I am a total rule-follower and like to read instruction manuals. So it is not surprising that before my children were born, I did, in fact, read some parenting books, and even reflected on my clinical pediatric rotation experience (mainly stressing out about how I could possibly become a “nicer” parent).
Despite all my preparation, there are still a few things that I feel that I was inadequately armed for, and even though my own experience is definitely limited, I’d like to share my own list of things that the Parenting Books didn’t tell me.
1. The smell of sour milk is strong. Very strong. Make sure to check your diaper bag/purse at the end of the day lest you suffer The Curse of Stinky Milk. And never ever trust those “certified leak-proof” sippy cups.
2. After a large meal, do not give your 15-month old son a bear hug or do the Pillsbury Doughboy poke no matter how cute his potbelly looks, because there is a good chance that he will vomit on you.
3. Your 3 year old will ask you some of the most challenging theological questions you have ever heard regarding the concepts of evil, jealousy, selfishness, grace. Sometimes you just have to say, “Uh, I don’t know…go ask your Dad.”
4. If you ever find that a kid’s favorite object (sparkly shoes, leak-proof sippy cups, Minnie Mouse underwear) is on sale, buy 3, 4 or 10 of the same identical thing. You WILL end up using all of it.
5. Don’t let your kids eat Saltine crackers in the car. Or anywhere. Unless you like having a constant film of Saltine crumbs over all your furniture.
6. You know how the dryer magically “eats” socks? especially baby socks? It’s okay to put your kids in mismatched socks. Just tell people it’s a new cute fashion trend. (Or just buy all of the same socks, see #4 above)
7. The most treasured toys are often the most random cheap household objects. No need to get Sophie Le Giraffe or some brain-stimulating puzzle game, just give your child an old VCR remote control, gigantic empty cardboard box and a couple of empty 2L soda bottles. Voila, entertainment for hours!
8. Threatening to remove toenail polish can be a very effective form of punishment for a girly-girl preschooler. Who knew the sight of a fluffy cotton ball could have such power?!
9. For some unknown reason, having two small children more than doubles the amount of (pre-child era) household laundry.
10. Always always always shriek like you are going to pee your pants when your preschooler or toddler “sneaks up” behind you and squeezes your fatty love handles. The delighted expression on their face is totally worth it.
Anything else you’d like to add to the list?