As I write this, I’ve been a parent for 1,344 days, and a parent of two kids for 516 days. I’m by no means an expert, but I think I’m getting OK at it. According to what I hear on the news nowadays, I think I’m in the top 90th percentile. This isn’t going to be one of those “parenting is the best job in the world” bits, I promise. There is a lot that I have already learned as a parent, a lot more left to learn, but here is what I know so far. This is the real sh*t I’ve learned.
1.) I’ve never almost counted to three so many times in my life.
When I was learning to count as a 6 year old- I never counted towards three as many times as I do as a parent. Every parent does it…the ol’ “One..Two……………………………………………….Thr” and then your kid does whatever you’re threatening to do or take away once you finish the second syllable of a one syllable word “Thaa-rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeee”. The tried and true: “I’m going to count to three and if you don’t stop throwing your food on the ground, I’m going to take away your toys for the rest of your life” technique works though! (usually)
2.) Speaking of food on the floor. I’ve learned that food on the floor is just another staple in our lives. Just like the electric bill, sleep, or groceries (which end up on the floor). If you have a dog, you can skip right over this section–because you don’t get it. Everyone else with little kids can look at the bottom of their socks right now and find at least 3 of the following: a crushed goldfish cracker, a noodle, fruit colored stain, toast, granola bar, cheerio, or half of last night’s pork chop. We sweep and vacuum our floors fairly regularly. You’d never know it, however. My children get more food on the floor than in their mouth. We can eat their favorite meal in the entire world and 96.3% will end up on the bottom of my socks, 2% on the table, and 1.7% in their mouth.
3.) I probably can’t understand what your child is saying. Now, before I go on–if I see your kid on a semi-regular basis, I can understand what they say. This section doesn’t apply to friends and family. However, if we are out and about and your kid tries to talk to me for the first time, I will most likely respond with a nod and “oh yeah??! cool!”. On the flip side-my 1 year old can say “difjio kwho hfat jlkjy4 klayhow hljappp iupifhanb 1903-1914 uwhuyw zlkyoune ayouhl fjwohf” and I’ll repeat it back to you perfectly. “Wow! Did you hear that? she just said ‘The Panama Canal was built from 1903 – 1914 to shorten the distance that ships had to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans’, she’s so smart!”. Your child could say “I rode my bike today”, my response would be “oh yeah??! cool!” (which actually works in this example, but you get my point).
4.) I’ve learned that I can predict danger that will never happen. Before I had kids, I was pretty laid back about the world around me. After I had kids, danger was everywhere. Unnecessary danger. My mind will throw out the worst possible scenario and i’ll get nervous about it (#anxiety). My kids can be rolling around on the floor playing completely innocently and my mind will come up with something like this: “What happens if they vibrate the floor so much that the bookshelf on the other end of the room tips over, and on the way down, the force throws a book out towards the floor lamp in the corner, which of course tips over and knocks the TV off the wall, which obviously will swing by the cable on the back to knock over the big wooden ‘Minnesota’ on the wall, causing that to fall down on top of the keyboard, tipping that over and yanking the power cord out of the wall, causing an electrical short and the whole house burns down”. You hear about stuff like that all the time obviously. It’s incredibly annoying–I’ll think of every little possible ‘worst case scenario’. If they are both playing on the deck–I don’t think: “I sure hope one of them doesn’t get a splinter”. Nope, mine would be more like “I hope dinosaurs are actually extinct–the girls definitely wouldn’t survive an ambush pterodactyl attack.
5.) I’ve learned that the word “Potty” becomes more normal than “peeing” in everyday life. There are times in my daily life where I have to remind myself that I’m 32 years old and don’t need to announce that I’m “going potty” when they ask where I’m going. Every night after bedtime, i’ll ask my wife “did you take her potty”. Its literally just us sitting on the couch. I could say whatever I want to her: ‘did you take her to squeeze a lemon?’, ‘did she piss?’. Nope, I prefer the term “potty”.
6.) I’ve learned that I can throw a piece of food into the ‘garbage-disposal’ side of the sink from anywhere in the house. I’m serious. If I have to Happy Gilmore putt it off 37 things into the sink, I can do it. I’m expert level. I can’t shoot a basketball to save my life, but give me a grape from 42 feet away. I’ll drain that shot 10/10 times. Chunk of banana? Nothing but net. If there was an NBA-type league of having to shoot food through your house into a garbage disposal, I’d be Stephen Curry.
7.) I’ve learned that I can actually take pride in my tower building and ‘in-the-line coloring’, only to have it taken away by tiny hands. There are times when I’m building a block tower with my 1 year old and the thing is getting 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2 feet tall and I’m pretty proud of it. Only to have mini-Godzilla come through and knock it over; roar and all. Also, there are times with my three year old that I’m legitimately coloring with her, trying to do a nice job, maybe even as a nice present for her. But, on cue she’ll reach over with a purple marker and say “Here dad, I’ll help” and proceed to draw a bunch of squiggles right in the middle of Mickey’s face.
8.) I’ve learned that I will finish an episode of PJ Masks, Mickey Mouse Club House, Trolls, or Team UmiZoomi by myself without any kids in the room. If we start watching it, and both kids leave the room to take a nap or whatever. Chances are good that I’ll finish out the episode. I’m pretty sure I know which colored shape comes next in the pattern they are trying to figure out, but it’s nice to know for sure. This also applies to whatever nursery rhyme Alexa is playing.
9.) I’ve learned that when playing a made up game with my kids, that their rules sometimes are stupid and mine are right and make the game fun and correct. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not encouraging their creativity or telling them that the rules don’t make any sense; nor do I do this in every situation. I do, however want them to know that if we are playing hide and seek, you don’t tell me where to hide. That doesn’t make any sense? That game would be called “go sit where I say so until I come and get you”. I don’t encourage that, I want to play hide and seek and this is how the damn game is played! Do you understand me, 3 year old??!?
10.) I’ve learned that silence is hard to find. The 2 hours after bedtime are some of the best hours of the day. Not because we don’t love our kids–it’s because it’s quiet (except for Ozark playing on TV–seriously, amazing show). Believe it or not, parents get sick of hearing ourselves answer questions all day long, yelling “Stop this or that”, and counting to “Tharrrrreeeeeeee”. Going to the bathroom, alone. In fact–I bet some of you are reading this while in the bathroom right now.
This is the first installment of “Things I’ve Learned In My Time As A Parent” series. There will certainly be more to come! I hope you enjoyed reading this!
If you think a current parent or parent-to-be would enjoy this, please share!
Thanks for reading!