New Parent Guilt List: Part II - When Guilt Turns to Apathy

A few weeks ago I publicly outed myself as the jackass I really am. Generally speaking, I like to ignore my parenting ineptitude…except for last week when I let my kid run around Target screaming my name (MY FULL NAME) while I perused the shelves for nothing in particular. Or when I lost him at the Children’s Museum and realized only after an employee described his outfit over the intercom that I was 0 for 2 in guessing the color of his clothing that day. And the two years of chronicling all my screw ups on my little blog before I moved over to ChicagoNow. Dammit, I am an open book.

Anyhow, my previous post ended at 12 months as I have a hard time facing my inner freak, but I figure I might as well throw it all out there so you know just who you are dealing with over here at Swirleytime. However, please note that the guilt has slowly morphed into general apathy (acceptance?) with regard to the chaos. So this list is less about guilt and a little more about how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future.

Intellectual development aka Just how much can I screw you up with screens (TV, phone, IPad, computer, etc.)? Probably a whole hell of a lot.

a. Television. Pretty much everything I have half-read (because I don’t actually read anything) has told me that kids shouldn’t watch TV until they are two years old. After two, television watching should obviously be limited. My takeaway? Basically, my kid’s brain will melt if he watches the boobtube and will thus be relegated to a crappy life. But I’ll be damned if he doesn’t quiet his little yapper while I am checking on really important things like, um, the news or

b. Books.  Now that he is older, he really enjoys reading as a family. We (Mr. Swirley and I) have somehow created this system whereby we label longer storybooks as “daybooks” (i.e., to be read during the day) at night, and “night books” during the day… so we never end up reading them. Basically, EK will be reading board books until he is eight, and by reading I mean pointing and grunting because he cannot communicate due to, once again, our gross neglect.

c. Other technologies. EK doesn’t quite understand how to use fancy technologies  just ye so we end up spending more time opening and closing games than actually playing anything on our phones/Ipad. I see other people watching him play while probably quietly clucking their tongues as I wait for a doctor/prescription/my incredibly slow-moving mother. All I have to say is that he is more than happy to stick his arm straight out and clear shelves if given the opportunity. Just ask the pharmacist at RUSH Oak Park clinic; they see him coming and turn off the lights.

Meals aka my kid is destined to be a tiny jockey

a. Lazy Chef. Yea, I made my own baby food. Not because I am some crunchy mom who wanted to provide my offspring with organic microfarm grown (I just made that up) beet-chard filled ravioli so he will be better than your baby. But because I AM SO INCREDIBLY CHEAP. Sometimes I would go crazy and mix broccoli with squash, but that is about it. However, now that EK is eating regular food, it seems easier to just throw some lunchmeat on a plate and let him make it into a mask than coax him into eating asparagus and chicken.  Not that we eat asparagus and chicken but it seems like something he wouldn’t like anyway.

b. Roundtable negotiations. People tell me to not cave when his food demands get out of control. “Oh you don’t want one of the four choices that I just put in front of you? How about 23 more options? That will totally make it easier for your already overwhelmed mind to choose something.” But I can’t help myself. And in the end he finishes a glass of milk, some frozen peas, 12 tablespoons of mustard and spoonful of salsa. Awesome.

Free time aka what the hell happened to three naps a day?

a. Napless Days? Look, I get it. Toddlers don’t need as many naps. But it literally sent pains through my body when daycare informed me that he was moving to one nap a day. What? I need more than that and I am 32X older than his ass. And then he decides he doesn’t even need one nap? What in the Sam Hill is that about?  This of course led to a month-long all-out war that includes EK crying, me crying (while lying on top of him), and lots of spiteful looks traded back and forth. In the end, we won, yes son, we won.

b. Play dates gone wrong. Less naps means more time for play dates. This equates to more opportunities for sheer embarrassment for yours truly. If meet ups aren’t cancelled due to one child having the plague (which happens more often than not), one of the kids is usually a huge jerk (mine) and one of the moms is all nice about him being a jerk, but I am pretty sure goes home and tells her husband that “at least ours doesn’t do X, Y or Z.” Any by x,y, or z, I mean pee and poop in a kid potty, dump it on the floor and then run around with the toilet thing spreading the cholera around the house.

Last week, a girlfriend with a six month old told me that parenthood isn’t what she expected. She wasn’t disappointed, just surprised at how things actually are playing out. My (always) unsolicited response was that I don’t even remember what I expected; at a certain point it all becomes normal (and fun. And so so disgusting). Poop on the floor and everything.

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    Annie Swingen

    Chicago-based hyperbole enthusiast. Mom to a kid and sometimes my mom. Overboard (1987) obsessed weirdo. I like the funnies in life.

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