Ikey will be hitting the big 0-1 this month. As an extremely successful parent of two young children almost both over 1, I’d like to share with you my secrets to child-rearing the Ivy-league set:
1. It’s ok to not like your kids sometimes. I mean, really not like them. They smack you in the face at night, act like gobs of jello when you try to dress them, and spit mouthfuls of water out around the house in “secret” spots. Some people refer to them as drunken little people, but I’ll come right out and say it: they can be real assholes sometimes.
2. It’s ok to love your kids for the exact things about them that drive you crazy: They climb into your bed at night only to repeatedly kick you in the back, but you get those few minutes of warm, soft, kiddo cheek to snuggle with before the next barrage of roundhouse kicks comes along. They repeat everything you say, good or bad, but damn is it cute no matter how inappropriate. They make you late for work because they dawdle and delay, but it’s because they’re doing important kid stuff like playing with dinosaurs or hiding from Cheeseburger spiders. They live in a land of creativity and pretend that kids should get to revel in.
3. It’s ok to cry along with your child once in a while: I’ve had a few explosions that have left both Connor and I in tears. Some moments he needs to cry it out on his own. Other times, it has been better for both of us to cry in each other’s arms. Kids don’t fight with words like adults do, they fight with wide open, heart-beating emotion.
4. It’s ok to give your kid food off of the floor: I’m not talking about giving Ike a Cheerio found on the bathroom floor of the women’s room in Wal-Mart or giving Connor a saucy meatball coated in dog fur. I’m talking about non-fur coated dry goods like an untouched yogurt puff that might have hit the floor at the Corner Cafe. Hey, baby food is expensive. PLUS, half the stuff Ike puts in his mouth is germ-coated anyway. The kid crawls around with used (or as Z calls it, “strange”) socks in his mouth for godssake. We’re building the next generation of super immumans (super immune humans. I just made that up, my creativity is that good) people, gotta start ’em young.
5. Get mad, but know what you’re getting mad at: It probably isn’t worth getting mad when your kid leaves their toys in the middle of the hallway, but the reality is that we get mad not at the toys but at being overwhelmed, exhausted, and not respected. Your kids aren’t purposely overwhelming you, though, and they’re not usually purposely disrespecting. Now, if your 7-year old thinks throwing a hot iron at the back of his sister’s head is a good idea, well, then, rage on, mama, rage on.
6. The choices about how you raise your child are yours, own them: I used to get self-conscious about using the cry-it-out method until I realized how well it worked for my boys. It might not work well for someone else’s kids, though. I used to feel guilty about sitting Connor in front of a movie and Ike in the middle of the play room while I did something without little eyes watching, little hands grabbing, or little voices hassling me. Now I know I’ve earned those minutes and the few extra I get thanks to YouTube. You’re not a bad parent for trying to maintain your sanity even if it is with the aide of smartphones, inorganic food, and non-developmentally aimed toys.
This list comes with no guarantees and is not all-encompassing. I hate when lists guarantee things and pretend to be all-encompassing. The only guarantee is that you are now a parent and that it is awesome at times and horrid at times and while love is a lot of it, work is the name of the game. Love is work, beautiful, glorious, exhausting work.