I wish I would have written down all the grand declarations I made about parenting before my daughter was born. Looking back, my plan was to apparently raise some sort of freak baby who would never cry, scream or tantrum because of my superior parenting. Freak Baby would have absolutely zero interest in televisions, iPhones or anything breakable, and when it came time for her to date, she would only go out with father-approved men of upstanding character.
A couple hundred screaming fits and a broken iPhone screen later and I’ve changed my tune a bit. If I ever get my hands on one of those time machines of the DeLorean or hot tub variety, I’m traveling back in time to give that pre-parenting version of myself a stern, R. Lee Ermey-style talking to.
|That approach worked fine for Private Pyle, right?|
When my wife was pregnant, I can remember seeing parents let their kids play with their cell phone, iPad or whatever electronic device they had on hand. I remember thinking something along the lines of, “Wow, what lazy parenting. I will NEVER subdue my child with electronics.” Fifteen months later, if you gave me access to a taser, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t at least think about using it.
It’s comical how ignorant I was. I was like that guy who sits in front of his TV every Sunday telling Cam Newton to “THROW THE BALL TO STEVE SMITH” but doesn’t see that Steve Smith is 60 yards downfield in triple coverage. He doesn’t see it because that part of the game isn’t on his tiny television screen, and before my daughter arrived, there was a whoooooole lotta stuff that wasn’t on my television screen.
|In that guy's defense, triple coverage means nothing to Steve Smith.|
She will not watch television until she’s two. That lasted until the first football Sunday in September. Then she was right there with me telling Cam Newton to throw the ball to Steve Smith.
I will never give her an iPad or phone to play with. But if she reaches up, snatches it from my grasp and yells “MINE!”, I technically didn’t “give” it to her..
Tantrums are caused by a simple lack of communication. Well I don’t speak “BAH WAH ABBA DABBA WABABABA EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” so if she feels like Wal-Mart is the appropriate place to melt down because she ran out of Cheerios, me saying “Hey Susan, it’s ok,” doesn’t help. But an iPhone might.
All children develop at different rates, so I won’t freak out if mine doesn’t hit a milestone right on time. I refer you to The Worry Reflex.
I will never tether my child with a leash. While we haven't done this yet, like with the taser I'd be lying if I said I haven't at least thought about it.
In our defense, my wife and I have stuck to our guns on a lot of other things, like making every bite of our daughter’s baby food ourselves. We also don't let her watch TV, other than the occasional football game or Yo Gabba Gabba episode (whichever I feel like watching that day). She still hasn’t had a single chicken nugget, and now that she can eat whatever we eat, we never make an entirely different meal just for her. But I’m seasoned enough now to know our good fortune with her eating habits may not last, so I won’t begrudge any parents who sit down at a Mexican restaurant and order their kid a plate of french fries.
So if you’re a parent and I ever judged you for strolling your 3-year-old around Wal-Mart with a pacifier, I apologize. Who knows what you were dealing with that day. If you're on the other side of the fence and still expecting, just know that your best-laid plans will be easily thwarted by that soon-to-be kicking, screaming and sometimes not-sleeping-when-she-is-clearly-supposed-to-be baby who you still haven't officially met. So hold off on armchair quarterbacking those who are doing it differently than you.
I'm not saying you shouldn't stick to the things you're committed to (I hope you will), but don't feel bad if you have to compromise something here and there. Most often, parenting is about coming up with solutions to unforeseen problems, not coming up with plans and hoping they go off without a hitch.