It is amazing how under-prepared you are when you become a parent.
No matter what your background or your experience prior to having your own kids you have no idea what you are really in store for.
I grew up with 9 siblings and I was at the top of the heap, so I had plenty of experience with basics. I knew how to change a diaper, prep a bottle, deal with fussiness, what the word swaddle ment and how to do it, and probably ½ a dozen other pro tips. However, all that knowledge just lulled me into a false sense of confidence. Why? Because as I now know every kid is different.
Everything seems different with your own kids
It is like you were training to play baseball all your life and when you show up to the tournament someone says hey, change in events, you are now playing football.
You still need hand-eye coordination and to be able to run, jump and catch but somehow you have no idea how anything works. With every new kid that comes along it’s like a rule change or even a change in sports.
With child number three you have lost the use of your arms, and with child four your position is now zone defense. For fans of the Calvin and Hobbes comics it’s basically a game of Calvin Ball.
I remember after the birth of our first child my wife called me on the way to my office a little panicked because our 2 month olds ear was bleeding. It looked horrible, there was a little pool filling the outer ear and dripping down the side of his tiny face. As it turned out it was just a very small scratch caused by his little fingernails. I still wonder why on earth kids are born with razors, but I digress.
In contrast, I remember my brother getting hit in the head with a rake and not being nearly as nervous over that situation. I guess it’s like the old saying, “Not my monkeys, not my circus”. I knew my parents were going to take care of the situation. Not that I did not care, it was just not my job to worry about it.
In my college days we discussed lofty topics like Anagnorisis and Peripeteia.
Which is a fancy way of saying discovery and change. Well in practical philosophy having kids is really a never ending cycle of anagnorisis and peripeteia.
For example, you get these moment where you realize, oh, there is no other adult that is coming to take over. You are not the babysitter anymore, see main character makes a startling discovery, anagnorisis in action.
But what does this startling discovery cause in the character. Well I used to be the fun baby sitter. Heck yeah you can watch movies till your eyes bug out, play computer till you are hypnotic. Mom and Dad are out? We are having a balanced diet of sweet and salty, potato chips and ice cream. Yeah, now I have deal with the fall out, not quite as much fun, see peripeteia.
Some folks, alright most people, think you are crazy to raise a big family, but it’s actually quite fun. Besides I usually got kind of bored with most sports, the new rules and game switch ups keep things interesting.
It’s also fun because at least initially you get to be a superhero in the eyes of your kids. For a short time, you are the strongest, tallest, smartest, person your kids know. Think about it, do you currently know anyone who can pick you up and toss you in the air? Also, Mom and Dad have all the answers, right or wrong the kids think you are a genius. Not a bad confidence boost. For a while you get to be the very center of your kids universe.
So how do you prepare for kids?
You don’t, there is no instruction manual on your specific child you learn by doing. Will you make mistakes? Yeah but it makes the victories that much more exciting.