I used to get annoyed when people told me, “Oh, you have no idea about having kids until you have them.” Sure I did. Who doesn’t know that although kids are cute, they are also a lot of work? That’s why you get a dog to practice before having a kid. Like, duh.
Now that I have three kids, it’s my turn to pass on this knowledge to people I know having their first kid. YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT HAVING KIDS UNTIL YOU HAVE KIDS! Sorry for shouting, but it’s true. So so so so so so very true.
Not that anyone asked, but if I were going to give advice to first-time parents, I wouldn’t just state the obvious about their life changing forever. That’s not helpful. Kids are a lot of work, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead, I’d sit them down in comfy chairs, hand them a beer or glass of wine, and break it down for them all realistic-style.
And so I present to you, “A Couple of Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids.”
(Author’s note: This post will be followed by “A Couple More Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids” and “Even More Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids,” because let’s face it, there’s a lot to cover, and I could go on and on and on. Promise me, though, that if you read this post you read the second two so that I don’t come off as some sort of a-hole.)
Ok, let’s get to it. And fair warning: I curse a little in this one.
#1: Kids Are Gross
I think most people without kids understand this in theory–kids poop and pee and puke–but in practice . . . when you’re the parent, YOU are the one cleaning up all of this (literal) shit. And not just when dealing with diapers and potty training and the occasional tummy bug. Those are a given. But like when your kid decides to take a dump on the floor. At the mall. (Or, unfortunately for a friend of mine, in her hand, at the grocery store.) Or when your kid decides she’s big enough to pee alone in the stall at Target but forgets to take off her pants. Or when your kid works himself into such a tantrum that he barfs up everything he has managed to consume from what seems like the past 2 days.
These, my friends, will not be isolated incidents. Especially when your kids are little. These shenanigans will happen often, if not daily. If your kid has a proclivity for such behavior, you may even be dealing with this stuff a few different times a day. That adds up to a shit-ton of shit. And since you’re the one cleaning up all of this, you can bet your britches that some of this crap will end up on you too. If you’re lucky, you’ll get just a little on your hand. Although gross, easily fixed with some good hand hygiene. If you’re unlucky, well, let’s just say you better hope you realize where the smell that’s been following you all day is coming from before someone else does.
And while we’re on the topic of kids doing gross things, I’d like to put this fact out there: Kids eat their boogers. I think people like to think only other people’s kids do this, but that’s not true. Every kid will at some point in time eat boogers. You just want to hope it’s only their boogers they’re eating. Your kid may try it just once, or it may develop into a habit that lasts for a while. But it will happen. Same goes for ABC gum they find stuck to the underside of a movie theater seat, or a cold half-eaten fry they find on the floor of McDonald’s because, you know, they were still hungry. Dear god, I wish I were making this stuff up.
#2: Kids Are Dirty
I only had a vague notion about kids and dirt before having my own. I used to babysit a lot, so I knew about the messy face and hands after eating, and even about the crumbs they left all over the table and floor. What I did not know what that this dirt cannot be confined. It doesn’t matter how often you wipe them down after eating or how often you vacuum in the wake of a meal. You will find crumbs in bed (yours, theirs), crumbs in the carpet, crumbs in the cracks of the couch, crumbs in their cracks. You will ask yourself, “How in the world did crumbs get into the freaking tube of toothpaste?!” Like actually into the tube. Kids are just crafty like that.
The crumbs will even multiply and migrate out into your car. Their car seats (who am I kidding, your entire car) will forever be encrusted with ground-up goldfish bits, rogue Cheerios, and broken pretzel sticks. Don’t be too quick to clean out your car, though. This may prove useful on a long car trip when you’ve forgotten snacks. “Oh, sorry kids, just dig around in the cracks of your seat, I’m sure you’ll find something to tide you over.”
In addition to the crumbs you’ll find everywhere, EVERYTHING in your house, including the kids, will be sticky. Toys, books, DVD cases, toilet flusher thingies, faucets, door handles (especially the one on the refrigerator), TV remotes, cabinets, tabletops, countertops, your cell phone, the cat. You’ll need to keep plenty of Windex on hand to wipe their fingerprints off the mirrors and the TV screen. You’ll also need a lot of towels to clean up all of the drinks they’ll spill. At. Every. Single. Meal. Oh, and find a good laundry detergent. Preferably one that can handle the different kinds of stains you’ll be trying to remove from your pants every time you sit in something new and find your ass stuck to the couch.
And with that pearl of wisdom, I will wrap it up. Not your ass, the post. For now, anyway. Be on the lookout for the second part of this “Things You Know But Don’t Know” series. It may or may not discuss hoarding and mooching. Until then . . .