One thing I underestimated about being a parent was how much coaching is involved. And, while sometimes my coaching feels a lot more like being a commander in the military, I try to gently lead my little people into making good choices every day.
But, I guess I underestimated the vast amount of information that has to be taught daily. I mean, you never really think before you have kids that there is more than one way to sit at the dinner table. But, according to my children, there are at least 34 different ways to sit in a chair at a meal.
So, I now call myself their life coach. Because, after all, I’m trying to teach them everything they need to know about life before they leave the house. So, hopefully, they’ll be able to get married one day.
Never give up. Opening a box of cereal takes practice. Hint, no it does not involve ripping the tabs open making them forever un-usable.
Eye contact is actually an important life skill. “Look at me. Look at me. LOOK AT ME!: has to be one of my most used phrases as a parent. Eye contact is a pretty important life skill when you think about it.
Your body WILL get cold if you wear inappropriate clothing for the weather. Yes, children. It is possible to freeze your toes if you wear sandals to school in the snow, or to die a sweaty death if you want to wear a sweatsuit in the middle of summer.
Cleaning parts of your body usually involves soap. Whether you’re washing your hands, or washing your body in the shower, soap is and always will be required.
Toilet paper is meant to be used often, but in rational quantities. Yes, you have to wipe EVERY time you go to the bathroom, but NO, you don’t need to use an entire roll of toilet paper. By the way, the next person that uses the bathroom after you would like some toilet paper, too.
Toenails and fingernails are meant to be groomed. Yes, it’s necessary to dig that dirt out when you wash your hands, and no, you weren’t meant to have nails as long as a Wolverine.
There is actually only one way to sit in a chair. It’s facing forward with your rear end in the seat. Not in the air, not with one butt cheek off the seat, and not with your knees up in your face. Butt in chair, end of story.
Your bed is not the place to have lengthy conversations, or ask me for another cup of water. Your bed is for sleep. Imagine that. No, not my bed. YOURS. Your bed is for YOU to sleep. Quietly. Don’t ask me questions. Don’t try to find the meaning of all the things right when I leave your room, and don’t ask me for another drink. Just sleep. That’s what a bed is for.
Whispering is necessary sometimes. I know it doesn’t feel like you should whisper when you’re talking about someone in the grocery store, but you should. And, yes, there is such thing as an indoor voice, too.
Both your parents are capable of doing stuff. Your father is capable of getting you a glass of milk, finding something you’re missing, and helping you wipe your butt. Newsflash, he can also answer questions, fix dinner, and help with your sock that just doesn’t feel right.
Your body does actually require real food from time to time. Yes, I’m looking at you my sweet four-year-old that somehow survives on 38 calories a day, meals are meant to go into your mouth. So, open, put it in, chew and swallow. Repeat forever so you can stay alive, please. Snacks are not meals.
Crying usually involves tears. I know you say you are crying, and I know you think I’m buying it, but crying does usually involve tears. If you’re going to try to fake cry, try to squeeze a tear or two out to make it more believable.
I am not the trash can. We own actual trash cans. I know it’s hard to understand, but we have several trashcans in our house that hold trash. I do not hold your trash. Your wrapper belongs in the trash. Not on the counter next to the trash, and not in my hand as I drive down the freeway.
Your bedroom is not a dump. It’s not really even yours, actually. It’s mine. Hoarding is not acceptable, neither is stashing half empty tubes of cupcake icing in drawers. 11 half full cups of water sitting on every surface are also not allowed. Because, I actually own every room in this house, and you will be required to clean “your” room. (Which is really, mine).
I’d like you to not look homeless. I know brushing your teeth and hair are almost more than you can handle, but it will be OK. And, throwing out clothes that have holes in them will be OK, too. Putting a little effort into your appearance can actually help you get a job one day, and that is a good thing.
Toys do have a place. That place is not my bedroom, or my kitchen counter, or the middle of the floor. They belong in a designated toy box, or shelf, or even in your bedroom would be nice. They definitely don’t belong under my pillow.
Stabbing a piece of furniture repeatedly with a pencil will never end well. You see, I’ve accepted I won’t have nice things until you go to college, but I still attempt to make our house look acceptable. If you stab furniture with pencils, then you lose the privilege of holding any object that could puncture another object. That’s a lot of objects. So, just don’t do it.
Your dad and I like to talk to each other. I know it feels like you’re the center of the universe, but you’re actually not. Things need to be discussed and sometimes that involves your dad and I talking to each other without being interrupted 87 times. Your request to help you with that level on your video game you can’t get past can, actually wait.
Peeing in the front yard is not OK. If you absolutely cannot fathom coming inside to pee, please just go in the backyard where the neighbors can’t see.
Your mom can actually go insane. Tread lightly because I can actually go insane. It’s possible. So, be gentle with your mom. I’m more fragile than you think. And, here’s a hint: Don’t ask if you can learn to play the recorder, or get a whistle. The answer is probably, no.