The Three Phases of Parenting
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting this column from 2005.
I recently became a proud father for the third time, and although I love and adore my new son, I've noticed my standards for obsessive care and compulsive hovering have lowered quite a bit.
Most new parents agonize over every little detail about what's best for their child, but they relax significantly after the second and even third child comes along.
My own constant worrying and stress has decreased to the point where my blood pressure is nearly normal, and I think my hair is growing back. And after analyzing the charts and graphs that every new parent keeps, I think I've discovered a pattern in every facet of child raising.
Your typical three-child family goes through three distinct phases, the obsessive phase, the careful phase, and the lax phase, also known as the "Where did she go?!" "Have you seen her?" and "Do I know you?" phases.
You can tell the single-child from the three-child families just by how they react to certain issues that may arise during early childhood. Here are a few examples.
First Child: Your name was inspired by a woman of royalty. She was loved by millions
Second Child: Your name was inspired by a beloved member of the family. Everyone loved her.
Third Child: Your name was inspired by my favorite professional wrestler. He could beat the crap out of anybody.
Holding the new baby
First Child: We're the only ones who can hold her.
Second Child: You can hold her, but you have to wash your hands first.
Third Child: Someone please hold this kid for me!
Food and Feeding
First Child: I will feed you only pesticide-free organic foods that I've prepared by hand in a carefully-sanitized kitchen.
Second Child: I will feed you regular baby food that don't have preservatives or additives.
Third Child: Do you want corn dogs or chili dogs for breakfast?
First Child: Don't run in the house. You could fall and hurt yourself.
Second Child: Don't run with scissors.
Third Child: Don't play with Daddy's good chainsaw.
First Child: I will give you toys that are fun AND educational.
Second Child: I will give you toys that give you hours of entertainment.
Third Child: How many times do I have to tell you, wear safety goggles when you're using my table saw?!
First Child: You need to go to bed by 8:30.
Second Child: You need to go to bed by 9:00.
Third Child: It's 11:30, I'm going to bed. Turn the TV off when you're done.
First Child: It's a little chilly. Put on your jacket, a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
Second Child: It's a little chilly. Put on a sweater.
Third Child: Did we forget your pants again?
First Child: We'll start her potty training when she's two-and-a-half.
Second Child: She'll let us know when she's ready to start potty training.
Third Child: He'll figure it out by the time he gets to high school.
First Child: You can watch one hour of educational TV per day.
Second Child: You can watch two hours of regular TV per day.
Third Child: My TV is broken, can I watch yours?
First Child: Your baths will be a mixture of sparkling spring water and pasteurized milk with essential oils
Second Child: Your baths will be a mixture of warm water and baby oil
Third Child: We'll hose you off in the backyard twice a week.
First Child: You're going to get the finest education we can provide.
Second Child: You're going to get the finest education we can provide.
Third Child: Go ask your know-it-all sisters.
First Child: Turn that crap down!
Second Child: Turn that crap down!
Third Child: Why can't you listen to something decent, like your sisters do.
First Child: Oh my God!! A temperature of 100?! Rush her to the hospital!
Second Child: A temperature of 100? Give her some children's Motrin.
Third Child: I'm not doing anything until he starts projectile vomiting.
Living at home
First Child: You can live here as long as you want.
Second Child: Wouldn't you like to get your own place after college?
Third Child: What are you still doing here?