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Ah, the gift of children. The pitter-patter of tiny feet across the floor, the shrieks of laughter and pained howls as they drag the dog across the floor by its tail, the ubiquitous stickiness to which your house has succumbed. Your life will never be the same, and you wouldn’t change it for the world, right? Right?! Of course not.
Now that you have decided to have children, everyone will congratulate you and regale you with stories of their parental experiences and wisdom. It doesn’t matter if you want any of that, you’re going to get it and you’re going to like it! They have been waiting for years to tell these bits of trivia and strife and, doggone it, you’re going to sit there and listen with rapture plastered all over your face as long as it takes for them to feel satiated.
Now that that’s over with, let’s move on to the real meat of any parenting how-to: How to find a Good Babysitter. Or better yet, How to Convince Your In-Laws, Who Retired And Therefore Have No Excuses, to Watch Your Kids While You and Your Spouse Go Out and Try to Remember What It’s Like to Talk to Each Other. I suppose that one is kind of self-explanatory.
Alright, one down. Boy, this is a lot easier than I thought! Maybe having kids isn’t so hard after all. Oh wait, there are a few more things.
How to Not Let Your Kids Die.
This is probably one of the toughest and most fundamental parts of parenting. In fact, if you manage this feat, anything beyond that is just good luck. As long as they make it to the point where you are no longer fiscally responsible for them you have done your job; give yourself a good pat on the back!
But seriously, kids are incredibly adept when it comes to testing your ability to Keep Them Alive. They will, right from the very start, try their best to find any weak link in your extensive child-proofing portfolio that you feverishly slapped into place the day after getting home from the hospital. Or perhaps you belong to the other group of new parents and have spent the last nine months scouring your house with a magnifying lens and micrometer to ensure everything is installed to specifications within tolerances of +-1,000th of an inch. Either way, you missed something, and your kid will find it.
Once they’re past the put-everything-they-can-find-in-their-mouths-including-some-really-disgusting-things-that-you’ll-have-to-remember-so-you-can-embarass-them-later phase, the biggest threat is mobility. Now they have learned to propel themselves awkwardly and with great and unpredictable force, and they will use that new found skill to search for the next great way to scare their parents. During this phase you mustn’t look away from them for so much as an attosecond as they have somehow mastered quantum physics and are able to transpose their bodies from one place to another without ever actually moving. In less than the blink of the average human eye, a toddler can maneuver from a buckled-in position in a child seat to meandering along ridge line of your roof. You’ll probably want to consider simply handcuffing them to you, although that may garner some peculiar looks at the library.
As they get a little older keeping them from maiming or killing themselves becomes a little easier, since the natural instinct for survival all creatures except infants share starts to kick in. Now the focus shifts a bit from Keeping Them Alive to teaching them to Not Be Dicks. This is much more complicated, and suffers from a strongly reduced success rate.
The nuances of Not Being a Dick are far too intricate to go into serious detail here, but suffice it to say it is an ongoing project that will give you something to work on for many years to come. The natural disposition of humanity is to be a dick, as evidenced by pretty much all of history, so trying to train our offspring away from their genetic destiny can be rife with difficulties. Not becoming a dick yourself in the process of teaching your children is its own special brand of trouble, and should not be overlooked as a possible outcome of adulthood in general.
The concept of school was clearly invented by someone who was stuck at home with their children too long and was about to start committing atrocities if they didn’t get a break from the snack requests soon. This is a fantastic concept from the parent’s point of view, but as for the idea of stuffing 30 seven-year-olds into one room for six hours, all I can say is there is no amount of money in the world that could make teaching seem like a viable occupation.
The more friends your kid develops over their childhood career, the better you are as a parent. Make sure to set up as many play dates as possible with as many kids as possible so as to make your kid seem as popular as possible. This will make all of the other parents realize how much better you are at parenting than them, and being the subject of other people’s envy is truly the key to everlasting happiness.
By the time your kids are old enough to get their driver’s license, you will have shuttled them so many miles and to so many sleepovers and had so many screaming teenage girls singing to whatever crap is popular on the radio you will be desperate for them to get their own mobility. Start teaching them to drive as early as possible, so when the big day finally arrives the will at least make it out of the driveway before they crash into something.
This is where your children really get to shine. They are finally released from the grip of tyranny with which you have been crushing them all of their lives, and they are free to make their own decisions, study their own interests, make their own friends, and somehow always need you for your money. If you ever feel like you are making the wrong decision by sending them to college, remember their is no better way to spend $100,000 than to give someone the best environment in which to throw up.
Aside from binge drinking, this is the period of their lives in which they will discover their true vocational love, such as Ancient Egyptian Sign Language or African Permafrost. Remember, this is their life now, they need to exert their independence through horrible life choices and texts asking for more money. Parental influence is the last thing they need right now.
Now that your kids have grown up and moved on, the house is quiet and you finally have time to make all those great ideas you had when you were younger a reality. Except now you’re old and decrepit, so there’s no way you’ll be able to get that dirt bike racing career up and running after all. Your spouse, in the meantime, has also grown old and decrepit, so the two of you at least have the joy of commiserating together.
Boy, that was a fun ride, wasn’t it? We gave up everything we had so that some tiny creatures could use us as bank accounts and taxi drivers while they built up a life of their own. We got to watch them grow from squirming little poop machines to tiny little, drunk adults to much larger drunk, almost-adults to responsible and productive members of society. Time for us to sit back and relax while we watch them struggle and muddle their way through their own foolish child-rearing endeavor. Suckers.