Parenting small children is a uniquely humbling and horrifying experience. Almost daily, I find myself shocked by the sentences that escape my mouth, only to find myself saying something even more improbable in the next moment.
Yet all these crazy one-liners boil down to some universal truth of parenting kids too young for compulsory education.
Here are ten of the more unfathomable things I’ve said this month.
1. “Stop trying to make that sheep eat your brother’s penis.”
If your child has a penis, everything is always about said penis. (To be fair, the same can usually be said about your partner.) In my four years of parenting, I have removed penii from bubble wands, prescription bottles, and once even a Bavarian pretzel. See also, “Let me know when you’re done with your penis and I’ll put on your diaper,” or, “You shouldn’t always listen to your penis.”
2. “We don’t put bread dough in our vaginas.”
I don’t personally have a daughter, but I hear it’s a similar situation with genital obsession. That’s not actually my point here, though. The big takeaway here is that nothing is safe in the kitchen. Nothing. Parenting small kids is ten percent imparting wisdom and ninety percent halting stupidity. I mean, while a ball of dough could probably benefit from a warm, yeasty environment, the converse is not necessarily true.
3. “Let’s see what you have in those pants, Big Boy.”
That? That’s as close as you’re ever going to be to foreplay again. While you used to save that line for your lover, like all other things in your life it has now been commandeered by your kids. SPOILER ALERT: The answer is always “poop.” You have at least another three years before your partner will again be the recipient of that line. SPOILER ALERT: You have maybe fifteen years before his answer is also “poop.”
4. “No, we are NOT giving the cat a bath — especially not with our tongues.”
Kids love licking things. It’s a problem. I can still remember watching a toddler lick the entire exterior window wall of my local Panera while I tried to eat a panini. I was seven months pregnant at the time and you can bet my ever-expanding judgmental ass that I mentally chided the parent of the licker and pledged that no child of mine would go around licking the world. Four years later…
5. “Please tell me there IS something wrong with my kid.”
Not anything serious, mind you. Sweet merciful diety-of-your-choice, no. But tell me there’s a little something wrong. Something easily treatable. Something relatively benign to explain why he’s been screaming non-stop for four hours or hasn’t slept for ten days.
While we’re at it, tell me there’s an affordable ointment available that will instantly end the annoying symptoms. And that it comes with a complimentary margarita. Because parenting is the insatiable drive to protect your child from ALL THE THINGS. Even if, occasionally, the thing he needs to be protected from is your temper.
6. “Pickle and crouton sandwiches are not a meal.”
Except sometimes they are. Kids are hella picky. Parents are hella tired. It’s not always a winning combination. As pregnant me sat in that Panera watching the licker’s progress halt to dedicate extra effort to remove a particularly stubborn glob of bird sh*t, I also internally pledged that my child would eat kale and Brussel sprouts without complaint.
No special meals for my kiddos. They’ll eat what I’m eating, damnit. Fast forward to last week when I served my kids instant oatmeal for ten consecutive meals.
7. “If you touched your penis and the public toilet, then you have to wash your hands before you put them back in my mouth.”
Remember when you had personal boundaries? Not anymore, sucker! I recently had an entire conversation with a stranger while my two-year-old used the shirt I was wearing as a make-shift fort. My husband sees my bra less often than the employees of my local grocery store.
8. “It’s not so bad when you’re only covered in someone else’s vomit.”
Parenting is a sexy gig no matter what way you look at it, but when the kiddos catch a stomach bug? Fffffttt. I have no idea how such tiny bodies can build enough pressure within those wee digestive tracts to expel things with such force and distance from every orifice simultaneously. BUT THEY CAN. AND THEY DO.
And when, after five long weeks of your little ones passing said intestinal bug back and forth, it looks like things are finally improving and the worst is over? You’ll find yourself relieved and genuinely thankful to be coated in mere vomit as you wash every bed sheet in the house for the forty-seventh time that week.
9. “It’s great you’ve learned how to work the buckles of your car seat, but please don’t unfasten your baby brother while we’re on the interstate.”
It’s amazing how quickly your littles pick up new skills — like turning on coffee makers, starting the garbage disposal, and operating power tools. Unfortunately, the more practical skills like wiping their own butts, getting their own drinks, or closing the front door take decades to master. Apparently.
My point is, watch your back. While they’re pretending they need your help to get the stabby plastic straw into their juice box, they are silently implementing their plans for world domination.
10. I’m really looking forward to the Spring forward time change because my kid might actually sleep past 5 AM.
Kids despise sleep. Well, my kids despise sleep, anyway. Maybe you’ve lucked out and your little one is a champion sleeper. But I guarantee there’s something you desperately need/crave in your life that your kid abhors and makes impossible for you to achieve.
Maybe it’s being outdoors. Maybe it’s listening to music. Maybe it’s wearing long sleeves. (No seriously, small kids explode about the most bizarre things.) Whatever it may be, no matter how vehemently you swear you’ll never give it up, THEY WILL BREAK YOU.
You’ll eventually resign yourself to wearing a t-shirt in January or enjoying the sunrise while drinking your fourth pot of coffee. Even worse, you’ll occasionally find yourself smiling while you do it.
Elly Lonon is a parenting writer and contributor to YourTango. Follow her on Twitter.