Free Personal Development Course
Okay, hand up all those people who didn’t know parenting was a personal development course in disguise. Yep. I guessed.
When you touched that tummy and felt those mysterious kicks from within, nothing was further from your mind. Then came the birth.
"Oh please, Mary and Joseph! I thought you were kidding about that watermelon thing!"
But you and the baby got through. And, from day one, you realised life was never going to be the same again.
Not that you had much time to think about it. Things got incredibly busy with nappies (diapers), teething, and lost sleep. Then there's all the waking up in middle of the night crying (which the baby did too...).
Your dear little one, meanwhile, was taking it all in and growing at a rate of knots right before your tired, bloodshot eyes.
You probably can't recall when your precious baby turned into a toddler. Nor, when they first started arguing with you. Demanding more and setting out the terms of engagement. But that's progress for you.
Like ill-fitting underwear, these tense moments just crept up on you. And that's not a nice feeling.
Between it all, what you probably didn’t notice was you had started your own personal development course. And the course needs included: cots, car seats, prams, pull the string things that make weird noises, and an endless demand for nappies.
Nobody told you back in neonatal classes (that was the pre-course). While you were puffing like a steam train on command, and feeling every bit of each breech delivery discussion, it was only about giving birth. Nobody ever said anything about doing a longer course. Probably because it would have put you off your game. The whole birthing show was more than you can handle anyway.
Which is why I wonder how many would have crossed the "no thanks" box had they known. Most long term courses end up being a tough gig. And when your little cutie grows to reach one and half to two metres, it's more like looking after a shark than cuddling a dear sweet baby.
"At over 6 feet in length, these creatures are frequently sighted at the beach in warmer months. Experts warn they can be very hungry and can go into a feeding frenzy at any moment."
Like when they get the munchies after a night out.
Of course, some parents are natural born liars. Saying stuff like, “Our child never gave us a gnat's cough of bother from the moment they were born.” That means they're either flat out delusional or, they're capacity to lie is shocking.
Real families have difficulties, at least now and then. That's not wrong or even bad. Except when you're the parent.
That's why someone once said, "Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them."
Of course, there are upsides to having children. It's not all bad. For starters, it keeps parents off the streets. Because they can' afford to go out.
As kids move into their teen years it’s natural for them to test the boundaries. Just like it’s natural that they want you to hand over the car keys and your credit card details. Parents respond in kind with parental gestures like hand wringing, begging, and often shouting. But by that time, it's well and truly too late to even think about shoving offspring back where they came from.
Throwing your hands up in the air and feeling your situation is hopeless and that it’s the worst in the world is normal. At this stage in the course, you dream of being a drop out and how good life was before kids existed (which is funny, given we skip the bit about how we were once kids too).
We think we are raising them. But it's much more of a two way street. That's why Ogden Nash said, "Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave when they think that their children are naive."
Of course, people pay to do personal development courses and they're not cheap either. But, by estimates, the personal development course of raising a kid in developed countries costs roughly a million bucks. That's a lot of lattes. Lot of cruises. Lot of missed sleep ins.
Yet, despite the price and the pain, we do it. Crazy. As they grow, we grow.
Early on in the curriculum comes 'How to Worry'. Then comes parental guilt. Actually, Mums get extended guilt training. Dad's, on the other hand, don't attend guilt lessons, preferring Sport lessons instead.
So, if you are a parent, know this: yes it’s a tough course. But most people make it. Just grit your teeth and keep going. One for the Gipper and all that. It should all work out in the end. Just keep a tally of breakages and remember this: they're probably going to be parents too, one day!