Baseball and Other Hazards of Having Kids
Having children irreversibly changes your life. Before I had children, my husband and I talked about it. We discussed how we thought our lives would change with the arrival of a baby. We took classes on childbirth and parenting. We were prepared. Or so we thought.
The thing is, although we took classes and read books and knew what to expect as far as the baby’s feeding, sleeping, diapering, and developmental milestones, we were clueless about all the other stuff that comes with having children. The kind of stuff that isn’t covered in books.
For example, coming up with a name for your baby that you and your spouse both agree on is harder than you might think. And although you know your baby won’t sleep through the night when it’s first born, nothing really prepares you for the insomnia of mammoth proportions that you’ll experience or the zombie-like state in which you will survive for months. Then there’s the dreaded pregnancy weight gain and the subsequent attempts to lose the excess blubber.
Before you have children, you can’t imagine yourself saying things like “Don’t put chocolate milk in your pants,” “Take the hot dog out of your nose,” or “Because I said so!”
When you’re expecting your first child, no one tells you you’ll soon be spending every second of your life in your car as you drive that child to baseball practice or gymnastics meets or swimming lessons. You don’t really prepare for this ahead of time. One day you just find yourself in the position of chauffeur.
When you’re pregnant, you don’t realize that in about five years, you’ll have to try out your acting skills by playing the part of the Tooth Fairy. This doesn’t even cross your mind before you have kids. And you certainly can’t imagine yourself saying things like “Don’t put chocolate milk in your pants,” “Take the hot dog out of your nose,” or “Because I said so!”
Alas, these are just a few of the hazards of parenting. A Rose by Any Other Name
My kids are all named after cities: Austin, Savannah, Jackson, Lexington, Clayton, and Brooklyn.
Yes, Clayton is actually a city, even though it doesn’t sound like one. We were running out of good city names by the time we got to Clay, and we had a hard time deciding on a name. We didn’t pick a name until the day after he was born, despite plenty of “helpful” suggestions from family and friends. Let’s see if I can recall some of their wonderful name ideas. There was Schenectady, Tallahassee, Paul and Minnie (St. Paul and Minneapolis) if I had boy/girl twins, Albuquerque, Tuscaloosa, Kalamazoo, Chattanooga, Poughkeepsie, Punxsutawney, and, of course, my dad’s favorite, Rancho Cucamonga.
As awesome as all these suggestions were, I figured I’d mess up my child enough on my own without giving him a name he’d never be able to spell. Can you imagine the therapy bill for a kid named Punxsutawney?
I didn’t start out with the whole city theme on purpose. I just liked the names Austin and Savannah for my first two kids. After I had them, I realized they were both city names, and I decided to stick with the theme. It spiraled out of control from there. I continued it because I figured I couldn’t have Austin, Savannah, Jackson, Lexington, and then Bob. It just wouldn’t flow. So I gave each of my kids a city name.
With my fifth, Clayton, I’d narrowed down my choices to Dallas, Houston, Branson, and Clayton. (Yes, I used a copy of Rand McNally to get ideas.) My husband and I couldn’t decide, so we let our other kids pick the baby’s name from those four choices. Austin and Savannah both voted for Clayton. Jackson, on the other hand, opted to call him Slicker. He continued to call him Slicker for a good year. At least that was better than his original choice, Nemo.
My dad found all this amusing, and each time I gave birth to another grandchild, he was proud to stand up in church and say, “I have a blessing to announce. My daughter has just given us another city!”
When I was pregnant with my sixth baby, a girl, I ran out of cities and had to move on to the boroughs. Thus Brooklyn was born.
I’m not sure why I bothered to give my kids names at all, because I never can remember them. I spit and sputter, going through a list of disjointed syllables.
“AusSavaJacksLexiBrook-Clayton, get over here right now!” You don’t sound very authoritative when you can’t remember your child’s name. For some reason, the kids just don’t take you seriously when you yell, “JacksSav, er, ClayLex, grrr, whatever your name is! You know who you are!”
