Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What You Probably Didn't Expect, Though You Imagined There Might Be Weird Stuff Like This

First, I'm going to temporarily drop the third-person narrative style usually found in this space - partly, because it makes for clunky syntax (though that usually doesn't stop me), and second, because it sounds ridiculous to refer to my daughter as "the offspring of the 19 Minutes staff". So there.

So like many American parents, hardly a week goes by when there's not cause to check the ubiquitous "What to Expect" series of books. During my wife's pregnancy, "What to Expect When You're Expecting" was the benchmark resource we'd consult to figure out things like: when my wife would want to eat anything besides KFC mashed potatoes, how long we should wait between noticable in utero kicks before getting worried, how goofy I should feel when I read a bedtime story to my wife's belly, etc.

Then, over the first year of Sylvi's life, we spent plenty of time with "What to Expect the First Year" (duh). Mainly, this involved the sections about spitting up.

And since June, we've graduated to "What to Expect: The Toddler Years", though since Sylvi's still pretty petite, I have a habit of sneaking a look back at the "First Year" book, as though it really should have been titled "What to Expect While Your Child's Still Less Than 20 Pounds". Again, I've folded the corner down on the first page of the spitting up section.

But increasingly, I'm finding the majority of the issues my wife and I encounter are not actually in these books. [Note to jaded, experienced parents: Yeah, yeah. Shut up.] So as a public service to new and expectant parents out there, and teenagers who are acting smug about the lame parenting going on in their lives, I'm presenting the following addendum to the "What to Expect" series. We'll call it: "What You Probably Didn't Expect, Though You Imagined There Might Be Weird Stuff Like This":

* * * * *

Problem: Child eats 7,000 pieces of watermelon, then pretends she doesn't want any more, though it turns out she'll continue to eat the watermelon, as long as you feed it to her.

You'll probably: Sigh heavily, mutter to yourself, then proceed to feed her the watermelon.

Real solution: Pretend you're feeding it to her, then put it in her hand and have her pretend to feed it to you. After you've handed the same sticky piece of watermelon back and forth about six times, she'll have forgotten what the initial game was and will start feeding herself again. I call it the "Duck Season-Wabbit Season, Duck Season-Wabbit Season, Wabbit Season-Duck Season" approach.

* * * * *

Problem: It's a rainy afternoon, so playing at the park is ruled out. So you take your 14-month old daughter to the mall, figuring there's lots of room to run around, particularly on a Tuesday afternoon. It turns out, of the 70 stores at the local mall, the only one she's interested in is Victoria's Secret. And no matter where you set her down in the mall, some bizarre, lingerie-related radar goes off in her little head, guiding her invariably back to Victoria's Secret, where she sets about removing all the wireless bras from a drawer and deposits them on the floor. (It's hard to believe this one didn't make the "What to Expect" series.)

You'll probably: Sigh heavily, pick up your daughter, put the bras back in the drawer, and extricate the now-flailing toddler from the store, relocating her to the toy store next-door as a distraction.

Real solution: Sigh heavily, consider that you wouldn't have termed this a "problem" back in your college days, and be glad that you have another 14 or 15 years before you have to think of new excuses to keep your daughter out of Victoria's Secret.

* * * * *

Problem: A little further along at the mall, your young, peace-loving daughter insists on walking into the knife shop.

You'll probably: Pick up your wriggling daughter and relocate her out of the knife shop, sheepishly smiling at the store clerk and saying something like, "We're trying to keep her away from knives until she's at least 18 months, ha ha..."

Real solution: Actually, this probably wasn't a bad solution.

* * * * *

Problem: After several weeks of annoying inconsistent sleeping habits, your 14-month old daughter starts consistently sleeping for 13 or 14 hours a night.

You'll probably: Take her temperature, check on her every 15 minutes after 7:00 a.m., and wonder whether you should wake her up so that she's not eating breakfast at 11:30 am.

Real solution: Repeat to yourself: This is not a problem. This is not a problem.

* * * * *

Problem: Your daughter wants to read the book "Hippos" 23 times in a row, despite the fact that it has no plot, and ends with the seemingly random line "Hippos can weigh over two tons!"

You'll probably: Read "Hippos" 23 times in a row. Then have a strange dream that you have nostrils on top of your head so that you can breathe while you're in the water.

Real solution: Page through "Hippos", but add your own lines, about the Diamondbacks' lousy relief pitching ("Hippos think they need to stop leaving the ball over the plate with an 0-2 count..."), Pat Robertson's idiotic comments about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ("Hippos think federally sanctioned assassinations set a dangerous precedent..."), or the constantly changing lineup on the TV Land network ("Hippos wish they would bring "Get Smart" back one of these days instead of foisting "Sanford and Son" reruns on us..."). Do this now, because before long, your daughter will actually be able to read and will say something like, "It doesn't say that, Daddy. Besides, Hippos like "Sanford and Son"."

* * * * *

Problem: Daughter ate grilled cheese yesterday. And the day before yesterday. And the day before that. Daughter refuses grilled cheese today.

You'll probably: Find something else for her to eat. (Probably watermelon.)

Real solution: Find something else for her to eat. And then eat the grilled cheese yourself. You'll never find time to eat, what with reading "Hippos" 23 times.

* * * * *

Follow these real world solutions, and in no time, your child will grow into a well-adjusted teenager who won't be distracted from Victoria's Secret by a toy store. No, it'll take a cell phone store for that.


Carol Davidson said...

Love it. I did a literal "LOL" at the duck season-wabbit season and the Hippos text changes. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Chalk up another LOL at the duck-season-wabbit-season part...