10 Misconceptions I Had About Parenting Before I Became a Parent

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It’s easy to be arrogant about parenting before you become a parent. Everyone seems to be doing such a terrible job. They let their kids run around in restaurants and they let them get disturbingly fat. Some have annoying strollers that cost $1,000 and others pierce they baby’s ears. They’re either way too obsessed with safety and dress their kids like Starship Troopers or they don’t give a shit and let them walk around the block with no shoes on. It looks like an easy fix from the outside and before I had three kids, I was confident I would take parenting back to the glory days of The Great Depression. Boy was I ever wrong. Here’s some insane beliefs I had about parenting before I tried it.

1. I’LL NEVER WEAR A BABY BACKPACK

I was so sure I would never wear one of those ridiculous baby holders that go on your chest, I bet a dad $100 the straps would never touch my shoulders. “A baby only weighs 15 lbs.,” I’d say to the beta males in the Baby Bjorns, “You can’t carry 15lbs?”

No, you can’t. Not when the 15 lbs. has a wobbly head with no neck muscles and you need both arms to keep him from flopping over. And not when this 15 lbs. wants you to hold him all day. After trying the Bjorn, I felt like a war vet who magically got his arms back and I happily paid that guy the $100 I owed him.

2. THEY’RE TAKING PIANO LESSONS AND IF THEY DON’T LIKE IT TOO BAD

We tried piano lessons and they were really expensive and the kids hated them and they sucked at it. That was the end of that. The same thing happened with ballet and gymnastics. One of the boys seems to like kung-Fu and we’re still trying out stuff with the other ones but you can tell there’s no light at the end of the tunnel with certain lessons and trying to change that is as implausible as that gay Mormon dude who married a woman because he said his sexual preference is like smoking and he quits.

3. THEY’RE FINISHING EVERY MEAL

No they’re not. You think you can make a kid eat something he doesn’t want to? Go feed a cheeseburger to a salamander. He doesn’t even want to crawl on it. It’s too dry. The first time I forced my kid to eat something, she barfed and I haven’t done it since. If making your kids throw up is good parenting, I’m a bad parent.

4. I’M GOING TO BE VERY ATTENTIVE

I was very attentive. Time outs were doled out after every fight and if they didn’t say sorry to each other, it was back in the corner. However, I’m not Bloomberg and after 347 fights you start to think, “You know what? You’re on your own.” Sometimes you might even catch yourself thinking, “Go ahead and beat the shit out of each other for all I care. You might learn something.”

5. WE’RE GOING TO HOME SCHOOL

Kids in public school spend something like 30 minutes a day actually learning. At private school it’s probably three times that. I have an hour and a half of spare time a day to spend talking about history so why not pull the kids out of school? Well, for one, they’re already in your house way more often than you can handle. Sometimes I feel like going to work where I deal with getting sued, ass-licking clients, and firing people is some kind of party. What kind of maniac thinks 100% of their waking moments is about the right amount of time to spend with your kids? When I told a home-schooling parent that my kids go to public school, she said, “The only thing they’ll learn there is how to fight.”

Good.

6. NO TV

I’m definitely stricter than my Puerto Rican neighbors whom I’m pretty sure leave the TV on 24 hours a day but I ain’t no Saint. Pushing the “on” bottom on the TV is like pushing the “off” button on your kids. They just sit there like catatonic zombies. If you worked in a zoo and the howler monkeys had a magic button that shut them off, how could you not push it? You love the monkeys and you think they’re cute but when they’re really going bananas and you have to make an important phone call? That button becomes as irresistible as the “Get me a drink” button they have on airplanes.

7. NO LOGOS ON THE TABLE

How’s this for a cockamamie plan? Eating dinner with the family is a very important ritual that should not be sullied by corny logos on milk cartons and juice containers. So, all beverages will be served from jugs and the butter will be unwrapped and placed in a small glass dish.

That’s a nice idea for a commercial from the 70s but getting children to sit at a table and eat anything takes up more than all of your energy so defining the design aesthetic for what’s actually on the table is about as high on your priority list as what underwear you’re going to wear.

8. I’M STILL GOING TO PARTY

After my first child was born, I continued to have parties at the house. My wife and I would wake up at 6AM the next day wondering that the hell we were thinking and then forget about it six months later and have another one. One night during a break dancing competition, a beer smashed on the kitchen floor. I thought I got all the shards but my crawling infant daughter found one with her hand the next day. Since then, the only parties we have here involve piñatas and cake and Happy Birthday sung by very short people who don’t know the words.

9. I’M STILL GOING TO SMOKE POT

We stopped having people over but what’s the matter with a small joint after the kids go to bed? It might make all these terrible TV shows kind of interesting. This seems like a fairly safe idea until you try it and realize you just shot yourself in the lungs with a tranquilizer dart. You’re on call 24 hours a day when you have kids and that means it’s fairly negligent to get yourself into a state of mind where you were worried about satellites but then you forgot and now you keep saying, “Wait, what was I talking about?”

My daughter has an incredibly vivid imagination and one night, after what felt like smoking 100 kilos of LSD, she started bawling her eyes out and calling for me. I went into her room stoned out of my gourd and heard stories of a giant’s shadow that was even taller than our building. I knew this didn’t happen but the thought of how scary that would be if it did happen scared the living shit out of me. Then she talked about a “mean rock” that yelled insults at you telepathically. I started to bad trip. By the end of her colorful and dark descriptions, I was so flummoxed I got under the covers with her and we both stared at the closet with the lights on full blast. I haven’t gone near the stuff since.

10. NO PRINCESS OR SUPERHERO SHIT

I’m Canadian and I grew up with old French cartoons like Barbapapa so my kids should do the same. They don’t need all the corporate crap and merchandising that Disney shoves down their throats.

Then, I took the kids to see Toy Story and my son’s head blew off. Soon after, I got him Woody and the guy who was on that giant screen was now his best friend. I’ve watched my son’s blown mind go from Woody to Yo Gabba Gabba to Spider-Man to Iron Man and now Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To deny him this fun would make me feel like the guy who made Beethoven deaf.

Same goes for my daughter. I avoided all the princess stuff until she went to her friend Cassidy’s house and saw a huge trunk full of princess dresses. After a good five hours of me not having to do anything, I bought her a pile of princess costumes of her own and I haven’t seen her since. I think she’s in her room.

Some of my friends have hung on to their ridiculous beliefs. This is New York after all. I’ve met a couple who insisted on raising their child diaperless and they spent at leas two years staring at their baby’s genitalia like it was a ticking time bomb. Another couple decided Santa is a lie and they’re not going to bullshit children with fairy tales. They also decided to go with first names instead of Mom and Dad. They’re divorced now. Having children isn’t easy but the things they say are so goddamned cute it makes every second worth it. I’m not parenting the way I thought I would but I’m doing my best and if pre-kid me showed up and told me how to do my job, I would give him a time out  for the rest of his life.

-GAVIN McINNES

originally printed on TAKIMAG

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