8 Adventures in Baby Raising

I got a lucky head start in the parenting thing, having begun working with The Urban Child Institute and writing for Memphis Parent Magazine a few years before the birth of our child. I picked up a lot of great information, working closely with experts in early-child brain science, institutional childcare and good-old-fashioned effective parenting.

Adventures in Baby RaisingAnd then our little stinker (the name given to her by the operator at the poison control center, after the baby ate an aspirin and we freaked out) was born, and my wife and I realized this parenting thing is an adventure that writes itself as it happens. It’s an epic story filled with twists and turns, broken allegiances, desperate bargains and elated joy. We’ve learned a lot in this first 16 months of her life; a lot about the human species, a lot about ourselves, a lot about what happens in those low-lit predawn hours the childless use for sleeping.

We all write our own parenting story, but there are common threads running through them all. Here are a few of the nuggets of truth we’ve discovered so far, on our parenting adventure.

1. Kids are a mess– They have fruit in their hair, wax in their ears, gum on their shoes. Their hands are always mysteriously sticky. Their fingernails need to be trimmed seven times a day and they fight it every time. They leak fluids and substances constantly, from everywhere. They touch everything. They eat bugs and hair and sand.

2. Kids are hilarious– They laugh and laugh at everything. They think sneezes are the funniest things in the world. Being lifted into the air by loving arms makes them grin. Cats are funny, dogs are funny, birds are funny, trains are funny. The sound of their laughter warms the heart.

3. Kids are miserable– They cry and cry at everything. They think sneezes are worst things in the world. Being lifted into the air by loving arms makes them scream. Cats are terrible, dogs are terrible, birds are terrible, trains are terrible. The sound of their screams chills the soul.

photo (7)4. Kids are shaped by their experiences– The Urban Child Institute’s 2013 Data Book: The State of Children in Memphis & Shelby County says: “Although the first stages of brain development are strongly affected by genetic factors, genes do not design the brain completely. Instead, when and where genes are used is fine-tuned according to the input they receive from the environment.” This means it’s on parents and caregivers to provide safe and varied experiences for our growing kids, showing them the full spectrum of life on Planet Earth.

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