Editor's Note: This guest post is by Joe DeProspero, who has two sons and a wife. He is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as "outrageous," "painfully real," and "downright humiliating." Author of the dark comedy fiction novel "The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt," Joe is also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
The best laid schemes of mice and men...often go awry.
Ask any coach who's developed a plan to win a football game by perpetually blitzing a rookie quarterback. Or a college student who strategically hopped on a flight home one day early, to avoid the rush. A wise person once said that, as we make plans, God laughs. Well, for the purposes of this article, you are God. And I'm still me. Hopeful, naí¯ve me.
I made plenty of mistakes with my first son, Antonio. In fairness, I was a new dad, completely fresh to the scene. Surely, missteps were going to happen. I just didn't expect them to happen so often. I was that parent at drop-off with his shirt untucked, a baby in one hand, and my half-eaten breakfast in the other, simply trying to survive. I had no system, no experience to learn from. Slowly but surely, I adapted to the chaos, finding ways to manage not only my child, but myself. Five years, another son, and tons of mistakes later, I've condensed a list of my errors down to ten. I'm going to try really, really hard not to make them with my forthcoming third child -- a daughter!
1. Leaving my groin unprotected
It's an actual miracle I was able to conceive multiple children based on the effort each one has made to ensure my testicles are permanently on the disabled list. And we don't even have to be wrestling for it to occur. Making pancakes, reading a bedtime story...both golden opportunities to slam me mightily in the balls, apparently. So, from now on, I'm wearing a cup at all times when I'm around any of my children when they're awake. Not kidding.
2. Diagnosing illnesses via Google
It never fails. One of my kids has a stuffy nose and a fever, and the Internet tells me that my son has Polio. I've since realized that Google.com never earned its doctorate. So I'm staying away from that like I would stay away from someone with the terrible diseases it keeps telling me my family has.
3. Over. Booking.
We are an arrogant bunch, us humans. We somehow believe we can take Christmas card photos, attend a bounce-house birthday party, go grocery shopping, and map out a financial plan for your entire family all in one afternoon. With my third child coming, I don't see myself committing to much more than "wake up, get dressed, eat things."
4. Telling people our baby name choices
We told everyone our top 3 when my wife was pregnant with our second son. We never realized people would pick a favorite and literally start calling him by that name while he was still in the womb. That led to some awkward phone calls once he was born. From now on, this is the name. Deal with it.
5. Not bringing back-up clothes
My wife is far better at this than I am. But I'm starting to learn how disastrous it can be when you fail to complete this simple step upon leaving the house. I've learned that kids will find new and innovative ways to destroy their clothes, and it's almost always when they're out in public without the luxury of a dresser nearby. With a daughter on the way, I fully intend to stash a cornucopia of dresses, tiaras, and 16 pairs of underwear whenever I go even as far as the mailbox.
6. Making ridiculous threats or claims
"I'm not gonna tell you again!"
"If you don't finish your dinner, I'm giving all your toys to the mailman."
We both know neither of those statements holds merit. So, I'm changing my approach to a much more realistic one, incorporating threats that have a chance of happening.
"If you don't come here and pick up these Legos, I'll piss and moan for a while, give you four more chances to pick them up, then give you a dramatic '5 count,' wherein I threaten the disposal of said toy before you finally tire of listening to me."
7. Parking far from the cart return
When you're food shopping with kids, the cart return is like your center of gravity. Stray too far from it, and you're left disoriented and confused. If you park your car far from where the cart return station is, you have three choices:
- Unload your bags and kids into the car, leave the cart next to your car for someone else to pick up.
- Unload your bags and kids into the car, run the cart over to the cart return station, leaving your children unattended, in a car, for several seconds.
- Return the cart first, then transport your kids and all your bags from the cart return station to your car.
All three options hold a negative consequence, if you have a conscience. So, I plan to park directly next to the cart return, no matter what.
8. Disrespecting the nap schedule
This goes hand in hand with overbooking. And it never goes well. In the past, I've been gutsy (read: stupid) enough to think I could pull off taking my son to a store that coincided directly with his nap. It might surprise you to know that he threw a Bobby Knight-level tantrum, eventually passing out in his stroller. Can't blame him. Would you want to be stuck five people deep in a check-out line when you expected to be asleep in your bed?
9. Thinking we'll be fine without the stroller
This is especially crucial during ages 1-3, when kids are excited about walking on their own, but only for about four minutes. I've learned that, somehow, my kids run out of gas quickly when walking in a theme park, fair, carnival, etc. Far quicker than people 20 times their age even do. From now on, it's stroller or we don't go at all. I'm not carrying a 20-30 pound bag of sand around Disney World.
10. Wearing work clothes to the breakfast table
I've determined through extensive research that wearing business attire while your child has access to throwable food is like dancing the Macarena in front of a hungry jaguar with sausage links draped over your shoulders. It's just too cocky. So, instead, I've started wearing a plastic shield over my body. I may look like an Italian sofa, but at least I won't show up at the office looking like a barbecue napkin anymore.
I'm sure this list could easily be expanded. So, what amendments did you make after realizing a mistake you were making with #1 or #2? Add it in the comments or tweet me @JoeDeProspero!
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
* Father and son photo courtesy of Shutterstock,com