You made it! I’ve seen the pictures and you are so cute I won’t even try to come up with a comparison. We knew you would be! And with your little head wrapped in that cute cap and the rest of you wrapped in that cute baby boy blanket, well, let’s just say that you’re about as special as they come. We already love you to bits and haven’t even met!
Now is probably a pretty solid time for me to give you some baby Pro Tips. Over the last nine months Mommy B. and Poppa B. have been getting bombarded with lots of advice. I may have even given them some, all unsolicited of course. But what we know is this: Mommy B. and Poppa B. are parents and they’re still too young, undeveloped, and inexperienced to really absorb anything. They’re going to need a lot of hand-holding.
In fact the three months after birth are usually referred to as the “fourth trimester” because Mom and Dad have not yet developed enough, especially their brains, to truly separate from the period of gestation. You’ll sometimes wonder if they understand anything at all. Trust me, they do. Be patient and before long they’ll be responding properly and aware of their surroundings and able to correctly respond to each of your demands. It just takes time and some trial and error to distinguish between “That’s a four pound poop” and “Where’s my bottle?”
Anyway, back to the baby Pro Tips. In general, parents aren’t the tires with the thickest tread in the shop. They need lots of coaching, mentoring, patience, and yes, just plain love. Mommy B. and Poppa B. are no exception. I’ve known them for a while and they are wonderful. One day–I promise–you’ll look on them with pride and great love, appreciating the fine work you’ve done raising them to be upstanding, responsible, decent, reasonably intelligent, not completely embarrassing parents.
But the baby Pro Tips. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were good parents. This is where you come in. So listen up.
- Be patient with them, especially Poppa B. He’s a perfectionist and isn’t accustomed to chaos, much less piles of baby poop. When he’s looking a little ragged around the edges, don’t squirt out another load of didy-doo. Take it easy on him. Let him get used to the feel and smell of poop under his fingernails. It’s going to take time but he will come around.
- You’ll feel a need to correct them by screaming. Loud, high-pitched, brain-piercing, soul-destroying, uber-decimal screams that sound like you’re being lanced with a harpoon. I know it’s fun to watch them put their hands over their ears, Google “mortal baby illnesses” call 911, and ring up sister-in-law at 3:00 AM. But don’t do it more than three times a night; they need a little sleep. But not that much, actually.
- When you see them being stupid, you’ll want to helicopter. Don’t. It takes parents a long time to learn that “one more beer” is bad, but over time you’ll be able to teach them how to read. Poppa B. can be started on easy books with big pictures and simple words. He will learn a lot more quickly than you think. One book that you can always start with is by Wank Meister, “Putting Poppa to Sleep.” It’s a nice bedtime story.
- Lots of babies worry about how their parents are going to handle the college application process. Your parents will have the same anxieties as every other parent. Let them know that although you emphatically have no desire to be a truck driver or ditch digger, just because you didn’t ace Quantum Physics by Third Grade is no reason for them to burn their library of SAT prep books. They will one day be able to brag that you got admitted to a college that was somewhat your choice.
- Fortunately, Momma B. and Poppa B. know how to ride bicycles, so they are already pre-qualified as parents. However, make sure that Poppa B. still goes out on the Donut Ride even though he gets dropped by his friend Wanky who he used to shred like cheese in a Cuisinart. He will feel better just getting out, at least until the Switchbacks. Remind him that it’s a sign of enduring friendship to be left to dangle, sad and alone, while the faster riders speed heroically away.
- Utilize your networks. Mom and Dad will sometimes do embarrassing things, but only on days ending in “y.” This is completely normal and is why you have friends. Don’t hesitate to compare notes with little Billy in the sandbox and see if his parents also do weird things like putting you in the car at 2:00 AM and driving around the block calling out to someone named “god” for you to go to sleep. Your buddies can often give you practical solutions that won’t occur to you, such as falling asleep after these driving excursions and then becoming wide awake for the rest of the night the minute the car stops.
- Utilize grampy and grandma. They are incredibly old, older than anything except perhaps igneous rock formations, but they are wise. Learn to play them off against Momma B. and Poppa B. If three hours of non-stop screaming don’t communicate what you need, grampy and granny will figure it out.
- Remember that they are parents, not pals. At some point your parents will try to be your “friend,” usually when they find your first condom or your stash. Firmly let them know that they are not your friends, they are your parents, and they need to be sent to their room to reflect on all the times they woke up with a splitting hangover or couldn’t remember where they left the car keys. Or the car. Adolescence is hard for parents but they will get through it.
- Don’t reward bad behavior. Momma B. and Poppa B. will in the beginning try to get their way by being nice, buying you stuff, pleading, or sobbing hysterically into the phone to a close relative or co-worker while sirens howl in the background. This is not the time to back down, but to continue pretending that you have a terrible illness that will require a Life Flight and that will require payment of the full $5,000 deductible. Let the surgeon flown in from Durban conclude that “It’s nothing, just a mild cold.” It’s never your job to give in to unreasonable demands, even though you’ll be tempted to do so.
- Appreciate Momma B. and Poppa B. for who they are, not who you want them to be. They are kind, smart, loving people who already love you more than you will ever begin to understand. You are not the most important thing in their life, as of yesterday you ARE their life. And it is a beautiful thing to see. We love you and welcome to the world.