Six Lessons from My First Six Months as a Parent

Rob Pollak blog on parenting

It’s been almost six months since Owen was born, and in that time, I’ve learned a lot about the world.  Lucky for you, I have a blog, so I can happily share these life lessons with you. To keep things simple, I have decided to leave out the obvious lessons, like “You won’t need an alarm clock anymore” or “Golf is something you used to do, Rob” or “use a wipe, not your hand” or “moms lose baby weight; dads find it.”  You know these things!

Lesson 1:  The minutes are long, but the months and years are short

At every first birthday party, the parents stand up and say, “Wow, this year really flew by.”  I’m sure that I will give that obligatory speech when my son hits one year.  But what does it really mean for time to fly by?  There are times when I look at my son and think, “Holy shit, he’s a little person.  It seems like just yesterday that I was getting weekly email updates from babycenter.com describing his size as about that of a kernel of corn.  So in some ways, yes, the time flies by.  But sometimes I am equally shocked about how long certain moments feel.  Like I bet you didn’t know that when a baby screams in your ear, you can sing the same verse of twinkle twinkle 14,221 times without the minute hand on the clock moving even once.  Then after giving it all you got and check to see if the baby’s asleep, you look down and see this looking up at you:

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I can sometimes hear him saying, “Nice try, dude.”  When the year is done and it feels as if it flew by, don’t forget about how excruciating some of those individual moments were.  There’s practically a life time in there.  Take one of those long moments to reward yourself for a job well done.  You (I) deserve it!

Lesson 2:  Holding a baby is an amazing lower back workout

There is probably some medical reason why it’s bad to arch your back just so in order to support the full weight of a small human being on your chest  But for now, I’m sticking with it.  In fact, there are a number of ways that a small child can be used like a medicine ball or kettle bell.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide which exercises lend themselves to the child as medicine ball approach, but here’s where I come out:

YES:

NO:

YES (Anne wants me to make it explicitly clear that she says this is clearly a no):

NO:

Maybe:

Definitely NO:

Lesson 3:  If you’re going to use Habanero Tabasco Sauce, wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in your eyes.

This one has nothing to do with parenting, but it’s a valuable lesson nonetheless.  You would also think that it’s the kind of lesson I’d only need to learn once.  Not so!  I once read that it takes 21 times to create a habit.  So let’s just say that I’m well on my way to making washing my hands after Tobasco a lifelong habit.  About 1/7th of the way there to be exact.

Lesson 4:  Getting out of changing a diaper is an art.

Getting out of changing a diaper is a subtle skill, and I am lucky to be married to a beautiful, kind, caring, considerate, intelligent, gracious, tolerant woman who has mastered it.

Here is Anne preparing to diaper bomb me.

Here is Anne preparing to diaper bomb me.

Now don’t get me wrong, Anne changes a shitload of diapers.  Literally.  (Get it?) (Because the diapers are sometimes filled with shit) (You get it) (It was bad.  I know).  But, she still manages to be an expert at the diaper bomb, i.e., handing a fully loaded baby over to get out of changing the diaper, but couching it in terms of love, with some sweet saying like, “Ohhhh, do you want to do some daddy hugs??” which makes me feel so great!  Well played, Anne.  Well played.

How to tell if that diaper is dirty from rob pollak, robcomplains.com

[A brief note to my female readers:  Please refrain from your inevitable comments about breast feeding, giving birth, the physical demands of pregnancy, blah blah blah.  I get it.  Anne does not deserve to be the butt of my jokes.  Well, she can get her own blog, damnit.  Because when she hands me our child in the name of love, but actually intended for me to have to touch shit with my bare hands, then I get to blog about that.  Also, this never happened.  Most of you know that, I’m sure.  Anne is a saint.  (But just to be conservative, I just purchased Annecomplains.com and AnneComplainsAboutRob.com.  Suck it, Anne!!]

Lesson 5:  When it comes to parenting, most people are completely insane.

The other day a friend posted an article on facebook about rear facing car seats.  First of all, who cares what other people do?  Second of all, I freaking read the article and all the comments.  Third of all, the comments were the most amazing thing I’ve read in my life.  Here’s a summary of the comments:

Person 1:  A friend of mine recently switched the seat to front facing because her daughter was screaming so much that it caused her to get in 250 accidents.  When we switched to forward facing, she never had an accident again and the kid went on to the Nobel Prize for Car Seat Safety.  Do you think this is okay?

