31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming a Parent

Earlier this week, I saw a post on No Page Left Blank titled “31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming a Parent: A Response” and thought I’d leave my own thoughts on this list.  Well, here they are.

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#1 – Make sure you don’t barbecue your kid.

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#2 – Don’t let polar bear cubs eat your baby.

Oh wait, those aren’t actually on the list.  Here are the real ones:

1. At some point you will accidentally hurt your kid and you’ll feel like the worst parent ever.

Yeah, this has happened.  Tomoe’s had her share of getting bumped into or knocked over accidentally, and I felt horrible.  I asked myself, “Will she hate me?”  Within minutes, she was laughing and smiling, so obviously she felt fine.  But at that instant, I couldn’t help but feel terrible.

2. You will know a lot less about this: [insert image of a newspaper showing important world news]

On the contrary, I keep up with world news quite a bit.  I don’t feel behind at all.

3. And a whole lot more about this: [insert an image of a bunch of special figure toys]

To be honest, it’s not so much about toys, but much more about kids TV shows these days.  Especially Anpanman.  I know the main characters, and kids I teach English to are surprised that I know their names.

4. Your Netflix account will eventually only suggest kids’ shows.

Don’t have Netflix, but we do have Hulu.  Not one kids’ show is on our queue.

5. Your pet will no longer be your top priority.

This most certainly happened.  We spend less time playing with our dog and more time with Tomoe.  But as he died earlier this year, things have changed.

6. You will gain 15 pounds.

Uh, no.  The opposite.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve lost 21 kg.  Yeah, that’s right.  46 pounds.  It has nothing to do with Tomoe and everything to do with not eating convenience store meals all the time.

7. The backseat of your car will be nasty.

This doesn’t apply.  We don’t have a car.

8. You will eat 95% of your meals either incredibly fast or with one hand. Or both.

Due to my work hours, I get home after my daughter’s gone to bed (3 days a week) or get home an hour before she goes to bed (2 days a week).  In either case, I eat after she’s gone to bed.  No problem!  But during the other 2 days, she gets fed first, then we eat.  And yes, I sometimes have to defend my food while she gets upset that I’m not playing with her.  It makes me take longer to eat.  It should get easier soon, I hope.

9. You’ll basically become a ninja.

With so many toys around as obstacles, this has actually been really difficult.  I manage to bump one or two of them, and of course, they make a lot of noise.  But thankfully, Tomoe sleeps through the sound.  At times, she’s a pretty heavy sleeper.

10. Despite your best efforts, your kids will get their hands on your iPhone.

Yes, she does quite often.  But she knows I don’t want her playing with it, so she turns around and hands it to me.  My wife’s iPod Touch, on the other hand, that’s a different story.  She has a lot of games on it for Tomoe, so she’s got permission to use it.  She knows how to unlock it, where to find the games, how to start the games, how to play them, and how to close the games.  That’s right, she’s not even 2 years old, and she’s already an expert on how to use it.  And there are plenty of random photos she’s taken of the floor.

11. Parenting is harder than you think it’ll be, but you won’t really notice.

That is actually really hard to respond to.  It’s been harder since she’s learned to walk.  When she was a tiny baby, the difficulty was getting a full night’s sleep.  But daytime was a breeze, outside of frequent diaper changes and feedings.  Now, the difficulty is keeping her out of trouble.  She does fairly well, surprisingly.  But she makes a mess with her toys.  But another thing that’s hard is to get her to stop talking so negatively about things.  She says “no” and “dame (no, don’t, you can’t do that, I won’t do that, etc)” all the time, and has now started saying “hen na no (you’re weird/strange/a freak).”  Guh.

12. You will have to sneak candy like it’s a contraband substance.

Yeah, but not just that.  Fruit, too.  Especially tangerines and bananas.  And any snack featuring pictures of Anpanman.

13. You will laugh more than at any other time in your life.

Yeah, if I’m not frustrated.  But she definitely has provided some big laughs.

14. You’ll be awakened at 2 a.m. to fetch a glass of water only to find your kid passed out when you deliver it.

She’s never requested this, and isn’t very good with drinking from a glass, but she has woken up and asked for us.  She usually wants to sleep in our bed with us.  But sometimes, she’ll wake up crying, then fall asleep within a couple minutes.  Still waiting for her to ask for water.

