Parents like to imagine themselves to be the upholders of what is right and what is wrong for their children. We use our “years of life experience” to make sure our kids stop doing foolish things and one day grow up to be the kinds of people who will be able to share their own “years of life experience” with the people who come after them.
But, in many ways, we’re just like our kids–we just hate to say so. But why should we feel shame about being like our kids? Kids have a crapload of fun every day because they are admittedly still learning things and having a hell of a lot of fun doing it.
As parents, we often prefer to admonish what we consider a wrongdoing without stopping to consider why the doing is wrong. When kids jump off a couch our lightning-quick response is “that’s too dangerous, don’t ever do that again.” It’s true, jumping off a couch can be dangerous, but so can eating a hotdog. Yet instead of keeping them from eating a hotdog, we supervise the eating. Why not supervise couch jumping? The same goes for hundreds of these smaller indiscretions that happen every day. Why not draw on the walls with removable crayon or marker? Why not spill an at-home science experiment all over the hardwood floors?
We could all (parents and kids) benefit from admitting our similarities and embracing them. Let your kid be a little more like an adventurous kid and see if by doing that they don’t learn a little bit about what it means to grow up.
Still not convinced we’re similar? We’ll here are a few examples I’ve thrown together about how adults and kids are pretty much the exact same.
We’re always on the verge of tears
It seems, because it’s true, that anything can send a child into a fit of rage that involves fists, screams and many tears. They could see a squirrel run by a window that doesn’t stop to wave. They could be angry that you’re not letting them throw your laptop into the tub to see if it floats or explodes. But conversely, a pencil falling from my hands or a dust bunny that floats over my toes can set me off too. Or I might lose it when one daughter runs into another daughter with their plasma car for the sixth time.
Being a kid and being a parent is volatile stuff. If you want to have fun, odds are you’re also going to have not fun. But the prospect of crying shouldn’t keep you from trying to have the best time you can.
Bacon and Froot Loops and Pirate Cookies and Bear Paws
I like people that eat healthier than me and I admit that group probably counts 97 per cent of the world’s population among them, but I love Froot Loops and I love bacon and I like a lot of other things that you’re more likely to associate with a child’s lunch at their grandparents. My kids like these things too but there’s a difference in how we’re able to like these.
My kids don’t have to hide the fact that they eat them. Kids are expected to eat delicious things and they’re expected to eat them in front of a television while watching cartoons. I have to close the blinds when I want to pull down the box of Froot Loops or Bear Paws. Me and my kids have had great moments eating these things though so i want to come out to everyone and admit that I love them.
We don’t know what we’re going to do in the future
The question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” gets asked of kids all the time. But once you turn 30 (or maybe even before then) people stop asking you. Is it because people assume if you don’t have it by the time you’re 30 you’re out of luck anyway? Is it because they think if you’re 30 and a parent that your new outlook on life is helping you child figure out what they’re going to be in the future? Why can’t we continue to wonder what we’re going to be next year, in five years, in 25 years?
I’m 34 (days away from 35) and I have a job I love but am by no means done improving. In fact, I still have no idea what I’ll be at 45. Yes, I’d still like to be doing the same things I do from 8:30 to 4:30 but there are more hours in the day than that and the way I use those other hours changes all the time. Really, what I should be doing is brainstorming with my kids, each of us telling one another what they want to be when they grow up.
My oldest, at the age of four, has already wanted to be a doctor, a teacher and a mother. I love that she continues to change these ideas depending on what toy she’s playing with at the time. My ideas don’t change as often, but they do change, and that’s just fine.
Deep down we want to believe in Santa Claus
This one is controversial because we don’t all want to believe in Santa Claus, but that’s ok, that’s just my thing I want to believe in. I think a lot of us, even as adults, want to think about the existence of something magical. Maybe it’s unicorns, or the existence of Hogwarts or Middle Earth. Surely, if you think really hard, you can envision something magical actually existing.
The difference between adults and kids though is that they don’t have to think very hard to imagine something like Hogwarts or unicorns. For them, it’s pretty loud and clear that they believe in these things. There’s no other way for me to explain the vividness of my daughters bedtime stories or dreams. She believes there is a castle in a far, far, far away land and who am I to question that?
We all need to be a little more willing to accept magic.
We both want to hold one another’s hand
This is the kind of magic I hope lasts forever and something I’m going to dream about so often that there’s no way it won’t go on and on and on and on. Right now, my kids instinctively reach for my hand when it’s anywhere near them. And I instinctively know when their hands are moving towards mine ready to grasp it. My heart goes into overdrive every single time this happens and I hope there’s something physiological that happens to them too. As the years go by my kids may feel differently and their instinct may do a 180 to the point that when they see my hand they intentionally distance themselves from it.
I’m a firm believer in showing and sharing emotion with the ones you love. I will hold hands with my kids in 100 per cent of the situations we find ourselves in. I can’t envision a time where I’ll want to distance my hand from theirs though so it’s on me to make sure they know my hand is always there for them to hold and that when they hold that hand it will always make them feel as safe as they can be.
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