The Kid Manual Nobody Gives You

by Anne Bardsley
Originally Published: 

There are some things you learn about motherhood 20 years too late. By the time grandkids come around, you have all the information you’d need to win mom of the year. You just don’t have the energy.

1. Kids don’t eat. Stop trying to shove protein and healthy food down their throats. Give them a corn chip and relax. If they want more, give them the bag. This does not make you a bad mom. Kids just don’t eat some days. I personally can’t understand how they do that.

2. The little runts don’t sleep. If they notice you yawn, their little inner manic comes out to play. This is never good because the little inner manic can go for hours on end, like a tornado. Mental note: never yawn in a child’s presence ever again. When they finally nap, you nap.

3. Kids cry. You can’t make everything better all the time. Some days they just need to throw one hell of a fit. They scream, yell, stomp, spit, and throw things, and that’s just the beginning. Let them enjoy the meltdown. It’s good for the soul. I think this could work for adults too, honestly.


4. Poop is not the biggest thing in the world. There is no reason to get a master’s degree in poop. I know some moms who carry a notebook. There are columns for color, consistency and size. Size matters once again. If you just ignore them, they will conveniently poop behind the sofa while you’re entertaining guests. Voila, problem solved! Have more dinner parties and your kid will be regular and you can throw that notebook away.

5. Kids are sassy. They will embarrass you in the checkout line by telling everyone you have a pimple on your butt or stinky farts. For some reason they are consumed with our rear ends. It actually makes sense because that is the part of us they see the most. Keep a tootsie pop in your purse and plug their little mouths when you sense an infomercial coming on.

6. Kids are dirty. They are germs factories with legs. Their hands are in their mouths, up their noses, and (let’s not forget) touching their lower body parts. I suggest you keep their hands full of cookies to keep their little hands in place.

7. Kids don’t always like you. This one is hard to swallow. “How could my child not want to go with me?” I’ve heard mothers ask. Trust me – there will be days, months, years when they will be your shadow. Run from the house and enjoy the break. Do not look back. Keep running and lock the car door.

8. Kids change their minds all the time. “Do you want juice?” You pour juice. “I want milk.” You pour milk. “I want ice cream.” Do not fall for this one. Give them prune juice to teach them not to screw with mommy’s head. Then get ready to clean up behind the couch.

9. Kids are natural born imitators. You may have difficulty understanding some of their words. There is one exception, and that is the word shit. At approximately 22 months, a child will use this word frequently and in perfect context. A child will drop a toy, get red-faced, and scream, “Shit!” just like when Mommy drops her purse trying to get out the door. Another common use is when Daddy says, “It’s time for a bath, Tommy.” Tommy will stomp and yell, “Oh Shit,” pronounced perfectly, and mean it.

10. Kids are wonderful. Just when you’re ready to tie your own tubes with rope from a pork roast, a kid will walk in with a little bouquet of flower heads just for you. They don’t like stems for some reason, so put them in a bowl and let them float.

11. Kids are smart. You can’t fool them anymore. When it’s time for the Tooth Fairy, they are able to figure out her estimated time of arrival, the current average tooth price, and how fast she has to flutter to get into their room. If the Tooth Fairy is forgetful, they post a bad review on their fancy little computers and the tooth price skyrockets.

12. Kids grow up in the blink of an eye. One day they won’t leave your lap and the next day they’re graduating from kindergarten. Blink again and they’re leaving for college. One more blink and you’re mother of the bride or groom. Before you know it they’re all grown and you’ll miss all these times, except for the pooping behind the couch.

This is why all the things we worry about as young moms are not that important after all. I barely survived raising five kids. I’m on the other side now wishing I’d realized what was really important. Moms, just do your best. Make sure you have imperfect friends. Perfection is overrated, and I have no idea what the perfect mom is anyway.

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