15. You will see your own faults reflected back at you.

She copies everything!  One of the strangest things is that when I’m at my computer and not using my mouse, she’ll reach over and pull my hand to my mouse.  Am I really using it that much? When she’s in front of my computer, she always goes for the mouse, too.

16. Folding kid and baby clothes is torture.

Not an issue.  Really.  They’re so small.

17. It’s impossible to feel manly when folding said baby clothes.

Again, not an issue for me.

18. The power of cute is more formidable than you realize.

Hell yes! I may be in a bad mood and Tomoe gives me a cute smile or pose, and it just makes me smile.  She has a lot of power.

19. You will find talking to your friends without kids more difficult.

Simply meeting any friends has become more difficult.  Bed times, making sure I’m home in time for her to see me on weekends, and so on.  I’ve become a servant of my daughter’s.

20. Kids become actual people and not baby blobs way sooner than you think.

I’ve made a similar comment before about how my daughter seems like a real person now.  She actually thinks, has likes and dislikes, and is rather creative.  She is surprisingly creative!  She impresses me a lot.

21. Something you love will get ruined.

Not yet.  She’s damaged earphones, folded a book cover, but that’s it.

22. You will turn into your parents.

Some aspects, probably.  I had quite a bit of freedom when I was a kid, but I tended to be well-behaved.  Hopefully, Tomoe will learn to be responsible, so I can feel more confident about her ability to be independent.

23. Very little will embarrass you.

Those parents with noisy kids in the supermarket now have my understanding.  But I also realise just how I don’t care what others think of me when my daughter is shouting for Anpanman cookies and I ignore her.  Believe me, nothing will shut her up.  She already has Anpanman cookies at home.

24. You won’t be able to watch movies where kids are killed or kidnapped.

Not really.  On the contrary, it gets my protective feeling heightened.  If I see a movie where a kid is kidnapped and the parents have to try to get the kid back, all I want is for that parent to beat the crap out of the kidnapper.  It’s only natural to want to protect your kid.  I can still watch those movies.

25. You won’t want to spend money on yourself because you’ll know every dollar spent on yourself is a dollar you could’ve spent on your family.

I’ve always been this way.  There’s been no change.

26. Buying your kid something will make you way more happy than buying yourself something.

Absolutely.  I love seeing that happy face.

27. When your kid is little, every trip out of the house will feel like getting ready to go to the airport.

How true this is.  And having to pack extra diapers and wet wipes, as well.  Getting her back into the house is like having to unpack.  It’s so much effort to go anywhere, especially if we have to take the bus.  The bus is the most difficult thing about going anywhere with my daughter.

28. You will love to watch kids’ movies.

Honestly, I always have.  Now I have an excuse to be able to watch them.

29. You will cram your entire adult life between the time your kid goes down and you go to sleep.

Very true.  I also love nap time.  But since Tomoe goes to a nursery some days every week, I also have a bit of time in the morning before I go to work.  Those are precious times for me.

30. For a while, only you will be able to understand them, so you’ll basically become their interpreter.

This is a tough thing.  Tomoe is learning both Japanese and English, and my Japanese isn’t good enough to understand much badly pronounced Japanese.  But I have interpreted before.  When my daughter met my coworkers, I translated what she really meant by “nana” and “bappo.”

31. And lastly, it’s all worth it.

Yes.  See my previous post.

So, how about you?  I want to hear some responses.

Nothing Beats Being a Parent

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood.  Absolutely nothing.  When I became a parent, I felt something I’ve never felt before, something that is incredibly difficult to describe in words.  I can’t compare it with anything.

My daughter was born 1 year, 9 months, and 28 days ago.  On Monday, she’ll be 22 months old.  It’s been a roller coaster ride.  She’s been a newborn, a baby who couldn’t do anything on her own, a baby who could roll over, a baby who could crawl, a baby who could stand up, a baby who could walk, a toddler who could run, and now a toddler who can speak.  She hugs, she kisses, she holds hands.  When I come home from work, she smiles at me really big and runs to give me a hug while laughing.  When I get her out to the nursery driver, she waves and says “bye-bye.”  She loves the nursery.  She loves playing, dancing, and singing.  She loves talking, although most of what comes out of her mouth is still gibberish.  But she does communicate much better now.  If she wants me to come to her, she says, “Oide (come here).”  If she hurt herself, she says, “Itai (ouch)” or “Ow.”  She cries when she doesn’t get what she wants, she has temper tantrums, she has an incredible obsession with Anpanman and seems to really like Mickey Mouse, too.  She shouts, “Anmanman!” and “Mickey!”  She loves bananas.  “Nana.”  She loves mikan (mandarin oranges).  She calls anything red an apple. “Bappo.”  She points at trees all the time. “Chee.”

