This is one of the dumbest parenting moments I’ve had so far as a father (and I’ve had many). So strap in while I tell you a glorious tale of my own personal stupidity.
A few years ago, when my daughter was around 15 months old, I was watching her all by myself while my wife stayed later than expected at work. It wasn’t a big deal because my daughter was pretty self sufficient by then. She had her teeth and was walking and talking around the house like a big boss applesauce.
On this day, I handed her some stickers from the dollar store for being a good listener. This blew her mind and she immediately sat down on her little Ikea table—which is placed in the kitchen for both food and art purposes—and got to work peeling, observing, and stickering her coloring books. This bought me some extra time to decompress and build back some brain energy. I took a deep breath and noticed a few dirty dishes in the sink, so I walked over while she sat and played right behind me.
Now I am a notorious mind-wanderer. If I do repetitive actions like dishes, sit in a jacuzzi, or simply take out the trash, my brain blows a whistle and takes me on a first class trip to Imagination City. So naturally, as I did the dishes that day, my mind started to drift. I soon felt a little tug on my legs.
“Daddy, can I have cereal?”
In a total brain fart move, I reached for the cereal on top of the fridge, but instead of giving her whatever organic puffy toddler cereal we bought for her, I put oat and honey granola in a bowl and handed it to her. She took it happily, and I went back to the dishes and my very important daydream.
15 seconds later, noticing I hadn’t heard a sound from her, I turned back around. My child was standing there, turning Barney-purple. Her eyes were wide, she was still, and I instantly knew she was choking.
It was weird, because in that moment, I was truly calm. I remember my actions being very fluid—like a graceful ice skater. In one swoop, I picked her up, turned her around so she was facing the ground, and gave her a solid back slap. Out flew a giant granola cluster from her throat and rolled onto the kitchen floor. The color returned to her face and she buzzed like a bumblebee back to her stickers like nothing happened.
I stood there for a few seconds and that’s when it all started to hit me. I leaned against the kitchen counter and immediately started to see stars in my eyes with my heart pounding out of my chest. My mind was firing on all cylinders now: I could have easily prevented this. Why did I give her adult cereal? Why was I not paying attention? What was I thinking about that was so important? Is this the first of a long list of dumb parenting moments?
I have a lot of friends who are considering never having babies—which is a decision I totally respect and understand—but it’s moments like these which consistently remind me about a valuable lesson I’ve learned as a parent: it’s not about me anymore. Whatever I am going through, whatever I’m thinking about, it’s not as important as the needs of my child and they will always come first. It’s taught me to give. It’s taught me to be selfless. It’s taught me to be aware.
But most importantly, it’s taught me not to be an idiot and give a baby granola.
After I had regained consciousness, I sat down beside my daughter on the little Ikea table and told her that this cereal incident was just going to be our little secret and there were going to be more stickers involved if we kept this tiny hiccup amongst ourselves. Sure enough, when Mommy came home, she ran up and yelled “Mommy, I choked!”
Another life lesson: never tell babies secrets because they’ll sell you out in a heartbeat.
Ps. My wife and I took a free infant CRP class before we had babies—I recommend it. If you can’t take one, hop over to YouTube, watch a video like this, and share it with your family. It can come in handy if you have a mind-wanderer like me in the house.
Have a dumb parenting moment? Share in the comments so I don’t look like the only terrible parent in the room. And make sure you follow the shenanigans on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Or email me directly to say hello!