The ABC’s of parenting little onesPosted: November 6, 2013
Always show your love. Even when you are upset. Especially if you are upset. No one under four [or any age for that matter] reacts as well to disapproval as they do to the promise of unconditional love despite their mistakes. It’s important to remind them that despite the partial egg and toast remnants stuffed up their younger brother’s left nostril and the time-out inevitably in his future, you do in fact, still love him.
Be one with the television, or at least, be forgiving when you cave. I cringe at the vision I had of myself pre-parenting. I walked in the land of absolutes and one of them was absolutely no television. I was fairly strict until he turned two, but then, with the cautious approval of the American Pediatric Academy to nudge me on, I dipped my toes into youtube videos. It began virtuously enough with Sim Sim Hamara, Pakistan’s version of Sesame Street. And then I discovered he could learn an Urdu song while I sipped a cup of chai without worrying about second degree burns. Wow. It was a slippery slope then, this TV thing, as we then escalated from the two minute videos to a 12 minute episode of Curious George, throwing in the occasional one-hour Sesame Street episode where I could gather the laundry and my thoughts without a child using my leg like it was his own personal hockey stick. Is it good to use the television as your baby sitter? No. But three days a week, it sure feels good. Most of us let our kids watch television from time to time. Most of us feel guilt about doing so. Don’t. Embrace it. Accept it. Drink chai.
Choose your arguments. Don’t hug the growling dog straining at his leash and gnashing his teeth. Or attempt flight from the monkey bars. Yes, really, I don’t care that Super Why did it. These all are classified under things we can argue about. Lifting and dumping the 150 piece puzzle and scattering them like lily pads across the living room? Or insisting on gluing all the mail advertisements against one another and then to his pant-leg? We can clean up. The glue is washable. C’est la vie. Some things are worth that fight, some aren’t.
Do not give false threats. If you say you’re going to turn this car and drive right back home if he yells one more time. Well, hopefully you were not on your way to your parent’s thirtieth wedding anniversary because once you do not follow through on those promises, they know exactly who rules the roost and it is all over. [To be clear, they do rule the roost, but they don’t need to know that].
Embrace Elmo. Pre-parenting I despised Elmo. His voice. His pompous way of announcing himself in the third person. What was he, the king of Rome? Pre-parenting if you asked me which stuffed television creature I would must like to pummel, it would be Elmo. Now? Now I adore that red little bundle of cute. He’s ten degrees of awesome all around and there is no rational explanation for what exactly has changed.
Find something special to do together. After his nap, my eldest son stands on his stool and picks out his favorite apple from our fruit basket which I then wash, chop in four and seed before placing in a pink plastic bowl. He then brings a pile of books as high as my second-born son and the three of us fall into the sofa reading and eating apples. I didn’t start this tradition. My son did. But its one that we both treasure so deeply. It’s one I will remember long after he’s outgrown it. Silly or spiritual, complex or as simple as a bowl of apples, create small daily traditions with the ones that matter most.
Go bake. This has been the best bonding experience with my sons. We converge on the countertop. My eldest unwraps the butter, locks the mixer and helps me measure out a quarter of flour and the half cup of sugar. And the baby? The peppiest pep squad cheering us on in our pursuits. I love their wonder at watching random ingredients grow from raw parts to completion and to learn measuring and counting in the funnest way possible. Plus we get to eat sweets. A win-win situation all around.
Hug often. My friend Rebecca told me she would lift her son up into a big bear hug anytime he asked because she knew one day she wouldn’t be able to do it. When he was eight years old, he got too bulky to lift. As it should be. Kids grow up and its what we want. But right now, while you can, give them hugs, the biggest ones you can.
Ignore some brotherly disputes. Even now at the tender age of 0 and 3, my children manage to play. And argue. There’s an urge to jump in and mediate, and I often indulge this, particularly when spoons or other metal objects are involved, but sometimes I sit back and see how it plays out. Often, they self-resolve in a matter of seconds, playing again like nothing happened.
Just dance. Be silly. Be goofy. Play peek-a-boo. You likely had children not to plow your fields or continue the mafia business incase you got whacked [why yes I have been watching a lot of Sopranos, why do you ask]. You had them, in some part, however large or small, to enjoy them. So enjoy them. They’re this very small for a very small amount of time. Soak it up and let it coat your heart with the honey-yellow sunshiny goodness it is. Hiding under sheets and running around making loud monster noises for an hour is definitely not a waste of time. It is the most important thing you could possibly do.
Know that as much as you want to do an A-Z list, with two kids not yet in school and who no longer nap at the same exact time, if you make it to K you’ve done well.
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Aisha Saeed was born and raised in South Florida. She writes YA and is represented by Taylor Martindale of Full Circle Literary. You can read more of her writing, follow along on Facebook, or Twitter. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and sons.