We’re halfway through my countdown of the top four things nobody bothered to tell me about being a parent. If you’ve somehow joined us midway or if sleep deprivation has caused you to forget them, jump back to the top.
#2: Pediatricians Are Often Just As Clueless As You
When I had my first child, I was so scared of “breaking” him. Every time he so much as coughed, we took him to the pediatrician’s office. It didn’t help that he had a couple of pretty severe issues within his first few months, one of which required hospitalization. Luckily, we have good insurance, so the cost of these visits was relatively low.
However, over time you quickly realize that the pediatricians have very few tools in their toolboxes. For the most part, they can tell you to give them over the counter pain/fever medications (ie, Tylenol or Motrin), tell you to give them clear fluids, or tell you that you’re just going to have to tough it out.
Most of the time, the doctors don’t know what the problem is any more than we do. Occasionally they may prescribe medications, but with the decline in use of antibiotics there’s really not a lot they can give kids (especially younger ones) that you can’t just buy at the grocery store.
These days, for the most part I won’t take my kids to the doctor unless they’ve got a fever above 102 degrees or they’re just throwing up constantly and can’t keep anything down. Anything less severe than that and we just take care of it ourselves.
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t take kids to the doctor if you’re concerned about their health. Having your kids checked out is worth it for the peace of mind alone.
However, kids get colds and stomach bugs on roughly a monthly basis. After a while of dealing with the same illnesses and getting the same advice from the pediatricians about it, you just learn to give yourself the advice and save the trip.
#1: Kids Make No Sense
Most living things have a set of “survival mechanisms” built into them. They will tend to instinctually do things that keep them alive and avoid things that would injure or kill them. This makes sense, as the living things that survive tend to have children and pass these instincts onto their children, making the population of living things those generally best suited to survive.
For some reason, human children seem to lack these mechanisms. My kids will refuse to eat or drink, for seemingly no reason. I can serve them ice cream for dinner and they’ll look at it as if I was asking them to eat their own poop. (They’d probably eat their own poop, though.)
Some days I feel like I need to follow them around the house all day and yell “BREATHE!” every thirty seconds or so to make sure they continue to utilize their lungs to exchange the gases needed for their survival.
But it’s not like they’d be likely to listen. I will calmly explain to them that running full speed into a glass door is likely to cause them untold pain and suffering, but they don’t really seem to listen. Even when they break rules directly related to their safety and end up in the ER getting stitches, once the pain has faded they’re right back at it again.
It’s no use trying to convince people without any children of their own that kids are universally nonsensical. One universally true parenting axiom is that whenever you talk about your children, people are going to attempt to help you by offering sage, logical advice. I myself am an engineer, a profession dedicated to logic and problem solving. Let me tell you, there is no logic to children.
I can come up with really smart, really creative solutions to parenting problems and it’s no better than flipping a coin. If people give me what seems like solid advice, I will smile and nod and say “what a great idea!” I might even try it! However, I hold no faith that it will actually help.
The only solution I’ve ever found that works consistently is an infinite amount of patience and ability to calmly repeat myself over and over again.