Posted by: Hannah | 04/28/2011

the last day I am 32

I am loving the questions. Blog posts are a-brewin’. Unlike Harper, I will answer all questions (and not limit them to four, from a partisan audience). In the meantime, though, this one came to me today as I was using both hands, both elbows, one knee, and my teeth to pin down my niece while I changed her diaper. Without further ado, I give you:

Things about children that will surprise you, and you’ll never read in a book

  1. Children hate having their diapers changed. It’s true! Now, this goes against all logic. You would think that children would like having their nethers gently cleaned with a non-alcoholic wipe (these days, usually warmed in an electric warming device); or a wet cloth; or whatever. You would think that having a cold, wet, poo-laden diaper removed and replaced by a clean dry one would feel nice. You would think that the average child, requiring 5 to 6 diaper changes per 24 hour period (more, for infants), would develop a certain comfort level with the procedure. Not so! Most children I’ve encountered – including the two I currently have still in diapers – kick, scream, flip over onto their stomachs and crawl away, grab their genitals before you have cleaned them, and generally make an already unpleasant task an exercise in both anger management & advanced gymnastics.
  2. Children are both the most opinionated people on earth, and also the most irrational. I include birthers and Harper Conservatives in this, so you know I mean it. Toddlers & preschools will so seldom have a rational thought that when they do, you will be overwhelmed with the desire to buy them a present or take out a full-page ad in your local paper letting everyone know. This trait will lead them to demand “grilled cheese sandwiches, not cooked” or “hamburgers with ketchup but don’t put ketchup on my buuuurgerrrr moooommmmmmyyyy” or to scream NO at the top of their lungs while reaching for whatever it is you tried to offer them. If you have children, you will spend a remarkable amount of time trying to figure out what it is they actually want.
  3. They grow overnight. And no, I’m not trying to tell you something all sentimental about how they grow up so fast – I mean they literally increase in height and mass in one eight to ten hour span of sleep. One day they will get up in the morning and none of their clothes will fit. Pants will be too short. Shirt sleeves will stop midway down the forearm. You will think you are crazy; then you will talk to other parents, who will confirm that yes, in fact, it is possible for small children to completely grow out of their entire wardrobe all at once.
  4. They do not have empathy. Now, you may have heard this. And you may think you understand. But until you watch one small child smash another one over the head with a plastic toy… and then laugh hysterically while the other one screams in pain… you really won’t get it. Children have zero ability to put themselves in another’s shoes. This also extends to family pets.
  5. Children do not learn from their mistakes. I mean, they do – eventually. But you’ll be amazed how many times they will crawl under the kitchen table and get stuck before they finally stop doing it. Or how many times they will grab the cat by the tail and get both bitten & scratched for their pains. Or how many times they will drop a spoon from the high chair & then wail because they’ve dropped their spoon. (This last one apparently is a developmental milestone. It’s also incredibly annoying.)
  6. Children have a really hard time blowing their noses. Blowing air out through your nose is not an automatic thing. I used to judge parents who were always followed around by kids with runny noses. I no longer judge. You might as well try to empty the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon as try to keep a small child from having a runny nose.
  7. Tired children don’t sleep. This is another one of those counter-intuitive things. When adults are tired, they will usually at least try to sleep. Children will not. Tired children will do anything up to and including swinging from the chandelier to try and convince you that they are not sleepy. If that doesn’t work, they will cry. A lot. But sleep? Bah. Sleep is for the weak.
  8. Finally, and related to the last point. “Sleeping like a baby” is a misnomer. Try sharing a bed with a baby – or worse, a toddler – and tell me how it went. They kick. They snore. They wind their tiny fingers into your neck wattle or arm skin and twist. They turn horizontal so that both adults are clinging desperately to two inches of precious, precious mattress on the very edge of the bed (and this is true no matter how big the bed is). They wake up in the night, see you there, and decide 3AM would be a fantastic time for a party. And no matter how disturbed their sleep, they wake up at 5:30AM.

What surprised you the most about small children? What do you wish someone had told you?



  1. All very true!

  2. That is such a comprehensive list. I am always trying to find new toys to present to Simon when I do diaper changes. It’s the rolling onto his stomach that drives me crazy. Obviously you were bang on with the nose blowing too. That’s one tricky thing to learn.

    The one thing that I wish I had been told (although it seems kind of obvious) is little ‘free’ time you have. Especially with two. I just think that had I mastered meal planning and general house organization methods before my children came along I might be a TAD more organized now. Oh well.

    Hope that you had a lovely birthday Hannah!

  3. Happy belated birthday!

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