Three kids. Man, this transition from two to three hasn’t been nearly the trial that one to two was. Not nearly as many tears and tantrums, and the kids have been better too. Little Veronica has been so easy, doing little more than eating and sleep (and pooping. So much pooping). Why the easier transition? As far as I can tell, it’s due to nothing more than our advanced parenting abilities. I don’t want to oversell it, but pretty much we are experts. But I remember how it was, back before our lives fell into perfect order, and I wanted to share some of the things that we learned that made this family expansion so much easier.
Make Everything a Race
Everything. There is literally nothing that can’t be turned into a race so intense that failing to win will reduce a child to hysterics. Need your kid to get dressed? Set a timer and make them beat it. I’m pretty sure I could get my daughter to choke a hobo if I told her it was the only way to get her socks on before the countdown hits zero. Not that I would ever do that. But I could.
We race bites for dinner. Who can get the noodles down first? Dad’s going to win if you don’t get that fork moving. At this point, I don’t believe they know any other way to eat. This should serve them well in life.
“Bet I can get this filet down before you can even cut your first piece,” Lucy says as she and her husband settle into their steaks.
“Honey,” Todd, son of the Ambassador to France, says, setting down his fork and knife. “This is a sixty dollar fillet. Can we just – ”
“I win,” Lucy says around the 8 ounce of steak wedged between her cheeks as juice runs down her chin.
I expect these life lessons will serve her well in her future career as a pro athlete or Wall Street executive. Or fishing boat captain.
(although I’m not going to lie. I’m a little disappointed she married a guy named Todd)
Absolutely No Injury is Serious
When you have a kid that falls as much as Rocky does, there is no choice but to adopt this rule. The best approach to your child falling is to just keep walking. Not even a glance in their direction. Most likely, they won’t realize they are supposed to be hurt and you don’t have to put down your beer. Win win. And if they start crying, pick them up by the armpits and set them on their feet. Then say “you’re fine” and keep walking. That limp will clear up soon enough.
Given time, they’ll lose their ability to feel pain. That’s when you can start to train them. It sound callous, sure, but when the robots rise up, someone has to lead the resistance. Just keep your eye out for T-800’s sent from the future.
A little while ago, our oldest start to get a little shouty. We learned that she was shouting because we were shouting, thus we were teaching her how to react and setting a bad example. So no shouting, Mom and Dad.
What you want to do is just ask them repeatedly to put on their pajamas. It doesn’t matter if you’ve asked ten times, you just grit your teeth and ask again. Bite down hard, slowly grinding your molars. Feel that? That pulsing behind your forehead? That’s what good parenting feels like.
You want to shout, don’t you? Just a little yell? Come on, what could it hurt. Your parents yelled at you and you’re largely fine. Do it. do it.
NO! NO! You will ruin your child. What is wrong with you! No, you push that anger down. Pack it down deep. Stay pregnant with your angst. It’s your new baby. A fetus of frustration. Carry it with you always. And then go to your job downtown and sit at your desk. Just you and your frustration, two little cogs in the corporate machine. Oh look, a email from your boss. Your deadline has been moved up. No problem, just push the frustration down.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
So there you go. The keys to expert parenting. Follow these guidelines and you’ll have an easy time adapting to one, two, three, or even four kids. Well, maybe not four kids. That’s just madness.