I may be the first to compare parenting to the All-Time Classic, “Super Mario Bros,” but I’m running with this one. Especially the secret warp world. You that played – know this picture. You know where to find this hidden portal and could still find it today despite not picking up the NES controller for decades.
How I’ll compare Super Mario Brothers and specifically the “1.2 super warp level skip,” is that in life, there are some major life stages/levels that parents will have to experience. Those without kids will find many of these levels inaccessible. They will, as the above picture shows, “skip forward” and on to the next, leaving behind countless monsters, level bosses and castles unexplored and un-played.
You can win the game without having ever seen these levels.
But much like having kids, despite the difficulty, trial and error, asking friends for help, cheatcodes, watching others and throwing controllers across the living room in fits of rage and tears, these “extra levels” may be what makes the game so great in the first place.
In any case, some of you have been playing for a while now, some may be new to the game. I just thought I should bring them up. They are worth mentioning and You need to be ready.
In the parenting game you need to be ready to take on every stage!
Everyone plays the game differently and because we all have our own little moves and jumps, You do you. Your style.
My job is to tell you about the completions. The princess in the castle waiting for you, The 1+ player bonus for nailing 100 coins and the flag at the top of the pole. I’ll tell you about the completions because finishing, and moving on to the next stage feels FANTASTIC!
Level 1) No More Diapers
If you’re not there yet, I can’t tell you how big of a deal this is.
I’d put it up with some of the bigger life stepping stones, such as the first day of high school, Getting married and the birth of your first child. Your life is simply “different” when diapers are over.
As a dad, I’d love to tell you the major change I noticed is that it’s back to instant and uncontrollable passion – as not having a goddam diaper genie 8 inches from your pillow is as easy as jumping on a turtle. But alas, it’s not.
But it’s better!
2) The End of Car Seats
This is bigger than diapers. Seriously. Life changing Big.
Remember how cool it was when they could all simply get in the car by themselves and buckle themselves up? “You’re so smart buddy. Great job!” You don’t? Not there yet huh? but your friend is. Her kid get’s in all-by-herself. Puh. That must be nice.
Oh, LAWD- you have no idea. For you still in the “car seat phase,” I’m telling you, no exaggeration… when I tell my kids to “get in the car…we’re leaving.” it takes approximately 11 seconds. (mic drop)
Sometimes, just because I can, we practice tactical Evacs and Exfils. We just roll up into that school drop-off lane, and POW!
In and Out in 1.7 sec!
Well ok, not every day, that’s just our PR -with a cumulative average being 2.0 this month. The principal doesn’t like it much, but we’re in Texas so she understands it could very well save their lives someday. However, the Janitor with the “82nd” arm tattoo often nods his head in approval as I roll out.
3) Your Parents coming to visit as Grandparents.
I love it when my parents come to visit. It is great to see them as well as how the kids interact with their grandparents at such a different level than how they act with you. Double that with your parents. Different than how they acted with you as a kid. It’s pretty Mind blowing.
But what’s even more awesome than that is another secret warp stage. The one where they watch the kids, and you can disappear for a couple nights to a week! I’d suggest Tahiti. “Princess in a Castle” suite. You can play this level more than once if you’re super lucky!
4) Moving like your ass is on fire
Today while trying to write this article, I noticed, at my wife’s insistent yelling that I was late for work. Well, that’s not what she was yelling at me for. She yelled at me because she had to raise her voice so I could hear her over the chaos of getting kids ready for school. She was simply trying to tell me that a leak was coming from our ceiling through a light fixture and dripping onto our kitchen floor. Our AC unit was backed up and overflowing from the overflow pan onto and through the sheetrock. This happened while 8 kids were at the house and breakfast was cooking (burning). The laundry and dishwasher were beeping for my attention, and the shower was running because, as I said, I was late for work.
That’s normal when you have kids. My heart rate was at a cool 68.
I’m much better at it now, but it’s a little crazy and it takes practice.
Life with kids is like a low-grade panic from the moment they wake up until about ten minutes after I lie down at night. Honestly, work is way more relaxed, structured, and easier than at home.
I’m not saying I prefer it. I don’t. It’s just easier.
What’s really funny is that my staff thinks work is hectic. They can’t wait for 5 o’clock. Their day is done at 5.
But I know at 5, the real action starts!
4.2 You know what else is really crazy to observe when either my parents or my friends with no kids are around?
How slow they move.
I don’t have time to wait for the toaster to pop or the coffee pot to fill. I caught myself telling my dad to “just wait in the car while I run into the store for groceries.” because I could run in, grab my entire list, check out, and be back in the car before my dad could get out of the passenger seat and get into the front door. It’s noticeable – seriously.
Parents with kids are in a crazy hurry.
It’s silly to watch us.
I asked my dad one time if it drove him crazy. He said it was actually quite enjoyable to watch and that as i progress through the game, there will come an era where the premium on time just relaxes a little bit. Yeah, that would be nice…ok next.
5) Getting hit in the Balls stage
I’m positive mothers go through this too, and honestly, even more so than men. So many of their body parts are getting pulled, pushed, rubbed, and that’s after the nursing stage!
Yeah, now that I write it and see it on paper, it’s not a big deal. Just part of the stage. Annoying yet at time, hilarious.
Still, it’s been nice to get past that constant getting “WrAckEd” every time my little buddy wants a hug, to show me something, gets excited, or just decides to run around like a madman.
6) Just when you think you have it figured out.
As your need for diapers, tiny luggage, 11 pairs of shoes, sippy cups, and blankies diminishes with each stage, your need for dish soap, laundry detergent, backpacks, 11 pairs of huge shoes, and gasoline inversely increases. It is an unbeaten math ratio that continues with you for all stages.
Yet, despite living this, and KNOWING this – I still keep getting excited that things are calming down and change is coming.
It’s constant change. Day to Day change.
But, go into it understanding this…You simply are going to continually be going up and down and there are always going to be obstacles. It’s part of the game. Just like you got through the early level, you too, will be successful in this challenge.
It may take a few try’s, however.
7) The end of the noise.
It’s always noisy in our house. Always. There are kids, games, iPads, phones, YouTube videos, YouTube shorts, cats, animals, dogs, computers, soccer balls against couches, hoops above door ways perfect for dunking, and anything and everything else. Although I am not anywhere close to passing this stage, I am assured- That this too, although a more extended stage, passes.
Many of the people I know have finished this stage. Nearly everybody that has- tells me that the craziness, the noise, the constant moving in every direction, then going to two or three different cities a weekend for sports in different ones than my spouse are indeed the things that are missed the most.
They all tend to look up to the sky, to some invisible thing and take a deep breath. They often tell me they LOVED the game. They miss it at times. That they think about it almost constantly.
Things change, they always do.
Maybe instead of being in such a hurry to get past the stages, thinking that at the end, we somehow…Win. We need to enjoy where we are now. These are the good times. Family time. Busy life, learning, and enjoyment the game together. It’s a perpetual party.
I pay attention to these people, with their encouragment and experience, I’ve been able to refocus and change my perspective.
I love these times and have no yearning whatsoever to jump down a pipe and warp my way to the end of the game.