Oh my goodness, how can I express just how proud I am of you?
My little girl: you’re one of the most amazing kids I’ve ever known. You may be clumsy as hell like mama and stubborn as a mule like daddy, but you’re also bright and brilliant and remarkably well-behaved for your age. You’re the youngest in your class (by quite a wide margin, actually), but you’re always on top of things, your classmates seem to adore you, and your teachers praise you. I could hardly be more proud.
You’ve got a memory unlike anything I’ve ever seen. How many 5-year-olds can remember the names of hundreds of comic book, TV, and movie characters, as well as about a hundred frikkin’ Shopkins, while also pretty much memorizing the entire script of dozens of episodes of shows and movies? Not to mention that you’re learning to read far quicker than I ever imagined you would, and you’re already doing basic math in your head, without use of fingers or toes at all.
You’re so well-balanced as well…sure, a lot of your favorite things are traditionally “girly” things, but the things you enjoy cross such a wide range of wonderful things. You love My Little Pony, but you love Ninja Turtles too. You adore wearing pretty dresses and fancy things, but you’re also a huge fan of gym, and running and climbing around outside. You enjoy reading, board games, Play Doh, Lego, dolls, action figures, coloring, and all other manner of fun stuff. You could play with pretty much any kid you ever meet because you’re wide open, willing to try pretty much anything.
We barely ever hear a peep out of you during long road trips, you’re happy as a lark to be dropped off with a babysitter if mama and daddy want to go out, and you’ll talk the ear off of pretty much anyone once you’ve had a moment to get used to them. You almost never give me trouble when it’s bedtime, you’re almost always well-behaved and pleasant at restaurants, and you always understand, “No, we can’t buy that today.”
You’re a joy and a gem.
Now, don’t go and get cocky because I’ve praised you so much. There will always be other kids who are awesome too…other kids who are smart, and adorable, and get along with everyone, and love a wide variety of things. You’re hardly the only one out there.
Every parent hopes that their kid will be smart, and although “smart” is objective, depending on what each kid’s individual strengths are, it’s easy for parents to focus mostly on academics, because that’s what we’re all forced to put up with for thirteen or so years of our lives.
Personally, I hope that my daughter will turn out to be well-rounded, but as a woman who grew up loving books enough to eventually write one, I do tend to put a little more of my own personal focus into ensuring that my daughter can read (and hopefully spell) at an acceptable level. That’s why my husband and I would sit down with her as a baby, patiently showing her each of the letters from her wooden puzzle until she could point them out herself (at barely a little over a year old), and singing the Alphabet Song with her until she had it memorized (at about eighteen months). Then, I moved on to what I personally thought was the fun stuff, but is apparently something that many parents never bother to do anymore: I started reading to her at bedtime every night.
Of course, at first, she wasn’t all that receptive to it. She was still very small, and thus mostly wanted to look at the pictures and interrupt me to talk about whatever was randomly rolling through her mind at the time. But eventually it became a routine. Eventually she began to pick which stories she wanted to read. Eventually she began pointing out random words (mostly character names) that she recognized. And eventually, she began to mouth words along with me, or insist on reading little bits of sentences that she recognized by herself.
My daughter is currently in grade primary (kindergarten to most of Canada, and the first “grade” of grade school to anyone who doesn’t recognize either of those terms), and of course part of the curriculum is learning to read, she she comes home with a homework book every night and reads them to me or her father. They’re all very basic, repetitive stories (“I can make a banana with my play dough.”/ “I can make a carrot with my play dough”/ etc.) but I was still very proud when she first came home and read to us, pointing at the words proudly, sounding out or using the pictures to figure out words she didn’t know. I thought she was doing great, especially considering that she’s the youngest kid in her class (her birthday was just before the cut-off date and we chose to let her go instead of holding her back until she was a little bigger).
The stories were very simple, but she was reading them, and I was more than happy with her progress. And then, one night last week, we were reading a couple of Disney Frozen board books that her friend gave her for her birthday, when she decided that she wanted to read it herself. I let her go ahead, expecting that she’d be stopping and asking for help rather often, but was amazed to see how little help she actually ended up needing. Below is a transcript of the little book, with the words I needed to help her with crossed-out:
“Anna was a princess in the kingdom of Arendelle. Anna’s sister, Elsa, was the queen. The sisters did not always agree. One day, Elsa accidentallyrevealed that she had magical powers. She was so upset that she ran away. Anna made up her mind to bring Elsa home. Anna met an ice harvester named Kristoff. He was covered in frost! Soon Anna and Kristoff became good friends. He helped her find her sister. Elsa learned to control her powers, and ruled Arendelle once more. Anna and Elsa were together again! Anna was happy to be at home with the people she loved.”
So by my count, out of 102 words, she only needed help with 13 of them, and two of those words were 3 and 4 syllables. Can I remind you that this kid just turned five this past December?
And the thing is, yes, a lot of the words she knew because she’d seen them when I was reading other Frozen stories to her, and some of them she worked out logically by noticing what was happening in the pictures (she knows that Kristoff is an ice “harvester”, for instance, and he was in that page’s picture). But that’s great! That means that she’s paying attention! It means that she follows along when I’m reading with her! It means that she’s got reasoning skills that she can use to work out a word she’s unsure of! It means she’s trying, in whichever way she knows how. And that’s awesome.
It’s entirely possible (likely, even) that my daughter will never been obsessed with books like I was when I was young. She’ll likely never get deep into writing her own stories like I did and dream of becoming a published author. And that’s okay, because I’m not trying to turn her into me. But I do want her to be well-rounded, logical, and hard-working, and seeing her work her way through this little book the other night showed me that she is well on her way. Score one point for parenting, and one point for a wicked-smart little girl. 🙂
I heard it told once that a person hasn’t experienced agony until they’ve had to sit and wait for a toddler to do something by themselves. From the point-of-view of a non-parent or a parent of older kids who has forgotten what it’s like to have a toddler, that statement probably seems extremely melodramatic, but I’m convinced that it’s one of the great truths of life. There is just something so teeth-grittingly frustrating about standing and watching a toddler try to zip up her coat when you’ve been ready to go for five minutes, or sitting and squeezing your steering wheel while they fumble with their seat belt in the back of the car.
