Before we have kids, we worry about screwing them up. After we have them, we can't even pick our own out of a crowd.
Humor Parenting

A Parent, a Pool, and a Case of Mistaken Identity

Before we have kids, we worry about screwing them up. After we have them, we can't even pick our own out of a crowd.

We all start out this parenting gig with pretty much zero experience, right?  I  mean, it’s total on-the-job training when it comes to learning how to feed, clean, and otherwise maintain these little human beings that are dependent on us for their very lives.

No pressure!

For example, before I had kids, I couldn’t understand how my friend knew how much to feed her 2-year-old.  At least with a dog or a cat, the instructions are generally on the pet food package, right?  Pregnant me panicked at the thought that my soon-to-be-born child would starve to death, an unfortunate victim of his mother’s inexperience. “How do you know,” I asked this friend, as I watched her cajole her toddler to eat a little more at dinner one night, “how much of his meal he needs to eat?”

“You just figure it out,” she told me.

Helpful, right?  I resigned myself to losing a child or two until I got the hang of it all, the feeding and the diapering and the getting them in and out of the car seats.

So fast forward, oh, 17 years and 6 kids – that’s right, 6 kids and not one of them has starved to death (yet).  Apparently, my friend was right – you just figure it out.  And once you have 4 or 5 or 6 kids, you pretty much pride yourself on how you’ve got this parenting thing down – or, at least, that’s what I do. But then, as it is wont, reality will up and smack me in the face with the fact that, no, I don’t actually know what the heck I am doing. Not really.

Case in point: Today I went to the pool. I took along 4 of my children, which means I packed enough provisions to keep a small army fed. I also made sure I had a well-stocked diaper bag, because I wasn’t going to spend an hour preparing for the pool just to leave when someone got hungry or needed to be changed. Obviously, I haven’t been working this gig for 17 years without learning a thing or two.

So, there I was, standing in the deep end of the splash pool with my next-door neighbor, both of us keeping an eye on our swim-goggled children, because hey, experienced, right? At one point I noticed my neighbor speaking to a kid I didn’t recognize, so I said, “Oh, did you bring someone else?”

“What?” she said.

“Did you bring one of your boys’ friends?” I said, gesturing toward the strange kid.

She looked toward where I was pointing, then looked at me and said, “What?

“Never mind,” I said. “I thought you knew that kid, because you were talking to him. He’s not with you?”

“No,” she said. “He’s YOURS.”

You know, I thought he looked familiar…