In my relatively brief history as a father, I've found that parent-to-parent conversations tend to take two different courses.
On the one hand, you have the mushy unsolicited advice-givers who tend to drop pearls of wisdom like pigeon droppings. These are the parents who tend to speak in vague aphorisms and love saying things like, "Isn't your life finally complete and wonderful now that you're a parent?" or "I barely remember what life was like before I had children!" I constantly find it amazing to see how many parents apparently had NO LIFE before they had kids.
But even more annoying are the competi-parents. These are the ones who view every conversation as an opportunity to boast about their own child's development. Does your baby count to 10? Really? In how many languages? Oh, that's cute. Billy is learning Mandarin now, plays the piano, and is a black belt in karate.
With these parents, I just like to end the conversation by saying, "Really? Yesterday, my kid painted the walls with her own shit, ate my chewing tobacco, and then farted on the dog. Can YOUR child do that?"
Now, don't get me wrong. Although I generally dislike discussing developmental milestones, I LOVE talking to other parents about their kids. As the ancient Chinese proverb says, "life consists of the small things." And I often find that it's the small things that crack my ass up.
What I really love hearing are the everyday stories that parents tell about their children. I especially love reading about kids who are slightly older than the Peanut. It's like getting a glimpse of what awaits me in the future. Not the cognitive development bullshit but the fun stuff. The small things in a child's development that crack you up. Or the funny shit that comes out of their mouths and puts a smile on your face.
As I've mentioned before, this internet thing is weird. In a strange but comforting way, I feel invested in reading about all these children of parents that I hardly know. I love hearing that Robert wants to start a band that only performs "Life is a Highway." I think it's hysterical that Elijah is putting socks on his penis. Or what about the nipple conversations that Kristen and Mimi are having with their daughters? I can barely keep track of all the kid stories I read on the internet.
Right now, the Peanut is a little over two-years old and every single day is non-stop comedy. I guess there are parents of newborns who like coming here just to see what they can expect in the future. So, in the interest of "paying it forward," here are just a few small things that those of you with younger children can expect after your child turns two.
The following takes place during the course of a single day...
(1) Your child's memory will amaze you. Things you said months ago when she was a little infant will now come back to haunt you. For example, this morning, you will be speaking to a matronly woman in the lobby of your building and her shoe will squeak on the rubber mat. Your innocent little child (who has been shyly clinging to your leg in total silence for 10 minutes) will suddenly look up alertly and yell, "WHO FART, DADDY?"
(2) Your child will be in the midst of being toilet trained. On a good
day, she will go to the bathroom by herself and poop. The clean-up
part? Eh...not so good. Today, you will wake up by
having your daughter open the door to your bedroom and crawl into your bed. She will plant a kiss on your
cheek and demand that you wake up so the two of you can have cereal together. You will look up to realize that she is not wearing any diapers. When you ask her where her diaper is, she will reach underneath your 600-count Frette comforter, pull out a very loaded diaper, and proclaim, "Right HERE, daddy!"
(3) That afternoon, you will be changing your daughter's diaper. Her stool will have a very gelatinous texture to it. In fact, if you look closely, you will find some slightly pink mucilage. When you show your daughter the diaper and ask what the hell that is, she will smile toothily at you and cheerfully pronounce, "I eat GUM, daddy!"
(4) Around this time, your child will mimic everything that you do. As she will constantly tell you, she's "a big girl now" and no longer wants to be treated like a baby. This insistent behavior will manifest itself in many ways. Today, you notice that she has a slight fever and must be kept out of daycare. Because you have no other alternative, she will come to your office during the day. She will see you working and, because you are busy, you will end up eating lunch at your desk. Later that night, she will disappear from sight, only to grab the telephone from your bedroom and rearrange all the furniture in the apartment so that she too can eat at her desk...
And you will laugh...
Because once again, your daughter will prove that life's daily small moments are the ones that you cherish the most.