While I am an imperfect parent, here's a little of what I've learned now that my kid is a teen:
*Newborns are quiet and angelic at the hospital, but are likely to turn into red-faced, screaming tyrants once your foot hits your own doorway. If I could do it again, I'd listen to the wise pediatric nurse who said, "You really should stay in the hospital a few days longer; it's the only rest you'll get for a while."
*I like this quote from writer Anne Lamott: "Having a baby is like suddenly getting the world's worst roommate, like having Janis Joplin with a bad hangover and PMS come stay with you." So true.
*The first time you see your toddler's diapered butt scurrying down the crib bars, making her escape - realize that sitting down for ten minutes in the evening is just a dream.
*When out in public with a toddler, know that she may say and do anything. Be prepared to apologize profusely to strangers, run as if a life depended on it and carry lots of wet-wipes. She may just wipe her chocolate ice-cream covered hands on the back of a clean, white t-shirt of the man standing in front of you in the grocery store line; or she might take all of her clothes off and run out the door of a boutique, while you're half-dressed in the dressing room, when you fantasized she would calmly sit in her stroller beside you. My daughter has done both.
*If you're making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your five year old and her friends, and then realize you haven't heard a sound for a few minutes - run very quickly! They just may have climbed your trellis and be on top of your roof. That's where I found my daughter and her friends.
*If you want your child to be calm, patient and never raise her voice, make sure you do the same. If only I could go back in time...
*There may be a time when your toddler can verbalize how she truly feels about you, like the time my daughter yelled "You're the wierdest mommy I ever had!"...and you may try to do your best to stifle a laugh while still feeling offended.
*Watch your words, small children take things literally, like when I said "Sorry, Charlie!" to my daughter, she threw a fit thinking I forgot her name.
*Be consistent. Kids never forget that one time you gave in, and will cling to the hope they can get you to change your mind one more time. Believe me on this one! I've been paying for that mistake ever since.
*Remember that you are your child's teacher and guide to the world. This position should not be abused; such as the time my husband - while on a drive alone with our seven-year-old daughter - somehow came up with the tale that computer keyboards would no longer have the letter "O." For at least fifteen minutes my daughter was in a state of panic. Once home, she ran toward me, "Ma ma! How will I write 'I love mommy?' on the computer without the letter O?" Poor child, didn't yet realize how twisted her father is.
*Be prepared to answer questions of a curious mind. With every new thing learned come more questions. When my six-year-old and her friend rode in my car's backseat, I heard the following conversation:
My daughter: "Lesbian?
Daughter's friend: "Yeah. That's two girls who love each other."
My daughter: "The way I love my mommy?"
*Beware! Children have no filters. They just say it as they see it...which is why my daughter wrote in her class bio, "My mom is a klutz," and made me a mother's day card, complete with accompanying artwork, that said, "My mom is good at sleeping." (see photo)
*As they get older, be honest with them about their talents. Guide them toward what they seem to do well, or give them classes in something they're interested in , but don't mislead them with misplaced praise in order to give them self-esteem; you may just end up with a kid mangling a beautiful Stevie Wonder song with piercing screeches on "American Idol" before millions of viewers, who then states, "But my mom says I'm the best."
I'm not a perfect parent, but I have raised a confident, yet not cocky, child. She has confidence in the areas where she does have talent, yet is realistic about what she doesn't do so well. And I'm proud to say she always comes to me first to get advice, knowing I'll tell her the truth. So when I compliment her she knows I really mean it. And when she sings off-key and I turn up the radio to cover up her warbling, we laugh. She can thank me for her singing talent.
*Don't be surprised when your teenager behaves as though you don't exist when with her (or his) friends. Don't worry. Your Teenager will acknowledge your existence when they need a ride, money or their birthday or Christmas is near.
*Understand your teenager will know everything and you will know nothing; like the other morning when I said to my daughter, "Get ready for school. It's six-fifty (6:50am)," And she said, "Nah uh! It's ten to seven!"
*If your eyes are heavy, your mouth's dry and your throat's scratchy from reading her favorite book over and over again - just keep reading. Soon your child will be a teenager, and you'll wish you had the opportunity to read that book to her just one more time.
*For anyone who wants to see the world brand new again, have a child. You'll have to explain things like ants, sand, waves, rain, spinach - all those things you've taken for granted will be seen by them for the first time. There is no better mind-altering experience than having a child, in my opinion. And then, there are the times you might consider running away to France to get drunk off wine and eat lots of runny cheese rather than continue parenting.
To be updated...