there are the copious amounts of aspirin required once Murgatroyd begins driver education, so much so you look like Al Pacino's Tony Montana in Scarface face down in a pile of cocaine. What do you think? $25,000? Too conservative?

And can we hope to arrive at an accurate estimate over the course of 18 long years for replenishing child-rearing supplies of scotch, gin, vodka, red wine, white wine and in a pinch even bourbon to get through the terrible twos, the forlorn fours, the sullen sixes, the angst eights, the temper tantrum tens and the monosyllabic period between 13 and 18, where those spawns of Satan living in a toxic nuclear waste dump down the hall regard you as part warden and full-time imbecile?

There's $230,610 right there. And that only covers the martini olives.

And for all of that we still run the risk of Darla Sue pursuing a career as a lap dancer.

How to put a monetary figure on the Bombshell of the Balkans standing in the middle of the driveway reciting Greek funeral rites because Chuck Yeager the Elder decided to head off with a stranger he met online to watch planes take off and land at Tampa International Airport? This one involved yet another crippled bedroom door. What would you call this? The BOGO of parenting?

Whether its $230,610 to navigate a kid from diapers to college, or any other figure, the money spent is a heavy bet that those little bouncing bundles of joy, anxiety, frustration, moodiness, laughter, tears and yes, the occasional assassin of bedroom doors sacrificed to the gods of testosterone, will emerge on the other side of 18 as functioning, responsible adults.

And for all that we still run the risk of Zelda pursuing a career as a body piercing model.

But it's still worth the gamble.

Ruth: Parents pay any price, bear any burden 08/22/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2014 6:21pm]
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