Friday, February 11, 2011

What I've Learned - Year 2

I've now been a father for over two years now and, as I did after the first year, I have some reflections on what I've learned. I actually accepted a job a few months ago, so I'm now a working parent instead of a stay-at-home dad. I'm not really sure if this affected my outlook and opinion of parenting or not. We shall see...

I'm pretty sure my wife and I are the only parents of a toddler who don't refer to ourselves in the third person. You know, stuff like, "Bring that apple to Daddy." I really expected I would start doing this even though it annoys the hell out of me, just because every parent I've ever seen does it. Thankfully I've never even felt the urge. We all hate anybody who refers to themselves in the third person in every other situation, why do we find it OK when parents do it? I really don't get why parents do this anyway. A one-year-old is perfectly capable of understanding the concept of me, my, you, yours, he, his, etc. At least mine is. Treat them stupid and they will be stupid, I say.

I think we are also the only parents that don't use cutesy names like PJs, blankey, boo-boo and the like. Another thing I don't understand about other parents.

Reading your kid the books you remember from your own childhood can be a double-edged sword as they may not be as awesome as you remember. Sure, those Richard Scarry books are just as cool as you remember. But when I read Curious George I got sick to my stomach. The man with the yellow hat is not George's "friend" as the books refer to him, he is his captor. He captured George as a baby and took him out of the jungle to the city. George is his monkey-slave. And this supposedly makes George happy? Evil, evil book. I can't believe our parents read that to us.

The original two Corduroy books, by Don Freeman (which were not a part of my childhood), are so fantastic I can hardly stand it. All the rest, written by different authors after Freeman died, are such complete pieces of shit I can hardly stand it.

After having been a stay-at-home parent and now being a working parent and can now say with certainty that being a stay-at-home is a lot easier. I know this isn't necessarily the most PC thing to say, but I've been on both sides. Let me just say this, my new job doesn't have a nap time.

I'm soooooooooo ready for the diaper years to be over. It's another one of those things that make me wonder why people have more than one kid. You want to extend the diaper years?

I laugh even more now than when I hung around sketch comedy actors/writers. And I hung around great sketch comedy people. Two-year-olds are fucking hilarious.

I'm so happy my daughter has decided to call me "Da" instead of "Daddy" or "Dad." I don't know why, maybe just because it is less common (outside of Ireland at least) and when I'm around a bunch of other parents I'll know if it's my kid calling me. Unless those kids at daycare start influencing her with that pedestrian "Daddy" stuff.

I'm so impressed when my kid does something new, like the first time she counted to three or when she made it all the way to ten. I know she's not like a super genius, smartest kid in the world or anything. But when you are hanging around a little human who can suddenly do something she couldn't do the day before it sure seems genius.

I know people call it the "terrible twos" (really a degrading thing to call a kid) but I like having a two-year-old so much more than a six-month-old.

CDs of popular or classical music that are rerecorded to be "for kids" are so utterly stupid. Just play Vivaldi for your kid, not the horribly simplistic and shallow version that Baby Einstein puts out. If you want to introduce your kids to The Beatles, then play them a Beatles record. What's the point of a lullaby version of The Beatles? To annoy everyone? These things seem to be more likely to make your kid a music hater.

You can raise your kid in a green(er) way. There are better options for diapers out there, you don't have to use chlorine-filled disposables. You also don't need to surround yourself with a house full of plastic shit. You have to lay down the law with your family and friends and risk offending/upsetting some of them, but you can avoid having nothing but plastic toys. When you ban plastic you get better quality toys anyway. We have also proven wrong all those people that said after we had a kid we would have to buy a car.

After being offered my job - I wasn't actually looking for a job when this all came up - I had less than a month to find a decent daycare for my daughter. I'm pretty sure I've never experienced a higher level of stress in my life.

I hear lots of parents say that raising a child is the hardest thing you'll ever do. I think these people have never done anything in their lives that is actually hard. Raising a kid is a cakewalk compared to just about anything else this side of being born an heiress.

I think I may have one of the most laid-back two-year-olds ever. Whenever she's starting to get testy and having a hissy, acting at her absolute worst, most other parents will react with, "Wait, that's her worst? Hell, that's nothing." So maybe it is just raising my kid that is so easy.

The most important thing I've learned is that I'm really goddamn good at this, being a parent. I know that seems smug and egotistical but I can't help it, I just am. I totally thought I was going to suck at being a parent. I feared it. But it turns out I am so awesome at it that I'm amazed by myself. Seriously, I have never been the most confident person about anything. I always questioned that I was a very good theatre director even when I was having success at it, and feel similar about what I do for a living now. But parenting? I'll go toe-to-toe with anybody. I try not be this way, I really do, because I know how annoying it makes me. But when I see most other parents in action I just can't help but think to myself, "What fucking morons."

Terrible, I know. I shouldn't be so mean toward other parents. I'm sure most of the ones I see are doing a perfectly acceptable job. Just not as good as me.

I really have never been as good at anything as I am at being a dad. I guess that's also why I know this isn't that hard. Because if I can be good at this...