The number one question people ask me is, “How do you do it?” That question is closely followed by, “Are you crazy?” and oftentimes, “Is that your son holding a squirrel by its tail?” People want to know what it’s like to raise six kids, especially now that I’m a single mom. Well, I’ll tell you how I do it. Rum. Lots and lots of rum. Kidding, just kidding. Mostly kidding. Actually, my number one, most important ingredient for raising kids is humor. You need to realize that kids are goofy and you must have a sense of humor about said goofiness.
Kids do crazy things. I bet if you took an honest look at your childhood, you’d admit that you did crazy things back in the day as well. Kids are a little nuts. It’s how they’re supposed to be. Once you wrap your brain around the fact that kids are kids (and therefore nuts); and not smaller versions of rational adults, you’re halfway there.
If you expect children to know everything you know, and behave in ways that make sense, and do things like blow their noses on tissues instead of their shirt sleeves, you’re going to be disappointed and frustrated. If, on the other hand, you understand that kids are goofy, and they simply don’t know everything you know, and it’s your job to teach them those things, then hooray, you’re ready to be a parent.
I learned a long time ago that children’s brains only hold so much information. I mean, they have important stuff stored in their noggins; stuff like the names of all the Pokemon in the universe, lines to every SpongeBob episode ever made, the exact ratio of dirt, soap, toothpaste, and water and to make really cool squishy goo. They can’t be expected to remember that markers are for paper only, or that they need to hang up their coats after school, or make their beds every morning. Teens’ brains are so filled with texting abbreviations that they can’t possibly remember to take out the garbage or replace the empty roll of toilet paper with a new one.
This is why it’s important to focus on the important stuff – don’t lie, don’t steal, treat others the way you want to be treated, use manners, be polite, don’t wake mom up before 9:00 on Saturday. And this is why it’s okay to let the little stuff slide. Because it’s little stuff. When a kid does some goofy kid thing, ask yourself, “Is this going to matter in a year? Will I even remember it? Is it really a big deal?” Most of the time, those little things we flip out about fall into the No Big Deal category. I’ll give you some examples. . .
When your toddler sticks an orange Tic Tac up his nose, it’s no big deal. Plug the other nostril and have him blow. Let him enjoy his orange flavored snot and next time buy Nerds; they’re smaller.
When your daughter colors her face like this, take a picture and send it to Stephen King as inspiration for a new novel. Maybe he’ll give you a cut of his royalties.
When your child does this to your TV, relax. I promise you that one day in the future (and it’ll be here before you know it), you’ll spot that little drawing and it will make you smile. Pinky swear!
When your son drops a plate and it explodes into 50 trillion pieces, just shout, “Opa!” and pour yourself a glass of wine.
When you find a sandwich that looks like this in your son’s bed, use it to treat your child’s next ear infection.
And when you find your baby happily playing in the toilet, just be thankful you don’t need to give her a bath tonight.
In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff (and most of it is small stuff in the whole scheme of things). Focus on what’s important and don’t stress over the little things that pass by in the blink of an eye.