Matt Knutson: When in a rough spot, look for instructions

Published 8:10 pm Thursday, March 29, 2018

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“I don’t get what the big deal is,” I told my wife after she picked up our daughters from day care. Apparently when I dressed Gracelyn that morning, I put her in the wrong size pants. OK, I put her in her little sister’s pants. A 2-year-old in 9-month sized pants. Maybe it wasn’t my best parenting decision, but it’s not like she fell down the stairs.

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Mornings have been a little frantic around the house these days. As Gracelyn has become more committed to using her potty, we find ourselves impatiently waiting for her to try and try again to go to the bathroom. The girl loves it when we celebrate, so I can understand why she wants to try even when she doesn’t have to go. Unfortunately, her success rate is largely unpredictable, meaning we can’t just plan on waking up an extra 30 minutes earlier and work her potty time into the morning routine.

On the morning in question, Gracelyn was determined to hear our applause. By the time we looked at the clock, of course we were running late, and we needed to get the girls dressed pretty quickly. Grabbing the first clothes I could find, she was looking pretty well put together for a fast-paced styling. I did wonder when it was that we got her gray tights, but occasionally new clothes just appear around the house. I’ve learned not to question it. Into the car seat we went and off to day care for another great day.

We didn’t realize anything was off until Sera picked up the girls that afternoon.

“I figured out why Gracelyn’s pants were so hard to get on today,” one of her teachers said. “They’re her sisters! For a moment, I thought we wouldn’t be able to get them on at all after we changed her diaper.”

It’s one thing when you goof as a parent around the house so you laugh at yourself. It’s a bit different when you more publicly goof. To my surprise, Sera didn’t even play the dad-got-her-dressed card. I probably would have done it if our roles were reversed. Instead she chuckled and told me the story when I got home. I still stand by my defense that they must have been sufficient if neither of us thought they were too small when we brought her to day care. Who makes pants for a 9-month-old that are long enough for a 2-year-old? I’ll never understand. Also, why is my 5-month-old already wearing 9-month-old pants? Some questions will never have answers.

This recent pants gaff reminded me of a onesie my sister got for us when Gracelyn was born. On the front it has several arrows pointing to where her head, arms and neck should be if we were to put it on correctly. The center has a star and words of affirmation, “You got this dad!” It was a good joke to get for us as new parents — if only such positivity was printed on all of our daughters’ clothing. Maybe then I wouldn’t struggle so much with getting the girls dressed in properly-sized attire.

When life is chaotic, it’s easy to move as fast as you can to get past it. Sometimes, in the midst of the beautiful chaos, we forget that right in front of us, life has given us the instructions we need. It may not always be as apparent as the onesie with literal instructions printed on it, but they are there if you look for them. Maybe it is as simple as taking the time to find the tag on a pair of pants or maybe it’s reaching out to someone close to you for advice. Very rarely do we do anything that someone we know hasn’t already done. When you’re in a rough spot, take a moment to find your instructions. Sometimes all you have to do is look.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.