I’m finding out as a grandparent that there’s a lot of things about raising kids that you would think I should know by now.
But evidently I never learned them as a parent.
I can’t really explain why.
I suppose I just wasn’t paying attention the first time around when I should have learned them.
I don’t know if that means I’m a bad parent or a moron!
So, where was I and what was I doing that prevented me from learning these basic principles of parenting?
Probably busy working.
Or more likely, my wife handled it!
Anyway, here is my list of ten things I should know about raising kids, toddlers in particular, that I apparently never learned:
1. I should know toddlers can’t groom and clothe themselves. In fact, they would just as soon be dirty and naked! And everybody knows it’s you grooming and clothing them, or not! So, if they are dirty and their hair is not combed and their clothes don’t fit right or aren’t clean, it’s a direct reflection on your parenting skills, or lack thereof.
And it’s a lot of work keeping them groomed and clothed and shoed (or is it shoe-ed or shorn?) because they just keep growing and getting dirty!
2. I should know you have to housebreak toddlers. And the potty training seems to go on for years! After wiping little butts and cleaning baby poop off of everything from your own clothes to the living room furniture and constantly carrying diaper bags and extra changes of clothing everywhere, it’s somewhat liberating when they finally start using the potty. It’s a huge relief…you may even be able to go out in public and take the children with you.
And then you discover that just because they don’t pee their pants anymore doesn’t mean they won’t pee the bed. In other words, just because you have them day-broke doesn’t mean you’ve got them night-broke! So if you had any dreams or aspirations of sending them off to spend the night with one of their little friends, forget about it for another year or two!
3. And while we’re on the subject of personal grooming, I should know toddlers can’t blow their noses. They don’t want to blow their noses. They would rather pick boogers out of their noses and eat them or just let the nose mucus (snot) ooze out of their nose and run down their upper lip and into their mouth. That way they don’t have to go to all the trouble of picking stuff out of there.
I used to say that I can handle poop and vomit, but I can’t handle snot. But after wiping poop off of little butts and cleaning up vomit off of every floor, wall, and piece of furniture in the house, I’ve learned that wiping snot off of noses or having it blown into my hand when the tissue tears is not much more disgusting, that is, if you don’t think about it too much.
After all, it’s just stuff you have to wipe off the children that comes out of their precious little nose instead of their precious little mouth or butt!
4. Sorry about No. 3. Maybe I got a little carried away. But, I do have to mention one more personal grooming item I should know about, toddler ears. How do you get gunk out of toddler ears? It seems that no matter how clean you keep them, their ears get full of gunk. I don’t know what else to call it. Is it some blend of ear wax, dirt, and environmental pollution?
Whatever it is, you can’t clean it out with a wash cloth when they take a bath because you can’t push the wash cloth far enough into their ears where the gunk resides. And I’m always afraid of sticking a Q-tip in their ears. I fear that I might push it in too far and puncture their ear drum or impale their brain. So I make Conner clean their ears!
5. I should know you don’t give toddlers candy to get them to go to bed. Sure, they may go to bed. But that doesn’t mean they will go to sleep! In fact, it doesn’t even mean they will actually lie down and be quiet while in the bed!
6. I should know you are required to repeat and enforce every rule you make all over again each day! Don’t expect toddlers to follow the rules of the previous day or even remember that there are any rules. For toddlers, life starts over each day when they wake up. And the rule list has been wiped clean!
So, with toddlers the rules don’t seem to carry over from day to day. Maybe they think that sometime during the night all the rules were lost!
But then I have to stop and ask myself, are they really that dumb that they can’t remember the rules each day? Or maybe they are extremely clever, perhaps more clever than I… I, I, I don’t think I want to go there!
7. I should know that anything within their reach, they will grab. Anything they will grab, they will break. Need I say more?
8. I should know toddlers can’t hurry when you want them to. Although they constantly run and jump around the house, when you need them to hurry, they become ardent slow pokes. Suddenly, they don’t even know how to dress themselves or if they do, it’s so incredibly slow you just have to grab them and dress them yourself.
And they can’t tell time, so they don’t care if they’re late. They don’t even know that they’re late because they can’t tell time! But they can tell if you’re in a hurry. And if you’re in a hurry, then they’re certainly not!
And, the more you tell them to hurry up, the longer you have to wait on them. Have you noticed that they become painfully slow when you are running the latest? They can’t tell time, but they can tell you’re in a hurry!
9. I should know toddlers have no table manners and no precision using eating utensils. So, food goes all over the place. What doesn’t go around the outside of their mouths or on their clothes, falls on the table, the chair, or the floor.
And when food is dropped, toddlers consider that a license for eating or licking food off of anything on which it has fallen without the aid of an eating utensil. In fact, toddlers would rather eat without using utensils no matter what the consistency of the food they are eating–solid, liquid or something in between!
So, it almost seems like preparing a meal is more about what food you want (or don’t want) to clean off and pick up from wherever it was dropped, thrown, or spread than it is about its nutritional value!
10. I should know, don’t expect toddlers to be perfect. In fact, don’t expect them to be almost perfect. Don’t even expect them to be good. But just let them be who they are and love them for who they are and they will bring great joy to your life!
Now, I’m sure there are probably many more than these ten things that I should know about parenting but never learned.
And, I’m sure I will encounter these unlearned lessons as they grow and develop from babies to toddlers to preschool and school age children to adolescents.
But for now, that’s the extent of my parenting incompetence that I want to reveal…
I’ll save the rest for future posts!