Now that I’m a parent – OMG. I’m a freakin’ parent. – I’ve come to realize truths about parenthood that people don’t want to tell others about having kids.
For instance, childbirth isn’t something you forget. You are at your absolute most vulnerable to get that greasy human out of your contracting body. It’s not pleasant for anyone, producing everything from blood and feces to amniotic fluid and the most unattractive expressions and unforgettable displays of agony. Sure, it’s a process that welcomes your sticky spawn into the world, but no amount of doulas or breathing exercises will prepare you for the experience of giving birth, or the shock of what happens after giving birth. So if you’re dreaming of a simply magical delivery, there is no such thing.
Another thing that people say to others when it comes to preparing for a child is, “Get a puppy. Then you’ll really know what parenting is like.”
To this I call BS! Of course, there are similarities to owning a tiny dog and owning a tiny human, like having to clean up their urine and bowel movements and listen to their cries the first weeks after you bring them home. But the differences are plenty, and lie within those similarities. First of all, the cries of a new puppy eventually stop after a few nights, and you can even leave them in their very own crate to cry during this phase of sleeplessness. For babies, the crying lasts forever, and leaving them in their crib for hours on end is not an option…unless you’re wanting the neighbours to call Children’s Aid on your neglectful ass.
While both puppies and babies will puke and ruin everything from your rug to your favourite shirt, puppy vomits are few and far between. A baby can vomit every damn day, or in the case of my twins, after every feeding…for nine damn months.
It’s only in the toddler years that I’ve realized that this is the phase that people are talking about when they compare dogs to children. While it can never truly be the same experience for the level of care and attention it takes for two pups versus two thirty-pound people, these are just a few of the ways that I can totally see what people are talking about.
- We have to train them on everything, from talking to proper toilet behaviour. Much like we train a dog to speak and do its business outside, we have to teach our children to speak actual real words and explain to them the basics of using a potty.
- They both beg for food, like little fat and starving monsters. Whether it’s a puppy or a toddler, it doesn’t matter, they’ll both be on your heels, following your every move and crying for a bite of your toast. While you may feel compelled to kick them both off your lap, keep that move reserved for when you’re in the privacy of your own home.
- When you leave the house – or bedroom, come nap/bedtime – they cry. Since both can’t communicate with you or understand the reason why you’re abandoning them, they just feel sad and confused and require tons of comforting. And while it pains you to leave them, you also know that you have to toughen them up so they don’t develop separation anxiety and live with you until they’re thirty.
- They both require a lot of entertainment. Like, a lot. Toddlers have evolved past the point of silent, sleeping lumps and now have endless energy that must be spent on playing with toys. This is not unlike a puppy. Whether you’re tossing a ball around or chasing them, toddlers and pups are one in the same when it comes to the demands of playtime.
- Giving medicine to them can be a challenge. You can either opt for holding them down or sneaking it into their food, but we all have to get creative when our little pups or people pups are sick.
- Eating food off of the floor is not above them. Seriously. It doesn’t matter if there is hair or dirt on it, they’ll eat that two-day old strawberry they found under the couch.
- Traveling with them is a nightmare. The packing prep and space they take up in your car is one thing, but both toddlers and puppies also feel the need to take road poops. So. Not. Fun.
- When they do something good, you have to reward them. With toddlers, you have to get excited, clap your hands, and toss them a cookie with each new word they learn, with each pee-pee on the potty they take, and every moment they decide to share a toy or piece of their food with their sibling. For pups, you must also get excited, clap your hands, and toss them a cookie as they learn to progress as a dog.
With these examples that adequately paint a picture of what raising toddlers can be like when compared to raising puppies, I can also say that puppies are nothing like toddlers.
Toddlers can be opinionated, picky eaters, and getting cuddles out of them can be a challenge. For us, we have to roar like a lion to encourage Chloe to give us a hug. Pffft. We’ve fully resorted to scare tactics in order to feel the love. Puppies, on the other hand, always want to snuggle. They will also eat whatever you put in front of them, which means nothing you buy at the grocery store will go to waste.
Puppies can’t say no, they can go hours being left at home alone, and they don’t cost nearly as much to raise.
Puppies can also walk themselves without having to be carried to places like the car or down the street, so long as they have a leash. And while toddlers can also wear leashes, it’s a far less acceptable method of toddler-wrangling.
That being said, we are not above the leash technique. So if anyone knows how we can kick this dog analogy up a notch by recommending a good twin leash, by all means, send me the link.