Never trust a parenting book…if the author has no kids. Or even just one kid.
With one kid you can figure them out for the most part. Correct the child and they usually obey. If they don’t, a well-placed I’m-your-mother-obey-me-now look will do the trick. They don’t stick their fingers in the light sockets after you’ve disciplined them once. Or five times. Or ten times. They eventually listen…and stop trying to eletrocute themselves.
Only children have no one to have screaming matches with…for fun or in fury. No one is touching their stuff. They can play with their toys that have tiny pieces wherever and whenever they want…not just in a loft bed during quiet time so the younger can’t try to aspirate a Shopkins yogurt cup. They may not have the insatiable desire to put everything in their mouth.
You might be rolling along with your single child, thinking smugly you’ve got a handle on this parenting thing. Sure, it might be more work with more kids, but the discipline thing you’ve got down. Lots of love, right?
Then comes #2. And even though you have tried so many different methods of correction–from sternness to clapping to smacking a chubby hand to yelling in an attempt to scare them into obedience–they STILL pop those socket covers out and try to shove their two-year-old fingers into it. EVERYTHING goes in the mouth. Shoes, the cat’s tail, dirt (so much dirt), EVERYONE’S toothbrushes, those socket cover safety-thingies, poop-covered fingers. Oh, and that was just today.
Yep, if you’re going to read a parenting book make sure it’s at least written by someone with multiple children. And at least one who is “the wild child.” The one who has no fear. Who you honestly wonder if they have a hearing problem because they are so good at ignoring you calling them…and then they come running when they hear the whispered word “cookie.” The one who takes off running in a parking lot if they are not physically tethered to you. The one who thinks it great fun to reach in the back of the diaper and pull out handfuls of poop…you know why? Because they know it might lead to a bath.
If you only have one kid right now, I’m sorry. You might get two doe-eyed angels who respond to discipline just as you wish. But if you get a kid like my crazy Kenna, hang on. You’ll need every book, Focus on the Family broadcast and ounce of grace you can get your hands on.
The good news is that cuteness seems to be in proportion to how much grace a child needs. Kenna is irrevocably loving. Beyond adorable with her blonde curls and large blue eyes and her own toddler language and voice inflections. Devoted to her big sister and copying her every move…even moving her sit and spin so close to Tatum’s that they can’t even spin around properly. She is an expert snuggler–when she wants to be–and is the best and easiest sleeper you could ask for.
So before you load up on the next thing in parenting philosophy, make sure it’s written by someone who spends 12+ hours a day on average with multiple children. Someone who knows that one discipline style–which made your firstborn straighten up–will make your second look at you with a twinkle in their eye like, “you’re so cute for trying to stop me” and test (and blow up) every limit of your patience.
You don’t quite realize how easy parenting one kid is…until you have two. But as wild and crazy and uncontrollable as #2 may be, you can’t imagine life without the crazy sauce.
Now someone tell me what #3 is like…