Friday, April 12, 2013

Kids Make You Do The Whacky

Kids are funny.  Let me amend that.  Kids are funny to people who have children or who work with children.  People who don't have kids seem to lack whatever hormone it is that makes mothers and fathers laugh at their children.  I am sure that that hormone has saved many a child (who might or might not have broken that 'thing' that was a rare family heirloom that was irreplaceable) from a spanking or two.  It is near impossible for me to keep a straight face when my child says something that strikes me as hilarious.  After all, I'm supposed to be the disciplinarian in this house. 

My husband is going to read that sentence and fall over laughing.  I hope that he doesn't hurt himself.
When I did not have children, I knew everything about children.  I had taken classes!  I had passed tests!  I even read books, REAL books, that were all about children. Dr. Spock?  Read him.  BF Skinner?  Read him, too.  They were all freakin' geniuses, and obviously they knew exactly what they were talking about, because they wrote a book about it that actually made money.  I would have devoured a Stephen King book on children, if he'd written one that wasn't fiction. (Although King has said that he modeled his child characters after what he saw his own children doing around the house.)

Then I started teaching...teenagers.  From the benefit of hindsight, no school district should ever hire any person under the age of 25 to teach a high school class.  I was 21, and I got asked for my hall pass a lot.  By students.  I had way too much in common with the students I was teaching for them to see me as any sort of authority figure.  But that was when the small voice in my head started whispering... 

"You don't know anything about children."

When my brother and his wife had their first baby, I was an expert.  I would talk to my sister-in-law nonstop about what to do with Tristan.  Most of my interactions with Tristan when he was young were brief, because they lived in another city, so I felt it necessary to impart as much wisdom as I could in the small amount of time I had.  I'm surprised that she didn't just punch me right in the face, and I'm sure that I would have deserved it.  Instead, she let me babysit when they moved to San Antonio.  Not only did she let me babysit Tristan, I also got the bonus child, Courtney.  I took along my future husband as a test.  He's the one who found Courtney jumping as hard as she could--on her parent's bed. Why?  Because she finally could!  Her parents weren't home, and the two noobs babysitting her and Tristan were putty in her manipulative little hands.  As Larry and I quickly exhausted our "educated" child skills, that small voice inside my head said, as plain as day...

"You don't know anything about children."

I argued with that little voice at first.  I've read books, I told it.  I've taken classes, I said.  I've been to trainings with known experts in behavior management.  I am a trained school psychologist, for goodness sakes!  My arguments became more and more feeble over the years, as that little voice grew stronger.  Finally, when I stared at my very tiny son in his little incubator in the NICU, I admitted defeat.

I do not know anything about children.

This admission was followed by sheer terror.  What the heck am I supposed to do?  I do not know ANYTHING about children!  What if he sleeps too much?  What if he sleeps too little?  Am I supposed to breastfeed him every hour?  Should I let him climb on that bookcase?  What does it mean if he is coughing a lot at night?  Is he supposed to be adding and subtracting in Pre-K?  What if I completely screw this sweet child up and ruin his life? 

And then there was another little voice...

"Mama, why are you talking to the wall?"


  1. My grandkids make me do wacky things, like going to the beach, when I hate sand. Going for a walk to the park when I feel like my feet are going to fall off.

  2. I stopped by to thank you for visiting and commenting on my post yesterday. And what got me about your post today: "the tiny son in NICU". My son spent some time there too, born 5 weeks premature with pneumonia in both lungs. But he's fine now - all grown up!
    Nice to "meet you"!


  3. I knew it all as well. Knew exactly what I would do, what I wouldn't do. Then I had kids. And although I'm SURE I was charged for it, the hospital did not send me home with a manual. So my motto became whatever works. And you know what?

    They are all still alive.

    (Except Tony... he's on thin ice tonight.)

  4. Know the feeling, I was handed my eldest son after he was born and I had never held a baby before ever!
    all parenting is an experiment, but I definitely wouldn't recommend Skinner to anyone expecting a human baby!!!
    good luck with the A to Z


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