Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Guinea Pig Child

Dear Bug,

As much as I would like to deny it, when you were born, your dad and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

We understood the basics. We knew how to change a diaper, rewarm a bottle, sanitize a pacifier, swaddle you. I had several lullabies memorized. We knew how to take care of you. But as far as actually raising you, we had no idea.

And as much as I would like to deny it now, we still don't.

I once read that parenting is a job done by those least qualified to do it. I disagree. I don't think our inexperience makes us unqualified to be your parents. After all, we came into this job with pretty valuable assets. We had patience (most of the time), a (seemingly) endless capacity for sleep deprivation, and love. Because, wow, we love you. We loved you then when we were inexperienced parents with a newborn. We loved you when we were inexperienced parents with a toddler. We loved you when we were inexperienced parents with the terrible twos and threes. And we love you now that we are the inexperienced parents of a 9 year old.

I'll admit it. Sometimes, all the love in the world doesn't make the fact that we still have no idea what we are doing any easier. Every first for you is a first for us too.

We've learned how to navigate childhood and parenthood right along with you. I wish I could say that you weren't the guinea pig child, but you are. You were the one that I tried different methods of sleep training. You were the one that I realized I had failed nearly all of them, as I woke up when you were four years old to realize that you still didn't sleep through the night, and you still slept in our bed most nights. You were the one that I tried many different forms of discipline. You were the one that make me realize that I wasn't comfortable with spanking, that reasoning doesn't work with a two year old (no matter how well they speak), and time out doesn't always work.

You were the one that took all my lofty ideas I had read in books, shredded them, and made me pay attention to you. Just you. You are the one that make me realize that this parenting thing is not a one size fits all type of suit.

Please continue to be patient with us. Because as we deal with self-consciousness over glasses, struggles with friends at school, and media exposure, we have to figure this out as we go. If it feels like we don't have all the answers, it's because we don't. We are still trying to find the right way to deal with things, the right way to help and guide you through these years.

I think you are doing just fine. Despite us.



  1. Well said! But wait until he is a teenager! That throws the learning curve right out the window! LOL!

  2. What Leann said is true, however, as you said in your post you'll figure it out by understanding Bug.


  3. I was the guinea pig child, too. Rest assured that he's still got a year or two before he figures out that you don't actually know everything.

  4. My mom is still trying to figure it out and most of her kids are in their 50s. Thankfully, not me. : P

  5. Yes, yes and yes. But he brought you gifts and you brought him yours and since every child is different, each is a first. Thank goodness there are generations of people before us to draw from; unique or not, at least SOME thing work the same for most people. He's a pretty neat kid and you are pretty nifty parents!