Of course, sometimes you’ll snap and yank the zipper up yourself, or leap out of the car to slam their belt in place before the scream escapes your throat, but you can’t just be doing that all the time. This is a growing child, after all, and they have to learn, or else one day you’re going to find that you’ve raised a pathetic little ball of jelly that refuses to do anything for him- or herself.
But sometimes it’s so hard.
I don’t consider myself to be a control freak by a long shot, but there’s something about watching a kid fumble with a toy that makes me twitch like you wouldn’t believe. It’s such a foolish thing to let yourself get worked up over, but when I watch my daughter struggle to fit two tiny Lego pieces together or push the Play Doh mold hard enough to actually create the intended shape, it makes my eye attempt to escape its socket. And the one that gets me the worst? That’s definitely when we’re playing a board game that involves a spinner and she consistently hits it in such a way that it doesn’t spin so much as shudder half an inch to one side. I can’t even describe the way that makes my teeth ache. Of course, never are all these things made more evident to myelf as right after Christmas when there are a whole bunch of new toys to obsess over. As of the writing of this post I’ve spent half the day playing with both Lego blocks and Play Doh sets, and my psyche barely withstood it.
But then, on the other hand, there’s absolutely something amazing to be said for just curling up on the floor with your kid and building multi-colored castles (with no doors or windows) and molding squishy-looking neon-colored cupcakes. Every single moment of the experience may not be relaxing, and there will definitely be a few instances that make you want to crack your head on the hardwood, but it’s quality time that a lot of people, unfortunately, don’t bother to experience with their children. Plus, if you can put away that parental mentality for a little while and train yourself to ignore those teeth-gritting moments, you can actually have a bit of childish fun yourself, free from the boring, hard-working world of the adult.
So I’ll keep doing it. I’ll keep closing my eyes or looking away when my daughter drops that Lego piece for the eighteenth time, and I’ll wait patiently with bated breath while it takes her ten minutes to pick all the little bits of Play Doh “frosting” out of the icing mold, because if you can just look past the agonizing moments all of the other moments are pure gold. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything, even if my eye twitches right out of my head.
I love reading stories about parenting adventures because they make you smile about the kinds of things that, in your own life, would make you want to pull your hair out or hide under a bed for eternity. My friend and former classmate, Katie, understands this perfectly and shares the joy/horror of motherhood regularly on her mommy blog, She Didn’t Come With Instructions. Recently she wrote this post full of “mommy confessions” meant to give hope and a chuckle to those ladies out there who are beating themselves up trying to be the picture-perfect mom. Katie’s confessions made me laugh, cry, and nod enthusiastically, so today I thought I’d share some of my own mommy confessions.
When we first put the little missy in her own room at night (around 6-7 months) I used to rock her to sleep first while singing to her. Why is this a confession? Because I would sing the love songs from Disney movies.
At around 8-9 months we hit a period during which she would neither go to sleep nor stay to sleep, and we were pretty much at our wits end. Somehow we discovered that by sitting my portable DVD player outside her crib and playing “Baby Mozart” on it, she would lull herself to sleep, and I didn’t give two rat’s tails what anyone said about how babies shouldn’t watch TV because the solution meant daddy and I actually got to have more that an hour’s sleep at a time.
At four, my daughter still goes to bed with a TV show on, and I still don’t give two rat’s tails what anyone has to say about that because it settles her, keeps her in her room, let’s daddy and I get our sleep, and trust me, she gets plenty sleep of her own.
When I was home with my daughter during the first few months of her life, I would often lull her to sleep on my chest, and then use the fact that she was sleeping on me as an excuse to not move for hours (while watching Netflix, of course).
I have, on occasion, given my daughter crackers and cheese 2-3 times in a single day because I just couldn’t be bothered arguing with her. She never gets constipated, so I guess it’s all good in the end.
Until very recently I was still wearing some of my maternity shirts and sweaters (I only stopped wearing the sweaters because the zippers broke on both of them).
Sometimes, when I was home alone with the baby while my husband was at work, she would start crying and I would have no idea why. While entirely normal, this would spike my blood pressure and stress hormones (hey, I was getting next to zero sleep) and more often than not I would end up curling up in the armchair and crying with her.
In the past four and a half years I think I have taken at least five hundred pictures of my daughter sleeping. The most recent one was about three weeks ago.
We try to encourage our daughter to help out with the chores, and I definitely think that it’s super-important to do so, but sometimes when she comes running out to the kitchen to help me with supper I get a little nervous twitch because I was planning to whip through the recipe super-fast so I could move on to other stuff.
My husband and I are raising our daughter to be an ultra-nerd. We teach her the names of comic book and video game characters the way other parents would teach their kid new words.
My daughter watches tons of stuff that would make some parents raise their eyebrows. At 3 years old she watched all three Alien movies with my husband, and we’d all often watch Futurama together. These days she has quite a liking for Godzilla and Gamera. For the record, she has had about three nightmares in her life, and none of them had anything to do with what she’d watched the night before.
I often sneak candy behind my daughter’s back. Doubly so after just explaining to her that she can’t have cookies for breakfast.
Addendum: Mommy sometimes has cookies for breakfast.
When I first returned to work at the paper mill (when she was around 7 months old) I still wanted her to be having breast milk, so I had to pump. Pumping didn’t work well for me, so I had to do it every couple of hours in order to get anything at all, which meant I regularly had to sneak off, lock myself in the women’s locker room, and strap up. The industrial noise just outside the door probably did nothing for my nerves in these moments.
