Things You May Not Know About Parenthood

By: Shannon Ralph

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Since becoming a parent, I have discovered that there are certain truths that are universal to the parenting experience. Certain dirty little secrets that the doctors and nurses and fertility specialists and adoption agencies neglect to inform you of when you are trying to become a parent. These are truths that every parent must discover on his or her own. And discover them, you most certainly will. Children are wonderful, loving, funny, adorable little creatures. But do not be fooled by their charms. Like Darth Vader of Star Wars infamy, they have a dark side. They are not all cuddles and kisses. That is merely a facade covering up a much more sinister truth. They are out to get you. And if you are not prepared for the onslaught, they will take you down. They will defeat you time and time again. It is only by embracing the truth that you will have any chance at redemption. The truth is unavoidable. The truth is sometimes unpleasant. But the truth shall set you free.

Here are some of the truths regarding parenthood that I have learned over the past eight years:

Once your child starts school, he will bring home every communicable disease known to humankind. Then he will cough his phlegm-filled little head off. Right in your face. Bye-bye, health and wellness. Hello, write-up at work for “Excessive Absenteeism.”

There is a fine line between washing a beloved blankie/lovey too often, which results in fraying and its eventual premature demise, and washing it too seldom, which results in a stench that lingers on your child and will literally burn your nostrils. I have yet to find, eight years into this parenting experiment, the right balance.

Before the age of three or four (at least), a sick child is completely incapable of hitting a bowl or toilet when throwing up. As a matter of fact, the child’s parent seems to be the preferred target.

An allergic reaction to a mosquito bite—particularly on the face—is  NOT a pretty sight. Neither is an all-over allergic reaction to sunscreen. I highly recommend investing in a lifetime supply of Benadryl and keeping a bottle in each room of your house, your glove compartment, your purse, your back pocket, your front pocket, and any other orifice into which it will fit.

Band-aids can fix any and all boo-boos, both real and imagined. Strawberry Shortcake band-aids are my personal favorite.

While watching a Nova documentary on UFO’s, Lucas recently told me that “aliens may look weird, but they sure have good art.” He was referring to crop circles. Children provide a new, albeit odd,  perspective on things you never even considered prior to becoming a parent.

You can often get kids to do anything you want if you threaten to count to three. Somehow reciting “1….2…..3…” gets kids jumping. I am going to try this tactic at work and see if it is as effective in the professional arena.

I’ve embraced the truth that ants are beautiful, worms are amazing, and wasps build the “coolest” homes ever. I have yet to develop an appreciation for centipedes, however.

Children will make up facts and argue with you until they are blue in the face to defend their positions. The Sphinx was built in 1982 by a certain man named Mr. Egypt. Lucas told me this yesterday. He absolutely refused to admit that he might just have been incorrect. But at least he knew there was an Egyptian link of some sort. I credit his good public education for his infinite wisdom.

No amount of scolding will stop a budding artist from using the walls of your home as his canvas. It’s better to just invest in large quantities of Magic Sponges. That is, unless—in a fit of unbridled parenting naivete—you leave permanent markers sitting around your house. Then you are just plain screwed.

When, after much debate, you decide to spend a small fortune on an adorable little frock for your child from that stylish children’s boutique you just had to visit, your child WILL pour an entire plate of spaghetti on it. It is inevitable.

Speaking of inevitability, there is a very good chance that your daughter will get hold of a pair of scissors and cut her own hair. To the scalp. The day before you have a family photo shoot scheduled. Try as you might, there is no “fixing” a bald spot.

You can never escape homework. When I graduated from college, I thought I would forever be rid of homework. I was dead wrong. My son is in second grade and I am in the midst of homework hell.

Sticking your tongue out really DOES make you color better. Who knew?

Sprinkles make everything taste better. Miniature marshmallows don’t hurt, either.

Candyland is fun the first time you play it. It is fun only the first time you play it. The two hundred and forty-third time? Not so much.

The plumbing in your house does work, despite the inability of every single child living there to remember to flush.

On the most important day of your career—the day when you have the meeting for which you have been preparing for six long months—your child will get sick. You will not be able to find a babysitter. And, as alluded to above, she will puke on your lucky suit.

If there is anything about your physical appearance you are at all self-conscious about, your children will inevitably call attention to it. Unhappy with the peach fuzz on your cheek? Your son will develop a habit of absentmindedly rubbing it while sitting in your lap. Self-conscious about your large nose? You daughter will insist on “honking” your nose over and over and laughing hysterically. Concerned about the sudden “looseness” of the skin on your thirty-eight-year-old elbows? It will become your son’s favorite go-to self-soother. He will tug on it. Squeeze it. Smash it. It will become his own personal stress ball. There is no escaping it. Your children have an innate radar aimed at your vulnerabilities.

Children are honest to a fault. You know that inner filter that most adults possess? Children are one hundred percent lacking in any and all filters. You will discover this truth when your son turns to you after seeing a commercial on television for L.A. Weight Loss and says, “Momma, you should call them. They help people like you.”

The moment you utter the phrase “My child would never do that” is the exact moment you will be proven completely and unequivocally wrong. My little Tommy would never bite. Chomp! My little Sally would never spit at someone. Pa-tooey! My little Timmy would never get drunk, steal a police car, and go for a joy ride. Thud! (That would be the sound of me passing out and my limp body hitting the floor when and if that ever happens.)

So there you have it. Universal truths that I have learned in my time as a parent. Children are sneaky little creatures. They suck you in with kisses and cuddles and claims of “always and forever” love. But I can see through that affectionate facade. I know the truth. And there is power in truth. The truth shall set me free.


[Photo Credit: Flickr Image: Silly Dog]

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