17 pieces of parenting advice from a 3-year-old me

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

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It’s fashionable to write notes to oneself from a point in time when one believes they are very knowledgeable to a time when they remember themselves as being far less knowledgeable.

18-year-old me would write to three-year-old me and say “you should save up money for beer. It is expensive. But, I suppose, if you don’t have beer, you might do better in your post-secondary education exploits. So maybe don’t save up for beer. Spend all that money on candy and leave me penniless so I can study at night.”

And 30-year-old me, might write to 19-year-old me or even 29-year-old me and tell me that “being in your thirties is actually quite wonderful. You have a lot of responsibilities but you also have life experience!”

I could write all kinds of letters to my younger self right now. Some of them might even have spoonfuls of useful advice in them. We’re trained to think that as we get older and experience more things and meet more people and read more books, we become better equipped to know things. And we do know more. But, that doesn’t mean we know better things. Maybe young us was pretty much right all along with their philosophy on living and all our meeting people and reading books just screwed things up.

Basically, I think three-year-old or five-year-old me probably had better to advice to give to 36-year-old me than the reverse. I look at the way my kids handle their shit and I think “I should do more of that.” So I’m taking a trip in my way back machine and writing some advice that pre-elementary school me would give having kids in elementary school me.

There are many things I thought then that would help me raise more confident and well-rounded children today. So I guess I’m saying we should parent with the mind of a three-year-old paired with the old bodies we actually operate in every day that help us save our kids from flushing themselves down the toilet and the like.

I’m imagining one day picking up a sheet of construction paper addressed to “Me who is a dad from me who is really little but knows very big” and finding this scrawled in red crayon.

Parenting Advice from a 3-year-old (but imagine that not in computer generated fonts)

  1. “If you see me playing with a girl and want to talk to us, don’t start by telling my friend how cut she is. Maybe talk about how cool the addition to the castle we made together is. She thought it up and came up with a way to attach it to the existing castle without needing to break it.”
  2. “Don’t spend so much time trying to colour in the lines. Colour for your damn self. If other people don’t like your picture just because it looks different from everyone else’s, they’re welcome to look at someone else’s picture. Tress and rainbows look way better with squiggly lines.
  3. “Playing with girls is actually pretty awesome even if you’re a boy. They have amazing imaginations.”
  4. “You should totally try falling asleep with a book on your face.”
  5. “The most successful people in the world barely slept. Remember that. Because I don’t sleep and look at me.”
  6. “Also, don’t get too mad when you swear in front of your kids. Swearing isn’t that big a fucking deal. And I’m a kid.”
  7. “But wholly moly, calm down when you drive a vehicle. Some adults are absolutely wild with the language when they’re in a car. Tone it down a smidge. Sing the ABC song instead.”
  8. “While we’re at things that aren’t that big  deal, don’t beat yourself up for letting me stay up later than you had planned just because you want to snuggle up with me. I like it too, even on school nights.”
  9. “Let people be quiet if they want to be quiet. Maybe they aren’t “playing shy.” Maybe they just prefer to think things through themselves before talking about it with anyone.”
  10. “Hugs have magic in them. They can make sad people happy and they can make people who don’t want to move anymore feel like someone loves them very much.”
  11. “It’s more important to care for people who don’t have as much as we do than it is to try and get more things for ourselves.”
  12. “If you see people cry, you don’t have to just tell them it will get better. Ask them how they are right then. And listen to them.”
  13. “Math is hard. That’s okay.”
  14. “I know a lot of times you’re going to think about how to tell me things ‘because I’m just a kid.’ Well kids understand stuff better than you think they do. I like to think we’ll be better off with more information than with less.”
  15. “Don’t worry about listening to Christmas music all year long if it makes you happy. Or never listening to it if it makes you angry.”
  16. “When you feel like doing something, do that thing right then. Don’t wait for a better time to do that thing because you’ll forget about it and never end up doing it.”
  17. “Dance parties are the best. Any place, any time.”

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