PHOTO: STEPHANIE BLOCKLEY
People tell you that having children is the hardest job in the world.
After raising a six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, I can tell you they are wrong.
It is about fifty of the hardest jobs in the world.
If there were a course you could undertake in parenting, it may take a while to complete. I’ve calculated that 38 years should cover some of the basics. The following professional degrees, apprenticeships and courses may prepare you for the abundant skill set and knowledge that the job can entail.
Parenting forces you out of your comfort zone with challenges that are so far-reaching that you never knew how mega smart you would have to be (on so little sleep).
Here are some areas of expertise that comprise the multi-talented, modern-day genius, otherwise known as a parent.
Not just the school subjects like literacy and numeracy; you're fielding all kinds of curly questions. Where do babies come from? Why do people live? Why is there a cannon on a pirate ship? How many seconds are there in a year? Life is made up of so many complex concepts and you have to explain them all in an accessible manner. They are curious little beings and a ‘teaching moment’ is just about every moment.
You are called upon to be able to assess a range of different health issues, from scraped knees to, god forbid, something more serious. It would be beneficial to be able to diagnose your own kid with knowledge and expertise.
Police officer—One year
STOP! FREEZE! Having to police everything from what they are doing in the real world and their online safety is a main factor in the parent skill set. Add on one year of specialist training for police negotiating skills. As they grow, you may have to police the more serious issues, as risk-taking behavior increases during adolescence.
Detective—Four years on from police training
You find yourself solving mysteries daily. From where is that missing Pokémon card to what happened at Renee’s birthday party that had your kid in tears—the deductions, the deciphering of body language, the lie detecting, the recovery of missing items, the coaxing out of confessions (or just any daily information), and the decoding of their strange language and behavior would make Holmes and Watson proud.
How do you create braids in long knotty hair on a moving (and screaming) target? How are some parents achieving this amidst the morning craziness? Even braids are hard for me. Then they have the Crazy Hair Days at school, the special occasions and hair trends. And the pressure to achieve matching hairdos for group performances winds you tighter than a pin curl. Daughters and sons need the latest looks and products.
How many serving suggestions can you come up with for macaroni and cheese? Are you making different meals for different family members each night? Can you turn old vegetables into a fabulous curry? You need to be so organized and inventive to keep conjuring up healthy, delicious dinners to keep those fussy palettes engaged. Plus, add on one year for specialist training in cake decorating for all those amazing birthday cakes.
Television presenter—One-year acting course
When you have to improvise to a handy-cam five seconds after giving birth and then every five minutes from that point on, it would be less confronting if you had some techniques to fall back on. For the even higher abundance of still photographs you will feature in, add a one year modeling course. For all your endless work behind the camera, a one year photography course, a three year director’s course, and a three year technology degree to be able to upload all the footage onto your computer.
Personal shopper—Two-year fashion course
It sounds fun, but it’s not. For Rachel Green on Friends perhaps, who got to play dress up all day with hunks when she was a personal shopper. However, the parent is more likely to spend an hour looking for the right Peppa Pig socks or go to five different shops in an attempt to wrestle six types of sweaters onto their sons—all of which will be refused to be worn after purchase.
Interior designer and Declutter guru—Two years
From creating their amazing bedrooms, gardens, play spaces, study spaces, eating spaces and spaces to store the abundance of stuff they have/want/need, you work hard to make a pleasant living environment for your children. Function and form often take priority, but you aim for a little style; all this, like all of the above, equals an epic brain strain. Plus, you need to throw out, recycle and reuse a plethora of items. Home management is real. Your house becomes a toy hoarding depot and your heart breaks as you throw out all the old cards, invitations, and school work they bring home by the sackful. But you have to, or you’d drown in miscellaneous mania.
Artist/Handy person—Three years
The little people love doing arts and frickin' crafts. When you’re not making cards or painting canvases, you have the super glue out fixing everything from their favorite straw to a beanbag. Creativity and lateral thinking is called upon way more times than your poor maxed-out brain can cope with.
There’s your basic 38-year course. Further study is advised in:
Chauffeuring, Specialist Cleaning, Costume Design, Textiles, Plumbing, Psychology, Carpentry, Nursing, Swimming Training, Coaching, Nutrition, Personal Training, Life Coaching, Financial Advising, Motivational Speaking, Makeup Artistry and Event Management.
Just another day as a parent.
This post originally appeared on Mamamia, Spring.St's Australian sister site. You can read it here.