I Was Once an Expert At Parenting

It’s true!  You may not believe it, but I was once an expert at parenting and imparting valuable advice to poor, befuddled parents.  I had all the answers and knew just what to do in every situation.  So what happened?  Where did all this knowledge go?  Well the answer to that is simple:  I had a child of my own.  And suddenly I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.

Before Tink was born, there was Connor.  Really, when I think back, it’s a miracle there is a Tink considering her cousin Connor came first.  Connor was my Sister-in-Law, Jenn, and her second husband’s first child.  Go ahead and re-read that sentence if you need to.  By the time Connor was 2, he was an expert too.  An expert at throwing tantrums.  Good heavens he was a willful child!  You couldn’t be in the same room with him for more than an hour without him throwing a tantrum about something.  It was so bad, invitations to family gatherings went something like this, “Oh, we’re all getting together for dinner tomorrow?  Jenn coming?  Bringing Connor?  Yes, I suppose he is part of the family too.  No, no there’s no problem, it’s just that I was going to wash my hair tomorrow and I don’t know if I can make it.”

The family as a group never spoke of Connor’s … um …. wilfulness, but whenever two of us were alone together we inevitably compared our thoughts as to what would be best for him.  I was certain that if Jenn and her husband would just be more firm, refuse to give in to his whinny tactics, and maybe paddle his behind more often, he would be a much more pleasant child.

“I don’t know any parents that look into the eyes of a newborn baby and say, ‘How can we screw this kid up?’” – Russell Bishop

One Thanksgiving, when Connor was 2 and half, I was watching him as he played outside while other, more talented cooks prepared the feast.  I thought I had the “easy” job, playing with the “baby”.  HA!  The house Jenn and her husband were renting wasn’t really child-friendly and it was also located perilously close to a major roadway.  I had forbidden Connor from playing near the steps that led up to the sidewalk and into the road.  I will never, in my whole life, forget the twinkle in his eye as Connor looked at me, then turned and ran up those steps.  He was 2 and a half, but he flew up those steps, reached the sidewalk and was headed straight for the 4-lane highway in 2 seconds flat!  Luckily, I ran too and I lifted him by the back of his shirt and in my memory I see his foot dangling over the street but I’m told I had him firmly in my grasp several steps earlier.  Oh.  My.  God.  I think this moment is less about Connor’s wilfulness than about the fact that this was my first clue that I might not be an expert on children and how to parent them after all.

Expert? Spock wasn’t even from Earth what did he know about babies?

Anyway, I continued to list to anyone who would listen, all of Connor’s parents’ shortcomings and what they must do differently.  I expressed these opinions through all 9 months of my pregnancy and right up until Tink’s first tantrum.  Yep, after that I was officially no longer an expert.

What made me think of all of this was a picture Connor’s sister posted of him on Facebook the other day.  It was a picture from the local newspaper.  Today, Connor is the 6’3″ starting Quarterback of his High School football team and he will graduate in May in the top 10% of his class.  And he is the most pleasant, polite and wonderfully brilliant young man.  So, what conclusions can we draw from this story?  Well, there are several, but here’s what I think is most important:  Thank goodness I was there to give Connor’s parents all that great advice!

I knew he’d be athletic when he ran up those steps!

Were you ever an expert about something until you found out you weren’t?

8 thoughts on “I Was Once an Expert At Parenting

  1. littlesundog says:

    That life experience has come back to plague me many times… thinking I had the skinny on some situation!! We always seem to think we know all about something, until some reality slap hits us in the face and we realize, there are many variables to every equation! I loved that first little photo/comic. I’m sure most of my family and friends thought that very thing of me…but I’m smarter now. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself.

  2. I’m always an expert at things I have no experience doing. I often know exactly what someone else should do too. It’s shame I’m so good at everyone else’s business and just barely adequate at my own. 😉 Now on the rare occasion my parental advice is sought, I too am smart enough to reply, “I’m sure you’ll do what you think is best.” It only took me 30+ years to learn that.

  3. yearstricken says:

    Loved this. I, too, once knew everything.

  4. I really, really miss those days…. Now I’m smart enough to know I don’t know nuthin’!

  5. grndmachris says:

    That was a terrific story. Just when you thought you knew everything and read everything about raising a child, you have your own…in a flash all the knowledge is useless.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s