My dad used to call my poor sister “Corky.” Corky was the dog. We thought he was crazy. Now I know the truth: we made him crazy. I think I’ll just start calling all my kids Larry to avoid confusion and mix-ups. “Hey Larry, come here.” All the kids would come running. “Larry, set the table, please.” The kids would all rush to place dishes on the table. Or, more likely, the kids would all look at me with blank stares, then nod knowingly to one another, confirming their beliefs that I’d officially lost my mind.
I’m not sure why I bothered to give my kids names at all, because I never can remember them.
I think naming kids today is harder than in past generations. In the past, offspring were named after relatives. Names were chosen from a list of traditional names that had been used for generations. Nowadays, parents can name their children pretty much anything. When a parent names their child Kumquat, for example, society isn’t shocked. Instead they nod and think, “Hmmm, Kumquat. That’s got a nice ring to it.” Traditional boys’ names are given to girls. Girls’ names are given to boys. Pet names are given to babies. Names of flowers, fruit, cars, and electronics are given to children. Miscellaneous combinations of letters are declared names and are bestowed upon daughters and sons. The funny thing is, the different, unique names parents come up with for their children are the very names that make it to the Top 100 list of names. Parents name their child Spleen or X or Zucchini, thinking that they’ll be the only child with that name. But somehow the name catches on and there are four Spleens, Xs, or Zucchinis in your child’s kindergarten class.
And then there’s the most important part of naming your child: the nickname. My kids all have nicknames. All kids have nicknames, whether you want them to or not. You pore over baby-name books for nine months, agonizing over the all-important question of what you can name your baby so no one will give him a goofy nickname. It seems that for every choice you can think of, an unappealing nickname is just waiting to attach itself to your baby.
For example, maybe you like the name Joseph but detest the name Joey. No matter how hard you try, by the time the kid is in kindergarten, at least ten people will call him Joey. Let’s say you’re superadamant about calling your new baby son Joseph and you immediately correct anyone who utters Joe or Joey. He’ll acquire a nickname like Skipper, Stinky, Rhino, or some equally ridiculous moniker that will stick with him for life. It just happens. You might as well accept it.
But the struggle for the right name is only the first of many hazards of having kids. Sleeping Like a Baby
Sleeping like a baby. Now, tell me, who on earth came up with that nonsense? Talk about an oxymoron. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in sixteen years!
The minute you see that positive pregnancy test, you can pretty much give up on a good night’s sleep for the rest of your life. Sleep deprivation is a way of life for parents. I’m saying that sleep deprivation is a way of life for parents
instead of moms
because I don’t want to leave out the one father in Passaic, New Jersey, who actually gets up with his baby. For the rest of you moms who walk around like zombies all day because you’ve had only thirty-five minutes of sleep, you are not alone. Why do you think Starbucks is so popular?
It all starts in pregnancy. Some say the sleeplessness of pregnancy is just the body’s way of preparing us for the sleepless nights that lie ahead once the baby arrives. I say it’s a cruel joke designed to make us question our decision to have a child.
For anyone who has never been pregnant and can’t understand how pregnancy could cause difficulty sleeping, try this: eat your weight in salt and walk twenty miles. That should sufficiently swell your ankles. Next, eat fifteen extrahot burritos to make sure you get a whopping case of heartburn. Then do a little weight-lifting. A dead lift of five hundred pounds should do the trick to make your back feel almost as bad as a pregnant woman’s. Before retiring for the night, drink a fifty-five-gallon drum of water to ensure you’ll have to get up to pee every five minutes all night long. Finally, as you lie down to sleep, put a twenty-pound watermelon on your stomach. Sweet dreams!
After the baby is born, when the physical discomforts of pregnancy are gone, you still don’t get a full night’s sleep. You know the baby will wake up during the night. After all, you took the classes. You know the drill. You were warned that your precious newborn would wake up to eat in her first few weeks of life, but nothing really prepares you for the sleep loss that new moms experience. Imagine a smoke alarm that goes off two inches from your head in the middle of the night. The only way to tu...