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If a thief broke into my house, he or she would find very little worth stealing. I mean, sure there are a couple of TVs and this computer I’m typing on right now, but not enough to buy a one-way ticket anywhere. Truth is, if they were able to get by my 90-pound German shepherd, they’d probably think there was nothing of value. They’d be wrong, of course, because sitting in an old box is what appears to be an ordinary stick. But it’s magic. I know this because the magician who gave it to me is barely five-years old. Let’s save that for a moment.

The theme of the magazine this month is ‘Parenting’. Having three fabulous children, I can tell you it is, without a doubt, the most rewarding job on the planet. Of course, it’s not all butterflies and biscuits, so I thought it might be fun to pass along a few of the things I’ve learned along the way to some of the newer or expecting parents out there. I offer these insights in no particular order.

The best book to buy before the baby arrives is What To Expect When You’re Expecting. It tells you what’s happening in your tummy every step of the way. Once they pop out, you’re on your own. 

Buy baby powder, lots of baby powder. You can never have too much. 

Everyone will give you gorgeous outfits for your infant. Tell a few friends you need size 6-9 months. You will thank me later.

Picking a name is almost as hard as labor (said the man who never experienced it) and you will go back and forth a hundred times. Do not, I repeat, do not share your choices with anyone because one of two things will happen: family and friends will try to talk you out of your name choice, or worse yet, a pregnant friend will steal your name. Think I’m kidding? My name is supposed to be Matthew.

When it’s time to have the baby, this is not a democracy, and the mother-to-be makes all the decisions. She will choose who gets to be in the delivery room. Period. 

Note to the father-to-be: this is not halftime at the Cowboys game and you are not a cheerleader. Do not utter the phrases, "You can do it," "You’re doing great," and especially, "One more push." When we men have to pass a watermelon through our little wee wee, we will be in a position to understand what’s going on and speak. Until that day, silence is golden. 

Do not attempt to put the crib together by yourself; you need at least six hands and an engineering degree. 

Purchase a really good baby swing; it will be the best $100 you’ve ever spent. 

The day the baby comes home, turn the ringer on the phone OFF. Do not turn it back on until the child is in high school. Nothing wakes a sleeping baby quicker than a phone ringing. 

Get HBO because you will be up at 4am begging this child to sleep and there’s nothing on regular TV at that hour.

When the baby naps, you nap. The laundry can wait.

Don’t ask other parents when their kids started crawling, standing, walking or talking. Your baby will do those things when they feel like it. Trust me, they all catch up with each other before their second birthday party at Hoffman’s Playland. 

Bill Cosby was right; cake is a proper substitute for breakfast. Eggs, milk, butter, it’s practically health food.

Don’t ever buy your child candy at the supermarket checkout. Do it once and you do it forever.

If you’re at the playground and see your child and another kid fighting over a toy; your child had it first. 

Kids go to school to catch colds. They come home to give them to you.

When you sit down at a restaurant, tell the waitress she has exactly 37 minutes to complete the entire meal. Studies have shown that at precisely 38 minutes and 12 seconds, every child under three will change into a werewolf, and you don’t want to be in the restaurant when that happens.

If they give your child four crayons at the restaurant, two will be broken and the other two will roll under the table.

If you’re broke, take your child to the pet store. They don’t have lions and tigers and bears (oh my), but they do have kittens and fishes and lizards. Every child thinks lizards are cool. That’s why so many of us adults have switched to Geico.

If you find a good babysitter, pay her twice what she is worth and do NOT tell your friends. Have we learned nothing from the name "Matthew"?

Grandparents can spoil your children, even when they are bold. Those are the rules. 

Kids love being read too even when they pretend they don’t. 

All boys love playing catch. All girls love playing dress up. 

Siblings fight. It’s there way of showing love. Stop yelling at them, just turn up the car radio.

Oh, and if you’re in the car, the phrase, "Don’t make me come back there" only works if you actually go back there. 

There is ABC gum hidden in your furniture as we speak. Milk tastes better from the carton and kids leave the lights on because electricity is free. Just ask them.

High school is hard, peer pressure worse than when you were young and they really do need a cell phone. 

Despite all appearances, they really are listening to you and paying attention to everything you do. Your conduct will shape their future. Just don’t dance. They really do hate it when you dance. 

And of course, because they are children, they do possess magic. Case in point, my son Jackson. One day when I was broke, he asked me to get him something. I searched the yard and found a common stick. After handing it to him, he told me it was a magic wand, pointed it at me and said, "You’re a cow." I proceeded to moo. Then I was a dog, a pig, a horse and so on. When the game was done, he got a mischievous look on his face, then snapped the stick in two. Handing me half, he said, "Now you have magic too." Little did he know I found magic the day he, his brother and sister came into my life. 

One last thing. Kids may clamor at the store for shiny things, but what they really want is you. Put simply – give them presence not presents

John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at 



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