I was so relieved when I finally decided to stop pumping because it meant I didn’t have to worry about having an alcoholic drink whenever I wanted anymore.
The first couple of times I left missy with someone I was a nervous wreck because, despite having raised some pretty awesome kids of their own, I somehow felt that my parents and the inlaws were in no way capable of taking care of my daughter.
I still enjoy singing Disney songs to my daughter. So does she. We just do it in the car when daddy’s not around.
I’ve lost, like, 2 lbs since I gave birth. At my current rate of loss I should be back to my original weight in approximately 47 years.
I want my daughter to be an outdoorsy kid; I just don’t want to be outdoors with her all of the time. I’m a vampire. Sue me.
I have absolutely no shame about letting my daughter see me changing or getting in and out of the shower. My husband thinks it’s weird, but my mother was the same way with me so it seems totally normal to me.
I have gotten through entire conversations with my daughter by nodding and saying, “Mmm-hmm” whilst concentrating on something else and not hearing a single word she’s said.
I often find myself thinking that my husband is definitely the better parent, and though I know I’m a great mom, it still makes me feel small and insecure.
There is nothing in this world more wonderfully satisfying and comfortable to me than when my daughter and I snuggle up to watch a show or movie together and she lays her head on my chest and wraps her arms around me. I would do that exact thing every single night of my life if I could.
So there you go; some more confession-like than others, but a hearty list of mommy confessions none-the-less. Did any of them make you chuckle? Commiserate? Shed a tear? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to share some parental confessions of your own!
My generation (30ish-year-olds) is currently experiencing a pretty unique opportunity to bond with our children. Over the past few years we’ve been living through a total reboot of our childhoods. All of the things that we enjoyed as kids – everything from the Care Bears and My Little Pony to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Transformers – have come back in a big way, and it makes for an interesting situation. Even if you’re not a fan of the new versions of old characters, you can’t help but feel the giddy sense of joy at seeing your children fall in love with the characters you too were once obsessed with.
A couple of weeks ago my cousin and I had the opportunity to take our daughters to see The Little Mermaid on Stage by Disney Junior, a musical play based on the original movie and performed entirely by kids and young teens. It was an awesome opportunity becdause both of our daughters love the Disney princesses and are fans of Ariel in particular, but if we’re being completely honest here, it was as much for us as for them. When Leah and I were kids we were obsessed with The Little Mermaid. It wouldn’t have been an exaggeration to say that we watched the movie a hundred times or more. We could quote every line, sing every song. When we went swimming we would hold our legs together and pretend we had mermaid fins. We lived and breathed The Little Mermaid. So to get the chance to relive a bit of that old obsession, while also getting to see how excited our girls were to see the show…well, that was pretty damn awesome.
And the thing is, like I said earlier, my generation has been given that opportunity time and again lately. I can snuggle up on the couch with my daughter to watch Ninja Turtles and genuinely enjoy myself because I still love the characters to this day. I can sit on the floor and play with My Little Pony toys with her and make her happy by actually knowing all the character’s names. I can read her stories about the Hulk and Captain America and Spiderman and be able to have actually conversations with her about the characters because I know their backstories. And all of this, of course, makes her happy as well, because she gets to enjoy the things she likes with mommy.
It may seem a little childish on the suface, but I personally think that a little childishness in life can be a good thing. And besides, what better way is there to bond with your child than to share mutal interests? After all, it can be hard enough to close the generation gap between parent and child, so why not take every opportunity that you can? Relive your childhood a little, and help your kids to live theirs with you in it. 🙂
A while back my cousin-in-law shared a nice article on Facebook. In it a mother listed 100 things that she wants to teach her daughter as she grows. I thought it was really cute and it got me thinking about things that I want to teach my own daughter. So I thought about it for a while and came up with these 100 lessons, tips, and ideals that I hope to impart.
As a child, try to be patient with other children who are mean and annoying. Some parents don’t discipline properly and some kids are just brats, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
As you grow older, don’t put up with bullies. Stand up for yourself.
No, seriously, stand up for yourself. Use your words first, but if it comes down to physical action being the only way to stop someone from harassing you, mommy will totally back you up.
Don’t spend all your time glued to technology.
Ride a bike.
It’s okay to like “boy” stuff like superheroes and sports.
It’s just as okay to like “girl” stuff like princesses and makeup.
Don’t like people tell you what to like, and if people make assumptions about you based on what you like, that’s their issue, not yours.
Be patient, even when other people are making you so angry that you could scream. Flipping out rarely makes any situation better.
Learn to recognize the situations where flipping out actually will make things better.
Establish your own faith system – even if it differs from mommy and daddy’s – and don’t put up with people telling you that your beliefs are wrong. Your religious faith – or lack thereof – is no one’s business but your own.
Avoid pop. At all costs. It’s worthless to your body and once you start drinking it it’s very hard to stop.
Respect your teachers, but don’t automatically take everything they say as gospel.
Everyone makes mistakes.
EVERYONE makes mistakes, even the people who you might believe know everything.
Think critically, and if something doesn’t feel right, do your own research.
Find someone who makes you laugh, even when you’re sad.
Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.
Don’t let other people define you.
Understand that even grown adults can act like childish brats.
Take care of your body. It’s much easier to maintain good health than to try and get it back once it’s gone.
Try to understand both men and women – their thought processes and idiosyncrasies – and take neither too seriously.
Know that a career is not a life sentence. If you stop enjoying what you do it’s okay to make the move to change.
Know that as much as you may think otherwise, most teenagers have no idea what they want to do with their lives, and don’t take that personally; neither do most grown adults.
If you truly, truly want something, be willing to fight for it.
Understand that heartbreak feels like the end of the world, but it will always pass eventually.
Always try to stay positive and keep smiling.