Person 2:  @P1 – If your kid is less than 15 and is facing forward, you are a terrible person.  I hope you rot in hell.

Person 1:  @P2 – Oh really?  Well you can’t argue with results and my friend’s Nobel Laureate daughter is so much safer now.

Person 2:  @P1 – She might be safe now, but if you hit a pothole, her head will probably pop off.  #RearCarSeats4Life #YouMurderousBitch

Person 1:  @P2 – You probably realized it by now, but my friend is really me.  I lied to you because I was embarrassed.  Sorry I lied on the Internet.

Person 2:  @P1 – I am calling child protective services.  You’re a whore.

Person 1:  @P2 – I hope your kid can sit forward facing in High School, assface.

Let’s put this in some perspective.  When people argue about child rearing on the Internet, logic goes out the window.  It’s completely acceptable to use the small sample size of 1 child as a valid defense to an argument.  If someone says, “it’s bad to give an infant alcohol,” another person thinks it’s okay to respond with, “yeah, but we gave my son a little vodka in his bottle every day until he was 3 and he became a neurosurgeon.”  Just because it worked for A kid, doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.  As Wayne Campbell once said upon receiving a gun rack for his birthday, “I don’t even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack.”

Seriously, go read the comments.  I am obsessed:  http://csftl.org/rear-facing-car-seat-myths-busted/

Lesson 6:  Blogging is Hard with a Kid.  When in Doubt, Just Show Pictures.

I’m trying my best!

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The post is over, how does that make us feel?IMG_1630

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35 Life Lessons I Learned before Turning 35

Life Lessons by Rob Pollak

1. There’s no cure for a hangover, but good Lo Mein comes damn close.

A drawing by Rob Pollak - How to cure a hangover:  Lo Mein

2. There are three things that are always worth the money: International travel, excellent food, and Blu Rays.

3. When you make a list of thirty-five things, don’t number the items until you’ve finished the whole list. That way, when you’re editing your list and realize number three is stupid, you don’t have to make up some ridiculous lesson to avoid renumbering the whole thing.

4. No matter how much your parents annoy you, piss you off, yell at you, or tell you that you need to wait before hitting your driver (even though the group in front of you is 400 yards away), they do it because they love you and want the best for you. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, but it’s true. Take a step back to see things from their perspective. It may help you appreciate why they do all that annoying shit.

5. When you get good service, tip more than expected. The few extra dollars won’t kill you and will mean a lot to the person who provided the excellent service.

6. Stop being scared. If there’s something you want to do but aren’t doing because you’re scared, suck it up and do it. The only things in life to truly fear are (a) stepping in dog shit, and (b) asking the one question that makes a public speaker take back the claim that “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

7. When you find a blog you like (like this one) go out of your way to tell the person (genius) that writes it (me) how great (best thing in the entire world) it is. Share the content with your closest friends (the whole world). You may think you’re being stalkerish (you probably are) by reading something that you think isn’t aimed at you (it probably wasn’t). But if someone took the time to create something and put it on the web, it’s because that person is an attention whore (and he will be happy to hear from you regardless of his initial intent). And attention whores crave lots of attention (from anyone). To be helpful, I drafted a template for you in case you decide to follow my advice:

Dear [ROB],
I know we last spoke at Hebrew camp in 1991, but I have been enjoying your blog since we reconnected when you spammed my facebook page. I especially liked your post about when lawyers can go home. You have an excellent command of logic and the handwriting of an armless nine-year-old blind child. I wish there were more people like you in the world. You also look trimmer than you did when you were 13. Well done! How did you manage to trick a beautiful intelligent woman into marrying you? I never would have expected that from you. I remember a time when you refused to play on the skins team in a shirts vs skins basketball game. Boy were you fat. I wish you well in the future. Here’s a few dollars. Buy yourself something nice. I learned about the importance of tipping from your blog.
Love,
[Mom]

8. Don’t believe anything the Mayans say. They keep predicting the end of the world, but they never get it right. I wish they would just go away already.

