In my last column, Don’t Put Peas In Your Nose, I handed out some insightful tidbits on child-rearing and we resume our discussion today with a slightly different slant.
Our topic today will focus on the challenges of parenthood. There are numerous situations that might arise in your long and arduous journey through the land mines of bringing up baby from birth until your kids are well into their fourth decade of life and that will be the center of our current dialogue.
My daddy gave me some sage advice right before I got married. He said, “Son, the first twenty five years are the toughest, after that it’s a breeze.” Well said and I think the same would hold true for raising our children if you add on another fifteen years or so to the total.
So on to the nitty gritty.
My first encounter with the problems of parenthood rushed up on me right out of the gate. We had a new baby girl and were getting ready to come home from the hospital in Augusta. I sprinted for the car (don’t forget where you parked it) to begin the journey back to Lincolnton when I was struck by a severe case of panic. I was going to have to drive that tiny, helpless little human being back through miles of traffic, idiot drivers and a rainstorm in order to get her home safely. Here was a guy who had coached in plenty of pressure packed football and basketball games with no apprehension at all, but the thought of being the sole person in charge of her safety was a memory that still sticks out in my mind. From that I gleaned one piece of sound advice for new dads. Before you head out on that first voyage home take a mild sedative to quiet the nerves. Not a bell-ringing dose but enough to smooth out the rough edges for the drive home. You can thank me later.
As the child progresses through that first year here are a few pearls of wisdom that might save the day.
1) Learn to fashion diapers out of anything made of cloth or paper. Trust me there will be times when you’ve run out of this key undergarment at the most inopportune times.
2) Develop different strategies for changing boys and girls diapers because they use different angles to pee on you.
3) Never, ever wake a sleeping child – even if they have been snoozing for fifteen hours and could possibly be in a coma.
4) Learn to eat fast.
Another thing young children are prone to do is throw up. You just have to remember that it is standard operating procedure for young parents to get puked on regularly. It logically follows that parents of young children should do their clothes shopping at cut-rate outlets rather than at Boss or Ralph Lauren shops. Either that or just wear your old coveralls at home all the time. I should add that shoes are included in this scenario. No need to buy Gucci’s when old tennis shoes or your hunting boots will be much more practical to the family budget.
Of course, there is also a phenomenon known as projectile vomiting. If your child has a bout with this malady don’t go off the deep end as I did and jump to the conclusion that the baby is possessed with a demon from the Exorcist movie. For heaven’s sake don’t call the priest because he’ll just laugh at you. The child has most likely just been given too much milk by an overzealous caretaker and needs to rid themselves of some of the excess.
One last thing for young dads. There are a couple of items in the baby’s equipment kit that look alike. One is a pacifier and the other is a nasal bulb syringe. Be sure that you don’t use them interchangeably and if you aren’t sure which is which, take care to rinse them off before you try to use them – and do not tell the baby’s mother that you weren’t sure which one to employ when the baby needed soothing.
OK. Now you have reached the stage of having two or more kids and they are getting a little older. Here’s a tip I found helpful. Any time you are traveling, always keep a pack of surgical masks in the glove compartment. They are useful to help get you through a long excursions because the smell coming out of the back seat is going to be horrific. As an addendum to that, it’s smart to buy cheap cars and use ultra-thick seat covers during this phase of your life. You can trade the car in after they graduate from high school.
I also had a few hard and fast rules for my parenting years. No swearing, no hitting, and no biting – and I told the kids that those same rules applied to them as well. Additionally you need to know that over time perspective changes. When your first child gets a nosebleed, it is cause for a trip to the emergency room. By the time your fourth child has arrived and has a bloody nose, you’ll tell him to go outside and quit messing up the carpet.
You learn as you go.
In summation, just remember that having children is like living in a fraternity house at college. Nobody sleeps, everything is broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.
That just about covers it.