…and other things I’ve learned as a first-time parent.
Since becoming a father last April, I’ve learned a few things (five, to be specific) from my toddler. I would have learned more, but let’s face it, with my son’s recent late night adventures, I’m lucky to remember this much.
Anyway, I provide this list as a public service for any new or expectant parents out there.
- Toddlers are full of crap… and pee, snot and earwax. In short, where there’s a hole, there will be leaks. No matter how clean you keep your child, and I would recommend bathing them at least once per hour, you must be vigilant in keeping the major orifices clean – especially when you’re going Out In Public. It only takes seconds for a child’s nostrils to fill up with enough bright green snot to make it look to all the world as if you’re the Worst Mother (or Father) in the World! So, you’ll want to be sure to ALWAYS carry a steady supply of tissue, wipes, and industrial strength cleaning supplies such as those used by crime scene cleaners (hazmat suit optional).
- Toddlers will put ANYTHING in their mouths. Short of getting a muzzle, and I wouldn’t necessarily rule that out, you must keep a constant eye on your child to make sure they don’t put something dangerous, or really, really gross in their mouths. Things which my son has put in his mouth, or attempted to:
- Old Cheerio’s which he id under the couch for later eating
- pacifiers, which he also hid under the couch and which were now coated with cat hair
- cat poop
- his own poop
- various toys
- Babies are Grandma Magnets. You know how in the movies and TV shows you see a guy borrow his friend’s baby so he can go to the park and pick up women? Well, I’m not sure if babies are actually Babe Magnets, but I do know one thing, they are Grandma Magnets. No matter where we take my son, he will inevitably find the oldest people in the room and instantly bond with them through a series of smiles, laughs and waves. He loves them and they love him! Inevitably, the objects of my child’s attention will come up to us, even if we’re in the middle of dinner. They will always say the same thing, too. “Oh, he’s so cute. How old is he? What’s his name?” Given the frequency and static nature of the questions, I’m suspecting that all senior citizens are secretly tasked to survey the world’s supply of babies.
- Children are money pits. Okay, maybe that’s putting it a bit harsh, but what else will you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on over a 20 year period with no chance of ever seeing a penny back (other than cell phone bills)? It is said that the average couple spends approximately $15 billion on their child during over the course of his lifetime (or at least it feels like that). Whether it be diapers, daycare, formula, food, clothing, toys, countless doctor’s visits and medicine, there is just sooooo much STUFF that you never consider when first budgeting for a child. The average family would be well advised to wait to become parents until they can afford to have a child. Of course, by then, they may be of retirement age, but that’s okay, babies love old people.
- What worked today may not necessarily work tomorrow. 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).
So, what sorts of things have you learned since becoming a parent and what advice do you wish you’d been given before having children?