Nothing has challenged my confidence in my own intellect like raising children. Kids just have an uncanny way of exposing all the things you thought you understood but, as it turns out, you really never did. Here are a few of those things.
Teaching my kids how to blow gum bubbles.
Have you ever tried explaining to a kid how to make a bubble with gum? This is one of those rote tasks that I feel like I’ve always known how to do but have never had to think about how it’s actually done. My kids look at me like I have a third eye when I say, “make it flat, stick your tongue through the flat part but NOT ALL THE WAY THROUGH, then blow.” Makes no sense, even to me.
Defining words without using the word.
“Mommy, what does happy mean?” How do you define what happy is without using the word happy? “Happy” is the positive word that all other positive words boil down to. So, like, ask me what joyful means and I’ll tell you it means happy. Ask me what happy is and I’ll suddenly need to pee really badly. Bye!
Explaining complex things that I know my kids won’t understand, but they’re asking me about them anyway.
My daughter asked me yesterday what the FBI is. Let’s be real, I have a very limited understanding of what the FBI is myself. Explain it to a five year old? Puh-lease. I said, “well honey, it’s a part of our government that handles oversight.” Naturally, her next question was “what’s the government? And what’s oversight?”
Teaching them things I learned in elementary school.
“Mommy, how are clouds made?” The answer is, like, right there. Right. There. But I just can’t access it anymore.
Breaking up fights between siblings.
I grew up as an only child. I never witnessed my parents have to break up fights between me and a sibling. So, with my own kids, I’m totally lost most of the time. This is especially true if I didn’t see what happened. I don’t know, kids. You’re on your own. Sort it out.
Explaining how to wipe their own butts.
Seriously, have you ever really spent time thinking of how to explain that? It seems so simple. But when you watch the incomprehensible amount of ways your kids can do it wrong, you realize how bad of a job you’re doing.
Getting caught “in the act” in the bedroom.
Yoinks. Not only is this a parent’s worst nightmare, it also shows us how alarmingly unprepared most of us are to have these conversations. My kids are 5 and 7. I’m not ready to explain all that to them, and frankly, even if I was, I’m not sure they’re emotionally ready to really internalize what it means. Until you’ve tried to explain to a wide-eyed 5 year old why daddy was “doing what the dog does to the pillows sometimes,” you really don’t know how stupid you actually are.
I love parenting. I love how it highlights areas where I need a little growth, where I need to focus my work. Every day my kids, through their innocent wonder at the world, teach me something about myself, about life, and what it means to be human. Parenting is one of the best and expanses experiences I’ve had in this life. It’s just happens to also have revealed a lot of the ways I’m still dumb.
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.