I know you have probably been wondering when I am going to start dispensing valuable parenting advice again, because it’s been a while, right? (Or maybe never.) Well, the answer is NOT ANYTIME SOON because VALUABLE parenting advice is not really in my wheelhouse.
But, RUBBISH parenting advice is right up my alley, so let’s get to it! I present to you…
The Top Five Questions Our Kids Ask to Which We Should Always Answer “YES!”*
(*no matter how lazy we’re feeling)
1. “Can I help you with that?”
UGH. It’s so annoying when they want to help assemble the toy/fold the laundry/organize your stationery drawer (shut up, I do have one) because let’s face it, they’re really not that good at any of those things and it’s going to take a lot longer.
The worst is when they want to help with cooking! I know that cooking with kids is some people’s favorite thing to do. Well, those people are certifiable. (I’m going to admit that I don’t really know what that means… like they would qualify for a certificate that says they’re really crazy? And what’s crazy anyway? Enjoying cooking with your kids, definitely, but besides that, who’s to say?)
Anyway, I GUARANTEE those are the same people who LOVE to cook and say things like, “I swear, this recipe is seriously so simple to make! Once you let the garlic reduction simmer with the gumbo paste, the only thing left is to let it baste and leaven for 12 hours and then you’re done… with the first step.”
Look, I don’t cook that often and when I do, I BARELY know what I’m doing. The last thing I need to do is worry about is my kid using sugar instead of salt or worse, chopping a finger off.
But here’s the thing… if kids are showing the interest and initiative in asking to help, we should let them. Because… well, helping is good so we should encourage it. (See, rubbish!) I’m sure they’re learning valuable lessons about toy assembly/laundry/organization and also, teamwork. Yes, teamwork! Also, it’s bonding time, so if you get your QT in doing stuff you have to do anyway, you don’t have to play Chutes and Ladders, again! BONUS!
2. “Will you read to me?”
Say yes. Say yes. We should say yes. Reading is good. It’s like the single most important factor in making our kids smart and productive and pretty. (Wait, what?) I KNOW you’re trying to share your Cinco de Mayo pictures with your FB friends, which is an extremely time-sensitive project, but put it on hold and tell your kid, “SURE! I’d love to read to you!” and then pick a very, very short book.
PS. The same answer does NOT apply to the question “Will you PLAY with me?” It is perfectly acceptable – nay, encouraged – to say NO to that question. Kids need to learn to entertain themselves. Three articles on HuffPost Parents told me so.
3. “Can I show you something?”
Have you ever been in the middle of something EXTREMELY important (like ordering chick lit on Amazon or researching Mila Kunis’ pregnancy) when your child approaches and says, “Mom, can I show you something?” 90% of the time, it’s something like the “Superhero Hospital” they’ve built out of four wooden blocks. The other 10% of the time, it’s the toilet they’ve clogged or the wall that they’ve colored. Either way, we should see it. EVEN if we’ve seen 106 other Superhero Hospitals this week and even if we don’t really want to see the Sharpie Art, we should stand up and look. Because regardless of whether they feel proud, ashamed or simply want to share something with us, the answer should be yes.
(It goes without saying that “Can I tell you/talk to you about something?” should get immediate attention. How else will we find out who got sent to the Principal’s office or that our kid is bummed that Joey has the new Skylander and they really want it, too? Sure at ages three, five, and even seven, the “something” is not usually BIG news, but I have to remind myself that by saying “YES, please tell me!” now, I’m setting the message – you can talk to me anytime, you can tell me anything, I am interested – for the later years.
4. “Do you like… this picture I drew? …watching me play soccer? …coming to my school to read to my class? …playing with me?”
It’s not that hard to say yes to these questions, but we have to watch the follow-up. (OK, maybe you don’t, but I do.) For instance, I think this exchange is perfectly fine:
Happy Dude: Do you like this picture that I drew? (FYI, it’s four blue dots on a page.)
Me: Yes, I do like it! I also love orange, do you think you could add some orange?
But this is probably NOT OK:
Happy Dude: Do you like this picture I drew? (same picture)
Me: Um, well, no… because there are ONLY FOUR BLUE DOTS ON THIS PAGE and that shows a serious lack of imagination.
The Nibbit: Do you like watching me play soccer?
Me: Yes! But I get a little curious about why there’s so much crazy motion going on with your arms… I don’t know a lot about soccer, so maybe you can tell me more about what’s happening with your elbows.
(Mom of the Year!)
The Nibbit: Do you like watching me play soccer?
Me: Actually, not so much today. Sure you tried hard, but you gotta stop elbowing kids to the ground. You’re going to get thrown out of the game and maybe also not have any friends.
(We are NOT filling anyone’s bucket with that kind of talk.)
Please note: The “Do you like…” question is very different from “Am I good at… “ That one is way trickier, so I just avoid it. They ask, “Do you think I’m a REALLY good baseball player?” and I say, “ICE CREAM TIME!”
5. “Will you always love me?”
Yes, even when you’re throwing temper tantrums. Or toilet paper. Or spaghetti. Yes, even when you’ve written on the walls. Yes, even when you spit out the dinner I’ve slaved over. Yes, even when you tell me that my face isn’t as pretty as your friend’s mom’s face (this may or may not be true, but still). Yes, even when you roll your eyes or break the rules or call me names. Even when you hate me. Yes, even if you do something really, really bad and wrong. (Whether I bail you out of jail remains to be seen, but I still love you.) I will always, always love you.
Side note: Look, I’m not judging but this last one shouldn’t be hard. If it is, it’s time for you to book a vacation. Let me know where you’re heading. I’ll come with.
OK, that’s my advice for the
day week month maybe year. Feel free to call it BS, but I’d appreciate if you’d stick to my preferred term – RUBBISH. (Say it out loud, it’s fun.)
Have a great weekend!
PS. Please read this with the understanding that I’ve failed at almost every single one of these… with the exception of #5. So there’s no lecturing or judging going on from my chair. I write this stuff mostly as a reminder to myself. Anyone else it “helps,” is gravy. Yes, like the Italian tomato sauce kind of gravy.