I feel like most of parenthood is based on trial-and-error. Why do you think I have 3 kids? If I screw up the first one, I’ll just try again with the others. My odds are pretty good that at least one of them will turn out alright. But I’m primarily talking about parenting techniques. My greatest ideas usually turn out to be just another tally in my “Parenting Fails” notebook. I spent an entire afternoon making a chore chart for Charlotte, as a way to help her earn a tiny allowance, thinking I can help teach her about money from an early age. She seemed pretty excited until she realized she, in fact, did NOT like doing chores and refused to lift another finger. I asked her how she was going to buy the things she wanted from the store, and she gave me a 1-word response. “Daddy.” Fail.
My lessons on money were going nowhere so I decided to switch my focus to “real life” lessons. Whenever we play games, I always let her win because I love seeing her excitement and laughter. But in real life, you don’t always win, and I wanted to teach her that. We can’t have 4-year olds running around with big egos! Right? Or maybe it’s my ego that needs a little help. You can only lose Go Fish to a kid so many times before you start feeling like a failure! So I wanted to set things straight. One day she and I were playing air hockey and I saw my opportunity. I was NOT going to let her win. Ten minutes into the game, I still hadn’t scored a single point and was getting frustrated. I realized, however, that I wasn’t making my point when I looked up to see Charlotte cowering under the table, saying something about me hitting the puck too hard. She put down her mallet, walked away to play tag with the other kids, and left me standing there yet again, having lost to a 4-year old. Fail. Like I said before, it’s all about trial-and-error and learning from your mistakes. Trying to teach her how to lose gracefully clearly didn’t work out. Next time I need to pick a game I can win.
Other Parenting Fails:
Telling Charli if she didn’t brush her teeth, they would all fall out. She spent 30 minutes brushing every single tooth that night.
Telling Michael, “Charli doesn’t want to wrestle right now. Go play with Oliver,” only to look over and see Michael laying on top of Ollie, pinning him to the floor...triumphant in his win over the 7-month old.
Helping Michael identify different parts of his anatomy because he thought it was funny to call everything his “butt.” Note to self: don’t teach a 2 year old the word “penis.” He thought it was hilarious and spent the rest of the day running around playing with his crotch and yelling, “My penis!” The librarians didn’t appreciate that.
I chalk these up as parenting fails. But these fails are frequently the things that (later on) make me laugh the most. Kids are such innocent, hilarious, mischievous, entertaining little urchins and more often than not, when I think I’m teaching them, they are actually teaching me.