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Monday, October 10, 2011

Five Things New Parents Don't Expect

I've been a parent for six years and a couple months, and a parent of two for two years and a month or so. Nearly every day I marvel at the things that I just didn't see coming.

Before you veteran parents start saying "Well duh," Let me just say that before I had kids of my own, my brother had four, and my wife's brother had a couple, and we were always babysitting someone. We were no strangers to child care when it came time to have our own.

We knew that diapers are gross. We knew that kids like to do what they want to do. We knew that we'd have sleepless nights for a while. We really knew everything we NEEDED to know... What we didn't know, were things that would have been NICE to know... I.E. the things that come from left field.

Of course, there's the obvious list of things that people who have any sort of analytical abilities might be able to come up with. You never knew how much you could love something, you never expected to WANT to stay home on Friday nights, blahblahblah. No. Still not what I'm talking about.

Here are some of the things I've learned that no amount of preparation could really get me ready for. Things that you could have told me about, but I never would have been able to appreciate until I'd experienced it first hand:

1 - Poo
I've blogged about poo before and that blog post is definitely relavent to this topic, so go read it.

Welcome back. I'm sorry to say, I have multiple poo stories.

If you (or in the case where you're male, your wife) is in favor of breast feeding (and I'm not saying I'm against it) be aware that even the smallest of babies can produce projectile bowel movements such that you will not believe, even to the degree that you will blog about it. ...And here, I validate that statement...

We didn't breast-feed one-of-two. However, we did use breast milk. My wife spent most of her life feeding, and then pumping. This way, I could assist with the night feedings.

Now...

One time I was changing one-of-two, and I had her on the kitchen table (with one of those folding changing pads beneath her). I learned that day that breast milk, in addition to giving the baby the anti-bodies of the mother and all the other benefits, blahblahblah, also makes for some explosive excrement. Like a nine-pound water balloon, one of two erupted in a stream of mustard colored poo, that shot OVER the edge of the table I had her on, and all over my shirt.

I was frozen in dumbfounded disgust. Miraculously, there was nothing on the pad, or the table, or the floor... Just me. How fortunate.

My wife loves that story.

2 - Everything is just wetter.
If I had to sum up parenthood of a child under the age of 4 in just one word, that word would be WET. I'm not just talking about drool either. Everything you have to handle in your normal routine is going to be wet. Whether it's slobber on your keys, or spilled formula on your favorite chair, or urine on your bed (which I hope was not something you were used to anyway) or a glass of soda you had on the table that was grabbed or knocked over... EVERYTHING is just wet.

Gross, right? Well, that's not really the worst part. The worst part is that you get used to it! There was a time in my life when I would have said that no way would I ever have human waste in any of it's forms on me. How little did I know.

In the beginning, a pee spot on your shirt will be disgusting, and you'll drop what you're doing and change your shirt. As disgusting as it sounds, and you parents know it's true, after a few years of it, you will examine the size of the spot, and wonder if it'll dry without being too big of an inconvenience. The fact that it's pee isn't as big a problem, but the fact that it's wet means it's cold.

Sometimes your child is going to pee through his or her diaper, and you're going to find him or her in wet clothes in the morning. The first time that happened, I was grossed out, handed the bundle of soppy joy to my wife, and went and washed my hands. These days, I'll check the bed to see if the blanket is wet, and the sheets, feeling around with my hands, etc... I'll even go so far as to smell it to see if it's pee or a leaky cup that I didn't know she'd taken to bed. ...as if it matters right? They're wet, regardless of what it is, wash em! That's how little I'm bothered by it, I can actually be curious enough to sniff.

3-Your Food is No Longer Your Own
Your child will always know when there's something in the house that you don't want him or her to eat. Cookies, ice cream, etc. In the beginning, he or she may ask for permission. Do not assume this will always be the case.

Case in point: This happened just yesterday. I came out to the kitchen, to find 2 of 2 on the table...

Your child WILL attempt to get some of these things after you say no, when you're not looking. Sometimes he or she will get them, other times, not. Getting caught doesn't really matter, as long as the objective is met, and the cookies are enjoyed if only for a few minutes.

The sooner you realize that there's little you can do about this, because consequences of getting caught are not enough to discourage a peckish toddler, the better. You'll just have to take it to the next level.

Before long, you'll find yourself buying these things when you're by yourself. You will sneak these things into the house, and you'll hide them in strange places. Sometimes your kid will find them anyway, but chances are slimmer. Sometimes you'll forget where you put them too, so maybe write yourself a note. You can leave said note in plain sight until your kid learns to read.

Kids are smart when it comes to getting what they want. One of two likes to poke her head out every time she hears something going on in the kitchen. If I'm making for my hidden stash of whatever, even if she doesn't know it's there, there's a good chance she's going to catch me eating it.

You'll find yourself yelling at your kids when they are caught hiding with cookies or something like that, only to realize that you are now frequently do exactly the same thing... You hippocite! (or however that's spelled... spell check doesn't seem to agree with me on that word no matter how I change it.)

4 - Keys Make Great Toys!
You'll spare no expense when it comes to toys. You'll find yourself buying things that you never would have thought you'd buy. Silly things that cost way too much. Puzzles that will never get put together before half the pieces are lost. Books that'll be ripped apart. Cars that will get thrown. Dolls that will get beheaded.

Friends and relatives will shower you with their used toys that haven't been too damaged, or expensive things for birthdays that you would never have acquired otherwise, and in almost all cases, that make noise... It's amazing, batteries in my flashlight die in a matter of minutes... Take a few batteries from the same freakin pack, and put them in a noisy kid's toy, and they will last forever!

Despite the sheer volume of items SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED for kid's to play with, in your home, nothing will ever be quite as fun to play with as your car keys. I once had to burn a sick day from work, because I could not find my freakin keys. I did eventually find them shoved into the trunk of a Barbie car.

5 - Your Paper Is Not Your Own!
This is especially inconvenient to me, because I work from home. Anything flat and blank is a viable writing surface for a creative six (and five, four, three) year old. Any younger than that, the only difference is that the surface doesn't need to by flat or blank. Skin works just as well as paper.

They'll also produce writing implements from unknown places. Pens and markers you didn't know you had, or hadn't seen since long before you had kids will suddenly show up in hands that moments ago were idle.

There are many more, I'm sure, but I thought I'd give you guys a chance to share some of yours. Anything I didn't list? Anything I did list that you would just like to add to?