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The 12 Biggest parenting mysteries

Once you become a parent, you’re introduced to a whole new world, and with that world comes a host of unanswerable questions.

I think that deep in our hearts, all of us know that we’re entirely unprepared for parenthood. Sure, we buy our supplies and read our books, and tell ourselves that we’re ready for anything, but under the surface, aren’t we all basically aware of the fact that we have no clue what we’re doing?

On top of that, there are all kinds of things that books never tell you, or straight up lie to your face about. Like when a pregnancy book says that, “you may feel a little queasy” during morning sickness, or when a parenting blog admits that, “toddlers can be a little picky about their food.” Yes, parenting is a mystery, even to me, and I’ve been doing it for eight years. Maybe you’ll have better luck solving the unanswered questions of our times.

1. Why do babies look like they aren’t breathing until you’re right up in their face?

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Night after night, a terror would grip me: Is my baby breathing? I would inch closer and closer to her, convinced her chest wasn’t rising and falling, until finally I was securely in her grill. That’s when she would take a deep breath and scream to assure me her lungs were functioning.

2. When did goldfish crackers get so delicious?

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You can go your whole life never eating these things, and then you have a kid. Suddenly, you can’t stop. You might sayyour kid is hooked and that’s why you go through them so quickly, but everyone knows it’s because they go great with chardonnay.

3. How is it possible for your toddler to sleep in contortionist positions in a noisy, crowded place, but not in the quiet comfort of his own bed?

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Sleeping at the DMV? Check. In a “Mommy and Me” music class? Check. With their arms twisted above their heads and their neck at an odd angle during noisy traffic? Check. In their own beds in comfy pajamas, a noise machine and an inviting bed? Never.

4. At what age do children master the art of butt wiping?

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Because it isn’t 3. Or 6. Or 8. I’ve heard it isn’t even 10.

5. Why are swear words so easy for children to remember?

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Your child will learn how to drop F-bombs much faster than it will take her to master her own name.

6. How is it that children forget how to take their diapers off after years of having it on lock?

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For years your child has gone commando if you don’t wake up fast enough, ripping his diaper off in the early morning light. Now that it’s time to potty train you would think that thing was welded on and secured with a combination lock, given the way your child struggles to get it off.

7. Where do all of the socks, pencils, batteries and tape dispensers disappear to?

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As your child grows older, there is a vortex that opens in her room somewhere. This vortex sucks in the sticky tape she wanted to “borrow,” and you’ll never see it again. Ever.

8. If children need a million hours of sleep, how do they function on two hours maximum?

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Every book will tell you that children need tons and tons of sleep. None of them will tell you that your children do not know they need that much sleep, and what’s more, they don’t care.

9. Is there a secret toddler fight club somewhere?

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Given the sheer amount of bumps, bruises and scrapes that appear on your child’s shins, foreheads and hands, despite the hours you spent baby-proofing, we have to assume they’re all meeting in an alley somewhere. At least they aren’t talking about it.

10. How are babies so skilled at finding pocket change?

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I can never find a quarter when I need one. But a newly mobile baby in my house can find two dollars in change and a Canadian nickel in a minute flat and shove it all right in her mouth. Rude.

11. Why are the floorboards outside of the nursery only squeaky at night?

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Your house is only noisy after sunset. That’s when every floor board, door hinge and toilet flush rings out in crisp, clear stereo.

12. Where does all of your baby knowledge go when your child gets older?

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>There is no accounting for the mysterious memory wipe that occurs between 18 months and 2 years of age. Once your child is that old, you forget how babies work. How is it possible that their little heads even fit into onesie head holes? You knew once. But alas, no longer.

More on babies and toddlers

Loving your terrible, terrific toddler
Baby-proofing tips for your kitchen
Ways your toddler is like a bad roommate

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