Traditional holidays are great, and I've discovered they're even more fun when you have kids. You'd have to be a pre-transformation Ebenezer Scrooge not to delight in your children's dreaming and diabolical scheming for holiday presents, their wicked Halloween costume sense, their fearful fondness of booming fireworks, and all their sweet infectious anticipation.
But parenthood has also taught me that there are other special days to savor, mainly markers of milestones that were completely hidden from my view as a childless man. These real-life holidays for parents should be celebrated as vigorously as a 21st birthday falling on New Year's Eve.
Diaper Independence Day: When junior finally learns to poop and pee in the toilet, your blood pressure and heart rate will reduce dramatically because you'll no longer have to tax your entire mind, will and essential life force trying to come up with reasonable-sounding excuses why you can't change him this time.
Seat Belt Click It Day: Doesn't sound like such a big deal does it? But you'll pop the sparkling cider or down the beverage of your choice when the youngsters finally learn to fasten their seat belts, relieving you of this bent-over, back breaking, time-stops-ticking burden.
Tie Their Own Shoes Day: Tying your kids' shoelaces is back-breaking work that always hits when you're trying to rush everyone out the door to meet an important appointment. And untangling the knots they weave is Gordian torture. This parental finger fumbling can go on for years because so many shoes are now secured with Velcro fasteners that today's children may not learn to tie their own shoelaces until the fifth grade or high school.
Safely Get Their Own Drinks Day: I used to celebrate "Get Their Own Drinks Day," but learned this was premature and added the word "safely" after wiping up scores of spills on the floor, inside the refrigerator, and over the utensils. Anyone out there remember the movie "The Graduate?" I just want to say one word to you. Just one word (well maybe three): Are you listening? Plastics... drinking cups.
Back to School Day: Warning: This is a half-day celebration. The sense of freedom, the daydreaming to accomplish all those set aside projects, the enticing visions to catch up with friends, grab a leisurely latte, perchance to nap, all come crashing down to earth as the young scholars burst back through the front door really early in the afternoon. "Hey dad, I think I left my photo day form on the playground."
Add Your Own: My wonderful kids are still young, so the years of puberty, dating, jobs, driving cars, university applications and all other later age horrors lay ahead of me and are not covered in this list. If any of you have other secret parental holidays you'd like to share, simply post them in the Comments section at the end of this column. It takes only a moment to sign up to leave your thoughts, and your thoughts may just be momentous to someone.