I'd been thinking of writing this blog post for a while, then Scary Mommy over at The Stir, beat me to it. But, I'm going to do it anyway. Parenthood is often described as being a chance to relive your childhood through your kids. This is so true. It also gives you an excuse to go to some of those family-oriented events that you kinda wanted to go to in your childless days but would have felt a wee bit creepy showing up at without a purpose (i.e., child). Here are some of the best "bringing out the kid in you" things and experiences I'm now reliving and re-loving via my kids.
As Good as I Remembered It
1. Coloring. I don't know what it is, but there is something so satisfying about taking crayon to paper that thrills me just the way it used to as a kid. Alas, my skills and subject matters have not improved since the second grade. I still draw stick figure people, which might be cool and ironic, if they weren't surrounded by my lame attempts at rainbows, trees and houses, just as they were in elementary school. I'm certain you could show someone a drawing I made this week and one I made 25 years ago and the only way they'd be able to tell which was older would be by the yellow-tinge to the paper.
2. Swinging. No, not that kind of swinging. Minds out of the gutter, please. Holding those chain link handles and seeing how high you can get is every bit as wonderful now as it was when I was nine. It's just hands-down, one of the simplest and happiest sensations a person can have.
3. Boxed Macaroni & Cheese. Yes, I often lament my kids' addiction to it, but the thing is, I understand it. One summer in elementary school, my BFF at the time and I spent the night, rotating back and forth between our two houses, for the better part of a month. We ate as much of the boxed goodness as our parents would allow. My dad eventually forced us to put tuna fish, peas or hot dog into it to give it a little substance. Hmm, and I wonder why I'm back on Weight Watchers...
4. The Fourth of July. This has long been one of my favorite holidays. It's low-key and embodies all that is wonderful about summer. It is summer, wrapped up into one day. Summer has that timeless feel to it, and feels like it could go on forever, but in a good way. (Unlike winter, which also feels like it could go on forever but in a get me somewhere tropical before I lose my ever-lasting mind way.) From the parades to the potlucks to the fireworks, there's just something about the 4th, where you feel like you could be living in 1942, 1972 or present day and I love that about it. Somehow, I always feel like I'm 17 (in the best way possible) on the 4th.
Good Again. Thanks to the Kids.
Then, there are those experiences that become good again, once you have kids, simply because it's wonderful watching your kids enjoy them.
1. Christmas. As an adult, Christmas can lose its luster -- becoming nothing more than five weeks of errands, baking, shopping and mandatory office holiday parties. However, with kids, it becomes great again. Decorating cookies, going to see Santa, singing carols, having kids brings back that magical feeling. This year, I actually got so into it, that on Christmas Eve, I started worrying that my husband and I needed to hurry to bed so Santa could come. Yeah, I thought this as I was filling the stockings. You dope, you are Santa I had to remind myself. I'm actually not sure whether this shows how into the festivities I was or how much my brain function has decreased in recent years...
2. New Year's Eve. Okay, kids don't actually make New Year's all that great but they do take a lot of pressure off to have a wild, fun night. When I was single, and even married, pre-kids, it always seemed like I should be doing something monumental and absolutely fantastic on New Year's and it often just came up short. Now that I'm a parent, it's okay. Who wants to pay a sitter New Year's rates? Assuming you can even find one, that is. So, getting together for a low-key, multi-family dinner at a kid-friendly restaurant, then playing games, is fine by me.
3. Family Functions. One of the biggest reliefs of having kids is that you're no longer bombarded by the question, "So, when are you two gonna have kids?" What is it with people?! If you're single they ask when you're gonna get a boyfriend. When you do get a boyfriend they ask when you're getting married. The second you say "I do," they start asking when you're going to have kids. Actually, sometimes this starts even earlier -- we actually had someone ask us this question six months before our wedding! I figure I have a good 20 years left before people start asking me when I'm going to die (as that seems to be the only major milestone left), so now family functions are much less-stressful. Plus, if you get stuck talking to someone and you want to get away, you can "notice" your kid doing something bad or needing something and run off to help them. Children are ideal at getting you out of uncomfortable conversations in a group setting.
Things About Childhood I Didn't Even Know Were Good.
1. Costco-Receipt-Checker Who Draws a Smiley Face. I don't remember this much as a kid but when the person checking our receipt as we leave the store draws a smiley-face (or even better, a smiley-face balloon) on our receipt (as opposed to a wiggly line down the paper), before giving it back to my daughter, it makes me so grateful to that person, who took the extra five seconds to make my children so happy. Tiny little thing that brightens my day.
2. Garbage Day. As the mother of a two-year-old boy, who is fascinated by all things garbage, garbage day is an exciting day in our house. The garbage man who waves at us as we stand on our porch, in our jammies, makes me very happy. I often find myself listening for the garbage truck, then yelling to the kids that he's here before scooping them up and running outside with them to wave at the garbage man. I wonder if it makes him feel like a rock star, having people run out of their house to catch a glimpse of him in action, or if he just bemoans the fact that he has to collect trash from such a crazy family.
3. Bubbles. I don't remember being that excited by bubbles though maybe it's something I've just forgotten over time but man, are they fun. When you can get a ton of bubbles out of one blow, what a sense of accomplishment. I love watching the kids (and the dog) chase and pop them. I also love trying to catch bubbles on my bubble wand so I can blow it off again.