I wrote this blog back in March! I forgot all about it until I was expounding on my vast (tongue-in-cheek here) child rearing knowledge and opinions to a good client and new parent-to-be yesterday at work.
So a slightly delayed blog about kids and dogs and rabbits and stuff:
I have some theories about raising kids. They’re just theories, because I’m not done raising them. God knows there have been many theories and assumptions that have gone out the window completely up to this point in my parenting adventures. I do however; keep making said theories and assumptions. I guess I’ll keep being keep learning if I’m right or sticking my foot in my mouth as I stumble along.
I’m a very convoluted, complicated soul, so in my typical roundabout way, I’ll try to explain my theory of child raising and show you how it remotely ties into animal care.
First of all, babies suck. I am definitely not a fan of the baby stage. God knows, I love my kids more than anything in the universe, and I loved them when they were babies, but I don’t think I’d take any amount of money to go back to that stage.
I have two rabbits. You may have read a previous blog about how in order to make the rabbits bond; I had to put them through a stressful situation together. Some kind of physiological reaction occurs during shared periods of extreme stress that bonds the bunnies thereafter and makes them pals.
I think this happens in human child rearing as well, on a much grander scale. Rabbits just have to be stuck in a crate together and taken on a long car trip. Human parents are handed a small screaming, pooping, peeing, non-sleeping creature for about 4 months. The first four months of having a new baby are reward free (in my opinion). You sacrifice your body, looks, mind, sleep for this little thing. All it does is scream. It’s horrible. It’s like boot camp, but you press on. You can’t return it to the hospital.
After 4 months, the baby starts to smile. Real smiles, not the farting or pooping kind. Suddenly, there is a hint of the fact that this little creature, might actually, in fact be a little human, not an animal put on this earth to rob you of everything you held dear.
However, after all that hell, that shared stress, you’re now possessed with this love for that little thing that fiercer and more focused than anything you’ve ever felt before. Love for anything else just pales.
Before I had kids, somebody told me that you would love your kids so much that you’d gladly throw your husband in front of a speeding train in order to save that kid. During the early baby stage, I thought that was total crap. (Granted, I did have some serious Post Partum Depression). I wasn’t so sure about that husband/train thing.
But before long, that changed. I’d gladly throw myself in front of that train without a moment’s hesitation. (Well, I’d probably toss the Husband first, but if need be, I’d do it myself…just kidding, a little, Hubby)
Talk about bonding.
So anyways, all that baby hell just sets you up for the ups and downs that are involved in child raising.
One theory/assumption is this: from ages 1-13 the kids are mostly fun and cool.
My favorite movie line comes from the movie “Lost in Translation”, just in a random conversation Bill Murray is talking to Scarlett Johanssen. His character is a borderline scumbag because he’s married with kids and seems to be skirting on an affair with this hot young tart.
Anyways, they’re talking and she asks him about his kids, and he says: “Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”
That line transformed Bill Murray from a scumbag into an astute, wry, loving dad, sharing life experiences with a new pal.
But what he said is just so true. As the kids get older, I just love to hear their take on the world and what they think of it. It’s fascinating. I love it. One more reason kids are better than babies, they can talk.
So anyways, you get Baby Hell. That creates that fierce mom bond so you can stick out the next bunch of years with fierce love and protection. Then smooth sailing (relatively) this is where you have to squeeze in all the teaching and learning and parenting. Then, a new stressful period (again, total theory, my kids are 5 and 7)…Teenager Hell.
Somebody once told me that teenagers are just like 3 year olds, only with a mouth. We’ll see how that goes. It seems that you have to get all the teaching done early because once the teenager stage starts: you, the parent, become a moron and nothing you say sinks in. You, the parent seem to have to think back to how cool they were over the last 13+ years to get you through these yucky ones.
Another theory: I think teenager hell is another stressful bonding period, but also, maybe it’s to hopefully make you like your kid a little less so they can eventually move out and start the process of becoming adults? God knows the moving out will be unbearably painful, (for me, the mom anyways), but maybe the horrible teen years will ease the pain a little?
I sure hope so because, right now, I’d be pretty happy if the kids just lived with me forever. Husband might not be so thrilled with that, but we’ll see how I feel after Teenager Hell.
So anyhow, that’s the world’s longest segue into my animal related point. I think you go through all those parenting stages to a certain degree with new puppies, only much faster. The baby stage is pretty quick; nothing a pair of ear plugs, a crate and some patience can’t get you through. Then the cute toddler/tweener phase went by so fast I didn’t realize it. I thought she was an exceptionally good lab and all those stories wouldn’t hold true for her.
However, now at 7 months of age, I think I’m nearing the teenage stage with Mia. I love her, but she’s hitting her stride destruction wise. Looks like I’m in for about a year and a half of mayhem. I’ll go into the details in another blog, but let’s just say I shelled out over $250 at the Toyota dealership yesterday for her last culinary adventure.
In typical teen fashion, she’s not quite listening like she used to either. Yesterday, she took off after a leaf, then after some guys that were passing out leaflets. She totally ignored me when I called her. She got in big trouble for that one.
Guess the developmental similarities between kids and dogs ends at adulthood. Kids leave you, but not necessarily forever, when they become adults and go make their own way.
When your dog reaches adulthood, you’ve got years of unconditional love and companionship.
However, in about the time it takes to raise a kid, you’ve got a different kind of parting to face with your dog. This one’s more permanent, and maybe I daresay, more heartbreaking?
Then life goes on. Maybe you’ll get a new dog, maybe not. The kids grow up, move out, maybe have kids of their own and start the cycle all over again.
Guess that’s life, with its ups and downs and exhilarating highs and crushing lows.
That whole conglomeration of experiences that make us who we are.
So I just keep plugging away, trying to make some sense of it all.
I’ll let you know how it goes.