Negative Parenting Milestones They Don’t Tell You About in Baby Books

Illustration for article titled Negative Parenting Milestones They Don’t Tell You About in Baby Books
Photo: Damon Young

I don’t remember the first time I bumped the back of my daughter’s head on the top of the passenger-side rear door when attempting to put her in the car seat, but I remember the last time I did it—Saturday afternoon. We were on our way to Whole Foods (whose hot bar is a surprisingly good food option for dads with 2-year-olds). When I bumped her head, she took a moment to look at me like, “Really, nigga? Damn,” and then she started crying.


They weren’t real tears. I didn’t bump it hard enough for there to be any pain. She just likes it when she has a boo-boo and we kiss it because she’s a baby who enjoys being babied. That didn’t stop me from feeling like shit about it, though. One of my parenting goals is for her to make it to 21 concussion-free, but if I’m already bumping her head on doors, I might have to adjust that expectation to 11.

I didn’t finish any of the baby books we bought before my daughter was born, but I did skim the fuck out of them, and I devoured the shit out of each book’s table of contents. And during those deep dives, I didn’t see anything about celebrating negative parental milestones. But there should be!

Like the first time you bump her head on a car door. Or the first time you said, “I’m tired. Fuck this. Plus, she’s a baby. She can’t be that dirty,” when you were supposed to give her a bath. Or the first time she almost chipped your teeth, which is what happened last week when we were playing the spoon game we play when I’m attempting to trick her to eat, and she swung the spoon with all of her baby fury into my mouth. These things need to be marked on calendars, shared on Facebook and memorialized with cupcake parties.

And while some negative milestones can be very particular and esoteric, there are others that are quite universal. Things most parents can relate to in some way, including:

1. The first time you lose—or just think you lost—your kid in public.

This happened to me in Nordstrom a few months ago. She was chasing me around some sales racks while my wife was trying on some clothes. I turned around to start chasing her, and she was nowhere to be found. I panicked for approximately 3.5 seconds—scanning exits, Googling Amber Alerts—until I saw her kneeling and hiding behind a clearance rack.

2. The first time your kid pees in your face.

3. The first time your kid rolls off a couch and falls HARD. AS. SHIT. on the floor while you’re in the kitchen. 

4. The first time your kid legitimately hurts your feelings.


“Go to Daddy. Do you want Daddy to hold you?”


5. The first time your kid asks you a question you just can’t answer.

“Daddy, why does your head look like a choo choo train?”

6. The first time your kid sneezes/coughs/spits into your open mouth.

7. The first time you allow your kid to watch High Maintenance with you.

8. The first time your kid rolls his or her eyes at you, and it’s not an accident and it’s an appropriate reaction to something you said or did.

9. The first time your kid repeats a word your kid probably shouldn’t know yet.

10. The first time you take your kid to see someone (Santa/the Easter Bunny/Chuck E. Cheese, etc.) that scares the shit out of them.

Interestingly enough, my daughter hated Santa but loved the Nutcracker. My daughter is black and bougie.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



When I was 9, on Halloween my Mother shut the car door on my left hand. All my fingers were caught.

She couldn’t hear or see me banging on the window because she just got a new car system and it was thumping “Whose that Lady”and she was retrieving something from under the passenger seat, so she locked the door without looking. When she did come up, all my little Halloween make-up had melted off my face. My fingers healed, even though if I flipped the bird with my left middle finger, you’d think I was giving you a one finger direction to go to the right. I love my Mommy. Shit happens.