Friday, June 29, 2012

Things they really don't warn you about

Boxes: Fun for cats and kids/Courtesy comedynose via Creative Commons

I know you've seen these lists before, these "stuff they don't tell you about before you have kids" lists. But those were all bullshit cop outs, filled with such informative items as "you're going to love them more than you ever thought possible." I mean, sure, this is probably true, but way to not go out on a limb there. As a fellow parent, I know your dirty secret. This is a worthwhile, but terrible job some days. On the best days, it's only a 4 out of 10 on the Scale of Grossness. I'm going to give it to you straight.

Potty Training Is Disgusting

I don't have girls, who are allegedly easier to train, but I can tell you that there is something innate that occurs when you become a parent, because only a parent can clean up what we have cleaned up, move on nonchalantly when we conclude that it's not coming out of that tiny crack beside the bathtub no matter how much industrial strength bleach we buy at the bulk store, and then allow these foul creatures to kiss us fully (and wetly), on the mouth, only minutes later.

Pro Tip: When potty training, either let them go naked, or go with loose pants with no underwear. Trust me. You'd rather pick that up off the floor than scrub it out of those $4 Batman underwear.

Your Kids Are Uninteresting to Everybody Else

Grandparents and doting aunts and uncles notwithstanding, pretty much nobody cares what your kid is doing beyond a cursory glance and an assessment of their relative cuteness. When it comes to friendly acquaintances, especially, no one is really invested. And honestly, that's OK by me. I'm still going to post pictures of my kid in his dobok on Facebook and babble about their latest dentist visit to unsuspecting strangers. It's just part of what I have to offer to conversations these days. I just wish I could remember that no one really cares when I'm feeling the weight of judgment from the world at large. 

Pro Tip: When you reach the level of honestly not giving a shit what other people think about your baby-raising, it's time to celebrate with family neck tattoos. 

Yep. They Really Do Prefer the Box It Came in.

You will spend a shameful amount of time and money around birthdays and holidays on the perfect gift. Your darling baby will rip it open gleefully, demand you take whatever it is out of its box, toss that thing aside and cram his body inside the box, thrilled that you devoted so much energy to finding the ideal cardboard receptacle for him. 

Same thing with sticks. Since the dawn of time, people have been content milling around outside with little more than a carefully chosen stick. We might call it a baseball bat, or a walking staff, or a golf club, but these are really just sticks with a purpose. I am telling you now - go cheap or go home until they reach the Age of Resentment. Even then, tread cautiously. One big money Christmas and it's all over for you. If you must buy something branded, buy it used, or ask around. There's always someone you know ready to let go of Dora's Talking House or that adult-sized giraffe from Toys R Us. 

Pro Tip: Those commercials that come on 85 decibels louder than the cartoons are aimed at you, way more than your kid. They are yelling "Hey, mom! Stop pinning things you are never going to make on Pinterest and watch this ad!! BUY THIS THING! GUILT! YOU SUCK AS A PERSON AND A PARENT!  BUYYYYY THIIIIIIS!" You'll believe me when you find yourself at the store been pulled by a force unseen toward something called Squinkies and that bowl that can't spill no matter how you turn it (LIES).

You suck at this.

So does everybody else. Yet most of us (many of us? I hope?) are able to look back on our childhoods and conclude it was mostly good. There was love. There was fun. There were people who cared about us despite our very gross and very human natures. We did stuff and learned things, and forged our own warped personalities from the fragments of dysfunction that form the everyday lives of all our lives.

So stop sweating it. If you care enough to try to glean something from lists like these, if you earnestly want you children to be happy and loved above all else, you're probably doing as best you can when it comes to the rearing. There will always be factors out of our control. One day, your child may bring shame on your family via a cameo on the 125th version of Girls Gone Wild or get arrested for bouncing a $13 check at the local drugstore (it happens) (oh the shame), and it won't be because you didn't force them to listen to Mozart in the womb. It will be because people are stupid sometimes, and apparently, these children we're raising are people, too. 

Pro Tip: Your holiday newsletter will be much more interesting for everyone if you include all the dumb things everybody did all year. "Well, the Smiths have had an interesting year, from Granpda's DUI to John's stint with the Inmate Highway Clean Up Crew to that time we let the dog eat an entire head of cabbage because it seemed funny at the time. Wowee - the stench still lingers here at the Smith domicile. Merry Cabbage, we say!" and so on.


Jen said...

Very astute, Cincy Sarah. You've hit the nail on the banging part.

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