Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dude! You Know It's a Baby Not a T.V. Show Right?

Being a first time dad of a nine month old baby boy, I get dragged into conversations with "more experienced" parents all the freakin' time.  I realize that they are just trying to be helpful, but come on. I am not a moron am I?  

Don't answer that. 

Yes, to be fare these advice givers just want to be helpful and make my life easier, but all the while they are giving me their pointers on proper parenting techniques and the like, I just want to strangle someone.  

Don't get me wrong I appreciate the gesture.  I just don't need to hear the same old crap from 100 different people every time I go shopping or walking or to grandma's house. 

You see, I, like a lot of other people, am the type of person who wrongly thinks that they never need help or advice.  

Frequently, I hear myself saying things like, "I am perfectly capable by myself, and for the record, if I had wanted your advice I'd have given it to you."  Yeah, I sound like a real jackal, and I know it.  But, you know, there is some truth in that statement. 

I am perfectly capable of being a parent, and, probably, so are you.   

After all, isn't it the parent who calls the shots, and who knows a child better than you, the parent?  

Just be careful of what you disregard.  Some advice should be heeded.  As I have found out, we all need help...sometimes. The hard part is accepting it and knowing which advice to toss and which to keep. 

Unfortunately, I frequently toss it all out.

For example, during the first few days of my boy's life, and before his birth, I couldn't help but be all cocksure and arrogant.  I wasn't going to listen to anybody no matter what they said.  
I knew it all already.  

Repeatedly, I talked about what I would not allow to happen, what parenthood was going to be like for  my wife and I, and how I was going to schedule everything, right down to the diaper changes. (For the record I am terrible with schedules.)  

I read all the horror stories in the parenting magazines that weren't lipstick or make-up related, and I knew nothing like that would ever happen to me because I, unlike them, had plans and schedules to fall back on. 

They were good ones too I think. 

I remember talking to my father one day.  We were having the typical father to son conversation that occurs only when the father is so much smarter than the son because daddy has seen this movie before.  

Baby boy, me, doesn't know squat but thinks he does or refuses to admit that he doesn't.  It's the "you probably have it all wrong" conversation that happens when dad knows best.  

We all hate that.  I know it's not just me.  

Unfortunately, most of the time dad does know best, which is why it is so freakin' frustrating. 

Well, anyway, I was telling my dad of all my plans and dumb-ass schedules I had for my son when he arrived.  That's when the bastard laughed at me and said, "Don't be surprised if nothing goes as planned kid."  

I was sooo pissed!  

After all, what did this old fart know that I didn't?  

Apparently, everything, but I wouldn't figure that out for a few more weeks yet.  I gave up the conversation and changed the topic because all talking to the old man did was manage to was piss me off.  

What a drag.

Anyway, the next day I went to a younger, "more hip to the times", father, thinking he would surely understand what I was talking about, and, of course, he would agree with me. Yeah right! We discussed what I had planned for my baby, and how everything was going to be so perfect. Guess what?  

That jackal laughed at me too!  

What the hell?!  

Alright, he was still too old.  I guess I was wrong about his "hip-ness." He was like forty or something, obviously not up with the times.  He can't possibly have known what he was talking about.  After all, his kids were already 5 and 12. He probably forgot that they were ever babies or something.  

So, finally, I went to an even younger father who had young children, and he also happens to be one of my best friends, so he would surely agree with me and praise my foresight.  He and I talked for a good long time.  "Alright, I am finally getting what I need!" I thought to myself.  "He understands what I am talking about and agrees with me. He must because all he is doing is sitting there nodding his head repeatedly." 

I was right I was getting what I needed, but not what I wanted.   

After I finished my half-hour long monologue, which is typical for me by the way, what do you think he said to me?  He said, "Dude! You do realize that it's a baby not a t.v. show right?"

"Aahh!" I screamed internally. 

I was broken hearted.  All the other dads I know thought I was stupid, or naive at the very least.  

Well, I was going to prove them wrong damnit!  Dead wrong!  I'm nobody's fool. 

Well, it turns out that I owe them all an apology, which they will never get because I am a man and can't do that.  My fragile grasp on manhood depends on never admitting that I'm ever wrong too much.

Here's the problem I had. 

You see, the one thing I never took into consideration then was that infants are people too.  They have their own little, adorable personalities, and their own ideas about scheduling and timing.  

Because of this, I ended up having to throw everything I thought I knew out the window.  The beautiful baby room and crib haven't been touched because he sleeps in our bed, the full proof feeding schedule I had written up doesn't happen, the nap times never happen when I want them too, quiet time is non-existent, and the list goes on and on.

Before I go any further. I know that there is a lot of controversy about co-sleeping with your baby.  To that I say, people do it all over the world, and my son doesn't cry at night because he is hungry or lonely or whatever.  That, and it is the best thing in the world to role over in the morning and see my son's face smiling at me first thing when I wake up.  

So, this is one instance where I firmly believe that ignoring all the advice from other parents has really paid off for my wife and I.  

Yeah, I used to worry incessantly about rolling over the top of him and hurting him during the middle of the night, but I didn't really need to because even while my wife and I sleep we are aware of where he is in the bed.

Anyway, I digress.  Here is my advice to myself and others like me. I say that I need to hear this too because I started making plans again about the upcoming toddler days, and, boy, I have no idea what to expect.  

My advice as a parent is that we all need to relax and let things happen.  Your child will show you what he/she wants and needs at the time he/she wants and needs it.  Besides, spontaneity is excellent for teaching you and your baby flexibility, and, believe me, we'll need it.  

But, above all, don't throw away all the advice people try to give you.  I know it is annoying, but there are some real gems strewn about in all that clutter of knowledge and experience, so pick and choose carefully what is worthy.                

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