My oldest child turns 15 on October 8, and in honor of this momentous occasion, I’ve decided to jot down 15 things I’ve learned to be true about parenting. Some of these are tips that “the pros” tell you when you join the parenting club (but you don’t really believe them), and some of them are just off-the-wall tidbits that I’ve discovered on my own. So here goes – in no particular order…
- Kids outgrow their parents. When I hug the soon-to-be 15-year-old, I have to tiptoe to get my chin on his shoulder, and I could probably get both of my feet in one of his shoes.
- Selective Hearing is a real phenomenon.
- When a kid is 18 months old, it’s perfectly acceptable to give their age in months. Not so when they are older. If you say your child is 180 months, instead of just saying 15 years, you will be an oddball. Try it sometime just for fun.
- It’s a good thing for kids to learn some life skills like laundry and cooking. At some point they will need to fend for themselves.
- No matter how perfect a kid is, they will get off track at some point, and the mean mommy must emerge to get them headed back in the right direction. Mean mommy is no fun.
- It’s a great day when you can say “everybody load ’em up!” and you don’t have to secure a car seat, pack a diaper bag or sippy cup or blankie or Sam <or whatever your lovey’s name is>. You just hop in the car and go!
- You automatically get a raise the day you stop paying for daycare.
- Teenagers like to be with their friends more than they like to be with their parents. Friends are fun. Parents are just old…even us cool ones.
- Every mother thinks her child is the cutest/smartest/sweetest/funniest. It’s best not to argue.
- When your kids hurt, you hurt. Whether it’s physical or emotional – you feel it, too.
- Kids have a tendency to interpret words and phrases differently than parents. e.g. “Maybe” or “I’ll think about it” means “Yes” to the kid, but to the parent it means “maybe” or “I’ll think about it.”
- When kids don’t get their way, they can get very angry at mom and dad and say things that are downright ugly. Stand your ground! Keep in mind that they’ll get over it when they want money.
- No matter how old your kid is, you will get unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family. Use it or don’t, but smile and say ‘thank you’ either way. There’s always time to grit your teeth later.
- Pick your battles. Save the arguments for things that really matter (like wearing a seatbelt), because you might go crazy if you don’t just let some things slide.
- It really does go by fast. No matter how long a night with a sick infant or a day with an active toddler or a weekend with a mouthy pre-teen may seem, you look back and think where in the world did the time go?
I could keep going and going, but I’d rather hear from others about what they’ve learned about parenting. Do tell!
Oh – and happy almost birthday to my favorite 15-year-old in the whole world!