I will have been a parent for 2 years as of this Friday (Happy Birthday McKenna!) In that time I have learned a lot. I have hardly scratched the surface, but that’s parenting: you always learn.
So here is my top ten lessons I have learned from parenting so far, some funny, some scary, all true:
1) POOP HAPPENS – Dads, get comfy with poop. The smell, the texture, the explosiveness (can I get a witness?). At least for the first few years of their life, before the first foray into McDonald’s land, you feed them all the stuff that’s good for them. They start breastfeeding or using formula, then they eat the baby foods (Organic, of course, right?), drink some form of milk, water occasionally, and this kind of diet will keep them very regular. If you ever wondered how your kid can poop such an insane amount and you can’t, I suggest you try their diet for a week and see what happens (maybe grab some depends?) When they do “drop the bomb” get ready to be a man, grab some wipes, a diaper, and answer the call of duty.
2) IT’S NOT YOUR NEW iPHONE – It’s their new favorite toy. Seriously, my kid can work that thing better than I can. Ever wonder if you can permanently delete a photo from Instagram? Ask my wife, for a toddler, this is totally possible. You want to play games on your phone? Better hope it’s not something your kid enjoys because they will be all over that thing once they’ve played it once. And a lock screen? Psh, not unless you want to have to type in the code every five seconds when they hit the screen lock button accidentally. But this is ok! I’ve never laughed harder then when I go to my camera roll and find the pictures my daughter has taken of herself when I wasn’t looking. Priceless.
3) YOU ARE YOUR KIDS WORLD – I have often thought that my daughter wanted me to do things with her. The truth is that she wants to do everything with me and her mom. This is never more evident than when one of us has to go to the bathroom and she follows us in there to tell us that we are “pee-pee.” She just loves us and we are her best friends right now. I never want to take that for granted, because soon it won’t be that way. If I make time for her now, she will know she can come to me anytime, even when she’s older.
4) DON’T LOOK UP SYMPTOMS ONLINE – Unless you want your kid to be diagnosed with cancer, auto-immune diseases, or other “make a parent’s heart stop” illnesses. No offense to WebMD or services like that, but nothing replaces a visit to the doctor. Most of the time when we looked up symptoms online it made us worry for no reason. We ended up going to the doctor anyway, and we ended up feeling silly for thinking our daughter could have Hong Kong Fever when she’s never even left the US (this is an exaggeration, I promise).
5) NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE CLEANING POWER OF A BABY WIPE – Baby wipes can clean anything. Pee on the rug? Baby wipe. Poop on your jeans? Baby wipe. Grape juice stain on a white shirt? Baby wipe. Ok, the last may not work. I haven’t tried. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t work. Baby wipes are the BEST cleaning tool I have in my house. One thing to remember though: they don’t flush.
6) YOUR KID IS SUPER FLEXIBLE AND FAST – Like a ninja. Or a monkey. No, a monkey ninja. My child can be up the stairs in 5 seconds flat, laughing and jumping on an 8 inch wide wooden step, oblivious to how she’s freaking me out. She can also turn any piece of furniture into a trampoline, climb the high chairs to the table like a pro, oh and did I mention that she could get out of her crib if she just learns how to swing her legs over the rail? Yea, she’s a ninja. But she can’t outrun me yet, and I will happily chase her around our house or backyard until I can’t anymore. Once she can get away from me, I’ll be running after her for the rest of my life.
7) YOUR CHILD IS WAY BETTER THAN A PET PARROT – Nothing makes me laugh as hard (or, in some instances, makes me feel any worse) as when McKenna tries to repeat everything I say. My favorite in the “funny but wrong” category right now? When she tries to say “sheet”. I’ll let you figure that one out. My absolute favorite though? When she tries to sing with us. She never gets the words right, but she sings because she loves to and I hope she never loses that desire.
8) BE PRESENT – This is one should be obvious, but it still catches me off guard all the time. I will catch myself checking Facebook, Twitter, or my e-mail while I’m watching a movie with her. That’s so wrong. She is perfectly content just sitting and being with me. Sure she’ll get up and play with a toy sometimes, but if I model how to be present in the moment to her now, then maybe I won’t have to fight as hard to get her attention over an iPhone later.
9) IT’S OK TO BE PROTECTIVE – I never thought I could dislike a cute little baby, but when that baby hurts my little girl, he or she better watch out. Am I wrong? I don’t care. I always want my daughter to know that if someone is hurting her I will be ready to kill if need be. She is my gift from God, my responsibility, and that means that I will protect her with everything that I’ve got. The other side of being protective, though, is knowing when to let your kid fight on their own for a bit. This means maybe letting them cry themselves to sleep when they haven’t let you put them to sleep for a week. This means letting them get up from a fall on their own instead of running to them so they know you’re still their, but that their not incapable of dealing with a fall. I’m always right there for my daughter, but so is Jesus, and I want her to trust Him more and me less.
10) IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PRAY FOR AND WITH YOUR CHILDREN – I pray for McKenna every day. That she will discover and put her faith in Jesus. That she will marry a real man, and not some jerk who will break her heart. That she will choose to pursue Jesus instead of culture. That she will ultimately strive to know the depth, height, length, and width of God’s love for her. And it doesn’t stop there, it includes teaching them to pray, too. McKenna definitely misses most of the reason behind why we pray to “Jessie” every night, but she sure understands that this is a normal thing. How beautiful is it that my two year old knows that talking to Jesus is normal? It’s not a rule we follow, but a privilege we exercise. Hearing her little voice tell him “thank you” and “i love you” reminds me that eventually she will understand who she is talking to, and it’s my job to make sure that those words don’t lose their meaning.
So that’s it. What would you add to this list parents?