When I found out I was pregnant with Zachary, I was a 33 year old woman who had my shit all together. I had a good job, a great husband, and a beautiful home. My finances were in order, I managed 40-50 people on a daily basis, and I was fairly mentally stable. Fairly.
I read about a million books on how to raise kids, and I felt ready.
However, other people apparently didn't share my confidence, because I immediately started getting advice from everyone from my own family to the garbage man to random strangers I ran across in my daily life.
What is about an obviously pregnant belly that makes people suddenly think you are either a) incapable of making basic decisions or b) incapable of making basic decisions?
Anyway, I got advice on everything from co-sleeping (Do it! Don't do it! Only do it on Tuesdays!) to baby names to swaddling to what college to get them into to breast feeding (Um, my boobs? Never gonna be your business.) to where to shop for baby clothes to diapering (Use cloth! Never use cloth!) to... the list was endless.
When I found out I was having a boy, the unsolicited advice changed to boy-specific advice. Now people were talking what sports to get him into, the best ways to keep him in touch with his emotions, and recommending future acne treatments.
I promptly ignored it all.
One day I was laughing about this outpouring of unsolicited advice with a lady I worked with. This lady had raised three wonderful boys into three wonderful men, so I asked her, jokingly, what advice she had for me. She said:
"Lots of people are going to give you advice. Don't listen to any of it. Just follow your heart and teach them to pee sitting down and everything else will work out."
We kind of laughed about it, and for years I thought she was telling me something profound that maybe I didn't totally understand, like how it was important to teach boys to understand things from a woman's perspective or something.
But no. Now I totally get it. She literally meant TEACH THEM TO PEE SITTING DOWN BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T THEY WILL PEE ON EVERYTHING AND YOUR HOUSE WILL SMELL LIKE A SEWER ALL THE TIME BECAUSE THEY HAVE TERRIBLE AIM AND PEE WILL GET INTO UNSEEABLE CREVICES AND YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET THAT SMELL OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. EVER.
And of course it's a little late now, but that's definitely a piece of advice I wish - oh, how I wish! - that I had taken.
So now, whenever I hear someone is having a boy, I immediately and unsolicitedly grab that person, look her directly in the eye lean in close and use my best this is important so you'd better listen up and listen good voice and I say,
"Boys are fun and boys are pretty easy, but they're loud and smelly and for the love of god, teach them how to pee sitting down or you will regret this for the rest of your life. Trust me on this. TRUST ME. I know of which I speak."
Then I continue to stare into their eyes until they either agree to teach their boys to pee sitting down, or until the pull away from me uncomfortably, muttering about "crazies let loose in the world."
Either way, I know I've done my duty.
How about you? What's the best advice you've received (or given) about raising kids?