10 Important Things Every Parent Can't Help But Learn From Their Kids
There are those who would have you believe that the moment a person becomes a parent, they are imbued with mystical knowledge the likes of which child-free mortals cannot comprehend. I tell you, here and now, that that is complete and utter crap. When it was time to go home from the hospital after my son was born, I turned to my husband and said, "So they're... they're just going to let us walk out of here with him? Have they checked either of our credentials? I haven't babysat in, like, 10 years and they trust me with a human baby?" But they let us go and, somehow, we managed. We learned things and, while half the time I still wonder where the proper adults are, we get by. Sometimes we get downright good at adulting, and a lot of that is owed to our kids.
From practical lessons to Big Important Life Lessons, kids inspire ingenuity and epiphany. While there are no true universals in the parenting world. Seriously, go look at any parenting message board community: Everything, ultimately, turns into a debate. Doesn't matter how trivial it is, a bloodbath ensues. But there are some things it seems all children teach their parents.
Just How Little Sleep You Can Run On
The first three days of my son's life, he nursed every 20 minutes. During the first three months of his life, he woke up every 1-2 hours to eat. This sounds hellish enough in and of itself (my poor, poor nipples), but when you consider that that means I only slept in 20 minute increments for three days, it becomes torture straight out of Dante's Inferno. While this is an extreme example, lack of sleep is basically a universal theme among parents. Unless you have an unusual and awful sleep disorder or have trained as a Navy SEAL, you probably aren't familiar with what it's like to go through days, weeks, or months on a few measly hours of broken sleep until your children teach you it's technically possible (assuming you stay sane and alive for that long).
You Can Eat Anything Off the Floor and It's All Good
Let me do an re-enactment of the first year of my kid's life:
6 months old:
*rush immediately upon seeing his hand go near his mouth*
"Oh sweetie! Don't eat that Cheerio off the floor! Blagh! Yucky, yucky!"
8 months old:
*hustle over upon seeing his hand go near his mouth*
"Don't eat that off the floor, buddy."
10 months old:
"Sweetie, don't eat the floor Cheerio."
12 months old:
"What did you just put in your mouth? A floor Cheerio? Okay. Gross, but okay."
"You want a snack? Eat your floor Cheerios first. Waste not, want not, kiddo."
Rainboots + Tutu + Superman Shirt + Cape + Bow + Pirate Sword = Best Outfit Ever
Fashion Police be damned. Little kids know what's up.
Your Food No Longer Belongs To You
Without saying as much, my children have taught me that no matter what we're eating, whatever I have is far more delicious than what they have and they must take it from me. Even if we're eating the exact same thing. Even if they've already declared that they're full and I just sat down to eat something. They have to have it. I mean, you COULD say no, but that's a laughably foolish option when you know the meltdown that awaits you. I'll choose going hungry over dealing with that nightmare.
The Magic of Holidays
I'm very conscious of making sure people know that I believe there is no right or wrong decision about having children. I can't stand it when someone becomes a parent and then tries to recruit everyone they know into motherhood. But one thing I have to admit is 100,000,000x better with children? Holidays. Imagine reliving the most magical holiday from your own childhood, and then add to that the knowledge that you have helped create that same sense of wonder for someone you love more than anyone else in the whole world. Ugh, it's so good. IT IS SO GOOD. Having a kid is like someone scraping decades of boredom and dull cynicism off of holidays until they're as shiny and new as they were when you were little. My kids might steal all the Christmas cookies, but they also taught me how fantastic holidays can be, and I can't pretend it's not way cooler.
What Words and Phrases You Say All The Time
Because you will hear them repeated back to you. You might think you have a wide, diverse vocabulary, but it turns out that you're actually just a lame moron who says the same few things over and over again, a fact you never realized until you started hearing your kid say those things too. Here are mine:
- "It's okay. No big deal."
- "That sounds like a great plan."
- "That's unacceptable!"
- "You okay, bud?"
Creative Ways to Swear
Left unchecked, my vocabulary would make a sailor blush, but my husband and I both make a concerted effort not to curse in front of our little ones. As such, our children have indirectly taught us some amazing alternatives to swearing. "Silly" has replaced the f-word. "Jingles" and "my goodness" come out when we are particularly upset.This makes us sound like Flanders, and is particularly embarrassing when we do it away from our children out of force of habit.
How To Do Everything One-Handed
This is just straight-up necessity. Both of my kids at least went through phases where you could not put them down...ever. (And let me tell you: even light babies get heavy after a while.) But the good news: I can now cook dinner, get dressed, put in contacts, and apply a full face of make-up using only one hand. I consider this an important life skill.
How To Assess A Room For Safety In 5 Seconds
If I go to a home occupied by people who are unaccustomed to young children and the host says, "Oh, don't worry, there's nothing here she can get into," I feel like a jerk when I laugh... but I always laugh. Look, there's no reason you would need to think of all of the things a kid can get into, but that's basically how I spent 3/4 of my life now. There's always something they can get into, even in the most baby-proofed of houses. Fortunately, you learn pretty quickly how to do a thorough visual sweep of a room in a few seconds and make the necessary mental notes or tweaks.
A Clearer Image of Your Best and Worst Qualities
I feel like at some point in everyone's life, whether you go on to have kids or not, your mother throws out these words: "I hope someday you have a child just like you." If you have children, some part of this curse will come true. For example: My toddler is very bright, but gets extremely frustrated and emotional if he doesn't grasp a new concept immediately. And I—how do you say—know them feels. Parenting your kids through these shared challenges gives you the opportunity to reflect on how the issue might continue to affect your life and, by helping or managing your child, you find coping mechanisms for yourself as well. It's also not just the bad qualities you see reflected back: You can recognize your good qualities as well. Sometimes they're qualities you don't see as positive or unique in yourself, but when you see it in your child, it gives you new perspective.
Images: Cavale Doom/Flickr; Giphy(9)