I had planned on posting something every day this week. As you can see, I have failed from the outset. There are times I lament the loss of free will that has come with my DS. I am powerless to resist it, often times losing entire stretches of my evening to its dual screened clutches. I try to put it down, but then there's an ogre that needs an ass whupping, or my mount needs training, not to mention the scores and scores of wild Pokemon hiding in the tall grass just waiting to be imprisoned, catalogued and forced into battle for my amusement. It is not that I don't love you, dear readers, I've just found something that I love more. It happens. Try not to take it personally.
To make up for my complete and total ignoring of this site, and you by extension, I have decided to bestow upon you, free of charge, my sage, child rearing advice. Greg Howley of Blog of Wonder fame and his tastefully named wife Linda are expecting their first child this summer and I, being not only a super awesome parent, but super generous, have decided to share my parenting tips. I know, I know. No need to thank me. Those of you who are already accustomed to spending time with your own little monsters, er, offspring, may well find good information here. Those of you who don't feel the need to spend all of your free time and money on beings that will ultimately grow to hate and abandon you need only keep reading to affirm your decision to stay unshackled until the icy finger of death frees you from your lonely, unfulfilled existence.
1. Everything You Do Is Wrong
This is probably the biggest, most important tip I can give you . Everything you do as a parent will be wrong. Everything. You'll know this because everyone from your parents to random people on the street will tell you how everything you're doing to raise your child is wrong to the nth degree of wrongness. Eventually, and by eventually I mean roughly 7 minutes into your journey as a parent, you will begin to question every decision you make, and every action you take as a parent. This will extend from the mundane like, should little Timmy have strained peas or strained broccoli for dinner to the extreme like, should I have let Timmy burn his hand on the stove, or should I have not pushed him out of the way, instead opting for a more verbal approach. Sometimes, when you're out and about, you'll see a parent freaking out at their child. This parent has gotten their higher consciousness so caught up in thinking and over thinking that the lower brain functions had to take over and prevent this child from running roughshod over the world. For the record, the lower brain functions don't take no shit.
2. Babies are Hella Boring
It's true. Oh sure, there's that whole parental wonder thing going on, but for the most part, infants are rocking the express train to Snoresville. You may get all excited when the baby rolls over for the first time, or sits up for the first time, but after an hour of watching the same baby roll over and sit up, you're ready to shoot yourself. Be sure to take this valuable time when your baby is immobile to catch up on your reading, or your tv watching and video game playing. If you're worried about them seeing violent content, just turn them away from the tv. It'll be a good 6 months before they can right themselves so they can see what you're doing. Watching HGTV or the Food Network is also an option. You've got the rest of your life to interact with them. Besides, once they start crawling and pulling themselves upright, your days as a sedentary, lazy-ass parent are over.
3. They Will Always Get Sick At the Most Inconvenient Time Ever. E-V-E-R.
Upon reading this, you might think that there's no convenient time to get sick, so what's the big deal? Not so. If both parents work, the weekend is much more convenient time as you don't have to take any time off of work to tend to little Mary Jane Snot-n-Cough. If only one parent works, the weekend is more convenient as now there are two of you to worry that little Timmy's fever means the onset of Diphtheria. I know what you're thinking. "Why would I want to ruin my weekend with a sick kid?" Well, I got news for you pally. You're weekend got ruined the minute the turkey timer popped up. You have kids now, you don't have weekends any more, at least not like you used to. Sleeping in? Gone. Leisurely reading the paper while you decide what to do for the day? Gone. Staying in bed and watching crappy movies on HBO because, what the hell else do you have to do? Gone. Gone. Gone. Oh sure, eventually you'll be able to do all that again, but it's so far off you might as well file it away with the hovercars, personal jetpacks and interstellar space travel. You're already with the kids, so why not have them be sick then, rather than when you're at work? Work is nice. Work has coffee and donuts and adult conversation. We like work. We don't want to have to be away from work because our kid's nose looks like a laffy taffy factory. The corollary to this rule is that kids will not get sick when it's inconvenient for them, only when it's inconvenient for you. They could get Typhoid Fever the day before they have a birthday party to go to, be fine for the party and then be back to being sick in time for you to go to work.
4. Children's Music Sucks
It does. There's some that's tolerable, but for the most part, children's music sucks. If you look hard enough, you can find normal people's music that will satisfy your children, whatever their musical tastes may be. Both of my children enjoy a good Bruce Springsteen album. My son prefers more melodic songs with lots of "la la la la" and "heyyyy ooooohh" kind of things so that he can sing along. For example, he likes "Boston" by Augustana and "Snow (Hey Oh)" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My daughter is partial to the Rock. She doesn't seem to care what it is, as long as it shreds, but she has gotten down with her bad self to Pearl Jam, My Chemical Romance and Green Day. Exposing them to good music does three things. One, it makes car rides enjoyable as at least you get to listen to your music while your children blather on about riding in space tractors or some shit. Two, when your child is acting like a jerk you can look at them and think "Well, he likes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so he can't be all that bad." Finally, if they grow up liking good music, then you can save yourself some money down the line and make them buy the cd's. Score!
5. There's Always Something
This is probably the second most important thing I can tell you. There is always something. A less positive way of saying this is that nothing is ever easy. For every thing you stress out over that ends up being fairly painless, something that seems simple will be a huge struggle. We recently moved my daughter to a bed. Part of this was to prepare for her being in a bed when we go on vacation, but part of this was because she seemed unhappy in the crib and we figured that if she was in a bed she could get down and play before going to sleep at night rather than screaming for an hour. My son plays at night and when he's ready for bed, he turns the light off, gets in his bed and goes to sleep. Seems pretty simple, right? Wrong. She's mastered the getting out of bed thing, but has also mastered the pounding on the door with her little fists and feet thing. When this happens, we go up and tell her to knock it off, which then causes her to break down in a fit of screaming rage because she's tired and doesn't want to go to bed. So now we've supplemented the previous crib screaming with furious door pounding. Nice. She doesn't seem to understand what the bed is for, as the past few nights when I've gone in to check on her before I turn in, she's asleep on the floor. My daughter seems to naturally gravitate to the high drama so things are a lot less easy with her than with my son, but he has had his fair share of difficult moments. If you can steel yourself with the knowledge that there's always something, perhaps you'll be better equipped to deal with it. Doubtful, but there's always hope.
At this point, I'm sure you're expecting me to close with some line about how all the hard work is worth it and it's the most rewarding and enriching experience you'll ever have. Well, I don't know what experiences you've had, so I have no idea if this will prove to be either rewarding or enriching. I do know however, that now that you have kids, you're stuck with them for the rest of your life, so it would be in your best interests to raise children that you'd like to hang out with. Barring a prison term on either of your parts, you'll be hanging out with them for quite some time. It is important that you do your part as a parent to not raise an asshole as the world has quite enough of them already, thank you very much. It's also important that you raise your kids such that you have a good relationship with them into their adulthood so that they can call you and complain about their kids doing the same things to them that they did to you. Then you can laugh, hang up and go back to watching your crappy HBO movie. After all, what the hell else do you have to do?