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5 Terrible Skills I've Acquired as a Parent

Photograph by Twenty20

Last week I was talking to the mom of a toddler and she was telling me about all of the skills she’d acquired since she had her son. Along with being able to shower in under 90 seconds flat, she showed me a picture of a grilled cheese sandwich she’d made in the shape of a dinosaur and impressed me with a story about changing a diaper with one hand while torching a crème brûlée with the other. I think she was exaggerating about that last one, but I still clapped at the end of her story.

I didn’t want to brag, but I also had acquired some skills as a parent, although they might not be ones I'd share at a PTA meeting. These are skills that one hones out of necessity, or in some cases are the result of sleep deprivation, poor nutrition or just plain giving up. Either way, don't judge. Some of us are fine with our grilled cheese sandwiches being square.

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1. Shoplifting

After one particularly exhausting shopping trip with my 6-month-old, I was loading the groceries into the car when I discovered a head of garlic had rolled underneath the infant seat that I’d mounted on the cart. I was too tired to take her out of her car seat and go back into the store, so I considered the free garlic a gift from the universe and moved on.

But I admit it was a little harder to justify during the next shopping trip when I found an avocado wedged under the infant seat, and the time after that when a small jar of expensive olives came rolling out from the same spot. I took that one back, although I did start to hatch a brilliant plan for taking a shopping cart and an infant seat with me to the next Bloomingdale's sale.

2. Binge Watching

Millennials may think they invented binge watching, but it was really invented by new moms who couldn’t move out of their seats on the couch for hours on end because they were feeding their babies or holding them while they slept. I remember it well, and it wasn’t so much “Netflix and Chill” as “Roseanne Reruns and Ennui.” Now my kids are grown but I'm proud to say I can sit through an entire two seasons of "House of Cards" without moving an inch. Watch and learn, children.

I had reached new heights in my parental deception: the lie about a lie about a lie.

3. Lying

When my daughter was around 5 she woke up one morning to discover that the Tooth Fairy hadn’t come the night before like she was supposed to. Rather than tell her that the Tooth Fairy had in fact stayed up too late watching “Unsolved Mysteries,” fell asleep on the couch and then completely forgot that there was a tooth under a pillow waiting to be switched out with a crisp dollar bill, I told her a lie: Bad weather had prevented the magical journey from taking place.

But she was one smart cookie, and after looking out the window and seeing the sun shining down through the blinds, she said, “It doesn’t look like bad weather,” to which I replied, “Not here, but, you know, where she lives.” In doing so I had reached new heights in my parental deception: the lie about a lie about a lie. They don’t give out medals for this but if they did it would be tin.

4. Cheating

If you’ve never accidentally slid one of the gingerbread men in Candy Land onto another space so that the game would end quicker and you could get to nap time, you’re lying (which you’ve already mastered, see No. 3 above.)

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5. Hoarding

One of these days I'll have my own episode of "Hoarders," that will be subtitled, "Parents' Edition." You'll know it's me because I'll be sitting in a room surrounded by boxes and boxes of finger-paintings, clay animals and picture frames made out of popsicle sticks. They'll open my closet and down will come tumbling piles of baby clothes, tattered crib blankets and that pair of "her favorite overalls." I'll get angry and combative when the show host tries to throw away a box of old sippy cups, because I'm going to make them into vases someday.

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