• Forgotten Wisdom

    I am sorry to say that everyone was totally wrong. I’m talking about all those folks who had children before me who told me what to expect, how I  should handle things, and how my life would change with kids. You thought you were giving me the essential secrets of parenting. You thought you were preparing me for life with kids.

    You were wrong.

    You left out some things that turned out to be important. So, I’m writing to set the record straight. These are the true essential facts about kids and parenting.

    Fact 1: Everything Is Chicken. It is well known that all flavors of meat are variants of chicken. Before having kids I thought this wisdom was cultural. Wrong. It’s genetic.  Kids who can barely talk already know it.

    My younger child loves eating fish and has since she could eat. At restaurants she asks for fish by name. She calls it “fish.” We order her fish. When it comes we call it “fish” too and give her a lump of fish to eat. Upon finishing her portion of fish she always says, “Want more chicken.” Same for beef, pork, or any other meat.

    Apparently the class of food that seems like chicken is broader than the flesh of dead animals. True story: one morning at breakfast the little one (age 2) asked her older sister (age 5), “What is that? Chicken?” Her sister explained that no, it is a strawberry. The little one says,  “Strawberry? That must be yummy chicken for you!”

    Fact 2: Childhood Is a Series of Mental Disorders. Kids will drive you crazy. It is easy for them. They’re already crazy. But they are a special form of crazy that is a different kind of bonkers every few months. They ricochet from bipolar to passive aggressive to agraphobic to ADD to OCD and back again. They’re like little in-home productions of the DSM. I didn’t know it was a screenplay.

    Fact 3: A Pound of Food Has Three Pounds of Crumbs. Yes, kids are nuts. But even more than that, they are nuts with crumbs. Nobody tells you about the crumbs. In an apparent violation of the laws of physics, every meal generates enough crumbs for three more meals. Actually, some meals have, stunningly, even higher crumb yields, in particular those involving: rice, bread, any baked good, or grated cheese. I don’t even know why I make myself a plate of food. I could easily sustain myself on my kids’ crumbs.

    Fact 4: Disposable Diapers Don’t Perform Well in the Washing Machine. This, by far, is the most important parenting advice you’ll ever receive: don’t let disposable diapers get in the washing machine. The only thing worse than a disposable diaper in the wash is two disposable diapers in the wash. This I know from first hand experience. It isn’t the poop or pee that makes it so bad. That’s got nothing to do with it. It’s the goo inside the diapers.

    Diapers are designed to absorb liquid, a lot of it, but not tens of gallons of water. When a diaper reaches its carrying capacity it does what anybody who has had too much to drink would do: explode. Upon detonation, all the nice liquid absorbing goo inside the diaper begins to slosh around the washing machine.

    Do you know what that goo does in the wash? It turns into goo pellets. Goo pellets are paradoxically both a solid spherical pellet and a glob of gooey jell. Like the dual wave/particle nature of light, diaper goo pellets have perplexed physicists for centuries. The only things physicists have figured out about goo pellets is that they (a) absorb a lot of pee and (b) adhere readily to the inside walls of a washing machine.

    If the goo pellets would make up their mind and just be sold pellet or liquid goo one could clean them up easily. But no. They hang playfully in a state of superposition: impossible to wipe or wash away, but very easy to smear around. Believe me, a diaper (or two) in the wash makes for a bad day. Should you be so unfortunate to drop three or more into a load do yourself a favor and just throw away the machine.

    These four facts are all a person needs to be prepared for parenting. Since the species has, apparently, existed for millennia it may be that our ancestors once knew some of these pearls of wisdom. Somehow in our modern age they have been lost. Having now brought them to your attention, I leave it to you to share them with your friends who fancy themselves as future parents. They won’t believe these tidbits are important, but they’ll thank you later.

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    • I loved this – especially “They’re like little in-home productions of the DSM. I didn’t know it was a screenplay.” Our oldest is two and this really captures life with a two year old.

      They get saner as they grow up, right?

      • @andrew – I wouldn’t say they get saner. Are any of us really sane? But they do evolve and become better able to handle their own issues. Perhaps that’s a definition of sanity.