Family / Kids / Parenting

Things we looked forward to as parents

15865431570_27872b6aae_bBefore having kids, we imagined all the wonderful things we would do with our children once we had them. Everything would be fun! The kids would be well-behaved and grateful! There would be no whining in baseball/Monopoly/dance class/zoos!

There is nothing that can truly prepare you for the reality check that comes when you have actual children but we hope to help ease the sting. Here are the five things we looked forward to before we became parents.

Family game nights!

Fantasy: Family game nights are going to be the best! We’ll gather at the dining room table and every single one of us will smile all the smiles! We’ll play Monopoly because I love Monopoly so much and I want my kids to love it just as much as I do! We’ll look like a Hasbro commercial with our laughter and good natured teasing and exclamations of victory! Even when we lose, we will all look adorable!

Reality: Please don’t make me play Monopoly again. Ever. I’m sorry that your brother put houses on Boardwalk and Park Place and you land there every single time. I know you don’t have any more money because we all heard you yelling “I AM OUT OF MONEY!” The neighbors even heard you and knocked on the door offering us canned goods and a package of pasta. And you–the winner–stop doing that awful victory dance or I’ll let your brother pop you one.

Winter fun!

Fantasy: We will bundle the kids up in their colorful snowsuits and romp in the snow together like arctic foxes! We will help them build the cutest snowmen ever and then have snow ball fights while squealing with laughter! We will go sledding and the snow will fly around us like we are in a snow globe and our cheeks will get chilled and then we’ll head home for hot chocolate and cuddles!

Reality: You bundle the kids in their snow suits and they immediately have to pee. All winter activities that involve snow also involve exclamations like, “I HAVE SNOW ON MY FACE! I AM DYING BECAUSE SNOW ON FACE!” followed by tears and wild accusations as to who is to blame for the snow on the face. Snowball fights never end well because they are “unfair” or “icy” or “too snowbally.” Sledding is filled with peril. If you send the kids down the hill alone, you feel compelled to run after them screaming “WATCH OUT FOR THE TREE! ABORT!” If you go down with them, you end up with a face full of snow as you careen wildly down a hill with a toddler at the controls. And the hot chocolate? Get ready for a standoff about marshmallows.

Reading!

Fantasy: Oh how the children will love and appreciate literature and telling stories of their own because of the many hours that we shall sit together in the warmly lit reading nook, laughing and crying at well-woven tales and learning vocabulary words far beyond our years! We will bond and appreciate that quality time while we raise voracious readers!

Reality: After a long day with small children who whine, cry, tantrum, sneeze, and break shit constantly, you want to throw them in bed and enjoy the last minutes of the day by yourself. But you take a deep breath and think about how satisfying it will be to share in a book together…until you remember you read that Dr. Seuss book 7,986 times last week alone! And your child knows when you are paraphrasing or skipping pages, and you’d better read with feeling and convincing character voices or else they will know that your heart isn’t in it! Then the day comes when they can read on their own but they HATE reading and you have to pay them a penny a page to read graphic novels and you wonder how they will ever graduate…and get a job…and move out of your house…so you can read in peace!!

Family road trips!

Fantasy: It will be just like when I was a kid and we used to drive from Chicago to Florida to go to Disney World in our station wagon. We played the license plate games to find all the license plates of all 50 states. We played spelling games for hours. And we could NOT get enough of Mitch Miller, Funky Favorites, and sound tracks from musicals on 8-track tapes. I’m sure in the soft-focus flashback of our trip, we had fantastic voices and harmonized beautifully.

Reality: When you really think about it, why would any amount of time locked in a small box of metal traveling at 70 miles per hour with your children seem like a good idea? They will either be too young to remember or too old to want to spend an extended amount of time with you, and everything in between is made up of fighting, complaining, and vomiting. Do you think they’re going to remember the scenic route you took to Yosemite? No. Do you think they will have fond memories of family time? No. They will remember that their siblings didn’t touch them but threatened to touch them by pointing a finger just close enough to their body to be annoying but never making the contact required to get in trouble. They will remember the milkshake they got at the drive-thru they would never have driven through and how their sister spilled said milkshake in their hair and it coagulated until they stopped and the smell of ketchup that permeated the interior of the car for the entirety of the journey. Good times. Take a plane.

Open houses and parent-teacher conferences will make you proud!

Fantasy: We will go to our child’s open house and she will show us all of her work while we beam proudly! She will be focused and interested in showing us around her classroom and introducing us to her teacher! At conferences, our child’s teacher will tell us that she is a leader in the classroom, an inspired student and a true gift!

Reality: You go to the open house where the child wanders aimlessly in the classroom and looks as if it is her first time being there. When you ask to see her work, thinking that prompting might help, she will shrug and point to the one messy cubby in a wall of perfectly organized cubbies and say, “It’s in there. Can we get cookies now?” As for parent-teacher conferences, you will need to prepare for them and by “prepare” I mean “pregame.” Okay maybe not with tequila shots but with a big latte and a conversation that includes phrases like “We know there are some issues” and “They are just kids trying to figure out who they are in the world” and “Maybe she didn’t pull the fire alarm. Maybe it was someone else.”

Parenting is not all we imagine it will be. It is hard and messy and there are a lot of tears and things don’t always turn out as planned. So buckle up for the road trip of a lifetime–we hope you like the smell of ketchup!

Photo Credit: Woman pulling a sled with child – De Land via photopin (license)

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