My son is five years old.
Sounds cute, right? He’s still little! He still snuggles with a blankey thing; he often mispronounces words in adorable ways; he still likes to sleep in our bed!
It all sounds downright Disney… unless you have a five-year-old of your own. Then it’s more like Tim Burton.
Before you have kids, you hear a lot about the Terrible Twos – they’re common knowledge both inside and outside the parenting world. Everyone knows about them. Unfortunately, everyone knows about only them. The ensuing phases (of doom) don’t get nearly as much publicity. Which is probably a good thing; no one in their right mind would have kids if they suspected that their behavior gets progressively more horrifying every single year!
When I discovered I was becoming a father, the stuff I anticipated fell into two major age groups: infancy and high school. Mostly because I knew nothing about children. And, five birthdays in, I still don’t know much, judging by the amount of things I’m dealing with now that I didn’t expect to come down the parenting pike for years.
Ten Premature Parenting Challenges
- Teeth – Already?! (I told you I knew nothing.)
- Independence – I didn’t expect my son to not want me around until he was at least eight or nine. But don’t get me wrong; I love when he’s independent. More accurately, I would love it, if his ability to do things by himself actually matched his desire to do them, because his so-called “independence” mostly starts with him yelling at me for trying to help him and then, five minutes later, him yelling at me to come help him. Without ever acknowledging how ridiculous he’s being. Because five-year-olds are insane.
- Attitude – At five years old, my son already throws more shade than Fat Albert.
- Bad Influences – And I’m not merely talking about myself. Every time my kid unleashes his latest curse word, we know he’s been hanging around with the wrong crowd at preschool. He learned it from watching Xander!
- Crushes – Both the kind where he innocently dotes on another kid in his class AND the kind where his constant tantrums and nonstop whining crush my will to live. Which reminds me…
- Insults – I like a good roast as much as the next person, but I didn’t sign-up to live with Don Rickles. That’s who my son reminds me of sometimes, only if Don Rickles were five years old, didn’t perform his act on stage, and it wasn’t an act at all but was just him saying soul-crushing things to members of his family. Things like “I’ll never be your friend!” and “Get away from me, I don’t like it when you’re near me!” Being a parent is so rewarding!
- Opinions – I honestly thought I’d be able to get him to think whatever I wanted until at least junior high. But no. He’s already thwarting me by preferring Iron Man to Superman. I blame Hollywood. And that punk Xander!
- Laziness – It’s a daily struggle just to get the kid to put his pants on, never mind brush his teeth or walk somewhere without being carried. It’s impressive, his commitment to sloth. But if he’s gonna be as lazy as a teenager, he could at least do me the courtesy of also sleeping until noon.
- Tattoos – Just kidding!
- Hard Questions – Based on some friends’ stories about their almost-six-year-old skeptically suggesting that Jesus seems about as real as Batman, it won’t be long until I’m dealing with some honest-to-Zod issues. But I wasn’t prepared to get stumped by a five-year-old! How am I supposed to answer stuff like, “Daddy, how long is twenty minutes?” and “What’s Tuesday?” Nothing has ever made me feel as stupid as parenting does, on a daily basis. And we’re still nowhere near algebra.
A slightly altered version of this post originally ran on (the now-defunct) Lifetime Moms.