So, you find yourself in a situation where you have a new baby and no experience at parenthood? You haven’t even read the Dr. Spock books or anything? And maybe, it’s not even your kid, or not even a little baby…maybe someone dropped a 4 year old off on your front lawn last night, and you took all night to decide that, yeah, she’s cute…you’ll keep her. Maybe you just married a cute young babe, and when you returned from your honeymoon, cute young babe’s mother drops a screaming 18 month old at your new pad. Kid? You’ve got a kid? WTF?? However it happened, here you are, thrust into parenthood and no experience to draw upon. Don’t worry, Dear Reader, I’m here to help. I’ve not only been raising kids (a whole slew of ’em) for the past 17 years, but I’ve also had numerous friends doing the same thing. I have immersed myself in every parenting magazine, e-article, and child-rearing tv shows (ever heard of Super Nanny?) available to me. I’ll outline the most important points based on your newfound kid’s age level to guide you. If you find that it works for you, kudos. If you find that it doesn’t, then you are doing it wrong. Read it again and start over.
No. 1: Don’t swing them around or they WILL throw up on you. Actually, they are going to throw up on you anyway, so go ahead and swing them around if you like.
No. 2: Keep an ice bucket next to your bed with at least 4 prepared bottles in it. People will try to make you believe that you have to warm their formula a little before you feed them. That’s a bunch of BS. All four of my babies drank cold milk, and they LIKED IT. I would just sort of wake up, grab an ice cold one from the side of the bed, and stick it in their mouths. Easy.
No. 3: Take naps during the day to fight the fatigue of waking every 3 hours to stick an ice cold bottle in your baby’s mouth. Wherever you can. Red lights count.
No. 4: Purchase every available wash cloth and towel available at Wal-Mart each time you go. When you clean up a mess that makes you gag, just throw away the towel or wash cloth you had to use.
Crawlers & Toddlers:
No. 1: Keep all small objects out of reach of the baby who is crawling. If there is a cord on the floor, pick it up. They gravitate to these things and will pull any and everything down on their heads.
No. 2: Bumps on the baby’s head are a big deal. Get ready for the questioning. (What HAPPENED?) Try not to take it personally. Things happen.
No. 3: Don’t worry if your kid doesn’t want to eat. Don’t force it. When he is hungry, he will eat. He will not starve to death, I assure you. When in doubt, give him cold milk. It’s his “old standby” by this time.
No. 4: The only rule that your toddler will live by is: If I’m holding it, it’s mine. If you are holding it, it’s mine. Think like the toddler. BE the toddler.
Preschool / Kindergarten:
No. 1: No, your child ISN’T the worst kid his teacher has every encountered before, despite all of the ugly notes you have by now received. Don’t sweat it.
No. 2: Enforce a strict ban of all markers, colors, finger paints, play doh, glue, glitter, and sprinkles. Especially if you own furniture. Or your house has walls.
No. 3: If you live near a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, NEVER EVER take your child there. This only applies to people who must pass this restaurant every time they leave their home. You should be aware that you will experience a tantrum on every outgoing and incoming trip if they associate that big rat face with the fun that awaits them inside. I lie and tell my children that, “Oh, no, baby, Chuck E. Cheese is closed on (insert current day of the week here).” They still buy it. Every time. And even if they don’t, and you give in…worse things could happen. They sell beer there.
No. 1: Keep plenty of sharpened pencils, paper, posterboards, scissors, and glue sticks around for dumb homework assignments that you only learn about at the last minute. If you have both a grade schooler AND a pre-k / Kindergartener in your house, keep all of these supplies in the trunk of your car. Who says your kid can’t do his homework on the front lawn?
No. 2: Buy the CHEAPEST clothing you can get your hands on. It will only fit your child for approximately three days.
Junior High kids:
No. 1: If this child was just given to you at this age, (now this is very important, so pay attention)…Give. It. Back.
No. 2: If you’ve already become attached to this kid, and you have to keep it, then just lock it in a closet until it’s 16. If it’s a girl, keep her in there until she’s 18.
No. 3: If she escapes, then just try hard to ignore her mood swings and newly found skill of slamming doors. At this point, you should pull out all the old cute pictures from her toddlerhood, to help you focus all your energy on not killing her.
High school kids:
No. 1: As soon as it is legal, make this kid get a job. Your car insurance just went up $200 per month. I’m not even kidding.
No. 2: Don’t allow your high school boy to date. Especially if he was born with both testicles. Likewise, don’t allow your high school girl to date, under any circumstances. In fact, just lie and tell your children you are Amish. Tell them if they find another Amish kid they can date them. Whoever tells you that you shouldn’t lie to your children is crazy. Don’t trust them. Lying is a highly recognized (and under utilized) parenting tool. It’s more important now than EVER that you be good at lying to them, because they are getting smarter now. Just do whatever you have to get them through school age years unscathed.
I hope this helps.