I know I'll probably catch some heat for this post, but let me explain. More than two years ago, I started a list of things I hoped to do or not do when I became a parent. I had no intention of becoming a parent in the near future, but I figured that was the best time to start such a list. I wanted to observe parents around me, and the way they did certain things, and write them down so I wouldn't forget how I felt about them. Rest assured, there is no way in heck I am making that list public because inevitably there will be something on there that you do, and you will probably get pissed at me for pointing out that it annoys me or that I would hope to handle it differently. I can already hear the "Ha, just wait until she's a parent!" I get it. This isn't me saying, "Their parenting skills suck and I would be much better." That's not it at all. This is me saying, "Before I'm a parent, I have a unique perspective on watching someone else be a parent. Once I'm a parent, that perspective will change, and I just want to remind myself what it was like before." That's it. Here's an example:
One day last summer, I was at a Texas Rangers game when the temperature exceeded 100 degrees. I saw a family with their infant in a stroller, and the child had bright red cheeks and looked miserable from the sun exposure. That scenario made it to the list in this form:
"I will never bring my infant to a Texas Rangers game in the sweltering heat (or any other outdoor event for that matter, when its 100 degrees outside)"
Maybe the parents couldn't find a babysitter. Maybe the parents thought it would be cute to bring their little one to his first baseball game. Whatever the reason, I don't think it was a good enough one to subject their kid to that atmosphere, at that age. I wrote it down so that I would hopefully remember it later in life if I ever got tempted to bring my child to a game in that heat.
Not everything on the list is "I won't do so and so" type of things. Some of the things on there are appealing behaviors or responses I've observed, that I really hope to try and replicate when the time comes. For example, my sister Joanna has done an amazing job with her 3 year old, in that you will very rarely catch her throwing an obnoxious tantrum to get what she wants. My sister set the precedent very early that that won't work, and Olivia knows this. Case in point: the other day at Chick fil a, Olivia saw another child with an ice cream cone and wanted one too. We were on the way out, and it was getting late, so Joanna said no. Olivia repeated her desire to have ice cream and Joanna declined again. The third time, Olivia started to use a whiny voice and get a little huffy and Joanna looked at her very calmly and said, "Olivia, have you ever gotten what you wanted when you acted that way?" She knew she hadn't, so she said no, changed her demeanor to a very happy one and said, "Mom, may I please have some ice cream?" Joanna declined her request again, we walked outside to the car, I asked Olivia about something else, which made her forget about the ice cream completely, and we went along our merry way with no screaming tantrum, no waterworks, and no caving in by the parent. It was truly fabulous, and I hope to achieve that in the future as well with my kid!
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely know that the chances of me not performing any of the "I hope to never" items is slim. I know that when I become a parent, I will change my views on some things and fall victim to some habits non-parents will find annoying. I know that parenting is ridiculously difficult and even people with the best intentions sometimes have to take shortcuts. Those are the main reasons why I'm making this list. I know that things change, and it will be humorous to see how I felt before a child entered the picture versus after.