Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting Note to Self #1


I enjoy reading for pleasure, but I'm passionate about reading to better educate myself. I'm an information junky when it comes to my eclectic interests. I'll flip though books and the internet for hours when I get the chance, trying to absorb whatever I can about my favorite topics: antique marbles, wild edible plants, Italian vacation destinations, medicinal herbs, indigenous ancient cultures, container gardening, up-cycling, abnormal psychology, painting the human figure, rare diseases and genetic conditions, and parenting - just to name a few.

You would have thought, with the scads of reading and research I've done, and even through my own experience as a parent, I wouldn't have made the newbie parenting mistake I made today. Because I'm a big advocate of learning from mistakes (no matter how long it may take me) I thought I would share the lesson I've learned, and in doing so, save some of you from this misfortune.

Tip #1:
Don't feed the baby 1/2 a banana, a handful of cereal, and 2 slices of toast with butter and blueberry jelly right before you go somewhere. Especially don't do this if that somewhere happens to be a small, very crowded, elementary school gymnasium with little air circulation.

Just the simple act of clapping for little emerging readers at your older child's awards ceremony will waft the aroma of a filled diaper from the baby on your hip. Just adjusting his weight slightly to try to reach for your camera will permeate the air around you with the distinct odor of whole-milk baby do-do. Just reaching on tiptoe to try to focus the camera over the heads of the applauding masses will saturate the dwindling supply of oxygen in the room. I would guesstimate, based on the beseeching eyes, that the radial potency of a blueberry toast-banana-milk diaper is about 15 feet.  Lesson learned. Now....what to do differently in the future?

Even if there was a changing table somewhere nearby, you know the second you leave they will call your other child's name, and he will search the crowd for your proud smile in vain. The dimming sparkle in his eyes, the crushing disappointment at not having a parent bear witness to his achievement...it is this unbearable thought that leaves you standing there, camera hoisted above your head, wishing you had an Altoid as you have started to mouth breathe through the fumes. Tip #2: Bring Altoids to all elementary school assemblies in the future. Don't add insult to injury by scalding people's remaining nose cilia with coffee breath. This would be an even more important tip if it happens to be an early-morning assembly and you've been drinking. You don't want to make all the other parents jealous.


Another thing to keep in mind, is that you will inevitably have to leave the house sometimes, and as often as babies poop, these situations can't always be avoided. In such instances I've discovered a need for finely-tuned micro-expressions. Tip #3: Work on facial expressions in the mirror. Focus efforts on looking innocent, apologetic, or...at least...completely oblivious. And, after all, if you are in an elementary school, there's the old "he who smelt it dealt it" rule of thumb. Try returning the look. Practice the facial expression equivalent of: "How do I know you didn't poop YOUR pants Grandpa?"

Finally, here's Tip #4: Keep in mind the old cliche` "safety in numbers". Try waiting outside the gym for another harrowed-looking mother with a diapered baby on her hip. File into the gym after her and stand just slightly behind her if you can. This way you can work the benefit of the doubt. If you want to really work it, sniff your baby's tush, do that little peak-down-the-back-of-the-diaper check thing, and then look over at her baby while nodding knowingly and patiently. If you start getting dismayed looks from people, go ahead and gesture at her baby. If you still get looks, try switching babies with her while no one is looking.

So, hope this helped a little. Happy parenting! :D