There are a lot of books out there on parenting.
Dr. Spock, Dr. Sears, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Dre, everybody has an opinion. Britney Spears’ mom even had a book deal, at least until her younger teenage daughter got pregnant and her older one shaved her head and went into rehab.
And that’s just literature. The entire lineup of TLC can be considered one giant instructional video on how not to raise a functional human being.
I read up on some of these books before contraction day, and would vigorously recommend at least skimming a few, but my current favorite manual on Dadness won’t be found in the family/parenting/infant section of the bookstore. It won’t be popping up on the “customers also bought” bar on Amazon.
My current favorite parenting manual is Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
It’s not just for Sociopathic financial executives anymore.
I’ve mentioned before that I looked at parenting like a fight – in that you can prepare all you want, but when it happens the script goes out the window and you just have to roll with what comes. And now I’m going to wax blogosophic on The Art of War and it’s applications to child rearing. So, just to be clear, I wish to take a moment to state for the record that parenthood is not combat. Your child is not your enemy. And though you will engage in many battles, there will never be victory. You will never win. There is no winning in parenting, only naps.
Everybody clear? Bitchin.
Now, here’s how parenthood is exactly like combat.
Sun Tzu writes: “All warfare is based on deception.” He writes this a lot. If you take away nothing else from The Art of War, understand that war is based on deception.
And so is parenthood.
Well, maybe deception is the wrong word. It’s more like distraction.
Stuffed toys, balloons, dogs trucks, and – should all else fail – videos and food. As a parent your entire day consists of deploying these forces to keep your target safe, engaged, and away from your laptop.
A wise man does not try to stop the flow of a river, so a wise parent avoids abrupt intervention, instead channeling the little dynamo in a more beneficial direction. Try to take your phone out of their mouth and you’ve only made more wailing, tantrum-throwing work for yourself. But wait, is that a giraffe over your shoulder? Ooh, isn’t that more fun to chew?
Try to diaper up an unwilling 2-year-old and you get a crash course in Brazilian Jujitsu and a toddler graduated from whining to shrieking. But wait, who’ll hold this balloon? Hey presto, babies are happy and sofas are urine-free.
Seriously, poppas, balloons. I cannot overemphasize the entertainment potential of balloons. Use it wisely.
It’s important to know about vaccinations. It’s good to have discussions on parenting philosophy, when to introduce sugar, which Star Wars trilogy to start with, but really, practice your card tricks. Watch some Penn & Teller. Slight of hand, misdirection – these will be your trusted generals in the 18-year campaign against delinquency and reality TV stardom.
Become practiced in deception, poppas, if for no other reason than to convince your child that you have any idea what you’re doing.
Hey is that sasquatch?
…and I slip quietly away…