But know that it’s okay to be sad sometimes.
And if you feel REALLY sad, tell someone. Please.
It doesn’t matter who they are or what their story is; if someone doesn’t respect you, they don’t deserve your respect.
Never let a man try to control you just because you’re a woman.
Never try to control a man just because he’s a man.
Don’t deny yourself little treats. Little treats can make a big difference sometimes.
To hell with fashion. Dress the way that makes you happy and comfortable.
Not everyone you meet will like you; don’t worry about it.
You won’t like everyone you meet, and that’s okay too.
Love who you want, and love with all your heart.
Be passionate about something, even if it’s just a hobby.
Know that there is not one set formula for how to live your life.
Family are the people who love you and take care of you, not necessarily the people you share blood with.
Remember that family (of the kind described above) are very important, and you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
But know that just because someone is related to you doesn’t mean that you have to keep them in your life; ditch people who are abusive to you, no matter who they are.
Read. Even if it’s just the news or magazines.
Learn to spell. Please. PLEASE.
Don’t put too much time and effort into being “unique”. Everyone is unique, so just be you and be happy with that.
Have an open-mind.
Have a curious mind.
Always find time to do the things you love.
Always find time to be with the people you love.
Feel free to enjoy the entertainment of the day, but give the entertainment of the past a fair trial too.
Don’t put up with anyone patronizing you just because you’re a woman.
Don’t patronize a guy just because he’s a man.
Learn to swim.
Learn to throw a punch.
Try to never use your knowledge of how to throw a punch.
Learn to love the parts of your body that you can’t change.
Be willing to work hard to change the parts of your body that you can change (if you truly want to change them).
Never change who you are to make someone love you.
Seriously, if they don’t love you for who you are, they don’t deserve you.
Learn how to fix things for yourself. It’ll save you a lot of money in the long run.
Allow time for day-dreaming.
Grow older and learn responsibility, but always stay young at heart.
Don’t feel like you have to make life decisions in the order society tells you to.
Do things that scare the hell out of you.
Do things that relax you.
Never settle for a job that makes you totally miserable.
Learn time management skills.
Understand that sometimes friends grow apart. It’s sad, but it’s not a reflection on you as a person.
If it would embarrass you if mommy and daddy saw it, don’t post it on the Internet.
I’m dead serious. No matter what anyone tells you, nothing on the Internet is 100% private.
Don’t feel like you have to go to college. Lots of excellent careers don’t require college.
Keep watching cartoons for as long as they continue to make you smile.
Own at least one outfit that is so comfy you could wear it for the rest of your life.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
If something doesn’t feel right, go see a doctor.
If the doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t feel right, go see another doctor.
Learn how to cook.
Like, with real ingredients, not frozen stuff.
First lesson of finances: don’t spend more than you earn.
Learn the difference between “wants” and “needs”.
Bake from scratch.
Share what you bake.
Try to be nice to everyone, even if you don’t particularly like them.
Understand that not everyone who acts nice to your face is your friend.
Learn an instrument, even if you never play for anyone but yourself.
Acting like you’re the grand authority on a subject will almost always end in making yourself look like a fool.
NEVER stop learning.
Watch movies that are so good they give you chills and goosebumps.
Watch movies that are so bad they make you cry with laughter.
Don’t watch life through a camera lens; most things are better experienced fully rather than looked back at afterwards.
Be strong, even when you feel like you’re weak.
Try to remember that the only people whose opinions of you matter are the people whose opinions matter to you.
Always know that you can come to mommy and daddy with your problems. Even if we don’t understand, we will try our very hardest to help because we love you more than anything and always will.
Parents are funny creatures because they are remarkably different in a great number of ways from the childless person they were created from. Up to and including the last moments before a first child is born, as-yet-child-free people have all these wonderful concepts and ideas in their heads. They know exactly how things are going to be, how they’re going to raise their kid, what kind of person their child is going to be. They’ve got it all figured out.
And then, sometimes a few months, sometimes a mere few days down the road, it becomes painfully evident to the now-parent that they are the world’s biggest hypocrite. You can’t blame the now-parent, however. We don’t set out to be hypocrites. Our completely unpredictable children turn us into them.
“My child’s health is first and foremost. I am going to breastfeed for “x amount of time” and when they start solids they’re going to get all the good stuff, like carrots, and apples, and…”
I’ve said it many times before, but every child is different, and nothing makes that more frustratingly obvious than food.
Starting with the breastfeeding part, yeah, it’s the healthiest option for a newborn, and if you’ve chosen to do so, that’s great. But it’s also not just as simple as sticking the kid in front of a boob and voila…sustenance. Some kids will have a lot of trouble latching. Some mothers will have trouble producing. Some kids will be biters who bring their mothers to tears every time they eat. Some mothers will have skin problems that cause searing pain every time a light breeze touches their boob. All in all, there are dozens of reasons why mother’s will wind up quitting breastfeeding early, and many of them are completely reasonable because how can you take care of your child if you’re in horrible pain all the time, or if it takes four hours of pumping to get a single feeding’s worth of milk?
Moving on to solid foods, you can plan and scheme all you want to create a healthy eater, but if your child won’t swallow you’re pretty much at an impasse. Believe me, I had every intention of feeding my daughter only the healthiest stuff…lots of veggies especially. But when your kid is screaming from hunger, and at the same time keeps spitting out whatever you’re trying to shovel in, you start to rethink your strategy pretty quickly.
As a side-note, the most oft-quoted sentence in relation to getting your kids to eat what you put in front of them is, “Just wait them out; they won’t starve themselves.” I, personally, find this phrase hysterical. No, I’m sure my child won’t starve herself, but I’ve seen her wait me out so long that the food in question wasn’t worth eating anymore. I’ve also heard, “they won’t go to sleep hungry”, but again, I’ve witnessed my daughter refuse supper so adamantly that she went all evening, all night, and didn’t eat anything until the following day, at which point she still refused what I tried to give her.
