There are many things I did not know about having children – not details, anyway. Just the generic “kids will change your life.” So, I have created a personal list – a list that may be obvious to you who raised siblings, babysat or hung out at children’s museums. Which, obviously, I did not do. Also, I am not in the medical profession.
1. Kids are immature. You can’t fight with them the way you battle an adult. When it comes to mind games, they will win. And I argue for a living. Prior to having children, you learn you have to win at all costs, but assumes (1) you know how to win, (2) you should never give up – ever, and (3) you have a good chance of winning. Not so here.
2. Kids like repetition. The same games, the same movies, the same books, the same page on the same books. Asking the same questions (why??) in the same way ten times in a row. Moral? Avoid exposing them to anything you do not want to read, sing, or watch approximately 1,050 more times. I made the mistake of picking up a full fledged hardback version of Peter Pan at an estate sale, and not only is it a scary book, but it has extended our nighttime routine. Every night. For the last year. P.S. You will think you can simply start skipping words – or even sentences – but your child will start correcting you. Again, children like repetition and routine.
3. Childhood is freakishly scary. Remember how Captain Hook loses his hand? That cute movie, Brave, with the adorable red headed little girl? There will be extreme violence for the first 45 minutes. Even if you are good at screening what they watch at home, your child will go to pre-school or day care and come home talking about monsters. Seeing the gritty, sometimes gruesome world through their fresh eyes reminds you how hard you have become are as an adult.
4. There will be a lot of sneaking around. This includes wearing socks to deaden your descent down the stairs in the morning, hiding things like toys or just about anything you value (even your own makeup), putting locks on doors. You will feel like a high school sweetheart again – trying to date the guy that your parents aren’t so sure about. If you want to have an adult conversation, you have to wait until you can whisper to each other in bed.
5. Kids are physical. You will wonder why no one talks about abuse (of the parents) when you are repeatedly, kicked, slapped, elbowed (those sharp little elbows are deadly), head butted, poked in the eyeball, stepped on, spit at, and bit. That is not to mention the physicality of herding them, carrying them, lifting them, packing and hauling suitcases of their stuff around every day, folding/unfolding strollers, lifting in to cars, strapping and unstrapping seatbelts, unscrewing battery compartments, cleaning up spills, snot, bottoms, sheets, floors, rugs, couches, so forth and so on. I don’t care if you have dedicated your life to your physical being, there will be a significant period of time when you are flabbergasted at the thought of going to the gym to get in a good workout. You will, however, be very motivated to the gym just to get in some alone time.
6. There may not be any crying in baseball, but there is a lot of crying in childhood. Loud and sudden siren wails. Every day and sometimes every other minute. You may become a blubberer yourself. I remember my childhood friend teasing her mom that a Kleenex commercial could set her off. Now I understand.
7. You will almost never be alone in your house again. When you are, it will seem like the miracle that it is. And even if are performing heavy cleaning while you are (alone) in your own house, you will cherish every moment.
8. You will spend a lot of time talking about, thinking about, and watching your child poop. And worst of all, you will secretly enjoy these moments. Sometimes, you will laugh and brag openly about them. Yes, you will.
9. Kids are indescribably, unpredictably, and sometimes unintentionally gross. As in “they like to lick the snot under their nose and eat it” gross. Know how you will know when the last baby will remain the last? When you have had it with with the daily gush of bodily fluids and the (sometimes) quirky, seemingly other-world diseases. Like hand, foot, and mouth. And Impetigo.
10. Despite all of this, people really like kids. You could post that you just received the vice presidential nomination on Facebook and you will get 1/10th of the likes than if you post a baby being held by a sibling. You can go to China (especially in China), violate every cultural norm and tradition, and as long as you whip out a photo of your baby, you will have a ball. Your distant friends and relatives will like your child (they have never met) more than you.
The most surprising thing of all is that you will be surprised. Every day. And that is my favorite part.