They say being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever have. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year every year. There’s no instruction manual. The training is done on the job. I now consider myself an expert. But only because I have 1) a degree in early childhood education and 2) 2 kids of my own. Therefore, I’m only an expert for a couple more years, then I’ll be swimming in uncharted waters. But here’s what I’ve learned so far…
1) Make ordinary things, extraordinary -like pancakes. Kids love silly shaped pancakes. We have pancake molds but they’re a pain in the arse because they’re small and the batter is forever sticking to them – even when I use a whole can of NON-STICK cooking spray on them. Stick men, snow men, superman symbol and various letters are equally amusing. I’ve recently learned how to make a design within a normal, round pancake. Simply make the design on your heated surface, let it brown for a few seconds then cover it with a normally rounded pancake. The kids think it’s magic. Significant others will be equally amused.
2) Imagination is amazing. Whether you’re playing a game, writing a story, reading a story, or just being goofy imagination goes a long, long way. What if that chutes and ladders game was for real?! How much work would that be to land on square 28 and have to climb nearly to top. How much fun would it be to land on #87 and get to slide all the way down? Something like that new water slide “verrückt“? We roll a mixed up Rubix Cube across the floor and get the letter “G” which means we have to hop on one foot 4 times. Completely made up. Completely fun.
3) Outside is endless. Year round. Mud pies, bugs, worms, puddles, tree climbing, water hose, trampoline, bike rides, swimming, running, running, and running while screaming all summer long. Snowmen and snowwomen and and snowfamilies, snow angels, snowball fights, igloos, zigzag paths shoveled to the bus stop, sledding in the winter. Outside is where the active games get played. Refer back to number 2. Kick a ball, run to that tree and back before I go get that kicked ball and beat you back to where you started. That game’s called Oreo*. I don’t know why. Hit a ball I throw to you, then dribble a soccer ball to a wall, kick the ball off the wall and return before I get back with the ball you hit. That one’s called Fubar*. Mostly because we heard that word in a movie and while we were allowed to say “fubar” we weren’t allowed to say what it meant. (I’m 37 now. I can say it now. Just not to my kids) (or anyone elses kids for that matter). (Oreo and Fubar were games a friend and I made up when we were kids. They will be taught to my own kids). One day we even had a sock and shoe fight when we were locked out of the house after school. I had a stick and I used it pick up their socks and shoes and launched them at the kids. There’s also
gardening digging for worms.
4) Teamwork. There’s nothing I can do that we can do better.
5) Lastly, be perfect in your imperfections. I only have the slightest clue what I’m doing. I mostly make it up as I go along. Parenting is part trial and error, part what your parents did with you, and part experiment. Take potty training, for example. Figuring out what will motivate them to use the toilet instead of their underwear (or the floor or the door) is tricky. Chocolate is good. But some prefer gummies. Others prefer non-food items like stickers. And sometimes you just need to shout “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL ” like a spanish futbol announcer. Or you just need to wait until they’re fully ready. You can lead a toddler to the toilet but you can’t make them pee in it.