Before you have kids it’s easy to pass judgement on the parenting of those who do. Although I did learn a few things about what I did and didn’t want to do as a parent by observing my friends-and-relations, you’re just never fully prepared for those odd off moments during the daily grind of parenting when you say or do things that you thought (or swore) you never would. Here’s a random list of mine own.
I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SAY:
- Come here for a second, I want to smell your butt. Most parents have done the old sniff test with their diaper-clad kids, but before we had ours I would watch parents pick up their young children and put their noses to their bottoms with something akin to horror. And while yes, I did it, I never understood those parents who would dive in there like they were in a pie-eating contest. Olfactory caca detection requires circumspection and care – if there’s a whopper in there you don’t want to part the Brown Sea with the tip of your nose.
- Please don’t wipe your boogers on the car window. The smeary, bleary blobs of nose-wax that covered the car window next to our youngest child’s car seat attested to the fact that he found that spot the most convenient for disposing of the gunk he would unearth from the depths of his nostrils. While he no longer finger-paints with mucus on the window he still mines his nose, so I’m not sure where he’s putting his nasal treasures. I’m sure I’ll find out eventually.
- Please don’t lick your brother. This one has a number of variations, ‘your brother’ being substituted with ‘the chair,’ ‘the dog,’ ‘that snail,’ just about anything, really. Sharks use their mouths to explore their world since they don’t have hands, much less opposable thumbs, but we humans have a whole battery of sensory tools at our disposal that obviate the necessity of licking stuff.
- No more broccoli until you eat some of your hamburger. Early on we struggled to get our oldest son to touch meat, but he’d down raw vegetables like there was no tomorrow. Kids need protein, right? So eat your burger!
- Not tonight Honey, I’m too tired. Turning down sex? The thought had never crossed by mind until I’d spent the day wiping stomach-curdled breast milk off my shirt, changing diapers while I dry-heaved into the toilet, doing 300 circuits of the block in a failed bid to get the baby to sleep in the stroller, and attempting to cook dinner with another person strapped to my chest.
- Uhmmm, humans mate just like other animals. You know what I mean? I’d always pictured sitting down with my kids and having a frank and open discussion about human sexuality – round about the age of 12. But, as I wrote in a post about getting busted in bed by your kids, when my 3 year-old sprung the question on me I was completely unprepared and wimped out pathetically. I’ll try to be better-rehearsed the next time around.
- Shut the fucking window! We were fishing on a lake in Ireland when a downpour erupted. My son runs to the car and gets in, but the window is open. I’m struggling to get the hook out of the throat of a gorgeous little brown trout without injuring it, getting drenched in the process, and he’s yelling from the car, “I’m getting wet!” “Shut the window!” “I’m getting wet!” “Shut the window!” “But I’m getting wet!” “SHUT THE FUCKING WINDOW!” I do my best not to drop f-bombs around the kids, but sometimes, well, they just seem to detonate of their own accord. Apologies.
- Don’t you dare throw up in the car! Which was generally followed by, “Are you gonna get sick? Do you need me to pull over? No? You’re okay? All right, if you need to…OH, COME ON!” Ordering your kids not to puke is like willing a volcano not to erupt.
I NEVER THOUGHT I’D:
- Eat food that had fallen out of my kid’s mouth. You’ve been there. You wipe the food from the corner of your child’s mouth and, not finding any place to put it, find it more expedient just to eat that half-masticated goo.
- Carry around bags of frozen breast milk. When my wife’s nipples were unavailable for duty, I’d have to carry breast milk around for feedings, get cups of hot water at cafes or restaurants, thaw the milk, bottle it, and feed the baby. It got stares. Lots of stares. I was tempted to cut a hole in the breast of one of my old shirts, protrude the bottle’s nipple from it, and let him nurse away. Never worked up the courage, though.
- Loan the baby out to single friends. One day when a friend and I were walking down one of Budapest’s most popular pedestrian streets, he noted all of the young women who swooned at the sight of a darling young boy in a Baby Bjorn. “So you think I could, ah, you know, uhm, borrow him some day?” Hey, if it gave me an hour’s break, borrow away my good man. Win-win situation for everyone.
- Struggle with my 2nd grader’s homework. Hey, sometimes those instructions are pretty unclear, and I just have to tell him, “Yeah, you know what? I have no idea what they want you to do there. Ask your teacher tomorrow. But…ah…don’t say that you asked me for help, okay?”
- Sit around with a group of parents talking about breastfeeding. Or diaper rash. Or potty training. One evening we had dinner with several friends with families, and one single woman. After a good ten minutes of detailed gastrointestinal discussion, while we were eating, I had to apologize to the only non-parent, who looked decidedly uncomfortable. “Do parents always talk about this stuff at the dinner table?” she asked. “No,” I assured her, “sometimes we talk about vomiting as well.”