There is some stuff I wish people would have told me before we became parents. Not that “it will change your life” nonsense because, you would have to be mentally challenged if you don’t realize that. Also, then it might not be the best idea for you to have children and perhaps you should first start with a small pet or a house plant. The things I wish I were told before becoming a father is not unlike that T&C’s and/or fine prints you find in contracts. Or the leaflets you find accompanying your medication. We all know that we really should read them but, very few of us do. So in case any of my readers are planning on or are becoming parents here are a few things you need to know and/or consider.
Children are a lot of work and you will never have any free time again. Like. In. Forever. Children require your full attention and when you don’t give it to them you can expect the apocalypse to happen. Our son’s favorite thing to do right before he throws a tantrum is to pull his dummy out of his mouth hurling it at me or anywhere that will have the most dramatic effect, followed by a quivering lip promptly followed by inhaling a deep breath right before crying and/or screaming. This normally happens if I take too long to tend to his needs or don’t pick him up even though my hands are full. But giving them your full attention is not just about attending to their wants and needs, it is also crucial in keeping these little beasties alive.
Whenever your house gets really quiet you should know baby/toddler is up to something. I have found that if I turn my back on our son, even for one second, or leave the room to go fetch something that it is enough time for him to not only be a danger to himself but also to everyone else. He has almost electrocuted himself, have a dining room chair fall on him, the cat’s have been molested by him and he is known to love playing with his own vomit or pulling things off coffee tables, chairs and couches. Also, playpens (or like I call them “baby jails”) only work up to a point; the point being when your child learns that the playpen is not nailed to the floor and that it can be picked up and manually moved. Never underestimate the resourcefulness of a baby/toddler. They are master escape artists and strategic thinkers. They are smarter than you think and they know our weaknesses.
Children will also ruin your sex life. When you have a child, gone are those days of spontaneity and now you will have to plan shit. Normally the best time to have sex would be when baby is sleeping or napping. So you have to work around their routine. However, babies have a sixth sense for things like this and don’t be surprised when baby cries in the nursery while you are midsession in the bedroom. Then you have to drop everything, compose yourself only to find out the big issue interrupting your coitus is his dummy being five inches away from your son and he is too lazy to reach for it himself. Then the mood is spoiled and sexy time is over. Also, when you come home from work and after having fed, bathed and put baby to bed you don’t feel sexy. Mostly you are just too tired. But sex is not the only thing your precious bundle of joy will ruin, there is more.
Your house will never be clean ever again. Trying to clean up after your child is a futile exercise. And if you suffer from OCD, like I do, it is the cruelest and also the best exposure therapy there is. Our house used to be super clean but now it no longer is. Just this past weekend we had our son’s baptism at home. The house was semi clean; you know the kind of clean so that people don’t judge you but the kind of dirty that make you feel ashamed of yourself. But after the baptism our house was the kind of dirty that freaked my OCD the fuck out. However, I did nothing about it. I knew our housekeeper was coming on Monday and I stopped caring if she judged me or what she thought of us four months ago already. Children can be freeing like that.
Your child will also ,at some point, embarrass you in public. Just a few weeks ago I was filling a script at our pharmacy. Just as I reached the counter to pay and opened my wallet our son decided to vomit all over it and the counter. Having been used to vomit by then I thought nothing of it, so I grabbed a couple of tissues and wiped off my wallet and very moist credit card. With the card having had small pieces of chicken and carrot on it with saliva. I handed the card to the cashier and cleaned the counter. I did not look up or made eye contact at all, rather opting to pretend that this was perfectly normal. Obviously, the cashier took my card and swiped it with great trepidation and disgust. But hey, what else was I suppose to do? Was I expected to do an “I am sorry dance” and say three Hail Mary’s?
Babies and toddlers are nudists at heart and they have no shame. Our son hates clothes and is at his happiest when he is naked. This is why he loves bath time and being lathered up with lotion after but, as soon as he realizes that all that was actually building up to getting dressed then the production of “Clothes are from the Devil” starts. He will cry and try and make it impossible to dress him. Putting clothes on our son is like trying to dress an angry octopus with one hand while being blind folded. I am also sure it burns a couple of thousand kilojoules which I don’t mind, I do want to lose some more weight. And this leads me to my next point – distracting your child with illusions and trickery.
I have found the best way to get my son dressed or to change his nappy without fighting with an octopus is by distracting him with a toy. It occupies him and lets me do what needs to get done. Also, sometimes he would want to put things in his mouth off the floor that is just nasty and that is where magic comes in. The item will then mysteriously disappear and as if by magic be replaced with something more appropriate. All our remote controls also, according to him, magically disappear when he wants to play with them. But in reality they are merely hidden behind the scatter cushions on our couch. Fortunately, the bargaining and negotiating skills that we will soon need are still some time away.
Being a parent is hard work and people don’t tell you the exact details of this until after you have a child. Perhaps this is why we as a species are not extinct yet. As a parent you need some exceptional skills to be successful, you have to be a magician, a liar, hostage negotiator, psychic and have nerves of steel. You must also have eyes in the back of your head and supersonic hearing. That being said, I have learned so much about myself since becoming a father. I have also learned that the one thing that is true about parenthood is that it is the most rewarding experience I have ever had in my life. I will not exchange this experience for anything.
Till next time.