Every kid = different. I really don’t know how many times I have to say that.
“There’s not going to be any stupid nighttime nonsense in my household. Bedtime is bedtime and that’s it. When the sun goes down my kid is going to be sleeping.”
I’ve seen so many parents who are almost humorously adamant about this particular subject. They honestly believe that it’s as simple as putting the kid in their bed, wrapping them in blankets, turning off the lights, and leaving the room. I can’t honestly say that I ever thought it would be that simple, but I did believe it would be easier than it is. I figured, kids need a ton of sleep, so by the time nighttime comes my daughter will be so exhausted that she’ll probably just collapse.
There are a number of reasons why that idea is so wrong, but I’m going to talk about what I’ve experienced because why claim to know about something that I haven’t experienced?
The thing is, it’s pretty common “knowledge” that kids require a certain amount of sleep. For kids of my daughter’s age, that number is approximately 12-13 hours a day. So you would expect, upon dealing with my daughter, that if she’s been awake for 12 hours she should probably be getting pretty tired, right? Yeah, no. As previously mentioned (about a million times), every child is different, and my child happens to take after her father in that she requires significantly less sleep than average. I’ve witnessed my daughter stay up until almost midnight, sleep for two or three hours, wake up and stay awake for another two or three hours, and then sleep for maybe four or five more. For those who are following along, that’s approximately 7-8 hours. Now every night is not exactly the same, but because of these habits of hers, there are plenty of nights during which my daughter sleeps less than I do, and yet she is bright and shiny and ready to go go go the next morning.
So what can I do? I can’t wave a magic wand and make her fall asleep when I tell her it’s bedtime, and I can’t stop her from waking up at all hours of the night. I’d love to be able to, but unfortunately that’s not the way sleep works. Therefore, yeah, my daughter has a TV in her room and she watches her shows at bedtime and sometimes at 2 am because I need to sleep, and do you have a problem with that? 😛
“I hate seeing a kid trying desperately to get their parent’s attention and being ignored. I would never do that to my child!”
The best of intentions, my friends. The best of intentions.
I’ll fully admit that this is something I used to say all the time, and to an extent I still believe in it. I hate seeing a kid who is hauling on their mother arm and yelling, “Mom! Mom! Mama! Mommy! Mom! Mom!” and being completely ignored. I’ve always hated it because I could never see the logic in it. I’ve always thought, if you’re busy with something, take two seconds to tell the kid that you’ll be with them in a minute and chances are they’ll be willing to wait. If you’re not busy, why the hell are you ignoring the kid? Just answer them and be done with it!
I’ve thought these things a million times, and I still think them, but then, that’s what makes me the hypocrite here.
You see, the thing is, before actually having children and being with them 24-7, a lot of people don’t realize just how much kids talk. Sure there are shy kids out there, there are quiet kids, there are kids who naturally don’t like to talk too much, but I’d be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of kids never shut their mouths. A lot of the time’s it’s adorable. They’re excited about everything, they’re constantly learning, and they want to share every thought in their head because everything is so awesome that everyone needs to know about it! It cracks me up when my daughter comes running up to me with a piece of paper covered in eighty different colors of crayon and announces that she drew a rainbow. That’s great, babe!
But there’s a limit to most adults’ patience when being presented with the same pointless information over and over and over….and OVER and OVER. I love my daughter to death, but coming on the twentieth time over the course of an hour that she lets me know that Twilight Sparkle has a purple horn, I’m quite ready to sew her lips together until she hits adulthood.
And that’s probably how those parents out in public feel. They’re ignoring their child because internally they know that their little pumpkin is about to point out the cookie display for the thirty-second time since they arrived at the grocery store, and that if those words pass by that child’s lips again they may actually snap and set said cookie display on fire and wind up spending the night in jail.
It’s not “ignoring”. It’s keeping yourself from losing your mind.
“I’m going to read to my kid every night, and I’m going to watch all kinds of Disney movies with them, and I’m going to <<insert bonding activity here>>”
Every parent should have this attitude going in, I believe. It’s a good attitude to have because while you want your kids to be independent and be able to occupy themselves without your input, you also want them to be able to enjoy spending time with you, and you want to encourage things like reading together, and learning, and having “family time”.
But it’s harder than it sounds because kids, particularly small kids, are all about repetition. They crave it and thrive for it because it helps them to learn, and they quite often choose to stick with what they like because, hey, they like THIS, so why try something else? And even when you know it’s good for them (listening to Elmo sing the alphabet a hundred times in a row does, after all, help them learn the alphabet), all that repetition can be hard on an adult brain. For example, my daughter loves it when I read her bedtime stories, but there’s, like…three books that she wants me to read. Over and over and over. If I try to convince her to read a different book she has a fit, and then I get mad because I feel like she’s being a brat. In the end it’s either struggle through “Elmo’s Sleep-Time Stories” for the hundredth time, or refuse to read anything and feel like a horrible meany because I’m trying to force her to do what I want her to do, which isn’t really the point, now is it?
“My kid isn’t going to be stuck inside at the TV all day long. My kid is going to <<insert physical activity here>> !”
I’m all for keeping kids active, I really am. Kids should be playing outside, taking part in sports, learning to play an instrument, getting their hands dirty, or just otherwise doing something that doesn’t involve a brightly lit electronic screen. But when parents make these bold declarations, a lot of them fail to realize that such things require a lot of time and effort from them as well. For instance, do you know anyone who has a kid in hockey? Praise that parent. Give them a pat on the back and tell them that they’re super-mom/dad. Because here’s the thing…it might just seem like a game that you take your kid to and pick them up from, but it actually requires a TON of input. There are fundraisers to come up with the money for gear/tournaments/trips/etc, there are an outrageous number of “away” games that parents are generally expected to drive their kid to and from, there are tournaments that may require that entire weekends be spent somewhere away from home, and as many practice sessions that your kid has to get to as actual games. And that’s not even taking into consideration that your kid is probably going to want you to, you know…actually attend their games. You wind up spending as much – if not more – time on your child’s hockey team than they do.
