Saturday, August 2, 2008

Things I Have Discovered Since Becoming a Parent

1. Everything should have a drive-thru. OK, maybe not everything, but I think the world would be a more manageable place if there were more drive-thru coffee stands, dry cleaners, and video stores. Two areas I find to be sorely lacking are post offices and grocery stores. Wouldn't a drive-thru post office be awesome? I fantasize about this every time I need to buy stamps or drop off a large package. It's a real pain in the rear to have to tote my kid inside just to walk up to the counter and hand over my package. It takes longer to get him out of the car than it does to complete my errand. A drive-thru market would be so awesome too. It wouldn't have to sell everything, just the basics. Bread, milk, eggs, cheese, lettuce, bananas, apples, orange juice, mints, gum, soda, ice cream. That's about it. I'll bet this would be monstrously popular. Seriously, if Arizona can have drive-thru liquor and ammo shops (no joke, and yes, they sell both items at the same place), and Louisiana can have drive-thru daiquiri stands.... I don't think a drive-thru market is asking too much.

2. Your kids don't care what the label on their shirt says. I love to shop, and now that I have kids, 98.2% of all my shopping relates to them. Much of what I buy is unrelated to brand, but more focused on a precise mix of price divided by cuteness. Believe me, I love it when I can find something at Baby Gap or Gymboree at what I consider to be a 'good' price ($10 or less, depends on what it is). But that's really for me. Big Sis could care less where her clothes come from. As long as there is pink involved, we're all good. It scares me to recall the junior high and high school days of yore when it was critical to wear Guess? jeans with the zipper at the ankle, or have the latest Esprit outfit. I sweat a little when I think about the level of 'I Want' that is going to invade our house in the next 10 years. Being rather shallow myself, I can totally relate to the impulse of NEEDING the latest phone/ handbag/ sneakers/ jeans in order to be cool. Hopefully Big Daddy will be able to temper some of that. He's never cared about what he wears, as long as it's comfortable. (Will I ever be able to break him of his affection for Wrangler jeans??)

3. Cartoons rock, even if they are 65 years old. When we were in Nevada last January, Grandma & Grandpa bought a DVD set of old cartoons for Big Sis. Not Scooby-Doo or Tom & Jerry, oh no, we're talking Betty Boop, Three Stooges, Popeye and Felix the Cat. And she LOVES them! Almost daily, she will ask to watch her Betty Boop. No, they are not PC (they are racist, sexist, and a bunch of other 'ists' that are too big for my vocabulary), but they are also rather simple and innocent. Better than a lot of the violent or disrespectful shows on Disney (she's not allowed to watch The Suite Life - those boys are very sassy!).

4. Sometimes Mama needs a time-out. Big Sis is at the stage where she asks 5,000 questions a day. Sometimes that needs to be doubled to encompass the number of sentences beginning with 'How come...' which issue from her mouth. Usually I can muddle through them, but she also manages to stump me many times a day. I don't want to lie to her, but I often catch myself thinking "Oh man, how do I explain to her why cheese is orange?" We've begun implementing 5 Minutes of Zip It. This is much more for me than for her, as it allows me to relax and think through her line of questioning. After the 5 minutes, I can usually keep going with questions, but I also give her a warning on when the last question will occur - which coincides with 5 Minutes of Zip It, Round II.

5. Sometimes the parenting books are right, but often it's just hot air. There's a lot of advice out there, especially for parents. Books about sleeping, eating, discipline, raising boys, raising girls, money, childcare, vaccines, intelligence, .... etc. First of all, I wish that someone would write a synopsis of each book by category, giving just the topline "solutions" that each has to offer. I mean, if you're in the middle of any of the above, you probably don't have more than 15 free minutes to 'read' (skim) through one of these lengthy tomes. Next, there's nothing wrong with trying advice, but if it fails, it's not your -or your child's- fault. Not every kid falls into the boxes these 'experts' create. It may be rough going right now, but you don't often see teens who suck their thumbs, or 12 year-olds who sleep with their parents, or even 8 year-olds who still wear diapers. Don't be so hard on yourself - things eventually figure themselves out. Even if your boy is still sleeping with you so that the entire household can catch more than 15 minutes of zzz's at a time.

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