9. Anything that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler do together is funny. Women are funny. Deal with it old men. Here’s my favorite:

10. Three things that are never worth it: (a) Holding grudges, (b) extended warranties, and (c) super-sizing your meal.

11. Nothing good ever comes from drinking a beverage with an ä in its name.

A drawing by Rob Pollak

12. Don’t be scared to request the vacation time you’re entitled to at work. Other people will tell you the “right way to go about vacation time.” Those people are assholes. If you’re in a job that doesn’t let you go on vacation, that job is stupid and you’ll burn yourself out. Vacation refreshes you to go back and do a good job. At least for the first 3-4 hours after it ends. Then you need another vacation on the books so you have something to look forward to.

13. Coleslaw is disgusting. Mistrust anyone who likes it. Unless it’s vinegar-based and atop a pulled pork sandwich. Then it’s majestic.

14. Be wary of anyone who likes some combination of the following teams: Lakers, Cowboys, Yankees, and Notre Dame.

15. Stop hating the foods you’ve hated since you were a kid. You might surprise yourself and find out that brussel sprouts are really good now. Most restaurants put bacon in them.

16. After two weeks of pure torture, exercise becomes amazing. If you don’t exercise now, commit for two weeks. Suck it up. Force yourself to do it. Whatever it takes. If at the end of two weeks, you don’t feel the pull to keep it up, then you can stop. But after one day of stopping, at least try to force yourself to do another two weeks. Keep repeating this until you realize how amazing you feel. If you don’t feel amazing after three tries, then stop eating all that fast food, idiot.

17. If you want to be a news anchor, realize that you have to spend years and years reporting from the coastline during natural disasters. Ask yourself: is it worth it?

18. Never set out to make a list of 35 things without thinking it through first. Thirty five is a lot. Even more than you think. By the time you get half way, you’ll probably regret your decision.

19. Have you ever seen a piece of fruit the color of a Maraschino cherry? That’s why you shouldn’t eat them.

20. Have you ever eaten a Maraschino cherry? They’re amazing. Sometimes just trust your instincts even though you know the consequences.

The Maraschino Cherry - Life Lessons by Rob Pollak

21. The Cosby Show holds up better than Seinfeld.

22. Proofread everything on more time than you think you have too.

23. If you do anything because you want other people to think you’re cool, stop doing that thing. That makes you a poser. Do things because you like to do them. That makes you interesting and awesome.

24. Trust your own taste in music, movies, and beer. Even though people will make fun of you for liking 4 non blondes, you still know What’s Up.

25. Resist the urge to Google the answer to every question. Yes, there is an objective answer to the question on Google, but sometimes it’s more fun to just see how it plays out. I know this because I always Google, and everyone hates me.

26. Say “yes” to pretty much any request, especially when it’s something easy like seeing a movie, attending a wedding, or supporting a friend. Your friends will appreciate you, your life experience will increase, and your comfort zone will continue to expand.

27. Make a prank call at least once a year.

A drawing by Rob Pollak

27a.  If you are the recipient of a prank call, laugh it off. No one likes the guy who thinks he’s above a little humor:

28. If a particular food gives you diarrhea, don’t ever eat that food again. No matter how good it tastes (the food, not the diarrhea).

29. Always give directions to those who ask or who look like they might need directions. If you have a few extra minutes, walk them to the destination and pretend you’re a college tour guide.

30. Try meditation. I thought it was stupid for the longest time. It can do amazing things if you give it a chance. If you think it’s stupid, you probably don’t know what it is. It can have nothing to do with religion or spirituality if that’s what you’re scared of.

31. People older than you don’t have it all figured out. They may speak with authority, but they mostly make it up just like you do. Most of them are full of shit. That said, listen to their advice. There’s a lot of wisdom in that shit.

32. The following things are fake: (a) emails from Nigerian princes, (b) the four hour work week, (c) Lance Armstrong, and (d) those funny autocorrects you read about on the internet.

A drawing by Rob Pollak

33. Ignore the instructions on everything except crazy glue, hot sauce, and power tools.

34. If you can run three miles, you can run six miles. You may not think you can, and it may be painful and miserable, but you can 100 percent do it.

35. No matter how wise it seems, don’t trust any advice you get from the Internet.

(Note – This also appears on Elephant Journal.  If you made it all the way down here, you might as well click this link and then follow me on Facebook!)