And the thing is, I have huge respect for parents who do this kind of stuff, who drive their kids to games and practices, who chaperone tournaments or other various extracurricular activities, who bake goodies for fundraisers and drag groups of kids to the playground, who volunteer their time to various groups and projects. I think those parents are awesome. But the fact of the matter is that not all of us have that kind of time or energy, and many of us don’t realize, upon making the kind of claim quoted above, that just taking a toddler outside to play takes a chunk of time out of your day during which you won’t be able to get anything else done.
I’m not saying that it’s not worth it to make sure your kids are doing something other than hanging out in the shadowy confines of their room; I’m just saying that if you’ve got 26 hours worth of other stuff that needs to get done in one day, or you’re so exhausted from actually doing 26 hours worth of stuff in one day, maybe junior can survive inside for another day and you shouldn’t feel like a total ass for it.
I could probably go on for days, listing things that I’ve heard parents say (or said myself) before having the hefty hammer of reality smashed against all their fingers and toes, but I think I’ve made my point. Having a child is a wonderful experience, and it’s great that parents-to-be have all these wonderful goals and ideas set out in front of them when they find out that they’re going to be responsible for a little person. All I’m trying to point out is that the best laid plans have flaws, and you can’t necessarily plan out something as unpredictable as the behavior of a tiny human being. So if you’re a parent, cut yourself some slack, and if you’re not a parent, understand that you genuinely have no idea what any given parent is dealing with on a daily basis.
Has becoming a parent turned you into a hypocrite? Do you find yourself giving in in ways that you never thought you would? Share. Complain. Commiserate. 😀
Yesterday on Facebook an old classmate of mine posted a link to a list entitled, “31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming A Parent”. Every entry on the list made me either nod enthusiastically, laugh, or kinda cry a little (for various reasons), so I thought I’d list the entries here, along with my own personal response to each one.
1. At some point you will accidentally hurt your kid and you’ll feel like the worst parent ever.
The first time this ever happened to me was when I was clipping my daughter’s nails when she was an infant. She wasn’t even squirming, but somehow I positioned the nail clippers (infant nail clippers, even) in such a way that I clipped off a piece of skin at the tip of her finger and she immediately started crying. The crying only lasted about twenty seconds, but I felt like the worst person ever for quite a while afterward.
2. You will know a lot less about this: [insert image of a newspaper showing important world news]
I’ve never been all that up on what’s going on in the world, but I can definitely state that since becoming a mother I rarely, rarely know what the hell is going in the world. My world has gotten a hell of a lot smaller, after all. 99.9% of the important things to me begin at the top of my daughter’s head and end at the tips of her toes.
3. And a whole lot more about this: [insert an image of a bunch of special figure toys]
I’ve always been the kind of person who knows more about things like toys and video games than “adult” things, but that knowledge has increased tenfold since I became a mother. I swear I know the specs, available colors, and price tag of every toy available at stores in this province.
4. Your Netflix account will eventually only suggest kids’ shows.
My husband and I don’t actually have our own Netflix account, but my husband’s parents do, and I can let you know that, yes, their account has decided that there are nothing but children in the house. Between my daughter and her cousin, Netflix shows pretty much nothing but My Little Pony and Ninja Turtles.
5. Your pet will no longer be your top priority.
Sometimes I genuinely feel bad about this, but yeah…my cats have become less than second fiddle since my daughter was born. In fact, most of the time I want to lock them in a room somewhere just so I don’t have to deal with them.
6. You will gain 15 pounds.
Hahahahahahahaha…. This one is supposed to be based on the fact that kids eat junk, and thus you will end up eating junk as well. That’s definitely part of it, but I also submit that while you may spend a good part of your day chasing around a super-fast little lunatic, you will then ultimately spend any time when they’re asleep lounging on the couch in pajama pants and stuffing yourself with whatever food is closest to your hand.
7. The backseat of your car will be nasty.
I considered taking a photo to back this one up, but I didn’t want any of my readers to lose their lunch. The saddest part is that I clear out our back seat actually quite regularly, but it ends up back the same way within a day or two.
8. You will eat 95% of your meals either incredibly fast or with one hand. Or both.
This phenomenon has been slowing down as my daughter grows up a bit, but it’s still pretty common for me to eat with one hand (usually the wrong one) because she wants to sit on me during supper time. And don’t even talk to me about meals like breakfast. Usually I just eat them from the kitchen counter as fast as I can because otherwise she sees and wants me to “share”.
9. You’ll basically become a ninja.
The quote that goes with this one is “When you need something from the baby’s room late at night you’ll be able to slip in and out without upending a feather” and I can absolutely confirm that. My daughter goes to bed at night with one of her TV shows on and usually rolls around so much before falling asleep that she ends up without a single blanket on her. As a response to that I “ninja” into her room every night to wrap her back up in blankets and turn off the TV. To date I’ve only woken her once or twice.
10. Despite your best efforts, your kids will get their hands on your iPhone.
Yes, yes, yes. Once, my iPhone ended up locked for over an hour because my daughter failed to properly input my code a ridiculous number of times.
Also, my photos folder is full of adorable toddler ‘selfies’.
11. Parenting is harder than you think it’ll be, but you won’t really notice.
The author of the list states that parenting will continuously get harder and harder but you won’t really realize that it’s happening. The more I think about it the more I agree. Though the days of being up all hours of the day and night and being at my daughter’s beck and call every second of the day are over, things have gotten harder in other ways. But, as the list’s author states, I haven’t really acknowledged that difficulty increase. It’s just kinda the way it works, I guess.
