Yeah, there’s one BIG thing my fiancé and I forgot to talk about before having a baby. I don’t think, or I hope, I’m not alone. When you are ready for a baby, all you are thinking is, “Maybe this is the month I’ll conceive!” And, then, if you do conceive, you and your partner will only be arguing over names, what kind of crib or stroller you think is safest, and how to decorate the baby’s room.
I’ve come to realize – a little too late – what a couple SHOULD talk about before having a baby is not how you don’t like the name Kelly, because that was the name of the girl who bullied you throughout school, but about PARENTING STYLES.
Oops! It turns out that my fiancé and I have somewhat different parenting styles, which I really only realized in the last few weeks. Our son is 21 months old.
We’re definitely not on the same page when it comes to disciplining, what time the baby should go to sleep, and how to play with him. I don’t like toddlers who eat junk food. I think it’s bad for their teeth and that sugar high? Well, it’s a real thing! I’m not a food Nazi, but I don’t think our son should be eating cookies whenever he wants or Pringles whenever he wants.
Sadly, I’m more of a hard-ass parent than I thought! For example, my son, who I loving call, “The Little Terror,” has learned to punch because his father plays, in my eyes, quite roughly with him. My son loves to wrestle with Dad, and Dad loves wrestling with him. But not every second of the day can be wrestling time, so when my son punched him the other day, out of nowhere, my fiancé did indeed punish him, by sitting him on the staircase for one minute (I told him that for every year of his life that’s the amount of time he needs to be punished. So if he’s 6, he’ll get a six-minute time out.) Not only did my fiancé not see that this was a result of his rough playing but I don’t think our son lasted more than 30 seconds on the stairs before my fiancé was giving him a…cookie.
I was like, “Um, that’s not how you punish a kid!” (I’ve never punished my daughter before, because she was a near perfect toddler! But I do know that giving a cookie right after a baby does something bad isn’t the right path to take.)
I’m not saying I’m a perfect parent, but I also don’t like the fact my son eats Pringles. The reason? His father buys Pringles. And Pringles is what he gives our son when he needs a break for five minutes. “I don’t like him eating junk food,” I told my fiancé, who said it’s okay in moderation. I can comprehend that argument but now “The Little Terror” knows that Pringles exist in this world and he LOVES them. Sigh.
I also believe that once you put your 21 month old to bed, at 7:30 p.m. sharp – because I believe babies’ need a routine – you can’t go back in the room. “Is it okay if I just go at look at him? I miss him,” my fiancé will say. “And he’s still crying.”
Then I sound like a – GAH – MOTHER, saying, “No. You can not go back into the room or he’ll get used to it.” Sigh.
My fiancé also believes, which I don’t, that putting a baby to bed later will keep them sleeping in later. I tell him it doesn’t matter what time you put a baby to bed, and that OUR baby, no matter what, will wake up at 7 a.m. (I’ve not been wrong about that yet. EVER!)
We also had a conversation recently about toy guns. I hate toy guns, because I hate guns. So, no, honey, I don’t think you should buy him a water gun. (Guess who owns a little water gun?)
Sometimes, when “The Little Terror” is playing alone nicely, I’ll have to say to my fiancé, “Stay away! He’s happy right now! Leave him be.” I believe that teaching a child to play nicely alone is a positive thing to learn
And the dog! The Little Terror has a love/hate relationship with our dog, and will often pull his tail, or purposely (I recognize an evil grin when I see one!) take his ball away or bother the dog when he’s eating. My fiancé actually sides with the dog, saying our son is just ‘playing,’ while I’m worried the dog is going to one day get really annoyed with “The Little Terror” and bite his ear off.
With my daughter, I really was a laid back mother, possibly because her father just took my lead. It was so much easier that way! If my daughter threw something off the tray table three times, the toy was taken away.
Now I watch my fiancé put pasta or French fries on little toy trucks on “The Little Terror” tray table, so he’ll eat. He’ll allow our son – oh I don’t know – ten times to throw things off the tray table. I’ll be like, “I don’t care if he cries. He’s not eating his fucking spaghetti off a truck and he only gets three chances!”
Don’t get me wrong. My fiancé is a wonderful man, a great father, and I love him dearly. I just never thought I would be the Bad Cop parent, because it’s just so not me. But because his parenting style turns out to be even more laidback than mine, I’ve actually turned into sounding like a nagging mother…to my fiancé. That’s not who I want to be!
For all you planning on having a baby, the questions you should NOT be worried about are names, or discussions of what the baby will look like. What potential parents should be asking each other are questions like, “What would you do when our child purposely hits you?” Or, “Are we going to allow our child to drink Apple juice straight or mix it with water?” Or, “How do you see yourself reacting to seeing our toddler crawling on the kitchen table?” Because, if you don’t, then one of you is going to turn into the Bad Cop Parent, like me, and, fuck me, I didn’t even send in a resume for that position. Please, someone, fire me!