So yesterday I wrote about ten things in life that are simply harder when children are part of the picture. Things like airplanes, restaurants, public bathrooms. You know the drill. But that’s only part of the story, isn’t it? Cause those of us with kiddos know that there are a lot of things kids make better. So, so much better. Richer, happier, more joyful.
Kids simply are capable of things that adults have lost. ‘Tis a damn shame, honestly, that we lose some of the wonder of childhood as we rack up the years. When we parent, we get a second go around with that wonder. Another date with joy is how I think of it, but only if you are open to it. That is the secret — to relinquish our years and responsibilities for some moments and reclaim all that we owned in our childhood. So, without further ado . . .
Ten Things That Are Better with Children
10. Holidays. I don’t care what faith you are, what you celebrate, but kids make those holy days and celebrations better and more meaningful. My husband and I are both pretty much Scrooges, but being with little ones during Christmas helps us find our inner humbug squasher. And then there’s Fourth of July fireworks and parades. Memorial and Labor day barbecues. Even loaded holidays like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are easier and more pleasant when the focus in on children. And if you stop and think about the utter privilege of instilling traditions and memories that will last for lifetimes — whoa. That is some powerful stuff.
9. The Dollar Store. This is the one store where I get to say yes, a hearty, emphatic YES to my son. It is our post dentist treat, our holiday mecca, our let’s get a few things to pass the time on a cold snow day headquarters. We both love it here and being relieved of the pressure of more, buy, need, we can just enjoy it together without any stress.
8. Weather. Kids love weather. Hot weather, cold weather, snowy weather, rainy weather. Kids love it all. And being absolved of the responsibility of weather — the cleaning of a flooded basement or the scraping of ice that is clinging to the windshield on a below zero morning, well, sure, what’s not to love? There is such a pleasure in weather that kids take — the thrill of careening down a snowy hill, the sloshing of boots in a shallow puddle. Watching our kids enjoy those things lets us back to those moments we discovered weather ourselves.
7. County Fairs / Parades / Carnivals. One of my favorite days of last year was with my sister and our two sons at the Boone County Fair. Elephant ears, the Tilt-a-Whirl, sliding in a burlap sack, cheesy plastic winnings from gaming booths. So. Much. Fun. Serious hard core fun. And yes, I think as an adult on my own I would have enjoyed the day, but there was something about the hugeness of my boy’s eyes as the attractions kept piling up that just made it better for me. And the happy nap he took, smiling in his sleep, as we drove home, him clutching a blow-up SpiderMan close to his chest. Heaven.
6. Friday Nights In. It’s probably no surprise that I’m writing this on a Friday, as evening descends. I’m not feeling the weight of having to cook dinner. There are no lunches to worry about packing. Nope. Tonight is free time. The kids can stay awake a little longer. I stress significantly less. It’s just cozy. There is no expectation to hit the town, or even desire. On Friday nights, we are all happy to gather together and just hang. I have everything I need with me.
5. Olympics. That damn Putin and his gay hating ways are not making it PC to enjoy the Olympics this time around, but there is nothing that will keep me from enjoying a few of the events with my littles. The last time around, summer of 2012, Mary Tyler Son was just three, but he still talks about the parade of countries and the pyrotechnics of the opening and closing ceremonies. I have ridiculously fond and clear memories of watching these with my own folks as a child. It’s such a rite of passage — something the whole family really can enjoy together.
4. Birthday Parties. I love them. Love, love, love them. Truth be told, I love birthday parties even without the kiddos. But when you’re planning a kid’s party, well, swoon. It is such a special time. Mary Tyler Son and I like to hit Pinterest together after he settles on a theme. And yes, I love a theme. And no, this was not something my Mom ever did for me and my sibs, but hell it sure is fun, if a little overboard. Not only do I love the joy it gives the little one, but I adore getting to feel like a rock star in my child’s eye. Fun, fun, fun.
3. Your Parents. I love seeing my children interact with their grandparents. One of my greatest sadnesses is that my Mom never got to meet any of my three children and my three children never got to meet their Baba. I also think that as we age and have our own children, our parents see us differently. The relationship, ideally, evolves to accommodate the added generation. It is an opportunity and an unrecognized gift that our kids give us.
2. Public Transportation. When you live in a city, you probably have a love/hate relationship with mass transit. I rarely use it these days, but have a great fondness for it, as my Dad worked in transit for most of my childhood and early adult life. I even worked alongside him a few summers as an intern at the agency that employed him. But kids almost universally LOVE public transit. The trains! The buses! The platforms! The questionable odors! Ha — one of these things is not like the other. Kids don’t see (or smell) the bad, they only see the good.
1. Sprinklers. The best $4.99 I’ve ever spent was at the local Ace Hardware for a tiny, flat sprinkler head that easily fits in my pocket. When the boy was a little one, I always made sure to pack it on summer outings. It’s amazing how quickly a naked baby turns a good summer party into a great freaking event. The magnitude of happiness a child can find running through a simple spray of water just astounds me. The rainbows, the warmth, the simplicity. It is sheer bliss.
So there you have it. My life is so much richer for the kids that inhabit it. My guess is your’s might be, too. Pay attention to what your kids give you, the joy they bring. Savor it, work to cultivate it in your own life. Enjoy those fleeting moments, because it is the memory of those moments that will keep you company as you age and gray and pass that life baton.