Monday, November 8, 2010
8 Things I have Learned While Raising 8 Kids
Many of you may not know, but I am the father of 8 children. Some of you just had a conniption thinking of how much damage this idiot's kids will wreak on society. The rest of you have met my children and know that they are very little like me and are, for the most part, charming and sophisticated and very well adjusted and behaved. I thought I would share, from my heart, some of the valuable lessons I have learned in the adventure of fatherhood.
No. 8 It is Never as Bad as it First Appears
When you have your first infant you will overreact to EVERYTHING, it's okay you are supposed to. Every whimper, fart and coo will have meaning for you and that is the way it is supposed to be...for the first six weeks. After that, God keeps them cute for a reason. As they grow you learn what to listen for, to distinguish between tears of anger, fear, pain and sleepiness. You start to recognize the signs of real trouble and what is just going to be a good laugh. One other point here: no matter how minor, head injuries always bleed....a lot. Find the source and determine how bad any problem is, before calling the fire department.
No. 7 Gross is a Relative Concept
You know you've officially become a parent when you hear a child about to puke and you move to catch it, rather than save yourself. Yeah, I know it's gross, it's also true. With the exception of a few, truly squeamish people, most parents adjust to things like puke, dirty diapers, babies eating dog food and the like. It is all a part of growing up and soon, or so they tell me, you will be missing these things.
No. 6 Your Kid is Probably Not a Real Genius, (and that's okay)
All of us want to believe that little baby Donatello is the first child to ever finger paint...with his tongue. Yes, your baby is smart, unique and wonderful, but don't start to pick out his seat on the short bus if he's not talking in complete sentences by 10 months. Don't be intimidated by people with Uber babies either. It all has a way of working out. Educate yourself as to the normal signs of development by talking to other parents with multiple children, and be wary of putting too much faith in the “experts”. They will have everyone believing their kid is either the next Einstein , or Rainman. Of course all of my 8 children are well above average, but what can you expect from such superior genetic stock?
No. 5 It's Okay to Tell Your Kid What to Do
In fact, if you plan to have your children anywhere near me for any length of time, please, I am begging you, teach them some decorum. Kids will be kids, but that does not include acts of terrorism! While it is a popular urban myth that the best way to handle a public temper tantrum is to walk away and ignore the child, do not ever try this anywhere near me. The sooner children understand that they are sharing the world with other people, and that those other people do not always enjoy screaming brats, the better. While I certainly do not promote beating children, I do, upon occasion, give mine a swift smack on the rump when it's called for. I do not believe that this is the only way, but, for some offenses, it seems to be the most effective. Whatever method you choose to discipline your children, apply it fairly, which means, apply it every time it is called for. This is fair not only to your child, who will quickly grow to respect the boundaries and need less reminding, but it is good for the peace of our planet.
No. 4 Bugs are Protein
When Baby Billy swallows the june bug he was playing with, its okay. As long as it goes down, most solids will eventually come out. As they grow, toddlers will develop even stranger eating habits. Some children between the age of 2 and 4 seem hardly to eat at all, consuming only one large meal a day, with small snacks. If their heads keep getting further from the ground, and you are not using the icepick to put extra holes in their belts, its okay. Experiment to find healthy foods that they enjoy and keep them on hand. For Pete's sake, don't ever try to put a kid on a diet. I'm not talking about choosing healthy foods, I'm talking about worrying about your four year olds figure, she, is supposed to have a bit of a belly.
No. 3 Experts know nothing about what kids like
Buy all the award winning “educational” toys you want. Kids will play with what fuels their imagination. Give them simple toys that they can build dreams with. Dress up clothes and a set of blocks will go much further to turning them into productive citizens than a whole box of over priced crap. Keep it simple. Our kids play with their toys most after a clean out, when we have given the excess away and they can actually see what they have. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BUY THEM EVERYTHING THEY ASK FOR. This is not the time to prove that Daddy loves them and is a good provider. All you will get is more ammunition when they throw their toys and stomp off screaming, which does happen from time to time.
No. 2 Life is Not Fair, But Dad Can Be
Most of the time. Here is what I mean by this. When it comes down to an out and out fight for control of anything in our house I always do one of two things: take the item in question away, if a civil agreement cannot be reached. I do this no matter what the toy is, or who it belongs to. They can have it back later. Or, we flip a coin to decide who goes first, gets the first slice, etc. I use scripture to back it up even. Solomon said, “The Lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord”. It has stopped a lot of fights and long drawn out debates in our house. If the item in question belongs to one child specifically, such as a Christmas or Birthday gift recently received, they are allowed to keep it to themselves for a day or two, before sharing requirements kick in.
No. 1 Kids are Washable
My number one favorite thing about the design and construction of children is that everything short of industrial strength dyes will wash off of their cute pink bodies. While this does not make it okay to leave toxic chemicals within easy reach, it should be your mantra regarding harmless messes. If you are a neat freak, buy your kids clothes second hand, so you can afford to burn them on a regular basis. A happy kid is a messy kid and it is true that a little dirt never hurt anybody. As for germophobes, my only advice is, get fish, you don't have to pet them and you can wear rubber gloves to wash the tank. Children are not for you.
So, what would you add? What have you learned as a parent that you wish you had known from the beginning? Share it with us!