Many of you know that when the BossLady became pregnant, I completely immersed myself in parenting literature and read almost every single book ever written about both parenting or childcare. (What can I say? Being an insomniac, speed-reading neurotic is dangerous sometimes.)
Now, I'm not going to get involved in the whole controversy regarding the validity of these parenting books. Who really cares? For the BossLady and me, we read all the books, digested all the information and culled what we thought would be useful. Some information helped. Some didn't. C'est la vie.
No...my real complaint is that nobody seems to answer the really hard questions about what it's like having a child who's almost a year old. Because if there's one thing that I've learned in my 11 months as a parent, it's that every day brings a new set of situations where you're forced to make game-time decisions and all the reading in the world won't help you out. As an example, I'm going to give you a couple situations where all the books in the world wouldn't have helped. Maybe some of you more experienced parents can help a newbie out with some advice. Anyway, here they are...
(1) You're holding the baby in your arms in someone else's living room, which is swathed in the plushest white carpet available this side of Persia. The dog is at your feet. All of sudden, your baby's ass explodes in a volcano of diarrhea. It's blown the doors off her diaper and is oozing down your leg onto the white carpet. Suddenly, the dog starts licking it all up. But the combination of the smell and the sight of the dog eating your child's diarrhea are making you nauseated and you feel like you're about to vomit. What do you do? And in which order?
(2) Your daughter loves sticking things in her mouth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. Your wife isn't home yet so it's just you and the baby. Do you let your baby chew an unplugged electrical cord, nibble on the dog's chew toy and suck on one of Daddy's smelly gym socks? Knowing that the removal of any one of these objects from her mouth is going to lead to some serious screaming? Or is it all relatively harmless and will only build character? What do you tell your wife if she finds out?
(3) You and your wife work full-time. While at work, you both miss your daughter tremendously and can't wait to get home and play with her. In the morning, you get to play with her for a solid hour before you have to go. But at night, sometimes you only have 20 minutes together before it's time for her nighttime bottle and bedtime. Not nearly enough time and you want to make the most of it. So exactly how long can a baby go without being bathed? Can you bathe her 3x during the weekend to make up for it? Or can you hold out until she smells worse than the dog? Eactly how often does a child need to be bathed?
(4) You meet an attractive woman at the playground and she starts cooing at your daughter and remarking how absolutely adorable she is. She mentions that she and her husband have a child the same age. When her equally attractive husband comes over with their daughter, you look inside the stroller and witness what surely must be the illegitimate love child of Chewbacca and Shrek. You've never seen a hairier baby in your life. You didn't even know babies could be that hairy! What do you? Do you swallow the vomit in your mouth? Or do you coo back at the baby lovingly and remark how beautiful she is? After all, they've got to know, right?
(5) Your daughter was breastfed for the first 6 months of her life. And as much as she loves eating solid food now, old habits apparently die hard. Every time a woman holds your daughter, she reaches down the woman's blouse and tries not only to grab some breast but also attempts to put her mouth on the woman's nipple. What do you do? Laugh it off nervously? Pull your daughter off? Or smile tepidly and ask the woman, "got milk?"
Whatchoo got, Internet? Whatchoo got? (No really, I'd like to know.)