Those darling first-time parents! (Part I)

I’ve found that now that I have two kids, I see the people with a first baby the same way I thought of fifth-graders when I was in high school. Hell, let’s say they’re in kindergarten and I’m finishing up a master’s degree.

“Oh, you have a baby? That’s nice. Oh, that makes you a parent? Ah, ha ha. I guess it does, technically, yes, yes.

“Oh, you want to hang out because we have kids, too? Sure, well, call me us in a few years when you have an actual kid. We don’t have time to train you right now … but oh, you are so cute. No, not the baby …”

They really are darling, with their wraps and their spotless strollers and their earnestness about natural, organic clothing and wipe warmers. And their lack of knowledge of “Phineas and Ferb,” and even “Caillou,” that whiny, bald, seemingly sweet scourge of the Great White North. Not that they will ever turn on a TV in their tiny sun king’s presence.

And there are so many levels they must play to get to where the average burned-out parent of two is:

  • Learning to pick locks: This may not be a need in the more prepared and childproofed households, but one essential skill that I now cherish is my hard won ability to jimmy a doorknob lock to a bathroom – one that occasionally includes a cackling and/or weeping child — and to extricate them fast, before they succeed in their mission to empty all the soap into the running faucet. This has in fact become a favorite duty of mine, as I find a new use for old membership cards and get to feel like a badass from a ’70s cop show.
  • Making a decision on what to do when your children are “shooting” other drivers: Yes, I was once a “no play weapons – ever!” parent, too. Uh-huh. We pretty much all were. Even the parents who now promote the use of toy submachine guns. Then the boys turned 4 or so. Talk to us when you get to the other side of 3. As far as shooting at other motorists with fingers goes, I now decide to allow it, but only if the victims are very bad drivers. (Hey, the boys need to get a sense of fairness somewhere.)
  • Making difficult shopping decisions. For instance, more advanced parenting does not call for such agonizing choices as whether to drop a grand on a Bugaboo stroller or dare be seen with the utilitarian, reasonably priced Graco. No, the big choices now come down to whether it’s smarter financial planning to buy the more expensive washable crayons, and wipe them off your walls with water, or to buy the cheapest ones you possibly can and invest in many, many, many Magic Erasers. Honestly, I think this is a serious area for future research, since we do need crayons weekly. The Two Boys may or may not be eating them, or hoarding them for a giant … ball of wax? Beehive full of human drones? (Who’s to say? They have seen a lot of “Phineas and Ferb” lately.)

But what is the Magic Eraser, you ask? Ah, another newbie. To be continued …—Jillian O’Connor

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