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Parenthood

February 19, 2014
By Jerry Nelson , Marshall Independent

It seems like you can't swing a cat these days without hitting someone who has penned a book about parenting. This either means that there are a ton of such tomes out there or our cat supply is deeply defective.

These parenting books are selling like coffee at a doughnut shop even though the "experts" who wrote them have precious little parenting experience. For instance, one author who professes to be a parenting guru is the mother of exactly one 6-year-old! And I have it on excellent authority that she has been a kid only once! How can such a person claim to be an authority?

My wife often tells me that I'm acting like a child. But I'm conducting ongoing research into the art of being a kid! A happy side effect is that she is gaining additional parenting expertise.

Becoming a parent doesn't involve passing any sort of test. In my case, it was akin to the process wherein a toad persuades a damsel that he is Brad Pitt in disguise. Or perhaps George Clooney.

My wife and I became parents without thoroughly thinking things through. We did much more deliberating over the purchase of a used car. And before we bought that rusty old bucket, we paused to ask ourselves if we could afford it.

It's a good thing that we simply plunged into parenthood. If we'd held off until we could afford kids, we would still be childless when we became eligible for Social Security.

A common theme in modern parenting books is how stressful it is to be a mom or a dad. Bunch of whiners!

I suppose it would be tough to swap trendy clothes and champagne brunches aboard your private jet for bottles of formula and spit-up stains on your shoulder. Thank goodness my wife and I were never wealthy and thus avoided the anguish of such trade-offs!

Bringing our newborn son home from the hospital was a huge event. There were the weird smells, the perplexing paraphernalia, the unending demands for attention. But enough about me; we also had a new baby.

I grew up in a large family, so having a newborn at home felt familiar. Some things had changed, such as the command that I assist with childcare chores. I stated that I had already done my part, which taught me the important lesson that sometimes a guy had best keep certain thoughts to himself.

And I did pitch in, despite what my wife might recall. If I never changed a diaper that was so disgusting it would have choked a zombie, then why is that icky diaper imagery burned into my retinas?

I think babies should be born a year old. That's when they start to become interesting and are pretty much self-propelled. You can also begin to teach them tricks. For example, when our oldest son was a toddler, he went around pulling his index finger for days on end in an effort to duplicate a trick his daddy had shown him.

Becoming a parent is certainly the biggest life-changer you will ever experience. And raising children will certainly be a very challenging experience.

Among these challenges are the unending stream of questions that you, as a parent, must answer. Some of these questions are extremely difficult, in which case the proper answer is "go ask your mother!"

One of the questions that never really arose at our house was "where do babies come from?" We were dairy farmers, so we saw baby cows come into the world on a regular basis. Goodness knows how many times that saved me from saying "go ask your mother!"

I was emptying a corn bin one summer day when our sons were young. I had crawled into the bin and was sweeping up the last bit of grain. The boys, being boys, decided they needed to join me to "help."

But their version of "help" looked much like horseplay. They began to throw handfuls of grain, which was technically assisting but in fact did little to speed things along.

The boys began to pelt each other with corn. I warned them that someone might get hurt when the youngest one began to wail.

A kernel of corn had become lodged in his ear. Upon examination, I concluded that there were two options: I could water the corn, let it grow and pull it out a few weeks later or I could enlist the help of a professional. I took the doctor option.

The kernel was soon removed, and the kid was none the worse for wear. But I wonder: how many parenting books have chapters titled "Dealing With Ear Corn"?

 
 

 

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