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If Only I Hadn’t...

If only I hadn’t insisted they do their own laundry. Now I have to fight for time to do a teenie weenie load of delicates.

If only I hadn’t trained them to sort their laundry and empty their pockets—now I’ll never get change back from their trips to the store or know what’s going on in their lives. When he was in middle school, everything I ever knew about my son I learned from emptying his pockets. Now I have to interrogate his little sister for the latest scoop.

If only I hadn’t drilled into them corner brownies were poisonous to all species except mothers, therefore guaranteeing I’ll never be left without a brownie, let alone my favorite piece ever again.  

If only I hadn’t given them free rein of the kitchen. Now they keep making brownies during Lent and bathing suit weather and cutting real huge corner pieces.  I shouldn’t have taught them that caring, sharing, generosity thing either.

If only I hadn’t taught them to use a paper dictionary, the importance of proper grammar, spelling and use of consistent verb forms...they wouldn’t beg to attack my column rough drafts with a sharpie marker and zest. (Okay, one particular English teacher gets her fair share of credit for this one.)

If only I hadn’t insisted they floss and kept rolls of it handy throughout the house so they wouldn’t have an excuse not to...I wouldn’t find strings of used floss under the couch cushions, in the dog’s bed, refrigerator crisper drawers, car door pockets, over the rear view mirror and computer monitor.

If only I hadn’t taught them to park two normal sedans in a garage designed for two Smart Cars, I’d never drive 5 miles before realizing the side view mirror was still folded in. Although I blame their father for diligently teaching them to fold the mirrors in instead of ripping them off on the garage doorframe. I usually leave them be and take 3 tries to back out of the garage.

If only I hadn’t taught them to drive, knowing they’d have to share my car, I’d still have my hearing because I wouldn’t have repeatedly started the car to the sounds of The Fray on full volume.  I’d also have most of my stomach lining in tact from not worrying every time they pull out of the driveway.

If only I hadn’t taught them to think for themselves. Form unique opinions instead of following the “in” crowd of the moment. I wouldn’t have to fight for the A Section of the paper or listen to intelligent, thoughtful rebuttals to the follies of the Op-Ed pages.

If only, at ages 20 and 17, my days of teaching them things were over. Then I’d have less to regret later.

Karen Rinehart’s column appears Sundays in the Independent Tribune. Read more and watch YouTube videos on

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