Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kids Like Stickers

Sometimes, I am terrified by what my children must think of me. My youngest rounded the corner recently to witness me popping balloons and stuffing them into the trash can. The look on her face showed horror and pity. Her inner monologue might have been, “What is WRONG with you?” followed by, “Poor mommy. She has no joy.”

It’s possible that I’ve become a party pooper. My policy on balloons is that unless they arrived via FTD from a relative to commemorate a birthday, balloons are welcome in our home for a period not to exceed 24 hours or until their helium dissipates sufficiently to cause them to lope about the house like Eeyore.

It’s also possible that you can empathize with me for having to step over balloons and their long, knotty ribbons and you’ve popped a few yourself.

The business of entertaining the things my kids appreciate with full enthusiasm is a tricky part of parenting. I’m convinced a large piece of staying relevant to growing children comes from taking an early and active interest in that which captivates theirs. That the answer to the interminable questions of young children: Do you want to play doll house with me? Do you want to read me a story? and, Do you want me to make you cookies in my Easy Bake oven? must always an unhesitating, absolute, and enthusiastic YES!

Thank goodness kids and adults are different. We rescue each other daily. My daughter is safer now that I’ve jettisoned the Easy Bake oven. (In my defense, ever since it was used it to bake a Moon Sand pie it’s been emitting noxious fumes.) My kids are a constant reminder to enjoy the moment and laugh at the forlorn balloon wandering the halls, looking for love. A world where children and adults were routinely captivated by the same things would be strange. KIDS LIKE STICKERS, reads the label on pediatric office stickers. No one would ever make this generalization on behalf of adults.

As my children grow we’ll cultivate family interests and our individual interests will overlap. There’s no guarantee that they’ll claim my hobbies as their own, but I look forward to questions like: Do you want to go for pedicures? Do you want to do ski Genevieve one more time and then go sit in the hot tub? and, Do you want to make popcorn, watch a movie and have a slumber party in the living room?

Later it will be: Do you want to pay for my master’s degree? Do you want to invest in my new company? and, Do you want to watch the kids for a week while we go to Hawaii? I know to expect these questions because we have asked the very same ones and had them answered with an enthusiastic YES! by my husband’s very generous parents and, you know, what goes around comes around.

Participating actively and enthusiastically in the lives of our children helps earn parents a permanent position in their lives. That’s what I want. That, and for all these friggen balloons to go away. Oh, and some cookies from the Easy Bake oven. Doh!

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