When a still-young child is absolutely adored.

Not so much.

The person in too-tight jeans and a revealing top paid to text from the living room couch.

1. Britain’s exit from the European Union.
2. A bag of Cheerios thrust into a child’s hand on the way to school.

Technically a passing grade!

circle of stress
The mental loop that begins with the words “learning disability,” continues with costly out-of-pocket treatment (ideally at 11 a.m. on a Monday), and culminates in the panicked avoidance of one’s checking-account balance. Repeat.

conceptual environmentalism
Believing in the absolute necessity of saving the planet, while simultaneously consuming baby wipes like brush fires in Malibu Canyon.

Desperate moments of hesitancy about the need for a child’s (technically cosmetic!) orthodontic treatment.

Mothers who bring containers of pre-sliced apples and carrot sticks to the playground, which nearby mothers whose children are shoving just-purchased bags of potato chips into their faces could seriously do without.

fellow travailers
A parent who is sympathetic to another parent’s suffering, and ideally suffers from a similar combination of bewilderment and below-the-surface rage. Identified by the studiously casual putting out of feelers, such as, “In my opinion, the whole school thing just isn’t for every kid,” and “The school psychologist says my son’s obsessive and unremorseful crayon-breaking could be a sign of sociopathy. Isn’t that insane?”

grandparental non-disclosure
The habit of hiding the truth of a child’s situation from a grandparent behind monosyllabic responses. Examples: “How’s Timmy?” “Great.” (Translation: His kindergarten teacher says he’s exhibiting anti-social behaviors.) “What’s Molly up to?” “Nothing much.” (Translation: We suspect she’s doing drugs with that friend of hers who looks like Wednesday Addams.)

homing from work
The surreptitious managing of family logistics, handling of child-related bureaucratic matters, and identifying of online sources for the research paper a child has been assigned but has zero clue how and/or shows no motivation to write, from the office. Generally accompanied by barely contained sprints to the hallway printer.

The act of soothing a toddler who has just finished his ice cream, then accidentally hurting himself/deliberately hurting another child and has begun crying hysterically, by giving him a second ice cream to shut him up.

Not to be confused with “happiness.” A feeling parents may experience when looking at pictures of their children petting a baby goat on a recent outing at the zoo while said children are asleep, but which generally dissipates upon said children’s waking up.

Technically a vegetable!

Meal Without Greens. Common examples include scrambled eggs with a side of cottage cheese, rice with a side of French fries, or French fries with a side of potatoes.

non-mari method
Folding and sorting laundry into piles, which are then shoved joylessly into a child’s disorganized, overstuffed closet. Ideally while not looking.

organic snacks
Something that parents suspect are a fraud, but for which they shell out ridiculous sums for anyway.

play therapy
Something that parents suspect is a fraud, but for which they shell out ridiculous sums for anyway.

Technically a fruit!

screen-size paradox
The phenomenon in which a child’s staring glassy-eyed at a hand-held screen for two and a half hours straight makes a parent fly into a homicidal rage, but her going to the movies is an entirely acceptable, augmented-by-popcorn-money activity.

state school
An increasingly appealing option.

The practice of bolstering one’s own situation by noticing and reporting on neighboring children’s shortcomings to a spouse. As in, “Did you see that the oldest Robertson girl has a nose piercing? She’s clearly headed for class slut.” Or, “That Hoffman kid? Major. Speech. Impediment. Good luck with that!”

vinyl-covered anything
Hell to the yes.

woke conversations
1. Annoying conversations recounted on social media in which other parents’ children reveal an enlightened liberal consciousness.
2. Yelling at a child to “wake up” and “have an actual conversation.”

(ama-)zoning out
Distracting oneself from a child’s inadequacies/one’s own parenting failures by clicking on a stream of non-essential “products related to this item” over the better part of an hour. Ideally at the office. (Technically a lunch break!)