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Everything I Needed to Know I Learned From My Baby

by Stephen Lautens


April 19, 2002

More than ever the shelves of bookstores are crammed with self-help books. There's everything from how to be a Zen Buddhist stockbroker in ten easy lessons to how to rule the Earth with no money down.

We are, it seems, a nation looking for someone to tell us what to do with ourselves. The number of gurus inviting us down their path to enlightenment has made it even more confusing.

Having been a new parent for a mere eight weeks, it seems to me that the best teacher about how we should be living our lives is currently asleep in his crib in the next room.

Here's what I've learned so far from our baby:

  • Any day you get through without throwing up on yourself is a good day.

  • No matter how dirty you are, there's always someone who'll love you.

  • You don't need to be able to talk in order to make your opinion known.

  • Nothing feels better than falling asleep in someone else's lap.

  • There is no such thing as too many clean outfits.

  • Don't worry too much about your hair falling out, or whether people can't tell if you're a boy or a girl. None of it really matters until you're in high school.

  • Expensive and educational toys are okay, but nothing beats a stinky old rag for fun.

  • A full bladder beats anything.

  • An empty bladder won't stay that way for long.

  • If you're unhappy, you often needn't look any further than your own diaper.

  • Take care of your feet, and if possible, put them in your mouth as often as you can.

  • The most expensive outfit will be the first one you grow out of.

  • The finger in your eye is most probably your own.

  • Take advantage of the only time in your life when belching like a longshoreman is not only tolerated, but praised.

  • Even though you take almost everything in the house with you when going as far as the corner store, the only thing you leave behind is the one thing you'll need.

  • The best stories are the ones where the person reading them to you has to make sound effects and funny faces.

  • Sometimes your greatest value is as an excuse for your parents.

  • Going purple in the face for no reason is a good way to get everyone's attention.

  • Sleep is very important for you, so make sure you get at least sixteen hours of it a day. It is not as important for the people around you, so make sure you're only awake when they're trying to sleep.

  • Don't waste a perfectly good spitting up on someone in casual clothes. Wait until they're in a business suit and late for an appointment.

  • The same people who think there's something wrong with you if you cry will also think there's something wrong with you if you haven't cried in a while.

  • If it can't be put it your mouth, what good is it?

  • If someone has been bragging to their friends about how well behaved you are, make sure you act like a holy terror the first time you're around them.

  • No matter how rotten you've been all day, you'll still find someone who's a sucker for your smile.

Everyone has helpful advice - ignore them.

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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