She loves drawing.  She chooses the yellow crayon and hands the rest to me.  She points to where she wants me to draw.  I go away for a bit and sit at my computer.  She comes over and takes my hand, saying “Oide.”  She wants me to draw some more.  I wonder if she’ll be an artist.  I wonder if she’ll be a dancer.  I wonder what she’ll do in her life.

My wife was watching a video about a 14 month premature baby, and we both had a big smile.  We remember Tomoe as a baby.  But we also said that we want another baby.  I said, “I want to hug Tommy right now.”  My wife said, “Me too.”  She had her diaper changed a few minutes ago, and she woke up.  It’s nearly 11 pm.  We told her, “Love you.”  She said, “No.”

Yesterday, I took Tomoe to the playground, and she went on the swing, then we went down a very long slide together.  As we were walking, she reached up and wanted me to carry her.  As I was carrying her, I had a very brief conversation with her.

I said, “Love you.”

Tomoe patted me on the head and said, “Lub you.”

It is so worth it.

Tomoe’s Obsession

I’ll be brief, but only because Tomoe’s standing right in front of me watching me type this. She is absolutely obsessed with Anpanman. She talks about it non-stop everyday. She wants to see pictures and videos of Anpanman. What is Anpanman? It’s a kids’ cartoon in Japan about a superhero whose head is made of anpan (a bread with a sweet bean paste filling). This is Tomoe’s obsession. She loves this video. It’s a dance that she loves to do. Go to 1:45 for the start of the actual dance.

Talking Bilingually and Pooping

It’s been a while since I posted about Tomoe.  It’s been a pretty busy month, and she’s been developing quite quickly, especially with talking.  We want her to speak both English and Japanese, though I’d have to say that Japanese is winning right now.

For example, she’s able to make simple requests and tell us if she hurts somewhere in Japanese.  Some of the things she says are:

  • Koko de – She’s asking me to come here.
  • Koko itai – It hurts here (very useful 2 days ago, but more on that later)
  • Kore? – She points at things just saying “this?”
  • Dame – She pronounces it “mame” but it means “no” or “don’t.”  She uses it after I tell her not to touch something.
  • Ii yo – It means “okay.”

In English, she mostly just uses words.  She likes to point out things and say the word, although it’s still quite limited.  Some examples are:

  • tree
  • dog (sometimes as “wanwan”)
  • cat
  • bus
  • car

She also understands directions in English.  I’ll tell her to stop at a busy road and she’ll stop.  I can also ask her to put something in the garbage or give it to mommy, and she does it.  I can ask her if she needs her diaper changed, if she’s hungry or wants a banana or milk, and she’ll respond with a “yeah” or “no.”

I think the hard thing is getting a balance between the languages.  I speak to her in English all the time, though I understand what she says in her simple Japanese.  She speaks about 80% in Japanese and only 20% in English.  Although I always speak to her in English, she usually responds with Japanese, even though she understands what I’m saying.  But one situation a couple nights ago had me really glad that she can talk to us now.  She had a high fever all day at 39 degrees, and was very uncomfortable at night.  She kept touching her ears and said “koko itai.”  She was telling me that her ears hurt.  Yesterday, I took her to the clinic with a nursery, and the doctor confirmed she had a bit of an ear infection.

Not all of her communication is verbal.  She uses hand gestures for come here quite often.  She also herds me around.  She’ll grab my leg and push me to where she wants me to go.  When I put my computer away, she points to where I put it, trying to be helpful.

But one of the biggest developments is that she tells us when she’s pooping.  She crouches down, grunts, and strains.  So guess what?  She’s starting potty training!  We got her a toilet seat for the toilet, and we’ll be trying to get her to use it.  I hope she’s a fast learner with pooping.

And finally, a happy 21 month birthday to Tomoe tomorrow!

