Nope. I’m going to tell you about some of the mistakes that my husband and I have made (and learned from) in the past four years of parenthood.
10. Don’t compare. Whether it’s some weird game of one-upmanship (My son had to be fed every hour and thirty minutes exactly!) or ego deflation (Why didn’t MY daughter recite the Preamble at the age of three?), comparisons belong in the supermarket, not the nursery. Everybody has their own version of normal. Celebrate it!
9. Don’t push. Our son has a fabulous sense of pitch and an astonishing gift for mathematics. While Mama and Daddy are understandably proud, Junior gives not a hoot. Will he provide the answer to multiplication problems before guests? He will not. He wants to play in the kitchen with his magnetic refrigerator letters. We’re getting better at treating Junior like our son, rather than a trained seal.
8. Don’t be inflexible. Yeah, setting things in stone went out the window from day one. “Oh, you wanted to try natural childbirth? I’m sorry. You’ll be having an emergency C-section; thank you for playing.” From no candy before breakfast to the elusive and mythical bedtime, rules are made to be broken on occasion.
7. Don’t overschedule. This is for the parents as much as the kids. Childhood is so very fleeting, and time together is precious. Leave a few days or nights open each week and let your kids be kids. No lessons, sports, or classes. Just family and a few hours of silly fun. Make paper bag hats, play a board game, or maybe read together.
6. Don’t Google. For the love of all that is sane, do not go looking up your kid’s odd symptoms online. You will only freak out your entire family by becoming convinced that Junior has West Duluth Prune Fungus, and waste time in needless worry. Call your doctor if you’re worried; go to the ER if it’s an emergency.
5. Don’t listen. This actually means that you should be selective about listening. Your kid just learned how to count backwards? Drop what you’re doing and listen, by all means. A so-called friend just denounced you as a lazy mother for not forcing your two-year-old to speak? Plug your ears and run away. True story, by the way. Junior was more comfortable using ASL at that age; the friend referred to it as a cop-out. Long story short, we continued the sign language and discontinued the friendship.
4. Don’t judge. It pops into everybody’s head at some point. “What’s wrong with those parents? MY child would never do THAT!” Trust me. He will. And if he doesn’t, it’s because he’s going to do something even more outlandish and aggravating.
3. Don’t worry. I am a Worrier First Class. I once entertained dark thoughts of not going in to work because what if my husband took Junior out onto the porch to play, and the dog down the street was actually part rabid dingo and ate my husband, leaving our son to wander the street in tears? Happens all the time in the suburbs, she said with an eye roll. I got over it. A little worry now and then is healthy. If worrying begins to interfere with your daily life, talk to your clergy or a counselor.
2. Don’t try to be superparent. Your partner has a valid opinion, and doesn’t deserve to be relegated to the sidelines of childcare. A crookedly pinned diaper is not the end of the world, and there is no such thing as “the wrong color sippy.” They are called your partner for a reason. Besides, wouldn’t you love a nap right now?
1. Don’t forget to laugh. Caught up in medical bills and long work hours, it’s very easy to focus on the negative side of life. We’re very lucky to have Junior, who seems to know exactly when to step in with a silly song or a hug to cheer us up. Kids are a joy; treat them as such.
What’s on your list?Photos courtesy of stock.xchng