What Have I Learned in a Year?

Last Saturday, my daughter Gianna turned one-year-old.

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I can’t hardly believe it. I find myself saying this a lot, but time flies! You really see it when you are raising little kids, something I┬ánever thought I would be doing. They just advance at such fast rates, learning new things every day, and you’re constantly reminded that you yourself are getting older too.

One year.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were content to never have kids. In fact, Melissa and I have been together since 1993 (we got married in 1995) and never planned on having them at all. People had stopped asking us about it years ago, so it was a pretty big Gianna as an infantsurprise in general that we decided to go for it and see what happened. And once we made the decision to see if we could get pregnant, it happened almost instantly: Melissa stopped taking the pill and was pregnant 2 weeks later.

Boom!

Gianna was on the way.

If you can handle swearing and some harsh words, check out my post from about a year and 8 months ago, when I announced to the world that we were about to have a baby. Prepare to be offended, but you can read it here: And now we join one of my least favorite segments of society . . .

My viewpoint hasn’t changed at all in the intervening time. I still generally dislike many parents, although I guess to use current terminology, I tend to dislike their “parenting techniques.” I haven’t mastered parenting (there is no such thing, I’d say). But being as I deal with kid issues every day, I now have some practical experience with what works with Gianna, and I think I have a pretty good understanding of how easy it is to just let your kids to whatever they want. I still don’t like terribly-behaved little kids or lazy parents who think you should love their kid’ bad behavior like they do. Or who think you should also suffer through such crap like them.

Okay so on a more positive note, I do appreciate having a far better understanding of the huge commitment it takes to be a good Gianna and Clyde Watching Gretelparent. Once you have the responsibility of raising your very own human, and you spend a LOT of time watching them grow, learn things, interact with the world, etc.

Inevitably, it changes you, and I’m no exception.

I just hope it’s a change for the better and not for the worse. Thus far, in examining myself, it’s positive. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that I am a bit more empathetic. Contrary to my expectations, I feel bad when she gets hurt and I feel compelled to let her have fun, even when it wouldn’t be the best thing for her development. An example of this is letting her watch tv shows like Yo Gabba Gabba, which she loves. I’m surprised to find that I would like to make her happy by letting her watch some damn show, but I do want to. Often, this means I turn off the tv.

Another thing I’ve learned, is that regarding children, not everything is a battle you can win. You can try to always do everything right, or to have all the answers, or do the right thing, but sometimes, you just fail. In general I think I would have previously thought you could “win” interactions with your kid more often than you can, when winning isn’t the issue.

Good parenting is more about being consistent over time in how you raise your kid(s) so they become respectable, responsible, creative members of society. There are a bunch of other adjectives I’m shooting for, but those 3 are good ones.

I have always been introspective, but raising Gianna has also caused me to think a lot more about my actions and what effect I have on the world. It’s interesting to be put in a position where you really do influence someone else’s development–I think I weigh my actions a bit more than I did before (still making lots of impulsive mistakes of course, but I said I changed, not that I was transformed!).

This first year has been a good one, and I’m looking forward to watching her continue to develop.

You can check out my gallery of Gianna’s First Birthday Party

As always, I’m curious what you guys think. What are your experiences?

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