12. You will have to sneak candy like it’s a contraband substance.
This one really made me chuckle. Every year after Halloween my husband and I go out and buy a ton of discounted candy, which we keep in a closet on the main floor of our house. And whenever one of us wants a piece of that candy, we have to sneak around like thieves in the dead of night in order to make sure that our daughter doesn’t see us, especially if she didn’t eat her supper that night.
13. You will laugh more than at any other time in your life.
Young people without kids would never believe that this one is true, especially when they’re watching people with kids running around, chasing them, yelling at them, and looking like they haven’t slept in a year. But it is true. My daughter does so much stuff on a daily basis that makes giggle like a fool or laugh like a lunatic. Kids are the world’s little jesters.
14. You’ll be awakened at 2 a.m. to fetch a glass of water only to find your kid passed out when you deliver it.
I’ll admit, this one rarely ever happens to me. Not the “awakened at 2 a.m.” part…that happens almost every night. But the part where the kid passes back out before you can complete your task? No, that’s not me. When my daughter wakes up, she’s up. That said, there was one night that she banged on her door and when I walked in the room she was drowsily rubbing her eyes and complaining that she wanted her TV show on. I tucked her into bed and set about trying to find the right show, but in the thirty or so seconds that took I turned around to find her snoring on her pillow. I then employed number 9 of this list.
15. You will see your own faults reflected back at you.
Hahahahaha…oh my, yes. A big one (which I think is common in my neck of the woods) is the swearing and/or saying mean things. My husband and I have a very bad habit of telling each other to “shut up” when we’ve lost an argument. We don’t say it in a mean way…it’s actually a bit of a playful thing…but every time the daughter hears it she repeats it, which we obviously don’t want.
Also, stubbornness, temper, impatience, and a gluttonous sweet tooth. Yeah. She’s like a damn mirror.
16. Folding kid and baby clothes is torture.
I’ve pretty much gotten a handle on this one at this point, but my husband definitely hasn’t, and I don’t either of us will be able to properly fold the daughter’s underwear until she’s grown a few dozen more sizes. Those things are ridiculously small.
17. It’s impossible to feel manly when folding said baby clothes.
Obviously I can’t judge this one personally, but I can definitely say, without hesitation, that it is impossible to look manly when folding baby clothes.
18. The power of cute is more formidable than you realize.
The power of cute could rule the universe, I’m certain. Since the day she was born my daughter has been using the overwhelming powers of cuteness to diffuse situations and get out of trouble. How can you stay mad at a kid when she looks up at you from under her eyelashes and says – with a big frown – “I sowwy, mama”?
19. You will find talking to your friends without kids more difficult.
At this point in life more of my friends have kids than don’t, but yeah, I can definitely agree with this one. You don’t realize how much your kids have become your entire world until you try to have a conversation without bringing them up. Because, let’s admit it, your friends without kids really don’t give a rat’s ass about your kids, and you don’t want to be one of those parents, but then, what do you talk about? Because honestly, you haven’t done much more than cook, clean, change diapers, and watch Treehouse TV for the past year.
20. Kids become actual people and not baby blobs way sooner than you think.
Tell me that the wording of that one didn’t give you a chuckle.
It’s amazingly true though. It feels like it was just yesterday that my daughter was sleeping fifteen hours a day and couldn’t even hold her own head up, but now she’s this little individual with likes and dislikes, attitudes and tempers, and a unique personality. She’s a person…just smaller and slightly more difficult to understand.
21. Something you love will get ruined.
I’m patiently waiting for the day this one happens to me, but I can honestly say that it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve had glasses broken (eh, they were cheap glasses anyway), drinks spilled on bedsheets (washed and dried and perfect again), and my daughter has an affinity for getting all manner of disgusting fluids and crusty things all over the screen of my tablet (that’s why we buy screen protectors!), but to date she hasn’t destroyed anything that I love. This is one thing on this list that I seriously hope to foil.
22. You will turn into your parents.
No comment. Move along. lol
23. Very little will embarrass you.
I can remember before I had my daughter, whenever I would see a kid throwing a tantrum in a store I would (after I got over the annoyance of having to listen to a kid scream) feel sorry for the parent. How embarrassing, I thought, must it be to deal with that kind of thing in public, surrounded by judging eyes.
I can tell you now that, for me at least, it’s not embarrassing at all. When my daughter is being a little brat in a public place I literally throw her over my shoulder and just keep going about what I was doing while she kicks and screams and whines, and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest if every eye in the room is on us. Kids throw tantrums sometimes, people. It ain’t a circus act.
Also, as a mother, once you’ve shown up to playgroup with bed hair and no makeup because you were too focused on getting the kid ready and totally forgot to get yourself ready, nothing can embarrass you anymore.
24. You won’t be able to watch movies where kids are killed or kidnapped.
This one started for me when I was pregnant. It’s seriously just not possible. My heart physically hurts now if I see a kid die in a movie. Before I’d feel a little sad, but hey, it’s not real, that kid’s an actor. Now I feel like someone is stabbing a hunting knife in my stomach and twisting it.
25. You won’t want to spend money on yourself because you’ll know every dollar spent on yourself is a dollar you could’ve spent on your family.
I know quite a few parents who are the exact opposite of this, but I can say that, yes, some parents definitely fall into this category. I occasionally spend money on myself, usually in the form of some small treat. But for the most part I spend 2 out of every 3 seconds spent in stores looking at kids clothes and toys, thinking about all the things I want to buy my daughter. If it weren’t for the tiny inkling of restraint that I do have, our house would be a ball pit of toys and not much else.
26. Buying your kid something will make you way more happy than buying yourself something.
Christmas is a testament to this now. I love Christmas, and I’ve always loved both giving and receiving gifts, but now that I have a daughter 200% of my attention is focused on her when it comes to presents. I get a little thrill of giddy happiness every time she opens a present, I really do.
