Before I had kids I was a parenting expert. If I saw a kid melting down in the grocery store I knew just what had caused it, and what that sheepish-looking parent should do to fix it. Luckily I had the good sense not to share my pearls of wisdom, but I did retain a delightfully smug feeling. I knew that when I had kids of my own, I would do a much better job.
Somehow, I seem to have forgotten everything that I knew back then. When I am faced with my own toddler throwing himself down in the frozen foods section, I am at a loss. I can’t seem to effectively use my former wisdom, which was of course totally top-notch. It’s sad, really. I’m certain that if I could just put it all together, my life would be so much better, and my children would be perfect angels.
As I wax nostalgic for my lost parenting brilliance, I sometimes find it entertaining to contrast my present reality with the vision in my pre-parent head. Because one of the pieces of wisdom that has managed to penetrate my sleep-deprived brain and stuck around is that you have to be able to laugh, especially at yourself. And so, I have made a list for our mutual entertainment.
Visiting Calgary in 2004, just before I got pregnant with Hannah, contemplating my parenting genius
Things that I knew when I knew everything, but didn’t really work out.
- I would offer my kids age-appropriate choices and they would co-operate with me at all times as a result. Too bad my own kids frequently ignore me as I present choices, instead opting to run away while shrieking at top volume.
- I would always follow through as a parent, because failing to follow through is the worst thing a parent can do. Everyone knows that. Sadly, these days I regularly forget just what I’m supposed to be following through with, so I become the dreaded Inconsistent Parent. Horrors!
- My kids would always eat healthy food, and as a result they would develop broad palates and a taste for all things nutritious. Unfortunately, I failed to consider that if I don’t want my kids to eat junk food, I can’t eat it myself, and I’m not willing to give up my chocolate.
- If my kids used a whiny voice, I would simply refuse to listen to them, and they would quickly learn not to whine. Have you ever tried to ignore a perpetually whiny 2-year-old? Not so easy, is it?
- I would never bribe my kids. Children should be intrinsically motivated to good behaviour, based on an understanding of how their actions impact others. A lovely sentiment, but sometimes you need to get through a bank line-up in one piece. Offering a trip to Starbucks for some iced herbal tea and pastries not only keeps the kids calm, but frankly I could use it, too.
- I would never say, “Because I’m the mom, that’s why,” or, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Let’s face it, these sorts of expressions do not represent the pinnacle of parenting. But every so often they’re all I’ve got.
- I wouldn’t talk about my kid’s poop, because who wants to hear about my kid’s poop? Answer: no one. Except me, and I can’t shut up about it.
- I would frequently take my children to fancy restaurants and similar places, so that they would learn how to behave properly in formal public settings. I can’t even get out of a kid-friendly restaurant without at least one child dissolving into tears, I am so not stepping the class level up a notch.
- I would not allow my children to press elevator buttons. I totally hated it when I had to wait for some 2-year-old to press an elevator button. Now, my own 2-year-old loves buttons so freaking much that I let him press the elevator buttons. It makes his day, and it really only takes a few extra seconds to show him which button to press.
Being assessed in early labour with Hannah, rapidly forgetting all my parenting genius
I’m sure there are more things I’ve forgotten, but what can you expect after nearly 5 1/2 years of chronic sleep deprivation? But maybe you can remember more. So, tell me – what did you swear you’d never do that you now do all the time? What seemed really brilliant before you had kids, but now seems kind of silly? Please share!
PS – Today I am thrilled to have a guest post on …infinitely learning…. Hillary’s blog always inspires me, and it’s worth a read at any time, so stop by and say hi!