Google Something Clever 2.0: Prepare to Fail

Jun 11, 2012

Prepare to Fail

New parents, I bet you have a whole lot of plans for your kids. I bet you plan on always doing this and never doing that. I did, too. You'd be surprised how fast most of those plans fly out the window. Here are some examples.

I will always feed my son organic food.

I started out with buying only organic baby food. It doesn't cost that much more, and of course it's way better than that pesticide-filled poison on the shelf next to it. Then, one day, the store was out of a couple flavors we needed, so I bought the regular kind. He did not die. Eventually, we just switched to regular.

I will never feed my son American cheese.

I'm not sure what the point was with this one, except that the word "processed" is vaguely scary. Also, I really like cheese- nice, imported cheese- and American cheese seemed like it wasn't good enough for my boy. The problem is that nice cheese is expensive, not individually wrapped, and a lot of it goes bad before you can use it. And no matter how classy it seems, grilled manchengo just doesn't seem right. I dare you to feed a toddler for more than a week without including grilled cheese.

I will never yell at my son, unless it's for safety reasons.

Yelling is awful. It's the lowest, most aggressive form of communication. When someone yells, all I hear is, "I don't respect you, and my vocabulary is not equipped to deal with this situation." "They" also tell you that you should reserve yelling for emergencies, such as, "Get out of the street!" That way, your child will know that on the rare occasions when you do yell, you really mean business. But try listening to someone yell at you when you're really tired, really stressed, and absolutely sure that you're right and they're wrong. Now try it for a couple years and see how fast you crack.  You will crack, and you will hate yourself for it, but you shouldn't. As long as you don't make it a habit, it will probably be ok.

I am the boss of what my son eats, not him.

As the adult, I was going to be 100% in charge of everything he ate. If he didn't like it, he could go hungry. The first time his belly rumbled, he would cave in and eat the broccoli. Right. When I try to make my son eat something "gross," he literally gags. It's hilarious, but painful to watch. And can you really look into the eyes of the person you love most while they're whining, "I'm hunnnnnngry!" and stay stone-cold? No. You will feed them yogurt and Goldfish crackers, because they are a decent balance of healthy and yummy. You will also begin to tell yourself that fruits and vegetables are the same, and eventually count a package of Craisins as a serving of vegetables.

My son will not watch television until he is two years old, and no more than an hour a day.

I came close with this one. Kids aren't supposed to watch TV until they're two years old, because it can cause language delays. They did a study (Google it yourself) that showed that kids under two who watched TV knew something like half as many words as their non-TV-watching counterparts. Or something.  I've mentioned this story before, but if you haven't read it, the gist is that my son was a little under two when he came down with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and was absolutely miserable. He had no interest in doing anything except sitting around looking sad, and he already knew well over a hundred words (I think by that age, he was supposed to know like 20), so I figured a little Yo Gabba Gabba! might cheer him up, and probably not turn him into an idiot. I was right. He's now three, watches approximately 22 hours of TV a day (joking, don't report me), and can carry on a conversation with any adult, throwing in five-syllable words here and there. I still feel that we were lucky it worked out, and if I have another kid, I will try really hard not to show them TV before 2. Notice I said try.

Now, before you start to think that I'm a giant failure, please know that there are rules that I have stood firm on, and they were not easy ones.

The boy has never eaten anything from McDonald's

 ...and he won't until he's 16 and can drive himself there and pay with money that he earned at his own job. Once he gets to that point, I really can't stop him, but I'm hoping that by then, he'll be out of the impressionable zone where kids delelop a taste for it. He's asked to go there a couple times, because they have a playground outside, but I remind him that there are playgrounds everywhere, and if he likes, I'll gladly take him to a park. My husband did once talk me into letting him have a couple nuggets and fries from Wendy's, but once he produced his first fast-food diaper, I banned Wendy's, too.

My husband and I have never, not once, lied to him.

I mean, not at all. I don't tell him that a toy is "broken" or "sleeping" when it's really hidden in my closet. We don't do Santa or the Easter Bunny. This one is not as hard as you'd think. When he asks a question that we'd rather not answer, we just give a broad, but still true, answer. I forgot that "The Muppet Movie" has a scene with men firing shotguns (because that was ok 30 years ago), and he asked what "those things that go pshhh!" were. I didn't want to explain guns to him yet, because I didn't want to explain death yet, so I just told him they were "weapons," and changed the subject. There have been a couple occasions (I'm sorry, I can't think of an example) that he asked something I really couldn't talk my way around. So I just told him, "I'll tell you when you're older." And he accepted it! The hope with this plan is that he will know he can come to us with anything, and since he knows we don't lie to him, perhaps he won't lie to us. At least, not as much as your average kid.

As for the Santa thing, that should probably be a whole separate post.