Wow. I just spent a couple of days with my brother and his child, and all I can say is that I am not as prepared for being a parent as I thought I was. There were two large, and I mean LARGE, takeaways for me from this little trip I took, and one not so large. First, kids are the very definition of chaos. Second, it's a very interesting experiment to sit back and watch, and I mean actually observe with the intention of learning, someone parent and think through how you would or would not handle the very same situations. Third, kids have an incredible ability to target fixate.
First, let's discuss entropy. My little nephew never, ever stops moving. Entropy measures the amount of disorder in a system. It is my belief that my nephew represents the amount of disorder in most of the known universe. If he is holding something, he won't be for long, as he will be testing out the laws of gravity. If you are holding something, he wants it. If you have put something away, he finds a new home for it. It's as if the entire house was one giant whack a mole game, and he is just running around moving the moles. Watching him run around is like an experiment with Brownian motion. You really aren't sure what forces are acting on him, you certainly don't know what direction he is going to go next, but you are entranced by it. The kid is a ton of energy, and is a complete handful.
Which brings me to point number two. When you see parents at the grocery store, or some other public venue, and they lash out at their kids, it is more than likely because they are at their wits end and they are unable to enact any of the viable methods of punishment available within the confines of their own home. Kids push buttons, and parents in the public eye simply can't do what they do behind a closed door. Which is why it was very interesting to be in my brother's home this weekend. Obviously we are very close, and he trusts me, so there was never a moment where he was being a public dad. He was doing what he would do as a parent even if I wasn't in the room. Given that, it was very interesting to be able to see the choices he made, as a parent, and think about which ones I agreed with and which ones I did not. It's not all together fair for me, a childless male, to in any way judge what he was doing. So let's be clear, I wasn't judging anything. I was simply observing and noting which actions I agreed with and would do and which ones I did not. My brother has had the benefit of trial by fire and has been raising his son for two years now, so his methods are finely tuned and have come about as a result of experience. It will be very interesting to see if I encounter any of the same situations with my own Chickpea and whether or not I make the same decisions I think I will make.
Ever heard of Thomas the Train? If you haven't, it's probably because you don't have a child. For a kid that has maybe 20 words in his vocabulary, a stunningly large percentage of them are related to Thomas the Train. I now know all about the island of Sodor because I had to endure the Thomas videos, books, toys and place mats. My little nephew is a Thomas nut. He loves to say "choo choo" which incidentally means "put on the video now or you die." I used to think that children could be easily fooled, based in no small part on the fact that I believed in Santa Claus as long as I did. My nephew lost his "Pinchy" train, and for the next 24 hours, that's all we heard about. He scoured the house looking for it. Talked about it with me while we were driving in the car. If he could have, he would have put out an Amber alert for his Pinchy. He was not fooled into believing, as we would have liked him to, that Pinchy was at the doctor, or that some other train was the one for which he was looking. Ultimately, my brother had to run to Target to get another one, because the child staged a hunger strike until his Pinchy was returned. I suggested that he get two, just in case.
All told, I think I am ready to be a parent, but my eyes have been opened to the universe. I now have a far better understanding of just how small my vault of knowledge on the topic of child rearing really is. I used to be blissfully unaware, but now reality is setting in.