A Brief History of Parenting – OR – Am I Doing it Right?

It has been a long and wonderful and terrifying and euphoric and dreadful and sleep deprived 2 months.  If you’re not a parent that sentence might not make any sense, and if you’re about to be a parent that sentence may be terrifying or confusing, and if you are a parent well…  you know.  A cornerstone of Dadsense is honesty and genuine reflection on what it means to be a parent.  Typically that means a bottomless well of pride and joy with the occasional bashed testicle and baby vomit stained shirt, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned and I sit back and think “What the hell am I doing?  How has anyone ever survived raising 2 children?”

And so for the sake of my own sanity (or temporary lack thereof), I present: A Brief History of Parenting

Invented in the spring of 1206 by an elderly Italian couple, Parenting began as a means of getting others to work in the local shoe store.  The word Parent of course literally meaning “to cobble”.  As with most new inventions, Mr. and Mrs Giuseppe suddenly found they had an immense competitive advantage, which led to fairly substantial wealth.  They continued to expand their parenting empire, gathering random neighbourhood children (this would later be known as “adoption”) and employing their services.  After years of successful operations, the Giuseppes selected their favourite ’employees’ and retired to the alps, leaving operations to the next generation of well trained – if not a little under fed – cobblers.  By now the concept of Parenting had taken off, and the competitive advantage was slowing, but that didn’t stop others from finding children, or having their own, to work in their shoe shops.

Other industries soon followed suit until in 1833 the government decided this style of parenting was not only wildly inappropriate, but more importantly taxes couldn’t be collected from children under the age of 18.  Parents, as they were now commonly known, found themselves in a predicament – they were responsible for these children, but couldn’t force them to work.  From it’s humble beginnings as cheap labour, Parenting was about to evolve, kicking and screaming.

Fast forward 37 years: Tuesday, July 28, 1870.  William Bosmith is returning from a particularly hard day’s work in a soap factory.  He trudges through the door of his 14 bedroom hovel, bubbles trailing behind, popping softly in his ears.

“I’m ‘ome!” he cries “And in dire need of a roll in t’ dirt.  I’ve never been so clean in m’ life.”

The children take no notice at first, It is often said to be impossible to get them to put their books down for anything, but then the littlest looks at the man trudging through the living room.  A particularly large bubble bursts.

“POP POP!!!”

Almost immediately the children swarm their bubbly father, bursting his bubbles, one after another, and so the name for “Papa” was created.  It didn’t take long before William was back to his normal state, covered in smears of yoghurt, drool, dirty hand prints, and spit-up.  With no more bubbles the children deflated and started back to their books.  the littlest then looks to Sherry Bosmith, William’s wife.

“MORE! MORE!”

Of course, when a toddler asks for more it actually sounds like Ma, and this is where the name for “Mama” came from.

The children swarmed their mother, looking for bubbles, but her shift at the soap factory had ended much earlier and her bubbles were already burst.  Nevertheless, the names Mama and Papa stuck, and spread in popularity, but there was more to come.

It was a rainy Sunday, 1927.  Jerry and Lauren Plumber were sitting in the living room, their children were in the adjacent family room.  Lauren was puffing away thoughtfully on her pipe, Jerry was working on his cross-stitch. “Home Sweet Ho” it read – he wasn’t finished.  Suddenly Mrs. Plumber pointed with her pipe towards the children.

“What if we loved them?”  she asked.

“Beg pardon?” Jerry replied.

“Well…  They are quite adorable, and we are responsible for their well being.  We can’t make them work, so they have no REAL purpose in being here.  What if we decided to love them and nurture them?  That would give them a purpose!”

And so the Plumbers decided they loved their children.  This did not catch on as quickly as we would hope, however slowly over the following decades parents began having children, not just for the fun of it, but for the JOY of it – and then enjoying their company as they grew.

Last Saturday, 2018.  WHY WOULD YOU POUR YOUR CHEERIOS ALL OVER YOUR HEAD AND THEN ASK FOR MORE???  No, don’t clean it up, let me get my camera first, this is going to make a great Instagram photo…

Good luck out there.

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