Becoming a mom almost three years ago transformed me into one of the most neurotic, nail-biting versions of myself. Because children are seen as a reflection of their parents, naturally I want my son to be well-behaved, brilliant, articulate and most of all, potty-trained. Like me.

My greatest fear is that I will ruin him, somehow, some way. Or worse, that my parenting skills just can’t hack it, and I don’t have what it takes to raise a functional, healthy member of society. I use a selection of arbitrary variables to judge my progress, such as number of times per day the child ate junk cereal, ratio of vegetables to cookies, hours spent in yard playing to hours spent watching TV. And to seal the fear paralysis, I also include things out of my control, such as: frequency of sickness, units of bodily fluid emitted in inappropriate places, and propensity to consume or contact gross things.

I need a new system.

The following list is compiled from moments in my day, or week, when I know for sure he’s ruined. Because I ruined him. My ignorance or inadequacy finally manifested. The secret is out: I have no idea what I’m doing. Even if just a few minutes ago, he was counting and playing so nicely, and I was a perfect parent from the magazines. Maybe you can relate.


I’m sure my kid is ruined when:
1. The first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is “cookie?”
2. He watched three hours of public television on the iPad because I was too pregnant to live.
3. We put him to bed at 9, but he plays in the pitch black, yells “help” under the door, and doesn’t fall asleep until 11.
4. There are bite marks in all his foam building blocks.
5. He slurps his filthy bath water when we’re not looking and takes sips from the dog pool too.
6. When we use a public restroom, he makes sure to touch everything, including the toilet and the floor.
7. Some nights he will only eat his dinner with dessert bribes.
8. When he’s watching TV, his ears stop working. We have to clap, dance and shout to get his attention.
9. When it comes to dining, he turns into a shark, always moving. He stands, sits, lays down in his chair, runs off with his food and must be cajoled or carried back.
10. I think he might be better friends with Curious George and Daniel Tiger than he is with real human children.
11. Potty training in a weekend turned into potty training some time before high school.

The truth is I don’t think I will ruin him. But sometimes I’m still afraid his antics will prove to everyone can see I’m such a rookie at this mom gig. But because he’s so awesome and resilient and bright, he will be okay in spite of me. Someone once told me, and I think it’s true, “You’re probably not a bad parent if you’re worried about being a bad parent because bad parents don’t feel bad about their parenting.” Right.

So as long as we are trying out here, as long as we care, grow, evolve as moms and dads alongside our kids, I think we are going to be alright. Don’t you?

When are you worried you’ve ruined your kids? Share in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “How to know your child’s ruined

    1. [Sorry for the reply delay – had technical difficulties.] I was really hoping I would be able to relax and trust the parenting process more as I got older, but I guess being neurotic is just part of this journey. Oh well – now to learn to accept me anyway. 🙂


  1. He sounds like he would get along quite well with our 3-year-old. I laughed through the whole list, as our son does the exact same things. The bath water thing is a nightly ordeal. He has now taken to “helping,” by dumping a big cup of water on his head to rinse, while his mouth is wide open, then announcing “Daddy, I drank the water.” At least he still hasn’t learned to keep his mischief a secret.

    He blatantly tried to pull a fast one on Mommy yesterday. She told him he could get up after he finished his food. A few seconds later he yells “I’m done!” She goes and looks at his lop-sided plate and stares at him. He says “What?” She lifts the plate, revealing his uneaten meal hiding beneath it. “Eat.” she says. Then he gives a heavy teenager-styled sigh and resumes his meal.

    Still wouldn’t trade it for anything!


    1. Oh yes, I bet those two would get along smashingly. It’s always nice to hear the hilarious antics of other two year olds and know that maybe, just maybe, my child is a little wacky and perhaps it has nothing to do with me. Or not as much as I blame myself for. Your son is a hoot though. Isn’t it so hard not to laugh when they do things like hiding their food? I am the worst about that.


  2. Sounds pretty normal to me! Mine are #1 (except its toons, cereal bar, and MILK!), 2 (minus the pregnant part), 5, 6, 8, and 9.


    1. Oh good, Deb. I appreciate the affirmation. Honestly, it’s so hard to know what’s normal when kids all act so different from each other – at least from what I see. I never know what’s me and what’s him. :/


  3. I’ve seen this kid in action, he is a mess and I’m glad you’re taking responsibility. I don’t know where you got your parenting skills, but when we were raising our children, things went much better than this. Fortunately, I’m sure none of our kids will be as dysfunctional as you. Oh wait. One of our kids IS you. Well never mind, then.


  4. Um, thanks a lot for the vote of non-confidence, Pops. I am trying to take responsibility over here, but my biggest issue is I don’t know where my crazy stops and his crazy starts. Maybe that’s just what parenting boils down to.


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