Ah, kids. They're amazing. Tiny little sponges sucking up all the information around them, moldable minds that are all yours to form.
But that can be tricky as a parent, too—after all, you're just a person, with your own set of problems and biases and deadlines to meet, not to mention the unwatched episodes of Scandal stacking up. Losing track of your kid in a crowded store, swearing in front of them one too many times—you're bound to do at least some stuff to your offspring that's going to mess them up a little.
We asked a handful of parents how they're accidentally ruining their children's lives, one tiny fuckup at a time.
Nisha Patel, 35, New Jersey
Liam loved to have poop explosions. We would have to cut him out of his onesies sometimes. One time while we were out, he was in this thick, fuzzy zip-up [onesie] that covered every inch of him but his face. Apparently he had pooped but the jacket thing was so thick you couldn't even smell anything. So he must have been rolling around in that poop for hours. Finally when I tried to unzip him, the poop was spilling out of every corner.
Not that long ago, we had a dinner party while Anya was at the crawling around phase. She was like a little puppy. We were entertaining at our kitchen island and she would crawl around and around it. She went quiet for a bit and while I thought that was a little odd, I didn't overthink it. Then when she came around again, I picked her up and immediately a huge blob of poop spilled out over her pants and onto the kitchen floor right in front of everyone who was hanging out, eating and drinking.
Poop explosions are an emotional rollercoaster—funny for a split second until you realize you have to clean them up, and then terror follows.
Jessie and Jay Maas, 25 and 37, Haverhill, Massachusetts
We couldn't get our son to wake up for his passport photo, and now he's absolutely cursed with the worst picture every time we need it for something. We were getting ready to go to Australia for the first time just after Christmas, but we were heading to California to see Jay's family first, so we had barely any time to get it done. We went to the post office and he fell asleep right as we got there—he was only about a month and a half old, and they're still really sleepy that young.
We tried everything to wake him up. We took his booties and stuff off so he wouldn't be so cozy, tried blowing in his ears, things like that. We tried laying him down on a white blanket because they said that young children don't need their eyes open, but he kept rolling over… So Jay had to stand there and hold him up. Then it came in the mail, and I couldn't stop laughing.
Angela Daniels, 30, New Jersey
We were giving the baby sponge baths for the first two weeks rather than an actual submerged-in-water-bath. I guess I shouldn't say the make and model of the item but there's this bath thing that claims it's super easy for newborns. You can just put it in the sink, then you put the baby in the sink and then you can give them a nice, comfortable, relaxing bath.
So I did that. I got my sink ready and I got all the products. I wanted it to be special for Malachi so I set the mood; I lit candles and I had music playing. So I put the bath thing—that is supposed to hold the baby securely—in the sink. I had the water filled and then put him in. It's in the shape of a lily pad. It's cute. It cups the baby in, allegedly. The next thing I know, the lily pad opens up. I didn't even know Malachi could do this since he's two weeks old at this point, but he sees that it opened up and that he's about to drown. He puts his arms out to stop himself from sinking. I'm freaking out. And he's in this sink full of water and I had to grab him and try to keep his head out of the water.
It turns out you're supposed to use in the bathroom sink, which is much smaller. I was using it in the kitchen sink. There was nothing holding it. So I had to pretty much lifeguard my son.
Anna Whitehouse, 36, London, England
Parenting is mainly just forgetting things and improvising as you go. I ended up arm-deep in a shitty diaper on the floor of the Tate Modern [gallery] with bespectacled art folk looking on in horror. It was a code red situation, and there wasn't time for a rank baby changing facility. I'd forgotten a change of clothes, so ended up taking my glittery moist socks off and sheathing my newborn's legs with them. The people of London looked on aghast.
Adam and Emily Harteau, 39 and 36
In a tin boat meandering the waterways of the Pantanal with our guide Marcelo of the Kadiweu tribe, the sun rose high—and it got hot. Really hot. Adam lifted Colette, our six-year-old daughter, high over his head, and as she squealed with delight, he tossed her into a river that's known to have caimans, anacondas, and piranhas. Three adults kept all eyes peeled in all directions and five minutes later, the swim was done—and all limbs were still attached.
Mike Julianelle, 41, Brooklyn, New York
Thanks to my own crippling inability to be sincere about anything, my seven-year-old is incapable of saying the word "great" without meaning it sarcastically.
I'm pretty sure he doesn't even know that the word is actually meant to be positive. Whenever he's annoyed or something frustrating happens, I often hear him exclaim "GREAT!" with such bitterness and irony that I'm not certain he'll ever be able to experience actual joy.
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