A Conversation with a Toddler

Tomoe’s been developing her speaking skills at a very fast pace.  She says more everyday it seems.  This was a recent conversation I had with her.

Me: Are you hungry?

Tomoe: Un (yes) *nod*

Me: Yes?

Tomoe: Es *nod*

Me: Do you want banana?

Tomoe: Un. *nod*  Banana.

Later on, after she was finished her banana…

Me: Do you want yoghurt?

Tomoe: Dodurt.

As you can see, it wasn’t a complex conversation, but it was two-way communication.  She’s been doing that quite a bit lately.  Other things she’s been saying:

  • No.
  • Dame (no in Japanese)

That’s right, she’s saying no.  Other questions and commands she’s understanding:

  • Can you put this in the garbage?
  • Can you put it back?
  • Do you need your diaper changed?
  • Can I have it?
  • It’s bedtime (and then she says “nigh-nigh” and waves)

Can more complex conversations be coming soon?

Eating and Talking

Here’s one of those few updates I’ll be giving.

Tomoe’s been eating on her own for close to a month now.  She keeps getting better, although she still drops food on the table and herself.  She usually refuses to be fed by us, but when she has trouble with something, she hands us her spoon so we can give her a hand.

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Eating rice and minestrone.

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In her mouth it goes.

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Closing her eyes because it tastes so good? No, just blinking.

In addition to eating, she’s been talking and understanding quite a bit more.  Although she still uses mostly baby talk, she has been using more words than before.  Her latest new words are:

  • banana (was nana, but she said the entire word today)
  • dog (dah!)
  • cat (daaah)
  • diaper (die-pah)
  • thank you (various pronunciations)
  • Anpanman (Anmanman)

She understands so much more, too.  She puts things in the garbage when asked, she sits and stands when asked. She understands when it’s time to go to the nursery, she needs to go to the door and wait for us to put her shoes on.  However, she thinks it’s acceptable behaviour to hit a glass table with her toys very hard, hit us in the face, and play with the electric fan.  Unfortunately, she now knows how to plug in the fan and turn it on.  She can also open doors now, knows how to use a computer mouse (I now have to close my computer if I leave my computer alone around her, as she’s managed to change display settings somehow), and is constantly choosing pants or shorts for herself to wear, even if she’s already wearing some.  But there’s one thing she’s always doing every day, and that’s dancing.  She loves dancing so much she’ll do it without music.  She usually dances the dance at the end of each Anpanman episode.  They do it at her nursery.

I’m looking forward to when we can have conversations with Tomoe.

Cuteness Overload

The skills this little girl has keep growing.  It’s amazing to watch her develop.  She can build a tower with her blocks.

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She’s getting really good with her hands.

But a couple days ago, she showed us just how cute she can be.  Tomoe was in an incredibly good mood for much of the day, and it started out with a shower.  I gave her a shower, which she loves.  She plays with the water, she washes her hands with the soap, and she behaves very well.  After the shower, she decided she wanted to wear my slippers.

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Her feet are a bit too small.

I later went out with her to pick up my wife from the bus stop near the local Ito Yokado, and we went out for some sushi.  Tomoe doesn’t yet eat raw fish, so she ate mainly just rice and French fries, as well as drank some apple juice.  She not only fed the fries to herself, but she also offered them to my wife and I.  She was feeding us!  She loved it.  We gave her some ketchup, but instead of eating the fries with the ketchup, she kept licking it off the potatoes.

After eating, we walked to the drug store to get a few things we needed.  On the way, she started singing and dancing.  She moved her arms kind of like the Go-go, but it was part of a dance that she learned at her nursery.  She did it for about 10 straight minutes.  It was an overload of cuteness!

After shopping, Tomoe wanted to carry some of the things we bought, so we gave her the tissues.

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She was so happy to help us!

Unfortunately, they weren’t that easy for her to carry all the way, and she kept dropping it.  But she really wanted to carry it.  In the end, we carried it, and she complained.

This morning, after getting her ready to go to the nursery, the driver picking her up finally arrived.  He was a bit later than usual.  Instead of carrying Tomoe out, I let her walk out to the car herself.  When she saw him and the car, she ran to him and he picked her up, putting her in the car.  She loves the nursery.  And I think she learns a lot there.

Today’s new words include:  mugicha (barley tea in Japanese) and eye (I was pointing out an eye, and she repeated me).