Did you ever notice how many things no one tells you about parenting before you have kids? I'm not talking about how you'll never sleep again. Plenty of people told me that. No, I mean the little things. For instance, no one ever told me that I would actually say things like, "You're not allowed to stick your finger in the dog's butt."
As a first-time parent, you will spend nearly half of your waking hours trying to figure out How To Make Things Okay with your child. Any number of things can cause your child to launch into a crying fit and it's your job to assess Why and What to do to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. The more frustrating the issue, such as uncontrollable out of the blue temper tantrums, the greater the joy when you resolve it. Perhaps you end a tantrum by playing Watch Daddy Dance With Underwear on His Head (not that I would ever do that). And maybe the Underwear Dance stops the tantrum cold and makes Everything Okay. Well, before you get too excited and start making a mental note of how to stop the tantrums with the Underwear Dance, you might want to think twice. What worked today, will not necessarily work tomorrow. In fact, I can almost guarantee you that it won't. Your child is just as likely to scream bloody murder the next time they see you don a pair of underwear on your head. (Not that I know from firsthand knowledge).
We lie there like a mother dog with a heap of puppies and I enjoy it in brief moments. The moments are only brief because morning snuggles hurt. This morning I had one bony four-year-old elbow ground into my arm, several three-year-old kicks to my stomach, and a nineteen-pound toddler tried to stand on my neck. Parenting is dangerous.
This morning brought yet another instance where I was astonished to hear the words coming out of my mouth, when I looked at my five year old son and said, "Don't play your drums with your banana peel."
We are still in the amoeba stage of parenthood, morphing, developing and irrefutably clueless. Every day as our little daughter discovers a new skill, we discover how to manage and contain her. Sure we strive to give her structure and consistency, we try to challenge her and offer many opportunities for growth and stimulation, but who are we kidding? We are pretty much glorified zoo keepers here.
I was delusional in thinking having children meant nothing had to change short of giving up alcohol and my dream of wanting to take up smoking. No. Not, really. But I did think I could carry on as if my children might be of the Just Add Water and Watch Them Grow, no-help-needed kind.
I've only seen glimpses of potty training in action: The dad who pulled out a miniature porta-potty on the sidewalk and let his son go to town, the mom who pointed her daughter to a nearby tree, the countless blog stories about besmeared walls and loud, endless pleas to "wipe me!" The truth is, it's so easy right now. There are days I wish I wore Sesame Street Pampers.
Given the choice between hauling a floppy, resentful kid around the store or leaving him in an alarmed car parked in a shady spot with a ferocious-appearing dog at his side, though . . . nope, still can't feel good about that, sorry! Let's try it again when you're, say, fourteen, or you weigh 165 pounds, whichever comes last.
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