My Worst Parenting Mistakes (So Far)

I wouldn't say I was the most prepared sandwich in the deli when it comes to having a kid, but these raw vegetables did what it took to get the soup cookin'. Er, cringe-inducing analogies for parental readiness aside, I read like a mofo while I was pregnant, talked to people with kids, and generally put my reporting skills to work to get my shit together to have a baby.

It paid off. We immediately had a sixth sense for when she was hungry or cold, knew intuitively when her diaper was within a 3% wetness range of chafing, and were spotting choking hazards like a coupla Terminator-scanning wunderkinds within seconds of her birth. SECONDS. But in spite of mostly being good little hyper-vigilant helicopter parents in 2011, we still pulled a few rookie moves whose consequences are still TBD — and these are just the ones we're aware of. To wit:

We looked away a bunch and she hit her head. A lot.

When you have a baby, you cannot look away. Did you hear me? You can't look away! Not even for a fraction of a second! Or you will turn back around to find that your baby has constructed and eaten a barbed wire fence. Man, it's like I swear all I did last year was look at that baby, but I obviously didn't, because I can't tell you how many times she rolled off the bed, jumped off the chair, hit her head on the coffee table, or ate an old piece of weird, hard bacon from under the couch.
This year, we vow to only leave chewable bacon pieces under the (styrofoam) couch.

We fought in front of the baby and didn't always show her the makeup part.

Just ask any of my (theoretical) ex-boyfriends, I'm a BIG fan of talking about conflict right out in the open. I also think it's OK to let kids see their parents argue, and what's more important is showing them you can have a disagreement but that everything can be resolved. But like shaving your legs, this is still far easier said than done. Before you know it you find yourself stomping around hairy-legged one time too many over the same old row, till you notice you've raised your voice defending the second scratch you put on the side of the new car because there's a weird pole next to your parking space and YES, you can try not to hit it 99% of the time but what about the 1% and what the crap can you really do if you're in a hurry, and there is your sweet little baby hanging on your every utterance like she's studying for the bar exam.
2012 is the year of only discussing what the baby can verbally help us resolve.

We thoughtlessly watched TV shows we thought were "funny" with baby around only to suddenly find ourselves scrambling to shut off the TV during a scene where someone carelessly started punching, yelling, assaulting or being all-around violent to someone else.

It's not like we put on The Wire before the kid's bedtime. And yes of course I know that every millisecond of television is compassionless nihilism — duh, that's what's so great about it — it's just that I was only thinking about how I wanted to watch a little Melrose Place with dinner, only to fire up season 4. You know, the one where everyone tries to murder each other.
This year, looks like it's Blues Clues on the Orient Express or nothing.

We can only remember to bring snacks along 50% of the time.

This one seems so idiotic, because, duh, the baby needs a snack every time we leave the house or else she tears her own face off and underneath that face is always a wildebeest. And yet, I can only seem to remember to throw a few crackers in a bag whenever we leave the house approximately half the time. It's like I have to say it out loud like I'm talking to a kid to remember to put on their jacket before they go outside in the rain, except the kid is me, and then I still don't remember.
Next year: Invent purse constructed out of portable snack packs.

I make up fake words to traditional nursery rhymes.

At first, I thought I was just being creative and hilarious by having fun with traditional songs that, to me, are perfectly in need of a little juicing up. Turns out, those little sponge ears were listening all along, and is now singing all on her own, "How much is that baby in the window? Meow meow!" and will automatically be not just confused about the way the world works, but outcast by her daycare friends, future classmates and all potentially good schools for which she might apply.
2012: I swear I'll play it straight, Mother Goose, just don't take it out on my baby!

One time my mom came to town and stayed with us, so the beefcake and I went out on the town and had a few beers. We came home to a sleeping baby, went to sleep, woke up in the middle of the night to pee, checked on the baby, only to realize the baby was not in her room - or anywhere.

Frantic scurrying and searching led to the realization that she had climbed out of her bed, come into our room and crawled under our bed and fell asleep without alerting anyone in the house. Terrifying. Truly terrifying. Still have no idea if she sleepwalked, or more terrifyingly, cried or tried to get our attention. Regardless, we heard nothing amiss due to sad, no-tolerance old people having two beers and sleeping really hard.
2012: Wine coolers all the way, y'all! Woot!

I can't stop cursing, and she's really starting to mimic words these days.

I still think curse words are the greatest, because there's a rhythm to speech and its attendant emphasis, and nothing gets it done sometimes like a well-placed expletive when engaging in verbal theater. I know it's lazy, but I refuse to consider it immature. Still, unless I kick the habit, I'm going to end up raising the most adorable little fucker in West LA.
Next year, I cut the shit out or my ass is grass.


Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is hiding non-perishable snacks in the fucking diaper bag, alright?!?!?!