It’s probably pretty ironic that I’m writing a post about parenthood because to tell you the truth sometimes I feel like I need to read a book (or few hundred) to teach me how to be a better parent for my kids myself. This week I got a good reminder on one simple way to be a better parent and maybe my advice might just help someone else be a better parent too. I’ll call it my parenting reality check.
At this point in his life, my two year-old has a case of the jabbers. He jabbers all day about Power Rangers or whatever crosses his little mind. It doesn’t really matter what he’s jabbering about, he seems pretty content as long as his lips are moving and someone is close enough to hear him.
In all Smith fashion, I heard him for a solid hour saying over and over, “Mom. Mom. Mooooom. Mom. Mom. Mooooom.” So naturally, I ignored him the best I could, that’s what moms do after hearing that dreaded three letter M-O-M word day after day, inside and out. It wasn’t until some time later that I finally said, “what, Smith?” with a large emphasis on the what. “Mom, I wuv your hair!” He said. I’m not so sure I had much of a response besides a little, “thanks”. Lesson learned Mom, lesson learned.
Fast forward a little while to my 5 year-old and our bedtime routine. He informs me that instead of me reading to him the usual “Errol the Squirrel” or “Where’s the Bathroom”, which we’ve read so many times he has memorized before we even turn the page, he wants to tell me about Minecraft. In a simpler form, he just wanted to talk to me. My first instinct was to just grab the book and read it quickly because it had been a long day, but then I realized he wanted me to sit there and have a conversation with him about something he loved, something I found silly but he loved. He wanted me to listen and his explanations about Minecraft slowly turned into me hearing him talk about parts of his life at school and his friends. I never would have known any of this if I brushed off his request and hurried through “Errol the Squirrel for the billionth time. Lesson learned Mom, lesson learned.
These might have been the simplest of examples, but they were my wake up calls to pay attention, to slow down and ask my kids about their lives… to answer the endless “mom, mooooom, mom” echoes. These things are important to them and someday the silly Minecraft chatter will turn into something bigger and hopefully by this point they will already know they can talk to you. I pray I can be there for my kids when they need me, that I can support them with whatever they are going through. I want to be their person.
I think I’ll go now and ask my kids about their day…