I’m riffing the title of this post from Jack Canfora’s Things I Think I’ve Learned So Far because Jack’s post is one of my favorites and I’m too tired from parenting to think of one of my own. And that matches with my experience of parenting – you have to take small favors and lifts when you can.
Admittedly, I’m pretty early on into this parenting thing with only seven and a half years so far. Despite the best efforts of my more experienced friends to teach me everything I might need to know, I understand I still have a lot to learn. But in the interest of celebrating incremental progress, here’s the list of things I think I’ve learned so far in parenting.
Dance parties improve almost any mood.
When little people behave their worst, it’s when they need to be listened to and held the most.
Sometimes, on “those” days, you just have to declare it’s Milkshakes for Breakfast Day to shake everything up.
Try to say “yes” as often as possible, even if it’s just a qualified “yes.”
No matter how hungry you are, don’t eat that last bite of their plate until its cleared from the table.
There’s a time to push limits, and there’s a time to fold them in your arms. Knowing that balance is as mysterious as the original recipe for KFC or Coke. It’s sweet when you get it right, but you will still be guessing the next time.
Laughter is a beautiful elixir that will hold you together.
Socks are the bane of parenting. Little teeny tiny socks exploded off little teeny tiny feet are under the car seats, smooshed in the couch cushions, on the counter, behind the toy box, folded into books, and left everywhere and anywhere except the laundry basket.
My efforts to lobby Amazon to create a sock subscription service where new socks are delivered regularly have been ignored to date, mostly because I can’t ever finish an email without interruption.
A little bit of sugar works as an enticement. A great deal of sugar works like an unstable explosive.
You will screw it up. Look for the manual that came with the babies and remember there isn’t one. Be grateful for however many days you have before they figure that out too.
Insistence on anything that you previously thought you was indisputable fact before you had kids quickly becomes debatable in their eyes.
If you resist, the resistance becomes an object to focus on.
Better to use redirection.
Curiosity beats judgment any day and is one of the best tools in the box.
The line between crying and laughing is much closer than previously thought.
This is also true for irritation and awe.
On the Welch’s fruit snacks, the tear spot is between the h and the s. You’re welcome.
Every time you thoughtfully respond to a melt down you get to put a marble in the metaphorical trust jar.
Every time you lose it and yell, you take out ten marbles from the trust jar.
Every time you apologize for losing it, you get to add back your ten marbles, with bonus marbles for sincerity.
Naps aren’t just for the five and unders.
A well-rested kid can do most anything – this is true for well-rested parents too.
Save money on sorting games and instead teach them to match socks. This is a theoretical one but it would have been brilliant if I’d thought of it earlier.
You will screw it up. Apply grace liberally, get a good night’s sleep and try it again.
“Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room.” – Maya Angelou
But there will be times they will enter the room covered in paint or dressed in all the contents of the laundry basket that you, for once, managed to fold. So shoot for lit up eyes MOST of the time.
It’s fun when you try to pay close enough attention to learn something about yourself and where you came from every day.
In the years before logic works, you have a wonderful opportunity to practice winning over hearts instead of minds.
Connection expands in proportion to your time sitting on the floor next to them.
Someone will cry when the milk spills. Try to make sure it’s not you.
It’s only possible to handle someone else’s big emotions when you’ve taken care of yourself.
Life is fragile; love helps us to overcome the abject fear of being responsible for it.
Relationship can handle a lot as long as you remain connected.
Whatever amount of vulnerability and patience you entered parenthood with will not be enough. Fortunately, kids come with many opportunities to exercise both.
Things will seem unbearable, and then they’ll change.
It will pain you greatly at times, but you have to big the bigger person.
Parenting is maddening; but a bigger part is gladdening.
You will screw it up. Treat yourself as gently as you can, laugh about it, apologize as necessary, and remember you are teaching them how to start again.
The big upsets are rarely about what it’s about. Take the socks, for example, which is really about the complete disruption of any order and ability to get things done you previously believed you had.
Or this list, which might not be just about parenting.
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For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com
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(featured photo from Pexels)