I haven't figured this out yet . . .
I love being a dad. I should start with that because I’m going to vent some negativity, and I don’t want it to seem like a reflection on my feelings toward parenthood. Seriously though, being a dad is awesome. My mother once told me that it was my lifelong goal to get married, which is probably why I got married so young. But I think becoming a parent would rank higher on my list.
Being a dad rocks because I get to be a kid again. I get to play with toys I never had, teach my kids how to do stuff, and act like a fool without being judged. A lot of these feelings may stem from the fact that I was the youngest child and got several hand-me-down toys and never had anyone look up to me in my family. I’m not complaining about that, though, because it’s still awesome to be the youngest. Besides, my hand-me-downs were original Star Wars toys and a massive collection of Legos.
When I became a dad, I knew there were a bunch of chores that came with it, and since I planned for it to happen, I can’t complain about them. There are certain things that you know you are going to be a challenge before you have children. Others surprise you.
A lot of the things you have to do as a parent aren’t so bad. Changing diapers isn’t that bad. Taking care of a sick baby sucks, but it’s doable. Dealing with temper tantrums is a part of life, no biggie.
Any task that comes with being a parent can be made more difficult based on your child’s personality. Changing a diaper does suck if you have a wiggle worm for a kid and a diaper full of poop. Sick babies are nothing to sneeze at (no pun intended) and temper tantrums are wildly embarrassing if you’re out in public. Again, these are things you know you’re going to deal with before you have children.
But there are some pretty routine responsibilities that are surprisingly lame. At least, they were a surprise to me.
1. Oral hygiene. Even if your kid likes to brush their teeth, this is not fun. Primarily because you’re trying to operate a tiny toothbrush in a tiny mouth. And flossing? Forget about it.
2. Doctor’s appointments. They’re necessary, and taking your children to the doctor is ok if they don’t mind being there. Sitting in the waiting room is not. They have the waiting room there for you to wait in, so you know you’re going to wait. I think Jerry Seinfeld said that. And you never know how long you’re going to wait for. I once waited an hour and a half before I saw our pediatrician. Unacceptable. I’m mentioning this more for small children because when you go to the pediatrician, you have to deal with the boredom that sets in after they get tired of playing with the germ infested toys in the waiting room. Plus, you’re bound to be there with some other child who has snot and drool all over their face, and will undoubtedly get too close to your child for comfort. They may even cough in your kid’s face. Who would let their kid run around a doctor’s office with snot and a cough and play with other children? I don’t know, but they’re out there. And if you’re one of these people, shame on you.
3. Waking your kids up. My son goes to school three days a week and he’s usually up well before we have to leave. On the rare occasion when he does sleep in, I cringe. Firstly, because I wonder why he can’t do that on the weekends when we have nowhere to be. Secondly, because waking your kid up before they’re ready means a cranky and sluggish child. Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents would wake you up for school? And how awful it was? I do. And I never imagined how difficult it must have been for my mother to deal with me in the mornings. She’s a saint. I think it’s far worse dealing with it as a parent because when you’re a kid you don’t care if you’re late for school or if you even make it, but I bet your parents did. Not fun.
4. Flying. Ok, unless you’re a real jet-setter, this isn’t really routine, but it’s likely to happen at least once. I’ve never done this one, but my wife has and it didn’t sound fun. I was in San Francisco a few months ago and while I was at the airport I met a woman traveling from England to Hawaii with a two-year old. She’d been traveling for two days and still had a five hour flight to go. Plus our flight had been delayed three hours. Airports aren’t fun for small children and planes certainly aren’t. You can only pray that you packed enough food and entertainment to keep your child distracted for a long journey. Once the novelty of being on an airplane for the first time wears off, you have to deal with hunger and boredom in a cramped space with no escape. I could have guessed this wouldn’t be fun before I became a parent, but I’d never really noticed children at airports or on planes until I became a dad. I guess that either says something about my attentiveness, or the supreme ability at making their children invisible by all the parents whom I’ve previously, and unwittingly, traveled with.
There may be more routine activities that are the bane of parental existence, but I couldn’t really think of any more. If anyone thinks of other lame parental tasks that you don’t sign up for, let me know.