27. When your kid is little, every trip out of the house will feel like getting ready to go to the airport.
Once, when my husband and I both lost our jobs and had to take a trip to New Brunswick for job interviews with another company, I didn’t think our Corolla was going to make it because it was so loaded down with the gear we needed for the baby.
28. You will love to watch kids’ movies.
I’ve always loved kids movies, to be honest, but these days I even love watching them if I’ve seen them eighty times already because nothing is better than snuggling under a blanket with my daughter and listening to her reactions to a great movie.
29. You will cram your entire adult life between the time your kid goes down and you go to sleep.
If you put a spy camera in our house you would see this one in action. Sure, I write during the day, sure we get chores and the like done while the little Missy is up and running around our ankles. But things like watching (non-kid) movies together or having a couple of drinks? Yeah…that stuff starts around 9 pm and ends around 11 pm.
30. For a while, only you will be able to understand them, so you’ll basically become their interpreter.
My husband is better at this one than me, but it’s true and also hysterical. My daughter’s grandparents can never figure out what she’s saying, especially my husband’s father, so it’s up to us to regularly translate every line. The other day my daughter was singing a song to my mother and I had to keep shouting out every second word so that my mother could repeat it.
31. And lastly, it’s all worth it.
Some days it won’t feel like it. Sometimes you just want to jam a pillow over your head and pretend that the world outside your personal bubble doesn’t exist. Sometimes your kid will go on and on and on and on and all you’ll want in the world is for them to shut their yappy little mouth for five minutes. And sometimes you’ll seriously consider installing dead-bolts on all your bathroom doors because JEEBUS CHRIST, CAN I PLEASE PEE IN PRIVATE?!
But the other times, the times when your kid says or does something that truly amazes you, or the times when they come to you with tears in your eyes to ask you to kiss a boo-boo better, or the times when they come up to you for absolutely no reason at all to give you a hug and a kiss and tell you that they love you…yeah, those times make it 100% worth it.
How about it, fellow parents? How much do you know about toys these days? Have you gotten your black belt in ninja stealth yet? When was the last time you saw any actual upholstery in the back seat of your car? Please share your own thoughts and stories! 🙂
They say that deep down all kids desire discipline. The idea is that young children can’t make reasonable, smart decisions for their own health, safety, and positive upbringing, so subconsciously they want us to do it for them. I’ve read about this time and time again in parenting magazines, on websites, and in the occasional newspaper article. I think it is, for lack of a more proper term, complete and utter b.s.
Yes children need discipline. There’s no argument about that. But no one, regardless of age, wants discipline.
Think about it logically for a moment. Say it’s bedtime. Your kid needs to go to bed or they won’t get enough sleep and will be cranky in the morning. But they want to stay up. Even if you could explain it logically and have the child completely understand where you’re coming from, telling them that they need to go to sleep isn’t going to make them want to go to sleep. You want to know how I know? Okay, now imagine yourself, staying up late doing something you really enjoy, whether it be playing video games, watching a movie, drinking with friends, or whatever. Your spouse/parent/friend/whoever comes up to you and says, “You really need to go to bed now, or you’re going to be worthless in the morning.” What is your reaction? If you answered, “I’d take their advice and go to bed, of course!” then you are absolutely in the minority. Most people, I’m willing to stake my reputation, would shoot a glare at the kill-joy and angrily state, “I’m a grown adult and I’ll go to bed when I want to.” Key word there: want.
We are creatures of ‘want’, every one of us. It’s nothing to get upset or argue about, it’s just the way we’re made. Logically we know that we need certain things (proper sleep, healthy food, etc), but other parts of our brain simultaneously tell us that we want certain things that conflict (to stay up late, junk food, etc). Similarly we want certain things (unnecessary expenditures, for example) even though we know damn well that we don’t need them and could exist perfectly fine without them.
So returning to the idea that kids want discipline. No, sorry, I refuse to believe that. Kids need discipline; no one wants discipline.
And that can make life difficult sometimes, even for adults. I’m going to use myself as an example because, hey, my blog:
I currently have two immediate goals. One is to finish editing my zombie novel so I can try to have it published, the other is to lose at least 30 lbs. Both require a good deal of discipline, and therein lay my problem.
It can be just as difficult to discipline yourself as it can be to discipline a child because a very large part of you simply doesn’t want to be disciplined. I tell myself that I need to do so much editing per day, but then I find something else I want to do more and the want outweighs the need…I go have fun instead of working. I tell myself that I need to take in fewer calories in order to lose weight, but I also want to eat that snack-cake and, oops, look, there it goes down my willpowerless throat. Sometimes I can almost agree with the claims that have been made about kids wanting discipline, because I imagine that if I had someone standing over me telling me exactly what to eat and when to work on my novel, all would be well. But then I realize that if I actually had such a person, I’d spend most of our time together struggling not to strangle them because, let’s face it, no one enjoys being told what to do. That’s why very few people have anything other than disdain for their immediate boss.
It all comes down to attitude and whether you’re able to set aside current ‘wants’ for future gains. As adults we have the ability to decide for ourselves…whether it was necessarily the right decision or the wrong one, at least it was ours. Small children are different. How do you explain to a toddler that she can’t have sweets for supper because it’s not healthy and she’ll get fat? You don’t, because in the toddler’s mind all she knows is that she wants the sweets and you’re not letting her have them, not letting her make the decision herself. Obviously we can’t allow such young children to make all their own decisions because, as previously mentioned, we are creatures of ‘want’, and that road leads to disaster. But we also have to be patient and understand where the kid is coming from. The next time you’re out at the mall and you hear a kid shrieking his head off because mommy won’t buy him toy he wants, think for a moment about how you’d feel if you wanted something and were told, for no other reason than “because I said so!”, that you couldn’t have it.